Katherine and Alex have just completed their Big Lap. In this video, they share with us their story and experiences along with a tour of their set-up. How did they manage to finish the lap in less than a year? Did they take their dogs with them – why or why not? Get to know some tips that will help you decide if you’re still doubtful about making that big Aussie adventure.
Welcome to Aussie Travel Stories, the series where we ask Aussie travellers questions to help inspire and educate the Big Lap community to enjoy the greatest road trip of their lives.
What’s Your Travel Story?
Katherine: Hey Big Lap Bible, it’s Katherine and Alex here from @discoveringoz and we have just completed our big lap around Australia.
We left in April and got back just a few days before Christmas. We’re on the road for about nine months in total.
Because we only had 9 months on the road, we did decide to save up around 30-35 grand before we left and we didn’t have to work our way around and 9 months was a good amount of time for us to do the whole lap in that amount of time.
Where are you currently, the route you’re taking?
Katherine: At the moment, we’re currently back in our home town in Casselden in Victoria, and we are back to work and we’re just doing little weekend trips away, but we do have big plans to keep travelling in the future.
Do you travel with a pet, does it restrict you?
Katherine: While we’re away on our big lap, we decided not to take the dogs. We kind of really struggling for room and we thought it’s gonna be a bit too hot for them to travel on a canopy so we decided to leave them home with our parents. We were lucky enough that they looked after them.
What is your setup?
Alex: This is our 2006 Hilux we took on the lap. It’s got a 3-inch lift. So we did a little bit of work to get it sort of reliable before we left and it didn’t miss a beat.
Decide to go with 32s in 50 good ridge KO2s just to save a bit of fuel, and a good all-around sort of tyre, not the best in the market but that’s got us through.
Got a winch, definitely, a master’s snorkel and other masks, cut down the roof rack to suit the tent on the top, and that’s about it.
Katherine: We did the Cape York and we tackled the Old Telegraph Track and we got throughout pretty much no worries with just those few little things so…Just kind of did really well, and even on the really rough roads as well.
So in this log box here, we have things like our 12v hot shower, spare gas bottles, we had a step ladder and a picnic blanket that we used for quite a lot on the trip. We had lots of collapsible buckets, so we actually had a big bucket that we can stand in to have our shower so that we can recycle our water so that we were not wasting water when we have a shower.
We have little blocks to help level up our car in front of big funny little angles so that we’re sleeping nice and flat.
Alex: We decided to go with the Bush Company Alpha, our tent was really good, the big fly sort of kept the rain off, window down, didn’t get too wet. A fishing rod holder on the top that’s where we put all the rods out of the way, so we didn’t have to carry them somewhere else, it won’t fit anyway.
We pan around, we went with the Darchi 180 awning, we saw it couldn’t go 270, just cause we wanted to get it on the back, not the side of our setup and didn’t want to put up doors or sort of stuff down. Other than that we go around the kitchen side, where Katherine will tell you what’s going on.
Katherine: So this is kind of where our kitchen was, we had a stainless steel table that Alex made, it was really good for filleting fish, when we cooked fish because it’s stainless steel and it’s really good for putting hot stuff on so nothing melted.
We had a little gas cooker, and this is usually our dog box, as you can tell our dog is in there.
And then in here, we kind of have, really big slide-out drawers. This one fitted all our food in there, this one had all of our cookware in here. With our cookware, we have a lot of collapsible saucepans and things like that, they save a lot of room and make it so easy to be able to fit them in.
Up here where we kind of fit it all like, camp chairs, walls for our awning, spare tubs for our toothbrushes, all our tin food, and things like that.
And then down under here, we have a water tank which is mounted under the trail, tap here, and a tap on this side as well as a breather and it’s a 55-litre water tank.
We think that’s probably the smallest you should probably go, ‘cause we can survive on that for probably about a week being very sparingly, but it can be really hard to get water so that probably will be the smallest size tank we would recommend ongoing,
And then in our backseat, we actually did something a little bit different as well. So we took our backset out altogether and Alex built this kind of shelf. So on the bottom half of the shelf is where we put all the tools, all our cover gear, we had the legs so we could jack off the canopy.
Nothing we used all that much, we probably jacked off the canopy for about 3x in total, so all our tools and everything in here, and on the top part we had all of our clothes, and towels and linen things on the top shelf. That saved us a lot of room. If we’d just had the backseat, we would’ve really struggled for space, so that was really a good idea.
Alex: So we have the easy slide from Clearview, coz Katherine’s pretty short, she couldn’t get into it, so it just drops down, no worries. In your fridge, easy.
Electrical system, red arc manager 30 pretty simple, just all the switches and just the normal stuff, just good to know what is exactly going on, 200 amp power lithium battery save the power so really well.
When we’re at the top and it’s stinking hot, we ran a freezer, 2 freezers off of it basically. That was sort of its limit, which probably lasted four days – five days unless you really had good solar which is 160-watts on the roof.
Just got a little oven, a 12-volt oven does the job, just reheat the food, put your lunch or do whatever you wanna do. The set-up works really well with the electrical.
Where is the best place you’ve ever been?
Katherine: Our favourite spot on our trip would probably be the whole top-end. For me, it was probably Broome and Darwin, with Litchfield and Katherine National Park.
Alex: I most probably Cape York and the Tele track, and sort of the whole top-end right across Darwin. Good fishing, chasing, seeing buffalo and the likes and stuff…
Do you travel with a pet, does it restrict you?
Katherine: While we’re away on our big lap, we decided not to take the dogs. We kind of really struggling for room and we thought it was gonna be a bit too hot for them to travel on a canopy so we decided to leave them home with our parents. We were lucky enough that they looked after them.
What’s something you know now but didn’t before you left?
Alex: Probably some of the things that we didn’t really know about was how much downtime you actually have. It’s not all go-go-go. There’s a lot of downtime and Katherine reads books so she had no troubles with it but if I wasn’t fishing or doing something, I sort of struggled a bit which is sitting on the chair doing nothing all day so I started making fishing something to do, for a little project.
Katherine: Yeah, if you’re a really busy person, just try to have something like a little hobby that you can do in your downtime. That’s probably something that we didn’t really realise.
How were you affected by the lockdown?
Katherine: With Covid on our trip, we were actually very lucky with Covid. The whole lay-up, the East Coast, we didn’t have any issues. We did dodge a few lockdowns, just because we were a few days away from the town we’re heading towards but we had no issue crossing borders or anything, so we were super-lucky with Covid.
What is your biggest tip to other big lappers?
Katherine: Probably our biggest tip to anyone to do a trip is just to get out there to meet people. A lot of our trip we spend travelling with other couples that we’ve met and that’s probably also our biggest highlight. You do things you wouldn’t usually do. It’s fun when you’re with other people and just get out there and meet people, cause they make it so much better.
Alex: So that’s a summary of our big trip and a bit of look-around of our set-up
And that’s pretty much all we’ve got to tell you about our trip, so hopefully, you found something useful out of that, and we can’t wait to get planning our next adventure.