18th September 2019
We approached the Birdsville trip to the Big Red Bash with mixed feelings; Do we really want to drive that far? Can our equipment handle it? Where are we going to stay? What if we run out of fuel? What if we break down? What if we run out of booze! etc.
As it wasn’t a normal camping trip to a normal destination we didn’t have the different big loads of gear to cover different activities such as surfing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, snorkelling etc. Some of which we can carry all this for a week away. So that left us more storage space than usual.
The main difference was the remote location and less available service assistance and stores normally more available in populated areas.
If you don’t have long range fuel capacity you definitely want some jerry cans. We took four giving us an extra eighty litres. The thought process there was, we had fuel to top up if we needed to between some of the longer drives between service stations out west. And enough if one of the fuel stations had no fuel, some had run out but we didn’t strike an entire town running out. This has been rumoured to happen. Anticipate lining up for fuel at Quilpie, Windorah and Birdsville. We arrived at Birdsville on fumes in the 76 series Land Cruiser towing a van, still with four jerry cans full.
Take a toolbox with a range of mechanical and electrical tools suited to your vehicle and van including a hacksaw. We also carried a kit with electrical connectors, Anderson plugs, fuses etc and consumable items such as epoxy repair, duct tape, epoxy araldite glue, thread sealant. Car spares such as belts, fuel filter, oil, lamps for lights.
The car got a thorough mechanics service pre departure as well as new tyres. I wouldn’t do this trip on older tyres, especially the Birdsville Development Road with all its rocks. Check your suspension especially if towing as it will get a work out.
Whilst 3000KM of driving seems like a lot we drove around 8 hours per day. Stopping for fuel, to look around bush towns and at rivers and places of interest. With the hectic towns and city vibe from the coast behind us we just got immersed in the bush. We never plugged the van into power once and never paid to camp. Didn’t have to, there was ample places to stop and stay the night. Sometimes at bush pubs not in towns such as; Nindigully, Toompine and Betoota. We made a point of at least having a few drinks at the bar of these places and were glad we did. At other times stopping at river camps or just turning left into the bush. The van has a toilet and shower making this easier. We would catch our grey water in buckets and tip on to a tree struggling with the drought. Our outlook was to do early quick starts, travel and look around most of the day and try and have the camp set up with an hour of daylight left. Eat after dark and early to bed.