Newsletter 436

18 June 2016. Redarc 700W Inverter Winner Announced; QLD Permits; ExplorOz Traveller News; The History of ExplorOz; 2016/17 Membership Sponsor announced.
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Edition 436: 18th June, 2016

Hi ExplorOz Reader,

ExplorOz features 3 key areas (Trek Notes, Places, and Road Alerts) where travellers can easily contribute comments and photos. More than ever, travellers want up to date information so we encourage you to make regular contributions to these areas to help others who might be coming up the track behind you. Try to give relevant and current comments that allow others to benefit from your first-hand observations and experiences. With around 75,000 registered site users, we have an unparalleled volume of followers so we urge you all to get involved in paying it forward.

To make this as easy as possible, we've included an option to add Comments and Photos to Places and Treks within the new ExplorOz Traveller app. You can even add new Places in the app simply by dropping a pin, or press/hold a spot on the map. Even when you're offline, you can comment and add pics and these will simply store and forward when your device is next connected. (TIP: leave your device searching for a network especially overnight - you might be surprised where/when you will pick up service).


Redarc Prizes & Winners

Our latest prize draw for the March - May Quarter was won by Member - Robin C2, who has picked up the fabulous Redarc 700W Pure Sine Wave Inverter worth $895. This was the 4th prize draw offered by Redarc over the past 12 months through their sponsorship of the ExplorOz Membership program for the 2015/16 period. We are very pleased to announce that Redarc will once again be sponsoring our Membership program for the 2016/17 year so look out for more fantastic prize draws every 3 months.

Our latest prize draw is for the popular Redarc Tow Pro Elite, worth $360. To be eligible you need to have made a renewal payment of your Member subscription during the period 1st June - 31st August. All our Lifetime Members are automatically included in this prize draw.


Outback Travellers Guides



The Outback Travellers Track Guides offer a unique view of the roads and tracks throughout the Australian Outback. All of their map guides have an emphasis on 'safety' for 4 wheel drivers by indicating the location of grids, gates, floodways, creeks & rivers, crests, dips, markers, sharp bends, claypans, sand dunes, bridges through to bulldust holes and more. They use photographs to visually support specific features along the tracks, including GPS Co-ordinates and distances throughout. Both designated and bush camp sites are indicated along with geographical and historical locations, contact details, preparation and permit information. A total package for the outback traveller from 'first hand' experience, titles are available for 28 destinations. Buy Yours Now from ExplorOz

Permit Updates

More progression on our 2016 revision of Australian permits and restriction requirements Australia wide with the update of our Queensland Permits article which you can read here.


ExplorOz Traveller News

We've had a good first week following the release of our new app, ExplorOz Traveller and sales of both versions (iPad/iPhone & Android) are going well. A couple of unforeseen issues cropped up in the first release when users changed the default start up screen, but thanks to the prompt reporting and feedback from these customers, we were able to quickly identify the issue and an update to resolve that was available the following day. We've also made further enhancements and improvements. Version 1.8 is now a major update with the inclusion of a major new feature - being Private Treks, plus numerous smaller updates based on requests and feedback.

We are transparent with our updates, so we encourage you to refer to the Feedback & FAQ page. Here you can find Version & Update History, check the FAQ section to see our responses to common queries, and see new features are currently being developed in the In Progress section. See ExplorOz Traveller Feedback & FAQ here.



The ExplorOz Story

If you've only joined ExplorOz in recent years, you may not actually know the story behind ExplorOz and how it came to be. Sometimes we forget to share this story but know that some people find it interesting and I was recently requested to share it in our newsletter so here goes...

The story starts back in 1997 when David had his cancer diagnosis. We were in our twenties and had only been together for about 2 years, having both been previously married. That tumultuous experience planted the seed for the journey and the realisation that some things in life matter more than others. We were a young couple without the ties of children, and with tons of enthusiasm. We had both worked hard to build careers in Sydney but were prepared to leave all that and family behind when the bad news came. 

When we left Sydney in 1998 we were inspired to explore places we'd seen on television series by the Leyland Bros, Bill Peach, and Len Hiddens. However, finding detailed information about these remote places and most importantly, to get a perspective on it from people like us was almost impossible. There just wasn't the access to information that we enjoy today.

