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.

The natural beauty of Fraser Island

Hands up who’s never visited Fraser Island …. if you are sitting there with your hands in the air, what’s wrong with you! You really need to get off your butt and get yourself up to this amazing part of the country!

You’ll find Fraser Island located off the east coast of Queensland, about 4 hours drive north of Brisbane. Covering an area of 184,000 hectares, it is the largest sand island in the world. But it’s more than just a bit of sand surrounded by water, it’s one of the most naturally beautiful places you’ll visit.

You’ll find some of the most beautiful lakes filled with crystal clear fresh water, ancient rainforests, long white beaches, coloured sand cliffs, shipwrecks and a splash of history thrown in.

Fun facts about Fraser Island

  • Fraser Island stretches over 123 km in length and 22 km across at it’s widest point.
  • Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.
  • Fraser Island is World Heritage Listed.
  • The highest dunes on the island reach up to 240 meters above sea level.
  • Fraser Island is home to 40 perched dune lakes (which is half the number of perched lakes in the world!).
  • It’s said that over 350 species of birds live on Fraser Island.
  • The dingoes of Fraser Island are the most pure strain of dingoes remaining in eastern Australia.
  • Fraser Island is the only place in the world where rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of more than 200 meters.
  • 75 Mile Beach is a gazetted highway and all normal road rules apply, and police do regularly patrol.
  • 75 Mile Beach is also a runway and landing strip for light aircraft.
  • Fraser Island’s dunes have the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world.
  • At 200 hectares, Lake Boomanjin is the largest perched lake in the world.
  • Fraser Island is home to half of the world’s perched lakes.

How the island formed

An island like Fraser Island doesn’t just pop up overnight, it has been forming over many hundreds of thousands of years and is still evolving to this day. Many years ago the wind and ocean currents moved sands from all around the world and it began to accumulate in one place and formed an island, therefore Fraser Island is made up completely of sand. Over the years animal matter and debris started to form a base which then allowed plants to start growing. A sand dune is considered stable when plant colonies start to take root and you can see this towards the centre of the island, where you’ll find huge trees and rainforests growing in the more sheltered parts of the island.

Closer to the beach where the dunes are subjected to the more fierce weather elements you will see that they often only have a small covering of grasses and smaller plants that have learned to live with the constant battering of sand and wind.

Fraser Island Lakes

There are over 100 freshwater lakes on the island. The only area in Australia that has a higher concentration of lakes than Fraser Island is Tasmania. There are Perched lakes, Window lakes and Barrage lakes.

Perched lakes form when organic matter builds up in a depression in the dune. Leaves, dead plants, bark etc collects over time, slowly decomposing into the top layer of the sand and eventually forming a cement like crust which stops water from filtering through the sand. With the water being trapped it will eventually form a lake. Perched lakes are dependent on rainfall to maintain the water levels.

Fraser Island’s Lake Boomanjin is the largest perched lake in the world.

Barrage lakes form when moving sand dunes block off the path of a watercourse, creek or natural spring.

Window lakes form when a depression in the dunes exposes part of the regional water table. These lakes are generally found in dune depressions where the water table is higher than the ground surface level.

Fraser Island’s Lake Wabby is actually known as both a window lake and a barrage lake.

Whilst the lakes on Fraser Island are some of the most naturally stunning sights you’ll see, many of them hold nothing but water. Because of the purity and acidity of the water, they are not home to any creatures. There are a few lakes that do have fish and turtles living in them and a particular species of frog that have adapted to survive in an acidic and nutrient deficient environment.

Fraser Island History

Captain Matthew Flinders was one of the first white men to have contact with the islanders of Fraser Island in 1802.

In 1836 the ‘Stirling Castle’ was shipwrecked and after spending weeks in a lifeboat at sea, they landed on the island. The survivors lived on the island for a few weeks before being rescued. One of these was Eliza Fraser, the wife of the Captain, James Fraser. It was after Eliza, that Europeans named the island Fraser Island.

