Tent touring up the centre, through the Kimberly and down the west coast

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 15:38
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I have previously asked various advice from other readers of this site. My husband and I have bought a touring tent and associated camping gear and plan to be away for at least 3mths going up the centre to Katherine, across to Broome, staying with a relative there for maybe 2 weeks, then down the west coast to Esperance, up to Kalgoorlie then home to Melbourne. We have a few friends who think we are just plan crazy doing this at our age. (60's) I think it will be a great adventure, what do other TRAVELLERS think. Anyone can just jump on a aeroplane and fly to Broome. I want to experience the real Australia. Has anyone else done this trip camping and what was the downside if any. We plan to leave at the end of April, be at Kununurra around the 24/5 and in Broome 8/6 and arrive home at the end of July. Will we need to book powered camp sites in advance or just wing it and stay longer if we like.
Maggie C
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 16:42

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 16:42
Hi Maggie,

Its great that you are using the forum to get ideas and info. Remember that the more feedback that you give us the more we are able to help you!

Have you had a look at our blogs? If you have you will hopefully see that we really love doing the sort of trip that you are planning. We are similar age to you and have done a number of long trips into remote-ish areas. Although we sleep in the vehicle we are pretty much living as you do when using a tent ie you are living outside much of the time. We have travelled with others which has pros and cons, but most of our most recent trip (WA in 09) was solo and it was great.

So no, I dont think you are crazy at all, in fact good on you for having the spirit to get out and do it. Certainly there will be down sides when things go wrong, the weather turns bad and any one of dozens of unforseen things can - and do - happen. The upside is that there is so much wonderful country to see, interesting things to do and people to meet that you will soon put the less good bits into perspective.

You are right, you can jump on a plane and get to Perth or Broome, check into a comfy motel for a few nights, do a few bus tours and then say that you have "been there, done that". In another life I have done that and believe me there is just no comparison to doing a trip as an adventure and seeing all the wonderful stuff that you don't see from the plane or the bus. Also as you have probably realised already, doing the planning is a heap of fun too. You would miss that aspect if you just handed over your cash to the travel companies.

I guess my only comment would be to try to do some bush camping. It is really just as safe (if not safer) than going into caravan parks. If you use a book like Camps Australai many of the free camps have other people just like yourself in residence so in fact if you choose you need not be alone. Bush/free camping gives you a lot more flexibility and allows you to get an even closer experience of the reality of the country, if that makes sense.

As for booking powered camp sites - the less you book the more flexibility you have in your schedule. If you book in advance then you do have the stress of getting there at an appointed time - and that can be a pain. However for busy places, in particular Alice, Darwin and Broome it will pay to book ahead. My preference is to book the absolute minimum of places in advance, and bush camp wherever we can. That way we have maximum flexibility and minimum stress. For small towns there is no need to book in advance.

Whatever way you do it, dont listen to the doubters who haven't done what you are proposing. Plan well then get out there and have a ball.



J and V
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Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 18:53

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 18:53
You'll have a great time Maggie. Consider taking a small generator such as a Honda 1 kva so you can camp outside of powered sites sometimes if you can't do without power. National Parks such as Kakadu, and in the Kimberley at Purnululu, Silent Grove (for Bells' Falls on the Gibb River Road) and Windjana Gorge do have generator sections in their camp grounds whereas most other national parks don't allow them.

We don't book as we tour in a relaxed way and take things as they come. Getting into a CP in the morning as people are leaving usually gets a place in peak periods. If a place is likely to be fully booked, we find a gravel pit or something between 20 and 50 kms from town for the night to get there in the morning, or at least spot one for a fall back position if we can't get a site (which we haven't ever needed to do).Broome is different and booking (even ringing a few days ahead) may be wise.Kununurra can be tight peak season too, but most CPs have plenty of room in the unpowered section (no gennies though) for a day until a site becomes vacant, or phone a day or two ahead.

On our first trip out with our present caravan we went into a camping and caravan parts shop where a couple in their 80s had just sold their caravan as it was getting too much for them to manage. They had just bought a tent and were buying camp beds etc to kit it out and keep on moving.

My blogs including the Kimberley in 2008 are in the MyBlog section here, but i haven't got the Alice to Darwin trips done as yet. My travelogues and other hints for simple and easy camping can be found at Australia So Much to See

Take a few trial camping trips to find out what you need and what you can leave behind, as well as getting quick and efficient at setting up and packing down camp. Have a ball.



