Sourcing water while on the road

Submitted: Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 21:23
ThreadID: 80124 Views:4039 Replies:10 FollowUps:7
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I have just completed the Darling River Run in our new van and am very pleased with the new purchase! The simplicity suspension was well worth the investment as nothing moved in the van. We managed to top up some water at Lightening Ridge (rainwater tank at a park) but other than that could not source any drinking water to top up the tanks. We managed to get home without having to top up as we had some drinking water in the car (in 12 and 10 ltr containers). My question is, how to travellers top up drinking water particularly when travelling west where water is scarce (usually) and not drinkable. Do people fit water filters or use tablets after boiling bore/river/creek water. I am interested to know for future reference and have not seen any posts on this topic.Feedback and suggestions much appreciated.

By the way, the DRR is fantastic and it was pleasing to see water in Menindee and the Murrumbidgee (around Wagga). Highly suggest those contemplating to go for it and enjoy!

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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 22:01

Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 22:01
Hi Blue Galaxy

Some people have good filtering systems, but we have not purchased or needed these. We have three general water tanks and one dedicated drinking water. We also carry a 20 - 25 litre water jerry can or two in the vehicle for emergency back up and camping.

If water is not palatable but OK for washing and cooking, i draw it in buckets, let any sediment settle, then bail it out for use direct from the bucket rather than putting it in our general tanks. This saves our good water.

We can also get by with very little water when we need to be frugal, but i always have plenty reserved for drinking. Carrying a few 10 litre containers of purchased drinking water is a good back up for those areas where potable water is scarce. Most water is safe when given a good boil and can be used for making tea or coffee. If it is contaminated by chemical contaminants, boiling or adding sterilisers will not help. Boiling should kill any nasties so no need to add more chemicals.

When travelling around Europe many years ago, we always boiled water before drinking, and added fruit juice to make it palatable - often making the juice from cooking up roadside berries; very nice.


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Reply By: Notso - Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 22:09

Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 22:09
We just use whatever is available, some of it is a bit rank, some is a bit hard but never had any problems with gastric upsets.
AnswerID: 424267

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 22:08

Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 22:08

Never had a probelm with upset tummies despite drinking some questionalble water at times.

On one trip we made camp in the dark. I went down to the lake to draw water for cooking and making tea. We boiled spuds, had boiled fruit for desert made numerous cups of tea and all toddled off to bed.

Next morning I went to get water for the morning cuppa from the same spot and noticed a floating cow pat right where I was getting the water from.

The old imunce system was working overtime but it was working.

A good and relatively cheap source of water in some country towns are the car washes. The final rinse water in at least some systems is triple reverse osmosis filtered and is very clean, the attendant should be able to offer accurate advice. Some car washes even have a drinking water sales outlet.

FollowupID: 694784

Reply By: murrayman - Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 22:19

Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 22:19
hi bg, we carry a 100 litres of rain water and find that when we each have a coffee in the morning and drink beer for the rest of the day our water lasts a long time. That being said we always find any parks that have cabins usually have small rain water tanks with taps and we just top our fresh water from these. If we are going through a town often the scout halls and churches have tanks and we will grab a couple of buckets from them , We leave our bottles for the scouts and have never had a problem. See you on the road one day. cheers mark
AnswerID: 424268

Follow Up By: Blue Galaxy - Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 23:41

Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 23:41
Hey Mark,
Cheers for the advice - just what I was after. While we generally try to camp out of parks, like most, we need to top up supplies, wash (clothes and ourselves) from time to time. We do not have a shower and toilet, so parks come in handy! I appreciate the pointers.

To all other contributors - thanks. Motherhen, you always come with the goods.

Water is a precious resource and it was good to get some feedback on how to access something that makes your trip more enjoyable.
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Follow Up By: murrayman - Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 08:31

Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 08:31
hi again bg, I hope you got a laugh out of the first part of my previus reply, just trying to lighten up the forum a bit. We live in the country ourselves and when you are driving around you will be amazed at where you can get drinking water. Most small sidings or former settlements still have a hall and they normally have a 5000 gallon tank, churches in the bush, even tourist info places and most country folk wont begrudge you 20 or 30 litres of water. I have a small marine shop in the town i live in and on many occasions caravaners have stopped to buy something and asked iff they can get a bit of water, no probs, we all need to drink. Dont be scared to ask, most of us a good bunch out in the sticks. cheers mark.
FollowupID: 694696

Follow Up By: Member - mazcan - Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 13:28

Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 13:28
hi murrayman
there is only one thing i can add to your good advice

re - where water can be accessed in rural and outback areas
and that is
have a look first

at the supply and obsurb whether birds are frequenting the supply and /or if
as there could quiet well be a dead bird
in the tank etc
be forever cautious

just be aware of this but in general most tanks and outlets are covered unless some irresponsible travelers have removed the cover and not replaced it

fill a bucket and smell it first then carefully taste it before pouring volumes of by hose or what ever into your main containers dont take it for granted seasoned travelers will know this and will probably say after reading this

what's he on about

as for the outback church water supply
well what can i say
yes it would have to be holy water ???????and will no doubt make the best tea/coffee you've ever tasted
FollowupID: 694713

Follow Up By: Blue Galaxy - Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 16:05

Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 16:05
G'day mazcan,
I will take holy water any day! Need to offset the sinning of too much beer drinking! Great tip on the measure twice and cut once.
FollowupID: 694730

Reply By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 22:53

Friday, Jul 16, 2010 at 22:53
It should be noted perhaps that when boiling water for sterilization, it is necessary to maintain it boiling for at least 5 minutes. Just bringing the water to the boil then taking it off is not sufficient as some bacteria is resistant and requires some time at the boil to be destroyed.


