Recently, John & Margaret went on two huge trips - Perth to Adelaide, then Perth to Darwin, seeing so much of this great land we call Australia. We love seeing our customers having fun and exploring, so much so that we had to find out exactly what went on in their latest trips. Read on below to hear all about it, in our interview with John & Margaret.
What was your favourite destination?
Our favourite destination was Ningaloo Station, WA. The place is picture perfect, secluded white beaches and dunes, few or zero campers within cooee, mating turtles, reef fishing, and a real chance to test the off road capability of our van.
We lowered tyre pressures to 20 psi and covered a distance of around 50kms from bitumen to beach, over rocky (and I do mean rocky) tracks onto soft sand over a hard sand base. One way in and one way out – the only problem we could find was one cracked egg when we returned to the bitumen.
What were your favourite campsites?
One of our favourites is El Questro, WA. Once you reach the resort, via a dirt road and two water crossings, you can elect to stay in the main campsite, or head out to one of the private riverfront campsites. Some of the private sites are considered safe for swimming whilst others are no swim areas, which need you to be mindful of the local crocs!
However they are all reached via station tracks and you need to have a van, which is small enough to be able to get in and out of the site, the Caretta Off Road was just right for this. Another thing to keep in mind is that you will need to be self-sufficient, as there is no power or water.
We spent five days/nights in half shade, running our fridge, lights, TV/video, charging phones and powering fans, and still had half a battery life to go.
Robin Falls in the Northern Territory is another picturesque free camp area with zero facilities. Two days and nights camped in full sun for a large part of the day showed a zero reduction in our available battery life, thanks to the solar power on our van.
What were your least favourite campsites?
Newman, this campsite is a dust bowl, which costs $40 per night for power and a shower, without ground cover and shade. The dirt is so hard you can hardly get any purchase for the awning pegs.
Another was at the Exmouth RAC caravan park. All vans with pets were located on adjacent sites abutting the main highway, although there were plenty of spaces available as it was not high season, the noise and vibe was not ideal.
Luckily, the self-contained nature of the Caretta bedroom, with large roof vent for star gazing, TV and video or lights for playing cards meant that we could ignore the outside for a while.
What would you have done differently?
If we were to do it again, we would leave Darwin for the return journey a few weeks earlier and tackle the Gibb River Road. As it was, we only just arrived at El Questro prior to them closing for the season and the other stations heading towards Broome on the route had already shut up shop for the season.
We have every confidence that our Off Road Caretta would handle the water crossings and dirt roads, with a full water tank and extra tyre on the roof rack there should be no dramas at all. However, as all good boy scouts and girl guides know, being prepared never hurts and knowing that there is available assistance at the end of our UHF is always comforting should things not go to plan.
Would you do it again?
Yes, we especially want to return to Karijini National Park, the Kimberleys, Shark Bay and Ningaloo Station, and at some point in time we will complete the Gibb River Road. But there are also so many other places to explore both on road and off – Uluru, the Flinders Ranges, FNQ, the Victorian high country, to name just a few.
Our intention in all future trips will be to maximise our time, free camping as we are confident that features of our Off Road Caretta will allow us total flexibility to travel off grid for multiple days at a time. And the best spots tend to be away from the crowds!
Any other highlights or insider tips?
We chose our Caretta because we were ready to leave our tent behind, but did not want to opt for a house on wheels. A bedroom on wheels with an outdoor kitchen and living rooms as far as the eye can see is more our style.
After traveling in very hot weather, over 40 degrees for 14 days, we think that others should consider:
- Choosing the larger air vent
- Getting the door screens installed
- Upgrading to the compressor fridge
Most importantly, get out there and have fun!
We would like to thank John & Margaret for sharing such an amazing trip with the world, helping to show what’s possible with the right equipment and an adventurous attitude. Australia truly has something for everyone, if you’re willing to give it a go.