Elephant Cove, Denmark, Western Australia.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I've Started Looking At Vans.

We went looking at vans on Monday.  Drove to Perth as we were told of a place that sold camper vans but they only had big and expensive, to us, motor homes.  So what's the difference between a CV and a MH?  To me a CV is a small van while the MH are big and flash and cost more money than I have.  CV's probably wouldnt have a toilet or shower and aren't as fancy.

We also looked at vans that we could *convert* ourselves.  Mainly we would build a base for a bed and storage. Maybe a sink...I have too many ideas and need to be more realistic.

Vans that fit my budget are old and have heaps of km's on them so I need to find out what is too old and how many k's is too many.

I spoke to my mechanic this morning and he suggested 2 makes that were reliable and 1 that he wouldn't bother with so I probably won't get a Nissan.  One make that he said were good was the same as a van we looked at on the way home yesterday.  It was a 7seater, automatic, power steering, duel fuel...but old with lots of k's...but enough room if we took out the back seats...and it fits my budget...
If it is still there next week I will take it for a test drive.

This same place had a manuel van going *as traded* real cheap and I did really like that and took it for a test drive but because I have *health issues* I really do need an automatic.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Expensive Shower.

We have been given a shower unit, one that was no longer needed at
Hubby's work as they have upgraded to an inside shower.

This unit runs on gas and heats the water so you can have long hot showers when camping rough out in the bush.

Hubby likes it, it is what he has been using for the last year or so
when working away, and wants to take it with us when we go away again. 
I kinda think it is big, it will take up more room then the 12volt one that we have, we will have to take a bigger gas bottle...It does run on small gas cylinders but as they are not refillable I wont want to use them.  It is heavier and taking the gas will add a bit more weight to the car.  Not really issues for me though as I wont be driving his car or paying for his fuel so maybe they shouldn't be added into the equation...

As I won't be driving, paying, setting it up or packing it away again I probably shouldn't have any say in it, aye?
But I will have...smiling face here...
But in the end, his car, he drives, he pays so I will allow him the final say, aren't I a nice little wifey.

And I do appreciate the fact that we were given it so the least I can do is give it a fair trial.

Will let you all know my thoughts on it after we have used it in a camp situation.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Choosing A Camping Car. More Thoughts. Again.

We were kinda thinking about going to Tasmania in 2012 and hiring a camper van when there to explore the place.
My wanting a camper van and getting it set up so I/we can just get in and go has started us thinking about driving over and driving our own van around Tassie..  Hubby says he would want something bigger than what I want though so we are now trying to work out what would be better there.

1.  Do I get my small van and use it for my solo trips but we use his Cruiser when we both go somewhere.
2.  We buy a bigger camper for the Tassie Trip and sell it when we get back.
3.  We buy a bigger camper van to start with and I use that instead of a small one.  
4.  We hire when we get to Tassie.

1.  This is what I want to happen and if it happens by the end of this year then all the better.
2.  This would probably be an expensive option but it would be easier if we had everything we needed with us all the time.
3.  I'm not really happy with option 3 as I don't like bigger cars.  I think it would stop me going off by myself.
4.  Hiring as an option would mean flying over east, getting the ferry over to Tassie, picking up the hire van that may not have what we want in it, worrying about crashing and insurance on someone else's car...

It doesn't sound like I am too keen on option 4. does it?  Option 3 isn't what I want either.

Hubby suggested that we go up to Perth this week and have a look at some camper vans so as to get an idea on size and setups.  A great idea.  But then he goes to work and we can't.  How rude!

He thinks we should get something already set up but I quite like the idea of buying a van and setting it up ourselves.  That way we can do it the way we (I) want.   Trouble there is that he knows that he would be the one doing the work.  If we (he) did the work though we could insulate the van, the setup would be what suited us, the work would be nice and tidy and look good...

