PCFA Charity Rally

Everyone knows we love travelling and have been lucky enough to see our fair share of Australia already.  Generally we tend to travel by ourselves, but one of our friends, Vic Widman of Great Divide Tours, has teamed up with Charity Car Events to run an outback 4WD rally to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. We realise we are very fortunate to live the life we do and we therefore like to give a little back to others who may be struggling in life.  When we heard about this event, we decided this was something we would love to be part of.

Did you know that 3,300 men die from prostate cancer each year in Australia, that’s 9 men each and every day.  And 20,000 Australian men a year receive a new diagnosis. 

Cancer is one of those horrible diseases that has affected nearly every one of us at one stage or another, even personally we have been affected so if we can do just a small bit to help raise money for any type of cancer research we are happy with that.

On Sunday 30 July 2017 a group of 4WD enthusiasts will start a 7 day convoy from Cobar in Far Western NSW and over the next week we will travel to Tibooburra, Innamincka, Birdsville, Maree, Flinders Ranges and finally finishing up in Broken Hill. The trip will also include a day trip in to the Simpson Desert to tackle the iconic ‘Big Red’.  At 30 meters high, this is the biggest sand dune in the Simpson Desert. We tackled Big Red years ago in our old Prado, so will be great to take the new one out there as well.

We have been lucky enough to visit all of these places before, but always happy to head back again!  The most exciting part is that this time we will be able to step foot inside the Birdsville Hotel!  Our last visit to Birdsville was just prior to the Birdsville Races and we couldn’t even get near the pub, let alone get inside!

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Tibooburra


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Innamincka


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Birdsville


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Simpson Desert


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Big Red, Simpson Desert


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Flinders Ranges


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Broken Hill

It looks like a great trip and a great way to see a little of outback Australia, so if anyone is interested in joining the rally, click here to read all about it.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Now this is the important part, if anyone would like to donate, please click on the link above.  The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and us would be grateful for any donations, large or small.

All donations go directly to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and of course all donations over $2 are tax-deductible.

Of course we will be updating everyone along the way so stay tuned for blog posts or follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/georgeandshelly

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The Rover Trail

The Rover Trail 4WD track at Coffs Harbour really is one of the must do tracks for any 4WD enthusiast visiting the area. It’s a great track that gives you a little bit of everything, including very steep hill climbs and descents and lots of very deep ruts.

With these obstacles and its clay base, this isn’t the type of track you’d want to be stuck on during wet weather.

img_8409Coffs Harbour is known for its great 4WD tracks, and with names such as Morbid Trail, Commando Trail and Widow Maker, just to name a few, that tends to give you an idea of what some of the terrain might be like!

Not really sure what we were expecting with this track, but it was definitely challenging.

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We both had more than capable vehicles and appropriate recovery equipment, including a winch on Mark’s 4WD, so we were prepared for whatever came our way.

It certainly wasn’t for the inexperienced 4WDer though and I wouldn’t head out there without at least one other vehicle with you.

We spent nearly the whole track with lockers on and it was slow going trying to manoeuvre around the obstacles and track building to help us through.

At times the hill climbs were near vertical and you could only see the sky – this is an interesting driving experience when you can’t see the track to know what’s coming up! This is where walking first and/or having a spotter outside the vehicle is required.

There were some serious leans due to the ruts and this was slightly concerning at times when you had a big drop off down one side and a rock wall on the other! The chance of some panel damage was definitely likely on this track, but luckily we both made it through unscathed.img_8421

The track itself isn’t very long, but due to the condition and needing to constantly stop to assess which line to take and having a spotter to guide the driver, it probably took us a few hours to complete it.  We didn’t have any serious issues though, but we only had two vehicles, so do be prepared and leave plenty of time to complete this track, particularly if you have more vehicles in your group to make it through.

As we were the first ones through we realised after the fact that we don’t really have any photos of our 4WD on the track, as each time we stopped to help Mark with directions and guide him through, it was his vehicle that we were taking photos and videos of!

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All up we’d describe this as a very fun, yet challenging track…highly recommended for experienced 4WD enthusiasts. A vehicle with high clearance, low range, lockers and a winch would be recommended.

 

 

 

A week at Urunga

Our recent trip took us up to the north coast of NSW to a place called Urunga.  Urunga is a small, relaxed waterfront town where the Bellinger and Kalang rivers meet with the ocean.  It’s about 25km south of Coffs Harbour so it’s a little quieter and without all the crowds, just how we like it!  Leaving early on boxing day and arriving back after the new year, it was only fitting that our years ended and started with us camping.  Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come for the coming year as our intention is to get out and about more often, even if only for the odd weekend away.

