The weather was so nice today, so we packed up the FJ and headed down south to Preston Beach for a drive along the coast. We aired down at Preston and headed north up the coast until we pulled over, setup the awning and chairs, had a swim and relaxed for a while. The kids loved it!
Departing Denham, we drove to Kalbarri with the camper in tow, ready for a couple of nights bush camping at Murchison House Station.
Melissa was a little concerned about the bush camping, not having amenities, etc. We paid the $50 4WD bush-bash fee and loaned a property map from the office. The lovely lady gave some recommendations on where to camp and said we could come through to use the amenities whenever we liked. This made Melissa happy.
This property is 350,000 acres! Incredible.
I really wanted to do some fishing in the Murchison and the only allowed places were west of the station house bridge crossing. Camping along the riverside, to the west also meant a 200mtr reserve area. Camping a min of 200mtr away from the river edge.
We drove around for a while, giving the camper a good workout on the rough stuff before back-tracking and settling at a camp we spotted on the way. “Uncle Ian’s Camp”. It was a lovely little clearing, elevated, probably 150mtr from the riverside (oops), it had the remains of a little camp fire, so it was ideal.
The camp location:
Up went the camper, half-annex was plenty to protect from the elements.
After setting up, the kids helped with gathering some fallen wood for the camp fire, they loved every moment. This was actually their first camp fire!
Of course we did toasted marshmallows!
Later that evening, it started to rain, even later on, it was REALLY raining, the entire place was a mud-pit. Luckily I had set up on an elevated area, still, the kids had fun stomping around in the mud in their boots (Melissa was not happy!)
The next morning we cleaned up, drove to the station house for showers, then headed in to town where we caught up with some friends for ice creams and coffee. Not before stopping off at one of the lookout’s just out of town for a photo.
Couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see what was lurking in the Murchison. Sadly at low-tide, so only little guys, but mainly Black Bream. Nothing over 20′ish cm. Spencer caught his first fish here! Pulled in about 10x
The homestead itself was a lot of fun, with goats, horses, and strangely a large collection of odd vehicles (tanks, and other military equipment). The kids loved adventuring here.
Packing up the camper and getting organised, we left Kalbarri and headed home. We stopped in Geraldton for lunch and pushed through to home with a few small stops along the way.
We all had a great time and can’t wait to organise the next trip!
These past school holidays, we drove up to Shark Bay for a break.
We hired an off-road camper trailer from campertrailerswa.com and packed it up that evening ready for a morning departure. First stop, The Pinnacles, wow, this place has changed since I was a little fella. They have a tourist centre, staff, a shop, all sorts. Did you know it’s the most visited tourist attraction in W.A?
Leaving The Pinnacles, we headed for Dongara which would be our first night stay in the camper and a chance for the kids to rest up. Tough job all this driving!
I only partially set up the camper (no annex) and not long after arriving and setting up, we walked down to the beach for a look
Leaving first thing in the morning, we headed up towards Shark Bay. We stopped at Billabong Road house for a pie and a coffee. Out came the awning and we all had a rest
Driving in to Shark Bay was exciting, it’s really lovely country-side. It was a shame to see so many wild goats at the road side chomping on peoples trash. Can’t people just put their trash in the bin instead of out the window? Lazy.
We arrived in Denham and set up at Seaside Tourist Village where we would be for 9 nights. The ground here is as hard as rock. You literally need to drill holes to get your pegs in! The entire camper was set up with a little help from the lads
And then the adventures continued! Using Denham as a base camp, we took off each day on various trips and took it all in. Our first outing was Little Lagoon, where we drove on shore and set up for a day of fishing, swimming and relaxing.
Charlotte caught her first fish, a little “Long Tom”. She was so excited! The other kids were not happy!
Much beer was consumed later that day (actually, every evening).
We took a couple of trips out to Monkey Mia, and on our second trip, we were chosen to feed the dolphins. A lot of people show up for this, sometimes up to 600-700 people! People from the crowd are called in to feed the dolphins. Charlotte was so excited!
While in Monkey Mia, we jumped on a boat and went for a ride to check out some Dugong and also visit the Pearl Farm. It was quite an experience, the crew there sure do know their stuff!
We visited the ocean park / aquarium and saw a great range of marine life including turtles, sharks, sea snakes, lion fish and other common varieties. Of course, we had an ice cream before leaving! The view from this place is spectacular!
We visited Peron Homestead and did the walk-around. Sadly the hot-spring was out of action and being cleaned up because a bunch of idiots trashed the place the night before.
We arrived quiet early so before heading in to the homestead we decided to have a look at Big Lagoon, about 10km up the cape from the home stead. The kids loved the 4WD’ing
One evening, Clinton and I decided to go check out the sand bank a little further north from our camp. We spotted a few folk fishing off there a couple of days earlier and figured we’d give it a go at night. We packed up the FJ and drove right down on to the beach, out to the tip of the sand bank and set up with the big LED light strip from the awning switched on. It was slow to start but as the tide came in, the bites increased as did the size of fish. We pretty much only caught Pink Snapper. The biggest was 47cm, sadly, 3cm short of legal, they all went back in the drink. We had a great time and the FJ was fun at night in the sand.