He wants different things in the van than I do.  I don't think I need a sink or stove in the van, I could cook outside on one of those little cookers and wash-up in a bucket but he thinks they need to be able to be done inside in case of rain which is a good point but...Isn't that what tinned baked beans are for?
He would need a longer bed than me so if he was going to use the van as well then we need to think about that.  He says I will need a table set up inside...Would I though or would a card table and folding chair be OK?  I want a toilet of some sort inside.  Can this be done in a small van?

If the van was just for me and we used his Cruiser for the 2 of us then it wouldn't need to be 4x4.

How do people decide on things like this?.  Maybe I am over thinking the thing and I just need to buy a basic van, throw a mattress down in the back, add a camping stove and a bag of food, a change of clothes, some water and go somewhere.  Then if things were added in later, bonus, if not then so be it...I wanted minimilistic and that would give it to me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cruiser Camping.

A few days ago we had our first camping trip using the Cruiser as our camper.  We loaded up the back with all the stuff we thought we would need and headed up to Kokerbin Rock.
There are toilets and cold water taps at the first camping area there but we drove around a bit and found a nice spot under some trees.  A few fire rings were here but no toilet or taps but that was OK as we had plenty of water and had taken the PortaLoo.

 It was getting close to 5pm by the time we arrived and being the middle of July it would soon be dark so we, Hubby, unloaded the table, esky and other things from the back and I started getting tea ready.  We put a tarp over the car but had taken the wrong one and next time we will take the bigger one.  Eventually we will buy a *proper* tarp, one that is big enough to cover the car and outdoor area, one that is not blue.  It did end up being a lovely night though and the tarp wasn't needed.

Some things from this trip.

I had kind of menu planned for this trip so knew what we would be eating and so the meal prep was done with no worries.  We used the small camping stoves that use the butane cylinders and we took 2 of these.  They worked really well and I didn't have to wait very long for the water to boil for our morning coffee.  A big plus there.
We had these and all the cooking stuff in a big metal box so everything was easy to get too.  I had taken frozen meals as I thought they would be easier for me.

We have slept in the swag lots of times but this was the first time using it on the tray of the cruiser.  It was not as comfortable and we will need to do something about this.  Maybe a bed platform or a mattress instead of the swag.  The quilt that goes with this swag is for one person and I had forgotten that so it was lucky that Hubby told me to grab another one just before we left home.  It was definatly needed.

Keeping Food Cold..
I had frozen all the meals that I had planned and put them in an esky with frozen sheet things and everything stayed frozen.  Son has been collecting these icepacks from his work.  they come down in boxes of meat and are then thrown away.   We have 9 of them now, he has a few himself, and he will collect more.  I think it's bad that they are just binned at his work.  These things cost $5+ depending on size.
We took the small fridge that we had been given and that was plugged into the cigerette lighter and kept Hubbys drinks cold enough so that is a keeper and I will plan to use that in future trips.

Toilet and Shower.
We took a 12volt shower and a gas ring to heat water for this but as we were only away one night it didn't get used.  With his new water tanks under the car though we will be able to have a hot shower whenever we want without worrying about water running low.  The shower and gas ring will fit into a metal bucket so it is all together.
We took our Porta Loo but had it in the back of the Cruiser.  It was mainly for emergencies and so I didn't have to pee on the side of the road with trafic passing or if there were other campers in our area.   It was only used by me to pee in and it worked fine.  We will set up a shelter if we set up camp for a longer time.
I used Woolworths no name Nappy wash as the chemical in the loo and that worked fine though it still needs to be tested on solids.
A FUD would have been handy though.

There were a few fire rings in the area we camped, just rocks forming a circle where people had lit fires but the area around them was all cleared and they would have been safe to use.  We had thought of using a campfire while away but remembered that Son had our hotplate so the small cookers were our next choice.
I thought that I had newspapers for starting a fire in the bottom of our boxes as well but found out that I didn't.
Friday morning as I was making coffees Hubby did get a fire going though, using a scrap of paper from his pocket and leaves.  I wouldn't be able to do that, I would need heaps of paper and small sticks, then bigger stuff...Anyway, we sat near the fire and had our coffee before setting off to explore.   There was plenty of wood in this area but I think we should take small wood with us as not all places allow you to use wood from the area.

