Later this year (Hopefully leaving ~July/August) from Sydney i'm planning on driving around Aus with the misses in a landcruiser + offroad camper combo.
Has anyone here done it?
I'm looking for any tips, resources, videos or regions to focus on for finding waves. We are planning to take ~1 year to do it so have time to explore the nooks and crannies.
I read Surfari by Tim Baker which was enjoyable and have also purchased a bunch of old guide books such as wave finder Australia.
Also not sure whether to leave and start going South or North from Sydney. There are plusses and minuses to both. So any input would be appreciated. Especially with trying to maximise the seasons around the country for potential Surf.
Ha ha Blowin has traveled, worth there weight in gold those.
I’ve never really understood the camper trailer thing .
Isn’t that just the worlds most expensive and unwieldy tent ?
Why not just get a tent ? And that way if you are still inclined to drag something behind your car for thousands of kms at least it would be something useful like a boat.
Maybe I’m very wrong....someone who loves their camper trailer should sell the idea to me , if they could be arsed.
We got paid (well)to do it as a family (work not instagram + homeschooled the kids via SIDE, 18 months). So much of what I had to work on was very off-the-beaten track. There was a lot of surfing/surf spots that were very lonely and sketchy. What would you like to know Mr Daithwaite?
Blowin, camper trailers were aids. To pack up in the morning, kids & fam stuff pack out the way, get the ends down, put the roof down aaaargh. It was time, just lots of time, every time you had to move. So we got a 16ft single axle pop top, all that had to be put down was the top bit of the roof, hook up to towball, off you go. Kids had bunks in the front. If I did again, I'd do a full body caravan, better in the cold places.
I'd only do Vic in winter.
SA shoulders of summer, a lot of ne type friendly places West of Adelaide, careful of snakes!
WA, dunno, up north winter but down south pluses and minuses.
Qld back to Sydney late summer to early winter.
Do the computations, plus also need to think about wet/dry season up north for non surfing fun.
My 2c on canvas camper trailer having just sold one; great for couples (and dog's), but hard work if you have a slightly demanding only child ha ha.
And in general better for base camp type stays not nightly stops.
Thanks for the Tips Blowin, exactly what I was looking for. Pretty sure I have a tap key in the car but will double check. But keep them coming!
velocityjohnno - Awesome, sounds like an amazing opportunity. Did you document the trip anywhere? Any regions in Aus that you think are worth spending more time in than others?
I'm also thinking of buying a decent highish end drone to capture some footage of the journey.
RE the camper trailer - I'm a bigger fan of the camper van, less stress and when im doing little trips I take the van. For such a massive trip though I think it will be handy to have 4x4. I know you don't need it but if it gets you into just a few more places that you otherwise couldn't get to it's worth it in my eyes. Plus you have the luxury of being self sustainable for long periods of time. Lots of storage, water, extra fuel, full size bed, tables, chairs, solar panels etc. When you find a nice place you want to stay for a week or two and really take it all in it's worth it. Plus you can unhitch the car and leave the misso at camp if you want to go searching for waves without dragging the rest of the team with you. I'm inheriting the setup from the old man so it's completely decked out and ready to go.
Id personally be heading north first get a few waves up the east coast before you do the top end and crossing before the wet season but only because i hate the cold, not ideal for NW WA but whatever way you go you are going to end up there at the wrong time.
Don't forget Tassie, but fuck doing it any time other than around the summer months, still plenty of waves in summer can be the best time for west and east coast or lower east coast off get a good low of the coast.
Only ever done it cheap in vans and never paid for a site, so road houses/truck stops were always a treat for us many have showers.
Best ones are either inland or once you get past the sunny coast though.
I better not start naming places and waves to stop otherwise people will get upset.
Fk i miss van life, before it was a hipster thing, literally spent months maybe even a year of my life in surf carparks hanging out between surfs in vans/campervans.
Wake up on the road with a dependable board ( or three ) and the whole of Australia waiting for you and you’ll feel like a God striding the Earth.
