Before we left on our lap of Australia, we knew things would go wrong. We’ve seen and experienced it many times before, but I thought it would be interesting to keep a list, with a bit of a description.
We’re having the time of our lives (most of the time), and this is not to put you off travelling, but to give you an accurate post on what you might expect.
Please know that our lap is likely not the standard lap of Australia; we’re doing our best to find the most remote, amazing places in the country and do every single 4WD track that we can find, and that on its own means we’re going to experience more breakages and things going wrong, and we accept that.
What’s gone wrong?
I jack knifed our camper and cracked the rear bumper on our Dmax
In a moment of inattention, just after arriving at Moolooloo Station, I jack knifed our camper a smidge too much and the jockey wheel hit the rear bumper, putting a small crack in it.
It’s only really cosmetic, and it was my fault, so I cop it on the chin!
We got seriously bogged on Perlubie Beach with our camper
In a lesson for reducing your tyre pressures for beach driving, I got seriously stuck towing our 2.3 tonne hybrid on Perlubie Beach, and spent a lot longer getting moving again, than I would have if we’d let the tyres down properly to begin with.
Our camper’s Camec door handle snapped off
I knew this was going to happen, and sure enough it did. Fortunately we limped the old one along until two new ones came from Outback Equipment.
Our Dmax developed a crack on the battery support to the inner guard
I’ve been waiting for the inner guard to crack on our Dmax. It’s a well known fault, but the battery support is one I haven’t seen too much.
So far its minor, and I’m just keeping an eye on it whilst Isuzu does a technical case. If it gets worse, I’ll lean on Isuzu, or take it to the panel beaters for repair.
The diesel heater tank cap swelled and stopped screwing tight
Upon further investigation the breather has been made with substandard material and the diesel has made it swell, so it interferes with the thread. I just trimmed it right down and it held for a while, before doing the same thing again a few weeks later. I just used some chucks cloth to make it tight, and left it like that.
Our plug snapped the keyring off
After doing the dishes one afternoon, I pulled the pug out, only to be left with the keyring in my hand and no plug. Being moulded, repair options were limited, by my Dad came up with the idea of pushing some fishing line through it with a loop on the end, and its still going today, good as gold!
We got bogged heading out to Black Springs with our camper
I knew it would be a bit of a risk towing our 2.3 tonne hybrid camper out to Black Springs in Coffin Bay National Park, and after coming down a bit of a sandy hill I felt the front bottom out, so slowed down a little, and then came to an abrupt stop.
A few goes on the Maxtrax and we were out.
We got smashed by fine sand at Hall Bay
We’re well and truly used to camping on the coast, but the sand blowing around at Hall Bay took things to a whole new level.
With our camper facing away from the wind, we were getting cupful’s of sand landing in our recessed kitchen, and making life awfully unpleasant for a good couple of hours. We moved, but it didn’t improve until the wind died down.
Ants and Bee’s made us leave Point Labatt early
When you have an outdoor kitchen, you are so much more susceptible to bugs. Our camp site near Point Labatt looked reasonable from a distance, but after picking a spot and setting up, we realised there were a heap of small ants around the place.
They’d bite, but just as annoying run all over your legs, which made it pretty hard to do anything in the kitchen.
Even worse, we had a few bee’s arrive not long after dinner, and then more came, and more. Eventually I just shut the kitchen with a few bees inside until it got dark, and then opened it and they flew off, with the rest disappearing. If you leave it open with water around they’ll just keep coming.
We got going early the next morning after hopping around, which was a shame for a nice camp site!
We ended up in the hospital at Kimba
Whilst playing with the kids on the jumping pillow at Kimba, I came down near Cooper and jarred his leg, which resulted in screaming that I’d never heard from him.
We ended up at the Kimba hospital, and the nurses were confident nothing was damaged, so an hour later departed towards Port Augusta. Cooper took a full 8 days until he could walk properly again, and although we did see daily improvements it was a fairly long and painful duration!
We lost 3 of our caps
After getting the key to Kadina Showgrounds, and filling up with water, I drove a few kilometres down the road to the dump point, to empty our toilet.
As I walked down the side of the car I noticed that the 3 caps on the side of the camper were missing, and instantly realised I’d left them on the roof of the camper, and driven off.
One was still on the roof, and we managed to find the other two (very luckily), but I was sure we’d be looking for new ones online!