What do you do at night when it is cold and dark?  We could have lit the fire and sat around that for an hour or so...what else? 
My idea was to go to bed when it was dark and get up with the sun.  So we went to bed when it was dark and we woke up a while later only to find out it was ONLY 8pm!!!  Recovered from that and finally went back to sleep.  I was awake soon after and ready to get up but I asked him the time and he said it was midnight.  What the...He was teasing though as it was nealy 6am so up we got for our coffee.

A bed platform with drawers underneath would be great as then all our stuff would be handy and organised.
Hubby has put lights and power to the back of his car as well so a flick of a switch was all it took to find anything so it wasn't too bad but a platform would be handy.
It has been thought about, talked about and is now a *wait 'til he makes it* thing.

I need to iron out a few minor things but everything will get better as we get away more often and get better organised.  As our first go at camping like this I thought I did pretty good.  

One thing I didn't do...that was to make some cake or a batch of bickies or something so he could have something to snack on while driving.  He doesn't usually eat stuff like that and hadn't mentioned it in the talk of going camping but it is something that I will do next time.  Trouble is though, if he doesn't eat the stuff then I would and I so don't need to.  I might make some stuff up though and put it out in the shed freezer so it can be grabbed when we decide to just up and go.

I did scare myself a few times with stupid thoughts though and will need to learn how to stop that if I want to go by myself.  

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kokerbin Rock.


 This is the road to here...........

Finally, after years of wanting to see and climb this rock the day came for us to do so.
Kokerbin Rock is the third largest monolith in Australia so I was expecting something absolutely fantastic but I am sad to say that while is is a goal achieved I was a tad disappointed in the area.
The rock itself was an easyish climb even for me, the fat, unfit, iron deficient 52 year old and though there was some huffing and puffing happening it wasn't too bad.  Unless I tried to talk!  Or walk uphill!

There are different areas of interest on and around the rock but we had trouble finding them.  I think.  Maybe we did find them but didn't know it because this is what the signs are like.

                                                    They are just signposts!
      Wave Wall, Dog Rock, Devils Marbles, Caves...I *think* we saw them all...

The paths were blocked and not clearly marked so we could have been following animal paths for all we knew.   *Someone* had tied yellow tape to trees, maybe as trail markers but a lot of the trees had fallen over so the trail suddenly ended and unless you saw the tape further along you wouldn't know if you were going the right way.   We still don't know if it was the right way though.  Maybe someone just marked out a hazardous trail as a joke.  Who knows. 
Even getting to the top of the rock was an unknown adventure as there was no clearly marked track.  Of course there may have been and we completely missed it but then if it was clearly marked wouldn't we have seen it?  HoHum...anyway, I followed Hubby and we made it to the lookout, which looked like it was the highest point so I can say that I did climb this rock.
The views were well worth the climb so please don't let my negative ramblings put you off going.

I would have liked a sign showing the distance around the rock and maybe an average time it takes so walkers would have some idea on if they could make it but if there was one here we didn't see it so we just climbed to the top, walk around for a bit being careful not to get too close to the edge, then climbed down a different way and walk around the rock back to the car. It took us maybe an hour to climb and maybe a bit longer to walk around.  I didn't think that it was that hard and Hubby didn't have to put in any effort at all.

I had read/heard that you were no longer allowed to camp at Kokerbin Rock but there were no signs saying that you couldn't so we did.  There are toilets and taps for cold water at the first camp/picnic area as you get to the rock.  There are other areas as you drive around the rock that have been cleared and have fire rings but no toilets or water.
A lady from Bruce Rock Information centre later confirmed that camping IS allowed in the area. (July 2010)

The turnoff to Kokerbin Rock is on the Bruce Rock-Quairading Road, just west of Kwolyin.  About 45 ks west of Bruce Rock.   After the turnoff that says KR is 9km you come to a T junction that has no sign.  We turned left and eventually found it but I think there could have been better signage.  At the T junction I would have turned right.  It was Hubby's decision to go left.  He has a much better sense of direction than me...lucky for us as we needed it here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grrrr At Me.... But You Gotta Laugh.

