Escape too the North. Time to keep living life !

Week 1. 10/06/21 to 16/06/21

Mandurah to Wiluna, 1461kms.

Hi everyone, welcome back to our wiljen blog. I know it’s been way too long but finally Jenny and I are back doing what we love…random travelling, come along for the journey it’s going to be fun.

After the Canning Stock Route and Gibb River Road Tour of 2019 & prior to the pandemic we decided we needed a complete revamp of our travel routine. After 6 years of tenting and motels whilst cycling and motorcycling touring during the majority of our travels, we decided more comfort and flexibility was needed.

Sadly to assist with financing all of this we sold old DIXYBUS our beloved 45yo VW Kombi Camper, cashed in lots of Shares from our personal portfolio and spent many hours researching and discussing the best possible option that would suit our requirements.

Our best idea was to go fully self contained, vehicle based touring with bicycles for local area exploration and some individual road riding travel until the car catches up to the rider. We need more flexibility than say a Van or Troop Carrier could provide. Since neither of us are keen on towing the new rig needed to be compact and light weigh. Initially our plan was to tow the Hybrid Camper (TARE weight 1650kg) with our 2002, 105 Series, naturally aspirated diesel Toyota Landcruiser Wagon.

Good idea at the time, legally the 105 Series Landcruiser can tow the Camper but practically it isn’t up to the task. The time has finally come for an update. (We intend to sell the old 105 Series Landcruiser which we’ve owned since new in the very near future also).

Enter the 14′ Lifestyle Reconn2 Hybrid camper, a cross between a camper trailer and a small pop top caravan. Ideal for two people.

Great idea until after a few shake down trips of towing with our 19 year old diesel Landcruiser through the hills, second gear at 40km/h up hill, achieving 21 litres per 100kms fuel economy, always struggling to maintain 90km/h to 100km/h on the flats quickly made us both realise that this combination was painful to drive and probably dangerous due to the lack of power.

The “Old Girl’s” day are done. Repowering with a bolt on turbo or full engine swap didn’t seem to be a great option. This all coincided with the final production run of the very last V8 turbo diesel Landcruiser 200 Series Wagons to be sold in Australia (which have had a 14 year life cycle). How often can you buy an “old new car”, suits us but it didn’t come cheap and we opted for the GX base model with vinyl floors, barn rear doors and minimal frills. We never had the opportunity to test towing the Camper with the new Landcruiser prior to this trips departure, we just hitched it up and left. I guess if anything was to go amiss we’d just return home and have the problem rectified.

So far we are extremely happy with our decision. We were suppose to continue cycling in the USA this year but that ain’t happening anytime soon with the way life has panned out so Aussie touring it is for now and this new set up suits us perfectly.

First selfie pic on day 1 of our latest touring epic with our new travel rig in the background. The 200 Series tows like a beast.

There isn’t an easy way to lead you into this next road trip. Right now (25/06/21) I’m tapping out this blog & we’re 80kms west of Fitzroy Crossing, WA in a 24hr overnight stop rest area called Ellendale. It’s packed with other Covid Pandemic Travel Refugees just trying to make the most of life under all these restrictions that have been imposed on us. The best idea I can come up with to quickly bring you all up to speed is to just upload my travel notes.

Parked up at Ellendale 24h rest area, Jenny is actually uploading the most recent blog post in this photo.

The first part of the notes are really just for me but some of you may find the expenses and weather observations of interest, so I’ll leave them in until I catch up to the present. Right now we are halfway into week three of a 4 month trip across the top and than back via the centre of Australia Tour. We are just starting to get into a daily travel routine.

I hope you enjoy, Will & Jenny.

Day 1, Thursday, Date: 10/06/21

From to where: Mandurah to Pumphrey’s Bridge

Distance: 150km

Accumulated Distance = 150km

Cycling Y/N, KMs: No

Fuel $: Started with a full tank of diesel….138L

Litres:

Accom type & cost: free camp with toilet, shelter, bins, bush wood.

