On May 14, we headed off from Perth on the trip of a lifetime; 3 months with our little son Oliver, an Isuzu Dmax 4WD and a soft floor camper trailer. We covered a large portion of the Pilbara, Kimberley and Northern Territory before returning via the Coral Coast to Perth.
In the coming weeks, we will share a heap of information on places that we stayed, what we enjoyed, what was hard and what we’d change next time.
However, in this post we will cover in substantial detail the trip as a whole; fuel costs, how many kilometres we drove, how much we spent on food and accommodation, what we liked and didn’t and lots more:
We’d been planning this trip for a very long time, and two days before departure we found out Sarah was pregnant, and about 6 weeks along, which made things interesting!
Isuzu Dmax 2016 Dual cab 3.0L turbo diesel. You can read more about this here – 4WDing Australia’s Dmax.
EDIT – If you want to see how its gone after 3 years and 50,000km, check out the Dmax Review.
Outback expedition deluxe soft floor camper trailer. You can read more about this here – Our Outback Expedition Deluxe Camper Trailer.
Aaron, Sarah and Oliver (nearly 2 year old boy)
How’d you get 3 months off?!
I’ve been working at the same place now for nearly 9 years, which made it possible to get about 8 weeks of long service leave. Couple that with 2 weeks of annual leave and 2 weeks of unpaid leave, and I was sorted. Sarah looks after Oliver at home, so had no drama’s getting time off!
Total kilometres done and where we went
Number of nights
Number of places stayed
Top 6 favourite places
Top 2 least favourite places
Katherine (just didn’t do anything for us. Hot springs are nice, and Edith Falls are amazing), but the rest of the town was pretty average
Dundee Beach (not much to do, especially with a toddler. Beautiful beach though!)
4WD track into Kalgan’s Pool
Laying in the tent and listening to the dingo’s howl at Lorella Station
Fishing at Rosie Creek, Lorella Station
Cable Beach Sunsets
Swimming at Florence Falls, Buley Rock Hole and Wangi falls in Litchfield
Yellow Water Cruise at Kakadu
Watching the bush fires at Litchfield National Park
Amazing, quality family time
Backing into a car in Broome
Backing into a tree in Katherine
Damaging the front quarter panel in Kakadu
Getting smashed by sand flies at Dundee Beach (Sarah)
Sarah’s morning sickness
Oliver teething/ending up in our bed for many of the nights
Number of nights free camped
Number of nights low cost camped
Number of nights in caravan parks
Number of nights higher cost non caravan park stays
6 (El Questro and Manning Gorge)
Number of nights in an Airbnb
Where did we stay?
Bilyuin Pool x 1 night
Kalgans Pool x 2 nights
Cape Keraudren x 2 nights
Cable Beach Caravan Park in Broome x 4 nights
Larrawa station x 2 nights
Lakeside Caravan Park Kununurra x 5 nights
Katherine Riverview Caravan Park x 4 nights
Lorella Springs x 7 nights
Mataranka’s Little Roper stock camp x 3 nights
Mt Bundy Station x 3 nights
Dundee Beach x 2 nights
Free spirit Caravan Park in Darwin x 5 nights
Kakadu Sandy Billabong camp x 3 nights
Kakadu Maguk Falls x 2 nights
Kakadu Koolpin Gorge x 2 nights
Litchfield Florence Falls old 4WD camp site x 4 nights
Lee and Jennies x 2 nights
Zebra Rock Mine x 2 nights
Kununurra Airbnb x 1 night
El Questro private riverside camp site x 4 nights
Manning Gorge x 2 nights
Windjana Gorge x 1 night
Port Smith Caravan Park x 3 nights
Cleaverville x 5 nights
Nanutarra Roadhouse x 1 night
Ningaloo Station x 3 nights
Coral Bay x 3 nights
Wooramel Station x 2 nights
Coronation Beach x 1 night
Number of set ups and pack downs
Amount of fuel consumed
2145.2 litres of diesel
Average fuel economy
13.8L/100km, GPS corrected
Best fuel economy
10.5L/100km around Kununurra including the Old Halls Creek 4WD track and the back track going into Wyndham
Worst fuel economy
Around 18.5L/100km into a head wind on the way to Broome
Most expensive fuel
$3.00 per litre at Lorella Springs. We didn’t have to fill up, but wanted to take a different way out. 40L of fuel for $120. Totally worth it though.
