am I looking for the impossible in SA?

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 at 22:01
ThreadID: 85752 Views:2915 Replies:11 FollowUps:5
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Hi there,

My family and I (me,hubby, 2 boys aged 8 and 6) are two weeks into our 6 month trip from Bunbury WA anti-clockwise around Aus.

We are in a Coromal Silhouette camper. We chose this van because it is lovely once set up, but I am finding the whole pack up, drive and set up exercise a big pain. 'Toughen up princess' I hear you cry! My lovely husband does most of the work but I still find the whole thing really draining.

We are trying to find a way to make it work better and one way we are thinking is to set up camp somewhere for a week or so at a time, and then drive to see things leaving the van complete and ready to come home to. This sounds great, but the question is where?

We are in Whyalla atm, and are looking for a couple of friendly campgrounds in SA that are fairly cheap (doesn't need to be free but we'll struggle to pay $35 a night that caravan parks are asking). Having a shower would be awesome and some power even better.

Any ideas appreciated!!

Is this an impossible search??
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Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 at 22:25

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 at 22:25
Check out Point Lowly which is near Whyalla - free, but no showers or power. Are you using Camps Australia Wide 6? If not, get a copy - stocked at most camping stores as purchasing on line not a easy option for you now.

Travelling with little ones may be making it harder for you Lizzy, but when we had a wind up camper with slide out beds, setting up every night (and we moved every night) meant unhitching so the front bed could slide out, unclipping the top, winding winch which was hard going (hubby's job), securing the top, sliding beds out, fitting door in place which was fiddly to get it right, doing up zips, setting up solar panel, sweeping out dust and shaking dusty bedding, fixing cupboard doors which came adrift, fixing stove; then the reverse when packing up - without the cleaning and fixing. We got it down to just a few minutes and our home was ready to relax for the night. We did not use the annex and still don't with out present van when touring. We kept looking at other people's rigs, and next time round got our current full caravan - but we are now older and taking it easy. Stick with it, and think about what van you will get some time in the future. Relax and enjoy your journey - it is a wonderful country - you have only just begun.


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Follow Up By: Member - David L1 (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 09:42

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 09:42
We left Point Lowly Tuesday 19 Apr.The toilet block at the boat ramp top parking area has cold showers available. But note a fishing competion is on over Easter and it may be hard to get a spot.
Happy Travels,
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 at 22:27

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 at 22:27
Hi Lizzy

While you are in the area, make sure that you do not miss the Flinders Rangers. If you wish to rough it for a few days, there are some unreal locations where you could set the van up and spend a week exploring the area, eg Aroona Valley has good campgroup, great camping in Wilpena....with hot showers and power.

Also worth checking out is the Murray River, again with many great free camping location, but sorry no power or showers. Other great cheap camping locations along the Coorong as well.

We have spent weeks out in the true bush without a shower and you can still be as clean as you are at home.

The good old pommy bath is great (wash everything possible, and then wash possible..LOL) and baby powder is a real freshener. Use good quailty baby wipes for a refreshing rub all over, and we even wash our hair every day.

Ask other travellers along the way and they are often you best source of information, after all we all want to save a dollar or two where we can on the road.

Have a great trip.


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Reply By: SDG - Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 at 22:43

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 at 22:43
A couple of years ago I took two 8yrold boys through Queensland for a while. I got them to help set up camp, as well as pack up. They got to make decisions on where they wanted their beds(within reason) to go. Where was the table going this time etc.
One of them became really good at directions when backing the car up to re hitch.

Some places throughout your travels you will be able to set up, stay for a week, whille doing day trips. Other times you might set up, and can't wait to leave the next morning. Only set up for what you need at the time.

And get the book as Mother Hen suggested.
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Reply By: lizzyb74 - Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 at 23:35

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011 at 23:35
thanks for your suggestions - your description MH sounds very close to what is happening, tho we don't have to shake out the beds!

We do have the Camps book already - it is great and we've already used it a lot.

I guess I'm just feeling guilty, as I'm living "the dream" but as well as being wonderful it is hard!! I know, I know, everything has it's hard sides, but today is my first really crotchetty day and I'm feeling grumpy.

