Outback Adventures with Peter & Dawn

Outback Adventures with Peter & Dawn

On a recent trip to Gympie, home of the Gympie Muster, some friends introduced me to a couple of avid gallivanting nomads.   As avid nomads ourselves, we soon got chatting about our travels.

Peter and Dawn love their caravan so much, that they actually live it in, on their property, even when there are not travelling, but they prefer their outback caravanning adventures even more.   Especially going off the beaten track.  Peter is an ex-truck driver having spent quite a bit of time in the outback so he loves exploring some of these harsh regions.

Dawn and Peter are so passionate about their travels and treat every adventure with a positive outlook as to what lies ahead.  They are a curious couple who prefer to take the back roads and find little gems along the way, wherever they go.

Not Peter & Dawn, but another curious couple and offspring @ Cunamulla, Qld

Their travel stories were intriguing; from Australia to China, we covered them all.  Dawn shared her fascination of oriental philosophy and Peter has a real nose for history.

I just loved hearing their stories. So, I thought I would introduce them to you because I think you’ll enjoy meeting them just as much as I did.

Dawn and Peter try to get on the road for a good part of the year, each and every year.  However, this year, problems with their caravan have delayed them, so they need to get that sorted before they get moving again, but they are chomping at the bit to get back on the road.

Their setup consists of 100 series 2005 Toyota Cruiser (Auto) which they say is a very comfortable vehicle for traveling, and which tows their 18ft off-road caravan.  The caravan has a shower and toilet built in but no washing machine because that would mean carrying more water.

Pete & Dawn’s Rig @ ‘Bowen River Hotel’

We sat and chatted and I asked Peter and Dawn all about their rig and their adventures.

Q. Do you have everything you need with your chosen rig?

A. Yes, we have everything we need to travel but we could have chosen a better brand of caravan,  we are sorting that out now.  But that’s another story altogether. It’s amazing how quickly you learn to compromise on the road. For example, coping in minus 3 degree temperatures, free camping in the bush, washing out of a bucket with no hot water. It’s all fun, and we survived!

Q.  What would you not leave home without when you go on adventures?

A. Peter –Camera, binoculars, wife, spare parts, radiator hoses, fan belt, air filter, oil, fuel, and generator.

Which left me wondering if they were listed in order, especially as the wife is No3 on the list.

A. Dawn – Our feather bed topper, camera and the sat (satellite) phone for remote area travel.

Next question and I suppose it’s a bit of a cliche question but we all have different experiences in life, so I think it is well worth the ask.

Q. What has been your favourite place?

Both Peter and Dawn didn’t hesitate and quickly rattled off a few of their favourite spots.

A. Peter – I don’t have any one favourite place, but lots that stand out all for different reasons.  I love the Flinders Rangers for its raw natural beauty, especially the tracks in the dry creek beds.  Cobbold Gorge on a working property called Robinhood South Station stands out.  You can camp there and it has all you need including a pool and caravan park, but only in the summer.  It’s near Forsayth a gemstone fossicking area about 70 clicks from George Town on the Robinson River.  The gorge is so narrow with rock walls towering above you on both sides, and the punt they use to take visitors across has an electric motor on either end because it can’t be turned around. The water is so clear you can see the bottom, along with the fish and the freshwater crocs.

An oasis @ Lawn Hill

Lawn Hill National Park in  Queensland was another place, what can I say just that it was an amazing place to pull up stocks.  We stayed at Adels Grove, a big camping area that is privately owned.  We travelled there west from Mt Isa, turned north at Flora through Riversleigh Crossing, which is the biggest fossil area in Australia, and then came across lawn Hill, which was like an oasis in the middle of such dry country.

Gregory Downs was another great place, it is just a pub no town but the river with its small rapids is beautiful and you can free camp there.

A. Dawn – I love it out west, the environment, the scenery it is so different, it has pretty amazing photo opportunities everywhere out west and all such different landscapes and wildlife.  At Diamantina National Park in Queensland, we camped on the water’s edge for five days, the birdlife photography was unbelievable.

The designated drives are full of history with lots of walks to explore, and we loved the remote camps in Hunters Gorge.  The water rats were amazing, we will definitely return there one day.  Another standout was Lake Houdramn at the Wanco Station camping area, just out of Quilpie in Queensland.  It was such a lovely town and full of friendly helpful locals.

The Wark River Coberg Pinnular river crossing was interesting, then there is the Toompine Pub, south of Quilpie with a population of 3.  It is a great place to stop with so much animal life making up for the lack of humans.

Warning: Large Croc’s somewhere in there

Q. What’s your best advice for travelling with a caravan?

A. On rough dirt roads or gravel roads don’t be scared to let your tyre pressure down and travel to the capabilities of your caravan, not your vehicle. The lower your tyre pressure the lower the speed.  When traveling in Mining areas be very aware of the big rigs on the road and get off the road where possible, they are much bigger than you are.  These drivers make a living from these mines so keep this front of mind when moving through these areas, and show them some respect, it might even save you a windscreen or two. Who knows what you will see while you are waiting for big mining vehicles to pass.

Also, when towing a van have something you can cover your back window of the car with, you can purchase covers suitable for your vehicle and save a lot of money and heartaches if you lose a back window.  The cost is minimal and better than dust and stones, or even rain.

Good advice I reckon!

Q. What opportunities have you had on your travels?

A. We have been fortunate and have been open minded and found plenty of work opportunities out there. We have looked after B&B’s and farm stays, put up eco tents in Arnhem Land, and worked in several Pubs.  In Darwin, we experienced the wet season and witnessed huge tides as we have never seen before.

Nasty weather @ Dundee Beach NT

We witnessed the ‘morning glory’ in Bourke Town which only happens in September every year, it astounds me what nature can do.  It’s a shame a lot of people don’t take the time to appreciate it and it doesn’t all come with a mobile phone attached, it is from the conversations had.

The people that we have met on our travels are just awesome.

One time as we travelled the Fink River, shooters came through with helicopters shooting wild cattle for Brucellosis, a disease that affected the cattle which can affect sheep, humans, and dogs. As we entered the dry river bed we discovered this very large bull they had left behind, and he was not a very happy chappy! So, I said to Peter “If we get stuck, you can get out!” as we watched the bull pouring at the sand.

The opportunity of meeting new people as we go is great, and to see how they cope in the bush when times are tough and how they work together and help one another. By simple “G’day, how are you going…” with a local or a traveller you can go to some great places off the beaten track that otherwise, you would have been unaware of.

A. Do you work as you travel?

Q. No, but as we have mentioned sometimes we look after properties on a volunteer basis for people that are friends.

Erecting ECO tents @ Wiligi, NT

We have had some great experiences helping out on properties out west.  We get to camp there and in return help with whatever is needed.  It could be fencing, cleaning the yards, water for the cattle, or just looking after the property when they were away.

Mustering wild Goats ready for market

I hope you enjoyed meeting Peter and Dawn and hearing their story and seeing just another way that others travel.  Hopefully, it will inspire you to create your own adventures.

Story by: Linda McCall from the Global Adventure Shop

Find out more about Helping Out

Have you thought about helping out on your travels?  As Peter and Dawn have explained, some of their best experiences have come from helping out others and otherwise seeing things they may have missed.  If you are interested in Helping out, check our Help Out category in the FRC Directory for a list of properties that allow campers to stay in exchange for a helping hand.

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