You’ve got to love the wide open spaces of Australia’s Outback, with its blue skies reaching out to a red ochre earth on the far off horizon…
Photo: Baz – The Landy, Outback Australia…
Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Outback
Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Bush.
Photo: Janet-Planet, in the Australian Bush
Even with the advancement of GPS technology I still haven’t been able to give-up my paper maps and compass.
Mind you, “The Landy” our Toyota 79 Series Dual Cab is fitted with a VMS In-Dash GPS running Oziexplorer mapping software. Although, I find the VMS lacking in functionality as it only runs a “light” version of the full Oziexplorer program and the screen size challenges even those with 20/20 vision.
On an outback expedition to the Gibson and Little Sandy Deserts I was able to review a Panasonic Toughbook in action. A robust laptop, the Toughbook has its genesis in the US Military and could survive almost anything thrown at it, especially the bone-jarring corrugations found on many of our outback tracks.
Rest assured, this sort of toughness comes at a hefty price for a brand new unit, but on my return from the expedition I purchased a reconditioned unit from a Melbourne based dealer for a fraction of its new cost.
It can be turned into a “tablet” and I use it with a wireless keyboard and it has a solid-state hard-drive, which makes loading up extremely fast.
The challenge was where to locate the unit so it would be accessible to both driver and navigator in the front seat, but without comprising comfort and safety, especially if air-bags were activated.
I reviewed a variety of over-the-counter products, but concluded none were likely to survive the corrugations of our outback roads and a custom made mount was the only way to go.
I settled on working with the team at Industrial Evolution, a Sydney based company specialising in making computer mounts for police vehicles.
The owner, Brett Franzi, was pleased I made contact as he had not had access to the more recent batch of Toyota 76, 78, and 79 series vehicles and my request provided the opportunity for a design template to be made.
Why go with the in-dash mount?
It is centrally located and securely attached to the dashboard and whilst it does take up some real estate in the central dash location, the alternatives would have done so also.
Importantly, it meets ADR Standards and fitting is a straightforward process and is easily achieved by the most basic of handymen.
Mind you, the proof is always “in the pudding” and tests on all types of road surfaces covering in excess of 30,000 kilometres over the past couple of years has proven the Panasonic Toughbook, combined with the in-dash mount from Industrial Evolution, to be a great partnership…
A great solution that gets my vote, but hey, don’t leave home without a map and a basic compass – they have never been known to fail…!
The cost, well it will depend on what items you purchase, but don’t expect too much change out of $500.
Photos: Baz – The Landy
Now I know some of you have been wondering how do I pass the time following the white line along the blacktop for these sort of distances, especially as Janet-Planet, the wonderful Mrs Landy, hasn’t joined the trip yet…
Yes, her presence in “The Landy” is always engaging and enlightening…
Well I’ve got quite a comprehensive music library consisting of around 10,000 songs so I’ve plenty to choose from, but oddly, I have listened to very little music on this trip and have spent most of my time tuned into ABC Country.
Yes, the Australian National Radio Broadcaster…
Now before you go knocking it, give it a go I say, there is plenty of topical stuff they talk about, and yes I had to endure a couple of business reports giving a read on the value of the Australian dollar. I suppose the boss will be pleased to know that I tuned in but crikey, thought I had left the trading desk behind!
But anyway, the topics are far-reaching, some serious, others amusing. One I listened to was a standout though. It was an interview with a bloke who works for the Department of Agriculture and his speciality is bee keeping.
We all love honey right?
Hey, before I get on with this yarn, don’t windmills transport you to the Australian Outback in a nano-second…
Anyway, predictably the interviewer had to get a Winnie-the-Pooh joke in early, it was an oldie, but still an oldie, if you know what I mean. But this bloke wasn’t going to be detracted from the topic…
Besides, I’m sure he has heard them all.
Actually, lets not call him “he”, but as I can’t remember his name let’s call him Cyril, ok?
Well Cyril gave a fascinating account of bee keeping to the point I’m sure he had people running out ordering a hive. Did you know they post Queen bees around in the mail, yep, postage stamp attached.
It kinda puts a new spin on airmail, I guess..
