At Last! the 1/2 lap is in my sights 2017

Submitted: Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 09:24
ThreadID: 133944 Views:4980 Replies:11 FollowUps:14
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I have finally made the commitment to embark on my solo dream trip.
Departing from Adelaide 1st May 2017.
Alice-Tanami-Broome-GRR-Darwin- Possibly Kakadu- Flinders Rangers mid July.
I'm after any tips, advice, articles, route itineraries etc on anything and everything that may be of benefit. I wont be restricted by time but I would like to watch the money where I can.
A few concerns is food, fuel, if I'm set up correctly, not to overload vehicle(max is 2960kg(I'm already 2600kg empty full fuel) & budget which I gather could be $10K ? just for the trip.
I have off road (4wd) experience
Travelling in a mechanically prepared 80 series, roof top tent, 120w portable solar panel, 60L fridge only, 100L water and recovery gear.
I will be trading the ARB RTT in on something more durable.
145L of fuel @ worst 20-25L per 100km offroading makes me think I should invest in a long range tank as I hate carrying fuel up top.
Something inside is telling me I should also invest in a small dedicated freezer which also means adding a third battery.
Glad to answer any questions about anything to give you a better scope of where I'm at with the adventure.
Many thanks for all and any input in advance.

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Reply By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 10:40

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 10:40
Good luck with your trip, you will love it
You didn't say what was already included in your 2600 kg but I hope it includes yourself, your 100 litres of water, food, cooking gear etc.
A small freezer and a third fridge will add at least 40 kg plus contents.
I think it will be very difficult , if not impossible, under your loading to stay under GVM but you wouldn't the only one on the road
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Follow Up By: noggins - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 11:26

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 11:26
I learned many years ago that dried food was a lot easier to carry than frozen.
Of course this was many years ago ( 50- 70's ) when dried foods were easier to obtain.
A portable fridge was really glamping in those days , and ice for the esky was near impossible to get out on the back tracks and roads.

Unless your going to be ''out there'' for over a week there will always be a general store or IGA somewhere on your route, so you won't really have to carry more food than for 10 days at a time.
Main thing to carry will be fuel and water, and they both weigh a lot .
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Follow Up By: BTLC - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 19:13

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 19:13
I dehydrated frozen pea, corn & carrots with a small dehydrator, then sealed in home cryvac machine.
It takes a lot of battery power to run a freezer. Cryovaced meat per meal size is far better option. We put our meat into Tupperware type containers & placed at bottom of the fridge.
A 60L fridge is plenty of room for a single person. We often use same size for family of 4.
Long life milk or powder milk, wraps.
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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:34

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:34
Thanks for the tips,

I can cook and always have been lucky enough to buy fresh on a daily bases. Always been able to have fresh food on all my trips but this one is different. I think I need to learn how to cook with the types of different ingredients as mentioned.

Many thanks.
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 13:15

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 13:15

May see you somewhere along the route.
We are traveling from Adelaide across the Nullarbor to Kalgoorlie, then up the Great Northern Highway through the Pilbara, to Broome, Derby, the GRR and on to Kununurra. Then heading through Katherine and a right turn towards Adelaide, diverting to Kings Canyon, Yalara (Ayers Rock & Olgas) along the road.

Our plan is for an 8 week trip, starting 20th April and timed to hit the Gibb mid May, just after it opens following the wet season (hopefully) and just before the scheduled annual bike ride from Broome to Kununurra. (21st-25th May)
Have been along the Gibb before but this time from "south to north", staying a few nights in the Manning Gorge and Home Valley Station campgrounds.

You don't need to carry a "truckload" of food as it is available in towns along the way. In fact you need to check quarantine requirements heading into WA, especially fruit and vegetables. The only longish trip you will need to plan for fuel is the Tanami Track. Mount Barnett will have fuel half way along the Gibb River Road. Just be aware, a long range tank may seem a good idea, but you are adding a lot of weight to your vehicle when full.
Meat we take with us is vacuum sealed and will last a couple of weeks just kept cool before needing replenishment. No freezer required and butchers in towns along the route will happily vac-seal your purchases for longer term stability.
I usually plan as many 2+ day camps as possible, but this trip we will have several one day stops, especially across the Nullarbor and up to Karijini.
With 3 vehicles in our convoy, one night stops will be pull up, leaving the vans connected to tow vehicle and visiting the local town pub for an evening meal. No cooking or washing up to delay early departure the next day and its a great way of meeting locals too.
This may be a bit harder for you though and it is one of the reasons I have never considered a RTT, but each to their own hey!