We spent the week camped at the Urunga Waters Tourist Park with our mate Mark and his kids, MaryAnn and Anthony.  This is an older style park, but the thing we loved about it is that it wasn’t too crowded.  It’s right on the water and has its own swimming pool aswell so what more could you ask for.

img_5579-3We would definitely stay here again if we are in the area, maybe even take the dogs up there for a week as it’s pet friendly.

The amenities blocks are very small and they, as well as the camp kitchen could do with a little tlc and upgrade, but they did the job.

This park is perfect for the fishermen, with its own boat ramp and complete waterfront access you can be out there all day, every day.

Tuesday we played tourist and visited the Big Banana, Carobana and the Pet Porpoise Pool, and of course we fitted in time for a quick swim as well!

img_5609Carobana is every chocoholics dream destination!  This place is full of carob based products from choc covered nuts and popcorn to rocky road, brittles and honeycomb and the best thing about this place is there are free samples!

This is a working factory and it’s in production most days and open for viewing.  img_5605

 

The day we visited they were making honeycomb and we were invited in by the workers and they showed us how they make a batch of honeycomb from start to finish …. even including taste testing for us!

After we finished the viewing we moved on to see how they coat the honeycomb in chocolate.

The Pet Porpoise Pool is a great day out and has always been a favourite of ours over the years.  If you are a fan of dolphins or have ever dreamt of kissing a sea lion or patting a dolphin, then this is the place for you!   The show is what it’s all about, watching the sea lions and dolphins performing their tricks and showing off to the crowd.  You can also have a photo taken kissing or feeding a sea lion, receiving a dolphin kiss or feeding a penguin.

Also, at a cost, they have more up close and personal experiences where you can actually get in the water with the animals, the kids were excited to have a dolphin experience where they were in the water patting and learning about dolphins.

The park itself isn’t all about fun and tourist visits, it does have a serious side to it and they do some amazing work rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured marine animals, before releasing them back to their natural homes.   They also have a large focus on teaching people to change their behavior and views through education programs held at the park.

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Wednesday we headed out for a day on the tracks.  Coffs Harbour is known for its great 4WD tracks so we had to check them out.  To start with we found a few trails that weren’t overly exciting, visually the scenery was nice, but not really anything more than a fire trail.  We then headed off in search of the Rover Trail.

The GPS was set and it decided the best way to reach the track was via another track called The Morbid Trail.  Now the name itself doesn’t really give you a warm fuzzy feeling does it, but we thought we’d check it out anyway.  Got to the frist climb, went half way up, chickened out and reversed the whole way down!  There are a few tracks up there with some interesting names ……. Morbid Trail, Commando Trail, Widow Maker ….. as we tend to like our cars and felt that we really needed them to get us home, we chose not to tackle any of these tracks!

Finally we found our way to the start of the Rover Trail.  img_8428This was a great, fun track (‘fun’ isn’t exactly the word Mark would use to describe this track though!).  It’s difficult in parts and you really do need a capable car and driver, but we had fun, we made it through unscathed and it’s another one we can mark off the bucket list!  There will be another blog post with more photos and info on this track.

img_5613Thursday took us to Boambee beach.  This is one of the beaches that you can 4WD on in the Coffs Harbour area.  The great thing is that you don’t need a permit, although we believe there is talk of this changing in the future.img_8509

We spent a great day swimming and relaxing on the beach, as were many other people!

Friday was the day we took a drive along the scenic Waterfall Way, as you can imagine from the name, it takes you to waterfalls!  The drive takes you through the small towns of Bellingen and Dorrigo and it’s worth a stop in these towns to have a bite to eat or a look around.  The scenery on this drive is spectacular, the landscape changes from lush green countryside to rainforests and waterfalls.

First stop was Ebor Falls.  Ebor Falls occur where the Guy Fawkes River plunges over two waterfalls, the upper and lower falls.  This spot lends itself to some great photo opportunities.  The Gumbaynggirr people traditionally called Ebor Falls ‘Martiam’, which means the great falls.

Not far from the town of Dorrigo you reach the Dangar Falls, which are just as spectacular as the Ebor Falls.  The day we visited there were many people swimming below the falls which would have been great, but it was so unbelievably hot and the idea of walking up and down that hill was not appealing at all!

