Essential Stuff

 Camps 6 & Caravan parks Australia Wide

We got hold of the Camps 6 guide hot off the press just days before we left on our big trip.  We already had Caravan Parks Australia Wide, which was used for some extensive pre-trip planning and dreaming.  Both books have quickly become our bible for our accommodation needs.

Camps 6‘Camps 6’ references over 3700 rest areas, free camping sites, national parks and cheap caravan parks all over Australia.  While it’s not bogged down with the finer details, the symbols, brief descriptions and directions are informative, accurate and give the information you need when making a choice about where to camp.

The symbols include information like access to toilets, showers and running water, what size rig the site can accommodate, power, access to BBQ’s, and mobile phone reception.  Many of the entries have photos and contact phone numbers, and every entry has a HEMA map reference for those wanting detailed directions.

A new feature of the Camps 6 editions is the list of the public ‘black waste’ dump points at the back of the book, as well as a symbol on the maps for every dump point.  There is a big emphasis on considerate camping with this book, which is something every camping and nature lover should support.

‘Caravan Parks Australia Wide’ is in its second addition, last updated May 2009, although you can access some updates online.  Similarly to Camps 6, it gives great maps and references to over 2300 caravan parks.  Listings are divided by state, then place in alphabetical order.  Phone numbers and websites are published for individual campsites, as well as references to any park affiliation with a chain.  We are members of Big 4 and Tops Tourist Parks, so it is always useful to know immediately where we can get a discount, without having to go through several books.

Caravan Parks Australia Wide

Caravan Parks Australia Wide

One of the best features is the cost indicators, with 3 levels of cost represented by symbols.  Of course prices go up over time, and owners and facilities change constantly.  But it is a rough guide to knowing what to expect when getting a quote.

As we are travelling for around a year, we do have an accommodation budget. The plan is to spend a couple of nights a week free-camping (for the experience as well as the price), and then recharge and refill at caravan sites sporadically.  Our books are already well thumbed as we refer to them every day with planning the next stage of our trip.  The maps are also useful to get an overall idea of the local of the area, and distances between destinations.

There is a great community feeling amongst campers.  When you talk to fellow travelers coming from the opposite direction, they often get out their Camps book to give you recommendations of spots they liked, and places to avoid.  I love giving out my own tips.

I insist that anyone planning a trip of more than a couple of stops, it would be worth your while to invest in these two useful and essential guides.

Engel MT45 Fridge/Freezer

While the 3-way fridge in the caravan is great, it is certainly not big enough for 10 months travel on its own.  We decided to invest in a fridge for the truck, for when we go camping without the caravan, and as a second fridge/freezer.  After comparing the different units available, we decided an Engel was the only way to go.  Engel fridges have a reputation for their superior build quality, reliability and quiet operation.  We felt that a sturdy metal constructed fridge would be tougher than some plastic equivalents.

MT45FWe chose the Engel MT45F.  It fits nicely in the back of the patrol and it big enough to hold a substantial amount of food and drinks (40 L capacity).  A 2L soft-drink bottle stands up in it with ease. 

The MT 45 cools up to 50°C below ambient temperature and can therefore be used as a fridge or a freezer.  Power supply is either 12V or 240V (auto switching), so we can run it off the trucks second battery if need be, as power consumption is low.

As we will be venturing off-road from time to time, in very hot conditions, we also invested in an Engel custom transit bag.  This is to help with insulation and protect the MT45F from bumps and scratches.MT45F Transit Bag

On our recent trial run camping trip our Engel fridge performed excellently as expected, keeping our food, drinks and children’s treats cold.  The built in thermometer showed the internal temperature stayed at between 3-4°C for the whole trip, which was perfect. We are really happy with our Engel MT45F, and will be recommending them.  You can get further information and specifications at Engels website. Australia Logo


ABR Sidewinder Dual Battery System

One of the essentials for any big road trip is a good power supply to keep lighting and refrigeration running.  We decided early on in the planning phase that we needed to install a 2nd or dual battery system in the Patrol for this purpose.

DBi140RAfter some online research and consulting 4×4 forums and off-roading friends we decided on the ABR Sidewinder system.  This system comprises of the DBi140R isolator and ABR battery monitor unit.  The Isolator ensures that your 2nd battery only begins re-charging once the main vehicle battery is fully charged.  The System monitor combined with the Db series isolators allows the voltages of both batteries to be monitored, as well as a ‘Link’ start assist function.ABR Monitor

The system was easy to install and has been performing faultlessly since day one.  I am particularly happy that I have the added security of the monitors ‘link’ function should we run into any starting battery problems (if I leave the lights on again).  Derek from ABR was very helpful and quick to reply to my questions, this coupled with reviews from other users made the ABR Sidewinder system the sensible choice.

ABR Sidewinder has a huge range of 4wd accessories which you can check out at Logo



ECUtalk Consult LCD display is a diagnostic and monitoring device for Nissan vehicles.  It plugs directly into the consult port of many popular Nissan models.  I have mounted mine above the steering wheel where I can monitor various sensor readings as they report back to the trucks ECU.  This allows me to spot potential problems before they become serious issues.  

ECUtalk DisplayECUtalk allows alarms to be set for various engine readings including coolant temp, speed and other critical parameters. I’ve read many forum posts relating to ECUtalk and decided it was one piece of essential kit we really needed for our Big Road trip. The unit may also be connected to a laptop PC to allow a far greater range of data to be monitored and diagnosed. I can also use the unit to display vehicle fault codes, which could prove invaluable in a remote mechanics workshop.Pc Consult Display  

Peter Collins has developed a truly amazing, easy to use unit that no Patrol (and other Nissan) owner should be without. You can check out the ECUtalk unit and consult software in more detail at Peter’s website.

www.ecutalk.comECUtalk Logo


IronMan Snorkel

Our IronMan SnorkelWith all the recent bad weather in Queensland, coupled with a very wet winter in the north, we thought it would be a good idea to fit a snorkel to the truck. This will enable us to cross deeper water a little more safely, as well as reducing dust levels reaching the air filter, an advantage whilst driving off road.  A snorkel also forces air to the engine giving a slight increase in performance.

After researching different brands we decided to go with the Ironman Airforce Snorkel.  These units are robust and built to stand the harsh Aussie conditions.  Mike fitted the unit in around 3 hours, although he was a little nervous drilling holes in our Patrol. The Airforce snorkel fits the vehicle exactly due to precise moulding manufacture. We are happy with our Ironman Snorkel and the peace of mind it gives whilst crossing rivers and creeks.  

Airforce Snorkels are available for a range of different off road vehicles.  Ironman also have a vast range of 4wd accessories which you can check out on their website.

www.ironman4x4.comIronMan 4x4 Logo


Gasmate Hot Ozi

Hot Ozi BBQ
Hot Ozi BBQ

One essential item when travelling is a BBQ.  We chose a Gasmate Hot Ozi because it is light, compact, portable and versatile.  We need to carry two gas bottles anyway, and the rest of it packs down into a box not much bigger than a reusable shopping bag.  It’s big enough to cook for a family of four, and it can double as a gas burner for pans, when the hotplate is removed.  You can check it out at the Gasmate website here.


One Response

  1. I may not understand all the blokey stuff – but I shall check out the Gasmate website – I need something to cook on when I come and join you – and for my other camping trips!!

    The truck stuff is interesting though, lots of food for thought in the future 😉

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