Monday, November 10, 2008

Logistics and the kit

VJ well summarised the daily course of events so I thought I would add some more about the daily logistical challenges which we have to negotiate with what we have on hand. Improvisation or making do in the old vernacular is the key.

When we bought the troopie it was basically a blank canvas and we had to try and assess from the comfort of 4 Prospect Street what we'd need for safe and enjoyable passage across this big big land.

The advantage of the troopie over other vehicles we looked at was basically it's ubiquitousnous in remote locations (so almost anyone out here would know how to fix it when things go wrong, as I don't) and also its length. We'd initially contemplated sleeping in the back quite regularly as it is long enough for me to lie down straight without too much discomfort. To do so however requires taking almost everything out other than things in the drawers so we've only done that for a couple of nights in Yulara to faciliate early starts to see the sun come up and late returns to camp. The back holds a massive amount of stuff thanks in the main to the Black Widow full length sliding drawers, and harder to access side compartments where we've conveniently hidden most of the emergency gear. The left hand drawer contains our larders and 6 kraft mayonnaise containers with coffee, washing suds, flour etc. The right drawer contains the pots and pans and also toiletries and legs for the barbie, winch etc.

On top of the drawers sits the engel which provides a constant stream of cold xxxx gold and fresh meat. It runs off an auxiliary battery which is connected to some black box under the hood which apparently stops it decharging the main cranking battery and charges it while driving once the cranking battery is topped up.

I'm still a bit suspicious about the efficacy of the black box as we've already replaced both batteries. Luckily the non start happened in Alice Springs and I was able to call the NRMA. Push starting the troopie on soft ground is basically a pretty tough call especially seeing we need to park on flat ground so we don't roll out of the tent during the night. Anyhow, the jury is out and it's still a relief when she fires up, especially when we've been somewhere for a couple of nights without any driving.

As VJ said, water for all purposes is a very scarce resource indeed out here. Drinking water that hasn't been chemically treated with a horrible smell and after taste is pretty hard to find. When we do though we've got a 75l bladder that sits behind the back seat and has a handy hose with a tap. The laws of siphoning take it from there. To be honest I was a bit sceptical about spending almost $300 on what is essentially a giant plastic bag but it has been invaluable and seems to have survived the Birdsville 'drinking water' that has forever tainted the other big containers we have which are now relegated to washing water only. There is also a lot of other stuff that can sit on top of the bladder behind the seats and cargo barrier, including the laptop which sits in a backpack on the drivers seat to ride out most of the vibrations. The keyboard of my white mac is looking decidedly pink from the red dust but other than that it all seems to be working.

On the outside of the truck we obviously have the tent and ladder, and the wheel carrier and jerry can holder.

The tent ladder doubles as an end of the washing line and the overhang of the tent serves as a useful place to keep things out of the sun / rain. Note ever so useful milk crate in the foreground. (We're going through Murrumbidgee on the way home for Christmas and I'm hoping we don't get stopped as they're four down to us.)

VJ likes to take care of most of the cooking and has a bigger set up than we had in 4 Prospect Street. The Coleman burner will likely be replaced at Christmas by one like Andi and Doug's that we saw in Yulara. Burner on the right, bbq grill on the left. Perfect. However it has served us really well so far and we're still only half way through our gas bottle six weeks in.

The bin attachs outside on the spare wheel when we're in camp which is good as it gets pretty smelly during the heat of the day. It was a 'freebie' from ARB and also doubles as a good firewood storage bag on the roof.

The only bit of kit we've bought since we left is the MDT, or Mossie Dome Tent. A $99 steal from Alice Springs and a life saver whenever there are flies or mossies around, which is most of the time. Inside the MDT are our camping chairs and coleman fold out table (which has benches and two stoods which fold up inside of it, 25000 reward points from Westpac).

Music/talking books/podcasts etc are delivered to the original toyota cassette deck from my iphone. The days of the three tape road trip are long gone my friends thank god, although given we've been on corrugated dirt most of the time you can't really hear it anyway.

Other than that we're basically on our own. VJ continues to purge things we're not using so I got the bocce out the other day and I'll need to find a way of playing cricket on my own to justify the wahu staying on board.

We've now slept in a tent for 40 nights and we've had 2 in the back of the truck, and to be honest I really am not missing the comfort of home.

As someone said to us the other day, you can stick 5 star when out here we've got 5 billion of them.

Missing friends and associates of course and I did though feel sad to have missed out on yesterday's Newtown festival (as it's been one day a year when without fail i've utterly disgraced myself and no one else has noticed cause they've all been trashed as well) but I think we'll be able to hand on a bit longer.

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