Tips on preparing for our 5 week trip

Hi there,
My wife, 6mth old baby girl and Yours Truly have got 6 weeks to head off round Oz in our petrol 80 series. It'll be our first trip and I've done a fair amount of 4wding in the Blue Mtns, Stockton Beach area so am not afraid off the challenging stuff (though the wife might be!)

So, first purchase was Vic Widman's "Travelling the Outback" (v well written book covering off the main points) though hoping you guys can offer up some pearls of wisdom.

I've got a few questions below, but feel free to let me know your thoughts on anythign related!

1. Which off-road camper trailer to get? I'm looking 2nd hand and to resell soon after the trip. So far I've come across a couple I like the look of: a) the Aussie Sway Classic (well built, good reputation, and easy resell?) and also the Cub Kamperoo Brumby (lightweight, and again good brand). It should be light to pull (for fuel efficiency), a hard floor fold out, and suitable for me and wife.. oh and a space for the baby too! Am looking to spend around 10-15k

2. Route. Thinking of staying south of the Tropics (not a humidity lover) . Up via the New England Highway, Fraser Island then inland across the Simpson Desert towards Uluru and down the Old Ghan Road towards Adelaide and back to Sydney via Broken Hill. Any thoughts on doing that in 6 weeks? Too little, too much? Any other must see places on that sort of circuit?

3. Preparing the 80 series (perhaps this should have been no.1!!)
It's the 40th Anniversary GXL model. Am thinking of:
- changing the seats to something more comfortable. I am happy to give reupholstering a go, as changing for the Falcon AU 3 series seats in normal cloth might be a bit odd against the leather

- installing a snorkel. I am keen to do this myself but just wondering what tool is used to cut the hole through the bodywork (brave moment that!)

- installing a shower plumbed into the coolant system. Any recommendations?

I guess that's about it for now.. would love any of your thoughts to get me pointed in the right direction (literally!!)

Chris, Helen and Amelie!
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Reply By: Member - Berylvt - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 20:45

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 20:45
You haven't said when you are going. If you have time I would recommend hiring varios brands of camper for a weekend to see what kind you like. Eg inside or outside kitchen? Hard or soft floor.
AnswerID: 493216

Follow Up By: mijango - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:17

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:17
Yes, good point. We are leaving Sydney 1 Nov (or thereabouts). Given the cost of hiring a trailer for a weekend, we were thinking it might be better to get a feel for it from going to the next camper/caravan show. I think there's one coming up in Penrith shortly..
FollowupID: 768797

Follow Up By: Member - Berylvt - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:39

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:39
Yes, the camping shows are great. We did that too, and we were sure we knew what wenwanted - until we tried it, luckily as a hire and not after buyng it. We completely went off it in a weekend.
FollowupID: 768800

Follow Up By: mijango - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 22:17

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 22:17
Ok sure. Out of interest what was it about the trailer that you turned from yey, to ney?
FollowupID: 768803

Follow Up By: Member - Berylvt - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 10:15

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 10:15
We have an old soft floor camper. We were rea
Ly sold on th Cub, hard floor, kitchen inside etc. However when got the hired one into the bush and yried to set up on ground that had a little slope, it was impossible to get the hard floor level, or the roof taught. Since almost all of our camping is off road, bush camping we realise this type of camper is not for us. We still have th old soft floor.....
FollowupID: 768813

Reply By: Member - Outback Gazz - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:14

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:14

The best tip I can give you is to not make too many plans - just go !

That way there is less chance for arguements / stress when things don't go to plan !!

And if anything does go wrong - just laugh and say - "doesn't matter we are on holidays ! "

Works for me every time !

Enjoy your trip

AnswerID: 493221

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:15

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:15

You don't say when you're going, but over the next month or so, it'll be getting a bit hot to be towing a camper across the Simpson. The sand will heat up much quicker each day, and be hotter, which makes travelling more difficult. Not sure you'd want to take Amelie(lovely name) over there just yet.

Why not go Birdsville, Bedourie, Boulia and across the Plenty/Donohue, to the Alice. Great drive, and you can do it, Boulia - Alice, in under 2 days. You could shout Helen & Amelie an ice-cream, in a cone, at Jervious.

Otherwise, you should be right, in your time span. Can't help you about campers.

Installing a snorkel is okay, remember to MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE. You'll need a 3" or 4" hole saw, and the thingy it screws too(an arbor), to fit in your drill. Also, you'll need to break at least one of your wrists, to be able to tighten all the nuts securely.

There's nothing wrong with the Twine type showers, but to save on expense, why not buy one of the 12v ones. We bought a Coleman one for about $36, and it works well. Be a shame to do a rush job with the Twine type, and find you lose all your coolant.

