Winton, Outback Queensland

After leaving Boulia we said goodbye to Stewy and the kids as they headed back to Queensland and we also started off on our journey home. We had no plan, but we had about 6 days before we needed to be back in Sydney so we had a quick check of the maps and decided to headed off towards Winton.

After a week of no showers (thank god for baby wipes!) we decided to check into a hotel for the night and make good use of their shower and bed! We also took a night off cooking and headed to one of the local pubs, The Winton Hotel, for dinner.

The next morning we were up early to get in some exploring before the relatively short drive to Longreach, where we planned to spend 2 nights. We’ve visited both Winton and Longreach before, but it was nice to be back and spend a bit more time looking around.

If you ever find yourself in Winton, here are a few of the highlights for you to check out.

The North Gregory Hotel

Established in 1879, The North Gregory Hotel was reportedly the site of the first public performance of Australia’s unofficial national anthem, ‘Waltzing Matilda’, on 6th April 1895.

The original North Gregory Hotel was was pulled down in 1900 and rebuilt, only to burn down in 1916 and again in 1946. The building that stands now was built in 1955 and nowadays this hotel is not only a reminder of the past, but also a great place to eat, drink and sleep.

Located in the centre of town, this hotel provides hotel rooms and non-powered caravan sites.

Address: 67 Elderslie Street, Winton
Phone: 07 4657 0647


Qantas Airfield Commemorative Cairn

This location marks the site of the first landing ground of Qantas. When most people are asked where Qantas was born, they think Longreach, but it was in fact Winton. The local saying about Qantas is that it was conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton and grew up in Longreach.

The Qantas story officially begins with it’s ‘birth’ in Winton on 16th November 1920, with the initial registration of the company. The Winton Shire Council was the first local authority in the world to support an airline, contributing financially to the purchase of the first landing field. The first Board Meeting was held at the Winton Club on 10th February 1921. There is a commemorative cairn in Elderslie St and also at the site of the landing field.

Price: Free!
Location: Located on Hughenden  Road, behind the Diamantina Heritage
Truck and Machinery Museum 


The Winton Club

On 10th February 1921 the first Qantas Board meeting was held here. We believe there is quite a range of Qantas memorabilia on display, but the club has never been open while we are there.

Location: 27 Oondooroo Street, Winton
Contact: wintonclub@hotmail.com


Jolly Swagman Statue

This statue is dedicated to Banjo Paterson, who wrote Waltzing Matilda. It’s also a tribute to the many swagmen who lie in unmarked graves across Australia.

Price: Free!
Location: Elderslie Street, Winton
(outside the pool at Barry Wilson Memorial Park) 


Musical Fence

This is a strange, yet fun!, place where you can ‘play’ musical instruments made from various everyday items. This is the worlds first musical fence!

Price: Free!
Location: Located on Hughenden  Road, behind the Diamantina Heritage
Truck and Machinery Museum 


 Banjo Paterson statue

A statue of Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson, who wrote Waltzing Matilda. Note: A fire destroyed the Waltzing Matilda Centre in June 2015 but the statue of Banjo Paterson was undamaged. The new centre re-opened in 2018. 

Price: Free!
Location: Elderslie Street, Winton
(located outside the Waltzing Matilda Centre)


Waltzing Matilda Centre

This is the first museum in the world dedicated to a song! This centre tells the story of our unofficial national anthem, Waltzing Matilda.

Unfortunately the original Waltzing Matilda Centre was completely destroyed by fire in June 2015 and very little was able to be saved from the ashes. We did visit the original centre and it was great.

Price: $30 per adult, $10 per child (age 5-11) as at September 2019
Location: Elderslie Street, Winton


The Age of Dinosaurs Museum  

If you like Dinosaurs (and lets face it, who doesn’t!) then this museum is somewhere you need to visit. This is home to the largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils in the world.

Years ago while out this way we visited Lark Quarry, the site of the world’s only known record of a dinosaur stampede, that was pretty cool! So this time we visited the The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum to learn a little more about these amazing prehistoric creatures.

We even got to touch a fossilised dinosaur bone, how awesome is that!

The tours are split into 3 sections, but we didn’t have time to see the Dinosaur Canyon, but we did join the guided tour of the Fossil Preparation Laboratory and the Collection Room. Great few hours and highly recommended to visit if in the area. If you are limited for time, just let them know when you arrive and they will happily work out which tours you can do.