Anyway, Cyril recounted how he first became interested in bee keeping at the young age of 10 years and was encouraged whole-heartedly by his parents. He eventually went on to do some agriculture studies that were the pathway to a life-long career and passion.
And clearly, Cyril was passionate about this, let there be no mistake about that!
But the clincher for me in this whole interview, and it had me in sticthes, was his account of how, as a teenager, he had a beehive in his bedroom.
Yes, that’s right, a beehive in his bedroom.
Cyril had a hole cut out in the window for the bees to come and go and glass panels in the hive so he could observe the behaviour of the bees. Oh, don’t worry, there wasn’t a dark side to this story, no sting in the tale, so to speak…
Seriously, I tried to sneak all kinds of things into my bedroom as a teenager and let me say I was stung on more than one occasion by an ever-watchful mother – but a beehive in your bedroom?
Okay, I get it, some of you might like a bit of honey in the struggling paddock, just to sweeten things up a bit, but I’m betting you scooped it out of a jar, not straight from a beehive at the bottom of the bed!
But Cyril’s story is just so far out there I think he gets away with it…
Well thanks Cyril, odd as it may seem, your interview was a highlight for me as I stared down that endless white-line and it helped me pass the time away as I travelled through the Australian Outback; the Bush…
Anyway, as I mentioned, I’m at “The Rock” which is a first for me despite extensive outback travel and interestingly, it is mostly referred to as Ayers Rock in much of the signage around the Yulara Resort, rather than Uluru as it is now known. I find some comfort in that as I grew up knowing it as Ayers Rock.
Not that I can’t respect change, but I will take the liberty of referring to it in the way I have always been accustomed…
But there will be no climbing for me, I will be content to get some great photos of it as the sun sets on another outback day…
Photos: Baz – The Landy
Rest assured I was eager, departing before the kookaburras’ were stirring, the neighbours no doubt awoken by the familiar sound of “The Landy” edging down the driveway..
Mind you there is the mundane of actually getting out of the city, but before long “The Landy” was pulling the TVAN up and over the Blue Mountains, along the Bells Line of Road and through the small apple growing community of Bilpin, on what was a cold start to the day.
I elected to take the TVAN Camper Trailer on part of this trip to give some comfort on the journey to Central Australia and back again, especially as Mrs Landy will be joining me when it is time to point “The Landy” homewards. Otherwise it will be a swag roll to sleep under the stars whilst in the desert…
Similar to recent trips to Australia’s centre I headed west on the roads less travelled visiting the small rural towns of Tullamore and Tottenham, in the New South Wales central west. And central it is, as the route passes close by to the geo-graphical centre of New South Wales not too far from Tottenham.
At the risk of being called anti-social, it is quite pleasant driving along by yourself and it is something I greatly appreciate from time-to-time as it provides a welcome escape from the close working quarters on the currency trading floor of a major Australian bank – my usual haunt in between the weekends.
I even got to argue and debate with myself, and win a few of those exchanges during the day!
The sun was starting to head towards the western horizon as I reached the outskirts of Nyngan and a camp, the first of the trip, by the Bogan River. Before long I had the camp established, pulled out a chair, sat back, and relaxed!
Here I was, finally released from the shackles of urban living in Australia’s largest city, Sydney and the phone rang!
No way, it couldn’t be work, surely?
Although a call on a Saturday is not unheard of, it was Mrs Landy and the Crown Prince ringing to see how the first day Out and About was!
Baz – The Landy
Travelling with a small group of like-minded people we will make our way towards the Gibson Desert in Western Australia where we will be assisting traditional landowners built some infrastructure, including shelters to use when they visit this remote part of Australia.
I have always been fascinated by Aboriginal Culture and the Australian Aborigines have a rich heritage and association with our great sunburnt country that dates over 40,000 years. Mind you, it was only in the late 1970s that an old couple, Warri and Yatungka, came in from the desert not too far from where we will be travelling, having lived a traditional lifestyle with no European contact.
You can read more about their remarkable story in the book “The Last of the Nomads” by WJ Peasley.