I cracked my phone camera lens
At Blacksprings Overflow camp in Coffin Bay National Park my phone slid out of my pocket when kneeling down, and it landed on a small rock right where the camera glass was, putting a number of nice cracks across all 3 camera’s.
Fortunately a phone repair place in the shops of Adelaide had a replacement phone back, and were able to repair it (along with a new case, and new screen protector that was also cracked) for $135.
Difficult times with kids
After being on the road for about 120 days, we expected things to fall into a good routine and for us to have less issues with our kids.
Sarah was more realistic and has schooled me on many occasions, but we’ve had plenty of issues with our kids behaviour, and them not wanting to visit attractions, or do walks, or leave the camper.
This isn’t all the time, but its enough to be a big turn off on some days, and although we do our best it can be awfully tiring.
If I’m completely honest this is the single biggest downside of travelling for me, and I reckon Sarah would agree too. We wouldn’t change it for the world, but life as a couple travelling is so different to doing it with young kids that its not even on the same planet.
My folks caravan wheel nearly came off
After hearing a weird squeal and not being able to identify what was causing it, my folks pulled into Belair Caravan Park and that evening my Dad discovered that two studs were snapped, and of the remaining 4 studs, only two had nuts that were more than a few threads on.
It was literally minutes away from falling off, and would have been in a terrible place (freeway or Adelaide hills). This damaged the wheel, but fortunately Dad had a spare hub and we were able to repair it fairly easily.
My folks van awning tore
Whilst sitting at the Kingston RV Park, we noticed the wind had picked up badly, and a lot of people were putting awnings away. Dad happened to have their van facing the other direction and it was relatively protected, but a few of us mentioned that he should put it away.
He was keen to finish dinner before touching it, and right at the end we had a big gust, which picked one end of the awning up and tore it along the seam.
We then put it away, and removed it in Mount Gambier where it was repaired for $45. It was a fair bit of effort to reinstall it too, but its good for a while longer!
Our pole hatch came undone and we lost 3 poles
After a 40 minute drive into Torquay, I was locking the camper up to do the shopping, and noticed that the small cap that secures our annexe poles in place was missing, and when I counted the poles I found 3 that were missing.
One was a custom curved pole and the other two are normal uprights, but they aren’t cheap, and setting the awning up without them is impossible.
We made the decision to drive back and trace our steps, in the hope of finding them. Despite an hour and a half of looking, we managed to find the hatch, and no poles. I guess someone picked them up, but it was a pretty annoying day.
Our Evakool Freezer Fan started to die
I’d heard some interesting noises from our Evakool 82L Freezer on the odd occasion, but one day after shutting the slide it started to make a bad noise.
I pulled the front off, and found the fan was looking pretty average, with a fair bit of dust that had accumulated over the years. Despite some WD40 it wasn’t going to last much longer, and I managed to get a second hand computer fan for $3, to keep us going until we could get a proper replacement from Evakool.
Annoying, but things always break on the road, and it was interesting to learn something about these fridges! You can read more about the Evakool fan failure here.
Our 2000W Renogy Inverter failed
Our most recent problem relates to the 6 month old Renogy Inverter that we’ve had in our Isuzu Dmax, and used for running the induction cooktop, toaster or toasted sandwich machine if our camper batteries were lower, or we were out.
This smelt pretty bad one day, and then came good, until it alarmed mid cook a few weeks later, and I’ve not been able to get anything running off it that has been over 100W.
Renogy finally agreed to send a new one out, which I’ll install soon, but for now we have limited use of the 230aH of lithium in our Dmax.
We got the worst Whitsunday Cruise Weather
As it neared our Whitsunday Bareboat cruise, we were getting super excited, until we saw the weather. Every day as it updated, we saw that the weather was shocking, and it turned into reality.
We got 40 – 65km/h winds for the entire 6 nights, which hugely affected where we could go, and what we could do. We still had a great time, but the weather detracted from the trip in an immense way.
Ants in the camper
Not long after our Whitsunday Cruise we started to see some tiny ants inside our camper trailer, where we sleep. We killed a heap, but each day we’d see more running around the edge, and we couldn’t find a source.
They were so small that they could comfortably go through the window, so we decided to set some baits and wait. Eventually, we did find the ants – in a clean box of zip lock bags and they were in there by the hundreds. I have no idea why, as there was no food inside or nearby, but we quickly got rid of them!