The Fossil Preparation Laboratory shows you where palaeontologists expose the fossilised bones, you can actually see them working.

The Collection Room is where you’ll find the bones of ‘Banjo’ (Australovenator wintonensis). ‘Banjo’ is the most complete Australian carnivorous dinosaur ever discovered.

We didn’t visit the Dinosaur Canyon but this area is part of a dinosaur dig where bones are currently being found.

You can even book in to a ‘Dig-a-Dino’ experience where you take part in a real life dig for dinosaur bones. You live and work and learn onsite for 5 days. Definitely something we’d both be interested in taking part in at some point in the future.

Price: Prices vary depending on which tours you do. See website
Website: www.australianageofdinosaurs.com/
Location: Lot 1, Dinosaur Drive, Winton
Located about 25km from Winton. Turn off the Landsborough
Highway onto Dinosaur Drive (it’s well signposted). We were towing
the camper and there is plenty of room for parking.


There is plenty more to do around Winton, and there are some great pubs and eateries and bakeries. Another must visit (which we went to on our last visit and loved it) is the Diamantina Heritage Truck & Machinery Museum. This features many restored heritage trucks, tractors, machinery and memorabilia.

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Boulia Camel Races

In all our years of travel we’ve never seen camel racing, we’ve seen camels running in the wild, we’ve ridden camels and we’ve visited camel farms, but never been to a racing meet. It’s something we’ve been trying to get to, but dates of events and other commitments just never seem to align. So when we found out the Boulia Camel Races were being held straight after the Big Red Bash we knew we had to visit.

Known as the Melbourne Cup of camel racing, the famous Boulia Camel Races is held annually on the third weekend in July and apparently attracts people from all over the world! Like Birdsville does at Big Red Bash and Birdsville Races time, the population of Boulia dramatically expands during the racing period. For a town of about 300 people, this can swell to 3000 during the 3 day racing carnival. Just think of the funds this puts back into the community and surrounding areas …… just take a look at the constant line up for fuel and you’ll see how much money is being put back in! Again, thank god for long range fuel tanks!

The party starts on the Friday night, with live entertainment until late into the evening. The racing starts on the Saturday morning and continues on all day, along with a bar, various stalls, food stands and entertainment. Saturday night is party night again with bands and fireworks. The racing starts again on Sunday morning and finishes with the main event, the “Boulia Camel Cup” in the early afternoon. The Boulia Camel Cup is the longest camel race in Australia, at 1500m long.

So what’s it like? …… well lets just say that camel racing is like horse racing in slow motion! But the camels are much more naughty and opinionated than horses! We saw a camel finish a race and try to break through into the crowd, one that wouldn’t let it’s jockey off, and one that turned around half way through the race and started heading in the wrong direction …. yep, it was pretty entertaining! And let me tell you, when you are standing there waiting for the camels and jockeys to walk the whole 1500m round to the starting line before the race even starts, this is a very long process! There is a lot of waiting for something to happen.

But you know what, once those camels start racing, you can’t help but get into it. Watching these huge creatures hurtling down the track, the commentator getting into it, the crowd yelling and cheering hoping to win some money, red dust flying everywhere, it’s actually pretty awesome …. Another thing ticked off the bucket list.

If you looked closely to the beginning of the video above, you may have noticed that the jockey was Nick ‘The Honey Badger‘ Cummins. We are not exactly sure why he was there, but he was racing in one of the races and competing in the camel tagging – and looking quite nice with his shirt off when Shelly saw him at camp in the morning!

I think we already knew what to expect as we’ve done so much travel and spent so much time in the outback, but for someone from the city this could be a bit of an eye opener, but also so much fun! There’s a lot of drinking and there’s a lot of Akubra hats (yep we fitted in well)!

Not only are there camel races, but plenty of other entertainment including yabby and novelty races, camel & sheep tagging competitions and nightly entertainment.

Camping is included at the racetrack as part of your ticket. There is plenty of land available to camp on. Many people camped right up towards the track and were quite crammed in, but we had plenty of space to ourselves, just meant a slightly longer walk to and from the track.

Like at Birdsville, the weather at night was still very cold, as were the mornings. It didn’t take too long to warm up in the mornings though and it was hot during the day, but once the sun went down the camp fire was a very welcome addition that’s for sure.