Grocery Food $: 25 Pinjarra Coles

Take away food $: $14

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $:

Day Total $: $39

Rolling Total $: 39

Gopro footage: GP8 and new SD card put in at Pumphrey’s

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: SW wind, 21C cloudy and windy, rain has stopped.

The Escape !

Jenny had to work until 11am, we were hooked up, locked up and headed out of Mandurah by 12.15pm. Couple of stops to drop off some stuff on the way out of town. Stopped in Pinjarra for lunch and tonight’s dinner. Pies, cook chook and buns. Stopped at my Dad’s place but he wasn’t home so we continued on towards Dwellingup.

Arrived at Boddington around 2.30pm, the new V8 Turbo Diesel 200 series Landcruiser towed brilliantly. The car and trailer seem level, sitting on 90km/h seemed like a comfortable speed.

Rolled into Pumphrey’s Bridge at 3.30pm, there is no one else here, Rodgie is loving all the space. We collected some fire wood, didn’t bother unhitching the camper, popped the roof and put out the awning as there was some light rain, that was accompanied by bright rainbows.

Mosquitoes were quite prolific so we got the fire going to smoke them away, had a few drinks followed by chicken and salad buns for dinner. Easy peasy, into bed by 9pm we have escaped…


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Day 2, Friday, Date: 11/06/21

From to where: Pumphrey’s Bridge to Koorkoordine Lake (Southern Cross).

Distance: 388km

Accumulated Distance: 538kms

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no

Fuel $: 104 (@ 143.9cpl)

Litres: 71L (using about 15 litres per 100km)

Accom type & cost: Lake Koorkoordine FREE near Southern Cross no facilities…

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $:

Day Total $: 104

Rolling Total $: 143

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: 18C max temp. no wind, cloudy with some sun poking through.

First full travel day.

Misty morning which still had not lifted at 9.30am as we pulled out of Pumphrey’s Bridge. Drove the back way along Wheatbelt roads that sort of mirrors the busy Great Eastern Highway. We drove through Brookton where we got fuel and air for the Camper tyres.

Also passed through Beverly where we stopped for early lunch on the east side of the Avon River . Other towns we went through were Quairading (free showers ) Shackleton (smallest Bank), Bruce Rock and than along 40kms of newly bitumen chipped road to Merredin. Not much Stone damage to Car or Camper. Stopped at Merredin’s sport oval / recreation center so Rodgie could run around.

Finally arrived at Lake Koorkoordine just before 4pm which is too late as we only had an hour to gather wood, set up and cook dinner before sun down. No Moon and Milky Way looks fantastic. We have the whole lake to ourselves a local in an old red petrol powered Toyota 75 series ute did come by. Dinner was tee bone steak and veggies. It’s cold so in the camper trailer’s comfortable bed by 7.30pm.

Good for train spotting here. The rail line runs along the far side of the lake which currently is full. It’s a salt water lake so no swimming.

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Day 3, Saturday, Date: 12/06/21

From to where: Southern Cross (Lake Koorkoordine) to Kambalda.

Distance: 283km

Accumulated Distance: 921km

Cycling Y/N, KMs:

Fuel $: 129.50

Litres: 90, at 143.9cpl economy works out at 17L per 100km, driving at 95km/h … not bad for GCM of 5 tonne.

Accom type & cost: free Baz & Nicole in Kambalda.

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $: 57

Other $:

Day Total $: 57

Rolling Total $: 210

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: no wind 18C cloudy but fine.

Back track a little to see friends.

Good day , easy drive, stopped in Coolgardie for fuel and Jenny walked the dog. Departed 9.15am arrived 1pm. Nice to catch up with Barry and Nicole. Parked camper out the front and unhitched the car. As usual drank to many beers with Baz.

Nicole and Barry’s place in Kambalda. It’s a work in progress but the guys have done a top job so far.

