Trip Start Jun 18, 2010
Trip End Aug 29, 2010

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Thursday, June 17, 2010

It all started about 9 months ago just as an idea...we wanted to go an explore Australia. Our hopes of doing the Big Lap were pretty quickly squashed as the books indicated that you need a minimum of 12 to 24 months to do it comfortably. So then came the idea of going up to Kakadu National Park. It all sounded fantastic but then the Australian distances gave us a bit of a wake-up call...4500km just to get there with 2 kids in the back...maybe not such a good idea as our first big trip. So after long debate we landed on doing a lap around Queensland. Main reason being that we wanted to do it over the winter period in Sydney which means it is dry season up north.
And so began the evenings of reading upon the internet, buying books and magazines, looking at maps and Google earth. With all the reading came more questions than answers though...what camping gear do we need, do we need a different car, tent or camper-trailer or caravan, where should we stay overnight, how do you divide up the long sections of road to be covered, should we go all the way to the Top? So we decided that one of the first things to do was to have a few "test camping trips"over the next few months. These would enable us to test our equipment, what we were missing, can we fit everything into the car, etc. First stop though...the camp shop...and for that we picked the biggest one we could find. We were like kids in a toy shop and ended up buying almost the whole shop. Let me tell you, the amount of camping gadgets available is endless. We almost could not fit everything into the car on the way back home. All excited, the next weekend we were off camping feeling pretty confident that we had bought everything required to go camping...not so. It took us another 6 camping trips to find out the hard way what gear we were missing but also to perfect things like loading the car (a real puzzle), setting up and breaking up camp, knowing what to take and what to leave at home and many more things.It was good fun though except on the trips where it was raining all the time.
In terms of our rig, we came to the conclusion that the Subaru wasn't going to hack it.So eBay became my best friend for the next few months hunting for a cheap 4x4. Sometimes it felt as if the whole of Australia was out to buy the bargain I had spotted. So much for picking up a bargain on eBay. Eventually we found a 4X4 which was just advertised in the neighborhood along the road. After a bit of negotiation we were the proud owners of a Nissan Patrol Turbo Diesel. Pretty stock standard in good condition. Picked it up the same day, it was a Friday afternoon and went straight camping with it. Now the hunt could start for all the gadgets you can add to that thing. Again the list and prices seemed to be endless so in an attempt to keep the price down, I ended up sourcing most of the items and installing everything myself. I just hope that the neighbors have not paid too much attention to the cursing coming from the garage over the past few months!?! As recent as yesterday, 2 days before we are meant to leave, I was still drilling massive holes into the car to fit the snorkel. I must have checked the template for the holes 10 million times to make sure I had it right. All in all though the car came out really well with an upgraded suspension with poly-airs, second battery, numerous 12V outlets, UHF radio,  extra gauges, cargo barrier, snorkel, extended breathers, winch, spotties, new set of tires, a roof cage and off course a full service. Let's hope the engine keeps up...
In the meantime we had been working through the final itinerary for our trip. Initially we thought of leaving it wide open but with restricted camp spots in the national parks and it being peak season we had to book most of our national park stays in advance. Whilst this takes a bit of the spontaneity away from the trip it however means that at least we didn't have to stay in commercial campings all the time. The other decision we made was to actually go all the way up to the Top. At first we didn't think this was going to be feasible but with the setup of the 4X4 and reading up on it we have decided to give it a shot. Let's say for now that the pictures which we saw on the internet for the last leg up to the top are...well interesting to say the least. 
As for the family, the kids are extremely keen on the trip, albeit for different reasons. Ruben is keen if it was just to get 3 months off school ;-). We have had to request permission to take them out of school for that long but have had no issues in getting it granted. One of the teachers worded it just perfectly saying: "Well as a teacher I should not recommend to take your child out of school for that long but as a person I think the opportunity is amazing and it will be such a great experience for them" They will be doing a bit of home schooling every day with us and will also keep a journal which we will try to summarize regularly on this blog. Their respective classes will also follow our trip via this website to keep in touch and get a glimpse of what Anouck and Ruben are up to. Watch for their updates. 
As for my wife Isabelle, she has been the driving force behind this trip and if it wasn't for her it would probably still be a pipe-dream. I remember her calling me at work one day asking me what we were going to do as I was obviously not making up my mind again. So there and then we decided to go for it. I needed a sea change anyway and as such resigned from work the next day, served my 3 months notice to finish up at the end of May. So here we are...alll ready to go. Tomorrow is the start of our big adventure. We will do our best to keep this blog updated and hope that the many pictures will tell a thousand words. Stay tuned...there is much, much more to come!!! Hope you will read up on our adventure on this website rather than hear about it on the news channel ;-)
Chat soon...Anouck, Ruben, Isabelle and  Bart 
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CChristophe Hayertz on

Can't wait to read you , I wish you all the best !!!!

Rachel Cadywould on

What a fantastic opportunity guys, I'm sure you will all make the most of it and have a wonderful time, I will definitely be keeping up with your travels x

Marie on

We love your trip!
Thanks for sharing it with all of us.
We are looking forward to seeing the pictures
Enjoy the adventure. For sure, it will be.
xxxx Marie, Phil, Jade and Iris

Ruben's class mates on

We can't wait to see your pictures and communicate with you on your trip to the top and back. HAVE FUN AND GOOD LUCK. :)

Jorgen on

Fantastic!!!!!!!! Have a great trip - we'll be looking forward for updates on your blog.

ann on

ik zou onmiddellijk mee instappen en genieten van de prachtige trip! ma ja dat gaat niet hè! laat ons dan maar mee genieten en vergeet ons niet op de hoogte te houden! veel plezier!

Anouck's Classmates on

We will miss your big smiles Anouck. Have a wonderful time. We will be following your adventures and looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back. Take care.

isa on

veel succes met de uitstap. amaai wat een leuk avontuur. jammer dat je niet even de zee kan overrijden om op bezoek te komen.
tot nog eens he.

Oma Greet on

Hello Anouck, Ruben, Isa and Bart ! At last you're off on holiday - backpakking arround Australia ! Anyway, I hope you're all well and happy and wish all of you a great time. Lots of Love !!!

Lina on

Hello Bart and Isa and the kids.
What a wonderfull idea to make this trip.
In fact, the whole family together to realise a dream ! and what for a dream.
Pitka and I we whish you a successfull expedition. We are sure that you took
all the necessary things against autoproblems, sickness and the studybooks of the kids.
They will learn many things about people, animals and unknown surprises.
Full success. We appreciate
Aunt Loula and Pitka.

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