Don’t Put Petrol in a Diesel


You’ve had the diesel 4WD for about 3 weeks. You pull up to a gas station for a fill and automatically start filling the tank – unfortunately with petrol rather than diesel! There are two useful tips I can offer in this situation:

  • do not start the vehicle, if its blocking traffic, don’t start the vehicle, if it can’t be pushed out of the way, leave it there don’t start the engine!

  • call the tow truck they will tow it to a mechanic who will drain the tank and refill it enough to get you back to the station.

Cost for the mechanic about A$100. Cost for the tow truck – free because we were members of an overseas motoring organization. Membership of organizations such Continue reading

Gear list for camping or sleeping in a car or 4WD

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.

Stove

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

Tips on Driving in Australia

Queensland Northern Territory border Hells Gate, Australia

First off – if you have just taken a long plane flight and crossed multiple time zones please do not pick up a car at the airport. You will be much better off getting public transit or an airport shuttle (shared taxi) to your hotel and getting over the jet lag.

  • Bring your local driver’s licence with you – this should all you need if it is in English, licenses not in English may need to be accompanied by an International permit – which basically is a translation and not standalone – you need the licence too.
  • Your licence will only cover you for the same type of vehicles as you are licensed for at home: except with a standard car licence you can drive a small automatic scooter (<50cc and speed resrticted) available in tourist locations such as Cairns and the Gold Coast.
  • Not all cars are automatics in Australia, though they are becoming more common, if you hire or buy an older vehicle it might be a manual transmission. Continue reading

10 Camp Cooking Tips

If you are horrified at the thought of cooking without your pantry and full kitchen, here are some tips on easy meals in the bush.

  1. Instant rice – the 2 minute stuff in a sachet doesn’t have to be microwaved, in fact it doesn’t even need to be cooked so pop the bag in a pot, fill with water and boil for a while. The water can be used again and doesn’t even need to be potable.

  2. Ham in a can is versatile, combine with rice and cheese for a risotto or with pasta and a sauce, or use for sandwiches. Will keep indefinitely without refrigeration. Continue reading

How much would a Budget 4WD Trip cost us.

I split costs into up front set-up costs and on-going on the road costs.

Up front set-up costs

Vehicle Costs

  • The difference in vehicle purchase price and resale.

  • Stamp Duty 2-3% of the car’s purchase price

  • Insurance allow say $300 pa and bring evidence of your claim history.

  • Registration varies between states but can be up to A$700 for a 4WD – you should take this into account when negotiating the purchase price. This includes 3rd party injury but not 3rd property. Continue reading

How to Carry Your Money on the Road

Money cash Australia New Zealand

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

Which cities to fly into and out of Australia from

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.

Continue reading

Staying at Commercial Camp Grounds

Camping in a commercial campground

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