New to 4WDing?

Ok, so you’ve just purchased your first 4WD and are ready to hit the tracks, you’ve been driving for years so what’s the difference in driving on dirt right …. WRONG!

There is so much that can and does go wrong and you need to be aware of that. This 4WDing gig can be dangerous, every time we hit the tracks we know there is the potential that things could go wrong, very wrong.

We don’t want to scare you, but you need to be aware that heading off-road without the proper recovery gear and the knowledge of what you are doing can end badly in terms of vehicle damage, injury or even death. You can take all the precautions in the world, but sometimes things just don’t go to plan.

Please take a few minutes to read through this and hopefully it will give you a few pointers on what to do and where to start. But don’t be afraid to ask questions (even if you think it’s dumb or people may laugh at you), we all started out as newbies at one point in time and no-one expects you to know everything.

Tyres

The most important thing when heading off-road is tyres.  These are the single most important thing that can make the difference between you getting past an obstacle or not.  Yes lift kits and lockers all help, but if you need just one thing, it’s tyres.  Think about where you are heading and how often.  A one-off day on a fire trail can be done on your road tyres, but if this is something you’ll be doing more often look at a good set off All-Terrain tyres (or Mud tyres depending on what you do).

Tyre pressures

Always remember, when you head off-road or onto the beach you must let the pressure down in your tyres.  It can mean the difference between getting a puncture or not, it can mean the difference between getting through or getting bogged.  Off-road it can make for a far more comfortable ride, it’s less harsh on the vehicle and it’s better for the tracks.

It takes a little trial and error to work out what works best for you, your vehicle, your tyre size and style and the terrain you are driving on … it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ type of thing, it all has an impact.

For more information, see our previous blog post here

Have a basic Recovery Kit

Before heading off-road you should at the very minimum have a snatch strap, dampener, rated shackle, (and rated recovery points on the vehicle) and a tyre gauge. Remember, you will need to let your tyres down before going off-road or on the beach, so how will you know what to let them down to without a tyre gauge?  Also keep in mind that you need to reinflate them afterwards, so if you aren’t anywhere near a servo, carry your own air compressor as well.

Most people are happy to help if you are in trouble, but if they are helping YOU, always offer to grab and use your recovery gear first.  No-one wants their gear lost or broken or have to go home and clean it when they were helping out a stranger.  It’s common courtesy to always use your own gear (or at least offer) in this situation. Check out this recovery set

Make sure you have RATED recovery points

No, we aren’t talking those little tie down points on the front of your 4WD, they are not a rated recovery point, they are simply used to tie your car down during transportation.  You may be surprised to know that most 4WD’s don’t actually come standard with any form of rated recovery point. 

You need to invest in a proper aftermarket recovery point suited to your vehicle which is suitable for snatching and winching.  Ideally you’d have one on the front and the rear of your vehicle to ensure if you are stuck you can be snatched out either way, but ONE at the very minimum is required before you even think of heading off-road.

Check out the guys at APC and they can help you with all your needs ….. If you use our code “OTT4x4” they’ll give you a 5% discount (off all items on the website, except already discounted items).

Know how to actually engage 4WD

Read your vehicle manual and learn how to actually engage High and Low range (or lock your hubs if you have manual locking hubs) and do some research into when and why you would use both of these gears. Also be aware that many of the newer vehicles have traction and/or stability control that you may need to manually override when off-road, particularly on sand.

Know what to do in a recovery situation

At some point in your 4WDing life you will get bogged, or you will need to be involved in the recovery of another bogged 4WD.  Before you even contemplate a 4WD recovery, do your research and know exactly what to do, take all the precautions and know the risks.

Recoveries are dangerous and things can and do go wrong and result in damage to vehicles, injury to persons and unfortunately death. This is serious stuff and we cannot say this enough … you really do need to know what you are doing.

Don’t go by yourself

This is particularly important when you are first starting out.  Even now, there are places we would never head into by ourselves, even if there may be other vehicles around.  You just never know what may happen (just a while back a mate got himself stuck at Lithgow and luckily managed to get enough phone reception to contact us and we were able to drive out and help him – keep in mind that this was a 1 ½ hour drive each way for us, plus the recovery.  Had he not had phone reception or had we not been available, he could have been spending the night there alone stranded in the bush). 

Another reason to go with a mate is so that you have a spotter to help you. Quite often you are on such angles that you can’t even see where your 4WD is on the track. Having a spotter on a portable handheld CB will allow them to be your eyes and guide you. 

UHF Radio

This is an important one and if you are heading out in a group or doing alot of 4WDing as it will enable you to communicate with others.  More often than not, you won’t have mobile phone reception.  They are relatively cheap to purchase and there are so many on the market. Whether you buy an in car one with antenna or a portable one is your choice. To be honest though, you’ll probably end up having both if you do get bitten by this 4WDing bug!

Of course, if you intend on longer, more remote travelling you’ll want to consider other forms of communication as well, such as Satellite Phone and/or a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger.

Don’t over commit

Even now, after all these years, there are still tracks that we look at and say ‘nope, not going up there’!  It’s ok to say no if you don’t feel comfortable or turn around if things are getting a little hairy, it’s ok to take the chicken track.   People look at some of the things we do and think we are crazy, but we now know what our vehicles are capable of and what both of our driving abilities are, it’s takes a while to gain all this knowledge so at first it’s totally fine to be afraid and err on the side of caution. Always ensure you drive to your own abilities, not other peoples.

If heading on the beach, take a shovel!

Sometimes a little bit of digging is all you need to get you going again, and if you are by yourself and no-one else around to snatch you out, you’ll be glad you had that shovel with you! If you intend to stick with 4WDing, considering investing in a set of TRED boards which are awesome on the beach, as well as the bush.