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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 07:19

Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 07:19
We chlorinate all our water when we pick it up and then filter our drinking water with 0.5um active carbon.
We have seperate tanks for wash and drink.

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AnswerID: 424289

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 08:42

Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 08:42
Yep - I think getting fresh water might be an art form soon - so many places lock up the taps - we are always mindful of topping up water so we stay "on the sniff" all the time - asking at the servo when filling up is a good time (did that at Hawker in the Flinders the other day). As mentioned above, town halls, sporting precincts etc in small towns are often the go - they aren't usually so conscious of water lock up as the larger centres. One tourist information office in WA (Narrogin) invited us to fill up from their outside tap (they had a toilet dump point too - lovely people). We've even filled up from the side of a supermarket (Jamestown SA - bought some groceries - bit them for some water - they were happy). When all tactics fail though, buying packaged water is practical just for short term drinking.
AnswerID: 424293

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 10:12

Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 10:12
WE leave home with 60 to 80 litres of rainwater in small containers inside troopy and the trailer tank full (when we take trailer). We like to use a number of small 3l (fruit juice bottles) containers for ease of handling. If we have any free space in the bottles we top them up at EVERY opportunity, even if the water is not so good. The small containers mean that we can do this easily without having to contaminate our good water supply.

We bush camp a lot but are frugal with water, but have learned how to have a satisfactory shower with about 3l. We are not too fussy about using bore water etc and have never had any problems (maybe we have good immune systems as we have lived most of our lives on rainwater - the best water going despite what city folk are told).

I cant remember ever buying water on bottles (having seen some testing results a few years ago that showed many brands had higher contamination levels than would be acceptable in a town supply). Boiling water is an option, but as Allan says, you need to boil for a while, and to be doubly sure let it cool then boil again. Tastes foul tho'! Lime juice cordial is good to mask the variable taste of the water that you get.

After all that we often arrive home carrying some of the water we set out with.

J and V
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AnswerID: 424297

Reply By: Blue Galaxy - Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 10:59

Saturday, Jul 17, 2010 at 10:59
G'day all (again),
I am sure that (drinkable) water supplies are going to get harder to source as time goes on. I am conscious of not 'stealing' water and so I am assuming that everybody asks the owner of the water before 'taxing' it. I am very close to my legal towing capacity so am conscious of carrying more than I can. When I upgrade my tug, I will ensure that I put jerry can holders on the van to increase water supplies by 50ltr.
Thanks again everyone and it feels better that I am not alone on thinking about topping up water along the way.
Enjoy our great land.
AnswerID: 424304

Reply By: carlsp - Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:50

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 11:50
Camps 5 web site is now listing additional information and I beleive in camps 6 this information will become available.

Perhaps "source of water" is something that could be listed there as well.

I finding that "sourcing" (hate that word, it is "newspeak", what is wrong with finding, getting, coming up with) water is part of the fun of camping and traveling.

Unfortunatly the "I will never be here again, so stuff everyone and everything" attitude is about and this will kill it for us all. Seems common with the Hippie / Wicked camper brigade.
AnswerID: 424368

Follow Up By: Blue Galaxy - Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:06

Sunday, Jul 18, 2010 at 17:06
G'day carlsp,
sorry about the wording but the plain old finding and getting did not ring in my head when I was typing the original post. You're right, finding is a better word option.
If Camps 6 highlights the watering holes, then that would be great. It is fun to try and find water, but it is about finding the right water as well. Nobody wants to be away in the sticks with an upset belly and run out of toilet paper!
FollowupID: 694837

Reply By: Member - Johny boy (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 10:22

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 at 10:22
Hi all,
I was given some good advice by some G/N at the beging of our trip he said go to the dead centre of town (Cemetary) as they always have water and also to buy one of these ..he then produced a security tap key in the shape of and X and it had 4 types of fittings on it ,he uses it as a last resort so I bought one and the 1st time I used it I was busted by a council worker ,I told hime I just need to fill my jerry can and he said yeah no worries ,the only reason we installed these a couple of years ago is because the local young lads would think its funny to leave the taps running over night we dont worry about you guys taking a lousy 20 ltrs so go for it just make sure you turn it right off,
so I dont know if its like that all over but it makes sense to me .

regards john.
AnswerID: 424726

Follow Up By: Blue Galaxy - Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 13:19

Thursday, Jul 22, 2010 at 13:19
Hi Johny boy,
Thanks for the reply and tip. My grandfather gave me one of the water universal keys and I always carry it with me in the vehicle. The cemetary is an interesting idea. I just want to make sure I am never doing anything illegal as the last thing I want is to offend someone or be seen as taking something I shouldn't. All the tips have been useful and I will keep them in mind next time I am on the road.
FollowupID: 695337

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