Another dinner cooked over the fire

One of the other things Boulia is famous for is the Min Min Lights. This is one of those stories where you really don’t know if its a myth or not. These unexplained balls of glowing light were first sighted in the Boulia area in the early 1890’s. The first reported sighting was over a grave at the rear of the Min Min Hotel (no longer standing).

Over the years there have been numerous sightings by travelers and local residents, stories of these balls of bobbing light that follow you along lonely roads at night or visit you while camping in the area. Whilst there are theories, there is no scientific explanation of what the Min Min Lights actually are.

The Min Min Encounter is a great attraction to visit to find out more about these strange lights …. they say ‘you don’t find them, they find you’! It’s a really interesting place and definitely one to visit if you are in the area.

We have visited Boulia before so didn’t visit the encounter again, so whilst Stewy and the kids went off to the Min Min Encounter, where do you think we headed …. the pub of course!

George indulged in a camel burger (they have a whole ‘camel menu’) and Shelly had to drink XXXX out of a maroon can – what’s up with that! Sorry to our Queenslander followers!

EVENT DETAILS

Price: $80 (for a 3 day pass), single day passes available as well.
Children under 18 are free.
When: Held annually on the third weekend in July
Location: Held at the Boulia Racecourse in Boulia, Outback Queensland.

Free camping onsite is included in the price of your ticket.
Get all the details at www.bouliacamelraces.com.au

Day 3 at the Big Red Bash

Day 3 of the Big Red Bash arrived and it was the day most were waiting for, it was Midnight Oil day!

Like the previous day, we loaded up all our gear and made the trek down to the plaza to claim our spot for the afternoon. The lines to enter the concert area were huge and people were lining up well before gates opened to ensure they got a good seat for the final concerts of the event. By the time Midnight Oil were on, I think nearly every person was in that concert/plaza area! It was their first headline festival appearance in more than two decades, so die-hard oils fans were ready to party!

With 10,000 people around from all over Australia, you would think you wouldn’t run into anyone you know, right? Well we did! We ran into Shelly’s old school friend at the Birdsville Hotel and numerous times at the bash, we ran into Jim & Jacky (Jacky in the pic below) who we met when they came up to Cape York with us last year) and we also ran into Matt from Cub Campers! From chats with all, it was clear that everyone was absolutely loving the experience.

The whole Big Red Bash event was delayed by a week, the dates were changed purely to accommodate Midnight Oil’s tour schedule. As Peter Garrett took the stage he said, “We were in Dusseldorf, Germany two days ago so this is unreal”. To see the oil’s play in their only Australian gig of the year was amazing.

Artists for the final day of the bash were as follows:

  • Neil Murray
  • Busby Marou
  • Steve Kilbey
  • Kasey Chambers
  • MIDNIGHT OIL!

Kasey Chambers

As the sun started to fall for the day, the dune filled with people waiting to get that perfect desert sunset shot. Among those on the dune was a group proudly waving the Australian flag. There was something about this sight that made you feel like you were somewhere special, that you were proud to be an Aussie.

Again, it was a fabulous afternoon and evening of music, the crowd was absolutely into it, the artists were rocking it and the atmosphere was awesome! Watching Midnight Oil play in the middle of the desert, while the full moon rises and lights up the night sky was something we will never experience again and something we will never ever forget.

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!

Cameron Corner

After leaving camp around 8.30am we started our drive towards Cameron Corner. We had a brief stop after being flagged down by a young couple in an old Prado who needed some help. George checked a few things and then jump started the car to get them going again.

Next we stopped in at Tibooburra to refuel, grab some food and take a photo of the whaleboat …. an exact replica of the one Charles Sturt took along with him on his expedition.

Just before entering Cameron Corner you pass through the world’s longest fence, known as The Dingo/Wild Dog Fence. This fence stretches over an area of about 5,500 km …. now that’s a long fence!

The fence is there to protect sheep graziers and their livestock on the southern side of the fence from wild dogs and dingoes. The fence is constantly monitored and maintained/repaired by workers who are employed full time to keep it in order.

After passing through the fence you arrive a Cameron Corner, the place where NSW, Queensland and South Australia meet. John Cameron, a NSW Lands Department Surveyor, led the first survey party along the NSW/QLD border between 1879 and 1881. In 1880, upon arriving at the corner, Cameron erected a wooden boundary post with the inscription “LAT29” and “Cameron”. This original post is on display at the National Parks & Wildlife Service office in Tibooburra and a new post was erected at the location at Cameron Corner.