Good luck on your venture and I'm sure you will enjoy it.
My best advise of all is to look at good quality maps when planning your route, taking into consideration distances between fuel stops and prepare for a "Plan B" if necessary. (e.g. if the GRR opening is delayed by late wet weather, you may have to take the bitumen up to Kununurra).
I use a spreadsheet to plan our intended stops and distances between them, but this is only a guide and not a strict "bible" of where we need to be on a given day.
If we really like a spot we may stay longer and if we don't, we may continue on to another "unplanned stop" further along our route.
All part of a relaxing trip through the outback:-)


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AnswerID: 606729

Reply By: Batt's - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 13:46

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 13:46
Depending on how you look at it a second fridge/freezer would be a good backup if either one fails but you may need a 2nd battery to run both. Or for the amount of money you would pay for another fridge/freezer, battery you could probably buy a dual zone fridge/freezer with separate compartments which are versatile in their use and cover maybe cover your needs.
Fitting a long range tank is a good idea I have a similar size tank in my patrol. Don't forget a food grade hose to fill the water tank. Have a good trip.
AnswerID: 606730

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:40

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:40
Thanks Batt's.
Didnt really want to change to a dual zone as i already have a drop down fridge slide to suit the 60L and to replace it to suit a dual zone is more $$$$.
I have decided to stick with what I have and vacuum seal goods as others have suggested.
I am leaning towards the long range tank for peace of mind and convenience.
I have 100L bladder & a extra 40L bladder if required along with a BEST filter and hose.

Many thanks.
FollowupID: 876481

Reply By: cruiser 3 - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 15:58

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 15:58
HF Radio.
AnswerID: 606732

Follow Up By: BTLC - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 19:06

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 19:06
An Epirb is much cheaper. We checked in with Royal Flying Doctor Service and consulted them on wether of not we should get a sat phone as well - said the Epirb was all we needed.
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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:43

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:43
Thanks Cruiser 3,
I think I should be ok with my UHF, hand held and telstra phone but an emergency beacon will be on the cards.

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Reply By: tonny a - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 17:25

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 17:25
I did the Tanami solo this year and fuelled up in Halls Creek and took an extra 30 litres on board. I arrived in Alice on 180 litres of diesel driving a V8 troopy. On the Tanami you can get fuel at Billiluna, Yuendumu and Tilmouth Well. Check opening hours. No great scenery except Wolfe Creek Crater.
Safe travels.
AnswerID: 606733

Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 23:16

Friday, Dec 16, 2016 at 23:16
The Tanami is the only route you will have a long distance between fuel. At the very least, if you go into Balgo (permit needed), you need to cover 561 kilometres. You would be right on the limit at your maximum estimated usage.

Check My Blogs from 2008 (Kimberley and Tanami) and 2009 (Darwin, Kakadu). Questions are welcomed.

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Reply By: splits - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 00:44

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 00:44
I agree with those who have said there is plenty of food, fuel etc available in the areas you intend going.

You are right about not overloading the car. That is a good way of breaking things as countless travelers in remote areas have found out. All of these volume selling 4x4 cars and utes are built to a price. Their maximum towing and carrying capacities are for good sealed roads only and should be reduced off road according to the conditions.

You should not have any weight problems seeing you are travelling solo. If I was in your position I would forget about roof top tents and sleep in the car. A roof top tent is only going to increase the weight, raise the centre of gravity and increase fuel consumption.

I would also take all the seats out except the driver's of course. They are heavy in Cruisers and if nobody is sitting in them then why carry them?

I started driving in the Outback in the western Old area in 1967 and have been out there regularly ever since. I did not have a bull bar and still don't. They add far too much weight for my liking. I did hit a roo on the Nullarbor in 1972 but that is the only thing I have ever hit in all those years. It is easy enough to just about eliminate the risk of hitting something if you really want to.

A close friend of mine once fitted a bull bar to his Holden after getting a new job that took him through a roo infested area each night. He thought he was safe until he hit one. It went over the top of the bar then through the windscreen and ended up in the back seat. I think they can easily lull you into a false sense of security.

