Monthly Archives: April 2013

Why Camping?

Something we are finding we are getting asked pretty frequently along with the ‘Why are You Doing This?’ (trip around Oz) question is, ‘Why Camping?’  Lots of people are just not sure what the attraction is of sleeping and eating outdoors with bugs, snakes, spiders, lizards and all kinds of other creepy crawlies, not to mention the gear and packing that is often involved.

Camping and 4wding for us has been a bit of a journey and something that is still evolving I think.

Matt camped a little with his family when he was growing up as well as some time in Scouts as a boy, so he had completed ‘Camping 101’!  My early camping experiences were pretty much limited to growing up on a farm (much like camping full time I think!), school camps and a brief stint with Girl Guides.

Our first camping trip away together was when we were about 21 and still in the ‘courting’ phase of life.  Matt won a tent through work and decided a great ‘date’ would be to take me away camping for the night as something different.  It was a bit of a disaster – we couldn’t find the campground and ended up getting there just before dark, we couldn’t put the tent up properly and Matt totally forgot that to go camping we needed more than just a tent and one towel between us!

Reading the instructions to work out how to get the tent up properly!

First Camping Trip Together – reading the instructions to work out how to get the tent up!

But despite all that, we enjoyed ourselves and went camping again.

We got excited about the idea of having an adventure, an experience seeing somewhere new, doing something fun and healthy and outdoorsy rather then spending the weekend at the Pub or sitting at home watching DVD’s (they are movies kids – you probably won’t have them by the time you are reading this!).  It was a bit of an adrenalin rush navigating our way around Fraser Island, driving through wash outs and over sand dunes, seeing things and places that not everybody could get to.

A bit of fun and adventure!

A bit of fun and adventure on Fraser Island!

Then we got married and had kids and realised that camping would be the only affordable way to go on holidays on one income with children in tow.  Not only that, the outdoors provided hours of free entertainment for the kids playing with sticks, in the sand, water and dirt, spotting all sorts of wildlife and running around half naked most of the time.  The kids were happy which meant happy Mum & Dad!

First Family Camping Trip to Stradbroke Island

First Family Camping Trip to Stradbroke Island

Toby - 7mths pretty happy with his first camping experience!

Toby – 7mths – pretty happy with his first camping experience!

Lexi's first camping trip!

Lexi’s first camping trip!

Not much for kids not to like about camping!

Not much for kids not to like about camping!

Since we have had our family though, we have started to think about our choices in life a bit more.  As our family has grown and time and money has become more precious, we realised that we needed a common interest that all of us – girls, boys, old and young, could enjoy.  Something that would be a joint interest for Matt and I to share now, that would see us into our retirement and old age – something we could enjoy together long after we no longer had the kids (they will all leave home one day right!) to occupy our conversations, plans, thoughts and wages!!!

We weren’t into car racing, our kids didn’t know all the names of the rugby players by the time they could talk, playing back yard cricket didn’t qualify us as a ‘cricketing’ family, we didn’t know anything about fishing so that was out – I was starting to freak out a bit – what was going to be our family ‘thing’???  Matt thought music festivals could be it, but my Keith Urban tastes and his liking for bands such as Metallica – didn’t see our genres come up on music festivals together very often, plus it was expensive! So, back to the drawing board. Slowly though, we realised that camping was becoming our ‘thing’.  The kids all knew how to hold a tent pole by the time they could stand up on their own, they could roll their own sleeping bags no problems and they could toast a mean marshmallow!

Camping has become a shared interest and bond for us all.  We love planning together where we will go camping next and talking about what we will do when we get there. We can see that this is an activity we can develop and nurture for the future.  We look forward to the kids bringing their friends camping, then their girlfriends/boyfriends, then their wives, then their families and so forth, hopefully the cycle may continue down through the generations of our family and help to keep Matt and I involved in our kids and grandkids lives well into our wheel chair days!

A family connection

A family connection

This is important to us because we think it helps create an identity for our family.  To help give our kids confidence that they belong to something greater than themselves.  To heighten their self-esteem as they learn new skills – even just simple things like working out how to use the UHF radio on their own, lighting a campfire safely, making their first trip to the toilet in the dark, on their own in the middle of the night successfully, all aid in building our kids self confidence and belief in themselves.  It is also a way for Matt and I to learn new things – how to tow and reverse a camper van without arguing (that one’s still a work in progress!), Matt is teaching himself more and more about the mechanics of 4wd’s and some basic repair skills, and I am slowly building my camp fire cooking recipe base.  It is always fun and rewarding to challenge yourself and learn something new no matter what your age!

