Clean slate - Exploring Aus for a year or two. Vehicle choices

Submitted: Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019 at 11:31
ThreadID: 139225 Views:5807 Replies:7 FollowUps:7
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Hi Guys,

A bit of a hard question here, but assuming with the knowledge you assumedly now have from spending time exploring Australia, what vehicle and camper option would you pick if you had a clean slate to start from?

My wife and I are planning a big trip around. Have previously done shorter trips such as Gibb River etc with a dual cab ute and swags. Now we have a toddler and 2 dogs. We have enough passive income to support us indefinitely travelling and we want to make the switch from living in a rented house with 2 normal cars to living full time on the road for a year or two exploring. International exploration is on the cards however we want to do Aus first, mostly because it let's us change our mind at any time and go back to a rented house etc if we get over it or don't end up loving the lifestyle.

We need - Largish living space. 20 - 25ft caravans or the larger Jayco Motorhomes are big enough, as long as they have a distinct separate sleeping area for the toddler, ie. Not converting a dining table to the bed. Any motorhome with a cabover sleeping bed would fit the bill, as do the "family" bunk type caravans.

Also, I am a landscape photographer with my own business, so the primary purpose of the trip is landscape photography, for which it is much, much, much better to be able to park your house really close to the location you want to photograph at sunrise/sunset.

We are really stuck choosing our vehicle/camper type for the trip. We have narrowed it down to three possibilities:

- Large 2WD motorhome towing a small 4wd to explore.

- Large Expedition truck w/ Atv/Mbike

- Large 4WD and large Offroad spec Caravan

There are obviously positives and negatives associated with each, our main issues are that we want to get away from people and see wild australia, and have very little intention of staying in caravan parks etc. However the size of an expedition truck can be a problem, along with the fact that you don't have a comfortable vehicle to take down difficult 4WD tracks, you have to take your whole house with you.

On the other hand, an expedition truck will much more easily be able to do remote overland areas such as the finke etc than towing an offroad capable large caravan.

We only intend to drive an hour or two every few days between stops, allowing plenty of time to explore area's.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Secondly, and this may feel strange, What do most of you actually 'do' once you are at somewhere nice and remote and camping? Obviously swimming, walking etc, but we have so many adventure hobbies that choosing what equipment to take will be difficult! ie. Offroading, boating, scuba diving, etc. I feel like I need to tow another trailer just with all the bits and pieces of equipment...
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Reply By: Bushranger1 - Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019 at 12:11

Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019 at 12:11
Hi Dan,
We travelled Australia for 2 years back in the mid 90's with 2 kids 6 & 9 YO.
We went very remote & never stayed in van parks. Our rig was a Hilux Dual cab towing a Outback Camper brand Camper trailer. I think taking 2 dogs along will really reduce the amount of places you can go.
There is no one setup up that suits all as it just depends what suits your style of camping & budget.
We now have a single cab Dmax with slide on camper that sets up in minutes that suits our current needs.
Reason for our change was my wife loves birdwatching & I do Landscape & Wildflower photography. We found it annoying going on day trips & having to go back to a basecamp for our camper trailer. Now we just setup where we are & in 5 mins are enjoying a glass of wine. :-)
Trust me you will NEVER be looking for things to do with your photography & hours spent treking through the bush looking for great photo shots not to mention looking after a child as well.
Get youself a good compact GPS so you can find your way back to the car. When you concentrate on getting shots its easy to get disoriented.
Great shots by the way.
Cheers Stu.
AnswerID: 628273

Reply By: Core420 - Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019 at 18:13

Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019 at 18:13
Yes, dogs will cramp your style. They are not welcome in national parks. There is also the widespread practice odd baiting for wild dogs and the poison they use kills your dog in the most horrible way.

I travel light. Dual cab 4wd ute with the Coleman 4p quick pitch tent for when I stay a couple of nights in the same place. Otherwise I sleep in the car.
AnswerID: 628275

Reply By: Dave B18 - Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019 at 20:09

Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019 at 20:09
We did it for twenty years, fourteen with one child. Over the time had three caravans. Had 21' 6" outside caravans, with combined shower and toilet at front, with good sized wardrobe and smallish desk area on the one side and part front.
The other side bunk was 900mm off the ground with drawers and storage underneath. Sliding door to shut off from rest of caravan.
Centre kitchen, L shaped dinette, another sliding door to shut off bedroom. We had a 3T pantech truck with two speed diff locker and winch.
Took it everywhere. This whole 'off-road' thing today with caravans is laughable. No such thing as offroad caravans in our time at that time. Roads in those days were nothing like they are today and we did it on 14" tyres on the caravan. Sure we went through a couple over the years, but kept pressures correct, not overloaded and changed well before due. Broken caravan springs was always an issue and always carried a spare and U bolts etc.
Had 5kg washing machine in the back of the truck, and were *fully* self contained. We were *very* particular about never carrying excess anything and keeping the weights well down and within the limits. We are still caravanner and still fully self sufficient with everything and 3kg washing and still don't carry anywhere near the amount of gear and poop and excess weight that others do, but have *all* the comforts. My wife is excellent at caravan packing in the way of clothes and gear. Our caravan still has 14" 195 x 14 wheels and tow it with a 4WD.
Nearly kill myself chuckling and laughter when I see these 'off road' caravans 700mm off the ground, three steps, rock sliding pipes down the side, massive chunky off road tyres which are totally unsuitable for trailing, and non-load sharing suspension.
Dogs will *seriously* limit your travels, more so today than ever. Other people's dogs travelling are always painful. They keep them on the leash the first day and then let them roam. What is worse dog owners think everybody should love their dogs - well we don't and neither do a lot of other people.
AnswerID: 628278

Follow Up By: dan c3 - Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 08:35

Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 08:35
Thanks mate. Any pics of your setup? Sounds like what I'd like to do.

