Electrifying Black Betty

So, as I said in my last post, we have done a few things to get Black Betty a bit more up to scratch. I spent 2 days with my dad (he’s a sparky) “Electify-ing” BB. She did have an anderson cable for charging, but it was 4mm2 cable, she had a battery but it had dropped a cell and was not accepting any charge, and she had 2 ciggy plug outlets but they were wired up with wire as thin as hair, I was not happy plugging in the new BIG fridge into these outlets so we made some changes.

The Workshop

The Workshop

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Categories: Camping, Modifications, Planning | Tags: | 2 Comments

Introducing Black Betty – House on Wheels Take 2

I know Jess has already ‘introduced’ Black Betty but I thought it was time to do it properly…. i.e. Blokey-ly….

So settle in for another one of my monster posts. (I don’t post often, I just post BIG)

First up, Stats:

Make: All Terrain Camper Trailer (ATC)

Year: 2009

Model: 17′ Full Off Road with upgraded deluxe kitchen and ‘Moon Roof” otherwise it is bog standard (well, it was….)

No disrespect to Karen Camper, living in her during our big trip was very comfortable, but there were times when we faced a decision whether to take a certain road or not, based on if we felt Karen would make it. Jess and I do not like being limited like that, if we want to go somewhere or do something, then nothing is stopping us.

Enter “Black Betty”

2013-10-14 15.19.18

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Categories: Camping, Modifications, Planning | Tags: | 2 Comments

Karen Camper is for Sale (sob, sob)

20130706-205458.jpgSniffle, sniffle, sob.

We have come to the very tough decision that we are selling our faithful ‘home away from home’ Karen Camper’.

It was always a given that when we ended our trip we would have to sell ‘Karen’ and down size back to our tent set up or maybe purchase a camper trailer.  We drew down on our home loan to purchase Karen and know now that our trip is over that we should sell her and put some $$$ back on our home loan – financially that is the smartest thing to do.

We just won’t get the time off to do another big trip like that again any time soon.  Our camping trips now will be weekends and hopefully a few extended week or 2 week adventures.  Added to that 4 children would be a very tight squeeze in Karen.

So, big sigh, she is up for reluctant sale.  Here are the details as per Matt’s ad on Gumtree;

“Meet Karen the Kamper

Karen has safely and very comfortably carried our Family of 5 most of the way around Australia for the last 4 months.

If you are looking for the “Hardly used” or “Never been offroad” camper Karen is NOT it.

If you want a camper that has canvas and vinyl that is perishing, hardened tyres that have flat spots and shockies seals that have cracked all due to lack of use, Karen is NOT it.

If you want a camper for your ‘Round Oz trip, that has already been round the block 3 times and had all the little modifications made to it to prepare it for some real adventure then Karen IS it.

We are the third owners of this camper, each owner has taken her around Australia and she is still rock solid. Some people say poor Karen has never had a break and had a chance to sit in a shed under a tarp and get rusty, dusty and lonely. I say she has probably seen more of Australia then Burke and Wills.

She has all the things needed for full on long term camping, for example:

1. 180L of water on board
2. Gas hot water system
3. External shower
4. Dual water/fuel Jerry can holders
5. Dual 9kg gas bottles
6. Dual spare tyre carrier
7. Purpose built Generator Box
8. Upgraded wind up mechanism (heaver grade cable, pulleys and casing)
9. Genuine Vehicle Componants DO35v2 off road hitch.
10. Fully independant, low manitainence and easy to source leaf sprung and shock absorber suspension.
11. 4 x Quality Maxxiss Bravo 771 off road tyres (all less then 6 months old)
11. 3-Way Fridge (with 2 Gas bottles you’re talking almost 2 months of cold beer before having to find civilisation)
12. 120Ah deep cycle battery (With the 3 way fridge on gas the only thing the battery runs is the water pump and the lights. We never got below 70% on the battery and that was during 9 days of rain so no solar)
13. Anderson Plug for charging Battery from the car or solar panels
14. Dual Exhaust fans fitted to the rear of the Fridge to help remove excess heat.

Thousands and Thousands of dollars of modifications have been made that really are required if you are serious about going bush for extended periods.