A new skill for Matt - zip tying a fuel line back up after some 4wding!

A new skill for Matt – zip tying a fuel line back up after some 4wding!

We often go camping with friends and family, or meet new people while we are away, who then become friends. This is significant for us as we want to surround our family with like minded people, people that can prove to be role models and mentors in the future when our kids start to look outside the immediate family (aka when Dad’s word is no longer the authority on all things!) for guidance.  We want to make sure that when they do that – the people they are connecting with have the sort of values and morals that we would like to see imparted to our children – that they will support most of the things we have spent the last decade drumming into our kids.

Our regular camping crew!

Our regular camping crew!

Another ‘side effect’ of camping is that it has become a way to keep all of the extended family close, another way to ensure our kids know they ‘belong’ and are loved.  I lived on a dairy farm when I was growing up and most school holidays would see all of my cousins descending on the farm for at least a couple of weeks spending hours roaming the paddocks, exploring the creeks, swimming, fighting and eating everything Mum would cook up in the kitchen for us!  When my parents moved off the farm a couple of years ago they were worried about whether our extended family ‘bonds’ would weaken without the farm for us all to go to – it is a bit difficult to fit 10 or more adults, and twelve or more kids all together in just your regular suburban home/block!  However, camping trips such as our Easters at Emu Park have enabled the extended family (sisters, cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents, and all the attached kids!) to still get together, for Dad to still growl at us all, to tell the stories from our childhoods, to still argue, and to try to pass on the family fishing and guitar talents to the younger generation.  We have established a new tradition which until we win Gold Lotto and buy our own Island or Station or something – will have to work!

'The Family' - yes we are a bit of a herd!

‘The Family’ – yes we are a bit of a herd!

Some family’s are into cars and never miss the Bathurst weekend, some family’s know all the names of all the great football players, all the statistics and never miss a Saturday night game during the season, and some family’s go to Church every Sunday.

We are a camping and 4wding family.  What kind of family are you?

I know this was a very long winded way of saying we go camping because it is fun, healthy, exciting, cheap and great for the whole family! 🙂DSCF2241

Categories: About Us, Camping | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Somerset Dam Camp

Somerset Dam Camp October 2012

Somerset Dam Camp October 2012

When we purchased ‘Karen’ Camper we made a decision to get away camping once a month right up until we departed for our trip.  This was mostly to get as much experience towing and setting up the camper in different environments, as well as getting us all (kids included!) running like a well oiled machine with our set camping jobs, but also to make sure we got as much use out of our investment in the camper as possible. We are thinking that once we have finished our trip around Oz, we will have to sell the camper to put the funds back onto the mortgage so it was really important to us to make sure that we got to do as much camping as possible while we had her and see some of the many great spots around South East Queensland!

So, with that as our goal, our second camp after our first hit out to Flanagan Reserve was in October 2012 to Somerset Dam, which is a 1 hour drive from Brisbane.  We camped for two nights at the SEQWater Somerset Park Campground as it was very cheap at only $20 per night per site!  Adam and his two boys joined us on this camp which made it heaps more fun for us all as they bought all the fishing experience and know how, along with a boat and kayak!

There wasn’t really anywhere for the kids to swim at the campground, but plenty of room to ride their bikes and run around, along with some great spots to fish from the banks of the Stanley River.

Our setup!

Our setup!

Beautiful Jacaranda trees around the campground.

Beautiful Jacaranda trees around the campground.

Boys off for a walk at the campground to check out the fishing possibilities at the river

Boys off for a walk at the campground to check out the fishing possibilities at the river

Great spot for fishing and Caleb even caught one on his first cast!

Great spot for fishing and Caleb even caught one on his first cast!

We spent most of our time at ‘The Spit’ at Somerset Dam, which was about a two minute drive away from the Somerset Park Campground.  It was nice and shallow off the bank for the kids to swim (but the bottom was very muddy!) and there was a roped off area so the kids were safe to swim out of the way of all the ski boats.  It was pretty busy with all the water-skiers but we quite liked just sitting and watching all the action!