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A quick visit to the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre on the way back gave us some more photo opportunities.  There are quite a few walks you can do here, but again, with the heat it just wasn’t making for an enjoyable walking experience! Although the temperature did drop slightly once you started to head into the rainforest.

It’s worth a stop at this centre, even if only to see the suspended platform which affords views over the escarpment and into the distance.

Upon returning to Urunga we took a drive out to The Honey Place.  This is quite an interesting place where you can see working beehives and taste the various honey varieties.  The gift shop has numerous products for sale from t-shirts and souvenirs to honey-based body products (moisturisers and lip balms etc) and obviously the many honey varieties.

They also have an interesting documentary video running which is quite informative and the staff themselves are more than willing to teach you and answer any questions.  We both learned a little about bees during our visit, yes useless information we probably didn’t need to know, but regardless, we learned something new!

img_5634Saturday was spent swimming at Valla Beach.  This beach is great, it’s like natures own water park.  There are rock pools to explore and mini swimming holes for you to sit and relax in.  The tidal lagoon is great for adults and kids, the shallow waters at low tide allow little mini rapids to form and you can float down the creek to where it joins the ocean.  Such a beautiful location, whether you are after a swim, a relax in the sun or a walk along the beach.

Saturday also happened to be New Years Eve and you can’t have a party without decorations!  The kids and Shelly set about decorating the camp site, we had glow sticks and sparklers and lots of food and beer!  img_8581We met a couple who were camping behind us and invited them over to spend NYE with us.  We spent the night laughing and sharing travel stories with our new friends.  They live in WA, but have been on the road travelling since March (jealous is the only word that comes to mind!).

Sunday morning Mark and the kids left early to head back to Sydney so we had the day to ourselves.  With temperatures again in the mid 30’s there was no other option but to head back to the beach, so back to Valla Beach we went.  And guess what ….. there were markets on, what a coincidence!

Monday morning started out a little overcast and drizzling with rain so we decided to head into Coffs Harbour for a look around and a bit of shopping.

img_5600After our day of wandering around we headed back to camp for a relax before deciding to go out to dinner for our last night away.

Now who says you can’t be comfortable while camping, this inflatable pink lounge was the best $20 we’ve spent!  We actually had to fight to get to the lounge first it was so comfy!  Nothing better after a day out than to come back to camp, grab a beer, lay down and take in the view!

For years we’ve driven through Urunga and seen the Anchors Wharf Café sitting down the side of the bridge, but we’d never visited.  After seeing a photo of their seafood platters on their website, this is where George wanted to go!img_5674

Anchors Wharf Cafe & Restaurant sits right on the south bank of the Kalang River at Urunga. The views at sunset are beautiful, it really was such a nice place to spend our last night.

We couldn’t fault this restaurant, the food was delicious and the staff were friendly and attentive. They definitely didn’t skimp on food when it came to the seafood platter, it was packed with yummy fresh seafood and fruit. The prawns were huge and there were so many they didn’t even all get eaten …… anyone who knows George, knows that this would very rarely happen!

 

2016 Cub Brumby: our review

We had been on the camper trailer hunt for a few years, visiting shows and checking out all the campers, reading reviews, talking to owners and checking out EBay and Gumtree. It was something we had always wanted to upgrade to ‘some day’.  Having looked at so many different campers we learned what we did and didn’t like and what we did and didn’t need.  We wanted something that suited us and our style of travelling.   Sure there are plenty of trailers on the market that are really inexpensive compared to what we paid, and they are great for a lot of families, but they just wouldn’t cut it with the type of travel we do.  There are plenty more expensive than ours too and some of the features are amazing, BUT we needed to keep in mind that we were upgrading from a tent so anything was a little bit of luxury for us, we didn’t need to go over the top!

So what did we want? We both agreed that we definitely wanted a hard floor camper.  It had to be quick and easy to set up and pack down.  We were upgrading from a Black Wolf tent which took us 30 min to have our campsite fully set up (including unpacking the car, putting up the tent, bedding, gazebo, kitchen etc.), so didn’t want to be fussing around with set up and erecting poles and ropes.  It needed to be lightweight to help with ease of towing and fuel economy and lastly and most importantly, it needed to be a proper full off-road trailer that could follow us anywhere we went, it needed to be able to handle our extreme outback conditions.