My wife and I have driven over roads like the Gunbarrell Hwy and many others with a just a 40 liter fridge. I could easily get by with a smaller one on my own. I could not imagine us ever filling a 60 like you have.

There is a lot of ways you can reduce the weight of your car then load it up and still be well under the maximum.

The roads you are going on should not cause any problems providing it is not raining or you are not driving like a bat out of hell. City based people seem to think their car needs a modified everything plus every accessory in the book in order to get through. To the local people they are just the road from their town to the next. They just jump into their standard cars and go.

I did see a modified 4x4 Navara ute that looked like it was locally owned just out of Bourke a couple of years ago. It had a home made bull bar with a canvas water bag on it, a couple of big driving lights,a huge HF radio aerial and what looked like Hilux split rims with 7.00 x 16 cross ply tyres. You don't see any like that in the 4x4 magazines.

You may find your fuel consumption is lower than you think. It is with my non turbo diesel Hilux. We always travel with the car a couple of hundred kilos under GVM. On a long freeway or highway trip, it uses around 10.2 liters per 100 ks. It drops to low 9s around town at home. On a hard surface outback road like the Oodnadatta Track, it is around 9.3 per 100 because the speed we drive at is much lower than on a sealed highway. On a trip down the Sandy Blight Junction Road three years ago it did 8.9 per 100 between Kintore at the northern end and Giles weather station. The road was very sandy in places with many small sand hills but our average speed was only around 20 ks per hour.

Most 4wds have the aerodynamics of a brick and speed really knocks the fuel consumption around. .
AnswerID: 606743

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:56

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:56
Thanks Splits,
I am a fairly confidant 4wd driver. Have done training a few years back and now plenty of sand and flinders offroading.
I dont take silly risks and wont be in any hurry, my vehicle is my life line and is cared for to suit.
The old girl's engine has been rebuilt 2 years ago with internal modifications. Everything has been replaced from exhaust, bushes, bearings, brake disc etc the only things that have not been replaced is gear box & transfer case as they are in still relatively good condition but the original alternator is the last thing I will replace prior to trip.
I get around 16L per hundred around town @2.6T. The best Ive had is 14L per hundred @ 3T with a tale wind. Worst is 30L per hundred doing beach work (heavy sand). Towing the Jayco Finch OB on the black top 4T all up was around the 22L per hundred.
I run on 265/75/16 697's. Have found them to be great for this sort of travelling. I would change to a more aggressive tyre if I was to do the Cape.
FollowupID: 876485

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 09:15

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 09:15
Just a few comments. I think the advice above to remove the seats and sleep in the vehicle is good. Have a look at our blogs to see how we set up our Troopy so that we could sleep in it quite comfortably. Re food, suggest dont bother going to the extra cost (in both $ and weight) of a second fridge. As others have said, use vacuum packed meat, preferably pre-frozen. But make sure that you place the meat in the bottom of the fridge in rigid containers, otherwise on a corrugated track like the Tanami you can risk popping the packs with unpleasant consequences. Fresh fruit and vege travel well if wrapped in newspaper and kept as cool as possible - a foam box is good for this. You can learn to be very frugal with water and on our early travels we only carried about 60l, but we made it a rule to top up at every opportunity. It may be harder now to top up. Likewise with fuel, top up whenever you can. Carry some reliable means of communication and a decent moveable map facility plus paper maps of the wider areas through which you will be travelling and you will be set. John and I have always travelled together, sharing the driving. A family member has recently taken the plunge and has done a few solo trips which he has really enjoyed - except for the lack of company.
Hope you have a great trip,
J and V
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AnswerID: 606746

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 12:05

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 12:05
Thanks for the tips Val.
I do like the idea of the old physical type of map. Im more comfortable being able to see a whole region whilst to tackling it.
Company would be great if I had a soul mate but unfortunately/fortunately this trip will be tackled on my own, so I hope to meet a lot of great people and maybe even make a friends along the way.
I also plan to be taking great landscape photos which may take some time to capture.
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Reply By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 10:32