Having an afternoon swim at 'The Spit'

Having an afternoon swim at ‘The Spit’

Adam & Matt took all the kids out in the boat for a spin around the dam

Adam & Matt took all the kids out in the boat for a spin around the dam

These boys even fished while the boat was anchored at the bank and we had lunch!

These boys even fished while the boat was anchored at the bank and we had lunch!

Lach taking the kids for a Kayak

Lach taking the kids for a Kayak

Lach spent most of his time paddling around in the kayak and fishing from it!

Lach spent most of his time paddling around in the kayak and fishing from it!

A really enjoyable spot for a quick weekend getaway out of Brissy!  We came home via Mt Glorious which wasn’t the best idea as it definitely gave the poor car and camper brakes a good workout coming down the windy section of the range – we wouldn’t advise taking a car and camper that way!

Always have to toast some marshmallows on the fire!

Always have to toast some marshmallows on the fire!

Peter Prado & Karen Camper - Camp No 2

Peter Prado & Karen Camper – Camp No 2

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Vision Board – 10 Places we Must Visit!

We’re needing some inspiration at the moment as we move into the real ‘knuckle down’ hard work stage of getting organised for the trip – aka packing, clearing out, packing, $$$ walking out the door getting car & camper finalised, cleaning, more packing – you get the drift – all the yuck stuff!

A friend (thanks Michelle!) suggested that we needed a ‘Vision Board’ to keep us motivated which was a great idea so I’ve decided to post here the Top 10 Places we really want to see on our trip – a ‘Virtual Vision Board’ to refer back to when things get tough over the next few weeks and to look back on at the end of our trip and decide if these really were some of the best places Australia has to offer. Oh, and to give you all something to look forward to hearing about when we finally hit the road!!

Places We Must Visit

1. Uluru – Northern Territory

Uluru

Uluru

2.Gunlom Falls – Kakadu

Gunlom Falls

Gunlom Falls

3.Gibb River Road – The Kimberley

Gibb River Road

Gibb River Road

4.Ningaloo Station – Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Ningaloo Station

Ningaloo Station

5.Red Bluff – Quobba Station, Western Australia

Red Bluff

Red Bluff

6.Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy

7.Esperance

Esperence

Esperence

8.Nullarbor Plain

Nullarbor Plain

Nullarbor Plain

9.Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road

10.Craig’s Hut – Victorian High Country

Craig's Hut

Craig’s Hut  

You will note that Far North Queensland doesn’t feature anywhere in our ‘Top Ten’ – that is because we think it is such a great place that we are thinking we will settle back there to live at the end of our trip!

Does anybody have some ‘must visit’ places to add to our list?  We’d love to hear them!!!

Categories: Planning | Tags: | 23 Comments

Modification No.1 – Power, safety and cold beer, not in that order.

Ok, enough of the emotional fluff from Jess, time for something really interesting! Modifications to the Prado! Yeah! (To our female readers, this is your queue to switch to your Facebook page and go and ‘like’ people’s pictures of cats and e-harmony cards, or turn on Home and Away). For anyone else, you know the drill…..Matt has had a beer or three and is in the mood to write, I suggest you grab a beer of your own. As a guide, this post took 4 beers to write. Good luck.

So the first modification was to install the brake controller after thankfully learning early on that without it, we were actually illegal, and being we intended to camp every month from the day we purchased Karen Camper to the day we depart for the big trip, we needed that sorted asap. While we would be running cable for the brake controller, we knew we would also need an Anderson plug to allow the car to charge Karen’s batteries while we drive. We also knew that we would need a second fridge, preferably in the car so when we did day trips away from the Camper we would have cold storage (read: beer). Having a fridge in the back of the car meant upgrading the power outlets to the back of the car (to handle the current draw of a fridge) and, unless we wanted to run the risk of being stranded in the middle of nowhere with a car that wont start (or worse, warm beer) we would need a second battery set up.

It was clear the first modifications were going to be electrical. Thankfully we play squash with a top bloke who is an auto electrician, and who is very meticulous. So off to Russell from Kedron Car Electrics (07 33594411) to do up a dual battery install with redarc isolator, heavy-duty power outlet in the rear, Anderson plug and while we are at it, throw a few extra power sockets in the second row of seats to charge the iPad and torches.

Tekonsha P3 Brake Controller installed into a 'Blank' behind the steering wheel.

Tekonsha P3 Brake Controller installed into a ‘Blank’ behind the steering wheel.

