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

Planning the route

The proposal is to basically follow the blue line on the map. We have probably decided to avoid the Gibb River Road at this stage. We may alter that decision as the planning goes on. This is the first draft of the route.

 

The route is about 12,000km’s and I’d expect it to take somewhere between twelve and twenty weeks depending on where we actually end up going and what we want to see and do. Campground Hosting in NT and SA are high on the agenda so that’ll add a few weeks as well.

Travelling about a thousand kilometres a week seems reasonable, at this stage anyway.

Once the route comes together a bit more we’ll be able to get a better handle on approximate fuel costs. Currently it looks like about $3,500 given that we’ll get around 13 or 15 Litres / 1ooKm’s and working on an average fuel cost of $1.50 or $1.70 / Litre.