Average fuel price
$1.48 per litre of diesel
Camper trailer water fitting (broke the plastic barb off)
Wind screen (3 stone chips and 2 big cracks)
Trident lockable fuel cap
2 cracked phone screens
CTEK 240V battery charger
Evakool Fridge latch
Bull motor body canopy mud guard (hit by a big rock or something)
Canopy mounts cracked (possibly due to the accident)
Number of photos taken
GB of video recorded
Number of tantrums from Oliver
A fair few
Number of overcast days
Number of days with rain
Number of blown tyres
Cost of tours/entry fees
$686 (Outback show Katherine, Territory Wildlife Park, Crocodylus Park, Royal Flying Doctor Service admission, Kakadu NP entry, Yellow Water Tour, Bachelor Butterfly Park, Zebra Rock Mine Tour, Broome Bird Park, Museum at Kununurra and Katherine)
Cost of accommodation
Cost of eating out/bakeries/ice creams etc
Cost of washing
$62 (12 loads)
$537.77 (Soap in Broome, Thongs, BCF, Crocodile teddy bear, Steel in Darwin, Pharmacy, Trailer spares, Oliver Clothes, Car wash and Minor car service)
$2110.5 (Insurance excess x 2, Medical Imaging for Sarah’s pregnancy – yay, replacement quarter panel, broken water tank fitting and auto electrician in Karratha for the camper trailer)
Total cost per day/week
$140 per day for the 3 of us, or $943 a week
Break down of costs
Meals out/bakery stops etc 5.5
Car service 2%
LPG bottle refill 0.1%
Finding out Sarah was pregnant two days before leaving was a bit of a shock to the system; we’d been wanting another one for a while, but thought it wouldn’t happen for a while!
Sarah did amazingly well, with a lot of physical effort required to do the hikes in Kakadu (she did Jim Jim Falls, Maguk and Gunlom at around 12 weeks pregnant).
Morning sickness was like last time, with Sarah not feeling great a lot of the time, and often giving nutrients to the plants nearby our camp. Oliver learnt to follow her, bend over and cough over the plants too which was rather amusing.
Can’t put a number on it, or describe it accurately – amazing
Would we do it again
In a heartbeat
Things we’d do differently next time
We’d stay at Caravan Parks less often. Our most enjoyable stays were at stations, bush camps, 4WD only access sites and national parks. Unfortunately in the northern part of Australia a lot of the camp sites are extremely busy and require advanced booking, which meant caravan parks.
Not only does avoiding Caravan parks save you a fair bit of money, but we actually prefer it. Being confined to a little site near others with busy roads nearby isn’t our idea of a good time, especially when you have a toddler who just wants to run, or is having a bad night and screaming!
We’d probably be a bit more relaxed in terms of booking things too, and just take it as it comes. We’ve learnt over the years that travelling without expectation is the best way, and not having a rigid plan helps hugely with this.
Was it all amazing?
No. Not at all. To be completely honest, on day 2, I really thought we might have made a terrible mistake, and this same thought popped up a couple of times later on too. Long service leave is absolutely unreal, and thinking that I’d possibly ‘wasted’ it was a bit hard to swallow.
Travelling with a young toddler is hard work, and even though he’s been camping with us many, many times before, it takes time for them to get into the swing of things. They will have bad nights, tantrums and travelling with a wife who was constantly feeling sick made things even harder.
We had experiences that really weren’t that pleasant at all, and at first I was quite discouraged by it.
You see, we spent 5 weeks in the Kimberley before kids (you can read about that here – 5 weeks in the Kimberley summary), and had the most relaxing and amazing trip ever. This 12 week trip was totally different, and that’s purely because of Oliver being there, and Sarah feeling crook.
However, the longer we travelled, the easier it got, and if you look at it with a decent perspective even at home toddlers are difficult. For those hopping from caravan park to caravan park with children in a nice caravan, a travelling life is much easier than how we did it.
Sitting back in Perth though, and flicking through the photos and talking to friends and family about the trip, I just want to hook the trailer up and head away again. Yes, there were average times, and even times we wished we were at home, but as a whole it was truly awesome.
There will be a lot of posts in the future about what we’ve learned, what we’d do differently and what we’d avoid completely in the near future. Stay tuned.
To start with here’s a great one if you have young kids – Camping with a toddler; 35 ways to make it easier
Quality family time
Nothing can compare to the incredible time we shared as a family. Hours upon hours with just the three of us, until the last 4 weeks of the holiday where we met up with my brother and his wife, and my folks. From there, it was different, but fantastic to spend time with other family.
We spent so much amazing family time together through the trip and had an absolute ball. I work long hours each week and it was a huge change for me.
Where to now?
Well, for now, we are settling back into Perth and getting ready to have another baby. We’ll keep camping (we are heading away over the September long weekend and have 10 days booked over Easter next year) and day tripping as much as possible.
We are planning a lap of the country in a few years, but it will be once both kids are out of nappies and can take care of themselves.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the summary, and if you have any questions or comments we’d love to hear from you!