Planning

1 Week to Go!

Where to start?  I can’t really believe that this time next week we will already have spent our first few nights on the road!  Very surreal that something we have been planning for two years is actually happening!!!  I don’t think it had really sunk in that we were leaving until we saw the tow track struggling to lift the container filled with all of our belongings, onboard.  Even more surreal is the fact that container is now sitting in Far North Queensland waiting for us to relocate up there at the end of our trip!

Filled to the brim!

Filled to the brim!

Padlock on for the first time - we unlocked at least three times to squeeze in last items nearly forgotten!

Padlock on for the first time – we unlocked at least three times to squeeze in last items nearly forgotten!

Unloading in Far North Qld

Unloading in Far North Qld

Last week was a huge week filled with the final (hooray!) packing and cleaning!  I must say a huge thank you to my Mum who did the lion’s share of the cleaning of our house while I finished the packing and ran around after the kids.  We were soooooo lucky she was here – it was a huge job in the end – we hadn’t realised how big our house was and how much wall space, blinds and windows there were to clean, and how lacking my housework had been!!!  I don’t think our house has ever been cleaner – it was tempting to just move back in and live in it all sparkly and fresh!  We managed to squish all off our belongings in to the container but only just!!

We enjoyed the last moments with our fireplace - pizza picnic on the last night in our house - we spent our first night in our house this same way five years ago!

We enjoyed the last moments with our fireplace – pizza picnic on the last night in our house – we spent our first night in our house this same way five years ago!

We moved in to our neighbours house last Friday, which is where we will spend most of this week, house-sitting, petsitting and childminding while they are away.  The kids are having a ball but I am finding that washing, making lunches and breakfasts and dinners for five kids is testing my organisational skills hehehehe!  We were so appreciative though to have a house with a fridge, beds and carpet, a shed to put the camper in and dump all of our yet to be packed stuff, after camping out in our house for the last ten days or so!  Eeeek – I am now a bit worried about how I am going to last on the road if I felt this grateful to be in a fully functional house after only 10 days of ‘semi camping’!!!!!

Fealy & Sheil kids at 'Sheil Farm'

Fealy & Sheil kids at ‘Sheil Farm’

We handed over our keys on Saturday to the new residents of ‘our house’, which was a relief on one hand that the packing/moving was over but sad to being saying goodbye to our home on the other.  It was very strange seeing a removal truck there today and turning into the driveway across the road is very strange too!!  Saturday afternoon was spent enjoying the freedom of not having a looming deadline and a mountain of work to do!

Kids final play on their fort

Kids final play on their fort

On Sunday we headed to the local pub for a very laid back farewell lunch with friends and family.  I need to write a seperate post on how grateful we are to all the friends and family that have been soooooo good to us over the last 5 years that we have lived in Samford.  We feel so thankful to you all and hope that you will know how much we appreciate your kindness and support as we have prepared for this trip!  We got some very clever and thoughtful gifts including some handmade place-mats for each of us to use in the camper, itunes cards for the kids, a care package of snacks, wipes, and pencils, along with some lovely cards.

Farewell lunch

Farewell lunch

Friends, family and fun

Friends, family and fun

Very hard to be leaving my little sister behind - we love ya Kate - you'll have to find someone else's pantry to raid on weekends now!

Very hard to be leaving my little sister behind – we love ya Kate – you’ll have to find someone else’s pantry to raid on weekends now!

Goodbye Johnson Family - thanks for the good times!!

Goodbye Johnson Family – thanks for the good times!!

This week is still super busy!  We need to pack the camper – everything is currently in our neighbour’s house or shed and now needs to go into the camper – there still seems to be a lot of ‘stuff’ depsite my best efforts to be ruthless in my trip packing!  I hope it all fits in!!  Today we had the roof racks for the car replaced by Tigerz11 as they were rusting!  Hopefully this one will be ok!

Rusting roof racks!

Rusting roof racks!

Tomorrow we need to take a panel of the camper wall over to have a tear repaired, as well as have our spare tyre fitted to the Prado rim we were generously given as a loan for the trip.  Other than that lots of small jobs like finalising our mail redirection, last meetings with the kids teacher’s, finalise car and camper insurance, buying a new camping chair each for Matt & I, some grocery shopping for the road, haircuts. beauty treatments, organise a present for Lex for her birthday, birthday cupcakes for kindy and oh I don’t know, heaps more stuff that I can’t remember!!  Oh, and the small detail that we still haven’t sold our little Toyota Yaris which is the petrol money for our trip – very stressful!  And we still haven’t found a home for our cat Slinky yet either!!  Nothing like going down to the wire I guess!!!  We are still planning to leave Samford on Saturday, the 1st of June, but will probably only make it over to the other side of Brisbane at this stage as we are hoping to say hello to Matt’s little brother who is flying back in to Australia that day after nearly five months in Europe.

