From SA into the Northern Territory

From SA to NT

With our Campground Hostin stints over it was time to move on towards the NT.

We went from cold, wet and windy Stenhouse Bay to Port Pirie where there was a lack of wind and only very little rain. It was still cold though. At Port Pirie we had a powered site so there was time to recharge our aus and camper batteries, fill up the water tank and do some much needed shoopping at a decent supermarket. We also had a chance to fuel up at a reasonable price as well as replace one of gas bottles – it was empty. We also had a much needed chance to get all of the clothes and bedding washing done – we had been effectively bush camping for the previous two weeks.

Here’s a map of the trip from Stenhouse Bay to Port Pirie.

Stenhouse Bay to Port Pirie

Port Pirie to Woomera

From Port Pirie we went to one of our favourite places – Woomera.

The drive there was uneventful but our projected two nights at the Woomera Caravan Park turned into an eight day extravaganza. After our first night there we were getting set to leave the next day when COVID-19 struck. The poers that be in South Australia decided that a state wide lockdown was in order which meant that we were unable to travel. At all. Damn!

Let me tell you that there is very little to do in the Woomera Caaravan park. We were able to do some very expensive shopping in the small store and we were able to make a trip to Roxby Downs for me to replenish my medication supplies. But that was all.

As you can see, not a lot at Woomera Caravan Park.

Of course while we were there the weather turned nasty. Not a lot of rain, very little in fact, but there was loads of wind. Shane, the park manager, suggested that e move our camper to a more sheltered spot which we willingly did of course.

After what seemed to be a lot longer than a week the lockdown ended and we could get on our way.

 

Woomera to Coober Pedy

A thoroughly boring drive. Just hours of droning along the highway.

At this stage it’s worth mentioning that on a previous trip due to long periods sitting in the car my wife developed a blood clot in her lower leg. Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT. We learned a lesson from that and we now drink a lot more water and take regular “walkabout” breaks where we get out of the car and wander around for a bit before continuing on with our journey. Once bitten, twice shy and all that.

When we got to the Caravan Park at Coober Pedy we got the camper set up and noticed that one of its tyres had scrubbed a bit so a bit of wheel changing was the order of the day. The scrubbed tyre would come back to bit us a later time, of course.

 

And on to Marla

From Coober Pedy to Marla is another long and boring drive. We have done the drive from Woomera to Marla a few times in the past so the old saying of “nothing to see here” applies.

The only real curiousity is that at the Marla Caravan Park cars, campers, caravans, etc. are not permitted to park on the grass – you park on the gravel and have the table, chairs and stuff set up on the grass.

Boy was this place crowded. It was a good thing that we booked. This is where we started to notice the sheer number of people travelling with campers, caravans, motorhomes, four wheel drives with rooftop tents and just loaded up utes. It seemed like the whole country was on the move so from here on we were making sure that we booked every where we were staying.

Anyway here’s the inevitable map from Port Pirie to Marla.

Port Pirie to Marla via Woomera and Coober Pedy

And into the Northern Territory

While we were at Marla we had to complete the border forms, one each, so that we could cross the border into the NT. This was a pain as we had to detail everywhere we had stayed for the previous fourteen days. It took us a couple of hours to complete the forms such was the detail required.

Anyway the forms were done so we treated ourselves to a couple of drinks and a meal at the roadhouse that’s attached to the caravan park. There’s also a sort of supermarket there which was very expensive – a box of tissues that we can buy at our local Moe supermarket for about $2.00 was $11.50. We got a couple of litres of long life milk but that was it.

Anyway, the meal and drinks were good and we also got ourselves a couple of bottles of wine, went and had a shower and got the stuff stored properly in the camper – off to the NT the next day.

 

And COVID-19 Strikes Again

Stuck in Woomera

Well the dreaded COVID-19 has caught up with us again.