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 10:32
Many thanks for everyones input so far.
I have done short remote trips previously, no longer than a week though.
I dont think sleep inside my vehicle will be an option due to the setup I already have but thanks for the idea anyway.
I have always been interested in landscape photography and in the early stages doing homework on which camera, lenses, tripod etc set up to purchase. Having said that, is why my concern with fuel going off tracks and not worrying about fuel hence a long range tank.
Trying to reduce weight is proving difficult even with aftermarket suspension 2" OME 300kg constant load at rear, she handles better when loaded.
Front steel ARB bull bar has saved the front end a few times already at lower speeds: emu's & hoppers. So I'm a bit reluctant to remove it.
Draws in the back have proven valuable for organised storage.
100 amh amg is dedicated to the fridge and now thinking a small third battery maybe be handy with a small 800w inverter to charge laptop, photography equipment and to operate a vacuum seal machine unless there are 12v's available.
I'm comfortable that a second small fridge won't be needed from responses.
As far as camping equipment goes(BEST filter, cooking, chair, small table, 12v shower, even have the port a loo for my bad back, etc) 90% of things are either fold away or collapsable. I am also comfortable with using the aerosol type gas cans for cooking to keep space and weight down from a 4.5 or 9kg bottle and a 2 burner gas stove. The baby Q will need to stay behind for this trip.
Recovery gear from max tracks to straps including 12000lb winch should be more than enough, just need to familiarize myself with a tyre repair kit.
My biggest indecisiveness is the sleep arrangement ie: RTT. Still weighing up the pros and cons of my prefered sleeping arrangement, a small CUB, Pioneer or Kimberly for a more comfort but I'm still tossing up if comfort out ways the extra $$$$ in a camper, extra fuel cost and accessibility to difficult tracks without having to dump the camper and then back track to collect it.
I have never needed more than the UHF and phone in remote areas though I think these beacons may be a life insurance necessity.
Clothes: a few days worth and I have a 15L barrel as a washing machine.
Also have a good quality rubbish bag on the spare wheel carrier.

I think a windscreen protector would also be a good investment......seen and heard of lots of windscreen damage out that way.
Thanks again for all the input so far.................keep them coming....
AnswerID: 606747

Follow Up By: splits - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:41

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:41

After reading all of that I don't think you are going to have a hope of keeping the weight under the maximum.

Think about the weight on your rear axle for a moment. It will most likely be right on the maximum or over it. You have heavier springs so the car will sit up and look good but all of that weight is sitting on a standard axle housing. There are photos on the net of Cruiser axle housings broken in half.

If you buy a camper trailer, you may have to reduce what you have in the back because the ball weight must be deducted from the carrying capacity of the car.

Anything that you have behind the axle is sitting on a lever i.e the distance from the axle back to whatever is there. This increases the load on the axle. That load is only static weight. It will increase by who knows how much every time the rear wheels run into a depression in the road and the car falls down onto the housing. It is the housing that will have to lift the rear of the car instantly whenever the wheels rise up over a bump in the road.

This is asking a hell of a lot from from the housing and the wheel studs. It is not surprising that they have been known to break.

When you say you go off tracks for photography, are you talking about cross country without roads? That is the highest risk area for punctures. It is the reason that Navara ute that I mentioned was using cross ply tyres. It is for the same reason this company uses cross plys. tyre repairs Read all the tyre repair information and the suitability of the different types of tyre construction. Don't forget the photo slide section. Plug kits may not be much use in those areas.

FollowupID: 876482

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 12:27

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 12:27
Thanks Splits,

The vehicle weight is concerning me as well. I failed to mention that I'll be taking fishing gear as well...................

What you are saying makes sense, looking after the old girl is number 1.
I could just bite the bullet and purchase a camper (with same rims & tyres as the 80 series)to spread the weight safely and still keep the RTT when I need to get into areas that don't suit towing the camper.
Then sell the camper after the trip.

Security for the camper is my concern when leaving it behind for a night or two.

FollowupID: 876487

Follow Up By: splits - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 16:44

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 16:44
" looking after the old girl is number 1.

That should be at the top of the priority list. The car must get you out there and back in one piece. It can be very expensive and inconvenient if it doesn't. I have always thought if the car can't carry everything that I want without being taken to the limit or beyond then I have bought the wrong car. To me modifying it is not an option .

The idea is to take only what is absolutely essential and don't take what is not needed. If you can't remove the seats because of the way you have it set up then I would change the setup. If that is not possible then try and keep the speed well down on unsealed roads.

