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Girlgone Walkabout3

WEDNESDAY WRITE-UP: #39 Girl Gone Walkabout

“We go walkabout and we go often”, admit our featured adventure seekers, Nik and Dawn. They live in Perth, Western Australia but make an effort often to “hit the roads less travelled” and explore their local tracks and destinations. These two aren’t afraid of the famous Aussie red dirt and have kitted out their Rig in preparation for an epic journey along the iconic Canning Stick Route later this year. Enjoy their story!

What are you doing right now?
We are in the realms of planning a trip through the Canning Stock Route, north to south.  This track has a total distance of about 1800 km and is known to be the world’s longest and most remote historical stock route.  So unmistakably it made it onto our bucket list.  For us, it’s going to be 1800kms of red dirt heaven – 20 outback sunsets and a time to regroup and reignite our spark. Having done the Anne Beadell and the Connie Sue we are not too concerned about the remoteness or the distance.  The Anne Beadell is a 1400km remote track with one single roadhouse slap bang in the middle that sells fuel at $3L. At this stage, the plan is to travel solo unless of course, we can find other crazies who want to do it with us. #CSR2018

Describe YOURSELVES in 5 words:
Work hard play hard and don’t waste the weekends! (I know, I know. 5 words just wouldn’t crack it)

What is your current off-road VEHICLE including your set-up?
We drive a Land Cruiser VDJ-76, an ex-miner, so a bit of extra red dust does not phase us.  The cruiser can carry 160l of fuel which gives us a range of about 1000km depending on the terrain. The backseat has recently been removed to accommodate better space and lower the center of gravity.

She has been fitted out with a rooftop tent that was given to us in return for 2 bottles of Black & White scotch. A good trade and a comfy nights sleep, more comfortable than our bed at home. Behind the barn doors, we have a dual drawer system, a Waeco fridge running off a dual battery system, a tub that holds our ‘kitchen’ and a Coleman Hyperflame Fyrecadet Stove.  All of this is tied down to hold up while bouncing down those red dirt roads.  A thumper and 11000 kg snatch are homed in the left drawer, and a 17000-pound winch gets us out those sticky situations.  The awning is from ARB (2500 X 2500) with a separate wind break purchased to provide additional shelter on those rainy mornings.

Wheels – they’re 285/75/16 Mickey Thomson ATZ’s on steel rims, and load assist airbags have been fitted to stabilise her when fully loaded. I am reluctant to admit our rig has not been named, but yes, ….nothing apt has come up yet.  Nevertheless, this our home on wheels, she is no doubt everything to us!

Any new MODS for the future to make LIFE easier on the road?
Nik is looking at front lockers. Me….I’ll be happy with one of those fridge sliders that slide out and down so that I don’t have to haul myself onto the bumper to pull out a cold one

Who INSPIRED you into this ‘ADVENTUROUS’ lifestyle?
We’ve always loved the outdoors, ever since we met.  We would plan spontaneous trips with friends at the pub and hit the road an hour later.  Nik owned 3 Land Rovers while we lived in South Africa, with the first one being a ‘hard drive’.  It was a series 2a that had to be double clutched to prevent gear grind.  But we would pack the cooler, sleeping bags, the tent, and head out to the farmlands.  This was where it started. Now we drive a Land Cruiser and live in a different country, and our love for traveling and exploring has only intensified.  Who wouldn’t want to see what Australian outback has to offer?

Absolutely first and foremost is the Canning Stock Route, but Karijini, the Gibb River Road, Bungle Bungles, Cape York, the Simpson Desert, they’re all on the list… and more.  And with only having access to 4 weeks in a year, it’s near impossible to get any of these done anytime soon. So we’ve hatched a plan to make one long’ish’ trip each year, and many many short trips and weekend getaways.  We’re on the move most weekends and head out either Friday night or Saturday, find a spot within a radius of 2 – 4 hours from Perth, pull up and relax.  I can’t think of a better way to view Australia, than from a camp chair.