The Butchulla people are the indigenous people of Fraser Island and their traditional name for the island is K’gari (pronounced “gurri”), which means paradise. According to Butchulla legend, Fraser Island was named K’gari after the beautiful spirit who helped
Yindingie, messenger of the great god Beeral, create the land. As a reward to K’gari for her help, Beeral changed her into an idyllic island with trees, flowers and lakes. He then added birds, animals and people onto the island to keep her company.

The island is now referred to as both “K’gari” and ‘Fraser Island” (and “Great Sandy National Park”), and whilst the Native Title rights were handed back to The Butchulla people in 2014, the day-to-day management of the island is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Environment and Heritage (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service).

Fraser Island Logging history

Logging is a huge part of the Fraser Island story. Due to the abundance of timber available and the quality of the pines, logging on Fraser Island ran for quite an extended period of time, first starting in 1863 and continuing until the end of 1991.

Logging initially started near Wanggoolba Creek by ‘Yankee Jack’ Piggott. In 1913 the first State Government Forestry Camp was set up at Bogimbah Creek, later moved to Wanggoolba Creek and in 1920 this moved to Central Station. In 1918 building began on the first and only timber mill on Fraser Island at the McKenzie’s Jetty site. McKenzie Ltd. was responsible for this mill, a jetty and a number of steam locomotives and tracks servicing its logging areas. When the Forestry Camp moved to Central Station, there were workers and their families living there and a community formed, including huts, houses and sheds, a school for the children and nurseries and vegetable gardens.

Nowadays Central Station is a camping and picnic area, but it also includes plenty of information on it’s former life as a logging camp.

Fraser Island’s WWII Connection

Many wouldn’t know, but Fraser Island played an important role in WWII.

The Fraser Commando School trained personnel for the highly secret ‘Z Force’. These personnel lived on the island and were trained to operate undercover behind enemy lines. The ruins of the training school are found on the western side of the island near Kingfisher Bay Resort.

The Maheno shipwreck, located on the eastern beach, was also used during the WWI as a target for explosives training.

Arriving at Bashville

It was a four day journey to get here, but to say we were excited by this point was an understatement! We arrived on Monday afternoon, set up camp on the town common, unhooked the camper and drove into town. The line to pick up our Big Red Bash passes and vehicle stickers wasn’t too long so we decided to get these organised and then headed over to the pub for a beer while we waited for Stewy and the kids to arrive.

Whilst standing in the beer garden of the Birdsville Hotel we ran into one of Shelly’s old high school friends! It’s amazing who you run into when travelling! Whilst they were also waiting for family to arrive, we all spent an hour or so catching up before we headed off back to camp to wait for Stewy.

Tuesday morning was officially ‘Bash day’! This was the day we’d been waiting for. We all packed up and headed back into Birdsville, George & Stewy lined up to get fuel (only a 10 min wait this time!) while Shelly took the kids to get their bash tickets and vehicle pass. We then made our way out to the bash site, about 35km out of Birdsville.

Bashville, as it’s known, is located on private property, an organic cattle station named Adria Downs. Due to the organic nature of the property, you need to be well prepared as no greywater (dish-washing, showering etc) can be emptied onto the ground, all water must be collected and taken out with you (or disposed of at the grey water disposal tanks provided at the toilet blocks). Any blackwater (toilet cassettes etc) had to be taken out of the site with you. Same with rubbish, whilst there were rubbish bins in the concert and plaza area, it was your responsibility to take all camping rubbish out with you and dispose of at the tip in Birdsville. There was also no running water on site so all water for drinking, cleaning, cooking, showers and toilets needed to be brought with you.

Our campsite

Now the way this event is run is amazing, all the volunteers have a job to do and they get it done! There are staggered event roll in and roll out times, early entry passes and early exit passes, separate areas for people camping with dogs and areas for people with big rigs. As we entered, we were guided to an area for us to set up our camp for the next few days. We ended up being in the back row of the camping, which was great as we had more room and weren’t as closed in with other campers, but it also meant a long walk to the stage and plaza area ….. particularly when carrying chairs, clothes, food and beer!

Relaxing on the first night back at camp ….. listening to the music from the concert area, cooking pizza over an open fire, under a million stars ….. this really is the life!

