Ben, Gemma, Arlo and Gus’s epic journey to the Big Red Bash in Birdsville.
We set off in early July 2019 in our Nissan Navara towing our 22’6″ Hilltop Thredbo caravan.
The caravan was setup with Cruisemaster CRS2 independent suspension, DO35 hitch, 2 x 160W solar panels, 1 x 200AH lithium battery, compressor fridge, Swift 2 burner slide out cooker in the front boot, stone guard, grey water tank, Dexter Sway Control and all the other normal inclusions on our Thredbos.
I (Ben) had the queen bed up the front and Gemma (daughter of Ben) had the club lounge at the back as her bed. The table goes down and with the tic cushion the lounge converts to a bed. It was literally a couple of minutes to setup and pack up Gemma’s bed each day. Gus slept next to Gemma on the lounge and Arlo slept at the end of my bed. By the way Gus is a Cavoodle about 10 years old and Arlo is a 7 month old Malimute cross Husky puppy.
We spent approximately half our time free camping and the other half in caravan parks. Both experiences were great. The concert in Birdsville was brilliant culminating with Midnight Oil doing a two and half hour set in front of the Big Red sand dune. As they began the sun set behind the stage and then whilst they were playing the full moon came up in from behind us shining on the stage and lighting up the whole area. Awesome!
The whole journey was the most amazing experience and we all loved The Outback. From free camping on the Murrumbidgee river to artesian hot spring spas in Quilpie to the journey down the Birdsville track. Impromptu camp fires sitting around meeting all sorts of people from all walks of life having a beer or whatever. Long walks with the dogs, bumping into our next door neighbors from home when we were in Marree (that was really weird) and every day being a new adventure.
We travelled more than 800km on unsealed red, and all other colour, dust roads. Lots of corrugations, cattle grids and rocks to be negotiated. We tried not to travel more than 300 – 400km in a day and had plenty of stops to stretch the legs and enjoy the journey. On the bitumen we were normally travelling at about 95km/hr and on the dirt roads anywhere between 10km/hr and 70km/hr. We let the tyre pressures down on both the car and caravan when on the dirt roads which made a huge difference to our comfort level.
We loved the caravan and it performed brilliantly. Early on we broke the catch on the draw with all of our mugs in. The mugs came out and the handle broke off each of the mugs so it was handleless mugs for the rest of the trip. We laughed. Apart from this the cabinetry didn’t budge and the benefits of the construction methods used by Hilltop including piano hinges and ball bearing runners was evident.
My famous last words to Hilltop were “I don’t think we need to worry about full protection for the pipes etc under the van”. I admit I got that one wrong. Just before Birdsville a rock broke one of our fresh water drain taps off and we lost all of our water from both tanks. Luckily I was able to purchase a new tap that fitted in Birdsville and replace it, fill our tanks and get to the Big Red Bash on time. Then when we left Birdsville heading down the Birdsville Track another rock broke the end off our grey water outlet. Annoying but not disastrous. I guess I did need the full protection on the pipes after all.
We had the best time. We learnt a lot. We experienced parts of Austalia that are worlds apart from the Australia that we live in. We met all sorts of people. WE CAN’T WAIT TO GO ON OUR NEXT TRIP. Apparently both Gus and Arlo are ready for the next trip anytime we are.
Below are a few of the huge number of photos we took.