Of course there is the standard features:

1. Queen bed one end and Double bed at the other, table drops down to a bed and the design of the lounge means that one side of the lounge is even another bed (child)
2. Full Size Oven (used, used a lot in fact, why do people always say their ovens are never used?? How do you know if it works?)
3. Griller and 4 burner stove
4. Microwave (actually that was never used because we we very rarely plugged into 240V)
5. Bagged and zipped bed end flys both ends
6. Fiama F45s wind out awning (if anyone tells you you need an full sized annex ask them how many times they actually got the 48 poles and pegs and ropes out to set it up? 20 seconds and the Fiama is out, you are in the shade and your cold beer is open)
7. Fold down table (perfect for road side lunch stops)
8. Pull out external BBQ (perfect for road side lunch stops)

I could go on forever. Simply put, if you are in the planing phase of quitting your jobs and thowing the kids in the car and heading out around Australia then Karen will get you there and back comfortably and with ease.

If maybe you are just after a serious long term camper, for the yearly Xmas/Easter trips but have a nice clean, dry garage Karen can sleep in in the mean time, I’m sure should would love the rest.

Eitherway, if you are even looking at this ad, you know that the older (pre-blue colour scheme) Goldstreams where the ones “made like they used to” so you already know just how rock solid and amazing these campers are and know that she will serve you very very well. Karen is a 2003 model, the last of the Maroon colour scheme.

Oh, almost forgot, She just had her bearings and brakes done. And dont worry, she does look a bit dirty in all these pictures, but she has had a shampoo, wash and blow dry and she is looking schmick-o again.”

There are plenty of photos of Karen Camper all over our blog, but these posts in particular “The House on Wheels” and “Our Home” give you a good look at the Karen Camper specifics.

This is the link to our ad on GumTree – please feel free to pass on the link or our blog to anyone who is looking for a great camper!

We can honestly say, hand on heart, that she was the perfect camper for our trip.  Very easy to set up and pack down and oh so comfortable.  We never felt crowded or even like we were ever really roughing it!!  And we are happy to report that after we gave her a very good clean and finally removed the several layers of dust she had been wearing, she is still in very good condition after all her Fealy Family Adventuring!

We will definitely be so, so sad the day someone else drives Karen Camper out the driveway, but we know she could bring lots of enjoyment to another family just like ours!20130716-205720.jpg 20130716-205834.jpg

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

8 weeks on the road

Boab Tree - now we are in WA we are seeing them everywhere - love them!

Boab Tree – now we are in WA we are seeing them everywhere – love them!

Today we had a very long drive and to fill in the last hour and stop the fighting and whinging before we stopped for lunch at Halls Creek, (after listening to a whole Famous Five audio book) we decided to go round the car and see what everybody’s thoughts are on the trip now that we have been on the road for 8 weeks!! It has gone so fast, but leaving Brisbane two months ago seems like forever too if that is possible!!

Fealy Family Interview

What have we missed the most since being on the trip?

Jack – having good friends – only friends now are the others (pointing to Lex & Tobes) and they’re not really friends.  Icecream, miss playing with my hockey team, the trampoline and my bike.

Toby – my toy cars drawer from home, Patrick and Ashlin.

Lexi – the house and my room, Jayde & Madi, icecream, Jerry & Slinky,

Matt – the chooks (eggs!), icecream, cups of tea/cold beer on the deck, miss Greg (Matt’s massage dude), company of good neighbours

Jess – time to myself!  Keeping up to date with my favourite blogs, having a long hot shower by myself, sitting on the soccer field in the afternoon at school pick up time chatting to my lovely mum friends and going to book club!

What we don’t miss!

Lexi – I don’t know
Tobes – the city & noise
Jack – the roadworks at Louie’s (neighbours) block, all the pollution
Matt – sitting in a fluorescently lit office, reheating dinner to finally eat it at 11pm cold, Louie’s truck noise
Jess – housework, going to work, school routine – lunchboxes etc, road noise

What are our favourite things about the trip?

Lexi – having icecreams, the campsite with the big long pool

Tobes – Uluru, my birthday

Jack – being free – not many people, climbing Uluru, seeing all the sights that most people don’t get to see

Matt – spending every minute with the family exclusively, going to bed and waking up at regular times, seeing something and doing something new everyday, no work, no schedule.