Getting behind the wheel after a good sleep in an exotic, remote location , then a tasty breakfast and a strong coffee with those closest to you before getting behind the wheel with no timeframe or agenda any more detailed than to have the best time possible = Gold.
VJ....what were you doing for coin ?
Camper trailers are handy if you’re taking a lot of gear with you and don’t want to spend the whole trip with piles of stuff jammed into the cabin while you’re spending long hours on the road.
You can pack the trailer space under the camper with boxes of stuff and your boards are easier to tie on top of the camper then on the roof of the car.
More fuel efficient then on the roof racks too and you’re not stressing your boards are gonna go flying away every time a truck goes by in the other direction doing 110km/hr.
They take longer to set up obviously but way more comfortable for long term stays then a normal tent setup.
Also once you’re unhitched you don’t attract as much negative attention pulling up at surf breaks or even in small towns than driving a campervan looking like a tourist.
Hi Barrel, yes we documented the trip in full. Part of it was for work and you might be surprised to learn I doc'd every km done, every litre of fuel, all mechanical work for our old Landcruiser. (Take an old one, less tears when scratched. Also, they are narrower for the tracks!) The car was my domain and I used 6 tyres, two jerries plus a full toolkit, air pump, length of timber. We had the roof cage thing on top. Take physical maps - the US was going in on Iraq at this time and all the GPS got diverted!!! Old skills are good. I have many of the images printed out now from the hard drive - part of the work saw me with an early digital camera. So many pics of the kids in nature and growing up. Now I have the memories up on the wall.
Blowin, I was a surveyor. It was the big career break you get, plus total autonomy up to 4000km away from your boss (I'm a good worker, thorough and don't need overseeing). You'd be surprised how many sites and structures are out there in the middle of nowhere. With nowhere to spend money, it accumulated, though we had to provision well. I loved that job, and did it until I near died at age 30 and everything changed. If you want to know more, send a PM via Ben or Stu.
One further suggestion Barrel, there was a book in those days "Free Camping Australia" - or something similar. It'll save you lots. Also, since that time camping fees have gone through the roof. A couple of the sites in early 2000s, it was $6 to $12 a night.
Now places I liked....everyone guns the Nullarbor and Roe plains. I found them pretty magic, and got considerably detoured. There is absolutely no tourist presence, a very raw coastline (very lonely and big fishy I'd imagine) and some great sites like caves and old ruins. It's quiet. All sorts of wildlife. If you get in trouble, you are a way away from help. Also, loved east coast Tassie, it felt like WA did for me when I was learning and discovering spots as a grom. Orange lichen on rocks. Also loved the islands in Bass Strait and off Tassie - another degree of off the beaten path and well worth it.
We did things in reverse, and some of that was due to scheduling. So we got Tassie in winter. It was absolutely magic and I must've visted near the whole island. Some ripper 4wd tracks and mountain goat tracks... The cool crisp waterfalls are a sight to behold. We got pretty close to the oldest DNA on earth (Huon pine that has cloned itself 3 or 4 times, maybe 10,000 years old) With winter is snow, and thanks to that trip we are all pretty good snowboarders now, with the kids being excellent. Tassie ski fields - fun and under the radar. All the tourist sites with no one around - the river in Lonnie in flood with absolutely crazy water going down it. So much wildlife, with a little one running after it trying to catch it! I surfed each coast armed with nothing but a 3/2 and a 6'8 single fin. Duckdiving was cold! Got some great waves though and some very special memories of spots. And yes, doing it this way your Ms might occasionaly remind you that things are freezing off.
Sometimes if you take the less beaten path (or time) you score great memories. Because of the nature of the work, we stayed in places way longer than typical van touring, got to know people, and even live the place a bit more like the locals. If you find a spot you really like, try this. If you put down too many roots, though, you can get inertia. We took about a month to recover from doing a week in the Tarkine forests and coast, and I was like, where did that month go, sitting in one spot? Hobart at New Years with all the 100ft supermaxis and celebrations at Salamanca is pretty good.