Initially we took 12 months to complete a full circumnavigation around Australia's coastline and then another year throughout the deserts - travelling offroad and bush camping as much as possible. From the beginning we recorded a trip diary on a website that David managed to create and manage using a mobile phone and a laptop computer. Photos were taken on film which had to be processed at a chemist/lab and scanned at an internet cafe to upload to the webserver. Video was taken on Hi8 film. Over time, we started to receive emails from people who had found our website and it was apparent there was a need and interest for the things we were documenting. We had also found that outback businesses were discouraged that they could not get the information out to travellers about the availability of local services and facilities in these remote area so whilst they were trying hard to improve their offerings to tourists, most people were arriving already stocked with food and fuel and unaware they could have purchased locally.

It was apparent that we were a bit of a rarity - we were the blonde nomads in a sea of grey nomads. We were interviewed a few times by ABC radio, and there was talk of being involved in Australian Story, book deals with New Holland Press, and also Boiling Billy but none of those opportunities ever came to fruition. We spent some time fruitlessly chasing these opportunities but eventually became dejected and decided there had to be another way. Back in the outback we brainstormed endlessly to come up a plan for how to turn what we'd experienced and learned into something that could be both a viable business for us so that we could continue travelling indefinitely yet be able to provide support and information to travellers and outback businesses that was apparently so very much needed.

In July of 1999 on the banks of the Cooper River in Innamincka we documented the first business plan for ExplorOz.com. The logo featured the two predominant colours that you see when travelling outback Australia - the orange of the red desert sands and the blue of the sky. In March 2000 ExplorOz.com went online. We had pulled up in Perth, rented a house and purchased some basic necessities in order to setup a home office. We didn't plan on having our first born child later that year but we just worked that into the plan too. After coding up the website David had to go out to work to earn an income. He quickly picked up IT contracts with previous clients in Sydney and was constantly travelling interstate. The IT consulting was the only way we could support the development of ExplorOz for the first 4 years. David's IT background was network infrastructure and design so the web development was all new territory and self-taught and very time consuming. In the meantime, I would research and write. I used my notes to write articles, and Trek Notes, and we'd research road conditions and republish into something meaningful. ExplorOz became popular with 4WDrivers and camping enthusiasts very quickly because there was nothing else like it. We added a Forum and an online shop. We became the first online retailer of Desert Parks Passes, the first online retailer of Hema maps and Westprint Maps, and built a positive reputation at a time when the internet was just taking off and broadband internet was being delivered to homes. It was a boom period and we were in the right place at the right time with the right offering.

Whilst we built numerous revenue earning opportunities through the site, and have been sustainable for the past 16 years, technology is constantly changing and with it, changes society. We have had some bad luck in this industry in the last few years and factors out of our control have been very challenging. For example, where once our business model was 50% earnings through site advertising and 50% earnings through retail (maps/books, membership subscriptions, and classified ads), things have changed dramatically and all these revenue streams are not as they once were. In the last few years, ExplorOz has struggled because our service costs cancel out our earnings. However, the new era of ExplorOz has arrived and now in addition to the website services & Membership, we produce mapping and navigation software and apps, being EOTopo, EOzi, and ExplorOz Traveller. Plus, there is talk of a few more apps on the horizon.

We believe our web services and these products hold a lot of promise for the future and are committed to this new direction for us and for you.


7 GOOD REASONS TO BECOME A MEMBER

Our core services to the public are designed for Members-Only, which means we have reserved the best for those that purchase a subscription and become "Members".

Members receive all 7 of the following entitlements:

1. Free tracking via EOTrackMe and ExplorOz Traveller
2. Discounts off all items 24/7 (up to 10%) in the Shop
3. Free GPS file downloads (all ExplorOz Treks, and all Places)
4. Classified Display ads for free (save $20 each time)
5. Exclusive Member site tools
6. Exclusive Member content
7. Exclusive Member (or Life Member) sticker to put on your vehicle plus "Your Guide to Membership" brochure.

Personal Membership Subscription
Annual Membership
Lifetime Membership
Lifetime Membership
Membership Renewal
Membership Renewal

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ExplorOz ® is owned and managed by I.T. Beyond Pty Ltd.

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