Jess – the thrill of pack up day and heading somewhere new with new things to see – not knowing where we will be next! The live music at the campgrounds, the feeling & sound in the evening at campgrounds of people socializing, relaxing & cooking dinner.
Eating out for dinner or breaky every now & then!

Our least favourite parts of trip

Lexi – I don’t like flies all over me

Toby- having to say goodbye to friends I make

Jack – having to do school work

Matt – paying $2 a litre for petrol

Jess – walking one child all the way over to the toilet at the ablution block only to come back and have another ask to go – grrrrr!!  Or the same child ask to go back again five minutes later!!  The cold nights!  The car/camper breaking down and having to spend a precious week of our now shortened trip in Tennant Creek!

Looking back on our blog posts has helped us realise that we really have seen and done lots of great things in the last two months and even though our trip has been shortened, we are really excited about what our last month on the road will have in store for us – bring on the beach – wahooooooo!

Getting in some 'relaxing' practice in readiness for hitting the beach - this was me in the pool at Lake Argyle Caravan Park yesterday - freezing but beautiful!

Getting in some ‘relaxing’ practice in readiness for hitting the beach – this was me in the pool at Lake Argyle Caravan Park yesterday – freezing but beautiful!

Categories: Camping, Planning, Travel | 3 Comments

The Blokey Stuff Part. 2

Ok, as promised, a few things that have made life a bit easier that I thought might help a few people out, 12 months behind us in their planning stage.

1. Pocket knife.

I love my pocket knife, I use it at least 10 times a day, on average. And don’t worry about having room in your pocket for it. Before we left I ALWAYS felt like my pockets were full, with my wallet, phone, keys, (and the oodles of cash I normally carry around) etc, but I haven’t seen my wallet for a few weeks, the keys never come out of the car and I haven’t seen my mobile phone since May.

2. Waeco in the car.

We just love the Waeco, but at $1200, and $250 for the slide, it was always going to be a big decision, so when a 2 yr old one with the cover AND slide came up on Gumtree for $600….. $600 very well spent. If we were to do it again though, we would pay the money for the MSA Drop Slide, using the fridge everyday climbing up into the back of the car does get pretty tedious

3. Outback Solutions Rear Drawer System

Again, at $2000 a pop, this was a looooong shot with the accountant. Infact, this was probably my biggest sell. I planted the seed as soon as we bought Peter Prado but Jess just wasn’t up for it, well she would argue that the drawers need to be in the essential kit list now. Again, $600 for an as new set on gumtree pushed us over the edge…. I reckon we would pay the $2000 now though awesome.

4. $40 12volt car charger for the Laptop

Found these on ebay, it is permanently plugged into the back of the car, we unplug the laptop when we arrive, use it all night, and plug it back in the next day, we drive, we arrive, fully charged laptop. I’m not sure if I even know where the proper 240V charger is anymore.

5. $50 Pack of 2 spare Camera batteries and 12V charger.

Same as above, ebay Chinese special. With the original camera battery this gives us 3 batteries, one in the camera, one fully charged in the camera bag, and the last one permanently plugged into 12V plug on the dash of the car. Battery goes flat, it goes on charge, the charged one goes in the bag, the one in the bag goes in the camera, we drive, it charges.

7. 12v chargers for the handheld UHFs

Again, allows us to stay charged with out 240v

6. The gas hot water system in the camper.

Almost every day we say “man I love that hot water system” sure we could boil a kettle, but hot water straight out the tap, in the middle of nowhere…. Cool.

Just for interest sake, the stuff we thought we might need but haven’t.

1. Genie (see above re. Solar panels)
2. Inverter (see above re. 12v chargers)

Look out for Blokey stuff Part. 3 coming soon….. Some truly enthralling statistics on roads, tyres, gear ratios, rpm and fuel economy/prices, wow! I don’t know about you but I can’t wait!

Categories: Modifications, Planning | 1 Comment

A Breakdown – Solved

Well Peter Prado is back, and better then ever! Just a quick post to update what happened, how it was fixed and how to avoid it again.