We’re now stuck in the South Australian outback town of Woomera. There is nothing here apart from the remains of the original rocket range. The only shops are a small mini supermarket, a caravan park with a bar which can’t open due to COVID-19 and a roadhouse about seven kilometres away. The town had a population of 146 at the last census but still has a medical centre and a police  station. Not much at all.

The South Australian Government imposed the lockdown on Tuesday at 6.00pm (it’s now Wednesday lunchtime) for seven days. The restrictions on us are onerous. We are unable to continue The Big Trip and are now uncertain what the Northern Territory Government will do about people crossing the state border from SA.

Here’s a link to Woomera  on WIkipedia.

The lockdown travel restrictions only allow five reasons to be moving about and of course none of the apply to us :-

  • To shop for essentials – medicines, food, fuel, etc.
  • To provide or receive care.
  • To have a COVID-19 test or vaccinations.
  • If you are an essential worker – Ambulance, Fire Brigade, medical worker, etc.
  • To exercise for no more than two hours within 6.5 kilometres of home.

As you can see we don’t fit any of those categories so we are somewhat stuck until the lockdown is over.

Oh well that’s it from us for the time being. We hope that the post will be from the Northern Territory when The Big Trip is back on the road.

 

The Big Trip hits the road

To Kiata and Belair

We decided that we’d start by heading to Kiata  for a couple of nights. We’ve been there before and really like the place. Besides it was a good shake down. Because I’m really clever I managed to forget to pack the length of duct that we use to pipe the hot air from our cheap All In One Chinese Diesel Heater. Like I said – I’m really, really clever. More on this later.

After a couple of days at Kiata we made our way to Belair in SA.  This entailed crossing the border which without COVID-19 would be no big deal. Before we left Moe we completed the border permits and were approved. When we got to the border we had to go through the whole palava again with the SA Police. After about an hour we were off to Tailem Bend to get our COVID-19 test done – another hour down the gurgler. Eventually we got to Belair and set up camp for a couple of nights. The next day Gill from Parks SA dropped by and gave us our uniforms and a knapsack of “stuff” that we’d need for our two Campground Hosting assigments. Firstly at the Trig Camp Ground in the Deep Creek conservation reserve.

And then to Stenhouse Bay Campground in Dhilba Guuranda – Innes National Park.

 

And so on to Trig Campground

When we woke up at Belair on the day we were leaving it was belting rain. Both Jenny and I hate packing up in the wet with a vengeance. And it was wet. It took longer than usual to get packed because of the wet weather but we were on our way soon enough.

When we got to Trig and started to put the camper up we saw just how much water we had packed. The cushions inside the camper were soaked in one corner and another corner was merely drenched. Oh well, such is life. We got ourselves set up as per the photo above and settled in for the next week.

The next day Coral, one of the National Park Rangers came to see us and lead us through the induction. Our duties seemed pretty simple. We were to clean the long drop toilets every couple of days which wasn’t hard. A wipe down, replenish the toilet paper, sweep them out and pick up any rubbish laying around.  We were to check each of the twenty five camp sites after a group had left to make sure that campfires were out and to collect any rubbish. We were also to interact with people and make sure that they had payed the required fees and were obeying National Park Rules, etc. Our biggest duty though, was to be on hand for inquiries and to hand out pamphlets and maps and other material.

Our week flew by and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time. It was a bit of a chore to have to drive about forty kilometres to do a bit of shopping and it was a decent drive to get a shower but those inconveniences paled into insignificance.

While were at Trig the weather wasn’t the best but it was OK. We had one windy night which brought the annex down of course. Minor inconvenience though. Our time at Trig was really, really cold so on our first shopping trip we got ourselves a butane heater which did the job OK-ish. Butane cans are an expensive option though at $7.50 for a three pack which would only last a couple of nights. A solution to the missing duct problem became urgent.

Come the morning to leave and guess what ? Yep. It was belting down with rain. Here we go again !

