So what is all about? Well... hopefully, by the time we are done, it will be a comprehensive journal about a family of 5 who have travelled around Australia to see the sights and also do some volunteer work around the country! In Mid 2010 we started thinking about what it would take to fulfil a life-long dream... We wanted to bundle up our 3 kids, pack-up the house, jump in the car and hit the road - probably for about 12 months. It sounds so simple ... At the start of January 2013, after almost 15 months on the road; we finally completed Our Big Aussie Road Trip. We hope that you enjoyed following our adventures, trials and tribulations as much as we enjoyed having them!

Vehicle + Van

One of the biggest considerations for a trip like this is the vehicle and the accommodation!

This page is all about our vehicle and the accommodation that we are going to use for our trip.


Bruiser the Cruiser...

When we were deciding what vehicle we wanted to use for a trip like this, we decided that a pre-loved Toyota Landcruiser is definitely the vehicle for us.  Why a Toyota?? Well, we feel they have stood the test of time, you can get parts anywhere for them and we've had Toyotas in the past and you just can't kill them!  Our other car is a Toyota Corolla, and it's done 330,000km's and is still going strong(ish).  I think she'll fall apart with Rust before the engine goes.  Anyway, back to the cruiser.  There were a few accessories that we decided were necessities for the vehicle, so I wanted to list out what our checklist entailed...

Firstly, we wanted a Long-Range Diesel 4WD that is very capable on and off road.
     We have previously owned a Petrol Toyota Landcruiser 100 series (pictured in the banner bar of our blog) but she was just a bit too thirsty!  The old girl was a GXL Model (automatic) with all the mod-con's (electric windows and mirrors, central locking, etc), but we decided that if we were going to be doing some serious miles around this island of ours, we wanted a manual Diesel (for the fuel economy, as well as the fuel availability wherever we needed to go).  So we got rid of our beloved 100 Series Petrol, and in it's place, we purchased a 100 Series Diesel!!

So in came Bruiser the Cruiser (Mach 2)...

So what type of car is our Bruiser the Cruiser:
It is a Toyota Landcruiser 100 Series non-turbo Diesel (1HZ motor) DX Model 5-Speed Manual.  This model is the VERY BASIC model with: no carpet, no electric windows, no electric mirrors, no central locking (you get the picture!).  But the basic model is what we really wanted because it still had quite a few "luxuries" (air conditioning, etc) but is still fairly simple (which means there is less stuff to break).  To be brutally honest, the biggest consideration for us was the price (because Diesel are more expesive than Petrol), but we could afford this pre-loved basic model, and are happy with it.

It was important to us that the car be a manual with low range, because we do plan to get off-road occasionally (eg up to Cape York, and other such side trips), and we wanted a Vehicle that we could rely on.
We've done a fair bit of work to it, but it now has (in no particular order):
* A Safari snorkel
* A Premier 9000Lb Winch
* A Central locking system (I just couldn't live without central locking, so I installed one myself - which has worked a treat - except the tailgate, which broke, but the 4 doors into the cabin work fine)
* CD Player/MP3 Player with iPod Connectivity and an AUX Port for the DVD player (we added 2 speakers, so it has 4 speakers - allowing the kids to hear the music/audiobooks/DVD)
* Tow ball/Tow Bar
* Dual Battery setup under the bonnet (to run a fridge (which we haven't got yet), and also have a spare battery in case the main battery dies at a less than convenient time!)
* Live front Axle's (as opposed to independent front suspension) with manually lockable front hubs
* 2 Wheel Drive High range, 4 Wheel Drive High range and 4 Wheel Drive low range gear options
* Cargo Barrier, so we can stack up the boot if we want/need to
* Roof racks (and we want to add a roof cage or Pod)
* Brand new Cooper Discover All Terrain Tyres (with 2 spare tyres)
* New Pedders Suspension springs (front and rear) and shock absorbers
* A new air conditioner condensor - the old one had a hole :(
* A brand new cooling system (radiator, thermostat, viscous coupling) because the old radiator was not working properly (another story to tell some other time!)
* An overhaul by a diesel mechanic to check and tune the eninge just to make sure it's in top working order.
* A Bull Bar
* A Uniden 80 Channel 5 Watt CB UHF Radio and Antenna
* A Rhino Rack roof cage so that we could mount the second spare tyre and 2 Jerry Cans

I'll post a few pictures of the car and probably add to the above list as I think of what else I've done to it.


The Mighty Van...

Once we had decided on the vehicle we were going to take, we needed to decide on the accommodation.  After investing much time and energy into researching what would best suit our needs, we decided to buy a caravan (as opposed to a camper trailer, a pop-out caravan, a Motorhome or a 5th Wheeler - all of these have their advantages and disadvantages, and one must carefully weigh up what is important to them when making a decision like this).  An opportunity presented itslef for us to buy the below pictured van, and we decided to take it:

So this is our van.   She's definitely an old thing, but is fairly solid construction and will fit all 5 of us.  It's a late 1970's Newlands Caravan that has been done up by several previous owners.
  (Right) - The view of the front door from inside the van.
 (Left) - Here's a picture of the van setup on a trip we took to the central coast

 (Right) - this view shows the van from the front looking back.  You can see the blank wall straight ahead.  that is the double bed - it folds down from the wall - this is a truly brilliant design, meaning we have heaps of room to move around when the bed is tucked away.  You can also (just) see the triple bunks at the back behind all the cupboards.
(Left) - this is a view looking from the back toward the front

We think that the van will hold up quite well and I'll be posting more information about it when I have the time :)


Take a tour of the Mighty Van by clicking on the video link below:

Inside the Van - click above

Outside the Van - click above

A tour inside the van at the end of our trip (Jan 2013)