Journey Learnings

I know I haven’t written up the trip report, but there were things I wanted to remember from the trip and here’s the spot to write them. A little context for information: the trip was a first for all of us, and the terrain and conditions – while somewhat familiar to us – was also very different to what we’ve experienced before. I attempted to project things like water usage, fuel requirements and the amount of beer we required for a trip of this nature. For further context – after we filled up tanks etc at Mount Dare on the western edge of the Simpson Desert and until we reached Birdsville there was nowhere at all to buy food, water or fuel! And I mean there were no shops, very few people (mostly fellow travellers) and no-one to come and rescue us if there was a serious issues with a person or car. A helicopter or plane was probably the best bet for someone with a health issue, but if the car was broken then bad luck – most likely a mechanic would come out and if possible remove the broken part, take it back to Mt Dare / Birdsville, repair it and then return. The cost would be enormous! Hopefully this gives you an idea of the remoteness of this trip. So the things I learned on the trip:

Number 1. We used *far* more diesel than I expected. The last trip through the desert the car used approximately 14L/100km. This trip – 18L/100km. Quite a big jump and we were perilously close on the available fuel to get to Birdsville. While this wasn’t a terrible problem at the finish, we had a near miss when deciding our route – had we gone another way than what we did, after 100km we would have had to turn around and come back. An additional 200km of travel means we’d be sitting next to the track waiting for one of our friends to come back with a jerry can or two of diesel! Absolutely not ideal. Fortunately, I’m a big believer in building some slack into things and that saved us – I’d over provisioned our fuel by a bit and that got us home.

Number 2. One of those big plastic water bladders are an awesome way to carry water. Put behind the front seats with the weight low in the car and easily accessible was spot on. The bladder itself is surprisingly sturdy, and we didn’t run out of water until the very last night in the desert. Fortunately we again had extra water (20L) that saw us out for the journey.

Number 3. I usually try to keep some sort of log. This is usually an abject failure. This time around, I simply wrote some notes in Pages on my iPhone and found that at the end of the trip I had over 5500 words! Just a few words here and there during the day and then at night adds up pretty quickly. This is a great way of keeping a log of what’s happening and as the trip wore on, I referred back to it frequently.

Number 4. We travelled light and used everything. There was only recovery gear for real emergencies that wasn’t used – everything else got a run and we wasted very little space.

Number 5. Spend the first night somewhere before you get to a place with a Bunnings and a BCF or Anaconda or whatever. We stayed near Balranald and realised we needed a bunch of stuff. Next day we went through Mildura and fixed that problem. It was great and we got a lot of value from that one decision. I should have purchased a self-inflating mattress at BCF, but bought one later. This was a game changer for me – we slept on some grounds that were nearly concrete in nature so the extra mattress meant a good night’s sleep instead of an uncomfortable night and crappy rest.

Number 6. Sometimes, you just have to stop early. We had a couple of days where we went hard and made the decision to pull in early. Even with this decision we were still tired the next day. Prioritise rest! Driving all day will take it out of you and the cycle of setup / camp / re-pack and drive can be brutal.

Number 7. Travel with great people. Nuff said. The team were awesome.

That’s enough for now – there are some very specific things related to my own peculiarities I won’t bore you with. Keeping on to these things can make for a great trip!

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

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