NOW: ONE YEAR DOWN, AT LEAST ONE MORE TO GO!
When our first 5 months just flew by we didn’t think we would get very far. We started off unwilling to drive past anything that caught our interest but soon realised we’d have to miss some things or we’d never make the Kimberley for winter.
I’d read somewhere that you can travel long-term in Australia for a dollar a kilometre so we kept a tally just to see. Using the headings accommodation, fuel, food and the broad fallback “other” we found we spent $52 000 and travelled 37 000 kilometres. So we travelled for the year for $1.40 a kilometre.
By far the largest expense was the “other” category which included about $10 000 in car and trailer repairs and maintenance including 6 new tyres in Adelaide, a Pajero service in Alice Springs and another major service in Perth and replacement brakes all round. We needed new rear shocks on the car and camper in Broome after the wild ride on the Mitchell Falls Road and north of Drysdale Station up to Kalumburu.
“Other” also included $15 000 on adventurous things like snorkelling with fur seals at Montague Island (Narooma NSW), the car ferry to Kangaroo Island, helicopter flights over the Bungle Bungles, cruising on the Victoria River NT, Chamberlain Gorge (El Questro), Lake Kununurra and Geikie Gorge WA, sailing on Lake Argyle and at Monkey Mia, Helifishing for barramundi at Home Valley Station, fishing charter in the Timor Sea at Honeymoon Beach, camel rides on Cable Beach, float plane flights and an overnight stay on the luxury houseboat at the Horizontal Waterfalls, lots of local wine from Margaret River and the Barossa, Clare, King and Swan Valleys as well as interesting boutique beers from Western Australia’s southern coast.
The lowest cost was fuel at $7 000 including our diesel, unleaded for the chainsaw and generator and gas refills for our cooking and hot water. Accommodation came in next at $8 000. State forest and national park camps in Victoria’s high country were free. We purchased a Desert Parks Pass and Western Australia National Parks Pass which we used a lot. Our camps included caravan parks, road houses, roadside stops, national parks, forests, conservation areas and some “stop now it’s past 3 o’clock” stops.
Camps 8 and our Hema GPS were good references. The photos in the camps book gave you an idea of what to expect. So if it showed a flat open dust bowl and the wind was howling we would look for something else! We also noticed that Western Australia had the best drop dunnies that didn’t smell and usually had toilet paper! We had discussed renting an apartment along the way if we got tired of the Tvan, which we didn’t end up doing, but did go close when the wind kept blowing along the Western Australian coast and reached 100 kilometres an hour at Cervantes just north of Perth!
We spent $12 000 on food including some gorgeous bakeries in South Australia (the only place to eat pasties), lobster in Cervantes, oysters and King Geoge Whiting in Ceduna and mussels in Eden. We bought our meat from local butchers and asked them to cryovac it so we could freeze it flat in the Engel in the car. If we had time they sometimes froze it as well. The plastic butchers use is really thick and never rubbed through even on the wretched corrugations of the Gibb River Road. The only mess we had in the freezer was from that exploding beer that got forgotten overnight!
It was very hot in the Kimberley so we needed to run the generator a few times to top up our batteries and keep the freezer cold enough. Using large sealed containers in the fridge kept our food safer. A container each for vegies, salad and dairy kept things intact. Longlife milk in a tall plastic container ensured the carton didn’t rub through. Leaving things in the packaging we bought them in kept the biscuits mostly whole and the eggshells in one piece.
There were times when you couldn’t be too fussy about a preferred brand when shopping and we did eat out when we felt like it or there was somewhere to go! Those “let’s stop for a coffee and cake” moments eat into the budget really quickly at $20 (or sometimes more) a pop and we often boiled the billy and enjoyed a slice of supermarket cake or fruit if we still had some! Fresh bread was always exciting but lots of places had frozen bread which defrosts really quickly when it’s 38 degrees.
Drinking water was never really a problem but we usually kept our tanks full and carried an extra jerry for showers. Before filling up we tried the water first as some of the bore water, while safe to drink, wasn’t always the best. In some places like Coober Pedy and Denham water was available at council pay stations. It wasn’t expensive but needed to be conserved.
It’s hard to pick a favourite spot as we saw amazing things most days and crawled into bed tired most nights. The camping and scenery of Victoria’s High Country were spectacular, the rugged coastline of Kangaroo Island amazed us, the quiet isolation on Googs and Binns Tracks, the gorges in the Kimberley and Karajini left us speechless, the red cliffs and magnificent blue of the ocean at Cape Leveque were spellbinding and the pounding waves of the Southern Ocean cutting into the cliffs all left us with fantastic memories.
Despite spending 5 months in Western Australia we’ll be back. A restful month in Broome, snorkelling at Cape Le Grande National Park (Ningaloo), fishing along the coast and visiting the places we missed the first time are on the agenda. We know we’ve got at least another year in us so what’s next?
Firstly, we need to get rid of half the clothes we packed because they never got worn. We’ve been very tightly packed and have reduced our weight by 260 kilograms by ejecting some of the just in case things that we never used. Out with the second set of recovery gear and shackles (we never needed any of it), move the generator fuel from the front box to the side pannier, as much as we love our Oz Pig we rarely used her so she stayed home this time, rationalised the fishing gear (sinkers are really heavy), left the car awning in the garage and sorted out the tool kit so we weren’t carrying double ups.
Secondly, get out that map and find some interesting places in the Territory. I quite liked winter temperatures in the thirties. So……
NEXT: A SUMMER HOLIDAY ON THE NSW NORTH COAST, THE YORKE AND EYRE PENINSULAS THEN NORTH FOR WINTER IN ARNHEM LAND AND THE GULF OF CARPENTERIA
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David