Big Red Bash wrap up

Well there is another trip done and dusted, 4,838 km driven across 3 states over 16 days! ….. ok so yes we know we didn’t quite keep the blogs up to date while we are away, but we will do a recap of each day now that we are home and have more time and internet connection! But in the meantime, below is a quick recap of the whole trip to get you excited!

This was one of our shorter trips, only 2 weeks away, but as usual we still managed to pack alot into that time!

The main purpose of the trip was to visit The Big Red Bash, the worlds most remote music festival … and what an awesome, fun filled couple of days that was! They say once you visit you’ll go back again and that’s so true, we are all hooked! The bands, the people, the volunteers, the atmosphere … it was all awesome. Probably by far the best run event we have ever been to.

Although the bash was our main reason for travel, we wanted to make a mini holiday out of it too. We’ve been to Birdsville before and also to most places we visited, but it was still great. We stopped in at Cameron Corner again (where the borders of NSW/SA/QLD meet) and also stopped off at Haddon Corner for the first time (where the borders of QLD/SA meet).

We got our history on visiting some of the sites connected to Burke & Wills …. Burkes grave and Dig Tree to name a couple and we finally visited the Birdsville Hotel and went inside to have a beer (we’ve previously been to Birdsville but didn’t go to the pub, who does that! 😆)

Camel Racing 🐪 yes, we finally went to a camel racing meet, and not just any old camel racing, the ‘Melbounre Cup of Camel Racing’!  We spent 3 days camping at the race course and watching the Boulia Camel Races.

We went on a sunset dinner river cruise on the Thompson River in Longreach, attended an Outback Show at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, we saw the ‘big bogan’ in Nyngan and the ‘big billy’ in Trangie. We touched a dinosaur bone fossil at Winton and visited the site of the first Qantas plane crash in Tambo. We dropped into little country towns to support and show the love and bought heaps of souvenirs we probably don’t need!

Now to our good mate Stewy, so glad we got to experience our first bash together! Many of you would know that we travel quite a bit with Stewy and his daughter, they love this as much as us! And great to have Jackson along this time aswell! Glad you all made it home safely and we will see you on Fraser Island at Christmas!

It was great to catch up at the bash with Jim & Jackie who came along with us to Cape York last year, hope you enjoyed the bash and have a safe and enjoyable remainder of your trip.

The bash was the place to be and it was great to also run into Matt from Cub Campers again too, hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip, and following along on ours! We will see you soon to arrange our new awning!

Randomly running into one of Shelly’s old high school friends at the Birdsville Hotel (and at the bash and the races!), was great into see you Virginia and meet your family, enjoy the rest of your travels.

Jay and Sallie, our camping neighbours for a couple of nights in Longreach, it was great to meet you both (pj’s and all!), may catch up again one day.

To the guy who works in Target in Longreach, you are hilarious … really bad jokes, but hilarious! And to the people at the Wyandra Post & General Store, thank you for accommodating Shelly’s request for pepper even though you were allergic to it (who knew!) and thanks for opening our eyes to Mac n Cheese Smiths Chips (again, who knew!) …. hope you found your Spaghetti Bol chips! Also great briefly chatting with the caretaker of the Gladstone Hotel in Wyandra, good to hear a little about the community and the hotel.

And lastly, to our other friends, Lauren, Liam and the kids and Leah & Brendan who were meant to be coming to the bash and both didn’t make it for various reasons, hopefully we can all do it again next year!!

All the dust, the smoke, everything smelling like a campfire, the lack of showers and toilets, the cold, the flies …. we wouldn’t trade it for the world. To sit at camp and stare up at the stars, to share a beer with friends or total strangers, to meet the locals and share stories with other travellers, the laughs, the adventure and the memories …. this is life 💕

Oh and to share it with all of you guys too, we love it and glad we could take you along on the journey!