Understand Re: Dogs, but there's not much we can do. It's either travel with them or re-home them, We will give travelling with them a shot first.

I am thinking a Light 4x4 truck to have enough space for the toys and rec equipment.

FollowupID: 902579

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 09:20

Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 09:20
Down the beach, across the desert, up a mountain?
Towing anything is a serious restriction.
An ability to go anywhere, in comfort, for as long as you wish, means expedition truck.

Most people take 4-6 days to cross the Simpson (for example). Taking longer is difficult because of the inability to carry sufficient water. On this trip, we took a month. You can not do that in a little towed 4WD.
When you park on a dune for 3 days or more, the critters that you frightened away when you arrived all start to come back.

OKA196 motorhome
AnswerID: 628282

Follow Up By: dan c3 - Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 10:09

Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 10:09
Thanks Peter.

Are there places where you haven't been able or willing to go with your rig?

I know at El Questro for example there are a bunch of awesome spots to go and see that whilst an expedition rig may be able to get there, I don't know if I would be comfortable taking the house across several of the rocky boulder crossings etc. For these situations it would make more sense to have a caravan that can get 90% of the way and a light 4x4 truck that can do day trips?

I ask because you obviously have the experience to back up your words.

FollowupID: 902580

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 10:21

Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 10:21
With the exception of large low trees, our rig will go anywhere a Landcruiser will go and in at least as much or more comfort. In fact the rougher it gets, the more comfortable the OKA is by comparison.
Couple of short clips.....
And when we get there, we have all the comforts and convenience of the best equipped RV, like central heating, bread maker, deep freeze, shower and toilet.
OKA196 motorhome
FollowupID: 902581

Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 14:51

Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 14:51
No dog, and definately 4x4 expedition truck - look at this one, we know the owners personally and they are long-term very well travelled and well known ExplorOz members. Not sure if its sold yet but I see the advert is still here in our Classifieds. WE know the history of this vehicle too as do the regulars on this site. I've been inside it a few times on a few trips where we've bumped into them - perfect setup. Was custom built. Mitsubishi Canter 4x4 Motorhome

Good luck with your trip, very jealous. Wonderful photos. Hope you'll become a Member and share your photos and journey via blogs on this site.
Michelle Martin
Marketing & Customer Support
I.T. Beyond Pty Ltd / ExplorOz

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AnswerID: 628284

Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 17:37

Thursday, Oct 24, 2019 at 17:37
Hi Dan,

If it was me, and money was not an issue, I would look at an Iveco Daily 4X4 Dual Cab and have a custom built tray & canopy on the back for your “expedition” gear. Then a Bushtracker custom built off road caravan. The Iveco Daily will get over any issues you may have with weight, as it has a GVM of up to 4.2 T on a car license.

What ever you decide, ensure you have adequate power, Lithium & Solar for both the tow vehicle & the van.


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AnswerID: 628288

Follow Up By: Members - Bow & Nan - Friday, Oct 25, 2019 at 17:09

Friday, Oct 25, 2019 at 17:09
A yank tank will do a better job than a Iveco.
"Work interferes with living"

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FollowupID: 902599

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 at 06:31

Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 at 06:31
A yank tank won’t fit down tracks the Iveco would if that is a consideration

The Daily is a similar footprint to a Landcruiser
FollowupID: 902609

Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 at 08:13

Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 at 08:13
The “Yank Tank” will use more fuel than the Iveco. Although Iveco do not quote fuel economy figures, from what I have heard from others, the Iveco is quite fuel efficient.


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Reply By: Dave B18 - Monday, Oct 28, 2019 at 20:25

Monday, Oct 28, 2019 at 20:25
There is so much more to Australia than just bush tracks and rough roads. People always think they have to bash their way everywhere on bad tracks/roads and travel long distances. Majority never look at the great country in their own backwards, in particular all of Southern Australia encompassing Southern WA, SA, Victoria and NSW and inland Queensland. There is not that much of Australia left where you need a serious well set-up 4WD or expedition truck. See more failures from vehicles being overweight, inappropriate modifications, air bags, oversize tyres causing mechanical drive train failure.
To see all of Australia properly would probably take hundred years, so you cannot go everywhere in Australia in a lifetime. Those really out of the way places now there are so many good videos and Google photography, rather than spend a small fortune to get to these really remote locations, get to see more and spend lease. I have a complete collection of tracks for all our trips, and many would be stunned where we have been with a standard 4WD that all that has been done was upgraded rear springs and shock absorbers and good quality standard size tyres - generally used Goodyear Wranglers. When I see 4WD's and caravans with two spare wheels and all the unecessary poop some carry, you know they are heading for trouble being overweight. Come across too many travellers in our town with failure issues directly attributable to being overweight.
AnswerID: 628376

Follow Up By: dan c3 - Monday, Oct 28, 2019 at 20:57

Monday, Oct 28, 2019 at 20:57
Thanks for the reply Dave.

I've already decided that a very capable 4WD is required - I've already seen a lot of the top end and understand what can and can't be driven.

I agree a lot of people probably don't need anything extreme.

My main question now is the toss up between an expedition truck like a Canter, NPS 4x4 etc or even a larger Isuzu FTS800, or a Canter/Daily/NPS Light Truck with an Offroadish caravan, or a Large, Spacious 2WD motorhome towing a small 4WD.

Either way, we won't be overweight.

And since we are planning on living on the road for 1 - 2 years with a wife, toddler and dogs, yes, there is a lot of crap you have to carry :)
FollowupID: 902729

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