Half Lap - 4 kids, 3 months

Submitted: Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016 at 21:27
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Hi All,

We have an opportunity to take 3 months Long Service Leave next year and want to do a half lap. So the question is how much can we sensibly fit in? I know it all depends on what we want to do but any advice would be appreciated!

With school, work etc it is unlikely we will get another, longer opportunity in the foreseeable future. We can do closer to home (Melbourne) in short trips but would really love to see WA / NT.

The high level plan:
- July - September 2017 (13 weeks)
- 4 kids (all girls, will be aged 12, 10, 8 and 3)
- planning to get a Jayco Expanda to fit us all in and a Land cruiser 200
- we will borrow/hire a similar van for a few smaller trips to get a feel for it
- as a general preference would prefer to see fewer places but take some time
- previous road trips suggest our mental health would benefit from limiting driving to a max of 500 to 600km per day
- have done some family camping but limited experience in a caravan

Would something like this be too rushed?

Melbourne to Port Augusta (1 week)
Port Augusta to Darwin via Uluru (2 weeks)
Kakadu, Katherine, Litchfield (1 week)
Darwin to Perth (5 weeks)
Perth to Port Augusta (3 weeks)
Flinders Ranges (if time permits - 1 week)
Flinders Ranges to Melbourne (1 week)
Total 13 weeks

Thanks in advance.

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Reply By: BTLC - Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016 at 23:12

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016 at 23:12
Have just recently completed our 15 week long service trip, also departing Melbourne. Headed west across the Nulabour, followed the WA coastline north, upto Darwin and back via the Centre. Our kids are 11 & 8, we all had a ball. We covered just under 20,000 kms, however it didn't feel like we were always on the road.
My key thought on your plan - is don't add into this trip the things you could do closer to home in shorter trips ie your first and last week/s iteniary. You really will need more time between Port Augusta & Darwin.
If you wish to view our trip, I did a travel blog www.offexploring.com/btlc
AnswerID: 604010

Follow Up By: GlennH - Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 06:53

Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 06:53
Thanks for the info, I'll definitely check out your blog!
FollowupID: 873673

Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016 at 23:37

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016 at 23:37
Particularly with children, I think you need to limit your driving days to a good deal less than 500 - 600 kilometres. Most days you will want to do sightseeing, somethings several days in a row without moving or only going a short way. You will need to odd "lay day" and says to do the laundry and shopping. Without children, we spent five weeks in and around Alice Springs alone. There is so much to see and do, and with children doing is important.

Be flexible, and see how you travel. You might spend it all in South Australia and Central Australia without getting further, or if you all travel well you might get to Kakadu and Darwin. Kakadu alone needs at least a week, we took almost two and still only saw the basics.

Western Australia has so much variety and needs to be a trip on its own.

Better to see a lot in a smaller area without rush and stress than drive passed a lot and not have to the time to see it and get your children involved. All will enjoy the trip of a lifetime so much more.

With just two of us, and I felt moving fairly fast and moving almost every day, on our three to five months trips, we average between 100 and 200 kilometres a day overall. We do not plan a turn around point - just take it as it comes and turn when half way through our time to out our way back towards home.

Be sure to involve your children in decisions of what to see so they feel it is their trip and their adventure too, not that they are being dragged along on Mum and Dad's trip.

Red desert dreaming

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AnswerID: 604012

Follow Up By: GlennH - Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 06:54

Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 06:54
Thanks for responding, lots to consider!
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Reply By: Dean K3 - Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 09:57

Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 09:57
500-600 kms a day is big ask when it comes to kids.

that's same as driving Perth to Kalgoorlie or Pt hedland to Broome

2014 alone i did port smith to de grey 24 hr stopover that was enough for me just cruising along at 105 kmph

plenty in Kimberly to look at esp if you plan doing gibb river road or keeping to bitumen around by Halls creek and Fitzroy crossing
AnswerID: 604015

Reply By: rumpig - Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 11:13

Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 11:13
Work out the route you want to take and divide the total kilometres of it by the number of days you have to do the trip...it will soon become evident if the time frame is suitable. Don't forget to take into account the fact you want days off here and there for shopping and washing etc, and you'll be spending several days at various locations along the way, so those missed days kilometres need to be made up with bigger days driving.
AnswerID: 604018

Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 11:17

Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 11:17
Hi Glenn

When we did our trip around Oz (we had a lot longer, so won't comment on your planned Itinerray), we aimed to drive approx 400 - 450 kms per day.

Even at 85 - 90 km per hour (any faster and you watch the fuel gauge drop) that still equates to aprox 5 hours of driving. Add in morning and afternoon tea (1/2 hour) lunch (1/2 hour) and other stops, it soon adds to around a 6 1/2 hour day. Then you have to find and set up camp. Depending on your schooling requirements for the kids, you also have to factor that I as well.

It may not seem like much when you do it for a few days, but when you do it every day for a few months - it soon becomes taxing on both the vehicles, the body and the relationships.

Just food for thought


AnswerID: 604019

Reply By: Jason M16 - Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 19:55

Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 19:55
Hi Glen

Our family has been away since 21st Dec and are due back in mid Oct (due to funds/self employed/kids!). We have met plenty of people who have travelled from the east all the way to the west on only 6-9 week blocks to. If you would have asked me at the beginning of the trip I probably would have scoffed at it but plenty of people do it. Some of our driving days have been bigish (500-600) but only due to staying/enjoying a place for to long and not much to see in between. we haven't seen everything (not through a lack of trying) but we can save it for the next one. The National Parks are awesome so you will probably drop a bit of time in them. I am currently sitting in Coober Pedy (pouring with rain) and am hoping that the Oodnadatta T will be open by the weekend. We have also had to do home schooling which has been an education for both the kids and us parents?!