Hubby has been saying for weeks that we will go up to Kokerbin Rock pretty soon, on one of his breaks.  I say great as long as it's not raining...I have been wanting to go to this place for a few years now.

I have had weeks to get ready.  Late yesterday afternoon he came home, says plans have changed, we'll go tomorrow!  
But I'm not ready!  Maybe a little bit but I still have no list, I still don't know what to take.  I don't know how to *camp cook*  What do you eat when you are out bush anyway?  Will we be cooking on a campfire or those little butane burner things...
I thought we were just going  for 1 night but he say 2 maybe 3...What will I need for 3 nights?!

I have been reading blogs and websites about camping and looking forward to finally going to Kokerbin.
I should have been writing out a list and working out what I want to take.  I probably should have some idea about what food to take and made sure that I have enough ice for the esky.  I should have checked that we have an esky here as I think son has one of ours and a daughter has the other one.  I know that same daughter has our big torch...I should have been getting fit so I can climb this rock.  I should have been learning how to use the GPS so we can go Geocaching.   I should have checked that the camera batteries were charged...

So it's 5.30am and I am having a coffee.  We will leave this morning sometime when we have thrown a few things together.

It will be cold.  It will be cold but fun!  See you when we get back.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Water Tanks.

We were over in Mandurah yesterday picking up a couple of water tanks to put on Hubby's car.
He was looking at getting a 100 litre tank to go under the tray on his Cruiser but I pointed out that he could get 2 86 litre tanks for less than the price of the bigger one so that's what he did. 
One will be for drinking and cooking and the other will be used for showers, cleaning. dishes etc.  I think having 2 will also be better as if one gets a hole or leaks then we will still have water.
Maybe 160 litres of water is a bit of an overkill but hey, he won't be able to use the excuse of not enough water to shower so I think that benefit alone makes it worthwhile.
Another benefit...We wont have to take the 20 litre water containers so will have more room in the tray.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What Do You Need To Take?

I am in the process of thinking about what we NEED to take when we go away. 
I don't want to take a lot of stuff that we don't need but as I am not a camper I don't actually know what we will need.  Hubby says we need this or that and I think *why*  I am not sure if the things he suggest are what is needed or if he is taking my sookylalaness in to account so I don't end up disliking the whole camping scene.
So today I am going to be out in the shed and I will pack a box of stuff that I think we will need.
If there is any room left then I might add in a couple of wants.

I think we need to just go somewhere NOW but with the rain and his unknown workdays fixing on a day to leave isn't happening.  I do think though that if I can get things ready to just put in the car and go then we can leave anytime the rain stops and his boss says no work 'til next week.
Trouble with that idea is that when the rain stops he will probably be called to go to work...
Oh well, maybe next week...
Either way I do need to get a list together and get packing.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fire. Gas. Wood. Which Is Best?

What is the best way to cook a meal, or more importantly heat water for a coffee, when out in the bush away from power?

We have a small gas bottle that has a screw-on burner that we used for heating water when we were at GreenHead.  It worked well but I was always burning myself on it when trying to light it.  My hands don't always work the way they should and turning the knob and trying to get a light to the gas was sometimes a problem for me.  We were using a cigarette lighter but I think if I bought one of those long handled gas lighters I would have less trouble.  However this gas bottle is old and legally it can not be refilled.  The 9kg bottles are too heavy for me to lift and carry.  I am wondering if we need to buy another small bottle so I can use it.

However we also have 2 of those small squarish cookers that use butane and I find them easy and I think they would be safer.  I don't like them as much though as the bottles are not refillable and I hate adding to landfill.  They are cheap though.  Easy too.