So as you all know, we were pretty sure it was an blown alternator and we were right. Peter now has a new and improved, bigger, better and much much shinier alternator.


Jess was quietly having a go at “pansy” Peter and I was getting some not-so-subtle hints that while our water crossings last week were fun, maybe they were also expensive. Well I’m happy to report, the water crossings were not the culprit, nor was the copious amounts of dust and dirt and sand driving we had been doing…. No, the problem was….. A stray live wire from when the spottie fell off. Yup, a wire from the spottie had come free and made contact with the bull bar a couple of times creating a short each time, eventually burning the regulator in the alternator out. (Not worth fixing)

So, good to know that Peter is not that precious that a few dirt roads and a creek or two hasn’t killed him (Good boy Peter, he might have cut the aircon, and then the indicators, lights and eventually speedo and taco, but he got us all 150mtrs into Tennant Creek before finally giving in, like a valiant steed!) Also good to know that the second your spottie falls off, separate the wires and insulate them immediately.

Thank you all for your encouraging comments, it was a pretty dark day the first day, but we have actually made the most of Tennant Creek and the forced stop, and believe it or not, Jess and I both said tonight how relaxing it has been…… Thanks Peter for forcing us to stop…. Next time though can we keep it under $1000 please!

Categories: Modifications, Planning | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

The Blokey Stuff Part. 1

Well our forced stoppage in Tennant Creek has given me some time to finally sit down and do “The Blokey Stuff” post

So here it is in the Blokey-est format possible, categorised bullet points!

Top 10 Essential Bits of Kit:

I’ll prelude this list by stating that during the planning phase of a trip like this, we tend to talk to every 4×4 store, go to the Expos, read every possible piece of literature you can get your hands on regarding preparing your “Rig” for the bush. Most of the articles and magazines these days are primarily advertising material, so it is hard not to convince yourself (or your CFO) that you need every product in the latest ARB mag. Jess and I kept telling ourselves during this process “People used to do these trips in Kingswoods, without aux batteries, fridges, roof racks, inverters, solar, etc etc etc”. So with this in mind, the fact that Jess is an accountant and I’m a tightarse, we were never going to be putting the local Ironman dealer’s kid through Uni with our purchases. So, what is “Big Boy Bling” and what will save your life?

1. Dual battery system, with ability to switch to the aux battery for cranking.

This proved it’s worth before we even got out of Brisbane. Some of you will remember that Jess left the headlights on on day 1, rendering the crank battery useless. Annoying when you are in a park in Newmarket, Brisbane, only 10 mins from an RACQ depot, but life threatening out here. We have been over 600klms from the last bar of reception, and not seen another sole for 8-10 hours a number of times already on this trip, if we suddenly had a flat battery, it could be serious.

2. Solar Panels.

Everything has a weak point, and while the Aux battery is great, as we have found this week, if your alternator fails, you could easily find yourself with 2 x flat batteries. I have been amazed, gobsmacked, at how great solar panels are. We have a folding set of 120W el cheapo Chinese panels and 1 hour of good sun brings a battery from 11.5V to 13V….. For FREE. And just a tip, you would be seriously struggling not to get 1 hr of sun virtually anywhere in this country. The panels MORE then keep up with our power usage in the camper (I only bring them out on day three and only for a few hours) so forget about a Genie, they will charge your car battery, so forget jumper leads or portable jumper boxes, the only thing is they are heavy, and big, but when your are working out your packing, these are a must have. If I was to do it again, I would install them on the roof of the camper, and try and get maybe a smaller 40W panel on the roof of the car (I’ve seen them installed as a wind deflector in front of the roof racks, Uncle Garth…) sure the argument is that you normally park the camper in the shade, but even in good shade, you would struggle not to have at least an hour of sun at some time of the day.