Check out all the stats below ⬇️⬇️⬇️

THE STATS
—————-
🔸4,838 km
🔸travelled across 3 states 
🔸16 days
🔸Total Fuel $1,290
🔸most expensive fuel $1.90/L for Diesel at Innamincka

🔸$210 total accomodation 
(1 x night hotel $160, 2 x nights caravan park $30, 2 x nights low cost camps $20, rest free camping or included in BRB/Camel Races tickets)

MINOR INCIDENTS
——————————
🔸Windscreen chip
🔸Lost reflector off camper
🔸Tear in the awning off the camper
🔸Changed tyre on the camper 
🔸Kangaroo splatter incident 

WHAT WE LEARNT
—————————
🔸It’s really exciting when you initially hear and see someone whip cracking …. it gets really annoying when that’s all you hear all day and night for a few days!
🔸‘Shelly GPS’ has nearly 100% accuracy, ‘George GPS’ is crap!
🔸It’s a game of luck when driving in Longreach …. cross streets have no ‘Give Way’ or ‘Stop’ signs! Oh and to it make it even harder to navigate, the power poles are situated right in the middle of street!
🔸Baby wipes really are your best friend when showers are few and far between (well we knew this one already!)
🔸If you look at a tyre before you leave home and think ‘we really should change that before we go’ ….. you probably should!!
🔸Be very wary of all dead kangaroos on the road! 
🔸You very quickly learn to be open about your toilet trips at the bash …. more on this later, but ‘one scoop per poop’ is the saying in Bashville!💩 
🔸We already knew it, but WikiCamps is awesome! We always find the best free camps using this app … if you aren’t already using it, you really should be!

Saying goodbye to ‘The Old Girl’

Many of you may know that we recently purchased a new 4WD for Shelly …. and unfortunately that meant that the old Prado needed to find a new home. We’d had this for sale for a while and we always knew that a vehicle like this would have to attract the right buyer. For a start, not everyone wants to buy a 23 year old car with nearly 300,000 km on the clock! We’d spent a lot of money on this 4WD over the years and it was in great condition for a vehicle of that age. Of course it had the odd scratch and dent, but it’s lived a fairly active off-road life, so what do you really expect!

Anyway, that right buyer did come along, a young guy and his family from the central west region of NSW. He’d done his homework, he’d seen our website and knew exactly the life this car had lived, there was now no hiding anything! They took the drive down to our house on a Thursday night to check out the Prado, George went over every single thing on the car, explained how everything worked, why we’d done what we’d done or used the parts we had, what had been replaced, what maybe needs to be looked at ….. we even gave instructions on how to pull apart the console and fix the 4WD shifter when it sometimes jumps out of place!

So after about 1 1/2 hours or so, we loaded the Prado with all it’s spare parts, the old back seats, the old stock wheels and we said goodbye and watched as she drove away with her new family.

Last photo, just before she drove away.

It was sad to see her go, she’d brought us so many years of memories. She was what started our whole 4WDing and travel adventures together. George owned the Prado when we met, it was this Prado that got George into 4WDing in the beginning. He’d researched for ages to find the perfect vehicle and this is where it all started.

When we first started travelling we slept in the back of the Prado, free camping or staying in caravan parks as we traveled around.

All of the dogs have gone 4WDing with us and love nothing more than a day in the bush, they all started off in the old girl.

Kayla, Shelly’s old dog, loved being introduced to 4WDing
Gelly & Charli have been 4WDing with us since they were pups and they absolutely love it.

The kids grew up knowing this car, Shelly learned to drive off-road in the Prado, she took us on so many amazing holidays and to places across Australia that we would never have gone to without a 4WD. We spent our 2 month honeymoon travelling in the Prado! Our first Cape York trip, we tackled the Old Tele Track by ourselves and without winching – even the new Prado needed to be winched out of Palm Creek!

Old Tele Track, Cape York
The Lions Den Hotel, FNQ
Our two Prado’s together on our New Years Eve trip to Cameron Corner

Lots of fun weekend trips with friends, getting stuck for hours in the Watagans at night! repairing the 4WD shifter in the middle of Stockton Beach!, pulling the Patrol out every time it goes near water (sorry Liam!)

At the end of the day, it was time for the Prado to go, but it was sad, a lot of memories drove away with that car. But hopefully the old girl still has a lot of life left in her and this new young family can start making memories of their own.