Extra power outlets in the kids row to charge the iPad etc

Extra power outlets in the kids row to charge the iPad etc

While Russ was at it, he put in a “Momentary Push Button Battery Switch” which is a fantastic idea.

The "Momentary Push Button Battery Switch" Genius!

The “Momentary Push Button Battery Switch” Genius!

You see, my ultimate goal when designing this dual battery system was to (try) and ensure that we would never be in a position of not being able to start the car, either because of a flat or broken/failed battery. Also after Stewie and Myra explaining their disappointment of feeling like they had to rush parts of their trip worrying about the car fridge running the starter battery flat, it was priority No.1 to always be able to start the car. So, we still start the car as per normal, but lets say somewhere along the line, the starter battery does go flat or fails or breaks, all we do is hold down the little button on the dash that momentarily switches over to the auxiliary battery to start the car. This way we can recharge the starter, or, continue to start the car until we can get somewhere where we can replace the broken battery….love it, Great Tip Russ. Actually, another great tip from Russ, he ran the heavy-duty power lead for the fridge to the back and into the little compartment for the bottle jack.

1. It is nicely hidden when not in use, but more importantly

2.  It is not permanently installed by cutting a hole in some arbitrary place in the plastic trim of the car. Russ left about 3 meters of extra lead on it that just rolls up and hides in the jack compartment, this means it can act pretty much as a 3 meter extension cord for power from the car, be it for the fridge if we wanted to take it out and under a tree during a picnic, or for a light or anything requiring the 12V!

Bit hard to see but this is some of the extra length of lead for the rear power outlet

Bit hard to see but this is some of the extra length of lead for the rear power outlet

So we installed a 105Amp/hour “Allrounder” battery (not purely deep cycle, so we can start from it, not purely a start battery, so we can deep cycle from it), Russ assured me that it should in most conditions happily run the car fridge for about 4 days without having to start the car or hook up any solar etc.

105Ah "Allrounder" Second Battery

105Ah “Allrounder” Second Battery

I tested this theory over (the HOT) Christmas, and he was spot on, at the end of the 4th day, the fridge switched off. For the nerds out there, I had the Waeco set to  -1deg (mmmm cold beer) and on the lowest low voltage cut out setting, meaning the battery would have been quite flat, but not totally dead. I had intended to try and start the car from the second battery at this point just to see if it would, but I forgot, bugger. Now I have to spend another 4 days of stringent testing, requiring me to find a way to ‘replicate’ the real world conditions of running the car fridge for 4 days, with regular intervals (say every 30mins) of opening and closing the fridge for, I don’t know, some kind of beverage maybe….. how am I going to do that? Would anyone like to help?

I digress…..so, with the redarc battery system installed, once we start the car it will immediately begin charging the starter battery, once it is fully charged, it will isolate the starter, and begin charging the second battery, and once it is charged, will send all the alternator power to the Anderson plug to charge Karen’s battery.

RedArc Isolator

RedArc Isolator

So with all this done, it was time to think about Modification number 2……hmmmm anyone see what is wrong with this picture?

Karen was a bit heavier up the front then Peter could take :-)

Karen was a bit heavier up the front then Peter could take 🙂

If anyone makes any comment about me needing to “lay off the pies”…..

Categories: Modifications, Planning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The ‘To Do’ List

IMG_2609A bit of a ‘housekeeping’ post tonight I’m afraid, not very interesting to most of you but I am hoping that when we look back on this post in a month’s time we will have made some big progress and can give ourselves a pat on the back!  I am a huge fan of our whiteboard here in the office at home (and it is used for more than just a job list for Matt!!).  This ‘To Do’ list for the trip is probably the 10th version of the list that has been ongoing on this board over the last 18mths.  The problem with this version is that it just doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter!  So I need your help, I’m going to share our current ‘To Do’ and ‘To Buy’ lists below in the hope you might be able to tell us what to forget about – and hopefully not, but possibly, add anything else to the lists that we have forgotten!