Thanks for listening, and any more suggestions are very welcome!
AnswerID: 451832

Reply By: Frances - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 08:58

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 08:58
Hi Lizzy,

A couple of years ago my husband, myself and our 5 kids aged 4 - 12 travelled for 4 months around Australia. We had a Jayco expanda and I felt exactly the same way you did at exactly the same stage of our trip. My advice to you is to have a good look at what you are packing and unpacking and seeing what you can either post home or give away to other travellers or throw in the bin i.e. see what you can live without. The types of things I mean are surf boards, push bikes, wine glasses, cooking pots, surplus clothes (we travelled wih 2 sets of winter clothes and 2 sets of summer clothes and never had a problem). This will give you more room and less pack up.

The other thing is to give all the kids jobs - they have to do something at pack up and set up time. All ours had jobs and it made me feel more secure about where they were and the fact that they weren't getting run over by someone reversing a van in somewhere. Kids also love being useful.

Also watch other families at pack up times and talk to them about any useful hints.

And the last thing is that you will be surprised how good you get at streamlining your pack up and set up operation and how quick you get at it.

Good luck and I wish I was going again.
AnswerID: 451856

Follow Up By: Member - Derek Jones - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 09:40

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 09:40

Frances comments are pretty spot on.

On our round Oz trip we experienced exactly the same frustrations as you are currently feeling so hang in there - things will improve.

We went through everything we had on board with a fine tooth comb and questioned each and every item we had on board. We were pretty ruthless and managed to offload a fair bit by posting it home for storage.

This cut out a fair bit of 'junk' and streamlined our packing and set up processes. All of this helped but we also took a massive step of changing campers to something more suitable and bought a Trak Shak when we were in Adelaide. We were fortunate in that our finances allowed us to do this.

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Follow Up By: Member - Captain (WA) - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 10:16

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 10:16
I am sorry but I cannot follow your logic here Derek? Lizzy is struggling with a windup camper setup and your recommending a soft floor camper trailer - one that has an even longer setup??? Now I know we all have different ways we like to camp, but how does this help? But I do agree with the rest of your advice :)


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Follow Up By: Member - Derek Jones - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 10:40

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 10:40
Hi Captain,

No worries & just to elaborate - (M & D + 2kids) we did have a wind up (Cub Drifter) camper with pull out over hanging beds, remake the beds, internal fold down kitchen assembly, wind up roof, under seat storage etc when we first started our trip. From memory we also had to unhook the car whenever we camped for the night. Because the annexe was so cumbersome we rarely put this up (once in Melb & Ade) and the internal of the camper became quite small and crowded.

Like Lizzy the whole pack/set up thing took a fair while. As we were frequently stopping the routine was a PITA as it took such a long time.

All in all it wasn't terrific fun - an experience but not a fun one.

By comparison we found the Trak Shak very quick and easy. It didn't take long to put up/take down when we overnighted somewhere & plenty of internal room when required.

For us the advantages were: beds permanently made so you could literally stop and crawl straight into bed after setting up, we each had storage crates for our own clothes so they were readily accessible and so on. We were past master at the two poles and two pegs and your set up routine - we had the whole thing down to about 15 minutes per set up in very quick time.

Hope that helps.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 10:41

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 10:41

I dont think that Derek is actually recommending that Lizzie change trailers - he is simply saying that is what they did - quite different.

Many of us are continually evolving our camping set-ups, though changing rigs while on the road may seem a bit drastic! But that it what worked for them. Its a valid point to make to Lizzie as an example - that changes often need to be made, especially if new to travelling in this way.

Both Frances and Derek have made very good suggestions.


J and V
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 09:04

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 09:04
Hi Lizzy,

I cant help with suggestions for CP but I would suggest that what you are feeling is not uncommon. The excitement of planning, packing and leaving is over and the reality of being on the road has hit - and yes, it certainly can be hard at times. That is when you wonder "why am I doing this?". I can feel that way after about a week of travel, when I need to stop for a day or two to just catch my breath. But the feeling will pass. You are probably right just to pause and relax then you can set out again feeling refreshed.