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Day 4, Sunday, Date: 13/06/21

From to where: Kambalda rest day

Distance: 12km

Accumulated Distance: 933km

Cycling Y/N, KMs:

Fuel $:

Litres:

Accom type & cost: Free, Baz and Nicole

Grocery Food $: 80

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $:

Day Total $: 80

Rolling Total $: 290

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: cool, light winds, overcast, 18C

Notes: just chilled out at Barry and Nicole’s, took Rodgie for a bush walk, dumped and replenished the camper water tanks, greased up the camper roof scissor lifts. Had some quiet beers in the afternoon.

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Day 5, Monday, Date: 14:06/21

From to where: Kambalda to Station Creek, (12km north of Leonora).

Distance: 312km

Accumulated Distance: 1245kms

Cycling Y/N, KMs: not yet

Fuel $: $108 @ 147.9cpl

Litres: 73L , 16.5 litres per 100kms.

Accom type & cost: Free, Station Creek bush camp.

Grocery Food $: $25

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $: $52

Other $:

Day Total $: 185

Rolling Total $: $475

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: Max 16C, Min 8C strong 40km/h SW wind.

Notes: Good day stuck in Kalgoorlie for to long, departed Kambalda 9.40am arrived bush camp 3.40pm stopped at gravel pit north of Menzies for late lunch. Very windy but luckily behind us . Fuelled up in Leonora.

Home for the night at Station Creek, where Leonora obtains most of it’s drinking water from.

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Day 6, Tuesday, Date: 15/06/21

From to where: Station Creek (Leonora) to Dingo Creek (35km north of Leinster)

Distance: 168 (35kms on slow dirt track)

Accumulated Distance: 1313kms

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no

Fuel $:

Litres:

Accom type & cost: Free bush camp Dingo Creek no facilities.

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $:

Day Total $: $0

Rolling Total $: 475

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage:

Weather: min 5C, sunny, cool SW wind.

Notes: Cold morning, we were packed by 9am and Jenny walked Rodgie dog back to the Goldfields Highway. The three of us were headed north by 9.15am, we had an appointment to catch up with friends Scott and Evelyn in Leinster before they departed for a short holiday in Coral Bay.

After a quick catch up we all jumped in our vehicles, Scott and Evelyn were going to take us out to Dingo Creek to camp. Approximately 35kms north of Leinster, the track loosely follows a buried gas pipeline trail. It is slow single lane dirt track where your top speed (towing) is no higher than 40km/h. We arrived at Dingo Creek just after 1pm. It’s a nice secluded spot with ample water. One downside is there are 1080 baits around so great vigilance and a lot of time on the lead is the order of the day for Rodgie.

Scott and Evelyn head off leaving Jenny and i to set up camp. We select a level location close to a pool of water. Strategically position the car and camper to protect us from the 20km/h cold south west wind. Roll out the awning to dry from when is got wet back at Lake Koorkoordine, I have to hang onto the awning for about 15 minutes, once dry we roll it in, it’s just to windy and the ground is to hard to adequately peg it down.

Next up we get fire wood and I throw the ball for Rodgie to try and wear her out. The windy conditions , possible 1080 poisoning of the dog and fact Jen couldn’t get her online work completed today has combined to make Jenny a bit grumpy.

En-Hui, Scott and team wiljen at Dingo Creek near Leinster, WA.