Whatever happens I hope it goes well. This experience has been one of the best in my youthful 43 years of life!
AnswerID: 604031

Follow Up By: GlennH - Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 20:33

Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 20:33
Thanks for the feedback Jason. Sounds like you've had an amazing trip!
FollowupID: 873700

Reply By: eaglefree - Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 21:56

Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 21:56
I suggest 350 km max per day. Be very flexible with where and how long you stay as some free camps are great especially gir kids.

What we did was stay up to 5 days at one good camp usually 3 days then move on. Our decisions depended on the weather, cost, surrounds eg too crowded/loud minibikes...if raining we preferred to drive than sit it out in the van.

Enjoy your trip.
AnswerID: 604035

Follow Up By: GlennH - Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 22:14

Thursday, Sep 01, 2016 at 22:14
Thanks Tony!
FollowupID: 873703

Reply By: oetkb - Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 12:10

Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 12:10
Hi Glenn,
I'm in the preparation phase as well for LSL next year and planning a big trip.
Some points to consider:
1. Don't believe half of what's been said about limiting your days drive with kids to less than 600km days. Kids are great at adapting and learning new behaviours. I have and 8 and a 10 yr old and it's amazing how far you can drive in a day with the right preparation. Try North of Pt Augusta to Melbourne in a day. Crescent head to Melbourne in a day or Alice springs to Melbourne in 2.5 days. Done it all and the kids nailed it. Pack some books, cards, comics, food, water and as a last resort movies on an Ipad or similar. My boys get 1 movie every day no more. Don't try this every day though.

2. When you stop for fuel, lunch etc try and find a park and get super active with the kids, play tiggy or anything that gets them moving and burns some energy.

3. Avoid the sugary food and drinks in the car, it sends them hyper and when their strapped into a seat it results in trouble.

4. You can generally get around and check out most places during school holiday trips anywhere south of Alice. (within reason) So why not take this opportunity to head further north. (Personally were going flat out to north of Alice then taking our time from there. The Kimberley and Pilbarra are the furthest distance from Melbourne and hence the hardest to get back too so that's our main area to check out.

5. The cruiser is a great towing rig so well done, take the opportunity to put a bulbar, lights and winch on it. Long range tanks are pretty handy too.
Practice using the winch. Sounds like you guys are going solo so whilst you may not be super remote, self recovery is always good.

6. Get that caravan/expanda ASAP and use it to work out if it has any issues or things you would like to change. I remember getting my first C.T and leaving the next day to head to Fraser island only to discover the mattress was too thin and I couldn't sleep. Took 10 days to find a decent mattress. Got it home and completely changed the kitchen too.

7. Keep it flexible, don't get caught by an agenda of having to be places at certain dates, It's a holiday. if you like a place stay there, if the place isn't what you were hoping for then move on.

8. Get fit. I've never met you, your whole family might be marathon runners for all I know, but the point is most of the really cool places require a walk in and sometimes even a bit of scrambling to get to. Some of the walks up north are 8 plus Km loops. Don't miss out on seeing some great spots.

9. Back to kids. Give them responsibilities around camp, Collecting firewood and water, lighting the fire in the morning so you and the wife can sleep in while they cook their own toast anything and everything that helps you, and makes them feel like part of the team. Grab some board games to fill in the downtime, teach them how to play chess, for your own sanity keep away from Monopoly at all costs!!!!!

10. Make up a serious first aid kit and learn how to use it. Don't throw in some band aids and Panadol and think its all good. Get online and check what's in an expedition first aid kit. Google equip and look at their stuff. The pro 3 is what we use plus and minus a few things. Pack a Sam splint. Talk to your Doc before you go and explain where your going and get some basic drugs like a general antibiotic and a codeine based pain killer. Epipens cost $100 and are a great investment (Assuming your family has no allergies to this) I know I'm going to get slayed by users here for that last bit but when I'm in the middle of nowhere and have a tooth abcess or an infected cut on my foot then I'm taking those drugs and heading to hospital.

Anyway have a blast, The kids will talk about this trip for the rest of their lives.
AnswerID: 604052

Follow Up By: GlennH - Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 12:18

Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 12:18
Thanks a lot for your detailed response - very helpful!
FollowupID: 873722

Reply By: Alloy c/t - Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 18:30

Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 18:30
Having done more than 1 LSL trip to see the country with kid/s my only advise apart from 'doing it' would be that your klm x time seems a fair ask [ we did 26,000km in 26 weeks , think about doing a loooong drive to get to the furtherest place you and family wish to go to then slowly head back home , some places far away need and deserve lots of time whereas those closer to 'home' can be left for another [shorter] trip during school holidays etc..
AnswerID: 604109

Reply By: Sigmund - Monday, Sep 05, 2016 at 08:29

Monday, Sep 05, 2016 at 08:29
I'd start planning with a list of 'must sees' and 'like to see'. Then start your trip and find the driving/camping/sightseeing rhythm that works for you all. Then you'll have an idea of how much driving you can do without turning the kids into fizzing balls of bad energy.

You may be surprised by how much energy is needed to sightsee, and should anticipate some veg out time. You'll very likely also need to spend a day or two with one or both vehicles getting serviced or repaired. The kms clock up quickly out there. And you can expect to be held up by rain and road closures.

My approach is to treat the first trip somewhere as a recce, and I note down new 'must see' items for the next one no matter how far in the future it might be. That takes the pressure off to 'do it all'. I also prefer to put in some long days to get to the 'must sees' faster but I don't have kids to manage.

Good luck with your trip. Don't sweat on the planning too much. It's (almost) all good out there and most likely your girls will remember it for their lifetimes.
AnswerID: 604120

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