Most MEMORABLE moments you’ve had during your travels so far?
One particular trip that stands out for me was our overland trip from Perth to the Red Center.  Our convoy consisted of three four-wheel drives and three adventure bikes with guys coming from VIC, Albany, and Perth, all converging in Kalgoorlie where we were to start.  The plan was to do the Anne Beadell highway which runs from Laverton through to Coober Pedy, then on to Finke and camp just off the road 200km south of Alice.  We’d timed it to coincide with the Finke Desert Race and spent two days along the side of the road camping with all the other Finke enthusiasts.  Oodnadatta, the Ghan rail track, Uluru, the Great Central Road, this trip was later to be called ‘The Roads Unsealed’.  Being time poor we did not get to see all we would have liked to so we’ll be going back. This trip sparked our love for the Australian outback, the red dirt and the magic sunsets that only the outback has to offer.

The most BIZARRE experience you’ve encountered on your travels?
Well!  This one is easy.  Traveling in the outback with four-wheel drive engaged is the most fun you can have – with a few serious moments thrown in too.  One of these more serious moments was experienced last year on a trip just outside of Oodnadatta roughly 1700km from home.  A storm had come through the day before, and the road had turned into greasy mud.  Without saying too much, mud, momentum and an embankment (which can’t be seen in the picture) contributed to a gentle tip over.  I say ‘gentle’ as that was the case, with one wheel having climbed the embankment, the rollover angle was exceeded and we tipped, as in slow motion.  The weight of the rooftop tent would have been a contributing factor (the containers were empty).  A quick winch, a short wait and we were off again, kudos to our hardy vanilla rig! Having driven in most conditions over all sorts of terrain we were surprised at how easily this can happen.  But this is stuff that makes the trip memorable, this and the friends who pulled together when we needed them.

Biggest mechanical FAIL on the road and were you able to FIX it?
Ah yep! The time the rear drive shaft decided to break.  On the bitumen!  Once again our mates stepped in to help, towing us part way home.  Then with no other alternative, we had to call in the tow truck to carry us the rest of the way.

Describe your IDEAL CAMPSITE:
No city lights, no haze, nothing.  We want to be deep in the Australian outback, somewhere on a remote track where the only sound is that of a dingo in the distance or the distinctive sound of the kookaburra.
Wild ambiance – that is what we most desire.

Name ONE product you wouldn’t leave home WITHOUT?
Hands down the Hema HX1.  There’s nothing that gives you more confidence to explore tracks than a mechanism to drop bread crumbs so that you can backtrack if necessary.

What LUXURIES do you miss most when on the road?
Oh, definitely a bath!  A place to lie back and soak, and scrub that dust off your feet.
And coffee, barista coffee!  Not that I’m a coffee snob but well, who doesn’t enjoy freshly roasted coffee beans.  This is usually the first stop Nik has to make when we move back onto the blacktop.

Favourite DISH to cook on the road?
A stew.  We carry a camp oven (potjie pot) and use it often.  Nik precuts and pre-packs bags of meat that we refrigerate, so we always have lamb, beef or chicken pieces.  There’s nothing quite like a tasty stew or curry in a camp oven over an open fire.

Any ADVICE for NEW 4WD enthusiasts?
Get out and explore this fantastic country.  Go, and go often!  Start small with just a day trip and basic gear – max-tracks, a compressor, a snatch.  The gear may range from person to person so stop and think here, where are you going and what does the terrain look like.  Tyres are important.  We had two vehicles that slashed their sidewalls on the Haig track earlier this year – both were running stock tyres.  And lastly, take trips with more experienced 4 wheel drivers if possible, you will pick up tips just by tagging along.  Before you know it you’ll have a few tracks under your belt and the outback magic in your blood.

And anything else you would like to tell us?
We’re regular nine to fivers, although we don’t want to be.  We both hold day jobs and live for weekends.  BUT…. we go walkabout, and we go often.  We’re game for anything and make it happen.  We are also a family of 3 and each of us owns a 4 wheel drive.  I know!  Crazy but true.  Safe to say, we all have a love for the outdoors and the roads less traveled.

Me (Dawn), I love nature and beautiful photos, and of course, I love our Land Cruiser.  Our family is mostly private, but 9 months ago I was looking through all the pictures on my phone and for the first time noticed how large my gallery was.  It was at this point that I decided to share these experiences via Instagram!

Connect with Nik & Dawn
Instagram: @girlgone._walkabout

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