Keen to return home to live after their careers took them to Australia, Kiwi pair Gary and CarolynCooper decided to take the long way, starting with a round-Australia odyssey in an FJ Landcruiser.
Carolyn and I wanted to take the road less travelled, thus we needed a reliable and capable 4WD so decided an FJ Cruiser was our weapon of choice.
Being a keen off-roader and a member of a Sydney-based 4WD club I out-fitted the FJ with a two inch lift, Bull bar, winch, IPF driving lights, a second fuel tank to increase our range to approximately 900km, CB, rock rails, snorkel, under body protection and BFG A/Ts.
We nearly brought a roof top tent but eventually decided on the comparative luxury of a Jayco Penquin Outback camper that came up reasonably priced. We fitted it with a second 80ltr water tank, external shower, LED lighting, extra house battery and wind-out awning.
We chose this model as it was very comfortable, had good ground clearance and was easy to tow plus it had a very fast set up time – allowing us to use it for quick lunch stops and the occasional snooze on route.
The plan was to leave the camper when the track wasn’t suitable for towing in order to avoid damage (more on this later) and also to try and stay in as many National Parks as possible as these are very well set up and much nicer places to stay than camping grounds, not to mention cheaper.
First stop on finally leaving Sydney was Goulburn or rather Bungonia National Park near Goulburn which offers a network of fantastic walking tracks and very good camping facilities. The National Park is best known for its 200 odd caves, but oddly (to us, anyway) was the fact that it has a large open cast mine right on its edge.
- Buy a National Park pass for each state you intend to visit in advance as this works out to be much cheaper and avoids you having to pay nightly fee’s. For example for just $65 in NSW you can get your park entrance and camping fees covered for nearly every National Park in NSW for one year which pays for itself in just a few nights.
- Phone coverage is generally good but if you are heading off the beaten track invest in a satellite phone (they are much cheaper in Australia).
- If its suits your travel plan, Sydney has a massive RV, Camping & Caravan show in April every year, a great place to get supplies or ideas.
- Avoid roadhouses if you can, stay on outback stations or free camp in the designated rest areas that allow self-contained camping
- Speed. Enforcement is much stricter in Oz plus your fuel consumption will be much higher and over a 23,000km trip this will make a big difference. The FJ used considerably less fuel at 95km than 110km.