I’m going to do a series of posts looking at the type of gear you need to take with you to make camping comfortable when out exploring in you 4wD. As they say – any fool can be uncomfortable camping!
To me there are 3 main types of lighting needs you need to consider:
General Camp Lighting
That’s the ambient lighting around the camp site. In Australia camp lighting has a big problem- it attracts the insects like you wouldn’t believe! You may want to think about that before you set up your camp! Keep the lighting a reasonable distance from tents and the cooking area. Although some swear by the old-fashioned gas mantle lights I find them annoyingly fiddly to set up and damage prone. I prefer the new low power LED lights which run on batteries or power and are cool to run, have low power requirements and don’t attract the insects as much
Tent Camp Lighting
Inside a tent I found that you only needed a small tent light- which run on batteries and clip onto the roof using its own magnetic strip. Not enough to read by good enough to find your shoes.
This is where LED camping lights come into their own. I prefer a headline style torch – which keeps the hands free and works well for both reading in bed and cooking. I also found for a computer you can get LED lights which power of the computer’s USB port – though of course this will drain your battery a bit.
I intend in the future to do into the details of buying and selling paperwork in the various states of Australia, but today I found Dave’s post where he’s just sold his car in the States.Its always stressful when you are need to sell an expensive asset in a limited time frame. You might need to sell a car or a house before you leave home, or sell a car and other gear after you have finished touring a country. The key to success, I believe, is to think like the buyer. They don’t care what you paid for it, or how much you have spend fixing it or that you are emotionally attached to it and want it to go to a non-smoking, Christian family! So when you come to sell your baby car / 4WD make sure you:
- Know the current market price in the place you are selling it. If your price is not reasonable compared to what else is in the market you won’t sell.
- Know the checks on ownership the buyer may want to make and facilitate this if possible. Continue reading
The key costs I split into setup (capital if you will) and running costs (day to day budget). Obviously you need the money to buy gear and the vehicle up front but hope to get most of this back at the end of the trip. There is an old saying in Australia, “any idiot can be uncomfortable in the bush” and depending on what you spend you can substitute experience for gear!All costs are in Australian dollars try this site for conversions to your currency
Day to Day Costs
Caravan Parks $20 – $35 Typically $24 for 2 people for a powered site.
Although we have a tent we prefer a powered site so that we can easily charge the electronic gizmos and the camping lights. We found that the Council owned parks in smaller centers although often well-situated next to a beach or a river tend to be poor value as they only provide an amenities block. Private caravan parks particularly in popular areas tend to include well provisioned kitchens, BBQ’s, games rooms, laundries (extra cost), swimming pools, wireless internet and children’s play areas. The best deal is to joining one or more of the main groups of private parks : Family Parks of Australia, Big 4, or Top Tourist Parks. For example Big 4 costs $40 for 2 year’s membership – giving you 10% off their rates – staying only on powered sites you save $2.50 to $3.00 per a night after two weeks you’ve paid for it. However as larger cabins can cost over $100 you can in fact pay back your membership in a few days if staying in these! You don’t need to join in advance or even when you check-in – just during your first stay at a park and they will give you the discount retrospectively! Continue reading
I thought I would do an occasional series of book reviews of books, maps and other gear that is of interest to those wanting to get off-road.
Explore Australia by 4WD by Craig Lewis and Cathy Savage describes over 25,000 kilometers of remote tracks with detailed route directions and GPS readings. .It doesn’t include the main sealed road routes at all. However if you are interested in exploring more remote corners of Australia such as the Tanami Desert , Canning Stock Route, Gibb River Road or the Cape York Peninsular then this guide is very useful. Along with the well know tracks, the 18 tracks detailed include the less-well known such as the Connie Sue Highway west from Coober Pedy, and the Holland Track in Western Australia. Continue reading
Over the years I’ve seen hundreds of suggested packing lists for backpackers or light-weight travelers but the list is a little longer if you are car or 4WD camping
Keeping Food Cool
Its not optional given Australia’s weather – you need to have some type of cooling either a fridge set up (which will probably require a second battery to be fitted to the vehicle) or an ice box, a cooler or esky as it’s known locally. We found a 65litre cooler was about right for 2 of us and we bought a plastic box with lid to fit inside to keep delicate stuff like cheese and vegetables from getting wet or crushed. The mid-range Coleman rated to 5 days (in practice about 3 days) worked well at can be bought for less than A$100 on sale.
Something to cook on gives you a lot of options even if you aren’t camping every night. The main options is either a 2 or 3 burner gas stove running off a standard LPG cylinder or a butane stove running off butane cartridges (1 burner only). A LPG cylinder can either be Continue reading
One of the issues buying a vehicle brings up is how to transfer a reasonably large amount of cash to Australia, even if you hope to get most of that cash back at the end of the trip.
The cheapest way to large amounts of money internationally is to pay a set fee per a transaction rather than paying a percentage of the cash transferred. Using an international credit or debit card means that you will be paying up to 2% on money received – that adds up to a lot. A better option is an international transfer which charges a one-off fee, but this will require you to have an Australian bank account to receive money into Continue reading
The vast majority of visitors arrive and depart Sydney. This is not always the best idea, particularly if your trip won’t bring you back to Sydney. Finishing a trip in Perth only to fly back to Sydney to fly to Singapore means a 4 hour flight to Sydney to take a 8hr flight to Singapore rather than just taking a 4hr flight to Singapore direct from Perth.
Some distances to get you started:
Sydney to Perth 4110km or 2550miles (4 hours flying time), Sydney to Cairns is 3143km or 1950 miles (3 hours flying time)
Sydney to Melbourne is 9 hours if you drive up the Hume Highway, and see, well highway, or you could take a couple of weeks and actually see the gorgeous coastal scenery along the NSW and Victorian coasts on the Princess Highway.
Which is to say planning a trip across Australia and ending up in Perth doesn’t necessarily mean that you should return to Sydney for your international flight. Now that mainstream airlines have started to price tickets as two one-way tickets its no cheaper in general to buy a return ticket.
Note you don’t even need a tent to use these – they can be a very good deal if you are staying in cabin or similar accommodation. We often found as a couple that we could get a cabin for the same price as a double room in a hostel complete with our own TV and kitchenette. Given the convenience of parking the truck next to the door they tended to win hands down compared to the hostel and there are more of them too . There are sometimes different areas for tent camping away from the caravans, RV’s and motorhomes – the tent area tends to have more grass and to be closer to the bathrooms.
If you are actually camping for $20-$30 for 2 adults you will get a a camp site with or without power, a common ablutions block, almost always with free hot water, occasionally hot water requires a gold coin ($1 or $2) and almost always a coin operated washing-machine and a washing line. The site will often have a pad of concrete on it for the annex next to caravans – though less dusty for tent camping as well. You may or may not get grass depending on the cost of water locally. Continue reading