Water Crossings and Bog Holes

Everyone loves a bit of water, but 4WD’s not so much! Sometimes you have no choice but to drive through a muddy bog hole or a creek crossing, but always be careful. Walk it (if you can, think crocodiles!), measure the depth with a stick if you aren’t sure and consider a snorkel if you are going to be doing a lot of water crossings. Try your hardest not to drive through salt water (and wash your vehicle down afterwards if you do). It’s very easy and very common to write of your vehicle in water crossings or bog holes so always check them out before jump straight in!

Please don’t be a dick

Now this is an important one, one we shouldn’t have mention, but unfortunately we do. Us 4WDer’s can sometimes get a bad name and it’s always because of the minority of people thinking they are better than anyone else, doing the wrong thing and rules don’t apply to them.  The truth is though that most 4WDer’s are friendly, respectful and helpful people who respect the bush and want to do whatever we can to look after it.  Unfortunately, it’s the minority that ends up ruining it for everyone else and we have tracks closed down, tougher restrictions put in place and end up being totally locked out of certain areas.

This rule also includes rubbish and property.  Whatever you take in should be taken out with you, never leave your rubbish for someone else to clean up.  Always extinguish fires completely and do not light them at all in areas which do not allow them, or when there are fire bans.  Do not damage other people’s property and DO NOT leave your toilet paper laying around, Dig – Do – Burn – Bury ALWAYS!

We are all responsible for looking after and respecting the bush, and with so many amazing places for us to explore across Australia, why wouldn’t you want to. It’s a real privilege to be able to jump in our vehicles and go to some of these places, so please think about this before you go ahead and ruin it for everyone else.

To mod or not to mod?

There are so many 4WD accessories out there today and you could spend thousands doing up your vehicle, but it’s not always necessary.  Think about how you will be using your 4WD, where you will take it, how often you’ll be heading out, will you be hitting the hard tracks or a simple dirt road, heading to the beach, going by yourself or with others? Owning a 4WD can be expensive and you’ll realise this real quick if you start adding various accessories, so take your time and have a think about what you actually need and what you want!

Other things to keep in mind

  • Check the weather – don’t head out if you know it’s been raining a lot or if rain is anticipated. Not only is it dangerous, but if can ruin and potentially close tracks.
  • Are you allowed to be where you are? – just because your 4WD can go off-road, doesn’t mean it’s allowed to be there!  Watch out for private property signs and gates.
  • Insurance – check if your vehicle is allowed to do what you’re doing and go off-road, particularly water crossing etc.
  • Track Closures – always obey track closures signs, note that not only can you be fined, insurance will not cover you if you are found to be on a closed track.
  • Keep water and a blanket/warm jumper in the vehicle just in case you get stuck.  We’ve had one night where we didn’t get home till early hours of the morning due to being stuck on a track in the bush, so be prepared.
  • Always tell someone where you are going so emergency services have an idea of where to start looking should you fail to return home.
  • Carry a first aid kit in your vehicle at all times.

Lastly, we all need to learn somewhere and you can’t learn until you get out there and put yourself into the situation. But please don’t do it by yourself, head out with an experienced friend or join a 4WD club, many run their own private training courses for members and they have regular day/weekend/longer trips that members can join. Pick one that suits your needs and is in your area and if you contact them most will allow you to join a meeting or event as a trial to see what you think.

Alternatively (and this is what we both did when we started out), invest in a 4WD Driver Training course which will cover everything you need for off-road driving, as well as recovery.  Courses like those run by Great Divide Tours run over a weekend and include accreditation (which can be used to save on your insurance).

Just remember, we all started where you are now. It just takes time to build your confidence and your skills, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be embarrassed if you get bogged. Most of us 4WDer’s are friendly people who are more than happy to help and we’d rather you ask for help, than potentially damage your vehicle or yourself. There have been many times where we’ve needed to help others out of difficult situations (bogged in sand, bogged in water crossings, rollovers etc) and George has even got in and driven other’s vehicles out of the situation as they weren’t comfortable doing so themselves. So definitely don’t think you need to know it all at first and definitely don’t think that you’re the only one to have ever found yourself in that situation, we were all there once! As long as you have your own recovery gear, are willing to accept help and/or education and acknowledge when you’ve f**ked up, we will all be there to help you out!

Note that this blog post contains some links that will take you through to an external third party company.  On some occasions, if you do click through and ultimately make a purchase we will earn a small commission on the sale.  Note that, although we may receive a commission, this is at no additional cost to you.  Ie, you would pay the same amount if you went direct to the product provider.  

The new wave of Aussie tourists

Are you thinking of hitting the road this summer, you need to read this.

COVID has changed our lives in so many ways and one of these is the closure of international borders.  This has meant that many people who would normally take their yearly trip to Bali or Thailand or jump on a relaxing cruise no longer have this luxury and are looking for alternatives for their family holidays.

This leaves no other option than to travel Australia, something we have been doing for years!  There is a whole wave of new people buying 4wd’s and caravans and travelling this great country of ours.  From our friends and contacts within the 4WD and camping industry we can tell you that they are all busier than ever trying to keep up with the demand.

Whilst this is all new and exciting for people, travelling remotely is very different to rocking up to a resort and having everything within arms reach.

Travelling remotely within Australia is something you do need to be prepared for, there are safety precautions to be aware of and you need to do your research and have an idea of what you may be in for … what will the road be like, will there be phone reception, will there be shops, how much fuel do I need, do I have enough water, how will I power my devices … these are all questions you should be asking yourself (and having an answer to!).

It’s a very different world out there, you can’t just pop round the corner to the next servo if the fuel is too expensive.  Quite often places can run out of fuel and you’ll be stranded there for a few days until the tanker can make it into town.  Bad weather can close a road for days or even weeks at a time, meaning not only you could get stuck, but supply trucks and fuel trucks are also stuck.  What if there is no internet or ATM?  Do you carry enough cash to cover a tank of fuel or some groceries?  There are plenty of things to think about that you wouldn’t need to worry about in the big cities.  Of course if you’ve never experienced this before you wouldn’t even think of it being an issue, but this is why you need to do some research.