The ‘To Do’ List

  • Service Toyota Yaris & get safety certificate for sale
  • Sell Toyota Yaris
  • Camper to Auto Electrician to sort out brake lights and move licence plate due to second spare tyre carrier on the back
  • Service Camper & sort out water tank problem
  • Service Prado and Matt to spend day with mechanic (Prado Point member) doing the service with him
  • Windscreen repair kit on small chip in car windscreen
  • Put together tools/spares kit for car/camper
  • Replace LED lights in lounge room so all are working
  • Replace non-working ceiling fans
  • Restain Deck
  • Patches and Paint for wall/door repairs in house
  • Tidy up Pavers around house
  • Finalise storage solution for our house for the time we are away (ie container and removalists!)
  • Decide what to do with our cat (anybody want to look after her for us?)
  • Organise Insurance for Home Contents and Camper (upgrade)
  • Change mobile phones over to Telstra for better coverage
  • Upgrade RACQ membership level
  • Pick up a set of Australia wide (state by state) maps from RACQ
  • Organise paperwork for rental of our house
  • Meet with kids teachers to finalise any work to take with us
  • Renew passports for the five of us in case we decide to hop over to Bali from Darwin
  • Load electronic devices with movies and music to take on the road with us
  • Add all items to Gumtree that we still want to sell
  • Dump Run for all the rubbish we have accumulated!
  • ‘Vinnies’ run to donate goods that others might want
  • Squeeze in one final rehearsal camping trip and hopefully have everything working!
  • Redirect mail/update address details, organise email billing where possible!
  • Pack House
  • Clean House
  • Make sure we remember to go to work and take kids to school during this!
  • Oh, and pack Camper!

The ‘To Buy’ List

  • Spare Tyre for Camper
  • Fuel Filter for Prado
  • Snorkel for Prado
  • New Tyres Prado
  • Mud Flaps Prado
  • New Camera
  • Iphone/Ipad mounts for car
  • Smoke Detector/Fire Extinguisher for Camper
  • 1st Aid Kit (any recommendations???)
  • New Wiper Blades
  • 2 x Fuel Jerry Cans
  • Rubbish bag for spare tyre
  • Portable Fire Pit
  • Heater for camper
  • Twin UHF pack for kids
  • Audiobooks for listening in the car
  • A set of thermals for each of us
  • Warm insert for Lexi sleeping bag
  • Waterproof jacket for Matt
  • Birthday present for Lexi whose birthday (turning 4) is the day before we leave – so tough as it will have to be something we can take with us as house will be all packed up – any ideas?

Ok – hit us with it – what can we scrap?  What are we missing???

Categories: Planning | Tags: | 18 Comments

School Holiday Fun

 

Mudjimba Beach for the afternoon with Aunty Kate

Mudjimba Beach for the afternoon with Aunty Kate

Well, with the school holidays all but finished, I thought I would share what we have been up to for the last two weeks.  It was a very quiet Easter for us this year, definitely not the fun of our last Easter’s at Emu Park, but Matt was short staffed at work this year and we decided that he may as well do as much work as he could over the long weekend and top up the piggy bank for the trip.  So it was just our little family for Easter – we headed to Aunty Kate’s on the Sunshine Coast on Good Friday and got to have an afternoon at the beach and a morning at the pool.  We had a very quick Easter Sunday breakfast when Matt got home from work in the morning, before he went to bed and headed back to work in the afternoon.  We were also lucky enough to go next door and join in with the Seaborn’s Easter Egg hunt in the paddock and Easter Brunch which was lots of fun.

Easter baskets ready & carrots out in preparation for the Easter Bunny's arrival

Easter baskets ready & carrots out in preparation for the Easter Bunny’s arrival

Easter Sunday Breakfast

Easter Sunday Breakfast

Other than that we have just been spending time with the cousins and kids’ friends and enjoying having them sleepover!  We headed to the local creek and also out to Sandgate which is about a 30 minute drive from our place and is the closest beach to us.  I have taken the kids bike riding there before and there is a great playground too, oh and plenty of places to fish!

Afternoon throwing rocks in the local creek

Afternoon throwing rocks in the local creek

Sandgate

Sandgate

Cousin time!

Cousin time!

Sandgate

Sandgate

IMG_2505

Jack & Jayde

Jack & Jayde

Sand Angels

Sand Angels

School holiday boy

School holiday boy

 

The seven year olds

The seven year olds

 

'Blue Sky Breeze' Trio named by Toby

‘Blue Sky Breeze’ Trio named by Toby

We also took a day trip out to visit the Daisy Hill Koala Centre http://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/wildlife/daisyhill-centre/.  This is a free Koala education centre located in the Daisy Hill Conservation Park http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/daisy-hill/index.html  and the kids had lots of fun – they saw Koala’s and Wallabies, there were some good interactive exhibits, a viewing platform to climb, a little movie theatre and lots of space in the picnic area to run around in.  Definitely worth checking out if you live in Brisbane.