If you aren't set up with 12V power and washing facilities it might be a bit hard to do much about it now but maybe a 12V shower in a shower tent would help. As for power, cant comment there without knowing what you have and what you need.

When you camp try to avoid doing anything that absolutely does not have to be done. Dont stress about clothes or children being a bit grubby around camp. Keep food preparation to a minimum. Try to share the tasks so everyone has something to contribute, and make it as much fun as you can. Keep a diary and its guaranteed that you will look back on it later with a chuckle and realise what a great time you all had. And how much you learnt about yourself and your family.

Have a great trip.


J and V
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Reply By: timothy - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 09:36

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 09:36
Hi Lizzy,

My wife and I found exactly the same thing when we started our 3 month trip in a soft floor camper. We actually traded it in after just 10 days on a pop top caravan and never looked back, setup and packup were a breeze and after a rainy night we didn't have any worries about wet canvas on beds. This might be an option for you if you get desperate.

We travelled around SA in December and found most of the caravan parks fairly expensive around the coast and so spent most of our time in the free camping areas, Point Lowly/Fitzgerald Bay were one of our favourites and we actually spent a week there relaxing.

I hope you can get into a routine and enjoy the rest of your holiday!

AnswerID: 451860

Reply By: murrayman - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 20:48

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 20:48
hi lizzy, There are some good campgrounds around s.a iff you have abit of a look when you go through the towns, a lot of these are not in the books etc. Port parham an hour out of adelaide is free, toilets, no showers but water taps at most sites. We often see people at mallala show grounds., good for the kids. also Eden Valley on edge of the barossa, show grounds, toilets and showers i think, plenty of things for the kids to play with. A lot of these smaller towns only charge about 10 bucks a night. We often stay at pooncarrie north of wentworth, 10 bucks a night, showers toilets, ovals, cricket grounds right on the edge of the darling river, camp fires and tables provided, Always lots of people at Mount Pleasant showgounds as well. Just mosey around a bit an you will sniff these places out. safe travells mm.
AnswerID: 451929

Reply By: Faulic_McVitte - Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 21:13

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011 at 21:13
I have travelled and do travel extensively. We travel as minimalist as possible with the least amount of gear. We find so many we meet have far too much gear. For example they carry an electric toaster, electric frypan, toaster grill, electric jug etc. so when they go into a caravan park they can use the caravan parks electricity instead of their gas. This is madness and takes up space, needs packing and unpacking, fills the cupboards so you have to pull everything out to get to something else. If you are travelling minimalist and importantly highly organised you would not find it such a chore. I am sure if you organise yourself and your family, get rid of everything excess, get yourself set-up to have hot water and shower in bush camps you, sufficient 12V power to meet your needs you will find a major difference.

Girl sit down with your hubby and get organised, then bring in the kids and give them responsibility and a couple of jobs that are their jobs. You will be amazed at the difference and the daily up and down will be quick and easy and no more pain.
AnswerID: 451935

Reply By: nick b - Thursday, Apr 21, 2011 at 14:20

Thursday, Apr 21, 2011 at 14:20
Gooday Lizzy : I'v got a good read for your trip to S.A . A book called Camping guide to south australia 3rd edition by boiling billy publictions. I know what you mean with setting and down , as it cuts into the fishing & drinking time .
Cheers Nick b

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Reply By: lizzyb74 - Sunday, May 01, 2011 at 15:59

Sunday, May 01, 2011 at 15:59
Thank you all for your insightful replies. I've taken this long to reply as we haven't had web access. We ended up spending a week in Yacka - brilliant! $90 for 7 nights, shower, toilet, big park and playground for the kids, lots of interesting things to do in town and further afield in Clare and Burra. It was a good week.

I also think the four of us being together 24/7 takes a bit of getting used to. I have been sitting in the car in Adelaide today checking emails etc while my husband and kids are at the playground, and I think I love all three of them again, just having this 30 minute break not being spoken at/to.

We are now in Cudlee Creek. Funny place but nice. We've had day trips to Gumeracha, Hahndorf and today in Adelaide. The landscape is just amazing around here and I am loving the AUtumn colours!!!
Gotta go, familiy's back!
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