If it was cold and allowed in the area  then of course a campfire would be the go. Not all places allow you to collect wood though so that is something that may need to be carried in with us.  Campfires may not get going though if it is wet but I know Hubby would have no trouble.  I would not be able to light a fire in damp conditions, I sometime have trouble getting the wood stove here at home going and that is inside!

Then there are small stoves that people make themselves.  Some use liquid fuel but I quite like the idea of wood burning stoves that are made using a tin and heat your food from the small fire that is under or in them.  Reading about them they look easy to make and easy to get burning.
The reality is far different!  It was for me anyway.
Yesterday we *had a play* and made some "stoves"  Mine was from instructions found online that took me ages of reading and then working out what I was supposed to do.  Hubby's was a hobo style stove made in a couple of minutes, no instructions.
Mine is the one on the right of the photo.  It didn't smoke as much as his but then it didn't burn as well as his.  Mine didn't get going at all and while his burnt and did heat the can of water there was way too much smoke.  It was a fun thing to try though and something that I will try again.  I know if I can get one to work then I will use that to get the water hot for coffees.

You can see his on the left with the flame heating the water and mine on the right...Must be a design fault.

Shower Shelters.

We have a shower shelter that takes a bit of setting up, lots of poles and stuff.  I don't think we have ever used it though as we haven't been on any camping trips that needed it.

We were looking in Totally Wild a few weeks back and they had the flip-out shelters on special.  I have read that though they are easy to set up they were a pain to fold back up and replace in the bag so when Hubby showed an interest in them I asked the salesman to show us how to do it.  It looked easy enough, Hubby had a go and managed with no trouble so he bought 2.  *Apparently* you need one for the shower and one for the toilet.  Who knew.  My minimalistic list is getting longer and longer.  Lucky it's only in my head or I'd be runny out of ink.  But I am also realistic enough to admit that I will be glad of these things when I am using them.

We had another go at setting them up and packing them away again when we were home and though I am short so had a bit of trouble with them Hubby has it down pat so there should be no swearing or tanty throwing come pack up time.

These shelters are OzTrail Ensuite pop-ups and cost us $39 each.  They are light and seem to be quick and easy to set up.  Ditto for him to pack away.  I can't see them taking up too much room in either vehicle.  They come with poles and guy ropes but I don't know if these will be needed every time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Choosing A Camping Car. More thoughts.

We have narrowed the choice of car down to an automatic van of some sort.  Probably 4x4 but as I won't be using that feature that part is still being discussed.
Hubby thinks diesel would be better than unleaded and as his car is diesel and I could *milk* that if I needed to then diesel suits me.  I don't know enough about fuel issues so going on his thoughts on this are OK .

I need to look for ...
Automatic van.
Diesel fuel.
Roo bar.  We could add this ourselves.
Power steering.

I am wondering if I will sell my car so would need this as an everyday car as well.  In that case I would need a van with a seat in the back for passengers. Not a common thing but it does happen.  I am happy to pay licence and insurance on another car though so not a big deal.

Am I looking forward to my first solo getaway?  I think so but I think that if I leave it too long then it won't happen at all so I'd like to get the vehicle before the end of this year.  That gives me 6 months but at least I have some idea what to look for now.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Barbecue Liners.

Before we went on our trip to GreenHead we bought ourselves a *Hot Sheet*  This is a thin, plastic like sheet that you use on barbecues for cooking your food on. 
We bought it from BCF in Mandurah for just under $25 and are very impressed with it.  Size - 50cmx40cm.

I had read somewhere that Bunnings also sold them and last week when we were over there we had a look at them.  The *BBQ Hotplate Liner* are thinner than the *Hot Sheet* but the wrapper says suitable for barbecues and as they were only $13 we bought one to line the frypans with to make them nonstick and easy to clean.  Size - 400x500mm.

We will try the thinner one on a barbecue and see if it is just as good as the thicker, dearer one and if it works as well we will buy that sort as it is half the price.

I have a crappy nonstick pan that does stick so I cut a circle of the cheaper stuff to line that and it works brilliantly. Eggs and other food just slides out. 