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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 18:59

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 18:59
Hi Maggie

Those that said you must be crazy are the crazy ones, not you. You will have a ball and you will be kicking yourself for not doing it years ago.

As for ringing ahead, providing that you have no set timetable, pay it all by ear, as you may get to one place and fall in love with it and may want to stay longer than you had planned.

There is a very big downside to any trip like this, and it is a four letter word....WORK...LOL

Australia has such a lot to see and offer and his trip will kindle you desire to want to keep going.

Do not get put off by the knockers, they are the type of people that have never seen what is in their own backyard, and you will want to do it all again.

Have a great trip and looking forward to hearing your story when you get home.


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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 21:01

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 21:01
Agree 100%, go for it you will have a ball. The itinery that you opened the thread with is as detailed as you need be. Just follow your nose, enjoy the freedom of staying as long as you like in some areas and skipping others.
Just equip yourselves so that you give yourselves the flexibility to travel in the manner that you choose.

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Reply By: Maggie C - Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 20:05

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 20:05
Thank you for your response. I have just read your blogs. Fantastic.
I think I will keep to the caravan parks, hopefully getting powered sites which will make the trip easier. I have worked out a rough itinerary with plenty of room for staying longer at one place and leaving earlier than expected at other sites. I do want to stay at Coral Bay so I think I will book this as I would like to be there for 5 days on a powered site. I will keep you informed.
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 21:37

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 21:37
Nothing crazy about that!! When you return, the first thing you will be doing is planning your next trip and buying a few more things to take away with you on your next adventure! Good luck and keep safe, you will have a ball. Regards Michael
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Reply By: Member - Megan and Kevin D (AC - Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 22:46

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 22:46
Hi Maggie
We are both well in our sixties and have tented it on our last two major trips - having chosen to leave our camper trailer at home. That choice was made for various reasons but we weren't sorry with our choice. Obviously you need to be reasonably fit and agile. Agile, particularly if you have to climb on the roof to reach your tent - and it's harder to put it up there than get it off!

One key to enjoying the experience is to have a good night's sleep. We have stretchers with separate, self inflating mattresses. Yes - something more to carry but essential for us. I just could not get up off a mattress which is on the ground easily every single morning. I need to swing my legs out of bed and sit there for a few seconds. Bliss. Crawling onto the ground and then raising myself up would drive me mad and I am not a large, heavy, ungainly person. So we sleep separately - which is not ideal but necessary as we have single stretchers! Then choose sleeping bags you like - nothing like crawling into and stretching out in a luxurious bag and take your own pillow if you really want comfort.

My other piece of advice is, if camping in cool months, organise your campsite so you will be doing early morning jobs in the sun (once it rises). Be sure that the site that affords shade in the afternon, will not turn out to be an ice-box in the morning. Sun in the morning will help you thaw out which will keep spirits high and help you get the myriad of packing up jobs done.

Lucky you - have a wonderful time.
AnswerID: 448380

Follow Up By: Maggie C - Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 23:30

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 23:30
Thank you. We had a trial camping run the other week. We quickly learned that you need to be in the morning sun when you take down your tent. Otherwise you are packing away a damp tent from the night air. We have bought quality large stretchers, - 5 degree sleeping bags, good latex pillows.
Also purchased a waeco fridge, still considering buying the support battery to keep the fridge charged when not on the car battery or 240 volt. I am having a trial today to see how long ice stays frozen in the bottom of the fridge in a container, which would at least keep the margarine and cheese and beer cold enough. I do not really want to go to the extra expense of buying this battery.
I do not plan to do major cooking, we will eat out at every opportunity, or cook a simple bbq in a camp kitchen. I figure as we are only buying food for 2 people just buy as you want, it may be a little more expensive, but in the long run it will save us lugging around a lot of food. We have also purchased good quality rechargable LED lights. I think I have everything needed for our camping trip, except fly netting for hats and aqua shoes.
FollowupID: 720685

Reply By: get outmore - Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011 at 04:19

Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011 at 04:19
single best bit of advice ill give is take alot of bushmans and lather up every aternoon onwards

it works damn well and you will need it

great trip dont let it get spoilt by mozzies
AnswerID: 448393

Reply By: Member Brian (Gold Coast) - Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011 at 06:50

Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011 at 06:50
Hi Maggie,

Just wanted to add to the above that on our trip last year we met a lovely couple, who are well in to their 60's, who have been living permanently on the road for 14 years now!
And when we met them, they had left their caravan in Qld and were tenting for a couple of weeks as "something different". They are having the time of their lives!

Go for it!!!



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