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February 12th 2013
Published: February 12th 2013
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Merc Sprinter with The Shoe Box in tow.
We are excited that Adventure 2013 is about to start. The reality though is that the starting point was many months ago – the planning phase.

We will take 9 or 10 months to circumnavigate Australia and visit many important landmarks on the mainland. Tasmania will have to wait another year.

We will be travelling in our Horizon Wattle motorhome (Mercedes Sprinter) and have our enclosed trailer with us. The combination takes pressure off storage in the motorhome, and allows us the ability to cope with all seasons.

During the planning stage we covered health issues to make sure we were well, had our medications reviewed and up to date, made medical appointments in Perth (half way point) to keep an eagle eye out for recurring skin cancers (Rob has a history which he refers to as his progressive weight loss program), and of course make sure our first aid kit can cope with the usual bumps and scratches of life. When planning for Australian outback adventures, one must also prepare to deal with Australia’s bitey critters. We haven’t found a crocodile repellent, so vigilance will be required when we are in the northern regions. We have found that waterways where crocs have been seen are signposted well, but these bitey creatures swim and walk, so can show up in unlikely places.

Banking raised a few issues. While we are well setup for remote banking (Phone or internet), we found our bank cards would expire part way through the journey. The bank issued replacement early as we could not provide a postal address any better than ‘Somewhere in South Australia’.

Our motorhome and trailer vehicle registration will also occur well into the trip, and with Queensland lagging in the process to stickerless re-registration, we have had to plan carefully our registration.

While talking about vehicles, both the motorhome and the trailer have been fully serviced. The trailer has new tyres (the old were getting shabby) plus new wheel bearings. While we have probably overspent on maintenance, understand that the cost of vehicle recovery from outback locations is horrendous, making the few hundred spent on maintenance look like chicken feed compared with $2000 for recovery. Before setting off for a 25-30,000K trip, have everything ship shape.

There are lots of other expiring things each year, all of which required review – like auto payments for subscriptions, insurance etc.

What clothing should we take? We keep reminding ourselves that it is easy to over pack. Many say load up the vehicle and then take half out and you will be OK. For short trips, that works good, but on trips covering 25,000Ks, 4 seasons, plus locations at higher altitudes, we require clothing and bedding to cope with tropical heat to sub zero overnight. Our previous trip to Port Douglas was all tropical so we left the trailer at home, but as we will experience cool temps and windy conditions in South Australia and Western Australia, we will take the trailer for seasonal changes.

Our trailer got the nickname ‘The Shoe Box’ after a fellow traveller asked what we carried in the trailer. You can guess what Rob’s cheeky answer was. In addition there is a laundry, tool kit, BBQ, some long life foods for use while in the bush, shades, water and sullage hoses, power leads etc. Most importantly, reserve water.

While our motorhome has a 100 litre fresh water tank, we have found that in many places it is hard to top that up as potable water is a scarce resource in outback Australia, and particularly on the West Australian Coast. So we carry an extra 60 litres in the trailer. We have learned that you can shower with 4 Ls of water; found that baby wipes are a traveller’s best friend; rinse dishes with a paper towel etc; all minimise water usage.

Our previous journeys have included much freedom and or low cost camping. The Camps 7 book has just been released, and we use an internet site CaravanCaravan as another resource for locating caravan/motorhome camp spots. On this trip we have a few places to visit at specific dates, so have already booked caravan parks as required. Our journey will include Easter, and this is a really busy time for camping around Australia. For the balance of the trip, we will wing it as they say.

The Navman GPS has been loaded with the latest maps. Our advice is to carry maps and to use the GPS in conjunction with tourist maps. We have experienced some interesting issues with GPS having been pointed into a river with no bridge to cross, and stuck in a triangle of streets where the GPS couldn’t find a way out to our destination. How about a message stating that there is no road from our current location to the anticipated destination – and we were on a main road with signposts confirming our destination was 200ks away. We heard recently of travellers who ended up in a very remote part of New South Wales when their GPS took them on the wrong route completely.

Be prepared for the distances between locations. Heading from Ceduna in South Australia to Esperance in Western Australia is 1500ks. There are a few road houses along the way where fuel, accommodation and food are available. There are some interesting stopping points like Head of Bite and Bunda Cliffs, a golf course spread over the whole distance etc. We take 3 to 7 days to cross this road and enjoy every day to the full. It is in these outback and remote places that we meet fellow travellers and enjoy their company as well as their experiences, good and not so good.

For much of our journey we will have our friends David and Mary with us – they have a Colorado 4wd and Lotus caravan. We have met many folk on the road where on these longer journeys, the differences between friends are too great, and they part company. We have camped with David and Mary on a number of occasions, but both couples agree that we will at times take different routes. David can go off road while we will stick mostly to the black top roads. Can the Merc’ get us over secondary rutted roads? Yes, and particularly since recently we upgraded to airbag suspension. However for personal reasons, we limit that type of driving.

We have found outback driving very rewarding. We have avoided injuring wild life on the road, learned to give some very big rigs the space they need, been guided through a bush fire, and many other abnormal events. So we enjoy the changing vista while always being vigilant in this great expansive land.

From our past journeys, we have found books to be bulky. Now we use e-readers (Kindle) and have loaded those with plenty of reading material. As a lover of Sudoku, Rob has an excellent Sudoku app. on his laptop as well, while Marg has a number of fun games on her laptop.

Communication is an important part of safe travel. We have Telstra mobile phones with the bluetick. These phones have high gain antennas for use in rural locations. (Not to be confused with bluetooth) We also have a 3G prepaid Telstra modem which can support more than one computer concurrently. Again, if you want reasonable coverage outside the main centres, we have found Telstra has far and away the best coverage. The motorhome is also fitted with UHF radio allowing for communication between ourselves and other road users over 10 to 20Ks.

Our actual departure is planned for 19th Feb, and we hope to update progress quite frequently.

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13th February 2013

Follow Along
I hope to follow your blog on a great trip around Australia. We did 3 months, 19,000km in 2008 but can't afford to return. So I anxiously await your journey. I follow another blogger on this site! Gary
14th February 2013

Ready Steady - almost Go
Thanks for visiting my site. To keep up to date, go to my page and register as a follower. You will be notified of updates. Cheers Rob
9th March 2013

motorhome storage
Thank you for sharing this very nice post, please keep continue the sharing of this types of information. Here we are waiting for more

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