Vehicle and Gear list for first big Oz trip - feedback appreciated

Hi all,

First of all just want to say thanks to everyone who's posted advice/their stories in here. I've found it great for getting ideas and finding what actually works and what's just marketing.

So the missus and I are getting married in April and are going to pack in our jobs and drive around Australia clockwise from April-September/whenever the $$ run out. We don't currently own a 4wd of our own so we're basically starting from scratch. We're pretty well decided on a petrol 100 series Cruiser for the journey as we're hoping to spend a fair bit of time in northern WA/NT and figure a cruiser will be easiest to get spare parts for. Petrol we figure as we've only got about $12-$14k to spend and think we probably won't get a diesel in great condition for that price/servicing costs will be lower.

We're pretty new to 4wding on our own (usually with other people), so will be starting slow and learning as we go. Anticipating mostly beach 4wding until we get to the Kimberley/Gibb River Rd probably. Our friend is in a Landcruiser club in Melb and has offered to skill us up before we leave but we're also not going to be doing hectic rockhopping as we know we don't have the skills yet for that.

So the main question is - what gear do we need for this? There's so much stuff you can buy but we're keen to keep it simple. She's 26 and I'm 30 and we're not looking for a luxury journey. While we don't have tons of cash, I'd still rather buy a smaller amount of quality stuff that lasts rather than a ton of crap that breaks. We've got a tent and some of the smaller gear (cooking utensils, fishing rods, swag etc), so it's mostly the vehicular stuff that we need.

Below is the list I've come up with from reading your forums and talking to people and some prices I've researched. Keen to hear your thoughts on whether it's reasonable/excessive.

Fridge $399.00
Solar panels (120W) $130.00
Deep cycle AGM battery $289.00
Head lamps x 2 $10.00
Filleting knife Tramontina $23.00
Camp stove 2 burner $39.00
Off Road First Aid Kit $99.95
Air compressor $78.00
Cooking Pot set $70.00
Tyre Gauge/Deflator $25.00
Bottle jack (2t) $33.00
Power drill $89.00
Long-handle shovel $47.00
RACV Membership $214.00
Snatch Recovery Kit $119.00
Tyre Repair kit $39.00
Hand winch ? $99.00
LED light strip (50cm) $39.00

Total ~$2k.

Thanks for your help - also if anyone knows someone in Vic/southern NSW looking to offload a vehicle you think would fit the bill for us, I'd be keen to hear.


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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 12:55

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 12:55
G'day Duncan, I'll make a start and I'm sure you will get much more advice.

Your list looks pretty good, you've done research.
A couple of questions. What type of fridge? Why a power drill?

I would drop the hand winch. If you are going on the beach it will be of no use as there would be no anchor point. Correct tyre pressures (15-18 psi) and the shovel should suffice but you could add a pair of MaxTrax or similar. Avoid travelling on a beach on a rising tide. If you do get bogged you will have less time to effect a recovery before the water reaches you. About the worse thing that can happen.

For the bottle jack you should have a base to prevent the jack sinking into soft sand. Plywood at least 20mm thick serves well, about 400mm square. You can glue a couple of thinner pieces together to get enough thickness. It could also serve as a filleting board.

You could consider a UHF radio, either installed or handheld, but I don't think it is essential if the budget is tight.

To install your auxiliary deep cycle battery you may find my blog here useful.
And John's blog 'Electricity for Camping' here may also be very useful to you.

Don't forget a good torch. LED type is good and easy on batteries. And I'm sure you will include a camera. This trip is going to be worth recording.
Good luck and have a great time.

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Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 13:17

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 13:17
In addition to what Allan has said, if you are considering a fair amount of beach driving and you can't afford the Max Tracs, get some old stockfeed/ hessian/ fertiliser bags to help you out of a bog. They don't take much room and can double as rubbish bags
Again if you are doing a fair bit of beach work, a sub $100 air compressor is unlikely to last the distance round Australia, have a look at the ABR website, you are more likely having to spend around $200 to get something that lasts.
Cooking gear, get down to Vinnies/ Op shops and save yourself $60

Some of the other gear (fridge, headlamps) seems a little cheap for something you require months of continuous use from.

We all start where you presently are!
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Follow Up By: Duncbot - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 13:32

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 13:32
Thanks Allan (and Mark),

The fridge I was looking at was an evakool that's a factory refurbed one so down a fair bit in price, but still has a 2yr warranty. Will ask around though as it's a good point on durability.

