Is logbook servicing really required? Are tyres really that important? Is pre-trip planning required?
The answer to all three questions is YES!
Prior to our recent trip into the Australian Outback, Paul organised for the Nissan Patrol Legend Edition to have a service done at Silver City Motors (Nissan) in Broken Hill. The staff there were excellent and the mechanic, Bec, was fantastic.
Bec even allowed Paul to take some photos of the Patrol being serviced. Due to where we were going and with the local knowledge that Bec had of the terrain we were heading into, she opted to do the 40,000km service instead of the 35,000km, as this was a major service which included greasing the front hubs and changing all the oils and filters, so it was more comprehensive. This was great news as we wanted to make sure the Legend was in tip top condition (which it was of course) before heading off the beaten track.
Next on the agenda was new tyres as the original tyres were really starting to show their age and would not have been up to the task of driving Australia’s outback tracks, which can vary from sealed road to large rocks and sand all within a few kilometres.
When it comes to pre-trip planning, Paul is very thorough, which we’ve documented time and time again. This first thing on Paul’s list was organising more lighting for around the camp when we are bush camping. Jemrok/TJM Broken Hill stepped up and supplied us with a complete set of 4 Korr lights and wiring leads/adaptors. The lights proved to be a fantastic arrangement which lit up our subsequent bush camp exactly the way we wanted. The fact that they were all dimmable was even better. Simon’s wife has taken over running the Rural & Remote Autism Network (RRAN) in Broken Hill, so he absolutely understands the need to raise awareness and acceptance of health conditions in country areas. From our perspective, and with autism awareness being a cause close to our hearts as well, any support for families trying to cope with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, is ALSO supporting the mental health of these same communities.
Amongst the list of things that Paul needed to make sure was ready, was the refitting of the HF antenna that we had taken off whilst in town to stop it banging on things (the tip is 3.4m high from the ground). He then did a radio test with the VKS-737 radio network to ensure the Barrett HF radio was working as it was designed (it was of course). This again proved useful because even though we had no phone reception, we were still able to let people know where we were, where we were headed and that we were safe.
Next Paul considered software to make sure that he could fly his RPAS without accidently breaking the law whilst in the outback. Unfortunately there are restricted airspaces scattered throughout the Australian outback and many people have found themselves in trouble for flying in No Fly Zones. Paul had experience with the Oz Runways app from when he completed his Remotely Piloted Aircraft System Pilots course, so he emailed them to tell them what we were doing and to see if they would be willing to help us out. It was only an hour or so later and Oz Runways replied and gave us a 12 month subscription to all of their software and applications. This software has been approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), so you know it is accurate and has all the information needed to safety fly any aircraft. It is great to have their support!
Last but by no means least was the fitting of our Opposite Lock Gladstone supplied sand flag. Sand flags should be fitted to ALL vehicles heading into the Australian outback. Taller than the vehicle, and seen easily from a distance or in hilly terrain, the flags help to let drivers know there is an oncoming vehicle, essential when traversing the thousands of sharp crests on the tracks.
Vehicle and camper ready, 140L additional fuel, 100L of water and plenty of food on board, we head into the Australian outback. Stay tuned to hear about the next part of our journey.