So close now and we are getting very excited!!!

Anybody able to adopt or foster our cat Slinky?

Slinky - 5 yrs old femaie desexed

Slinky – 5 yrs old femaie desexed

Very child friendly cat!

Very child friendly cat!

Or want to buy our little car?

http://www.carsales.com.au/private/details/toyota-yaris-2010-14833838

Categories: Planning | 3 Comments

2 Weeks to Go!

Not many days to cross off now!

Not many days to cross off now!

Well, thought I’d better do a quick post so you all know we are still alive – just – and we haven’t decided to call the trip off just yet!  We have however, spent the last week arguing over whose dumb idea it was to head off around Australia in a camper van for 8 months – especially heading off in the middle of winter!  We have decided that we never, ever, ever want to do this moving gig again – the next move will be it!

Having said all that – we are getting there – the container is just about full, the house is mostly empty and we are probably a third of the way through the cleaning.  It hasn’t been all bad – I am finished up at work – yippppeeee (I will miss you though BMR crew!!) and my mum is here visiting (ok – not so much visiting as slave labour, but nice to have her here all the same!) and it does feel good to have done a bit of a sort of our life possessions (probably not ruthless enough)!  We have been feeling very grateful for the kind friends we have around us!  Big thanks to Michelle for dropping over a yummy batch of freshly baked muffins on the weekend, it was a big lift when I was feeling pretty over it all and wondering how on earth we would get it all done!  Also thanks to Luke for giving Matt a hand to lift the really heavy stuff after I went on strike, cried, and said ‘I wasn’t a man and I couldn’t lift any more’!  And thanks to Luke and Duncan for the loan of the trailers again – we should have bought shares in those trailers!!  We really appreciate all your kindness neighbours and friends!

With hopefully only a few more days of stressful cleaning and packing to go to make our ‘handover keys’ deadline on Saturday – a little bit of excitement is starting to creep in!  I can’t wait for next week when we will just get to focus on finalising all the packing into the camper!  Less than 2 weeks to go!

The muscles are very sore from all the lifting and carrying and mum and I have to get back to work – tackling the walls in the lounge room tonight so must drag ourselves away from the fire and get back to it!  Hopefully the next post will see us all moved out!!  Anybody got any good cleaning tips for us????

Spoilt on my last day at work with a farewell morning tea, lunch, card and gift!

Spoilt on my last day at work with a farewell morning tea, lunch, card and gift!

Awww - lovely farewell cards!

Awww – lovely farewell cards!

Watching Grammy's plane arrive!

Watching Grammy’s plane arrive!

Mum & I hard at work late one night packing up the kitchen.

Mum & I hard at work late one night packing up the kitchen.

Packing chaos!

Packing chaos!

Container, camper, rubbish -  piles going into each!

Container, camper, rubbish – piles going into each!

Empty container

Empty container

Container Tetris started

Matt is very good at Container Tetris 

Halfway Makr

Halfway Mark

Trailer load off to Vinnies

Trailer load off to Vinnies

Camping out already - at least we have a fire in the house though!

Camping out already – at least we have a fire in the house though!

Camping out in the lounge room - enjoying the last days with our fireplace!

Camping out in the lounge room – enjoying the last days with our fireplace!

A quick trip out to Bribie Island to see my Aunty Glenda who is visiting from New Zealand.  And to meet my Dad's cousin Cheryl.

A quick trip out to Bribie Island to see my Aunty Glenda who is visiting from New Zealand. And to meet my Dad’s cousin Cheryl.

Packing, packing!

Packing, packing!

Grammy slave labour - the things you have to do for your kids!

Grammy slave labour – the things you have to do for your kids!

Giving his chooks some quality time before we go!

Giving his chooks some quality time before we go!

Categories: Planning | 4 Comments

3 Weeks to Go!

IMG_2690Well, the container which we have purchased to pack our house into arrived today.  This signals the start of ‘Hell Fortnight’ for us.  By next Saturday the 24th of May we will need to be all packed up in the van and the entire contents of our house –  4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, shed, deck and garage full of stuff into a 20 foot shipping container – eeeek!

I have heaps of posts I still want to write, hopefully I will get an update out this week on where we are at with our ‘Light Bulb Moment’ – we’re still excited about it but finding it hard now to fit in time for all the research and connecting we would like to do!  Please stay with us if you find the Blog posts a little less frequent over the next couple of weeks – we will be back on track once we hit the road!

Only two more days of work left for me which is exciting!  I have really enjoyed the last five years at BMR Business Solutions and will miss the lovely people there – if you need a good accountant in Brisbane definitely give Brett a call!!  I was so lucky to have such a flexible boss and rewarding role all only 7 minutes from my kitchen to my desk!!  However, it will be nice to have a break from tax returns, financial statements and excel spreadsheets for a while!