We are very impressed with this stuff and would recommend it to others.

The bloke at Bunnings told us that the sheets they sell are made from Teflon.  I am just hoping that it is not too toxic!  I know that there are some concerns in using non-stick products but I think used properly this should be OK. Below is a link to a page that tells about the danger and safety of teflon.

I think that most of us would be exposed to more *poisons* than in this sheet every day so for us it is not an issue.

We think that these sheets will save many a family picnic in the park as I know that some public barbies can be real grotty and these sheets will save you having to clean the hot plate before you use it.  I for one do not want to spend time cleaning a hotplat but nor do I want to cook my food on someone elses mess.   I also don't want to cook on *critters* stuff!

To Fridge Or Not To Fridge?

Having a *discussion* at the moment with Hubby on to fridge or not to fridge.  Do we need one on our camping forays?  I say no, he says yes. 
My thoughts are...we will only be going away for maybe 3 or 4 nights.  Won't be going in the middle of summer.  Take an esky and bottles of frozen water as ice.  Plan meals that don't need refridgeration   If we freeze a meal or two it should still be OK by the third night. .

He asks how I intend keeping bread, cheese, meat, fruit and veg fresh. 

Well, I don't know.  It is something that I now need to think about.  I can go without bread and cheese and I'm sure some fruit and veg would be OK for a couple of days.  After that just eat tinned tuna and pasta. 
I don't like cold drinks so don't need to worry about the water staying cool but if he comes along as well he will want cold drinks.
We have a few eskys but I don't know how good they are.  We are going away  for a couple of days in a week or two so will test one out then.
We have been given a small car fridge but I don't think we have used it yet.  We will need to try this and see if it works and is suitable.

If we are bush camping the only power would come from the car and I would worry that the fridge would drain the car battery.  Not a problem if we are using his car, dual bateries in that, but when I get my van and go off by myself  I don't want any unnecessary worry.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Choosing A Camping Vehicle.

Something we will be doing over the next 6 months is researching cars that might be suitable as a camping vehicle.
Do we want something that we can just throw a mattress in for sleeping but doing all cooking outside and this could be a station wagon, a panel van or 4x4 of some sort, old courier van or similar…
Or a properly set up camper van?  Buy one ready to go or buy an empty van and built it ourselves.
Four wheel drive or will 2 wheel drive be OK?
I suppose I need to know what I want to be using this car for before we can make a decision on what will be suitable. 
At the moment we have a Toyota Landcruiser trayback that has a canopy on the back.  We haven’t used this as a camping car yet but will in a couple of weeks.  I am a bit of a sook and have a few concerns with this.
Mozzies.  I hate mozzies buzzing around my ears and biting me so I have a mosquito net that will go over the swag to protect me.
Security.  I will have Hubby there to protect me. 
Height.  I don’t have much but this car does.  My concern is that I will have trouble getting up and down from the tray.  Some days I don’t have the arm strength to pull myself up and over the sides onto the tray.  We will take a ladder to overcome this and hope I don’t slip off it.  Maybe we’ll need a vidio camera, just in case…
So going by these thoughts I know that I want something that is enclosed like a real car because I want to have access to the front seat in case we need a quick getaway.  Yeah I know.  A tad melodramatic but there you go.  Sookylala thoughts.  There may be fewer bugs with this one too.
I need something that is easy to get in and out of.

I need something that I will be able to drive.  This means that it can’t be too big, must have power steering, an automatic would be better than manual. 
I had nearly decided on a 4x4 camper van but wonder if the motor being under the seats would be a hassle.  Would it make the car hot?.  No frontal protection in a prang.   But any camper van would have the same issues and a roo bar  could overcome the prang thing.
I am tight so don’t want to spend a lot of money getting what I want and what we buy will need to be reliable but cheapish to run and maintain.  

A 4x4 camper van, automatic, power steering, fully set-up and ready to go for no more than $5000.  Air con would be a plus but not essential.  That's not asking for too much is it.

More looking, more reading, more saving, more dreaming…