The power drill - good question! They're handy but take your point, not essential at all.

The jacking plate is definitely on the menu - future father in-law is a massive plywood inventor/genius so I'm sure he'll have some we can snake. Filleting board combo is a great idea.

UHF is a great call and I'll add that to the list. Likewise on the compressor/torches.

Thanks guys - like I say, amazing how much knowledge is out there and glad people are happy to share.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 14:33

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 14:33
Dunc, A refurbished Evakool would be excellent. They are a very good fridge.

Some carry stuff like power drills but we go really remote solo and have not found need of one. It does raise the point of tools & spares though.
You would know your capabilities for repairing so should be able to select tools appropriate to those capabilities. It mostly comes to working on nuts & bolts so spanners and socket set with the usual pliers, side cutters, screwdrivers etc. Insulation tape, some auto electrical cable, and some electrical connectors, either an assortment of crimp connectors but then you need a crimp tool. A good alternative for emergency wiring repairs is the standard screw cable connector shown below. As an electrician, I would never be without some.

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Follow Up By: Mark T6 - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 15:11

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 15:11
I too wouldn't bother with a hand winch, absolute bugger of things to use AND in my 5 years of traversing this country through some of the harshest roads and conditions I have never had to be winched once!!

Mind you nor do I take a track or trail where I have to be winched, or if I do I'll take "Option B" rather than Option A. I won't bother listing all the places I have been but suffice to say "all the majors".

I do however have a set of Max Trax, and have used them several times (although never to get myself out...see above), they are the bees knees in sand (used them several times on a Simpson Desert crossing), and when a mate got bogged on the CSR last year we used these instead of a winch to get him out...worked a treat!! But I agree there are cheaper alternatives.

I agree with the Compressor, a $100 one won't cut the mustard, I'd certainly be looking at an upgrade there.

Can I just add one important thing to the mix and that is don't economise too much on bedding.

I'm certainly much older than you two but night after night of "sleeping rough" is bloody hard work. We finally settled on some good stretchers and some self inflating 4WD type mattresses to go on the top, they even come in a Queen size if you want to snuggle up!! And you make up the bed exactly like that, as a bed, doona(s) sheets and whilst not as good as being in your own bed this combination is streets ahead of a blow up mattress on the floor of a tent with a sleeping bag!!

Also a UHF is an absolute MUST HAVE....personally I'd go for a fixed in car one (better range) but you certainly can get by with a hand held.

You'll have a ball, its a magnificent country and there's LOTS to see, I might even run into you as I am doing the Kimberley and WA starting in Brisbane on the 27th of April, this time towing my new if you see a well kitted up Prado and a Lotus Freelander on the trails you never know it might be me!!
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Reply By: Derek Jones - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 15:02

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 15:02
While you are looking at camping/travelling gear I suggest you take another look at your tent.

As you are travelling some distance over an extended period of time you need a tent that packs & sets up relatively easily and can stand the odd windy night. Does it suit your travel plans?

If you have the Taj Mahal of tents you may find an onerous tent setting up a little fraying on the nerves.
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Follow Up By: Duncbot - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 15:04

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 15:04
Really good point Derek. We've got a 3man Coleman that is not too bad on the setup and pretty solid. We were tossing up the idea of rigging up the Cruiser to sleep in but I don't think we'll have enough space. Also would be bloody hot up north!

One of those rooftop tents was also looked at but bloody expensive.
FollowupID: 823780

Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 16:23

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 16:23
An awning on the side of the vehicle is another option. You can use it as a shade or rain shelter. You could also use it if you did not want/need to set up the tent.
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 10:19

Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 10:19
I know the RTT are a bit of coin but give it some thought as it will free up a lot on cabin storage space for other things that may make packing an unpacking less of a chore

The other way to go is take two tents. One being a basic nylon two bow cheapy that has a lot of mesh and just use that in the hotter climates without the fly on to keep the bugs out and help keep you cool whilst sleeping under the stars. Will cost you about $50, they are light and compact and quick set up dismantle but we also carry a better more substantial tent as well that you can choose if the weather is looking dodgy or are in colder climates
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 15:29

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 15:29
Hi Duncan,

Think I'd look first to the vehicle. It may come with a suitable jack, maybe a snatch strap. I wouldn't invest in a hand winch - women are far too smart to use them! I wouldn't invest in RACV membership, rather carry a workshop manual for your vehicle and a decent set of tools.