Yes we did hear Dingoes or wild dogs howling during the night.

~~~~~~~~

Day 7, Wednesday, Date: 16/06/21

From to where: Dingo Creek (Leinster) to Gunbarrel Laager (Wiluna).

Distance: 148kms (28km along station tracks)

Accumulated Distance: 1461kms

Cycling Y/N, KMs: no

Fuel $:

Litres:

Accom type & cost: $30 Unpowered camp site .

Grocery Food $:

Take away food $:

Beer/Wine/Soda $:

Other $:

Day Total $: 30

Rolling Total $: $505

Gopro footage: GP8

DJI Drone Footage: no

Weather: some clouds, min 5C max 16C, 15km/h southerly.

Where not to take the Reconn2 Camper.

Before we left Leinster to go to the Dingo Creek I said to Scott, all my gear is new so I’m in no mood for hard core off-roading. Scott replied the track is easy. Which was true though you had to travel slow, what he didn’t clearly indicate was that it’s nearly a 70km loop type track across station tracks and through single lane dirt roads with shrubs encroaching onto them. Now we have some nice bush pin striping on the Camper, I’m a bit pissed about it and Dingo Creek was only average. We wouldn’t have taken the camper in there if we had known. Appreciate Scott and Evelyn’s extra effort, though on this occasion it was not what we were looking for.

(Edit 25/06: please don’t read this the wrong way, we were very grateful to see Scott and Evelyn and for them to show us a hidden local gem, I was just having a bad day and feel it’s best not to edit out all the negatives that happen, Will).

The Landcruiser went fine but we needed to turn off the traction control when we became stuck in a creek crossing, the centre Diff lock worked as it was suppose to, lots of new learning required as to how to use the Landcruiser 200 Series off road driving systems. Lots of electronic wizardry, which we have never encountered, but there definitely isn’t beating that twin turbo V8 diesel motor, towing on the highway is effortless and moving a combination of 5 tonne along at 95km/h is so far seeing us achieve 16 to 17 litres per 100kms, amazing. (Need a weigh bridge but my best estimate is the Landcruiser is at about 3 tonne and Camper 2 tonne).

The lesson learned is that we aren’t interested in long slow arduous single tracks. No doubt we would have scratched up the sides sooner or later just trying to go the extra mile to a free bush camp. As for hardcore off-roading when towing, no thanks.

It was a cold night at Dingo Creek and yes we did hear dingoes or wild dogs howling in the distance. We departed at 9.15am and it took nearly an hour driving 28kms on rough terrain slowly to avoid damaging the OEM Dunlop Grandtrek Highway style tyres on the Landcruiser .

Also wanted to limit more scratches to both car and camper trailer. Once back on the Goldfields Highway it’s only 120kms to Wiluna and 10kms out to Gunbarrel Laager Camp. $30 for the night is reasonable, did our washing including the bed sheets, they even provide firewood. Jenny did her online work over near the main camp because the cell phone service is non existent in the campground.

An ok day but the urge in both of us to find some warmer weather in the north west is strong. Still no cycling, I guess we had better start soon.

We’ve now owned the Reconn2 for 8 months and the character lines are starting to show.
Campsite at Gunbarrel Laager, Wiluna.

NB: some more scratches have since been added at Mary’s Pool, the finish of the Reconn2 isn’t tough enough. I guess in the future we will get some sort of vinyl wrap. All part of living and learning folks. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Escape too the North. Time to keep living life !

  1. So wonderful to read all about your travels. Truly inspiring. Dixy is doing fabulous and loving getting out and about. Off to Pemberton in a couple of weeks. Loving life with her. Stay safe and well. Enjoy. Warm regards Cheers Louise

    On Sun, 27 Jun 2021 at 7:20 pm, wiljen’s adventures 2.0 wrote:

    > wiljensadventures posted: ” Week 1. 10/06/21 to 16/06/21 Mandurah to > Wiluna, 1461kms. Hi everyone, welcome back to our wiljen blog. I know it’s > been way too long but finally Jenny and I are back doing what we > love…random travelling, come along for the journey it’s going to be” >

    Like

    1. Hi Louise,
      great to hear from you, we’ve been off the grid for awhile as we travelled the outback gravel desert roads from Halls Creek to Daly Waters. Will be arriving into Darwin today.
      Glad you’re the owner of DIXYBUS and getting all those grins and giggles every time you go away on a trip. Isn’t driving over the Dawesville Bridge a buzz in her, I smile when ever I think about it.
      Will and Jenny.

      Like

    2. Hi Louise,
      We’ve been off the grid for the past week as we travelled across the outback desert gravel roads from Halls Creek to Daly Waters. Arrive into Darwin today.
      I’m glad you’re enjoying DIXYBUS, very happy to hear about your exploits in her.
      She always would give us grins and giggles driving around.
      Will & Jenny.

      Like

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