3. Snatch Strap/MaxTrax

Recovery gear is expensive, especially if you really buy into all the “must haves”. Every bloke I have spoken to so far (and I don’t mind a chat so over 6000k’s and 7 weeks, I’ve chatted to a few) who own a winch has either never used it, or only used it drag firewood out of the bush. BUT, just about every bloke I’ve spoken to has used their snatch strap or MaxTrax more then a dozen times. Do not leave home with out them. (Yes I do not have MaxTrax yet, but as soon as we get into Darwin we will be getting a pair, classic example of “nah we won’t need those” but turns out we could have used them a few times)

4. Decent LED Headlamp.

No, the $4.99 Crazy Clarkes one is not what I’m angling at here. Two very important reasons you need a good headlamp, It is dark out here, like really dark, especially with no moon and secondly, a decent headlamp will allow you to have a better nights sleep. What? Hang on…. How does a headlamp help you sleep? Well if your finer half is able to light up 250mtrs ahead and 80mtrs across, they are more inclined to go to the toilet on their own 7 times a night with requiring you to stand guard.

A tip on this one, there are literally hundred of headlamps on the market, and it is hard to know if 10/20/40/230 lumens is sufficient or not. Well we bought headlamps which at their maximum setting do 70 lumens, this is plenty. Yet to have to replace the original standard Duracells they came with so it’s too early to tell if the rechargeable options are worth it. I hate spending money on disposable batteries, so I like the idea of rechargeable headlamps (they use either USB or some 12v plug) but they were much much more expensive.

5. Suspension Upgrade

Ok, whilst possibly not essential, I truly believe we would have sustained damage in places we have been had we not lifted the car, and I would not imagine your stock set of shockies would handle the roads as well as our Billies have. If you are towing, especially the weight we are (1150kg) your stock set of springs are going to sag considerably, and therefore increase your chance of damage. Forget ride comfort and all that rubbish, go higher rated springs then your think you will need, because you will be heavier then your estimates, we had 3 different rated springs in the car (OEM, heavy duty and finally extra heavy duty) and we never felt any difference in ride comfort…. This might be he quality of the Bilstien shockies??? I don’t know, but go heavier.

6. Air Compressor/Tyre gauge

A perfect case of what I thought might be a bit of big boy bling, but I snagged a special and got one cheap (Tigerz 11, $129) we have used it at least once a week. If you are not dropping tyre pressures on these roads you are asking for punctures and suspension trouble, we have found 30psi on ‘normal’ roads (no faster then 80kph) 25psi on bad roads (no faster then 40kph) and 18psi in the sand to be serving us well, oh, and 42psi when we do find some of that horrid black stuff.

Get a good tyre gauge and use it exclusively, DO NOT USE SERVICE STATION GUAGES. We learned this heading out to Carisbrooke station. I checked the tyres at the Winton BP and could not believe that we had lost almost 10psi in every tyre (should have been alarm bells but hey, rookie error) so I topped them all up, only to drive out to Carisbrooke on what turned out to be tyres at 45psi. The gauge at BP Winton was 10psi out, I had planned to go to Carisbrooke on 35psi (still a bit high with experience now) but at 35psi on their gauge turned to to be 45!!

7. Extra Spare Tyres

Thank you Aaron and Garth for the fabrication and welding of the dual spare carrier on the back of Karen Camper. Spare tyres are heavy, the tools to take a tyre off a rim and replace with a new one are cumbersome, so it was a big decision to take 2 more spare tyres. I can tell you the amount of people I speak to who have had multiple punctures are amazing, fingers crossed we have only had a split valve, and a screw in another, but I can tell you, once that spare tyre is on, if you didn’t have another one, it is very stressful.

8. Tools

My MiniMax 3/8 socket set gets used every day
My tool box gets used every day with:
Flat and Phillips screwdrivers (including a stumpy Phillips)
Large and medium sized Shifters
Needle nose and normal pliers
Wire stripper/crimper (good one, not those $5 ones)
Tape measure
Cold chisel
Spirit level
Q-Bond adhesive
Duct tape
Good multi-grips
Silicone spray

9. Bottom filler for camper water tanks

Don’t muck around with top filler pipes and breathers and rerouting them and levelling them yadda yadda yadda. Just install a filler pipe that goes into the bottom of the tank, and ensure your breather runs nice and high before it come back out. After doing this, this is the first time we have ever managed to fill both tanks in the camper, and trust me, water is precious out here. As a guide, we are finding we are getting about 10days from our combined 140ltrs, no showers. We still carry 2 x 20ltr jerrys as well but that is for emergencies. We never use anything but our own water for these results. (Might go up now the weather is warmer)