I'd question the power drill - not only is it something that's unlikely to get much use, but there's the problem of charging it. The low voltage ones ( 12V) are pretty ineffective, and require an inconveniently higher voltage (usually about 15+V) to charge them. OR, you need an inverter to provide 240V to use a mains charger. More stuff to carry, pay for, find space for. I have an old 12V one, discarded its dead battery and fitted heavy cable so it can run direct from the vehicle electrics, but I don't bother carrying it.

Solar panels - 120W is pretty minimal (and $130 sounds excessively cheap), and I'd go to 150W or more if $$$ and space allow, and make sure you get an MPPT controller (about 10-15% more efficient than the cheaper controllers.) (Note that the panels used on houses are cheaper but not suitable for charging 12V batteries. You need panels that deliver maximum power at about 18 volts. ) There is one supplier whose name I don't recall that the folks here frequently recommend - can someone please fill in that gap.

Compressor - I think I'd be aiming to spend more than $78 on a compressor.

Led light strip and head torches - good. You'll need a 12V charger for the head torches. Gas stove - yes, but don't forget the gas cylinder, another expense. Don't forget too that for safety that cylinder is best carried outside the vehicle - may call for a roof rack. Again, depends on how your new vehicle is set up.

Allan's mentioned a camera to record your travels. That can lead you to carry some kind of computer to store the pictures on.

Also very important are maps. You can spend a lot of money on them. There will shortly be a new ExplorOz one available covering the whole country electronically in detail. This would lead you to a computer based setup too - more $$$. Oziexplorer software is highly regarded here, though there are lots of options. Mentioning computers is a good way of starting what can become a very spirited debate. A gps equipped computer with Ozi and the EO maps could cost $300-600. ( Aldi currently has a special - a reasonably well hung 10" Windows tablet at $400. That's exceptionally cheap for a windows one. Android may be suitable is much cheaper. )

It's good to have a mate who can get you started with 4wding. It's a whole different liberating experience having a very capable vehicle. You and your new missus should BOTH get experience, and learn what it can do. There's no need to do the spectacular ego stuff, but it's very important to know what tyre pressures to use and when to ask "do we really need to do this?" Your mate may well encourage you BOTH to join a club that offers training. You will enjoy it, and if both of you are comfortable in using the vehicle, it's a great sharing experience.


J and V
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 19:03

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 19:03
Hi Duncan,
Forgot to mention that we wrote a blog about how we have set up our Troopcarrier. Have a look at this link here Might give you some ideas, including that a Troopy would be an ideal vehicle for the kind of trip you seem to have in mind.

A couple of other things. Dont forget a folding table and chairs. You could probably get by without them for a short trip but for a longer run I think they are essential.

Cooking utensils: if you are using a 2-burner gas stove then all you will need is a solid cast iron frying pan, a saucepan and a kettle. All can be had cheaply at secondhand or opp shops. If you are aiming to do any campfire cooking a small folding BBQ is great, as is a cast iron camp oven - there are more hi-tech lighter ones but they cost $$ whereas you should be able to pick up a used cast-iron one for $20 or less.

A hot shower becomes sheer bliss after days in hot conditions. One of the 12v showers works well with a bucket of warm water. They dont last forever, but they do do a good job. If a shower tent is beyond your reach a couple of light tarps can be rigged up. And on the topic of personal matters a folding toilet stool is a basic necessity, together with a small shovel for digging the requisite hole.

When it comes to living out of a vehicle for a few months a key to avoiding hassles is to have a sufficient level of organisation so that you can find and access things easily. We have a "place for everything and everything in its place" rule that mostly works pretty well. We back this up with a big spreadsheet that lists everything we carry and where it is in the vehicle. It is sorted and printed out in both configurations and does save time, especially if something unforseen crops up and you need that item that you brought along for just such an emergency!

As others have said, you will learn as you go and modify your gear accordingly. That is all part of the fun of the journey. Good luck with it all.


