Perth to Cape York, Gulf, Kimberleys via Gunbarrel, Red Centre, Birdsville and outback Queensland!

Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 at 10:54

Mike & Amanda

4 February 2012

This is our first entry for our 4 month journey to Cape York. We're not leaving until March 30th, however we thought we'd include a couple of entries about our preparations.

Travelling will be Mike, Amanda, Jack (10) and Kate (8), in our 2008 Toyota LC200 and Australian Off Road Odyssey Signature Export Camper Trailer. We've owned the set up for 3 years and have extensively modified it to suit remote travel.

Recent upgrades have been two new Lifeline Concorde 105AH AGM batteries and a Victron battery monitor. We've purchased a Stonestomper stone protector as greater than 60% of this trip will be offroad (hopefully). The battery monitor is superb, however causes some sleepless moments as you can see Time to Go, State of Charge and exactly what is being taken out in Amps. We have upgraded the trailer fridge. Evakool rebuilt it to add freezer plates all around, so that it will properly freeze in high ambient conditions...yet to see what this will do to the current draw...we have a 60 litre Engel in the Cruiser for drinks and other less important things ;-)

Last week we spent a week camping near Cape Arid to test a view goodies and see how ready we were. Great place at Duke of Orleans Bay, sun, surf and good times. Everything works, although a few things were added to the shopping list - a flyswat, check the gas pressure at the stove (low) - takes ages to make toast!, zips need repairing etc, new billy (old one leaks), marshmallow sticks (made from coathangers) and some ant powder (ant invasion into the canvas).

Sat phone is functional. New amateur radio UHF and HF with high gain antennas work very well - the bodies have been relocated from under seats and moved to higher ground in anticipation of water ingress, PLB/EPIRB works...Honda 10i is functional, solar panel OK

Had a problem getting tyres. BFGs are in short supply although we heard yesterday they have arrived. New muddies for the Cruiser next week, old ones (not too badly worn) to be transferred to the trailer. New shockies on the trailer next week also, bearings and bushes changed.

In two weeks the Cruiser is in for a final pre-trip check and major service by the very competent TLC here in Fremantle - all fluids, spares etc.

Using the iPads for navigation with a RAM mount. Trialled the TomTom, Hema and VMS apps all working together in the background for a fantastic result. The Hema can give a big picture overview, switching to VMS or TomTom (towns) for extreme detail. Great combination and may supersede the need for paper maps....

Amanda is busy organising permits and we are trying to understand what impact the new QLD NP camping on line booking systems will mean for us. There are a few places in Qld and NT that require firm dates to be provided - that's fine for normal holiday makers but difficult for travellers...we can't possibly know when we will arrive at Koolpin Gorge in the NT - yet it needs a permit in advance and a date?

The kids are trying to understand what missing a whole term of school will mean. Kate (8) is unhappy - she loves school! Jack (10) is smiling lots! Then he realises he won't see his mates, the PS2 or the Wii (little does he know this is our crafty strategy and one of the main objectives of the trip!). We do have a laptop with us, many iThings and two DVD players in the headrests of the Cruiser. The rules are no DVDs until the trip length is over 3 hours (we're meanies). Amanda is meeting the teachers next week to obtain some home schooling materials. We have also given them a project each - research on the web - one place, one animal and one plant that we are likely to encounter and write it up. At this point Kate has written up Longreach (Qantas) and Jack Lasseter's Cave.

We're monitoring the weather carefully and hoping that we (and the people that live there) don't experience the rain and flooding of last year, an unseasonal wet. This week saw outback southern QLD and northern NSW flooded. BOM is long range forecasting a wetter than usual March, April...oh well we'll see, there is always a plan B.

The excitement is building, most of the preparations completed. We'll keep you posted of our progress and final preparations with the real blog commencing on March 30th - can't wait :-)

Mike & Amanda
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