10. MULTIPLE hose tap fittings.

Because we avoid the caravan parks as if they are leper colonies, the first one we pulled into we realised we couldn’t use the water because we didn’t have the tap fitting. No problems, I ducked to the shop/newsagent/bottle-o/pharmacy/bakery/butchery/camping store/repco/electrical store/toy store/hardware (love these Jack-of-all-trade shops out here!) and bought the tap fitting for $2.99, got back to camp, screwed it on and away we went. At the next caravan park, it broke…. Moral of the story, carry a couple of them, or, not saying I did this, hang around camp until after 10:00am checkout, then walk around to all the sites that had rental Maui/Britz vans in them the night before and just grab all the ones they left behind on the taps…… I’ve been told they can be sold for $30ea to people in rental Maui/Britz Vans who roll in at 14:00pm checkin….. I’m told.

11. The Wheelie Bin Bag

I know I said top 10, and this is supposed to be “essential” bits of kit but the Wheelie Bin Bag has to get an honourable mention. Again, $100 was a lot to spentd on a rubbish bag, but again, it is something we use every day, and constantly find ourselves saying, “I love that rubbish bin”. How many times do you find yourself saying that? Ahhhh…. The simple things in life…..

Categories: Camping, Planning | 7 Comments

30 Random Notes for 30 days on the road

Hey Everyone – we are back in internet reception for the day in Alice Springs while we do a few jobs before heading north in search of warmer weather!  We are finding it hard to get any internet reception in our camping spots so we are a bit behind with our blog posts but just so you know we have had an awesome last couple of weeks exploring the East and West MacDonell Ranges – beautiful spots and we will get some posts through as soon as we can!  In the meantime we are coming up on nearly 6 weeks on the road – it has gone soooooo fast!  We put this below list together to sum up our first month on the road – just a nice summary for us to look back on when our trip is all over – thought you guys might find it interesting too!!

1. Snap lock bags are awesome – soooo many uses!
2. Sooooo much dirt & dust – Jess really doesn’t like the dust!
3. Lexi is petrified of long drop toilets
4. Bush weeing for girls is much harder than for boys!
5. Laundromats & washing clothes for a family on the road is expensive (hoard your $1 coins!)
6. It costs 50cents for adults to use public toilets in Alice Springs
7. If planning on gem fossicking with kids – install trailer at back of your camper to tow all of the ‘amazing treasures’ home! (Grammy & Grunda have a lot to answer for!)
8. Our kids talk a lot, all of the time, often all at once & loudly
9. Hippies in combi vans seem to be clothing optional after midnight – even in crowded caravan parks in Alice Springs
10. A game of car cricket out here takes two days to get in to double digits!
11. We’ve learnt how to do the camp shower dance – learning how to put your trackies on without letting them touch the wet floor!
12. Socks & thongs are perfectly able to be worn together when camping in winter!
13. 0 degrees in a camper is cold – very cold!
14. Tyre pressure must be dropped in soft sand when towing the camper or we will get bogged – twice!
15. Freddo Frogs are a very effective form of bribery when you want your kids to do just one more walk when they have walked over 20km’s in the last 3 days!
16. We absolutey could not live without our saucepan & frying pan – we use them just about every meal!
17. We expected to be able to cook & eat outside all of the time – instead it has been so cold that we have only eaten outside about 5 times to date!
18. It is actually quite tiring sightseeing all the time!
19. Clothes really can be worn for at least 3 days before they are truly dirty!
20. To date our trip fatalities are, 1 shovel & 1 spotlight lost to the Plenty Highway, 1 camper foot and mudflap lost to the Mereenie Loop, one left hand mudflap that has been runover & pulled off the back twice, 1 number plate which fell off on the dirt road to Arltunga, one dent in the fuel tank from reversing into a rock at Ruby’s gap, and one fridge pipe that keeps wriggling loose!
21. Our favourite place so far has been our camp at 2mile in the West MacDonnella ranges.
22. It is very difficult to argue quietly in a caravan park!
23. We love the fact that the sun is not rising until after 7am – our kids are sleeping in until then!
24. Since we have been in the Northern Territory we have hardly seen any wildlife beside the roads – dead or alive.
25. So far we have travelled 5,847km’s since we left with an average fuel economy of 14.1 litres per 100 km’s.
26. Having a compressor on board is essential as well as an auxiully battery for a trip like this
27. Matt is in love with his stove top Italian coffee maker – best on road coffee!
28. We are also loving our wheelie bag (garbage bag on back of car) and decent head torches – money well spent
29. The Northern Territory National Parks are great – clean long drop toilets, individual fireplaces with cooking plates & tables, ranger talks are awesome!
30. We are not ready to come home yet!!!