Interesting little fact is that this Prado was originally owned by a Doctor in Dubbo, she then came to Sydney to live 19 years of her life with us, so i guess it’s only fitting that she’s returning back to the country to live out her days.

Easter camping adventures

We had a great weekend away with the dogs. Gelly & Charli spend a lot of time 4WDing in the bush with us, but this was only their 2nd ever camping trip (first one did not end well and they got taken home half way through!), but this time we were pleasantly surprised with their behaviour! We were a little concerned about the roaming cows, kangaroos and emus, but they were actually really well behaved, we doubted their ability to be so good, but they surprised us both!!

We left on Good Friday with no idea where we would stay for the next few days, George wanted to head towards Wagga or Tumut area and once there we’d find somewhere to free camp, so off we went!

We ended up heading to the small country town of Tumut, which is in the Riverina region of NSW and basically at the foot of the Snowy Mountains. We arrived around 11am and called up our trusty WikiCamps app to see what camping spots were around. We found a really great spot right on the river, but as it was still so early in the day we headed off exploring. First stop was the Blowering Dam, which is one of the biggest dams in NSW, at 1,628,000 megalitres it is three times the size of Sydney Harbour.

Blowering Dam was also the site where, in 1978, Ken Warby set the world water speed record of 317.6 miles per hour (511.1 km / hour) in his boat the Spirit of Australia.

We ended up driving to the Bago State Forest to see if we could find a place to camp for the night. Some of the views from here were beautiful so we were quite happy to set up camp in this area. After making George turn around in the middle of the track …. twice! (Remember we had the camper in tow too 😂) he was ready to find a place to set up camp!

We found a perfect spot, no one else around, right on the water and amazing scenery. As the sun went down we sat around the campfire and felt lucky that we are able to do this together.

As Gelly relaxed in front of the fire in mummy’s arms, we found that Charli is scared of campfires and wouldn’t come near us!

Next morning we realised that we didn’t quite take note of how we got in there to our campsite the day before! We then sat there hoping someone else would leave as we wondered where the hell the track out was!

After aimlessly driving around for a while we finally found the way out! (Lesson learnt, always plot entry points on the map!). We do have to thank the young guys on the motorbikes for helping out and pointing us in the right direction (even after Shelly laughed at them when they bogged their Ute and bike earlier in the morning!)

After posting some pics on our Facebook page the night before we were contacted by some of our followers (and now friends, after a chance meeting last year) who said we happened to be camped near them, so we arranged to catch up. After a quick visit at their campsite (litterally just across the water from where we were camped!) we took off exploring and looking for our next campsite.

As it turns out we didn’t find anything better so later in the arvo we rocked up back at their camp again and invited ourselves to stay! Thanks Mark & Tracey for letting us invade your campsite for the night!

We ended up having a great night with friends and the dogs loved it, Gelly in particular. Our little social butterfly couldn’t have been happier with all these new people to pat and play with her!

Sunday morning we decided to go for a quick 4WD through the bush, so the Prado and the Navara set off for a bit of a play. The tracks we found weren’t hard by any means, but they were slightly overgrown ….. actually ‘slightly’ isn’t the right word, there were trees taller than me growing in the middle of the track!

There was quite a bit of track clearing required and while George sat in the comfort of the car, Shelly walked the track and got covered in cuts and scratches as she cleared the way! Couldn’t have done it without Peter, he obviously did more than me, but let’s just pretend for a bit that I was big and tough and did it all myself! 💪 🤣

Not only was the track overgrown, we got to one point where a huge tree blocked the whole track.

The winch got a good workout removing this and we were then on our way again. Just another reminder to always carry recovery gear when off-road, a chainsaw may have been a handy little addition too!

Just another reminder to always carry recovery gear when off-road, a chainsaw may have been a handy little addition too!

So overall we had a super fun weekend. Two great campsites, campfires each night, amazing scenery, great company and a fun little 4WDing adventure.

The dogs both loved it and were totally exhausted by all the excitement and slept the whole way home and most of the next day! 🐾

We couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend our Easter break.