Travel Blog Awards 2017 ….. we’ve been nominated!

Travel Blog Awards 2017

So, here’s some exciting news …… we’ve been nominated in the Travel Blog Awards 2017 held by Mr Promocode.

We enjoy writing this blog, it gives us a record and memories of our trips and it also allows us to share our adventures with family, friends and our many blog and social media followers. It’s rewarding to know that people enjoy reading our stories.

But now is when we ask you for something.  We need your help and ask that you vote for us if you think we are worthy of this award. Simply click on the link to see who we are up against, search for “George & Shelly” (you’ll see our logo) and click to vote for us!

Travel Blog Awards 2017

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Merry Christmas!

Hope you all had a great Christmas. If you are anything like us, you would have eaten and drunk way too much, we all felt like a little nap after lunch!This was our first Christmas with our new nephew, Levi. He probably got more presents than any of us!This year Christmas was spent at our house with a huge Christmas lunch for both sides of the family, 14 in total. It was great to have all the family together, after all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about.

Of course the pups weren’t forgotten either. After stalking her Christmas stocking for the past few weeks, Gelly (and Charli) was pleased to be able to finally check out what was inside! Boxing Day was an early 4.30am wake up for our drive north to Urunga. Luckily our plan worked and we missed most of the holiday traffic and got a really good run.

We arrived just after 11am, found our mates who arrived yesterday and set up camp. What a magic spot this campground is, right on the water and so quiet.The next few days we will be out exploring the many 4WD tracks around the area and doing some sight seeing around Coffs Harbour.  Stay tuned for more photos and stories in the days ahead!

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

Our Latest Project ….

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The latest project that we have become involved in is “Protect Cape York”.  We are so excited to be involved with such a great cause and we are getting a lot of positive feedback which is amazing.  This idea came about by a few people who have visited Cape York recently and saw the amount of rubbish left around by fellow campers and thought that something needed to be done.

IMG_1270Back in 2013 we headed to Cape York as part of our honeymoon adventure and, after seeing this first hand, we decided to jump on board and help out this great cause. Now this issue is certainly not confined to the Cape York area only, we see this quite often in our travels.   You all know the old saying, “Take nothing but photos, Leave nothing but footprints”, if all of us abided by that rule, the amount of rubbish would be significantly less.  If there isn’t a bin where you are camping, does that give you the right to leave your rubbish on the ground, NO, your responsibility is to take it with you and deposit into the next bin you find.  It’s really not that hard, but it’s a concept that so many people seem to forget about once they leave their home.

The amount of rubbish that is left behind on the tracks by fellow campers is disgraceful.  We have been sent photos of lizards IMG_1160with their heads stuck in cans, we’ve all seen photos of turtles and birds with plastic wrapped around them, not to mention the fact that no-one wants to camp next to your dirty used toilet paper and nappies!

While up at the Cape we took a drive along the beaches run and the amount of rubbish lining the beach is unbelievable.  Now in reality, a lot of this would have wash up onto the beach from offshore, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ok.  At the end of the day, it’s all still rubbish and if we can organize clean up days and educate people on where they can dispose of rubbish and how to do so safely, just maybe we can help in some small way.

ThIMG_1183e team and us have achieved so much already in such a short amount of time.  Word is spreading and the feedback and support we are receiving is amazing.  We already have some great sponsors jumping on board, including our major sponsors, TJM Cairns and The Albatross Resort, Weipa.  We are also lucky enough to have Keep Australia Beautiful on board to help promote our cause, as well as more and more places coming on board.

We have set up a website which details exactly what we are trying to achieve and how you can help to promote our cause to others http://www.protectcapeyork.com/

So who are we and what are we trying to achieve?

We are just a small group of like-minded people, everyday Australians located all over the country, but with one aim in mind ….. to protect and preserve the beauty of Cape York.  We want to clean up the area and educate people in the process.  This is the iconic tip of Australia, thousands of people make the epic journey here every year and we want future generations to be able to experience this aswell.IMG_1172

Our Goals

Our immediate goal is to be in a position to hand out 200-300 ‘Cape York packs’ in time for the 2016 tourist season.  We are hoping that by handing out these packs, people will be reminded to clean up after themselves (and others as the case may be!).  These packs will include a map of rubbish disposal areas and helpful hints, as well as rubbish bags, tongs, gloves etc.   We aim to provide campers with the tools to clean up after themselves.

There are so many ways that you can become involved, so please take the time to check out our website and contact us if you would like to become involved or if you have any comments or contacts that may be able to benefit us.

Please help us on our journey to clean up our country and educate people in the process.

……… Remember, It’s Everyone’s Backyard.

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Welcome!

Welcome to our blog.  We use this blog to document our 4WD adventures with everyone while we are away.

We want to share our photos, stories and experiences with all of you.

Check out http://www.georgeandshelly.com for more inspiration and previous holiday blogs.

Hope you enjoy and please feel free to share with others who may find it interesting.

George & Shelly