Categories: Camping, Planning | 6 Comments

The Big Day is Here!

Well – we did finally hit the road and make it out of Samford today at about 1pm …………………. and we made it all the way to Wynnum – about 45 minutes away!

It took us quite a while this morning to get organised enough to get away – and while we are still not packed properly – we do feel like we are a bit more sorted in the camper.  We bid farewell (sniff, sniff) to the Hanstede and Sheil families after finally gathering up the last of our belongings!

Matt’s younger brother James flew back in from five months in the UK today so we decided to have a last night in Brisbane staying with Carla (Matt’s cousin) and Lachie (thank you soooooo much guys!) for a night, who hosted a Fealy/Neary cousins BBQ for us all to catch up.  It’s taken a trip around Australia to make us come over to the other side of Brisbane for a visit!!!

We are very disappointed that our little Toyota Yaris didn’t sell today.  We had a buyer interested from Thursday and he even called at 7.30am this morning to say he was catching a bus from Toowoomba to come and buy it, but after running around to meet him in the city and checking to make sure bank’s etc would be open – he drove it and decided not to buy the car after all – sooo frustrating!.  So we have gone with our plan F – which is for Matt’s little brother James to drive it back up to Far North Queensland for us next week and try to sell it up there for us over the next month or so.  Aaaaargh, so annoying that it hasn’t sold before we head off on our trip – but fingers crossed it won’t take too much longer – otherwise our trip will be much shorter than we expected!  We had hoped that the car would be sold before we left so we could hit the road ‘free agent’s with nothing to worry about, but I am learning (lesson number one for the trip) that best laid plans don’t always come through!!

While Matt took the Yaris into the city – I drove the car and camper to a spot just outside the city (I was not game enough to be driving the whole rig through the city!) and parked to wait for Matt to be hopefully dropped off and the car sold and driven away.  While I was waiting I turned the car off – but did not remove the keys from the ignition which meant the car headlights stayed on.  Consequently, when Matt returned – with an unsold car – he also found I had deadened the battery on the Prado – needless to say we were both happy campers at that point – not!  Thankfully we had the switch to flick over to the second battery and we headed over to Wynnum at last!

The next unfortunate incident occurred as we were parking the car and camper out the front of Carla and Lachie’s house.  Matt was reversing the car and camper up alongside the curb, and due to the fact that the car/camper are now much heavier – we have realised the mudflaps Matt made are too long – unfortunately this meant that as Matt was reversing – he ran over the mudflap and pulled the bumper off the back of the left hand rear tyre.  Awesome.  But we picked it up off the ground – threw it in the car – and decided to think about it tomorrow and enjoy our last night with family.  And that is exactly what we did – a night with family has lifted our spirits.

We will hit the road for real tomorrow.  We have no idea which way we are headed – except the general direction of West -ish.  We think we will just ask the kids in the morning ‘left or right’ as we leave Brisbane and see where that takes us.  We’ll do some more sorting out at our next stop.  We need to find a weigh-bridge as the camper and car feel very heavy and we need to see what weight we are actually sitting at – there may be some emergency dumping required!

It will be interesting to see where we pull up tomorrow! Some photos from our first day ……………

Farewell to the Hanstede family!

Farewell to the Hanstede family!

Jack and his best mate Connor

Jack and his best mate Connor

Tobe and his best mate Patrick

Tobe and his best mate Patrick

Farewell to the Sheil family xoxoxoxox

Farewell to the Sheil family xoxoxoxox

Welcome home Uncle Jimbo!