Onwards to Stenhouse Bay Campground

After Trig Campground at Deep Creek Conservation Park we were off to Stenhouse Bay Campground at Dhilba Guuranda – Innes National Park on the York Peninsular of South Australia.

Of course when we came to put the camper there was the, by now, the usual load of water from the wet pack up. Dammit. The upside is that the site that we’ve been allocated is a ripper as illustrated by the photo above. There is one drawback though. The ground is Limestone so we are unable to hammer tent pigs in which means we can’t put our tarp annex up. That leads to having to cook, etc. without shelter apart from the inside of the camper. Such is life in the fast lane. Over the next few days it could get interesting as the weather forecast isn’t good. Rain – 3-5mm total falls with a probability of 90%. Like I said, life in the fast lane and all that. Still and all, we’re camping so we’re happy.

We went through the induction which was pretty much the same as the one at Trig Campground so that was just a “tick the box” exercise. Our duties are the same as Trig Campground so not at all arduous.

On our second night here we were treated to a fantastic sunset. Bonus !!

On the day after the sun set we went into Warooka in an attempt to get more butane cans. We couldn’t afford the cans on sale in Marion Bay at $7.95 EACH ! In Warooka there’s a hardware store and a ducted heating and aircon specialist who happened to have a few old stock cans which he gave use. He also rummaged around and found some old ag. drainage pipe. With a roll of Duct Tape (100mph tape, etc) I managed to fashion a duct. Tonight we will have diesel heat. HOORAY !

 

It looks a bit Heath Robinson but a test run showed that it works. Hooray.

The heater has worked like a trojan for the last few days. Just what we wanted.

The weather for the last few days has been abysmal. Cold with the wind chill factor making it feel like between zero and three degrees Celsius. The wind, rain and hail has given the cafmper a good workoput. No leaks, torn canvas or bent poles. Gotta be happy with that.

Anyway that’s the end of our Campground Hosting.

Then end of our Campground Hosting

Here we are on the last day of our campground hosting. Over the last few days the weather has been worse than unpleasant. It’s been windy, rainy and damn cold at Stenhouse Bay. The weather at Deep Creek (Trig Campground) was only cold and wet. Tomorrow we start the trek to Darwin where we hope for much more pleasant weather.

Would we do it again ? In a heartbeat but not in the middle of winter though.

And finally

Without the ladies and gents at Parks South Australia this wouldn’t have been possible. They eased us into it gently and ensured that we had a lot of time  to enjoy the parks as well as perform our duties. Everything, and more, that we needed was supplied and ensured that we had a great time.

Special shout outs to Coral, Simon, Aaron, Chloe, Mark and especially Carly. These rangers and staff made our Campground Hosting placements really enjoyable. After two short placements I reckon the Parks SA Volunteer programme is a cracker.

So along came COVID-19 again

Here we go with Plan B

Well here we are in the midst of yet another COVID-19 induced lockdown. The South Australian border is closed to people from Victoria such as us which looks like it’ll stop us from doing the campground hosting in South Australia.

Currently it looks like our trip plan has gone to the dogs so, if that’s the case, we’ll to Darwin via New South Wales and Queensland. We have a couple of options here – to go via Cloncurry in Central QLD or via Townsvill and Cairns on the coast.

When we get to Darwin we’ll have a bit of a poke around Kakadu for a several days. While we’re in Darwin we’ll make our minds up as to which way we want to come home. Do we just head south back to Adelaide or do we head off to Broome as per the original plan ?

Moe to Darwin via Cloncurry in QLD

Moe to Darwin via Townsville and Cairns

That’s the current state of play

So far we have a slight preference for the Cloncurry option but this all hinges on where we can go due to COVID-19. With any sort of luck our original plan will be OK but we’re not holding our breath.

At the moment we’re pretty disheartened by the whole lockdown thing. This is our fourth lockdown and we are sick and tired of it and it seems like every time we get a plan together we are thwarted by things outside of our control.