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Camping on the Tanami Track, NT/WA

Cub Campers have been around since 1968 and, in our opinion that says something. There’s no denying that Cub Campers are one of the most trusted names in the camper trailer world, they’ve been doing it for a long time and they seem to be getting it right!  The one thing we really liked about Cub, compared to some of the other trailers on the market, was that they are fully made in Australia from start to finish, and made with all Australian canvas and BlueScope steel.  The fact that they are an Australian owned company, using Australian made products means that we had more of a guarantee that the end product would survive our harsh outback conditions.

So earlier this year after looking around for years, we decided to go and visit the Cub Campers showroom at North Rocks. We had always seemed to come back to the Cub and decided to go and check them out and have a serious chat with them.  This showroom is impressive, all their campers are on display for you to check out and right behind the showroom is their factory where everything is built.  We spent quite a while there that day comparing the two models we were interested in, the Daintree and Brumby, and talking to the sales rep.  We left the showroom that day very impressed with what we had seen.

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Camping on the Oodnadatta Track, SA

We then had some big decisions to make, 1) did we want to buy one now to take on our 2 month trip to Western Australia and 2) could we afford it! After a week or so of thinking about it and checking the finances, we decided to bite the bullet and go for it!  We paid our deposit and ordered our new Cub Kamparoo Brumby to be built.

As the weeks and months went by we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new camper, and at times wondered if we would even have it in time for our holiday, but the day finally arrived and we booked in for our handover. When you pick up your new Cub you have a full run through on how everything works.  You are shown how to set up and pack away your camper, you are shown every little nook and cranny and how everything opens, closes, clips or zips together, you are handed a bunch of keys and instruction manuals (which yes, we did refer back to this the first few times!) and you leave the showroom totally overwhelmed with all your new information!

So that weekend was spent playing with the new camper, seasoning the canvas, packing it full of everything we’d need for our 2 month adventure and taking it for a drive to practice our trailer reverse parking! There was no time for anything else, we’d cut it very fine with time and this meant that we picked it up on the Friday and the next Friday we left for our 2 month adventure from Sydney to Western Australia.

IMG_0860.JPGThere was no easing into things for the trailer, it was thrown straight into our style of touring! Within 4 days we had hit the Tanami Track, a remote off-road short cut between Alice Springs in the NT and Halls Creek in WA. It’s unbelievably corrugated with lots of bull dust and rocks, which makes for a fun time when you encounter the road trains!  This is unfortunately where we encountered our first problem, we lost the trailer brakes, which made for an interesting few hours’ drive into Halls Creek.  As soon as we arrived in town and got some phone reception we called Cub back in Sydney to see what could be wrong.  They instructed us to look under the camper and see if these particular wires were still intact …. well no they weren’t, they had been cut in half by stray rocks!  Cub were great though, as it was obviously still under warranty, they rang us back within 5 minutes with approval to get this fixed wherever we could, send them the bill and they’d reimburse us within 5 days.  Couldn’t ask for better service than that.  We found a great auto electrician in Halls Creek who dropped everything to fix it for us on the spot, they soldered the wires back together and we were on our way.  We did end up having the same issue again during our last week, this time on the Oodnadatta Track!  Luckily George was able to fix it this time to enable us to get home .IMG_6379.JPG

So here are our comments on the Cub Brumby

Towing – As mentioned earlier, a very important issue for us was weight, we’ve already added weight to the 4WD with a bullbar, side steps, roof basket, drawers, Kaymar rear bar, plus the full roll cage inside, add to this all of our luggage and us and we’ve significantly increased the weight of the vehicle from factory standard. Of course, this all has a significant effect on fuel economy, so we wanted a relatively lightweight camper trailer as well.  Weighing only 955kg this camper suited us and our needs.

IMG_0758.JPGIt happily sat behind the Prado and just followed along, it just loved the dirt tracks, corrugations, water crossings, you barely even knew it was there! Being a full off-road model it was built for our outback tracks and we certainly tested it!

Setup – The hassle free set-up is exactly what we wanted. The Brumby comes standard with the ‘silent winch’ (ha, when this gets dusty, it’s far from silent, I’d hate to see what a non silent one sounds like!).  But in saying that, the winch system is very easy to use.  Cub even mark the point to which you should unwind the winch to when setting up, so you don’t even have to think about it.  Once you reach this point you simply start to lift up the hard floor and the gas struts will kick in to help you.  From there it’s a very quick and simple process to complete the set up.

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Camping on the Great Central Road, NT

Now when it comes to the awning, we can’t really comment. When it was set up during our handover process it didn’t look too hard, but it would definitely add a bit of time onto the set up process.  We decided that we didn’t need it and didn’t even take it away on our trip so can’t really comment.  We will say though that it’s great that you can leave it zipped onto the camper and just throw it over the roof even if you aren’t using it.  The camper still packs up fine with it on. Although we didn’t take it with us or use it, that seems like a great idea and so much easier than having to zip it on and off each time.