J and V
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Follow Up By: Duncbot - Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 14:37

Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 14:37
John thanks so much for that - what a great blog post! That is exactly the sort of rig we're looking to build into the back of the cruiser (lower roof makes it tougher though). Ideally we'd love to be able to sleep in the back if we wanted to just pull up for a quick night's stop without setting anything much up. Great design.

Also love the spreadsheet idea for where things are - I've got a big spreadsheet going at the moment to keep track of our costs and do some forecasts on our on-roads, so this is right up my alley :-) !
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Reply By: Jos - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 16:14

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 16:14
I have to agree with others in that you'll need to spend about $200 on an air compressor. A little online research will point you in the right direction as to what brands etc to buy.

Tyres - make sure the vehicle you buy has good tyres for where you want to travel. If not, remember to budget for this.

A basic tool kit is handy. Look at the vehicle and equipment you have (and may need to repair), and put together a small kit with things such as spanners, pliers, screw drivers, socket...
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Follow Up By: Duncbot - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 16:30

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 16:30
Thanks Jos - so something like the ABR Sidewinder maybe? $210 and looks to be pretty no-nonsense.

Tyres we'll have to wait and see what vehicle we find, but yes a good set is on our radar for sure.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 22:17

Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 22:17
Yep Dunbot, Derek's one is the compressor I "stepped up to" and have been happy with. Cheap ones are fine for occasional use, not regular.
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Reply By: Axle - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 16:25

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 16:25
G/Day Duncan,....100s landcruisers are good, but be very mindful of the amount of fuel these buggers use, both the six and V8 go through it like no to-morrow when loaded up or when driving in sand,..I know what the v8s are,..and as far as parts go unless its something simple its like everyone else its ordered and arrives later.

Good luck with it all and happy travels.

Cheers Axle.
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Reply By: Curlynan - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 17:37

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 17:37
Hi Duncan,
Sounds like you have done a lot of homework and yes your list looks pretty good. maybe consider a roof rack (eg: rhino) to carry spare tyers and Jerry cans to carry extra fuel. Even if you end up with a duel fuel tank vehicle the extra fuel on top is always a blessing. UHF radio is helpful. You don't seem to get the wankers on there out in the back block like you do in the cities. Also have you considered a second battery to run the fridge off as well? Buy a solar shower bag that you can fill with water and leave to heat in the sun during the day. Nothing like a warm shower :) Duct Tape can be a life saver and also spare fan belts, air filters etc, they don't take up much room. There is a bit of 4x4ing in most states but you won't need to stress too much about your lack of experience. It's mainly just sensible driving according to the vehicle you have and what it can handle eg: clearance etc. If you are not towing anything and only tenting it then that also helps with less to worry about. My hubby and I have a Landcruiser 105 diesel now but we have done the GRR 3 times all in (June - July early August) and the first 2 times we did it in a 2002 Kia Sportage. The last time we did it was in the Toyota and to be quite honest with you it didn't seem like the challenge was there. We also tented our way. One trip was for 16 weeks the other for 11 weeks. We now have a 25' caravan but when we want to get off the beaten track we dig out the tent and store the van. I have often told people not to worry too much about what could happen. Just so long as you are prepared. There is always someone around sooner or later. Getting back to the Kia Sportage , Little "K" as we called her took us to: the GRR x 2 going to Mitchell Falls x 2 times as well. We went to Mornington Wilderness Camp as well x 1. Bungle Bungles x 1. The Oodnadatta Track x 1, The Tanamai Track x 1, Cape York on the OTT x 1 and through Arnhem Land to Cobourg Peninsular x 1. People would ask us How. Well we did and all with being very sensible as to what the vehicle could handle. Worked like a charm on the sand and we also did Fraser Island in it as well. Just get to know your vehicle feel comfortable with it and drive sensibly when tackling different challenges. It sounds like you are a listener and take advise on board. You have a wonderful trip and just be ware. One you get the taste for this travelling business it is hard to shake it off during the rest of your life. Hubby & I did our first trip back in the 70's and OMG I'd hate to think how much $$$$ we have spent over the years. But you know what it's worth it an you will make life time friends as well. Safe travels son. :)
AnswerID: 539182

Reply By: olcoolone - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 17:40

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 17:40
A few things...... no mention of hand tools, axe, fire extinguisher and fire blanket plus I would be looking at spending a little bit more money of quality gear that you are going to be using a lot like headlamps, air compressor and camp stove.