As Jenny said the other night, “I’m sick of sitting around getting old”. We have a serviceable vehicle and camper just sitting there waiting for us to use them so we have decided that as soon as other states will let us in from Victoria we will be going in one direction or another.

More later.

 

 

It’s finally going to happen

At last

After three years of being thwarted, most recently by COVID-19, we have finally locked in some dates. We will be leaving home on 28th June 2021 and expect to be away for somewhere between three and six months.

The first few weeks of the trip will be spent getting to Deep Creek Conservation Park in South Australia where we will be Campground Hosts for the first week of the SA school holidays. From there we will be off to  Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park for more Campground Hosting for the second week of the SA school holidays and from there we will head up to Darwin, across the top possibly via the Gibb River road and down to Perth and Albany and back home across the Nullabor and via Adelaide.

Recently we have instituted a new rule We will travel no more that 400 km / day which means a few stops along the way so we’ll have time to see the good stuff.

We will take our full complement of cameras so there should be lots of photos published. We’ll also put stuff up on facebook as well ( m99markf ) .

So without further ado here are some maps. I’ve broken the trip up into sections to make life a bit easier for me while I’m putting this together.

 

Moe to Darwin

Darwin and surrounds

Seeing as neither of us have been to Darwin or Kakadu we’ll be spending a bit of time around here. Possibly a couple days in Darwin and then we’ll head off into Kakadu for a few days. After Kakadu we’ll head off back to Darwin for a day so we can do some shopping and get fuel for the next bit of the trip which will take us to Broome. We don’t know which route we’ll be taking yet – Gibb River Road or the bitumen.

Anyway here’s maps for both.

The Gibb River Road option

The Halls Creek / Fitzroy Crossing option

From Derby to Perth

While we are in the North West of WA it’d be a shame to miss such an iconic place as Marble Bar so the route from Derby home will go via Eighty Mile Beach and Marble Bar and on to Perth. From Perth we’ll either go via Albany and Esperence to home or go from Perth to home. The route via Albany will take in places like Newman and Meekatharra. Which route we take depends on a number of factors so we’ll make up our mind as we arrive in Perth.

Derby to Perth

From Perth to Moe via Albany or directly from Perth

Once we get to Perth we can either get back to Moe directly or via Albany and Esperence. We’ll make up our minds when we get to Perth.

Perth to Albany to Moe map

Perth to Moe map

And finally (for this post)

While putting the inevitable spreadsheet together we came up with four options for the trip after Darwin. Home via Halls Creek and Fitzroy crossing down to Albany. Home via Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing and directly home via Perth therefore leaving Albany out. The other two options are via the Gibb River Road which is dependent on the condition of the Gibb River Road.

So that’s our trip planned and to prove it here is the spreadsheet. There are three formats. .ods for Libre Office / Open Office, .xls for Microsoft Excel and a PDF version. Of course it goes without saying, if can see a use for the spreadsheet please feel free to download, modify and use it for your own purposes.

 

 

 

Planning fuel

Overview

Where and when to get fuel on a long trip is a bit of a vexed subject.

My view on fuel is much the same as water. Never let a chance go by, within reason, of course and keep records. There are many, many apps available for Windows, iOS and Android that can help with that. We use Fuel Map Australia for iOS.

We carry two 20 litre Jerry Cans of diesel as well as what’s in the tank which reputedly holds 95 litres. Given our worst case fuel consumption of 17 litres / 100km that means that we have a range of around 800 or so kilometres plus or minus a hefty margin for error.  I generally work on a maximum of 550km’s between refills which means that we very, very, rarely use the fuel in the cans. Of course, for example, if I come to a fuel stop and the cost is $2.00 / litre after 550km’s and I know for sure that 100km’s down the road I can get fuel for $1.20 / litre I’ll pour the jerry can’s in and carry on and top off everything for the cheaper price.