Daisy Hill Koala Sanctuary

Daisy Hill Koala Sanctuary

Typical Aussie!

Typical Aussie!

Kids trying to get the Wallaby to come closer

Kids trying to get the Wallaby to come closer

I was lucky enough to also have my friend Mel come to visit during the holidays so the kids and I spent the afternoon having lunch with Mel at Newfarm Park and took a trip down the Brisbane River on the CityCat.

Ride on the CityCat on the Brisbane River with Mel

Ride on the CityCat on the Brisbane River with Mel

Beautiful way to see the city

Beautiful way to see the city

And I even got a night out for dinner in the city with my old school friends!  I tried ‘Pho’ for the first time at the ‘Fat Noodle’ restaurant in the Treasury Casino – quite yum!

Dinner out with my oldest friends - we have been friends since I was 10!!  So great to see you Mel, Shell and Rach!!

Dinner out with my oldest friends – we have been friends since I was 10!! So great to see you Mel, Shell and Rach!!

And that’s about it – school holidays over!  We had planned to take to the kids to Wet’n’Wild but they had been too naughty over the last week that we decided to scrap it (yes kids – when you are reading this back in ten years – we are mean parents!!).  What did you all get up to for the school holidays?  Are you looking forward to school going back?  I’m not!

Just playing!

Just playing!

 

Neighbours animals visiting!

Neighbours animals visiting!

 

Categories: About Us | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Flanagan Reserve Camp

DSCF1582I’m back tracking a little tonight to record on the blog our ‘maiden voyage’ camping trip with Karen Camper!

The week after we brought Karen just happened to be the start of the September school holidays so we made a snap decision that we would take off for one night away camping to test out the camper and kick start the school holidays (yes – this is the trip we did without a brake controller – eek!  See this post if you’re not sure what I’m talking about).  We roped Ben & Amy and the kids into coming along with us to celebrate our very first adventure.

As we were only heading away for one night we wanted to go somewhere close so we opted for Flanagan Reserve http://www.flanaganreserve.com.au.  Flanagan Reserve Bush Camp is less than two hours from Brisbane, out past Beaudesert on the banks of the Logan River and you are able to take dogs, so Jerry got to come with us on this trip too!

It was a nice spot but the campsites were a bit too dusty for our liking.  The camp ground is large though so we got to spread out and not have neighbours right beside us and the kids loved playing in the creek!  There were toilets and showers (coin operated) and you could have your own campfire which was great as it was quite cool even at the end of September!

Anyway – I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story – we had a fun time (despite the fact that we discovered the camper fridge was not working!) and it was a good first test run!

All hitched up ready for our first ever trip away with Karen Camper!

All hitched up (yes it did take a few goes and some yelling at each other!) ready for our first ever trip away with Karen Camper!

First setup - this is where we learnt that it is important to put the handbrake on the camper FIRST, before unhitching!!!

First setup – this is where we learnt that it is important to put the handbrake on the camper FIRST, before unhitching!!!

Fealy Kids terrorising the campground.

Fealy Kids terrorising the campground.

Dad and his girl off for an evening stroll around the campground.

Dad and his girl off for an evening stroll around the camp.

Hours of fun to be had in the creek

Hours of fun to be had in the creek

There are plenty of spots along the creek to explore and swim in.

There are plenty of spots along the creek to explore and swim in.

Girl Fun - making 'sand cakes'

Girl Fun – making ‘sand cakes’

Leaf boat racing - the best fun for a boy!

Leaf boat racing – the best fun for a boy!

The creek does get busy but there is plenty of room for everyone.

The creek does get busy but there is plenty of room for everyone.

Mt Barney - plenty of hikes to be done around here but we didn't have time to check any of them out.

Mt Barney – plenty of hikes to be done around here but we didn’t have time to check any of them out.

Lizard of some description!  Anyone know what he is??

Lizard of some description! Anyone know what he is??

Categories: Camping, Qld Camping | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

8 Weeks to Go!

Yesterday marked the start of the ‘8 weeks until we head off around Australia’ countdown!  I have to admit the stress levels are really starting to rise!  The ‘To Do’ list and the ‘Things we Need’ list just seem to be getting longer and longer rather than shorter!!  Not helped by the fact that we went away camping for two nights this weekend and we still don’t seem to be able to access the water in one of the water tanks on the camper, the camper brake controller plug, running lights, brake lights etc have stopped working and the camper fridge is still not working properly on the 12 volt when hooked up to the car – grrrrrrr!!!  Looks like a trip to the auto electrician is on the cards for this week.