Welcome home Uncle Jimbo!

Madi & Lex with their 'Tinkerbell' pressies from Paris from Uncle Jimbo

Madi & Lex with their ‘Tinkerbell’ pressies from Paris from Uncle Jimbo

Spoilt nephews with their costumes bought for them in London by Uncle Jimbo!

Spoilt nephews with their costumes bought for them in London by Uncle Jimbo!

Lovely night with the Fealy/Neary cousins - thank you so much to Carla & Lachie for having us!

Lovely night with the Fealy/Neary cousins – thank you so much to Carla & Lachie for having us!

The Fealy Boys

The Fealy Boys

Categories: Planning | 8 Comments

The Night Before Departure

Lovely farewell message from Toby's teacher outside his classroom today.

Lovely farewell message from Toby’s teacher outside his classroom today.

Exhausted.  It is June the 1st tomorrow – a day that we have been seriously planning for over 18mths now.  I wish I could say we are excited – and I know that we really are somewhere in there – but we are just soooo tired and emotionally drained.  I know that we are sounding like big whingers and you’ll all be thinking ‘buck up – get into it!’, but I’m trying to truthfully record this adventure and dog tired is all we’ve got tonight.  That and a whole lot of gratefulness for all the kindness’s we have been shown over the last couple of weeks.

We moved into the camper at ‘Camp Hanstede’ yesterday – in the pouring rain – we even sat down for dinner (kindly made for us by Stella – thank you!) and there was a huge clap of thunder and lightening – what the????  We’re really trying to take that as a good omen!  When I say moved in to the camper – I mean we squeezed in amongst all the bits and pieces that we have no idea how we are going to make fit in here!

Jack reading a bedtime story to the kids on our first night moved in to the camper.

Jack reading a bedtime story to the kids on our first night moved in to the camper.

Yep - it is a real mess!

Yep – it is a real mess!

I honestly thought we would have time as we were moving out of the house to be packing the camper at the same time – didn’t happen!  Then I thought – no worries – we will sort it all out while we are staying at the neighbours – didn’t happen.  Now I am thinking that we are just going to jam it all in somewhere, hit the road tomorrow somehow and figure it all out as we get travelling.  It is just time to get going and know that it will all come together.  I thought I was being ruthless with my packing and that we would have no problems fitting it all in – I was very, very wrong!!  Maybe we will just head to the beach somewhere and spend the weekend getting it all sorted – who knows?  We’ll decide in the morning and that is the beauty of the trip I guess!

Matt finally finished work today – hooray!

Matt's farewell gift from his team at work - he is very happy!

Matt’s farewell gift from his team at work – he is very happy!

Matt with 'the FCL Captain'!

Matt with ‘the FCL Captain’!

The kids had their last day at school, which was surprisingly a little sad for them!  Both the boys teachers did a lovely little farewell for them in class, a big thank you to Miss Jane, Mrs Donaldson and Mrs Blakey – wonderful teacher’s who have all been so supportive and helpful with putting together some materials to help with the kid’s schooling on the road.

We did also manage to get our spare tyre for Peter Prado sorted this week, the tear in the camper wall stitched up like brand new (great Canvas stitching place at Morayfield!) and all done in an hour for only $60, our mail redirection is on and we have just about said all of our goodbyes including a lovely afternoon tea with the Van Schoor family to check out how they have settled in to ‘our house’ – a little strange seeing it with a new family and looking so different, but also nice to see it so loved!  The goodbyes have been tough – we will miss the wonderful friends we have established in Samford sooooooooo much!  Our neighbours and friends have been like family to us over the last few years – particularly as most of our family live away – so big thank you shout out to the Seaborn, Sheil, English and Hanstede family’s who have been a big part of our lives over our time here – we will miss you!

So with all of the hard stuff out of the way, and no more work and school to worry about, things should start to feel a little easier.  Off to bed now for some sleep and to wake to the start of our adventure, let the freedom begin!

PS. And finger’s crossed for sunshine in the morning so we don’t have to load up in the rain and pull the camper down wet!

The Day has finally arrived!

The Day has finally arrived!

Categories: Planning | 3 Comments

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