Part 1 - The Adventure Begins
After a crazy last week working through our endless 'to-do' list, we're finally on the road to the South Aussie Outback.
The last few days before any road trip are generally pretty chaotic but this trip has taken things to another level.
The ‘To-Do’ list seemed to be getting longer rather than shorter as I kept thinking of new items to add and things to do before we could finally hit the road to Adelaide to start our South Australian Outback Adventure.
The difference between this trip and the others over recent years is that for the first time since our Big Lap trip, which we filmed and made into a 10 episode series, we're taking the video cameras and making another film which we’ll release online and on DVD.
We’ve done quite a few trips since The Big Lap including going back to the Kimberley, Lawn Hill, the Red Centre and the Top End, but apart from a bit of home video here and there we haven’t made any more films.
It’s always been the plan to make more but it’s just been a case of the timing being right and having a solid plan going forward.
With our girls now old enough to actively get involved and on the back of the success of The Big Lap, we’re now ready to get out and explore every corner of the country and make more films along the way.
Our goal, as with The Big Lap, is to both inspire everyday Aussies like us to get out and see Australia while also providing the information to plan their trips. All while keeping it light and fun and not too commercial!
So getting back to last week . . . I’ve been working on repairing and upgrading our 25 year old 80 Series Landcruiser over the past few months in readiness for this trip and the ones to follow.
We’ll be travelling as light as possible so we can go anywhere and everywhere and be completely independent all the way - no need for powered sites or being limited because we’re towing a trailer.
So in true ‘overland’ style we’ve been busy upgrading the Landcruiser to be the base for our trips.
It’s a work in progress and there is still much to do but I had a few non negotiables to get done before this trip, including installing drawers, lights and power outlets in the back (USB & 240 volt) so we’d be able to keep all of our gadgets and camera gear charged.
We’ve also upgraded the tyres to Nitto Terra Grappler 285 75/R16’s on black steel rims and replaced all the shocks and most of the suspension bushes.
So by the middle of last week I still had the lights, switch panel & fuse box to install along with USB outlets in the rear passenger doors an oil & filter change and finally a quick respray for the very sad looking bonnet in a temporary matt black. And of course a hundred other small items on the list.
Needless to say the last few days of last week were pretty crazy!
The original plan was to hit the road very early Saturday morning but late on Friday evening with still much to do I knew this was not going to happen.
We had arranged to stop into Snowy’s in Adelaide on Saturday afternoon after driving over from Melbourne to pick up some extra gear we'd ordered - swags, an ice box and a few others essentials to fill the gaps in our kit.
A quick call to Snowy’s on Friday night and we’d rescheduled the pick up to lunchtime on Sunday so the pressure was off to get away too early. And just as well . . . because I woke up on Saturday morning at around 5:00am and wild horses couldn’t have dragged me out of bed!
At a more sensible 7:30 we were up and at it and a few hours later had the car packed and ready to go.
One last review of the to do list and we finally hit the road around midday on our way to Adelaide.
The start of any road trip is always a combination of excitement about what’s to come, relief to finally be on the road and trepidation about what I’ve forgotten or what might break or go wrong.
This trip was no different and made even more so by the fact that we need to capture the experience on film as we go.
We’re aiming to have the film completed within 6 weeks of the end of the trip and to achieve this without a crew following us around means that we need to edit as much as we can as we go, at the very least have all of the film imported and sorted and mostly on the timeline ready to be assembled into the final film.
That way when we get back we’re already a long way down the editing road and will be able to have it finished on schedule.
This is a very different approach to what we did with The Big Lap where we just filmed as much as we could, and finished the trip a year and a half later with 200 tapes and a rough idea of what we were going to do with them.
The other big difference is that this trip will be 3 weeks in duration and we’re making 2 x 50 minute episodes which gives us a week and a half per 50 minute episode - a far cry from The Big Lap where we averaged around 7 weeks per episode.
The end result is that we will be cramming a lot into a short space of time.
Driving out of Melbourne across the Westgate Bridge and onto the Western Ring Road, the car felt heavy but comfortable and with the new larger tyres fitted it cruises beautifully at 100kmph compared with the higher revs it used to take to hit 100.
Savanna connected her iPhone to the UE Boom Bluetooth speaker and played the Star Wars theme music from The Force Awakens to get us into the mood and we talked about what we were looking forward to the most.
For Sara it was getting out and doing some hiking with her new hiking boots, for Sienna it was sleeping in her new swag and Savanna is most looking forward to the hot chips at the Birdsville Bakery that we so enjoyed last time we were there a couple of years ago.
For me it's crossing the Simpson Desert which has long been on my bucket list . . . and making another film.
But we all agreed that Jen (Mum) not being with us was a major downer!
After finishing up at her last job late last year followed by a knee replacement which is now mostly healed, Jen was ready and raring to go on this trip before starting a new job soon after.
But as fate would have it, a ‘dream job’ opportunity came her way that was simply too good to refuse and they were keen to have her start immediately (if not sooner) so she jumped in feet first.