Now this certainly isn’t the case with everyone, but there are a portion of people who think that it’s as simple as buying a 4WD and caravan, hooking it up and hitting the road – it’s not, and this thought process could lead to disaster. Obviously you always hope that things will go to plan, but you always need to prepare for the worst possible scenario.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Check road conditions of where you are travelling. If you are travelling on an outback corrugated dirt road you need to know that your vehicle/caravan/trailer are set up for this.
  • Does your vehicle have the towing capacity for the caravan/camper you wish to tow?
  • Do you have appropriate tyres for where you are visiting? Do you have enough tread left for your journey? Are you carrying spares in case of a flat (and the tools to change it!)
  • Can you carry enough fuel to get you from A to B? (remember, fuel can be pretty scarce once out of the big cities)
  • Are you carrying water? Again, plan for the worst. What if you break down or get bogged?
  • Do you have a satellite phone or emergency device? Australia is a big place and there certainly isn’t phone reception everywhere, you may not be able to just jump on google or call someone for help. Maybe consider a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. A UHF/CB in your vehicle is also essential for outback travel.
  • Do you have a rough itinerary or idea of where you are headed? Always leave this with someone back at home and check in every few days. This way, if you fail to turn up as expected or fail to make contact, emergency services will have some idea of where to start looking for you.
  • Carry cash with you. Not everywhere has internet or EFTPOS or ATM’s and even if they do, they are quite often not working.
  • Carry adequate food – like the water, always plan for the worst case scenario.
  • Know the times of the year to travel, eg you wouldn’t head into the desert in Summer as it’s far too hot, the top half of Australia is cut off during the wet season.
  • Other Costs – Be prepared as food is more expensive in remote areas due to costs involved in freight etc and keep in mind that items like bread and milk are quite often sold frozen to prolong shelf-life. Of course, you don’t have the same variety as back in the big cities, so please don’t take it out on the staff in store if you can’t find everything you would normally purchase at home .
  • Road Trains are everywhere, do you know what to do if you come across one? These can reach over 53 metres in length and the dirt kicked up when you pass one is unbelievable, you need to be prepared for this or it can end in disaster.
  • Don’t rely solely on a map or GPS Maps may be showing there is accommodation or a service station nearby, but these can quite often be closed permanently or only open for certain hours of the day.
  • Always carry a basic First Aid Kit and a Snake Bite Kit – should something happen, help can often be hours away and your first aid kit could potentially mean the difference between life or death.
  • If you do break down, ALWAYS stay with your vehicle – it’s much easier to find someone from the air if they are with something large like a vehicle, than individual people wandering around the bush. Remember temperatures in outback Australia can reach well over 40°C so you don’t want to be wandering around in the heat of the day.

Hope all of that gives you an idea of what you need to be prepared for. It’s ok if you don’t have off-road experience, we all started somewhere.  You do need to do a little research though and see what you may be in for … ask questions of family or friends who have done this before, visit our site or ask people like us who have been doing it for years, maybe even consider doing a towing course or join a 4WD club, there are plenty of ways you can find help.

But above all, get out there and enjoy what our big amazing country has to offer, there is so much more than most people could ever begin to imagine!

Note that this blog post contains links that will take you through to an external third party company.  If you do click through and ultimately make a purchase we will earn a small commission on the sale.  Note that, although we may receive a commission, this is at no additional cost to you.  Ie, you would pay the same amount if you went direct to the product provider.  

Travel … we love it, but why do we do it?

Let’s be real here, who doesn’t love travelling?  You get to explore new and exciting places, you spend time with family and friends and you make memories that will last you a lifetime. Why wouldn’t you want to travel?

The thing is though, traditionally a lot of people have disregarded travel within Australia, in leiu of the ‘more exciting’ overseas travel. Australia is this huge vast land with some of the most spectacular scenery and many Australian’s never even get close to seeing it all. We all travel overseas to Europe, Bali, Thailand …. but we forget about this marvelous place that is right here in our own backyard.

Camel riding at Uluru, NT

The realization of this came years ago when George met a traveler from overseas who was telling him about all the places he’d visited during his holiday to Australia ….. he asked “Have you climbed the Harbour Bridge”? … No, “Have you seen Uluru”? … No, “What about snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef”? … No. It was at the moment that George decided that it wasn’t right that foreigners have seen more of our country than he had.

Uluru, NT

Luckily we both have the same love of Australia and of camping so this was the perfect plan! Over the years we have tried to experience as much of our country as we can, making the most of every experience that is thrown our way.

We can now say that yes we have climbed the Harbour Bridge, we’ve watched the sunset at Uluru on top of a camel, we’ve snorkeled the reef, we’ve explored underground mines, flown over a pearl farm in a helicopter, watched the sunset over Cable Beach, seen the Staircase to the Moon in Broome, held a baby crocodile, played with a baby lion and Tasmanian Devils and traveled through every state and territory in Australia. We still have so much more to explore, but we are getting there bit by bit. You see, the thing we decided to do was to just get out there and do it. We didn’t want to wait, we didn’t want to lose our chance to see the country.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

This all really hit home to us when Shelly’s mum passed away quite suddenly at the age of 71. It was then that we realized just how short life can be, you never know what lay around the corner so never ever put something off. We wanted to make the most of life and experience all the weird and wonderful things that come along with that, whether it’s standing on the tip of Australia, driving a racecar around a circuit, cuddling a Tasmanian Devil or even spending nearly $2,000 for a day trip to the Horizontal Falls, we want to do it all! There may never be an ideal time to travel, you may never have enough money, and you may never have enough time …. But if you leave it too long, you might lose that chance altogether.

We met back in 2003 and now 18 years later we have so many memories and experiences we have shared together. We both still work full time, we are paying off a mortgage, we have pets and families, is this the ideal time to be travelling? Maybe, maybe not? But we make it happen, we work hard to save money for our travel and we fit it in between work. We aim to take one extended trip of around 2 months every 3 years, with many, many smaller trips in between! We don’t have all the time in the world and we certainly aren’t rich, but we make it work for us.

