Planning the BIG ONE

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 15:13
ThreadID: 65667 Views:3734 Replies:15 FollowUps:5
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Hi all. So far, have found this site amazing!
Have just started the initial idea of travelling around Australia for at least 1 year. By the time we get to go do this it will be 3 years away and our children will be 10,9,4,2. So in the meantime we are after any ideas in regard to the sort of caravan to go with. We will be getting this ASAP so that we can do smaller trips in the meantime. Ideally I would love to have us all under one roof but after a brief search, four kids might not fit into a normal caravan.
Had considered a 5th wheeler or motorhome but am not liking the idea of how big these things are. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Now to the money side of things. My husband is a Diesel Fitter (mechanical), do you think we could earn some money on the road buy advertising on the side of the car, mind you, you all sound fairly crafty and probably wouldn't need someone else doing running repairs. But any suggestions here or other ideas would be good.
Ok I think that will be enough to start with. I look forward to hearing your ideas and experiences.
Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Wim (Qld) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 16:02

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 16:02
rob & buck.

Can't comment on the van side of things but if hubby is a diesel fitter you should have no problems finding work in some of the country centers.

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Reply By: Member - Hayjude (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 16:08

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 16:08
If you have the room take your tools etc as you will have no problem picking up work. We found in the Kimberley last year there was plenty of work for tradesmen of all types.
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Reply By: oz doc - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 16:45

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 16:45
Hi Rob and buck, I'm thinking you are going to have to look at something like a motorhome if there are going to be 6 of you. The thing is - you will not really be "camping" when you travel around oz- more like long term travelling. I think you will very soon appreciate the extra room that a motorhome provides- especially if the kids start getting on each others nerves. I think of camping as a more short term thing, where you are quite happy to forgoe many comforts and put up with awkward conditions for a restricted period of time- but not 1 year,and not with 4 children.Just my 2 pennies worth. Cheers, doc.
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 17:21

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 17:21
Ditto re work opportunities for a diesel fitter - most remote area enterprises that we've seen are hanging out for such skills - with the mining downturn layoffs there may be some more mechanics out there looking for a job, but without FIFO on offer, and the usual camp frills, they probably want to stay near home :-o)
AnswerID: 347403

Reply By: roger p - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 17:31

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 17:31
rob and buck,
good luck with your planning the big trip.
i did a 5 month trip to timber creek nt,down boroloola way ,normanton to cape trib.qld and zig zagged south from coast inland etc to home in the hunter valley nsw.
had the best time and will do it again this winter.
i had a 3 way fridge [primus 35lt] great on gas but as the saying goes not good on 12v even with direct from battery anderson plug fitted.
i travelled in a 03 falcon sedan towing a camper tent trailer,lots of room,queen bed and 8ft sealed floor area,plus 8ft awning etc.
i tried to sell it for a small c/van but now glad i will do another trip in it as it is 'camping'.easy to tow and reverse.
have solar and battery now,lights,laptop cd radio etc.
i did sell the sedan and now have a 04 rodeo tray back and am building canopy to house needed items.
i am going to buy a evercool 55lt fridge/freezer,low amp draw danfross motor.
will be set up to spend extended time outbac.
what i am getting at is the children need space to sit-run around ,sleep time same in tent more fun than cramped in van i recon. my first time here on site as well,i have and am learning all i need to reading the wealth of info on these forums.
good luck.
AnswerID: 347404

Follow Up By: Matt Watson - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 18:29

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 18:29
Hi Roger, bit OT, hope no one gets grumpy for my hijacking a little..

How did you go with the falcon, where you able to get out of the caravan parks much? I've got a AUIII wagon, and currently tossing up if I should sell it for a 4x4 or if it will do the job and get us into enough places.