In the trip planning process I create a spreadsheet which has our overnight stops, distance between stops, expected fuel use, description of stop (caravan park, bush camp, etc.), whether or not we need to do shopping, where we’re going to eat, etc. This spreadsheet comes along with us on one our tablets and is updated almost daily. We record what we actually did alongside what we had thought we’d do – in our experience plans rarely go to plan.

The dreaded spreadsheet

Very often there is no better way to do something than to put it all in a spreadsheet. For us, fuel planning comes into the spreadsheet category. Please keep in mind that I’m no fan of spreadsheets but for this task it’s about the best tool for the job.

Because I detest all things spreadsheet I assume that you are also not in a happy, loving relationship with the things either. I make a workbook with each sheet covering a week so if, for example, you discover after a week or so of the trip that your fuel consumption is not averaging what you originally thought, simply change the number in one place and the whole spreadsheet will be recalculated. I’ve put 52 sheets together with a front page that has all the aggregate numbers on it – total distance, total predicted fuel use, tot predicted fuel cost, etc. You’ll get the idea if you have a squint at it.

Anyway, here’s hat I’ve done so far for the Big Trip. I’ve done it with Open Office so that you won’t run into any vendor specific “isms”. It’s free and as good as any other offering.

As you’ll see our trip is a little bit planned but you can just delete the bits that you don’t want such as the places in the “Destination” column and the “Distance” and “Driving Hours” columns. A lot of the cells are calculated so try and leave them alone. The distances and driving hours are from Google Maps and as such should be taken with a grain of salt although the do provide a “ball park” idea of how far and how long each section is.

And without further ado here is the spreadsheet in Excel xls  format and in Open Office ods format.

If you find it useful or you think that it can be improved please let me know.

 

That’s it for fuel planning

As for fuel planning, that’s it apart from a couple of final thoughts.

Fuel, like water, is something that a lack of will stop the trip so we need to make sure that we have more than enough to get us to the next top-up point.

We had an issue on the Old Strzelecki Track when a water tank seam fractured and we watched about 100 litres of precious water ended up in the dirt. Whilst this was a concern it wasn’t a real worry as we had about 30 litres of water in containers packed away for just such an incident. Similarly, we always carry about 60 litres of extra fuel in Jerry cans just in case. I’d rather get home with a few full Jerry cans than need it and not have it.

The big trip change of plan

Our hand has been forced

Well seeing as COVID-19 has wrecked our plan and seeing as the cars gearbox still isn’t done we’ve decided to wait a while and aim for the Birdsville Races in 2021. Hopefully by then all the COVID-19 messing around will be minimised to the extent that we’ll be able to travel. By then the rebuilt gearbox will have had a few trips to prove itself too.

The first thing to do is to plot a map and make an approximate fuel use and cost spreadsheet. The map is from Google Maps as are the distances and driving times. The spreadsheet is just something that I do for every trip to try and predict distances, fuel use, driving time and so on.

The first draft of the new route

A bit more detail

As you can see we have added more to the trip so we can take in the Birdsville Races. We went to the races in 2017 and had a great time, apart from a few flat tyres, so seeing as 2017 was a great trip we’ve decided to incorporate the races into our big trip.

Last time we went up to Birdsville via Western NSW – Tibooburra, Cameron Corner, Innamincka, etc. but this time we’ll go to Birdsville via Bourke, Quilpie, Windorah and on to Birdsville.

After the races we’ll head on over to Alice Springs via Bedourie and Boulia and after a restock we’ll head on up to Darwin and Kakadu.

After a bit of a poke around we’ll head over to Broome and down via Geraldton to Perth. From there we’ll go down to Albany and then across the Nullarbor to Moe via Adelaide.

In total Google maps tells me it’ll be a bit over 13,000 km’s. Of course it’ll be further than that because I haven’t mapped the side trips – Kakadu, west coast, south coast, etc.