We need other people to realise that you can do it, you don’t have to wait, you just need to find what works for you and your family. It’s great now that we are starting to see so many young families travelling and doing the lap, the life experiences those children are going to learn just can’t be taught anywhere else. We are both very passionate about travelling Australia and want nothing more than to share our adventures and inspire others to do so as well. And now with Covid and travel restrictions in place, maybe it’s the perfect time for you to get out there and explore what Australia has to offer as well?

For this reason we have our website, blog and various social media pages where we document our 4WD adventures and share our experiences with everyone. We all like to pry into other people’s lives don’t we, well here’s your chance! Hopefully we inspire others to also follow their dreams and get out there and explore our great land. There are so many new adventures waiting to unfold. Life is too short to live with regrets ….. So go on …. get out there!

Roadside Membership … what you need to know

We are always asked what insurance we have and what precautions we use when travelling, well let me tell you … we would never travel without our NRMA Roadside Membership. We hear and read a lot about NRMA Roadside Membership and it appears many people don’t fully understand it, so here’s a short comparison of their various covers and what that gives you.

For example, did you know that their base cover “Classic Care” will not cover most 4WD’s or anything they are towing? Did you know that you are covered Australia wide?

Of course this particular comparison relates only to NRMA (which covers NSW/ACT), but every state has their own affiliated motoring organisation and they probably offer similar memberships.

We have both been NRMA members for years and have used our membership numerous times …….
🔧Our old Prado broke down on one of our outback trips and we were towed from the breakdown point to Condobolin, Condobolin to Dubbo, Dubbo to home, home to our mechanic – all covered by NRMA. Would have covered accommodation in Dubbo as well, but we had friends we could stay with.
🔧Shelly’s old GTi wouldn’t start and the NRMA turned up to the train station carpark to check it out, couldn’t be fixed on the spot so was towed to our auto-electrician about 30km away.
🔧Our old Prado ran out of fuel 10km from the end of the M1 freeway (George’s fault!!) NRMA turned up and towed us to the nearest petrol station.
🔧Our old Prado alternator went and was towed to our mechanic.
🔧Back in the day, Shelly may have had numerous call-outs for keys locked in cars!
🔧Our friend used his RACQ membership when he blew his engine on a Cape York trip with us, covered a significant part of the cost involved in accommodation, flights, car transport etc.

As you’ll see, your membership offers a lot more than just ‘roadside assistance if you breakdown’.

We personally wouldn’t be without our membership, it’s come in handy many times over the years and it’s a great ‘peace of mind’ when we are travelling, but it may not be right for everyone.

Note: Please do your own research and speak with NRMA directly before taking out any cover, this is our view on the situation only. All details are accurate at this point in time and are as we understand them.

What’s your camping style?

What’s your style? Do you need the best of the best and all the creature comforts of home or are you happy with just a swag, esky and the stars above you?

It’s such a personal preference isn’t it, and of course it comes down to the type of travel you do and ultimately how much you can afford as well.

When we first met and started travelling, for a few years we were just sleeping in the back of the Prado. We’d pull out the cargo barrier, fold down the rear seats and we had a piece of wood that screwed into place to make our ‘bed’. Throw an air mattress on top and we were set! Shelly even made up curtains for us! There was certainly nothing fancy about this set up, just the 4WD, an air mattress and an esky! Pull up wherever we wanted and we were set for the night. There was this one particular car park in Port Macquarie that we stayed in quite a few times …. shhhh! It was on the top of a hill, right next to a walkway to the beach and there were public toilets there too, it was the perfect overnight spot!

After a while we purchased our Waeco fridge which gave us a little bit of luxury with cold drinks and food and not having to worry about ice all the time.  For a while there, whilst we still slept in the back of the Prado, our little Waeco got it’s own little tent to sleep in!

Next we upgraded to a little 3 man dome tent which was great and we used it for years, including our first Simpson Desert trip. We had an air mattress and sleeping bags, but later upgraded to self inflating mattresses.

Finally we decided to spend a little more money on a tent (ok significantly more money!) and we purchased our Black Wolf tent which basically goes up in a few minutes. At around the $1,000 mark, this tent wasn’t cheap, but for the quality, the extra space and the speed and ease in which we could be set up, it was totally worth every cent! We still own this tent and do still use it on occasions, like our Cape York trip last year. We now also have stretcher beds to keep us up off the ground. These tents may have quite a hefty initial outlay, but the ease of putting it up, the quality of the product and the service from the company itself far outweighs that expense if you are going to be using it a lot.

Lastly in 2016 we finally caved in and purchased our brand new Cub Camper trailer.  Now this was a big investment compared to our previous camping setups, but we are so glad we spent the money. 

We had a brand new camper built just for us and we absolutely love it! We are now spoiled with storage and accessories and we sleep on a comfy double bed with a real doona!

We have a gas stove, a real sink, running water (no more making trips to and from the tap!), a freezer and so much storage space …. which in reality just means we now take way more than we need because we obviously never had the room before and didn’t miss it!

What will be our next upgrade you ask? Well definitely for the foreseeable future we will be sticking with the camper trailer, it is perfect for our needs and because we purchased a full off-road model, it is able to go anywhere the Prado does. Who knows, one day we may settle with a caravan and a little more luxury, never say never! But for now we are more than happy with what we have. Although there have been constant talks of maybe getting a swag as well to add into the mix! It would come in handy for the local overnight stays when we’ve been out 4WDing all day.

So there you go, it just goes to show that it really doesn’t matter what you have or what you can afford, you just need to make do with whatever you have at the time. Our type of travel has never changed from sleeping in the back of the car to sleeping in a $30,000 camper trailer. We are still exploring and making memories every step of the way. What you start with now may not be what you end up with, what your friends have may not suit your needs, budget or lifestyle and that’s fine. You just need to do what you can to make it happen so that you can get out there and experience our wonderful land for yourself.

