Well, the last few months have been a roller coaster to say the least. A nightmarish roller coaster would be a fair description, although we are grateful to have so far avoided family tragedy. Our sincerest condolences go out to all the families of those who have been affected by COVID-19.
Both Nic and I have been stuck overseas for the last few months of the Coronavirus lockdown. The Cairns, Mackay and Brisbane shows were pulled down, bush trips have had to be cancelled, we have been split from family back home, and in general, life has been turned on its head in one way or another. Our story, or a version of it, has been the case for many Aussies battling to somehow keep their own personal, family and business ‘shows on the road’.
What is also worrying, possibly as much as the Coronavirus itself, is the official news of an economic recession in Australia and concerns about how that will play out. However, in the interest of not harping on about the negatives too much, who’s planning a bush trip?
We certainly are, and as soon as possible. As we write this newsletter, Australia is starting to open up with restrictions easing across the country. We, like many others, are absolutely chomping at the bit to explore the beautiful outback again.
One of our recent Facebook posts asked where people were planning to travel once the restrictions lifted. After glancing through the responses, it was interesting to note quite a high percentage are planning to visit the central Australian regions and the deserts.
Central Australia is one of our favourite 4WDing and camping destinations, and one that must really be feeling the pinch if they miss the tourist season altogether. So it’s great news for them if we can all get out there and provide some much-needed tourism before the season ends.
Where are we eyeing off? Well, we’re currently planning a trip on the Hay River track at the moment and honestly can’t wait to go. Planning a trip also means thinking about gear again, particularly what’s needed, where it all is and how to best get it in the car and get out the front gate on time.
Have you had a chance to refresh your camping storage at home during the lockdown? Check out our blog on becoming a storage master for some inspiration. It might save you a few hours spent rummaging through boxes and shelves when you can finally hit the road again.
Are you struggling to narrow down your next 4WDing destination? Check out our guides on these incredible spots in Australia:
The China Dilemma
Speaking of gear, as I was mentally going through my camping checklist and looking at the calendar, I remembered that I was up for a new torch. I did my research and had one in the online shopping cart, when Australia got a right royal spray from the Chinese Ambassador over the suggestion of a COVID-19 inquiry, and then treated to an 80% tariff on barley amongst other things.
This spray from China certainly hit a nerve with me and no doubt many Australians. It made me think a little bit more about where I was spending my own money and who was benefitting. First up, I deleted that torch from the online cart when I found out where it was owned and made. Unfortunately, after a lot of time spent searching online, it appears the other quality options are US made and very expensive.
The scary part of this little exercise was that as I researched through the various torch brands, I found out just how much stuff comes from China and just how many Australian businesses rely on it for their income. And herein lies the dilemma. If you ditch buying the Chinese gear, Aussie businesses will also suffer. It seems to me that they have Australia by the short and curlies … at least if we are not prepared to take the pain and don’t do something about it.
We all really need to think about it a bit more and buy Australian-made products whenever possible while pushing for more clarity on what is Aussie-made gear and what is not. We recently published a blog covering 10 Australian-made-and-owned camping products that are not only of the highest quality, but also support hard-working Australians. They need our support more now than ever, so check it out if you’re in the market for some new camping gear.
The Expedition Box seals
One of our customers recently gave us some negative feedback on our Expedition134 storage box, saying that he was having issues with closing the latches on his new boxes. In taking this feedback on the chin, our advice to anyone receiving their boxes for the first time is to leave the boxes with the lids latched down for 48 to 72 hours to allow the seals to bed in.
The seals themselves went through loads of different tests before we settled on them. The compound that we chose at the end of the testing process is a bit firm until it moulds to the lip of the box properly. The more you use them, the easier it becomes.
If you’re assembling your boxes for the first time, check out our handy instructional video on our website. If that middle latch is a bit difficult to close, use one hand to pull the lip of the tub up and out while pushing down on the latch and it will shut.
That’s enough from us, hopefully we can make it to the Brisbane Show (if the new dates align) later in the year. Take care and hopefully we see you out there.