And so to a spreadsheet.

As mentioned in other posts, and earlier in this one, I like to make a bit of a spreadsheet for each trip. I’ve put two versions of the first draft for this trip up – OpenOffice and   MS Excel. Feel free to download them and use them if you wish.

It’s a pretty simple spreadsheet and is subject to change as we go along. It comes along with us on a laptop so we can change it, add to it, add notes, etc. Call it a rough outline of the trip and as with the map it’ll change. We’ll being doing detours, side trips, unscheduled stops, etc. along the way – especially Kakadu, the west and south coasts, and other places.

 

So what’s happening with the big trip

At this juncture a big fat nothing

So here we are still stuck at home. The borders are all closed doe to COVID-19 so we can’t leave Victoria unless we either have a permit or are willing to quarantine ourselves in a state government mandated facility which could be rather expensive. That’s not an option for us so we’re stuck at home.

There are only four reasons that we can go past our front gate – shopping for essentials, medical reasons, exercise or to work if working from home isn’t an option. That means that scooting off for a week or two into a National Park or a caravan park somewhere isn’t an option.

I short we’re stuck at home going stir crazy.

The camper is serviced and all we need to do is to fill it up with bedding, food, water and a couple of containers of fuel and go.

We’ve taken the opportunity to rebuild the gearbox of the car so it’s loafing around with its gearbox in bits on the floor. Getting a full rebuild kit is a problem as it needs to come from Germany and has thus far taken about three weeks and it still hasn’t left Germany. It only weighs a couple of kilograms and is about the size of a shoe box.

So what are we doing

Again, not very much.

We’re doing our best to look after our mental and physical health. We are both heartily sick and tired of this “lockdown ” caper and the indefinite postponement of the trip of a lifetime. However, we do what we can and look forward to the time when the end is in sight and we can get going. It does look like we’re in it for the long haul though.

We’ve been keeping up with all of the COVID-19 developments including listening to the daily press conferences by our various government leaders in the hope that restrictions will be eased a bit so that we can go somewhere – anywhere will do at this stage.

While the car is bits we can’t even drag the camper out of the garage to set it up in the driveway and pretend that we’re out camping.

As well as waiting to get the bits for the car I’ve been playing around with the back end of this web site and trying to get it to figure more in Google’s search results. Of course, that’d be helped if I had more content to post. I’m sure people don’t want to read endless posts saying that we’re still in lock down and that we aren’t going anywhere ant time soon.

I’ve been playing around with a few other bits and pieces on the Raspberry Pi as well as looking around for TV shows and movies to download although we’ve still got a number of unwatched movies to go through.

At least our football teams are going OK-ish in this truncated mini series of a footy season even if the games are all lacklustre affairs.

That’s it from me. Seeing as I’ve been slack and it’s lunch time I’m off to do the dishes and get a sandwich before we turn the TV on and watch The Chase.

So how do we get out of this mess

Well, we can wait until the dust settles and we can move to a less restricted situation. Or, we can hope that someone, somewhere, comes up with a workable vaccine so we can at least feel safe-ish.

 

 

Planning the route in more detail

Planning tools

When we’re planning where we want to go and the basic route to get there we tend to hit Google Maps as we find that it’s the easiest way to get a route overview. It’s a neat tool – you can zoom it in or out, you can see satellite views, street views and the attractions in a town that you may be passing through. You can copy the way points to your GPS or SatNav as long as it’s compatible.

The next tool on the list is WikiCamps This is a paid app for your planning. A neat feature is that you only need to make one purchase per operating system We have two licences – one for our desktop Windows PC’s and our Windows tablets and the other for our iPhones. It has a truckload of camps listed and all sorts of filters. Want free camps ? Just use the free camps filter. It also has reviews and photos for just about every site as well as indicative costings. There is a trip planner built in which I haven’t come to grips with yet. Allegedly it’s quite easy to use once you overcome the learning curve. You can also download a heap of offline maps and content so you don’t need to be able to be connected to the internet to use it.