Keeping in touch while on the road

With the privilege of outback travel comes great responsibility. Recovery and medical help can be hours, if not days, away once you get into ‘remote’ territory. Travellers need to be equipped with the appropriate tools to contact the outside world should anything go wrong.  Now yes, we do live in a world of mobile phones and technology overload and this is probably the very thing you’re trying to escape by going on holiday, but there are a few very important things you should take with you if you are venturing off the highway.

With all the technology of today, we are actually in a much better position than ever before, as long as you use common sense and carry the appropriate equipment, you can be assured that you have taken all precautions possible and will hopefully be able to make contact should something happen.img_0102-1

We all rely on mobile phones, computers and social media so much these days, sometimes I think a little too much (yes, us included!), but there can be a place for it and it’s now made travelling and keeping in touch so much easier.

This blog post is intended to give you an overview of how you can keep in touch with loved ones while you are travelling and also what is required to make contact in the case of an emergency.  If you are reading this you will know that we use blogging as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends while we are away. This also has the added bonus of people like you being able to read our blog and live our holiday with us! You may not know us, but we can hopefully inspire others to travel to the amazing places we are fortunate enough to visit.

Below are a list of what we use to keep in touch with family and friends (and our social media followers) while we are away. Some are for safety, some are for communication and updates and some are just for a little fun.

Everyone has a Mobile Phone these days and they are so easy to keep in touch with people. In saying this, please don’t rely solely on this for emergencies. Australia is a big place and there is a lot of nothing in the middle of it and this nothing includes no mobile phone towers! There are plenty of places that you will not have phone or Internet reception, even in many towns.  Some people will think this is a great thing as part of getting away is getting away from technology and work aswell, so they don’t want the distraction. BUT what happens in an emergency?  What if you have an accident, someone gets sick or you get lost or break down.  IMG_9202

Telstra is by far the best provider as far as outback travel is concerned, you still won’t have reception in a lot of places, but it is available on and off in many places. We always have a Telstra phone with us.

Not only do our phones come in handy for communication, we also have our HEMA Maps app loaded onto the Iphone and Ipad.  Once loaded this app doesn’t need cellular coverage to run, which makes it perfect for our remote travels.

This was a great purchase, don’t know how we ever lived without this app now!

Satellite Phones have progressed a lot in recent years.  They’ve become much smaller and lighter and more affordable aswell.   Whether you buy a phone outright or hire one really depends on the length and frequency of your trips.  For us, it made sense to purchase a phone rather than having to hire one each time.  But if you are doing a once-off trip through remote country for a few weeks, then hiring would be much more affordable.  Also keep in mind that satellite phones do have to go on to a phone plan and call costs can be very expensive, so it’s best to thoroughly investigate all of this before making any decisions.  In Australia, we have access to four satellite networks. Two are Geostationary (GEO) systems (which the Inmarsat and Thuraya networks use) and two are Low-Earth Orbiting (LEO) systems (which the  Iridium and Globalstar networks use). The latter two seem to be the more common ones, we use Iridium.

img_0835The benefit of having a satellite phone in remote areas is that you will generally have phone reception at all times, regardless of whether there are mobile phone towers in the area or not.  Satellite phones work off the satellites, therefore, as long as you can see the sky, you can generally make a call.  Our satellite phone is used for emergencies only (luckily we’ve only needed to use it once when a friend’s car broke down and nothing more serious), but it’s always there just in case.  We also leave it on when we are out of normal mobile phone service areas for an extended period of time in case family back home need to contact us in an emergency.

EPIRBS & Personal Locator Becons (PLB) are lightweight to carry and relatively cheap to purchase.  We use SPOT, which we’ve detailed below, but there are numerous options to choose from.  In an emergency you activate your device and they transmit a distress signal, along with your GPS coordinates, to the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network which then relays the information to your nearest search and rescue authority.

SPOT MessengerNow this one we love!  We love our ‘SPOT’, he is one of our favourite purchases (yes it’s a ‘him’ and his name is SPOT!).  There are numerous ways that we use SPOT to keep in touch while travelling.  Like the satellite phones, SPOT uses satellites to communicate, meaning that he works as long as he can see the sky.  While travelling we always have SPOT sitting on the dash recording where we are going, if we go for a bushwalk we clip him onto our backpack for safety aswell.

So, how do we use SPOT ……. firstly, we use the tracking feature.  Once you turn this on, SPOT plots where you are every so often and records a detailed map for you.  We have this displayed on our website while travelling so our family can always see where we are.  We can also then download the map and save it as a record of where we have travelled.

Then there is the Check-In button which allows you to let family and friends know you are ok.  You can customise your message and set up who you want it to go to (whether by email or SMS) before you leave home.  You then just click on the Check-In button and it sends them your preset message.  This also sends your exact GPS co-ordinates of where you are at that point.  We use this every few days if we don’t have phone reception, just so they know we are alive and well!

There is also the Help button which you also customise before leaving home as per the Check-In button above.  This would be used if you are in trouble, but not in a life threatening situation.  Eg, you might be broken down, but have plenty of food and water so not in any trouble, but it allows your family to give your GPS location to local authorities and they can go find you.

Lastly there is the SOS button.  This one is to be used in life threatening emergencies only.  By pushing this button, the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center provides your GPS coordinates and information to local response teams to act immediately.

UHF CB  Radio Due to their convenience and relatively low purchase price, this really should be one of the first things you purchase.  Whether you are travelling the outback or just spending a day in the bush with mates, a CB is one of the most handy things you can have.  Not only can you use it to keep in touch with fellow travellers in your group, but you can use it to help when passing trucks or vehicles towing.  Quite often you will hear things over the CB to warn you of traffic, accidents or incidents up ahead which can be handy.   IMG_9201

We will quite often make contact with a truck or long vehicle up ahead to advise that we are wanting to pass and they can let us know when it’s safe to do so.  We will also make contact with vehicles behind if they are going faster than us and let them know they are free to go.

When used correctly, this can be a handy piece of equipment.

