The cold weather of the the southern climes gets to us every year and so we are preparing for another sojourn out in the tropical bush.
Having lost some camping gear in the Datto fire we are embarking on a ‘replacement’ drive for essential items such as a Tripod for the Billy, an Eco-billy for quick hot water, a fire pot handle and other stuff as we think of it.
We are going back to basics and we were not going to take our car fridge along, but on second thoughts, I will fit it in the trailer and make a special charging attach ment to the Dattoo’s electrical circuit.
Having broken a main leaf spring on the trailer we are replacing both spring-sets, u-bolts and plates and also fitting new wheel bearings plus a new Tilt Jockey Wheel. The trailer has had a hard life bouncing over spinifex clumps and rocks. We bought it new 10 years ago and it has done around 80,000 kilometres carrying heavy loads at times. Nothing has broken on the body though….so it is a pretty tough build by Modern Trailers in Adelaide.
Then everything changed. After much searching on the internet we found the right caravan for us. Then the wait came along as we waited for an investment to mature. It was still there when we got to the sales yard and bought after a brief inspection. It took two days to get various towing aspects organised and the money we paid for it to clear.
On the road home and only 67km from our destination the Datto blew a headgasket. We had to be rescued by an RAA operative with a Tilt Tray truck. Another two weeks went by for the engine to be reconstructed and repaired and we were on our way once again. This time we only made it for 45km before the engine blew the head gasket again. The RAA to the rescue again. It was time for a rethink.
We spent the weekend driving around the mid north towns looking for possible 4×4’s and on the Monday we bought a Toyota V8 Turbocharged Station wagon in Port Augusta. When we picked it up we were told that the Owners Manual and service books were in Adelaide and that they would be posted to us. We took this in good faith but a month later were still waiting for the books to arrive.
Back home I had 4 new tyres fitted and two days later we were on our way again. Judith had decided to take her car as she had some projects in mind in Alice Springs and Darwin and that this would be good for her to be mobile while I was away on an expedition in the Kimberley
Our first night’s camp was at Lake Hart on the Stuart Highway and we managed to get off the road about 100 metres on the lee side of a dune and camped there for the night. The traffic slowed down after 10pm and we managed to get some sleep.
The next day our troubles began again. At Ingoman Wayside Stop on the Stuart Highway Judith had starter problems with the Xtrail. We got the car going again and in the end we managed to get it to Alice Springs and had the starter motor replaced by the Autosparky Company who gave us excellent service.
Turning in to Coober Pedy to refuel an engine warning light came on. Not having service books to refer to we visited three different mechanics at a cost of $20 each. The upshot of it was that the Turbocharger had a low boost and that it was not working and functioning properly. As I was going on an expedition and that the Toyota would be well out of the warranty period, Judith arranged with the Managing Director of the Sales Yard that they would extend the warranty on the Turbocharger until we returned from our holiday.
My mate George accompanied me back from our Kimberley adventure to Alice Springs where we collected Judith and the furry children from the caravan park and headed north. At Tennant Creek we caught up with our friends, the Wright Family and then pushed on to camp at the Pebbles and found the only possible site left. Then on to Longreach Waterhole 14 kilometres west of Elliot.
Our last camp was what I call the Pan Que Quarry, west of Pine Creek where we were able to get close to one kilometre off the highway. We made it to our friend’s 5 acre block at Virginia the next morning and from there it is about 30km from the city of Darwin. Our friends are market gardeners and have a tropical oasis and a great variety of plants.