The other tool that we use is Findacamp which is a free web site which requires internet access. In most cases a selected camp site will have the available facilities listed. It also lists a heap of info as well as directions for each camp site.

Of course we also use paper maps – the Easy Read Road and 4WD Atlas from Hema and WAC maps. No batteries or internet access required – they’re paper. If you’re using paper maps, a compass is a must have. The atlas is especially useful when Plan A goes to the dogs. Another very good and useful series of paper maps are the World Aeronautical Charts. They are 1:1,000,000 and I’ve used them heaps. In the mid 1990’s a group of us did an unsupported pushbike ride across the Gunbarrel Highway from Alice Springs to Wiluna (WA) and our maps of choice were the WAC maps. We always carry the Hema Atlas as well as the relevant WAC maps with us. Currently Geoscience Australia is collaborating with Airservices Australia to revise their WAC maps.

The last tool that we use is a GPS or SatNav or whatever you want to call. it. There are so many brands and models out there that it’s almost a joke. We use two. A VMS 700HDX and a TomTom if indeterminate age. When buying a GPS have a good read of the specs, especially the operating temperature. It’s going to be stuck to your windscreen in the full sun for a lot of its life and the last thing you want is for your GPS to suffer from heatstroke. Our VMS unit does suffer to an extent and of course it always decides to have a fainting spell just when we need it most. This is when good old fashioned paper maps come in handy.

That just about rounds out our planning and trip tools apart from one the comes with the car. The Odometer.

Planning

So here we are in early May 2020 in COVID-19 lockdown. We are both in the “at risk” category and we are told that if we can stay at home then do so. Essential local travel only means just that. People aren’t measuring their car fuel consumption in Litres / 100km’s, we’re measuring it in litres /week. Last time I got fuel was over a month ago.

So we’re stuck at home bored. What to do ? Well we’ve been idly talking about a big trip for  a while now and while we’re stuck at home we may as well get on with a bit of planning and preparation.

The car needs a gearbox valve block overhaul and a new fuel pump. I’ll have to do the throttle position sensor too. Then there’s the usual greasing and checking as well as an oil and filters change to be done.

The camper also needs a bit of maintenance – wheel bearings checked and repacked. Water tank cleaned and flushed, etc.

We need to set dates to take advantage of the weather and to avoid the worst of the Northern Australian wet season which is loosely November to April. We also need our travel dates to dovetail nicely with other activities that we’d like to fit in. Campground Hosting in South Australia and the Northern Territory for example.

Organising a house sitter and our finances are also pretty high on the list of priorities too.

Working out our finances is going to a bit of fun. We’re both on limited and fixed incomes a d so far I’ve only done a really rough calculation of fuel costs – about $3,000, probably more.

We are planning to be away for up to six months so there’s a fair bit of planning and preparation to get on with which should keep us occupied at least until we’re allowed to travel interstate again – the state borders are currently closed so we have to at least wait until they’re open again. So at this stage we have no idea when we’ll be leaving or when we’ll be back.

It seems like a whole bunch of “pie in the sky” stuff, doesn’t it ? Bear in mind though that every trip starts out like this. Also bear in mind that we don’t do contingency planning, we go with whatever is happening at the time. Have a read of Preparation and What to do when Plan A goes to the dogs .

When we’re planning a trip we plan the route and from there we can plan our fuel usage. More about the fuel use planning later. We also sort of plan where we’re going to stop each night – bush camp, caravan park, show grounds, etc. That tends to be a part of the fuel planning spreadsheet. We don’t bother with planning food or shopping as we find that we can always find somewhere to do a shop when we need to and we only ever find that we spend about the same on shopping as we do at home.

First up is a draft route but I can see a number of articles before we leave and then of course a much larger number of articles during the trip.

Anyway on with the route planning