Inside – OK, so this is where we had some of those luxury items we’d never had before! Inside the camper is a deep-cycle battery which gives power to two internal 12V outlets (and also 3 external 12V outlets) and 2 x USB chargers (great for the phones and IPads etc).  There are also 2 double power points inside the camper, which work when you are plugged into 240V mains power.  Another thing we loved was the LED light that velcros onto the overhead bar.IMG_3894.JPG

The blinds that protect the fly screen windows are a great idea as they all zip open from the inside, meaning that it’s so easy to open and close as you feel fit and so much easier than running outside to close windows in the rain! As they all open via zipper it’s easy to open up fully or just a little as an air vent.  Make sure you keep a window open a bit at night to avoid condensation.

The room on the floor is quite large considering it’s a fairly small trailer. It would certainly fit a stretcher bed or two for the kids or a small table and chairs if you need to get in out from the weather – or a dogs bed or two when we take the pups away!

IMG_3888.JPGBedding – The double bed has a pocket spring mattress and the base lifts with the assistance of gas struts. We did buy a memory foam mattress from Clark Rubber to put over the top of the standard mattress to give a little more comfort.  The camper still closes fine with this extra topper, plus the linen and doona and pillows.

Kitchen – Cooking for us while we are camping is no different to cooking at home, we certainly don’t live on baked beans and tin spaghetti! So room to cook and keep all our utensils was important.  The kitchen is a full stainless steel slide-out unit with lots of storage compartments.  Three pull out drawers to keep cutlery and utensils and plates/frypans/chopping boards etc.  You then have two other areas where we keep pantry items, herbs and spices, cling wrap, matches, candles, washing up equipment etc. img_3889  The bench space is adequate for us, but there is a handy little shelf you can clip on as well, which we haven’t needed to use yet.  This comes standard and just slides in under the kitchen to store it out of the way when not in use.

Then there is the stainless steel sink, nice and big and with running cold (hot is an option) water which is plumbed into an electric pump that draws water directly from the 80 litre water tank, something we’ve never had before! There is also a two-burner gas cooktop with wind shield if needed.  But one of my favourite things is the LED adjustable light that comes standard and just clips into the socket on the benchtop, how handy is that!

The kitchen is easily accessible at all times, so great for roadside stops if you just want some lunch or a coffee.

Storage – Of course storage is important, but to us it was another luxury as generally everything had to be squeezed into the car. Does this mean that this time we just took double the amount as normal?  No, we were good and Shelly did cut down on what we took, even though it was exciting having all this spare room!  More room for presents and souvenirs to bring home!

There is a storage pipe that comes standard to keep all the tent poles in – or fishing rods. Storage up front for two jerry cans and two gas bottles and behind that a big checker plate storage box with cupboards on both sides, one with a fridge slide.

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The under bed storage is great, plenty of room under there for anything you don’t need to often or things you only require at night or when the camper is open. The only bad thing is that you can only access this storage area when the camper is fully open, so keep that in mind when you start storing things under there!

The Other Stuff – The BlueScope Steel galvanised chassis is tough and more than capable of carrying the trailer over rough terrain. Combine this with the independent suspension and you have a trailer that will happily follow you anywhere.

George’s favourite thing about the camper was the Redarc Battery Management System which charges and maintains our battery by taking in all the power received via AC, DC or Solar and working out the best way to charge the battery to its optimal level. It also allows us to monitor our power usage and see how much longer the battery will power us for and how much is being drawn in or out of the camper.

The roof rack comes standard and this is handy, we used it to carry our camping chairs and could even open the camper up with these still connected if we only had a brief stopover.

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The Brumby comes standard with electric brakes. Our only complaint in relation to this would be that there should be some sort of bash plate or stone guard over the wires to stop the issues like what we had.  It’s an off-road model so this extra precaution would help.

We provided our own wheels and tyres to Cub so that they matched our Prado, making it easier when carrying spares.

As for dust, we only had a little getting into one of the openings and Cub replaced the seal for us under warranty while it was in for it’s first service.  Other than that we were happy with how everything sealed up.  We did encouter some strong winds and rain and the camper was fine with no leaks.  When we pack up we always cover the bed with a tarp just to make sure our bedding doesn’t get wet if we need to pack up without letting the tent fully dry – also stops any dust/dirt/sand from the floor ending up on your bed!