Last week Matt did the final service on the car, replacing the brakes and fluids – something to do with coolant and diff oil??, put new windscreen wipers on, made a set of longer mudflaps for the car, and a few other things that I forget now – something to do with a secondary fuel filter install I think!  He didn’t finish until 1am (thanks again to ‘talktotheroo’ from Prado Point for showing Matt the ropes)and made lots of mess and noise on the driveway!  He is feeling very ’empowered’ about learning some new ‘blokey’ skills so I will leave it to him to fill you when he gets a chance!

Matt's first go at making our own mudflap extensions to avoid having to spend lots of $$$ on buying something to do the job - we'll see how they go!

Matt’s first go at making our own mudflap extensions to avoid having to spend lots of $$$ on buying something to do the job – we’ll see how they go!

Other than that last week was filled with a little more packing, some final purchases, one of which was a cheap inflatable kayak from Gumtree so that we can paddle out with one of the boys at a time in their kayak when we are in ‘safe’ water territory.

Cheap kayak off Gumtree

Cheap kayak off Gumtree

Matt also got a great bargain of water proof jacket on sale at Anaconda after he finished his shift helping out with the Scout BBQ.  Also in the shopping basket on this day were some sand pegs as we didn’t yet have any, a fishing rod (a goal for the trip is for us to learn how to fish), a life jacket for the kids and some mosquito nets to go over our hats, oh and a new sleeping bag for me (to replace my 15 year old one that no longer zips up) and a warm polar fleece liner for Lexi’s sleeping bag.  And that about rounds up all our pre-trip purchases – hopefully we have everything we need now to get started on the road!

I have been madly washing all of our sleeping bags and camper linen, but since I hung it out on the washing line two days ago we have had bits and pieces of rain which means they are all not getting that lovely sunny, line dried freshness and smell grrrr!  Oh, and Lexi and I have been doing some ‘Procrastination Baking’ too – fun but not helping get the packing done!

Procrastination Baking

Procrastination Baking

Other than that I had the best Mother’s Day yesterday!  This year was the first year the kids remembered all on their own!  I was treated to a 7.45am sleep-in (6 am is the normal wakeup from the kids usually to an ‘I’m hungry’ or to break up a fight happening in the lounge room!) and was then brought breakfast in bed (albeit a bowl of soggy nutrigrain – but it’s the thought that counts!) and some thoughtfully choosen gifts using their $2 each at the Mother’s Day Stall at school – a candle from Toby and a pot plant for Jack along with a handmade bead braclet and chocolates which had been made in class.  I also had a lovely sign made for me and stuck to the kitchen bench!

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

So grateful most of the time to be mum to these three!!

So grateful most of the time to be mum to these three!!

Now I’m just counting down the sleeps until the BEST mum in the world – my mum, arrives on Wednesday – can’t wait!!

PS.  Just had to share this little picture that I took from Toby’s workbook which I was shown during his parent/teacher interview last week – makes us feel like we are making the right decision with our trip!

'Prep's had to draw a picture of a person of personal significance to them in their family'

‘Prep’s had to draw a picture of a person of personal significance to them in their family’

Categories: Planning | Tags: | 7 Comments

The ‘Worry’ List

IMG_2677At this point in our trip preparations I am flipping between being totally excited about heading off and the places we will see, the time we will have to spend all together and the adventure of it all, or like today – totally freaking out about what on earth we have gotten ourselves in for!!

I know I am a stressor and an over thinker.  I know we are heading off on the 1st of June no matter what and that our reasons for doing our trip are important to us.  But I’m worried and just a bit scared and nervous. Not helped by the fact that today the kids were little terrors – misbehaving, fighting and making so much mess!

So here’s my ‘worry list’.  I’m concerned ……………………………………

  1. About how on earth we are going to get our 1 acre block, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 5 person house all packed up and cleaned in time.
  2. That we will be so freezing cold and miserable for the first few months of our trip as we are heading off in the middle of winter.  I’m worried our sleeping bags won’t be warm enough and nor will our clothes!
  3. About our kids thinking that life is just one big holiday and not knowing the value of hard work!  I’m sure with all the camping/travelling we have done with them it seems like all we do is go on holidays!
  4. I feel a bit guilty, that maybe we don’t deserve this trip.  Some people work their whole lives before they get to go off on an adventure like ours.
  5. I’m worried that after 8 years of shift work and crossing paths like ships in the night most of the time, that Matt and I won’t know how to spend so much time together anymore!
  6. About the kids fighting ALL of the time and driving us all nuts!
  7. That we haven’t had enough experience with 4-wheel driving or travelling in remote areas.  I’m not sure what we are in for!  We really wish we had of joined a four wheel drive club a year ago.
  8. That by probably getting to the Kimberley in August we have left it to late and won’t get to see the true beauty of that area.
  9. I’m worried about leaving behind all the great friends and community we have here in Brisbane and not finding anything like that again!  It has taken us this long to finally start feeling like we belong!
  10. About the kids schooling and that we won’t do enough with them while we are travelling and they will get too far behind and have to repeat a year.
  11. I love routine and organising.  I’m not sure I will like not having that.
  12. That something major will break down on the trip or on our house that we are renting which will throw our whole budget for the trip out!
  13. About our little car not selling and having to offload it for whatever we can get, therefore significantly reducing our fuel budget for the trip.
  14. That we are not going to fit everything in the 20ft container we have ordered to store our house.
  15. I’m worried that our dog is losing his marbles and is going to be a burden on those who look after him for us.