Remember that there are different channels which are used for different things, so it’s handy to know this.  Generally when travelling we tend to stick on channel 40 which is the one all the trucks use (keep in mind that you do sometimes get some interesting stories and questionable language on this channel, which can be quite entertaining, but maybe not always suitable for little kiddies ears!)

We initially started our Website purely as a place to display photos when we got back from holidays and it was an easy, central location for family and friends to view them.  Our website has changed from the early days and now includes informative information for others, but it’s still as much for us as it is for everyone else.  It’s our go to place for our photos and notes from all our trips.  Since we first started the website we have moved on to blogging and using social media much more and we’ve now incorporated this into the website aswell and everything is intertwined together! Eg All of our blogs and Instagram posts are displayed automatically on our website as they are posted and Spot tracking automatically shows up on the website when we are travelling. Shelly built our whole website and manages this, so if you are a little tech savvy, you could do this too. All it takes is a little time and a yearly fee for your domain name and hosting fees. 

Blogging can be a great way of letting people know what’s going on.  To put it simply, a blog is basically an online personal journal or diary.  Years ago you would have written in a travel journal and documented your trip, but now we do it online.  You have a record of your trip that you can refer back to at any time, but it also allows you to let family and friends (and anyone who follows your blog) know exactly what you are doing.  When we are away we try to write a blog post every few days.  We use a blogging site called ‘WordPress’ for our blogs and this in turn is embedded into our georgeandshelly.com website.  People can ‘follow’ a blog and by doing so they will be emailed a copy of your blog every time one is posted.

img_0836Itinerary.  Personally we have an itinerary (or trip plan) for every big trip we do.  I know a lot of people don’t agree with this and just go day-to-day, but we like to have an idea of where we will be.  We sit down and plan out our holiday and have an itinerary for each day, but this isn’t set in stone.  Nearly every trip we make changes along the way, we add a day in here and there, skip a place or change the route altogether!  There are even people who you can pay to prepare a trip plan for you which is what we have done on occasions.  Not only does the itinerary help us, but it’s a great security measure to leave it at home with family and/or friends.  If anything unfortunate should happen, at least they have an idea of the area you should be in at any given point. 

Social MediaOK so who isn’t on Facebook these days! We all love sharing photos and posts of what we are up to with life and we all love prying into everyone else’s lives by seeing their posts!  Most of our family and friends are on Facebook so it made sense for us to create our own page “George & Shelly . off the track” to use, rather than our personal pages.  This way, anyone (not just our family and friends) can like our page and join in on our adventures and be inspired.  It’s so easy to upload a photo or ‘check in’ and let people know where you are and what you are doing at any time.  

Instagram is another social media app that is very popular.  It allows you to post photos or short videos for your followers to see.  We have been on Instagram for a few years now (georgeandshelly.offthetrack) and have gained quite a few loyal followers.  We don’t know these people personally, but it’s nice to be able to share our adventures with like-minded people, or even share ‘Australia’ with many of our followers who are from overseas.

Once you get set up using social media you will see how handy this can be.  For example, we post a photo via the Instagram app and it auto posts onto our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr & Flickr profiles without us doing anything. 

Many people are now turning to social media outlets to find information or photos, just in the last year we have been contacted by GWN News in Western Australia asking could they use one of our photos on one of their nightly news segments and by Department of Commerce in WA asking to use one of our photos in a publication.  Both of these parties searched via social media to find photos relevant to their stories and then contacted the owners (us!) to ask for permission to use.  Just goes to show just how big and how important social media is becoming.

Who doesn’t like to receive an oldschool letter or Postcard in the mail! This is still a great way to let people know what you’ve been up too and let them know that you are thinking of them.  As a kid I collected post cards from every place we visited, it was nice to look back on these years later and be reminded of all the amazing adventures we had as a family.

Hopefully this will give you a little insight into how and why we use some of these services or devices to keep us safe and in contact with family and friends while we are travelling.  Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or let us know your own tips.

Warmer Weather = Increased Snake Activity

img_5496With summer now here and the weather definitely warming up, we need to be more alert to the possibility of snake encounters.

Our local snake catcher has been very busy in the last month or so with relocations.  Snakes are not only found in the bush, they are now venturing into backyards and city areas, so it’s not just campers who need to be alert.  This is especially important for people with young kids or animals (we have one dog who is obsessed with our pet snake and that’s not a great mix for a dog that goes out bush 4WDing with us!).  As our housing and building starts spreading further and further out, we are removing the snakes natural habitat and their food source and they are therefore venturing closer to humans.

We thought it timely to re-share an old blog post that we wrote about snakes and first aid in relation to snake bites.  Click here to read the blog Snakes ….. do you know what to do if you encounter one?IMG_5312With the warmer temperatures, there has definitely been increased snake activity and therefore the potential for snake bites.

The experts say that this summer is shaping up to be extremely busy with snake activity due to a number of factors:-

  • The increased rainfall through winter and spring has brought about some perfect IMG_5311conditions of snakes.
  • These conditions have promoted snake breeding activity.
  • The abundance of water has also promoted breeding activity for all of the small animals snakes prey upon.
  • The now hot and dry weather is the perfect weather for snakes, they like nothing better than to bask under the sun and increase their body temperature.

The main things to remember are to treat all snakes as if they are venomous, never try to catch a snake, keep quiet and still and slowly back away.  Generally snakes are just as surprised to see us and are far more scared of us and will happily slither away if left alone.

FullSizeRenderKeep your local snake catchers details handy in case you encounter one around home.  If travelling the outback, pick up one of the Snake Bite First Aid kits from Reptile Awareness Displays of Australia (RADOA) to ensure you have something available should you be a distance from help.  Of course, read up on the correct first aid tips should you or anyone around you get bitten, you can view this on our website.

Link to our previous blog post – Snakes ….. do you know what to do if you encounter one?

Camping Etiquette

The people around you can make a camping experience great or it can be your worst nightmare.

People go camping for a number of different reasons, but regardless of why you are there it’s important to respect others and the environment around you. No one wants to spend their holiday arguing with others, so by following these simple rules you can help create a happy camping experience for all involved.