Summary

We took our 1 week old Brumby on the ultimate test, travelling 17,290 km from Sydney to Western Australia and back, travelling through some very remote areas.  Over a total of 8 weeks we travelled the Tanami Track, Gibb River Road, Great Central Road, Oodnadatta Track, through national parks and down the coast of Western Australia. We dragged the little Brumby through water crossings, over thousands of corrugations, through sand and mud and up and down mountains and you know what, it just followed behind and barely moved!  It absolutely loved it and was clearly made to do this.  For our first time owning or towing a camper trailer we couldn’t have been happier, there was not a single place that it struggled.  We love our new member of the family and can’t wait to get back out there and start exploring more.IMG_0766.JPG

WA here we come!

It’s now two weeks until we leave on our Western Australia 2 month adventure!  Again we will be driving and camping along the way ….. hopefully in our new Cub Camper if it ever arrives!

The map shows where we will be travelling during this time.

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We will start with a quick 4 day drive up to Tilmouth Well (just out of Alice Springs) for our first night camping on the Tanami Track.  We then follow this across to Halls Creek and into the Bungle Bungle National Park for a few days.

We then spend a few days around Kununurra and exploring the property of El Questro.  Following this we spend a week or so travelling the Gibb River Road and the magical gorges in this area.  Then we hit Broome for just under a week’s stay, but this is where we undertake one of the highlights of our trip – a visit to the Horizontal Falls, both very excited about this one!  And of course, camel riding along Cable Beach at sunset (George not so excited about this one!).

After another week or two exploring, we reach Karijini National Park which looks out of this world in all the photos we’ve seen, so we can’t wait to start exploring that for a few days.  Then it’s back out onto the coast to snorkel and explore the Ningaloo Reef and see the famous dolphins at Monkey Mia.

Finally we start our journey home as we head towards the Great Central Road, which will take us from Laverton to Uluru.  We didn’t think we’d be heading back to Uluru so soon after our last visit, but there is an amazing art installation there at the moment by internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro.  This is called ‘Field of Light’ and is made up of more than 50,000 solar-powered lights which light up the darkness.  Uluru is such a spiritual place and this looks amazing, it will just add to the beauty of this magical area.  So of course, we had to waste some more money and book in 2 nights accommodation, a ‘Field of Light’ tour and dinner beneath the stars!

From Uluru it’s a few days drive back home via one of our favourite places, Coober Pedy.  Will definitely be heading back to John’s Pizza Bar for some of their great food again! 

So there it is, hope you’ll join us on our journey across Western Australia as i’m sure there will be plenty of photos and blog posts along the way!

All About Tyre Pressures

IMG_5032When you head off road, there are many things you need to think about and prepare for, but the most important thing is tyre pressures.  Whether you are out for a day on the beach, a play in the bush or dealing with mud holes or corrugated roads, ensuring you have the correct tyre pressure for your situation can mean a happier, safer and easier drive for you.

So many times we have seen others in situations that could have been avoided had they let their tyre pressures down.  It is very important to have a little know-how in this area, but do remember that you need to know what works for your vehicle.  Vehicle type, weight, tyre size and terrain will all have an effect on what tyre pressure to run.  You want to give your vehicle every chance to perform the best it can and correct tyre pressures can certainly help with this.

Factors to keep in mind when dealing with tyre pressures?

  • HeatRemember that as you drive, your tyres heat up and this in turn will increaseIMG_5752 the tyre pressure, so always keep this in mind. You may start your day at 40psi on the road, but after a while the pressure can increase to say 43psi.  In the same respect, you may have been driving and then reduced your pressures to drive on the sand to 18psi.  When you get up the next morning, your tyres are cold and you may find that the pressures are now actually a lot lower.
  • How long have you been driving for remember that tyres heat up as you are driving, and therefore, the pressure inside will go up, so always take this into account when adjusting tyre pressures.
  • Speed Generally, the quicker you drive, the hotter the air in your tyres will get, and thus the higher the pressure will go.
  • TerrainIf you are driving on rocky or corrugated roads your tyres will be flexing more than normal and this will also have an impact on them heating up quicker.
  • Weight – How heavy is your vehicle and how much extra weight have you added for this trip?  Adding more weight should be a factor in adjusting tyre pressures, but also remember that more weight will mean higher temperatures and therefore higher pressures occurring as you drive.

Why do you need to adjust tyre pressures when off road?

