Well, I was fortunate to marry the love of my life ‘Kari’ on 12 August 2017 at the beautiful Lake Barrine on the Atherton Tablelands of Far North Queensland. Shortly afterward we embarked on a honeymoon with a difference from Cairns.
While Kari was busy with wedding planning, I spent considerable time contemplating what to do with the honeymoon. As most of you know we all love camping at Open Sky Touring (wives and family included), but is that the way to go for that once in a lifetime honeymoon? It was a difficult dilemma and I looked at overseas options, consulted trusted friends and got a range of views even from diehard travelers in the bush. The comment “I don’t know I would head bush with the missus” was fairly common.
Un-deterred I elected to look at a journey which incorporated a trip from Cairns to the Red Centre through some of the best of what Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia had to offer. Like most trips there were time limits based on ability to get time off work. With a wedding as well it was going to be tight, but Kari and I managed to put together a trip from the 15th of August to 11th September 2017 (Kari at the very least needed to be dropped at her workplace curb by 7:30am on the 12th).
One thing I have learned when touring while awesome, flexibility for unintended detours, breakages (Ben, Simpson Desert 2015) or simply other unforeseen events need to be managed into the schedule.
After consideration of places Kari and I had visited as individuals in the past, we decided on a route which took us from Cairns through to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, Riversleigh, and West across the Barkly Highway into the Northern Territory. We then continued South on the Stuart Highway to the Devil’s Marbles before hitting Alice Springs. Alice Springs provided a launching point for the West MacDonnell National Park, Finke National Park before hitting Kings Canyon.
The Red Centre icons of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Juta (The Olgas) were a focal point for the planning of this journey and we decided this location would be nice to incorporate some honeymoon luxury accommodation and experiences for a few nights to provide something a little unique and special for the honeymoon.
The departure from the Rock would see us head east to the true Red Centre namely Lambert’s Centre of Australia. It was then onto Old Andadoo Station, Mac Clarke’s Conservation reserve before heading to Mount Dare for a Simpson Desert crossing. Although it would be my second, it was a first for Kari, a first as a single vehicle and a first towing.
Preparing the vehicle for red centre trip needed to be as meticulous as it could be. While I was confident with the Landy in combination with our Patriot camper for the journey. There are always plenty of things you should do as a matter of course for these events. Going over your vehicle with a trusted mechanic is always important to identify and rectify those potential issues 7,000km of corrugation and vibration may unravel. Going through and tightening all those nuts and bolts (always a few more on the Landy). Loctite is an essential, no matter how new the truck is. There is no discrimination when it comes to never-ending corrugations. Consideration of some key spares such as hoses, serpentine belt, fluids, tools for your vehicle and recovery gear is good to have. Checking you have recovery insurance and what you are up for in the event of vehicle recovery in a remote location. Having a $20,000 recovery bill from the Simpson is not a good way to end a trip of a lifetime. Simple preparations like these help ensure your trip progresses with fewer hitches and you are prepared in the event you need assistance.
In this preparation, I thought the outback drawer system had a bolt starting to come loose. Upon pulling it apart, things were significantly more damaged than anticipated. One of the floor braces had vibration fractures immediately in front of an anchor point.
Although not a welder myself, I was able to seek some assistance from Shane Stroud at Decked Out Fabrications who welded this back in place and used a further fabricated floor brace to create a stronger support system than the original. Having good contacts is often a saviour in these situations. Although a rush to squeeze this in, fixing a smaller issue now meant not having a bigger issue later.
Like most big trips it’s always a justification to complete a couple more projects on your vehicle. For me the removal of the original radio unit and replacement with an Alpine head unit solved a few problems, first having a decent amplifier meant the music was far easier to hear in the Landy. Bluetooth meant streaming from the phone or any other device was simple, and finally the addition of a microphone meant making calls in the Landy was a breeze.
The second bit of kit I installed was a Redarc 350 watt inverter. With all auto electrics in the truck I have learnt from previous experience, just because you’re paying someone to do work doesn’t mean it’s done professionally. There is definitely a difference between a shop that adds accessories and a good auto electrician. Ben and I both use Aaron Cobavie at DC Tourers. Aaron understands the rigours of remote harsh touring and applies excellent workmanship. You don’t need to be an electrician to see the attention to detail especially if you are comparing to some previous work in your vehicle. The inverter made keeping camera batteries and laptops charged a simple and easy process and the 350 watt inverter was all that was needed. A great addition to the Landy.
The final upgrade was installing some sound deadening material into the Landy. The rear foot well floor to the rear was completed. I also put sound deadening into the internal lining of the doors. An easy application process, and although I am yet to complete the front flooring or the roof lining, Kari and I definitely noticed a reduction in road and wind noise.
Despite the time pressures which always seem to mount between getting your work requirements squared away and getting the vehicle prepared, plus the added little thing called a wedding we had vehicle and camper ready. We were away heading towards Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park wondering how after so much build up the wedding had been and gone and our unique honeymoon to the Red Centre was just beginning.