We took a trip up the top to Cape Peron, via Bottle Bay for some fishing. The 4WD’ing was loads of fun and the FJ just ate it all up. The corrugations were really bad. The Engel held up just fine!
I caught Mulloway, Spangled Emperor and Pink Snapper. All under-size
The cape was spectacular! The red earth meeting the white sand and ocean is a sight to see! It’s approx 40km of off-road from the Peron Homestead to the tip.
We visited Eagle Bluff, Goulet Bluff, Nanga and Shell Beach
The sunsets were stunning
After nine nights in Denham, we packed up and headed south to Kalbarri for two nights on our way home! TBC
So very soon we are heading on our first family touring holiday up to Shark Bay. We are stopping in Dongara, Denham and Kalbarri where we will camp in a few different locations and spend some time relaxing, fishing, and generally having fun.
I’ve been busy prepping the FJ for the trip. There are many 4WD-only places to explore up there and I can’t think of anything better than wheeling over the beaches, pulling up, and dropping the line in.
Melissa and I have already put together an epic list and started planning. I’ve started putting together some fishing rigs, and getting the FJ ready.
Travelling with kids could be a topic on it’s own. It’s very different than travelling without them. They need stimulation, and some rest / play time during the commute. Sure, you can throw on a DVD and let them vege out, but where is the fun in that?
I have a number of stops planned so the kids can get out, stretch their legs, have a feed and run themselves tired for a little while. We’re also doing some over-nighter’s on the way up and back to break that long trip up a little bit.
Lets talk gear! The FJ is almost there and what I would consider ready for touring. We have suitable tyres and suspension, front protection (bull bar), dual-battery & fridge, and a number of storage solutions. This week, the FJ is getting a set of Drifta drawers from drifta.com.au which includes a slide-out table and a fridge slide.
We have some recovery and safety gear going in including first aid kit, maxtrax, air compressor, deflator, tools, shovel and a bunch of other things. I’ve also added a nice side-awning for those day beach trips!
Lets talk accommodation! We’re hiring a soft-floor camper trailer. I’ve always wanted to try one out and I really like the idea of a camper trailer rather than caravan. We’re using camptertrailerswa.com and hiring the Redtrack Fortescue. This is a 7×4 off-road camper, fully Australian made. Water tank, gas, swing out kitchen, stone guard, heaps of storage, full annex. Check their site out for more information
The plan is to open it up and keep it simple for the first over-nighter. Then when we hit Denham (9 nights), fully set it up and make use of the space. On the way back we are doing Kalbarri for 2-nights, so I’ll see what is required for that time. It’s unlikely we will be spending much time in the camper during Kalbarri, so a simple no-annex setup will probably be suitable
There are so many things to consider. Food is a big one. We are new to this, and new to portable fridges, so whilst it’s easy to read up online about how people go about it, putting it in to practice will be interesting.
I’ll be putting together a post or two of the trip when we are back!
So I’ve managed to get the fridge and aux wiring done since I’ve installed the dual battery system.
I ran 6B&S twin-core to the cargo area with a 6-fuse dist block, ready for rear work lights, LED strips, and future camper trailer connector.
I also ran the Engel panel-base wiring kit the entire way. It’s about 10awg and ideal for the fridge. I pulled the Engel OPAN base apart and mounted the sockets in the FJ drivers-side rear light plastic cover, out of the way of the Drifta Drawers which are on the way.
Over the last few days I’ve installed the dual battery system in the FJ.
Off Road Downunder battery tray kit, supercharge ‘allrounder’ 105ah calcium battery, Redarc BCDC1225 DC-DC charger.
The tray kit installed faily easily. I did have a little trouble with one of the power steering hoses, but nothing the heatgun couldn’t help with.
If you want to fit a decent battery in here (100ah), you could go about a max of 305 to 310mm long. You will need to gently bend the alloy a/c pipe, and re-mount it’s bracket UNDER the new battery tray, not on top. Works fine.
I mounted the Redarc unit on top of the fusebox, which seems to be one of the very few places left in my engine bay to install anything. (especially after the ARB Compressor went in). It’s squishy in there now!
Follow the Redarc install guide for your wiring and you will be fine.
Check these guys out if you want a good cargo barrier that doesn’t eat up all of your cargo space but will stop objects flying in to your cabin space
Easy to install with some included fixings
On Saturday, I spent some time with my father-in-law installing recovery points on both of our FJ’s. Mine with the ARB steel bar and his with the factory toyota/nudge bar. It was a little fiddly, but we managed fine. Recovery points are a great idea if you plan to do any kind of off-road driving with any risk of bogging. It’s not ideal to snatch or tow off the factory shipping tie-down points.