IMG_2031Traction is very important when driving! Losing traction (or grip) when off-road can result in sliding and losing control of your vehicle, which can be very dangerous.

Punctures are not something you want to encounter when you are driving off road. We always carry spares with us, but obviously hope we will never need to use them!  By running the correct tyre pressures for the circumstances you can lower the risk of punctures and also prolong the life of your tyres.

Floatation is important, particularly for sand driving. When driving on sand, your 4WD will want to sink and dig in to the sand, so you need to lower your tyre pressures significantly to ensure that you can ‘float’ along the top of the sand, rather than digging in and trying to push through it.  You will definitely notice the difference and it’s so much easier on your vehicle as well. This is also noticeable in mud as well and helps to preserve tracks.

Track damage is never a good thing. We all want to keep our tracks open for everyone to use and enjoy and one way to do this is by using correct tyre pressures.  If your wheels are constantly spinning because you don’t have traction, this in turn can damage the track.IMG_1957

Comfort for yourself and your passengers can be greatly improved by having correct tyre pressures. Driving on a gravel or corrugated road with road tyre pressures will result in you feeling every bump and rattle, but by reducing the pressures slightly you’ll be surprised at how much more comfortable the ride is.

How does it actually work?

When you reduce the pressures in your tyres you effectively increase the ‘foot print’ of your 4WD.  Remember that your vehicle is connected to the road purely by the four tyres, so it makes sense when you think that if you decrease the pressure, the tyre balloons out and you now have a larger area in contact with the ground …. A larger ‘foot print’.  This helps to spread the weight of your vehicle over a larger area and in turn, helps to stop it digging or sinking into the ground. The more tyre in contact with the ground surface, the more traction you should have.

IMG_3717If you think of your tyres as a balloon, you blow it up completely and put a pin to it, it will pop immediately.  If though, you only blow it up half way and do the same, it will probably take more to pop it.  This is what happens off road, if you are driving on rocky/gravel surfaces and you let a little air out of your tyres the tyre itself tends to mould or shape itself over the rock and takes a lot more to ‘pop’.

What is the right tyre pressure to run?

Well, that’s a hard one as all 4WD’s are different and many factors come into play.  It depends on your vehicle, how much weight you have on board, what size tyres you have, where you are going and what you are doing!  Personally we believe the following is a good guideline to follow.  Works for us, but may not necessarily work for everyone!

  • Road: We run our tyres at 38 psi, but you should use the tyre placard in your car as a guide for you.  Keep in mind that this will change when you have different sized tyres to standard, extra weight or load etc.
  • Beach (sand):  18 psi (you can go lower if the sand is very soft, we generally won’t go lower than 12 psi)
  • Mud:   18 psi
  • Rocks:  18 psi
  • Gravel:  28 psi  (again, depends on how rough the road is)

The above are an average of what we find works for us.  Depending on the surface we may need to go a little lower from time to time.  You will learn to read your vehicle and what works best forIMG_5044 you.  As an example, while driving on roads up around Cape York, we found that they were much more corrugated than a normal gravel road, so we found that we had the smoothest ride by running 22 psi on the front and 24 psi on the back.

Always remember

  • When your pressures are low, never brake, accelerate or turn sharply.
  • Always remember this saying, “low equals slow” ….. Meaning that the lower your tyres go down, the slower you need to drive.
  • Once you leave the track or beach always re-inflate your tyres to ‘road’ pressures as soon as you can.  Driving on the road for prolonged periods, or at high speeds, on underinflated tyres can be damaging for your tyres and can be very dangerous as well.
  • Therefore, when lowering your tyre pressures, always keep in mind that they need to be inflated again. Is there a service station close by once you leave the track? Do you have a compressor onboard?

So next time you are driving off-road, keep all of this in mind.  Knowing and having the correct tyre pressures for the terrain you are driving in is probably better than any other mod you can get, it will always get you further when driving off road, and it’s free! Not only will your passengers be more comfortable and happy, you will be safer, you will be helping to prolong the life of your vehicle and tyres and most importantly you will be protecting the tracks as well.

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A unique New Year’s Eve celebration

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This was something we had always wanted to do, to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Cameron Corner.  Many people may not even know where Cameron Corner is, so let me explain so that you know why this was such a unique experience.

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Our little lizard friend we tried to save from the middle of the road, he was not a happy little boy!

Cameron Corner is located at the border of NSW, SA & QLD.  This unique location means that you can celebrate New Years Eve three times due to the differing time zones, how cool is that!  So while everyone else around the country celebrated once, we welcomed in 2015 THREE times!