Our new washing machine didn’t fit
After getting completely sick of our manual washing machine, we finally decided on a make and model 240V washing machine to come with us, and after several stores didn’t have one, we managed to pick one up at a hefty price in Cairns.
I’d measured 640mm of space in the back of the camper, and the unit was sold as being 640mm tall. However, the moment I unpacked it and tried to slide it in, I could see it was absolutely not 640mm, and more like 660.
With limited space, and other storage options, I rang and returned the unit, frustrated that we’d still be manually washing. I did let Camec know that their 2.5kg washing machine is incorrectly labelled, and we’ll keep the hunt going for a different, suitable portable washing machine!
Bad weather on the Great Barrier Reef
Like our Whitsunday Cruise, we couldn’t have arranged for worse weather on the day we headed out to snorkel and SCUBA the Great Barrier Reef. It was almost cancelled that morning, with 30 knot winds, and 2 metre swell.
Granted, the back of the reef was much calmer than the ride out (where a number of people got sick), but it was a far cry from calm snorkeling. We still had a great time, but it could have been a lot better if the weather was on our side.
Our Evakool Freezer died
In Cairns, I caved, after our Evakool Freezer failed to a level where it wasn’t freezing properly, and dropped it off at a 12V fridge repair place in Port Douglas, who repaired it, with a reasonable bill to pay.
This worked out really well as we had a freezer to use in a unit of family, and we didn’t have to wait for any parts, but it was still a pain in the backside.
A snapped bash plate bolt
Whilst at a magic Coen Free Camping spot, I realised another one of our bash plate bolts had snapped, and ended up spending most of the day trying to get it sorted.
I got stuck in a creek at Stewart River
I should know to walk crossings before attempting them, but my confidence got us stuck again, in the middle of a soft, flowing creek with the camper on.
After a bit of mucking around I got the Maxtrax out and we popped out, but it was a lot of extra work for no real gain!
The Dmax rear brakes stopped working
It wasn’t long after Cape York that I noticed our brakes were quite spongy, and unless you double tapped them they were very average. I confirmed that the rear brakes weren’t working at all when I touched the front rotors that were cooking, and the rear drums were icy cold.
We’d had new shoes put in just 6000km before, and I was a bit surprised. Not wanting to take any risks, we called into a mechanic on a Saturday morning who adjusted them up, and we had a good look at the drum, where it was clear that the adjustment cog was able to unwind itself.
Now, either it unwound, or we lost a lot of brake shoe very quickly. The mechanic made mention of the shoes having the tab down slightly lower than it should be, and being aftermarket shoes that could very well be the case.
Either way, the brakes are working fine now (and we have a handbrake again!), and if they go out of adjustment I can easily adjust them myself. You can read more about this here – Soft brake pedal on the Dmax.
Our Anderson plug snapped off
Arriving at the end of a fairly rough road near Einasleigh, I walked around the Dmax whilst pumping the tyres out and found the camper trailer Anderson lead laying on the floor. It must have only fallen out not that far before as the cable was still in reasonable condition, but the plug was wrecked.
This meant we couldn’t charge the camper batteries from our vehicle when driving until I got new parts, but it could be worse!
Crack number 2 on our Dmax
Whilst airing down near the Diggings Campground, I noticed a second crack in the inner guards of our Dmax. They’re approved to be replaced, so I’ll just have to push it through, but clearly this problem isn’t going away without a fight!
Major cracking on the Dmax
On our way out to the beautiful Stanage Bay north of Rockhampton, our air conditioner stopped working, and I just assumed it had cracked the evaporator again. However, arriving in Stanage itself and two fault lights came up, so I pulled over to have a look.
I discovered a much greater problem; a crack about 150mm long in the inner guard where a solid aircon line attaches to, causing it to drop, fracture and leak all of the aircon gas, dye and oil everywhere. This was a major blow, and after confirming (thankfully) that it wasn’t radiator fluid, we decided to head down to Brisbane about 800km away, and stop travelling until it got fixed.
We have family in the Sunshine coast which makes it much easier, but its still by far and away the biggest thing to go wrong on our lap of Australia so far, and hopefully we don’t trump this!
Life on the road
Life on the road isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and anyone who paints the picture of this isn’t giving you the full story. Overall we’re having a ball, but we accept, and have gotten used to things going wrong, and working our way through them.
Fortunately nothing major has happened yet, and we do our best to avoid this, but life isn’t always fun and enjoyable!