Sunday, June 26, 2022

Towards Menindee

A leisurely start this morning on our way south along the Pacific Highway. We sat comfortably at 100 km/h for most of our trip before a brief stop in Johns River for a light lunch and coffee.

More vans were heading north than the direction we were taking, which of course, is understandable as they are all escaping the cooler weather.

After Hexam, we joined John Renshaw Drive before taking the Hunter Expressway to Jerry's Plains Recreation Reserve. It's one of our favourite stopovers whenever driving along the Golden Highway, and we were surprised that there were only three vans here for the evening.

Thank goodness for our diesel heater, as it kept us warm before retiring for the evening and again the following morning with the internal temperature showing just seven degrees.

Our second night was spent at Bob Christensen Reserve just outside Warren, and yet again, it's another of our favourites. It's a vast area with absolutely no facilities. We stopped briefly in town to top up one of our tanks before heading towards Nyngan, where we refuelled at 224.9 Cpl. 

We joined the Barrier Highway heading west towards Cobar, where we stopped for lunch and topped up our Adblue. Our camp tonight was at Bulla Park rest area 119 km from Cobar. It's a large area, and we could camp about 200 metres from the road, although the trucks stopped quite early, so we enjoyed a peaceful evening.

Another lateish start with just 140 km to Wilcannia, where we refuelled again at 224.9 Cpl. We checked road conditions to find out that the western side of the Darling River was open to traffic with just one water hazard across the road to contend with. The eastern road side of the Darling was closed from Bourke to Menindee.

Our next three nights were spent camped right on the Darling River at Nelia Gaari Station 90 km south of Wilcannia. Your $20 per couple per night gets you hot showers, toilets and absolute river frontage.

It was wonderful to see the river so full and flowing as on our previous visits along the Darling River there have just been pools of water here and there.

Our next three nights were spent camped beside Lake Pamamaroo just outside Menindee and here again, it was lovely to see that the lakes surrounding Menindee are all full again after many years of being bone dry.

The sunsets here are always very spectacular and it's wonderful to see just how amazing nature really is.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Snugtop Canopy

Our Snugtop canopy was ordered in May last year, and after a nine-month wait to have it made and shipped from the US, it has finally arrived. 

It was delivered to and installed by Carbitz 4WD Fitout Solutions. There was quite a bit of prior preparation, which included sealing areas of the tub with black automotive sikaflex.

We'd also purchased a pre-cut sponge complete bed seal kit from the US. 

The latest addition for "Betty" is these Bilstein 5160 remote reservoir shock absorbers installed to the front and rear. Compared to a traditional shock absorber, the remote reservoir increases cooling capacity and wheel travel to optimize overall performance.

Next month's project will be installing a lithium battery and associated wiring to run our Engel fridge.

Friday, December 17, 2021

The Long Wait is Finally Over

 Well, the wait is finally over. 

It's been fourteen months almost to the day since we paid our initial deposit to secure our 2021 delivery.

To say we're excited is a definite understatement, and the wait time has been so worthwhile.

The workmanship and quality of the product are second to none.

There is only one change we've made, and that is with the awning. Originally our plan was to have a Thule electric awning, but after receiving feedback, we decided to go with the Carefree Altitude electric awning.

Bushman compressor fridge and dual induction cooktop:

Our Panasonic 4 in 1 oven that bakes steams fry's and is a microwave:

Natures Head Composting Toilet:

Internal roof panel with recessed LED lighting, housing speakers, electric skylight hatch and aircon:

Simplicity Load Sharing Coil Suspension:

Excited to see that Bushtracker is now using my Flinders Ranges photo I took several years ago with our old Bushtracker on the owners manual:

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Bushtracker Construction

 After paying our deposit in October 2020 and all the problems associated with the pandemic, we expected our new van to be ready in early September 2021.

Our first significant instalment was paid on the 7th of September, 2021. This first payment is for the completion of the chassis and frame. It's now the first week of November, and we have just been asked for the close-in payment.

The great news is that our van will be ready for pickup on the 7th of December. Unfortunately, the QLD border will be closed until the 17th of December, so we've decided to have our van trucked to the Bushtracker agent ABCO Caravan Services here in Coffs Harbour. 

We've already received a quote from Straightshot Transport, and at $1474, we think it's excellent value and are currently organising through them to liaise with Bushtracker regarding delivery.

Updated photos received during the last week in November:

Monday, May 31, 2021

Bushtracker Factory Tour

 We booked into an Airbnb located in Tanawa, a short ten-minute drive from the Bushtracker Factory at Kunda Park.

Our visit was to have our plans for our new 18' mid width van drawn up and let them know what extra additions we wanted above and beyond the standard inclusions.

It's our third new Bushtracker, so the whole process took a little less than two hours to have the plan drawn up, additions added, and interior colours sorted. Mind you, we had already downloaded copies of plans available from the Bushtracker website, where you can cut and paste templates to suit your needs.

This van will be different in so many ways from our previous Bushtrackers. There will be interior and exterior changes that will ensure we can spend even more time off the grid.

Instead of the standard Simplicity Suspension, we have opted to have the Load Sharing Coil Suspension that gives an even smoother ride.

Cladding will now be fibreglass, and instead of having the checker plate, we are going with the Dominator coat on a flat surface under the vans rub line that Bushtracker is known to have. 

The 600 a/h lithium batteries and 1000 watts of solar allow us to do away with gas cooking. Instead, we will have a Panasonic 31L 1000W Inverter microwave with a flatbed design that steams, bakes, grills and microwaves. The bake and grill function is like a traditional oven with a 30c to 230c temperature range. Hotplates will be dual induction, and the E-pro 3000W inverter will be more than capable of powering these devices.
On our first van we installed a combined shower/toilet and have elected to have the same in this van. We find having the whole back of the van taken up with the separate facilities is just a waste of space, and let's face it, how long do you spend in there anyway.

We are also doing away with the traditional Thetford toilet. A Natures Head composting toilet will be installed instead. We have several friends who have these installed in their vans, and they rave about how wonderful they are. Solids and liquids are separated, with the solids having to be changed about every four weeks or longer, and the fluids can be easily changed whenever you wish with the container holding 10 litres.

The Carefree awning is the current electric awning being fitted.  We weren't overly impressed with this and have decided to install a Thule electric one instead. This particular awning reminded us our oue A & E awning on our first van with its protective cover when not been used. The Thule goes a step further having the awning fully enclosed in its own canister. 
So its now just a tad over three months before pickup which will pass by quickly considering its been seven months since we paid our deposit.