There's still a few bits of Oz I have yet to do. Be careful with the fires if you are going over summer. The surf-specific stuff that people have posted above will probably see you get better waves.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
Awesome VJ, what price could you put on that? You and your family saw probably more in those few years than most people would in their lifetimes.
totally Zen, for example you are out on the Abrolhos and the kids are wading through the shallows with snorkel gear, and all the little fish are coming up to them checking them out, incredible stuff. Patting baby Pademelons in the pouch, pat on the snout (!) to a Tassie devil. "Dad, can I pat the dingo/sealion?" "No, probably better to leave that one..." "Dad, I've caught a fish/lizard/bird, do you want it?" This morphed into the surfing we have done together, very nature based/power of the waves kind of thing. We've avoided the really crowded spots as a bit of a consequence I think. We met even more remarkable families through SIDE - one family raised their children as they were marine biologists living off the NW WA coast, absolutely incredible how those kids grew up. One family had kids who were circus performers, and their personalities were awesome,
Zen did you get up into the mountains so far? Did you end up looking into a business up there? that would be a really great thing, too :)
No not yet VJ, been the worst start to the snow season in my area that anyone can remember.
I'm still looking around- there are a percentage of abandoned houses in Japan that if you pay the outstanding tax on then you get them basically for free. Lotta hoops to jump through though and i've got time.
I want to have my new venture here where i live up and running by golden week though.
Been loving reading this thread. Thanks, guys!
Hey Blowin, what sort of boat trailer you towing there?
Road trailer with mods or dedicated off road trailer?
I've got a 14 footer on a road trailer that I'm looking to take up to Cape Melville area later sometime this year.
Just wondering how far this might go with some eye-to-eye springs and some bigger rubber.
Andy ...just a road trailer but I’ve welded a fair few extra braces onto it to beef it up. The spare wheel rotates so I can tow it around on a snatch strap / rope whilst keeping weight off the car.
It’ll go anywhere if you don’t transport much weight in it. The boat itself is light , so I’ll usually just keep boards in there in order to keep it that way.
Leaf springs. Great for pulling through dunes and launching off the beach. It’s been everywhere.
Looks the same as my boat 4 metre quintrex dart?
3.55 metre dart AKA Sea Wok.
Terror of the high seas . Capable of denuding entire oceans of life.
Sea Shepherd has got wanted posters of it wallpapered through their HQ. It’s Captain Paul Watson’s White Whale.
Still got slipper springs or have you upgraded to eye-to-eye?
How many rollers under the keel, did you put in extra or modify?
I'd really like to get my boat up to the Starcke Coast and hopefully Princess Charlotte Bay and check out the Flinders Group.
Yeah the drop-down spare wheel for beach launches, incorporating an extra hub and bearing, is gold.
Added a couple of extra rollers . Now got 4 total.
Interesting - all the 4WD sites say slipper springs are bad news off road but I suppose there's a difference between 4WDing and just corrugated sand and dirt tracks.
There's a lot to be said for mechanical sympathy - slow and steady is fine if it gets you to where you want to be.
Yeah , I’m not sure how they’d go over full on rocky jump ups and shit. We’ve bounced the absolute fuck out of them for thousands of kms of hectic corries and regularly get the trailer airborne when we are powering through rutted tracks . Shitloads of bumpy limestone karst.
They seem to handle ( touch wood ).
Oooohh....just saw your photo. That ocean makes my mouth water . Check the drop off , the colours , the conditions !
How is the feeling when you travel somewhere and it looks like that and you don’t have a boat....heartbreaking.
Frankland Group - tropical bliss.
Yeah it's totally gutting when you don't have a boat for these places.
Andy, If you go over there, check some of the walks and aboriginal rock art on the islands. Not sure if it is still allowed, but there is also a mummified native in a hollow stump. Unknown age.
You can also re-stock supplies from the barges that visit bi-weekly to restock the trawlers in the channel.
Crikey, that sounds pretty wild.
Thanks for the tip Fitzy.
Another question - would you risk getting in the water at those offshore islands?
There are a couple of sandy beaches in the Flinders Group where you can see the bottom clearly for a fair distance in every direction. If you stay in the shallows and keep a lookout for moving dark shapes against the white sand bottom, you should be fine.