Anyway – one day at a time I guess – I feel like we are not going to be ready but we will be heading off anyway so we just have to keep plugging away at the jobs lists!

On a positive note – we have ‘ticked’ a few things off over the last month!

No 1.

We now have tenants to rent our house and a date for our moving out (May 24th)!  It seems the stars have aligned and we have been lucky enough that friends of ours are going to move in.  We hope that Bernadette, Henrico and Mily will love it here as much as we have and we know that they will probably take better care of our house then we do!!!

No 2.

The Blog is up and running and inundating everybody’s email boxes on a pretty regular basis.

No 3.

We have pretty much sorted out the kids schooling.  After much deliberation we have obtained a ’12 month exemption from schooling’ for the kids with the approval from our current school principal.  This means that we will not be enrolling the kids in any formal schooling but rather focusing on what they will learn on the road and on some materials that we take with us (many thanks Mel for all the resources you have put together for us – very handy having a teacher as a friend!), along with utilising online resources such as Reading Eggs, Mathletics and other iPad Apps.  The kids teachers have been really supportive and we will be meeting with them before we head off to discuss what else we can do to help the kids along.

No 4

Matt has successfully been selling our unwanted household items left, right, and centre on ‘Gumtree’ www.gumtree.com.au

No 5

The roof racks and awning are now on the car.  These were a pretty cheap set from ‘Tigerz11’ http://www.tigerz11.com.au  so we are hoping that they go the distance!!  They are a bit dodgy looking and feel that way too, but so far we are happy with them for the price we paid.

A big thank you to Michael from 'Prado Point' for coming out and helping Matt to install the roof rack and awning!

A big thank you to Michael from ‘Prado Point’ for coming out and helping Matt to install the roof rack and awning!

 

Tobes & Matt tested the new awning out after dropping Jack off at Scout camp.

Tobes & Matt tested the new awning out after dropping Jack off at Scout camp.

No 6

We have installed our drawers system into the back of the Prado.  Matt will have to give you the detail on those but I must admit they are pretty useful and I am glad that Matt convinced me that we needed to have them – I’ve already found them great for when doing an Aldi shop – everything can just get piled in the drawers instead of rolling around the back of the car!

Drawers in - Fridge Slide not yet bolted in - it's on the list!

Drawers in – Fridge Slide not yet bolted in – it’s on the list!

No 7

The packing has begun.

Yuck - packing!

Yuck – packing!

I have obtained some boxes from work (thanks BMR!) and starting tomorrow I am packing at least one box per day in the hope that it will not become too overwhelming in May!  So be warned – if you come to visit this month you may be asked to fill a box!!

I guess we’re getting there slowly, slowly.  The kids on school holidays, a migraine and a few days camping this week have probably slowed the progress on the list ticking a little, but we will try to make some better headway this week!  Hope you are all well – I will have a few more interesting posts with some photos of our school holiday fun later this week.

 

Categories: Planning | 7 Comments

Words from the Wise

As you can imagine, we have spent hours and hours of time on the internet researching (yes – ‘researching’ not procrastinating to avoid folding the washing or to avoid the million and one jobs that actually needed to be done!) places we’d like to visit, joining online groups such as ‘My Swag’ http://www.myswag.org and ‘Prado Point’ http://www.pradopoint.com and pouring over their forums and posting numerous questions hoping for feedback, as well as reading blog after blog written by others who have undertaken trips similar to the Trip Around Oz that we are planning.  Oh, and I have joined way too many to mention, Facebook Groups relevant to our trip!!

One blog in particular really stood out to us as being the most informative, easy to follow and totally captivating read that we came across in our hours on the internet, and that is the story of Lyndon, Bec and Charlie’s trip around Australia.

Their blog ‘1 year Off’ can be found here http://www.1yearoff.com.au.  It is worth checking out just to see their beautiful photos of many of the amazing places that we are hopefully going to visit on our trip!  We aren’t the only ones who think the ‘1 year Off’ blog is pretty great – Bec, Lyndon and Charlie actually won the Explore Australia Road Trippers Hall of Fame competition in 2012!

http://www.exploreaustralia.net.au/Competitions/Road-Trippers-Hall-of-Fame

Anyway – we liked the Blog so much that we decided to get in contact with Lyndon, Bec and Charlie and after a few emails back and forth, Lyndon was kind enough to send through a stack of tips for us that they learnt first hand from their trip around Australia.