Other than ‘the post’ and being able to say you stood at the meeting point of 3 states, there isn’t really much else at Cameron Corner, it’s literally smack bang in the middle of nowhere! There is the Corner Store, which sells meals, fuel, souvenirs etc and of course it’s licenced so you can grab yourself a beer … which we did!

Back in 2014 we took the trek out to Cameron Corner to spend New Years Eve there. This was quite a fun night and we were actually surprised at the amount of people that turned up! We even ended up meeting a group who lived in the suburb next to us! Where else can you celebrate New Years Eve three times in one night ….. in 3 different states! Fenn & Cheryl, the owners of the Corner Store, put on a great night with games and entertainment and even fireworks. We will definitely be back for this again one year.

New Years Eve 2014 with Fenn, the owner of The Corner Store …. Shelly singing as usual!

The Corner Store was original established by Sandy Nall, an ex-Vietnam Vet. Apparently he had camped out there for a few weeks and after noticing how many cars drove past he came up with the idea of establishing a business out there. The original Corner Store was first opened in 1989. There is a memorial for Sandy under the flagpole out the front of the store.

Interesting fact, the store itself is located on the Queensland side of the border, but the telephone number has a South Australian prefix of 08 and it has a NSW postal address!

Big Red Bash here we come!

We had an early morning start as we have quite a few km to cover on the first few days. There are a few ways we could have headed to Birdsville, but of course we are picking the off-road way!

Although the day was predominantly driving, we did make time for a stop in Nyngan to visit The Big Bogan! Australia has so many ‘Big Things’ and we keep a list on our website of all that we visit, so a quick stop was definitely on the cards.

We ended up driving for exactly 12 hours and found a place to free camp down a little track off the side of the road.

Not another person in sight all night and the whole place to ourselves, A great first night camping after a long day.

Campfire, beers and prawns cooked over the fire …. yeah life is pretty good!

The most remote music concert in the world

Guess what! …. in exactly 14 days we leave home bound for The Big Red Bash! Many of you are probably asking “wtf is The Big Red Bash” …. well let us explain.

The Big Red Bash is the world’s most remote music concert. It is a unique outback experience where over 10,000 people flock to Birdsville in outback Queensland to attend a 3 day concert. Most people camp onsite for the duration of the concert (and the days before and after in some cases). The concert and camp area, known as Bashville, are located on a privately owned organic cattle station called Adria Downs.

The camping area sits on the dried-out bed of an ancient lake with the giant red sand dune, the famous “Big Red” (the highest sand dune in the Simpson Desert) as a backdrop.

The first Big Red Bash was held in 2013 and it’s grown significantly in popularity since then. It’s been on our bucket list since 2013 (well Shelly’s bucket list anyway, and finally she’s convinced George that we really do need to go!)

This year the headliners are MIDNIGHT OIL! Yes we are just a little bit excited! Shelly last saw Midnight Oil when they performed as part of the M-One concert in Sydney back in 2002, so it’s been quite a while!

This will be Midnight Oil’s first first multi day Australian music festival in over 22 years.

Over the three days, from mid afternoon each day we will be entertained by the following artists, finishing up on the last night with Midnight Oil. According to the organisers, the 40 meter high Big Red Dune will light up, and the full moon will rise up from the desert dunes during their set.

  • The Living End
  • Kasey Chambers
  • Richard Clapton
  • 1927
  • Busby Marou
  • Bjorn Again
  • Wendy Matthews
  • Mark Gable (The Choirboys)
  • Steve Kilbey (The Church)
  • Eurogliders
  • Chocolate Starfish
  • Neil Murray
  • Steve Balbi (Noiseworks)
  • The Chantoozies
  • Mark Williams (Dragon)
  • Dale Ryder (ex Boom Crash Opera)

Every year, various iconic Aussie musicians head to the bash to perform. The website states that As legendary Aussie artists fill the desert air with their classic sounds, your memories of this magical event will last a life-time. Or if you’re lucky – until the next Bash!

From what we’ve heard, once you experience your first Big Red Bash, it won’t be your last, so who knows, we could be back again next year!

So whilst we most likely won’t have reception at the concert, we will be taking plenty of photos and videos of the concert and the trip there and back to share with everyone.


Source, photo is from Outback Queensland website

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.

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.