Every hole, corrugation, bump etc that you hit will send a shock force up into the car. Those forces increase by the square of the speed. As an example the forces from hitting something at 60 kph will be nine times higher than hitting it at 20 kph. 60 is three times higher than 20 so square three and you have nine.

This is where so much damage comes from, particularly to chassis on utes and axle housings and wheel studs on all types of cars.

Do you ever carry other people in your car? If no then have you thought about buying a single cab ute? In that Beadell Tours link that I gave you, Mick talks about the suitability of cars for desert work. The best for cross country without roads are single cabs with live front axles. That is because of their high load carrying capacity and their fully enclosed front axle offers the best protection from damage.
FollowupID: 876491

Reply By: kerbarb9 - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:01

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:01
Hi guys and you will love it. We did the same trip a few years ago. I remember when we took off there were many questions about what I should take. If you choose to get a dedicated freezer then consider your solar panel option. There is plenty of sun but the hotter days will drain your battery. Not sure if you have solar panels or not, if not, they are a must in preference to another battery. Remember, other than the Tanami, there are shops along your track. Yes long range tank is an option, just depends on how much money you want to spend. Remember when you eventually sell your car, so the long range tank also goes. Just consider a couple of Jerry Cans. You will only need extra fuel on the Tanami if you don't want to stop or save on extra fuel in Jerries at a cheaper price in the bigger towns. The Gibb River is a breeze for fuel, with at least 2 stops along the way. If you need to kit your rig out with some 4wd stuff, let me know, in fact just look up 4WD Supacentre on the net. ( great stuff and unbelievable prices. I use it a lot. If you go to Kakadu, try to get to Cahills Crossing 35ks from Jabiru at high tide. You can watch crocs jumping and catching Barramundi. Last time we were there, there were 17 crocs that we counted. When things quieten down there you can fish for Barra as well. It is not a set up by tourist agents it's live and real. If you are into swimming, the Gibb River Road has at least 6 swimming holes, they are a must along with Tunnel Creek. In Kakadu Magook and Gunlom are a must, but make sure you climb to the top. Unbloodybelievable. It is the highlight. Enjoy, and also planning that trip in 2017 again
AnswerID: 606748

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:30

Saturday, Dec 17, 2016 at 11:30
Planning that trip again............
yep I was in the early planning stages 2 years ago for this trip with company & a Jayco Finch OB.............however that fell through due to unforeseen circumstances.

The vehicle is already kitted out, lockers, lift, etc..........but thanks anyway.

will note your experiences though along with everyone elses.

FollowupID: 876479

Reply By: Drew - Karratha - Sunday, Dec 18, 2016 at 22:21

Sunday, Dec 18, 2016 at 22:21
Gday, I have recently returned from a solo trip from Bunbury to Broome (where the family flew in).
I slept in a single all sandfly mesh dome and swag, which took all of 1 minute to set up....
I don't understand the fascination with RTT's. They talked longer to set up, and in my mind, don't offer any additional benefit - but a number of drawbacks - but they seem very popular for some reason???...
When the family arrived we had a canvas tent, but travelling alone the swag in an insect / snake etc proof dome is the best!!!!
AnswerID: 606780

Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Monday, Dec 19, 2016 at 07:42

Monday, Dec 19, 2016 at 07:42
Hi Drew,
Many thanks for your input.
I have a great ARB double dome swag which I have used countless times and previously many other types.
The reason for choosing to travel with the RTT is purely due to my back. After 3 back operations the RTT is kinder on my back to set and pack. I also have height on my side, so its easier to reach. The other thing is, you never know when a unseasonal down pour will occur. I dont want to be caught swaging in the mud.
My current RTT takes me 5mins to set up and around 10mins to pack up. Its not so bad for me.
My prefered sleeping arrangement would be a camper but this is not going to be a convenient option for this trip.
FollowupID: 876512

Follow Up By: Drew - Karratha - Tuesday, Dec 20, 2016 at 00:12

Tuesday, Dec 20, 2016 at 00:12
No problem - everyone has their own needs!!
Enjoy the trip, it will be fantastic!! We are already planning our next trip to Broome / Cape Leveque - with me once again having the pleasure of a week alone driving up there enjoying the serenity!!!
FollowupID: 876549

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