Members Trips

stories from Australia


Planning a Trip
for the old peoples home

by Jim Viney


    When you live in an old people’s home it’s probably safe to say the eyes are not quite what they once were, so running a little laptop gives a much bigger screen than some of the other gadgets and you don’t need to have it on your knee all the time.

    The real truth is I just love gadgets and there is no more room on the dash………
Our trip planner is a Sony Viao fitted with a daylight screen that you can read in full sunlight, it’s all carbon and very light. I altered the program a bit so it runs with the lid shut...easy to do. We run a program called Track Ranger over Natmap Raster premium. When we are traveling the lappy gets plugged into the lighter socket first thing and then just thrown in the back till we need it, usually when someone says, do we go left or right here? Track Ranger has a handy little feature called track trace so you might not know where you are but at least you know where you’ve been, it looks a bit like the yellow brick road. We also carry laminated paper maps just incase we are west of the stump and something goes wrong.

    Sitting at home it’s very easy to put in lots of notes about various side trips you can take and anything you need to look out for and then shut the lid and take it all with you. If you like making notes about camping costs or fuel costs or even keeping a trip diary while sitting on the passenger side, it’s a great record of the trip. Take too many photos? Then simply empty the camera into the lappy.

    Traveling along the highway is unavoidable sometimes, but it bores us ridged and as we like to free camp as much as possible, that can be tricky on the major highways. You can bet that roadmen and construction gangs will nearly always have picked a good camp spot tucked away somewhere….. on the top of cuttings is another good one to look for and usually in hilly country there are lots of places.

    Before the trip starts I put in lots of way points and known camp spots from Camps Australia and any other publications you might use. About mid afternoon the lappy will get dragged out of the back cos by now we should have a good idea where we want be about 4ish and we can start to identify a few possible spots.

    Meal planning is a very important part of any enjoyable trip so that at the end of a long driving stint you can relax a bit and not have to spend a lot of effort getting dinner together. On long trips we make up nice meals at home and freeze them so its just a matter of warming something up…… it is a good idea to remember to take dinner out of the freezer before you leave each morning…we put it in the esky to help keep the veggies cool during the day. If sally says at about 3pm I think we might have bacon and eggs for dinner, you can back it in that it’s still in the freezer.

    Enjoying the journey and not just the destination is an important part of any trip for us, so we tend not to travel very fast, between 80/90k is easy, and gives us plenty of time to gaze and if we are traveling off the highway the speed doesn’t change that much and you still gobble up the miles to say nothing of the fuel savings. We usually travel alone and I know that is not ideal so we take all the obvious precautions. We have 2 fuel tanks that hold 170 litres and we use steel jerries for the extras. The trailer has a 60ltr water tank with a bash plate and we carry extra in 20ltr plastic containers padded into milk crates inside the car.
We carry a full set of tools and a spares box that I struggle to pick up as well as a change of engine oil and diff oil…… the weight is frightening to say nothing of the food and refreshments and of course Sally’s firewood. We cook on a washing machine...saves bending down.

    For the technically minded the vehicle is a mid wheel base Landcruiser which we have owned for nearly 20 years and it’s had a bit ‘done’ to it. There is no back seat but 2 full length drawers instead. The engine is a 6.5 ltr chevy and we put in taller diffs to calm it down a bit. We added coil springs to the leaf springs which gives great security on long dirt trips and stops the back door from dragging on the ground. We put ARB air lockers front and back. To keep it all neat and tidy we use big bore oil Koni shocks. There is a compressor under the driver’s seat which runs the lockers and is also used for tyre pressures. On the dash we have a tyre pressure monitor that gives pressure and temperature to all tyres including the ones on the trailer and the spares.… it’s important on a big trip to spot the punctures before you wreck the tyres. Also on the dash is a UHF.

    The trailer has 3 drawers …2 slide out the back and the other slides out the side in front of the wheel. The front drawer holds an 85 litre fridge /freezer and 2x 90amp AGM batteries. On the roof of the cruiser there are 2 board racks that hold 2x 90 watt solar panels. When traveling the batteries are charged by the alternator and when we stop I simply unplug from the car and using a small extension lead plug the panels into the front of the trailer ……it’s important to keep the white wine cold or the cook complains. The 2 drawers in the back are kitchen and one called Woolworths. The drawers are really great.... no more bending down. My plan in life is to wear this thing out.

    When the fire is going and dinner is warming and you are enjoying the first bitterly cold one remember…………………… turn off the lappy.

    When we return from a long trip it takes a bit of time to settle back into the normal routine ……we sleep on the front lawn for a while and Sally keeps making fires in the drive and I often fined myself driving down the middle of the road.



November 2008