Our journey started on boxing day as we headed out to Dubbo and then on to White Cliffs, Broken Hill & Silverton, Tibooburra, Cameron Corner, Bourke & Lightning Ridge.  We were travelling with a group of 3 cars, 6 adults and 2 children – all of which, except us, had never done any outback travel, so everyone was excited about what lay ahead.IMG_4714

After a few days of exploring the surrounding areas, 31st December had arrived and we were off to Cameron Corner.

We left Tibooburra early for the relatively short drive to Cameron Corner, we wanted to arrive early and set up camp before it got too hot.

The roads during that part of our journey were more red and sandy than the previous days as we headed closer to the Strzlecki Desert.

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The Dog Fence

We drove through the Sturt National Park and along the dog fence, passing through the dog fence at Cameron Corner.

We arrived at Cameron Corner around 11am (but gained an hour as the store is located in Qld so it was only l0am!).

image2We arrived and went to the corner store to pay for our camping and have a quick drink at the bar.

Camping was $10 per night, with $5 of that going to the Royal Flying Doctors Service.

With the $5, they rolled it up with a tack in it and you have to throw it up for it to stick on the roof! Believe me, this is not as easy as it sounds …… although the owners make it look easy!IMG_4596

After setting up camp we went for a drive around the property and then took a drive back to Fort Grey campground and had some lunch there.  We then headed back to Cameron Corner via the Queensland side and the Fortville Gate.

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You can even play a game of golf while at Cameron Corner, as you cross over the borders in the three states!  Another pretty unique experience, but it was a little too hot for us to undertake on this visit!

It was nice to be in the air conditioning of the car as the temperatures were in the mid 40’s (it was 31 degrees at 9.30am!).  IMG_4577Yes it was hot, but the temperatures were a lot lower than what we were expecting and had prepared for.  We had been told to expect around 50 degrees at that time of year, so we were very lucky.  Also there was a slight breeze which helped, especially at night.

IMG_4590After lunch we drove through an area which was completely filled with kangaroos and lots of babies aswell. Some of these guys were huge and although we have seen so many kangaroos the last few days, we haven’t seen this many together. When we got back to camp, we were talking to the store owners and they said that there is absolutely no water around and most of these poor guys will be dead in the next few months. Guess that’s the sad reality of outback life, really made you think.

So by early afternoon we were back at camp and the area was starting to fill up, with more people still arriving.  We had camped in the non-powered side, so we were all fairly spread out, but the powered area on the opposite side of the store was pretty full.  IMG_4637

The festivities started in the early afternoon with games of horse shoe toss, mini golf etc. We took a wander around and met some of the other campers, even met some from a few suburbs away from us!

Everyone was in party mode, there was music and laughter all around, while people wandered around the camp sharing a drink and a chat with each other.

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The real party started around 10.30pm (or 11.30 pm Sydney time). Everyone started to make their way up to the ‘corner post’ where the owners had set up tables, chairs and music. We all headed up with drinks, glow sticks and sparklers!  The ground was marked with lines in the sand so we all knew which ‘state’ we had to be in!

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The first celebration was in NSW, we had the countdown and then everyone celebrated with each other as we brought in the new year!  We then waited for our next countdown!

IMG_46661/2 hour later we all walked over to South Australia and had yet another countdown and celebration!  And when I say we ‘walked to South Australia’, I mean we literally walked about 1 meter and crossed over the marked line in the sand!

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Celebrating with Fenn, the owner of the Corner Store

There was plenty of music,  singing, drinking and laughs to fill in the time in between.

Finally it was Queensland’s turn, so we all jumped over the line in the sand into Queensland for our final New Year’s Eve celebrations for 2014.

The celebration was was finished off with a small fireworks display, not quite Sydney harbour standard, but we’d never seen fireworks in the middle of the outback before!  What a fun night.  The owners sure know how to make this a fun and unique experience!

We were all in bed around 2am and up again at 6.30am to pack up camp! Not a great deal of sleep ….. the music blaring and talking, laughing and screaming all night didn’t help things either, but hey it was New Year’s Eve so what do you expect!! Must say that things were a lot quieter in the morning!

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George standing in SA and Shelly standing in NSW!

What a great night, such a unique experience and such a great bunch of people. We estimate there would have been around 70 people there.  We will definitely be back again!  It’s one of those things we are glad we could tick off our bucket list, highly recommend people experience this at least once in their lifetime!

To view our short video Click here

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