Our travel will be along remote tracks that are covered in spinifex grass, and much of it will be in areas where no tracks or roads exist. In fact, our main role is to mark a route into the area where the infrastructure is to be built enabling a group of people from Track-Care in Western Australia, who will be towing trailers with the construction equipment, an easier run into the region.
Whilst in the region we intend to do some off-track exploring of the travel route of some of Australia’s early explorers, and more specifically, the Calvert Scientific Exploring Expedition of 1896-1897.
Our small team is being expertly led by someone who has travelled extensively in the region over the past decade and it is due to his experience and familiarity with the region that he has been called upon by the Central Desert Native Title Services and Track-Care to assist in this undertaking.
As you would expect there is a reasonable amount of planning that goes into this type of expedition, including water and food supply, as well as vehicle preparation.
The typical choice of vehicle, and one well suited for Australia’s harsh outback, is the Toyota Landcruiser in its various forms. “The Landy” has been specifically modified, including upgraded suspension, specific tyres, and additional fuel tanks, to enable long-range travel in the outback.
On this trip I will be carrying 400 litres of fuel for the remote area work we will be undertaking, which will total near to 2,000 kilometres, and will consume a total of around 2,000 litres on the trip by the time “The Landy” arrives back home in Sydney.
So be sure to drop by every so often to “Check out Where I’m travelling” (on the tab at the top of the page) and I will update on the adventure as communications permit!
Cheers, Baz – The Landy
The track, which was surveyed and built by the legendary adventurer Len Beadell in 1960, starts approximately 70-kilometres east of the remote Giles Weather Station on the Great Central Road, and winds its way to the Kintore Range some 300-kilometres to the north.
Despite seeing himself as simply a man of the bush with a love of the Australian Outback, Len and his bush craftsmanship are revered around campfires in the outback where tales of his exploits are frequently recounted.
Of course earlier explorers had passed this way and evidence can be seen towards the northern parts where a tree blazed by the somewhat controversial explorer William Tietkens can be viewed.
The Sandy Blight, which takes its name from the eye disease more commonly known as Trachoma, a disease that Len suffered whilst making the track, will take around three days to complete and adventurers’ who make the journey will be rewarded with an ever changing landscape.
Travelling east along the Great Central Road from Giles, the Scherwin Mural Crescent will come into view signaling that the track north is not too far away. The explorer Ernst Giles named this remarkable rock outcrop after the Princess of Scherwin and it is quite spectacular when viewed in the early morning sunlight.
Making your way onto the track you can expect your senses to be piqued by a visually invigorating landscape of a deep red coloured soil contrasting against a vibrant blue sky and framed by magnificent Desert Oak trees.
Not long after turning off the Great Central Road a rocky track will take you to the Bungabiddy Rock Hole where you will be tempted to laze in the coolness of the rocky gorge, or the more energetic might take a walk to the top of the ridge that overlooks the waterhole.
Continuing north the countryside changes from stands of Desert Oaks and rocky outcrops, to numerous sand dunes that will put your driving skills to the test.
A highlight of the Sandy Blight is a drive to the top of the Sir Frederick Range where you will be rewarded with a 360-degree vista of the surrounding country.
I have vowed to return to the summit of the range to enjoy a full moon rising over this sunburnt land and to marvel as it slides gently below the western horizon the morning after.
And not to be missed are the sun’s rays caressing the eastern face of Mt Leisler at the northern end of the track as it rises to signal the dawn of another day in the Australian Outback…
Whilst the Sandy Blight Junction Track is remote by any measure, it is not necessarily a difficult trip.
Preparation is the key to a successful trip and shouldn’t be taken lightly when travelling in a remote environment. Ensure your vehicle is well prepared for the rigours that it will face on the corrugated roads, that you are self-sufficient for food and water, and have a comprehensive first aid kit.
You’ll also need to have the appropriate permits for travelling through aboriginal land, and importantly, be sure to observe the requirements they place on travel through the area, especially on the carriage and consumption of alcohol.
Permits can be obtained from the Central Lands Council and the Ngaanyatjarra Lands Trust.
And crikey, don’t forget to take your camera – the folks back home will not believe just how spectacular the Australian Outback is!