1) Respect other people and their space.  This should be such a simple thing to do, but it’s something that so many people just don’t understand. It’s all about good manners and common sense (which seems to be lacking with a lot of people!)IMG_3101.JPG

Don’t set up camp too close to other people. Obviously if you are in a campground with pre marked spaces you don’t always have the option, but if you are in a free camping situation or in a large area, spread yourself out, make the most of the room! We’ve stayed on properties where there are acres and acres of camping area, yet you get people setting up camp within a couple of meters of you! Why??!

DO NOT WALK THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE’S CAMPSITES! Why is this so hard to understand? You don’t take shortcuts to the shops via your neighbour’s front yard or by jumping the back fence into someone else’s property, so why is it ok when you are camping ….. oh that’s right, it’s not!  It doesn’t matter if it takes you 5 extra steps to get to the toilet, that’s not our problem. You should walk around other people’s campsites, not through them. You should also teach your children to do so as well. Yes they are kids and they don’t understand, but they are led by example, so teach them early the right way to act.

If you do need to walk close by a campsite, at least acknowledge the people there, a simple ‘hey mate’ will suffice. At least it’s something after your whole family has just trudged through our campsite!

2) Rubbish.  This is a big one as many people seem to think that once you are away from home you can do whatever you like. So many campsites are littered with rubbish, anything from cans and cigarette butts to toilet paper, chip packets and dirty nappies. It really is a problem, it’s unsightly, it’s unhygienic and it’s the reason some of our camping areas are being closed down.

*If there are no bins in the camping ground, take your rubbish out with you and plIMG_5066.JPGace it in the first bin you find. Don’t just dump it somewhere and leave it for someone else to deal with.  These spare wheel rubbish bags are a great idea.

*Don’t leave your rubbish lying around the campsite overnight or when you aren’t there (even if it’s in a bag).  There are lots of wild animals just waiting for you to leave so they can rip open the bag and spread your rubbish far and wide.

*Don’t drop cigarette butts on the ground, put them in the bin or carry something with you to put them in.

*When you leave a campsite it should be spotless, the next people don’t want to clean up your dirty mess. Everything you bring in should be taken out.

3) Watch your kids. Kids will be kids and most people realise this and have a little tolerance, BUT at the end of the day, your kids are your responsibility and you need to teach them how to act while you are camping. Teach them not to run through campsites, not to be too loud, not to play in the bathroom. So many times we see kids acting up and parents sitting around not doing anything.

4) Travelling with dogs. Dogs are part of the family right, so why wouldn’t they go camping with you.  But there are a few points to remember, one in particular which so many people seem to forget about …….. pick up all your pet’s droppings! It’s not a nice job, but unless you can train your dog to pick it up themselves, unfortunately it’s your responsibility!  Always keep your dog on a leash if required and don’t just let them run up to everyone and every other dog. Not all dogs are friendly, and while yours might be, the dog it runs up to trying to play with might not be so friendly and the outcome may not be nice, so be careful.img_2316

Also remember that while you love your dog, not everyone else will (our little Gelly needs to learn this rule too!). Some people don’t want your dog running through their campsite or jumping in their caravan, they may not want to be covered in fur and doggy kisses or they may just be scared of dogs. Never let your dog visit someone else’s campsite unless they’ve made it clear that it’s ok.

5) Noise levels. Be respectful of your fellow campers. Yes you are on holidays and want to have a bit of fun and a few drinks, but be mindful that not everyone around you may want to do that. Remember that large groups are obviously loud, so be mindful as the night draws on and try to lower the noise accordingly. By around 10pm at the latest noise should cease (and most caravan parks have their own noise curfews of around 9-10pm). Remember that as things quieten down at night, the noise can travel far and wide, so while you think you may be away from the other campers it doesn’t mean that they can’t still hear you clearly.  Same goes for early mornings, as a general rule most campers tend to rise early and make the most of the day, BUT if you are up really early try to limit your noise so as not to disturb others around you.  If you are packing up early, do it as quietly as possible.  The other big thing is mobile phones, if you are talking early in the morning or late at night, be as quiet as possible!  We recently stayed next to someone that thought it was acceptable to talk very loudly on her mobile phone at 5.30am.  Was she in her caravan, no, because that would disturb her husband, she was wandering around outside waking up and annoying the rest of the campers!

6) Toilet. If the campground has facilities, make sure you leave them clean and tidy for the next person.  If the toilets flush, make sure you flush them!  Seems like common sense doesn’t it, but again, a lot of people seem to lack this!

img_4224If you are using a pit toilet make sure you put the lid down to avoid attracting flies (why would they want to hang out there with that smell anyway!).   Don’t put anything down the toilet that shouldn’t be there, basically if you didn’t eat or drink it first it shouldn’t be going in that toilet!

If there are no toilets and you need to do a bush wee (or the other) make sure you clean up after yourself.  This means, girls, take a zip lock bag with you so you can put your used toilet paper in it, don’t just leave it lying around.  If you are doing a No 2, go well away from any camping area and dig a deep hole to do your business in, once you are done make sure you burn the toilet paper and cover up the hole.  No-one wants a dingo or wild animal to dig up your business and spread it around, so make sure you dig a deep enough hole!

7) Generators.  All caravan parks will have rules on when and where these can be used, all will have cut off times of when they must be turned off.  A lot of national parks won’t allow them and the ones that do often have a separate area for people using them.  Even if you are in a place where there are no set rules, be considerate of your fellow campers, is there really a need to leave it running all night and annoying everyone around you?

8) Watch your speed. All caravan parks have speed limits (generally of about 10km per hour).  If there is a speed limit, obey it.  These are there for safety, particularly for kids that tend to run around.  Caravan parks are quite often very crowded and busy areas and you won’t have much chance of seeing someone as they run out from behind a tent or caravan.  They are also there to reduce dust, no-one wants to be sitting at camp and then be covered by sand/dust/dirt as you speed by.