Don't even get close to the waters edge at Bathurst Bay/Cape Melville beaches and camp well back from the high tide mark. I would prefer to have fallen trees/logs between me and the water whilst camping there. You are just a tasty sausage roll in a swag.
That joint looks amazing. Never got to Nth Qld.....not enough waves ! Turned west at MacKay once after driving up the East coast . Flew in and out of Cairns a couple of times and that’s it.
I’ll have to check it out now. Fishey as fuck.
So much good country up there - the coast north of Cooktown is pretty much empty.
I gather that most people go straight up the PDR to the Cape.
Cooktown to the Cape is still a long way , huh ?
Absolutely, 857km they say.
I just like the look of the places that the crowds bypass, which includes the Starcke Coast and Bathurst Heads and Cape Melville.
Hey Andy, I'm not sure if you are aware, but I'm led to believe that these days you have to book to camp at Melville/Bathust Bay area. It actually get's very busy. Due to a lot of stations being handed back to the T.O's in the area, there is no access, so the crowds are getting more concentrated to those N.P's. I know of countless people that go there regularly.
Haven't been to the Starkey for years so can't really comment there, but I'm pretty sure there are tracks into Ninian Bay that are open to the public. Be very careful of croc's all through the area.
Thanks for the contributions all!! velocityjohnno Epic story mate hopefully can have an equally amazing time.
Anyone got some suggestions for movies/youtube clips of people surfing remote places in Aus? I loved this one from Torryn Martin
For the boat I couldn't really be effed towing a boat around with me. Have owned one in the past and it was nothing but trouble. I do have a foldable boat that ends up being a bit bigger than a kayak that I could use to fish a few lakes, rivers, calm waters etc. Have contemplated strapping it to the trailer with a removable 5hp motor and brining it with me but i'm equally happy to have a fish from land or go for a spear. So probably not worth the hassle.
Bunyip Dreaming : Jack McCoy, is worth checking out.
On the Nullarbor if you can find dead foxes hole, its definitely worth going in for a look. There is a good cave near Cocklebiddy as well, nice for a swim in the dark that one, apparently hundreds around though.
If it was me, I'd head south from Sydney. Good time of year for that piece of coastline, if a little cold, and Christ knows those communities will be crying out for every tourist/traveller dollar they can get for a while to come. Take your time, because life's short and there's just so much to see.
The last time I did the south coast run was in May, after the school holidays. It was empty and firing from Jervis Bay onwards. Epic, lifetime memories.
You don’t NEED a boat , but I can guarantee you will really , really want one.
Sure you can always eat tailor like ol’ land locked Torryn Martin above , or you can go catch yourself a decent fish
You say you can’t be arsed now , wait till you’re standing on the shore staring forlornly at whitewash lines on the horizon , prowling the waveless beach and trying to scab a lift out to some pumping offshore reef. Or watching huge schools of pelagics busting up out of casting range. Not to mention the endless opportunities to explore beyond the roads and crowds.
I say that basically everywhere North of Perth all the way around to Sunshine Coast is infinitely better if you’ve got a boat.
North Pilbara reef you won’t be paddling out to surf . It ain’t all mudflats , iron ore and salt pans up where the waves aren’t supposed to break .
Couple of friendly tigers patrolling that too I bet blowin?
Nice Coranation trout yeah? thats a decent size one, good eating too.
I use to get a few of those and lots of coral trout in the Mentawai's just trawling deep diving rapalas, funny thing is ive never caught one further north in the Telos where i spend most of my time these days.
You make some very good points there Blowin.... Although i'm not sure my foldable boat would make it out to offshore reefs.
Thanks for the recommendation Jamyardy, found it online for $4.50 will give it a watch!
Just trying to help.
It’s a kick in the guts being landlocked when so much of the good stuff is just a tinny ride away.
This is the best blackface i've ever seen! Great fish!
I’m an Orthodox Jew from Angola .....oy vey !
I was going to suggest you may need to rethink the sunscreen thing. Nice fish.