As for rob and buck, It probably depends on your kids and how long you plan on staying in spots. If the two oldest are happy to bunk up and you plan on staying places long enough to warrant putting up an annex, you could get or make a good bunk bed for it in and segment off a bit of it. As a kid my "Bedroom" was a 4 foot wide section of the annex for a couple of years and I lived fine.
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Reply By: Gramps (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 19:12

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 19:12
"By the time we get to go do this it will be 3 years away and our children will be 10,9,4,2"

LOL congratulations :)))

AnswerID: 347416

Follow Up By: Axel [ the real one ] - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 20:44

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 20:44
10-9-4-2 for 3 yrs hence means ,LUCKY BUGGER getting it regular [ ahhh to dream eh Gramps]
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Follow Up By: robertbruce - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 01:49

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 01:49
ROLF, I just seen it... oh yes. a big congrat's
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Follow Up By: Dunco (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 11:41

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 11:41
There might be another one in 3 years !!!!

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Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 19:13

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 19:13
Hi Rob and Buck

Definitely hire and try a few different rigs before you decide. Living full time with children of such different ages, you will need to take quite a bit of stuff to keep them active and from getting bored, as well as books, clothes, food etc.

A big fifth wheeler may be the best for you, as when you stop for any extended periods of work, you can disconnect and have a commuting and sightseeing vehicle, but would need something like a dual cab F250 or equivalent.

The alternative is to tow a small vehicle behind a motor home, but one that can comfortably seat six of course. I don't know about motor homes which would have seating for six.

The current downturn will have an effect on the employment market, but might be worth finding out what is needed to be accepted as a mechanical fitter in the mines. He could then register with the agencies that supply crews to 'shut downs'. Remote but interesting locations, and darn good money on short term contracts.

The only drawback on being a mobile mechanic is the need to carry the tools.

Good luck in you planning.

Motherhen

Who wasn't game to travel until she could leave the brood behind
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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 20:12

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 20:12
All I can say is heaven help you 4 kids in a car at once ouch.

When we travelled through NZ 13 months ago we went with friends who had 2 young girls. The girls found that they got travel sick quite quickly travelling in the back of the motor home.

If you do get a motor home ensure that you have at least 4 forward facing seats with access to side window viewing.

Other option is a camper trailer with awnings etc. Cheaper and versitile.
Dunc
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Reply By: Crackles - Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 20:23

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2009 at 20:23
Rob & Buck you may like to consider what areas of Oz you would like to see before choosing a camping setup. By that I mean if you intend to travel to Cape York, the Bungles or Simson Desert for example then a converted bus, caravan or 5th wheeler becomes impractable/costly. Same with shipping your family over to Tassie or Fraser Island.
If you just want to do the main sealed road run around Australia & see the larger iconic attractions like the Gold Coast, Broome, Kakadu & Ayres rock then these big rigs will be ideal.
Undoubtably a large 4x4 wagon & camper trailer is the ideal way to get access to the many remote areas that are on offer but would certainly compromise your comfort somewhat.
1stly decide if you want to explore the country or just be a tourist then see what vehicles/sleeping options are available for your budget.
Cheers & good luck. Craig..............
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Reply By: robertbruce - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 02:02

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 02:02
"With as much ease as possible"... and that would be a motorhome... you are already ahead with the skillset to maintain, and I say "maintain", not recondition/restore, an olderstyle coach. This would save big-bikkies.

The big advantage is when you pull up exhausted your not further exhausted by set-up...

and with a coach you can pull up overnight absolutly anywhere, even the cbd's, .... mind the weight limits tho'

and also give you enough roof space for lots and lots of solar panel, batteries, regulators, wiring etc etc to run a small DC fridge..at least you wont have to uprade the suspension to carry milk cold....I8)
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Reply By: rob & buck - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 05:36

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 05:36
Thanks everyone. Lots of food for thought.

Had a good laugh curteousy of Gramps - to funny!

Will just have to start trial running the setups. Am thinking that a caravan would be the go and a couple of quick setup tents so that if we do want to get of the beating track we can. Have considered the camper trailer but the setting up of this, all the time, would be just to much - I know my limitations!

Well on with show.