To improve the seating in our 80 series, we got a pair of pneumatic lumbar supports fitted to front seats. Made a world of difference, and only about $150 fitted.

Well, if the 80 is No.!, then Amelie is right up there too. You'll need to keep her fluids up, more than at home, and I would take some electrolyte too, in case she gets a case of the runs. I'd imagine, there will be the odd one here, that says don't take her, but as long as she is your main priority, and everything else is secondary, you should be right.Well, except for your safety, as a family, that is.

Get your aircon checked, and re-gassed if necessary. Make sure radiator core is free of insects, and the coolant and hoses are 100%.

Hope you enjoy the trip,


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Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: mijango - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 22:26

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 22:26
Thanks Bob. That's some sound advice there.
We'll be heading off early (hopefully 1st) November. It's a shame that the Simpson will be too hot but I'd rather hear it now, than from Amelie when it's too late!! And yes, being our first trip, I'm going to err on the side of caution.

Another thing I'm thinking is what to do around communication. I'm getting hold of a UHF though if something goes wrong/ we get stranded, what are my options? I saw satellite phones at $140 a week (?), so was thinking of a hiriing a PLB or EPIRB instead. I presume they'll get you rescued. Any advice on that front?
FollowupID: 768804

Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 11:06

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 11:06
Heading off in November is hardly an ideal time for first time outback travelers. It will be starting to get HOT/HUMID where ever you head to the north or west.

If I were you I would be heading for some temperate zones at that time of year especially for first time travelers. I would be looking to do a loop around the north east of NSW. Plenty to see and do without the hard outback miles to contend with.

As to the PLB or EPIRB, personally we carry one 100% of the time ........just in case.

FollowupID: 768814

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 15:00

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 15:00

Lyn has succinctly echoed my thoughts, when you said you'd be leaving early Nov. I'd give anywhere west of Longreach a miss at that time of the year.

I'm not going to tell you what to do, but would make a few alterations to your planned itinerary. Still head up the NE h'way, and at Toowoomba, either head out on Warrego h'way, to Roma, Charleville, Longreach(and maybe you'd better come to Winton!!!) then head up through Hughenden to Charters Towers, The Lynd, Ravenshoe, Atherton, and Mareeba. From there, came down to Cairns, Tully to Townsville.

Then on way home, come down either the Bruce h'way to Fraser Is. or come from Townsville, back to Charters Towers, then down to Emerald, Springsure, Biloela, Gayndah, Childers(loveliest town on the coast) and down to Maryborough, Hervey Bay and finally Fraser!!!!!!! Lot of road works on the Bruce H'way at present, and it makes for pretty ordinary travel, road rage, unsafe overtaking, etc etc.

From Toowomba, you can also travel north through Kingaroy, Murgon to Gayndah, rather than travel out to Longreach.

Travelling to the Atherton Tablelands(Ravenshoe, Mareeba etc) is a very mild climate, and you could well spend a week or two up there. Even use it as a base, for travel to Cairns, Tully, Undarra Lava Tubes. Plenty to see up there too, with lakes, rainforest and other interesting stuff. Not far to Kuranda either, where you can get on the Skyrail thingy, or do a train trip up to, or back from Kuranda to Cairns.

Now the weather.Longreach long-term average is 36'C for Nov, and minimum, 20'C. Days can be hot, and depending whether there's any humidity, nights might be mild. Now Mareeba has LTA of 31'C, and LTM of 19'c.Ravenshoe is the highest town in Qld so it has a pleasant climate all year round. Any humidity is going to be governed by any storms, or rain events.

That should be enough to keep you going for a while, Chris. Re travelling with Amelie, our 3 girls all travelled long distances, from birth onwards, and as long as they get regular breaks, they can handle it. Did have problems with motion sickness(each girl had her own ice cream container!!!) but once I fitted new shockies, that was an almost overnight cure. Something else to think about.


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Reply By: zigdog - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 06:24

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 06:24
Hi Chris,

As a recent first Dad let me say camping is now totally different to how it used to be. We have done plenty of big and short trips prior to our little man arriving and now I look at the camper longingly as it gathers much dust. In the first year we have managed 3 small trips out bush as looking after a small baby/child is challenging enough in the house, let alone out in the dirt and elements.

Best advice I can give you - don't plan too much travel. Find some nice spots and stay put for a while. Your family will thank you.

best of luck,
AnswerID: 493235

Reply By: Member - Broodie H3 - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:28

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:28
We travelled with our sons from the eldest was 2 and the youngest was about 5months if my memory serves me correct, we went from Perth to Wyndham, and as all the others have said it does change your travel plans a lot when you have young ones with you and frequent stops are a must, both for you and your partner, and the most important person of all,..... the little one. But in saying that I think we have some of our most treasured memories from those trips. Keep the aircon on and the days short, you will all appreciate it.
Broodie H3
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