When travelling by yourselves quality gear is a little bit more important then when travelling with friends.

For example we use to have cheap headlights when we first started, soon found out spending good money on them not only gave us better light output but 3 times as long battery life..... it is something we use every night while away.

A good quality handheld battery powered LED work light is a must as well.
AnswerID: 539183

Reply By: Member - Markthemilko (WA) - Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 23:17

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014 at 23:17
Hi Duncan,

re tyre repair kit:
- presumeably for tubes, tyres and tubeless plugs, depending what tyres (tubed with split rims, or tubeless). Tyre & tube cement/glue doesn't last for ever so check it before each trip.
You need quality tools: 2 tyre levers, a bead breaker (though you can drive over the tyre to push it off the bead) and - unless you have split rims - a rubber mallet to belt the tyre back onto the rim.
Practice at home - maybe go and find a friendly tyre shop to show you how. Tubeless tyres can be almost impossible to get off with levers. You can put tubes in some tubeless tyres, but again make sure you practice at home and that the rim will take a tube - some won't as they have sharp edges around the valve hole. If your vehicle has tubed tyres carry a spare tube - with the correct valve stem.
Though all this depends on how remote you're going to travel.
Happy 4WDriving

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Reply By: Crusier 91 - Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 09:13

Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 09:13
$12-$14k will be just in fuel if your lucky.

I'd be looking to install a larger fuel tank = $1200.

Quality and comfortable bedding is also important on long trips away.

You may need to do a few weekend away trips packed with all the gear prior to leaving for the big one. It will help you to work out how to pack things where for easy access without unloading everything to get to it.

Good luck and enjoy the experience.

I hope your first night as a married couple will be like a old tv, 4 wobbly legs and a worn out knob.
AnswerID: 539201

Reply By: Chargergirl76 - Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 09:44

Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 09:44
You are going to love it! Our honeymoon last year was spent travelling from Sydney to Cape York, across to Northern Territory and back down via South Australia. An awesome 8 weeks that we will never forget, couldn't have asked for a better way to spend our honeymoon.

You've received lots of great info above and the more you read, the more you'll learn. Even years on we are still finding better ways to do things, store things etc, even after all our outback trips!

I'd agree on looking into the bedding, you want to be comfortable, tent needs to be quick and easy to set up and pack away, good quality air compressor, CB, maybe think about a sat phone if you are travelling more remote and aren't overly experienced. Keep in mind how things will pack in the car and ease of use etc - when you are packing and unpacking every day or so, you will soon get over it if you aren't organised! Have a great time, very jealous!
AnswerID: 539203

Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 10:24

Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 at 10:24
Duncan, one other thing that you may consider is investing $49.95 on Membership of ExplorOz. As a Registered User you are already able to use the forum and some sections of this site, but as a Member you can enjoy access to much more, such as Articles and Blogs. This opens up a lot of information and useful reading for you.

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Reply By: slave - Friday, Sep 19, 2014 at 20:17

Friday, Sep 19, 2014 at 20:17
On our recent 14 week trip one of the best things we had was the solar shower ( we actually had 2). The water could be used for showers washing or dishes.
Our top RACV coverage was very handy insurance too.

We used a frypan a billy and a water only billy. Amazing how many simple nutritious meals can be made with just that. Tinned and dried veggies were very handy too.

Maxtraxs (or a cheaper version like we used) were also invaluable.

Mrs S
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Reply By: Tony F8 - Saturday, Sep 20, 2014 at 17:38

Saturday, Sep 20, 2014 at 17:38
A First Aid kit I thought would be first and foremost, and suitable for job, if it has been mentioned, I apologize. A good 4wd course would be second on my list.
AnswerID: 539314

Reply By: Duncbot - Thursday, Sep 25, 2014 at 15:31

Thursday, Sep 25, 2014 at 15:31
Thanks everyone for your excellent feedback. As expected there was some great info to be had and it's really helped me along in planning this trip. I'll check in with you as we get closer to the date once we get our vehicle and start fitting it out. No doubt there will be plenty more questions to come!

AnswerID: 539511

Reply By: TomH - Thursday, Sep 25, 2014 at 19:13

Thursday, Sep 25, 2014 at 19:13
Just as an indication our trip around the block was a shade under 50,000k and cost about $10,000 in diesel and service costs so petrol will probably be more at the inflated outback prices.
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