And there are so many more little silly things but those are the main ones!  What on earth are we thinking doing this trip?!?!

I’m taking myself off to bed, I am sure it will all seem better in the morning and hopefully in a few months I can laugh at all these worries.

Nothing Great is Easy, Nothing Great is Easy, Nothing Great is Easy …………………………………..

Categories: About Us, Planning | Tags: | 11 Comments

4 Weeks To Go!

Aaaaaargh!  Feels very surreal to be saying 4 weeks to go until we hitch up the camper and head west for 7 or so months on the road!!  Aaaaargh – soooooooo much to do before then!  However, we are getting there. Only 5 more days at work left for me, 14 more shifts left at work for Matt.  The kids have their last swimming lesson tomorrow. Our container arrives early next week along with backup in the form of my Mum who will spend a week with us hopefully getting us all moved out of our house and everything clean and ready for our tenants who have signed on the dotted line for a twelve month lease!!  Welcome to the Samford Road crew, Van Schoor family!

Bonfire and roast dinner to welcome the soon to be new residents of 'our house'.

Bonfire and roast dinner to welcome the soon to be new residents of ‘our house’.

The Samford Road kids!  Don't mess with them!

The Samford Road kids! Don’t mess with them!

Matt has been super busy this last month, putting in lots of overtime at work, making a bizzilion phone calls chasing down car/camper parts and spare tyres, insurance quotes, changing our mobile phones over to Telstra so hopefully we get better coverage while we’re travelling, and organising our home removal/container for storage.  It’s all made for a pretty crazy last few weeks!

Goofing around - showing off our new first aid kits and spare tyre rubbish bag!

Goofing around – showing off our new first aid kits and spare tyre rubbish bag!

We’re really excited (I know – excited about a rubbish bin?!?!?) about our new ‘Bushranger Wheelie Bin’ which goes on the back of the spare tyre on Peter Prado.  We’ve wanted one of these for ages as we are always looking for somewhere to keep all our rubbish locked away from wildlife when camping, especially in National Parks where rubbish bins are not provided and you have to take all your rubbish out – as a five member family we are able to generate far too much rubbish over a week of camping which usually must be stored in the back of the car (very smelly!) until we come across a bin to dispose of it all!  We got a great discount on our First Aid kits from Give Life Center for being members of the MySwag forum.

Matt has also spent two seperate days as an apprentice mechanic learning how to service the car and the camper this month.  I was a little nervous that Matt had pulled the car apart and couldn’t put it back together when he had been gone for 10 hours on the day he serviced the car – but many thanks to ‘talktotheroo’ from Prado Point who spent the day showing Matt the ropes and sending both Matt and the car home in one piece!  Last week we added a  snorkel to Peter Prado – we’re looking bush ready now!!

Peter Prado's new bling - a snorkel!

Peter Prado’s new bling – a snorkel!

Karen Camper is now sporting new brakes and bearings, and has been greased all over after a day spent at Caboolture Caravan Repair.  Many thanks to Adrian there who again allowed Matt to be on the tools for the day.  Matt has learnt so much from those two days and we are feeling much more confident that we can deal with any small mechanical issues that we may come across as we travel.  A trip back to Russell at Kedron Car Electrics sorted out all the brake/lights etc issues – many thanks Rus!

Karen Camper at the Caravan 'Day Spa' - getting a service!

Karen Camper at the Caravan ‘Day Spa’ – getting a service!

The packing/clearing out continues – we have to be out of our house by the 25th of May so the countdown is really on!  I came back from a night out at bookclub a few weeks ago to find our lounge gone – so Gumtree is doing its job!!!

Trailer load off to the dump - very liberating feeling!

Trailer load off to the dump – very liberating feeling!

Now we just need to sell our little ‘Haris the Yaris’ who is providing our petrol money for the trip.  Anybody know somebody who needs a great first car or family runabout??

And just proof that the kids are still alive – we haven’t given them away yet!  So, we’re getting there, we just want to get on the road now!!!

Fealy kids still smiling despite their tired and stressed mum and dad!!

Fealy kids still smiling despite their tired and stressed mum and dad!!

 

Categories: Planning | 5 Comments

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

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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