She did discuss with them her need to have a few weeks off mid year next year and beyond so she can come on future trips and her boss, having seen The Big Lap and keen to see her in more films, was happy to agree.
So the girls and I will be tackling this one and we’ll look forward to her being with us on a trip in the not too distant future.
The drive between Melbourne and Adelaide is not new for us and this is actually my 8th trip between the capitals this year. So it’s almost a case of autopilot and this trip was no different.
Easy and uneventful and we arrived at my Mum’s place in Woodside at around 9:30pm and after unloading our bags and cranking up the heater we were asleep within about an hour.
Sunday morning was a chance for a sleep in before getting ready and heading into Adelaide to Snowy’s to pick up the gear we had ordered.
Having lived in Adelaide for quite a few years after we finished The Big Lap trip, Snowy’s is our favourite shop when it comes to camping gear. Now we live in Melbourne and order our gear on their website and since we were coming through Adelaide anyway it seemed like a good opportunity to drop in and say g’day and pick up our new gear.
The outback is the perfect environment for sleeping in a swag so we’ve taken the opportunity to upgrade the girls old swags to some plush new ones. We’ve also left the fridge at home and will be using a lighter and smaller 55 ltr ice box - easily done when travelling in the outback in winter where the temperature probably won’t get much over 20 degrees and will hit zero at night. A bag of ice should last several days at least.
So with the new gear on board we headed to Coles to get some fresh food supplies - you can’t take fruit and veggies over the border into South Australia so we couldn’t stock up in Melbourne before we left.
Then it was back to Mum’s house to get organised to finally hit the road to the Flinders Ranges on Monday morning.
The girls unpacked their new swags on the lounge room floor and got busy putting their sleeping bags and blankets inside . . . in fact they liked them so much they ended up sleeping on them in the lounge room on Sunday night.
Monday morning and it was an early start to get everything packed back into the car and ready to go.
While packing the swags on the roof rack alongside our RV5 Oztent that we’ve taken on numerous trips over the years, I started to wonder why we were taking it this time.
After all, with their new swags, would there be any real need for the Oztent?
Knowing that we’re likely to encounter rain and bad weather, the Oztent offers a measure of comfort and security knowing that worse case scenario we can retreat inside and avoid pretty much anything mother nature is likely to throw at us.
But is that really what an adventure is all about?
And realistically, it’s likely the weather will be pretty good most of the way and we’ll be happy to swag it.
So I put it to the girls that if they wanted to take the Oztent just in case then I was happy to bring it, BUT if they were up for it, we could leave it behind and take the adventure level a notch higher (and make packing the roof rack a little easier!)
It was unanimous and they were excited to know that they would be completely depending on their new swags come rain, hail or shine.
So we took the Oztent off the roof and left it in the garage alongside our camper trailer it what is becoming a museum of 'no longer used very often’ camping gear.
After about another hour of packing and organising we were on our way finally heading north to Wilpena Campground. A few solid rain showers along the way did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm or resolve to swag it no matter what and fortunately when we arrived at the campground about 6:45pm the sky was clear and we made busy setting up camp in the dark.
That was last night and during the night the heavens opened up and we had solid rainfall for a couple of hours. I woke up pretty much as soon as the first drops hit my swag and climbed out to make sure the girls had their swags closed up tight before jumping back into bed and thinking about the plan for the next few days.
We have about 4 days in the Flinders ranges before we head up the Oodnadatta Track towards Coober Pedy.
We want to make the most of the time we’re here but in reality it would take weeks or months to fully explore the Flinders Ranges region - so at best we will be just getting a taste and hopefully capturing enough in our film to encourage viewers to plan a trip here and see for themselves how amazing this region is.
None of the girls had any swag leakage issues and in fact Sara didn’t even realise it had been raining until she climbed out of bed and discovered everything was wet. Off to a good start.
After a long breakfast of bacon, eggs and melted cheese on doorstop slices of toast, we packed our daypacks and set out for a hike into Wilpena Pound to take in the view from Wangara Lookout.
It’s a pretty easy 8km round trip and only the last kilometre up to the lookout is challenging but worth it for the view across Wilpena Pound.
Along the way we encountered numerous Kangaroos that would almost let you get close enough to pat and a herd of wild goats roaming alongside the track that looked practically domesticated. Goats are prolific across the Flinders Ranges but to see them so close to civilisation and not afraid of us was a surprise.
Back at camp I cooked up a simple but tasty stir fry of veggies, pork mince and noodles in a Hoisin sauce while Sara and Savanna filmed a 'what's in my car bag' segment and Sienna sat in her swag writing her book (yes, she's writing a horror story called 'Emily'). I'm very happy to see them getting involved in the filming so it isn't just a 'me filming them' type of production.
After dinner we headed over to the warmth of the Wilpena Resort bar for a drink and to import the tapes of the video we shot today.
And for me to write his first trip log.
So that is our trip so far. I’ll aim to post several more trip logs as we go so you can follow along with us.