8) Wildlife. Everyone has seen the signs that you should not feed the native animals, well there is a number of reasons for this.  One being that what we thinimg_6671-copyk might be a nice snack for the animals to eat could actually be harmful for them or even deadly.  Secondly, these are wild animals and they shouldn’t be allowed to become reliant on humans as their main food source.  What if one day there are no more humans in that area to feed them?  These wild animals need to remain ‘wild’ and know how to hunt for their food. 

Lastly and most importantly, we don’t want animals becoming too tame, as at the end of the day they are still a wild animal.  This is particularly important in the case of dingos.  While these are beautiful dogs and to a lot of people they are just a cute little puppy that looks like it needs a feed, we don’t want them to get used to being fed by humans as that ultimately could turn into someone being bitten or attacked.  It is a well-known fact that dingos that become too tame or brazen with their approaches to humans end up being killed to ensure that there is no potential for an attack.IMG_3397.JPG

 

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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Snakes ….. do you know what to do if you encounter one?

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Death Adder (highly venomous) we saw on Fraser Island earlier this year, he had just swam through Eli Creek

Do you know what to do if you encounter a snake while you are out and about?

We do a lot of outback travel and spend a lot of time in the bush and it may surprise you to know that we very rarely see snakes.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of them around, but they are more scared of us than we are of them, they do not sit there waiting for a tasty human to walk by so they can bite them!  Snakes will generally only bite as a last resort, when they are scared.

If you do encounter a snake, don’t panic, don’t go screaming and running through the bush!  Slowly and quietly back away and allow the snake to move.  Snakes do sense your vibration as you are approaching them and will generally slither away by themselves before you even realise they were there.

Snakes gain warmth by using heat sources such as basking in the sun on a warm rock or as quite commonly seen ….. in the middle of the road!  Therefore snakes are generally more active when the weather is warmer and they can raise their body heat.

How to protect yourself

  • Wear boots and long pants when bushwalking. Do not wear thongs!
  • Watch where you are walking and never put hands or feet under rocks or logs, especially important for your children’s wandering little hands!
  • When camping, always check inside your shoes, sleeping bags etc before using them as that might have seemed like a cosy resting place for a snake (or spider for that matter!).
  • Always use a torch when walking around campsites at night, never venture too far into the bush.
  • Do not handle snakes, especially an injured one.  Snakes will and do bite when scared.

Snake Bite First Aid

Australia has many venomous snakes and any bite could therefore be potentially fatal.  As it can be difficult to identify the snake, all bites should be treated as being potentially dangerous and immediate medical assistance should be sought.

What to do if you or someone around you is bitten by a snake:

  • Keep the patient as still as possible
  • Do not wash the bite site
  • Do not give food or drink
  • Do not cut or suck the bite
  • If you do not have a snake bite kit, use a crepe bandage or even clothing or towels torn into strips.
  • Do not apply or use a tourniquet

The Pressure Immobilisation Technique detailed below can greatly buy you time until you can reach a hospital or a medical team can reach you.

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This was George’s first time holding a snake (at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre)

Pressure Immobilisation Technique

Apply bandage to the entire limb immediately. Firmly bandage (with an elastic or crepe bandage) starting from the toes or fingers then continuing up the limb covering as much of the limb as possible.  Do not apply any tighter than you would for a sprained wrist.

After the limb is compressed, apply a splint. Immobilise the bitten limb with a splint, eg: a rolled up magazine, a stick from the ground anything that will help prevent muscle movement.

Keep the patient still and calm. Movement will increase venom flow. Calm reassurance should always be a main ingredient in any first aid situation.  Seek medical attention immediately.

Monitor pulse and breathing. Monitor pulse and breathing and if either cease, apply mouth to mouth or CPR until medical attention arrives.

Please note that, while pressure-immobilisation works for all snake bites, it is not the case for all other bites, so the best thing to do is undertake a first aid course to learn the exact first aid methods for all scenarios.  

Where to get more information

If you need any further information on snakes, or if you would like to buy a Snake Bite First Aid Kit, please check out our mates at Reptile Awareness Displays of Australia (RADOA).  Their website has loads of helpful hints to guide you through.

RADOA sell handy little kits which are small enough to carry on your belt or backpack or in your glove box.  Each kit contains a 15cm wide 2 metre (stretch to 4 metre) bandage, a triangular bandage plus instructions in case of a bite, all in a waterproof bag.   Currently priced at only A$10.00 per kit, plus postage & handling, they are a cheap and handy thing to have.   These can be purchased via the RADOA website http://www.radoa.com.au/shop

We keep one of these in each of our 4WD’s at all times, as well as our standard first aid kits.

FullSizeRender

Our boy Sam, checking out the snake bite kit!

Meet Mr Sam!  Meet our pet snake, Sam.  Sam is a Childrens Python.  Now Childrens Pythons are a non-venomous snake, but that doesn’t mean they don’t bite, it just means that we don’t die when he does!  We got Sam as a baby and believe me, baby snakes bite …… a lot!  He was scared, he was in a new home, these huge human hands kept wanting to pick him up, he didn’t know what was going on, so he bit us all the time ……. because he was scared and that was his defence mechanism.

A few years down the track, Sam is the most placid snake and we can reach into the cage and pick him up, wrap him around our neck, let him crawl around the house, he hasn’t bit us in years because he’s now used to being handled.

SamSo I’m guessing you think we must love snakes so couldn’t be scared of them in the bush, well let me say that we are probably more wary of them now that we own a snake than we ever were before!  We now know the warning signs to look out for, we know how unpredictable a snake can be, we know how easily they can be startled and scared, we know how quick they can be and we have seen first hand the tiny little spaces a snake can squeeze it’s self into (yes we’ve had a few ‘lost snake’ moments!).

IMG_2934We are probably more concerned about snakes in the bush now than ever before!  I guess we used to be a little blasé, so it’s good to have a little more awareness.

The bottom line is, be wary of your surroundings and stay away from snakes and they will probably do the same!