And you, our loyal readers – probably all 3 of you – Mum, Dad & Gayel, are lucky enough too that Lyndon has ok’d that we share these tips on our Blog.

So, below is the email we received from Lyndon – we feel very grateful as most of these ideas are ones that we would never have thought of ourselves!!!  Thank you Lyndon for taking the time to send them through to us!

“Hi Jess,

Here are a few tips we picked up along the way, you probably have thought about quite a few of them already; 

We found a few things very handy that we kept in the car.

  • A wrench and spanner to check the wheel nuts on the car and trailer almost daily. The amount of people we met who had lost a wheel all because they didnt check.
  • A compass in the glove box, was very handy for when we were lining the trailer up in the campsite so we didn’t face west.
  • A small spirit level to ensure the trailer is level.
  • Tyre pressure gauge in the glove box. So much easier grabbing it out of the glove box to check the pressure than finding it in the back drawers each time.
  • I saw on your last post you were wanting a HF radio, we bought a satellite phone instead, thankfully we never had to use it but it was always there in the front seat in case we did. I entered the Royal Flying Doctors numbers in there for each state.

For the Camper

  • If you can fit a heater in, take one as it will be freezing cold in certain parts.
  • We took too many clothes, especially tshirts and shorts.

For the Car

  • I see you have the bull bar and snorkel as a “want”, see if you can move them up to “essentials”. There is a lot of wildlife on the roads and a bull bar will protect that radiator which means you can hopefully drive away from the accident. A snorkel will keep a lot more dirt out of your air filter than where the current air intake is positioned which is essential on those dirt roads you will be travelling on. If you have a compressor, get an attachment that allows you to easily clean the air filter after a day on the dirt and always carry a spare filter.
  • Spare fuses, also spare fuses for the caravan.
  • Hide $1000 cash in the car somewhere for emergencies. You never know when eftpos will be down in the middle of nowhere and you need to get fuel.
  • Top up on fuel whenever you see fuel in remote areas. When we crossed the Gibb River Road, there were 3 places that sold fuel and only 1 was working. We were even at El Questro for a week and their system was down for that entire time.
  • Pack a set of wheel bearings with grease for the car and also your caravan and wrap them up really well so the grease doesnt leak. (If you dont know how to do this, get a mechanic to do it for you). If wheel bearings arent checked they will cease, and even if you dont know how to change them over, at least you have bearings for your outfit and someone will be able to fix it for you. You dont want to be packing the grease in on the road as chances are it will be on a dirt road and grease and dirt dont mix well together…

A few other things I thought of that we took.

  • A pack of 20 occy straps from Bunnings, its amazing how many uses they have…
  • A pack of 5 small super glue tubes, they come in one pack and at least then you don’t go and use the glue and it has dried up…
  • A small tarp had a number of uses, laying it on the ground to get under the car or trailer in the wet or dirt, extra shade etc.
  • Spare radiator hoses and fan belts for the car.
  • Gloves from supercheap auto, were great for setting up and packing up the trailer.
  • Fly and mosquito nets to put over a top of a hat and cover your face. The mosquito ones were very handy in Kakadu as they swarmed there in the evenings.
  • A mallet for bashing in pegs (I need to get my index finger reconstructed this year from hitting it at Kings Canyon, it was such hard ground there…) plus very good pegs for your annex, and also sand pegs for places like Ningaloo Station.
  • Make sure you get good head lamps as it gets very dark out there.
  • We took quite a few other spares also such as battery terminals, wheel nuts and bolts, spare headlight globe, soldering iron, engine oil, diff oil, oil filter, plenty of tools, fencing wire, maxtrax, axe, car recovery kit such as a snatch strap, tree protector, pruning saw etc, a very good first aid kit.”

We are now slowly working our way through these tips to make sure we are as prepared as we can be when we hit the road!  We all know that I love a good ‘list’ to tick off!

So, does anybody else have some good advice for us to keep in mind as we get organised over these final few countdown months??  We’d love to hear it!!!

Categories: Camping, Modifications, Planning | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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