Cheers
AnswerID: 347473

Reply By: roger p - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 08:17

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 08:17
rob and buck,
your question re;did i get out of caravan parks much like with the falcon and c/trailer ?
hey,i only stopped o/night occasionally [fortnightly to 3 weeks]to do a load of washing and have a good scrub meself.

it is amazing where you can travell with the standard sedan.
in the dry season up north the roper river,towns river, butterfly gorge etc [the loop from mataranka to cape crawford nt] is beautiful country and a must do i my books.the road can be rocky,sandy and corrugated,but take it easy and you should be fine.
spare every thing is of course a must,i was happy i took the extra fuel and water.touch wood didnt puncture the 17" tyres on the ford,but good judgement ,slow and steady will get you there.
checking with dep. of main roads on conditions a must,especially with a car full of kids,being stuck somewhere out bush would be a harrowing and dangerous experience.[temps in the day can soar]
i guess caravan parks would be much used on your trip due to loos and showers ,bit tough on the kiddies to dig a hole when needed! many dont i can tell you,toilet paper scattered in the wind at some camps absolutely shocking,dont these people know the mess they leave for others?inconsiderate #%^&*
enough of my rave,too much to tell,c/trailers only take a short time to put up,but if you only stay at each place i or two nights do become tedious.
purchase' camps australia wide' has parks ,free camps etc.
a must for the new traveller.
safe travels roger

AnswerID: 347483

Follow Up By: Matt Watson - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 11:39

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 11:39
Thanks roger, that question was actually from me I think :)

Camps 5 is already on order, once I get it I'll take a good look though before starting to loosely plan where to go and what I'll need (eg, 4x4 or not) to get there.
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Reply By: roger p - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 16:02

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 16:02
my appologies matt it all sorts itself out in the end,must be old age creeping up,now where are my glasses? oh yeh on my head.
my new second hand rodeo has lim.slip diff, i was too impatient waiting to find suitable 4wd,all i saw had 2-300 ks on the clock and much money.
i am much more confident now as the falcon went almost everywhere.let us know what you buy.
cheers roger p
AnswerID: 347520

Reply By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 18:01

Wednesday, Feb 04, 2009 at 18:01
Seen a Jayco about 23'where they ditched the toilet and shower and added more beds. We only have a 17" and the 3 kids sleep in a tent under the awning. We are glad we stayed with the smaller van as we can take it to more places off the main roads. Have a portable shower as some places we go we only have swags and tent on car. We don't live in ours but have been out to Innamincka and spent christmas Hols in Vic High country and great Ocean road to Adelaide. If you start smaller then you can upgrade as you travel around. However I would recommend the largest tropical fridge you can get. The below pic is an en suite site. Any van larger wouldn't fit. Next things is awning walls, solar and wind guard aerial.Image Could Not Be Found
AnswerID: 347546

Reply By: Member - 7Keads (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 12:12

Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 12:12
Hi

Have just read your post, and thought you might be interested in our experiences. We travelled for 6 months last year with our 5 children, aged 12, 10, 8 and 5 year old twins and have lived to tell the tale!!! We were like you when we started and had no idea as to what our travelling requirements might be, but ended up purchasing a Landcruiser and caravan that had a couple of bunks as well as a dinette that could be set up as a double bed, I liked having the option of being able to fit everyone in the van if needed, (most of the time our three older children would camp in a tent under the van awning). We looked at a lot of different setups, but decided on a van with a shower/toilet as we thought with the kids it would be easier for those middle of the night toilet dashes. The van was great, it gave us the option of just been able to pull up, and unpack and relax fairly quickly, as well as gave us lots of storage room - we didn't have a off road van, but it was a solid well built van, and we did go on some dirt roads with no dramas - We mainly stayed in caravan parks, but also did free camping and so were set up for that. You will find staying in caravan parks (particularly in the top end) very expensive - you are charged on a per head basis for the kids, so we always tried to free camp where possible, and then just head into a park for when we needed wash clothes, have internet access etc. My only other advice would be to get a full size fridge in whatever you decide to travel with - and stock up in the major centres, as fresh fruit and veg can be very expensive, especially with a big family! Good Luck and enjoy.

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