BP Park Samford

Well the boys had a day at BP Park in Samford (Its called Joey Jaunt), we decided to go a day early and camp out as the property is open to the public too.  Basically what was once a big day trip in the day to Samford is now a park of brisbane really, but its a really big bushland reserve. Anyways we had the place to ourselves on the Friday night, but come Saturday there were 500 people there. So a great night of solitude and a great day out for the boys. Well don to Victor scout group in Holland Park


photo 1photo 2photo 3photo 4


DIY Lights version 2



photo 4We have been using an old toolbox with a little GEL cell and some LED lights for a while (See details here). Its only a little thing but the double handling of getting it in and out(the point of a camping trailer is to reduce this) and having a bit more room to pack stuff you don’t need), and remembering to get the solar charger out is a little tedious. Then there was the time, despite our use of camping lists we left it at home completely. Anyway here is version 2. Basically a little hardwood plywood box on the side of the trailer to keep all our stuff in. We opted for hardwood, because it seemed like a good idea. I had the folks at bunnings to most of the cuts (only $1 a cut and they don’t usually charge) so that it would all be nice and straight when screwed and glued together. A piano hinge, some self adhesive door seals and some left over house paint (gun metal grey) and it doesn’t look too shabby. I’ve made up a few more lights using the LED strip lights for inside and out. They are really light (as in not heavy) so just attach to bits of velcro on the various poles around the trailer. I’m using the same battery (7AH) from the tool box, a $2 voltmeter  from eBay to keep an eye on e the charge. The solar cell I’ve screwed to the top of the toolbox (hope no 0ne steps on it) so it trickle charges away in the carport and on the road and have routed the cable through with the other power to the trailer.

Inside i keep the torches for the toilet runs (and some times it is with little kids) and adapters to charge the mobile and the Kindle as well.

All in all I’ve still resisted the urge to spend lots of money, over complicate life through developing a great engineering solution thats fiddly. Plenty of room in the box if i decide for bigger batteries  down the track, charge controller etc.. photo 2
photo 5

Camping Apps for your mobile Phone



wikicampslogoHere’s some App for our phones we have found handy. We run ours in the iOS (iPhone, iPad) walled garden but they are on Android stores too
Navigation $10
Metroview, a $10 turn by turn navigation App for the car , much less than tom-tom and does a credible job too.  Drive time estimates that aren’t to bad. great for when you are out of range to use google maps and only have a small data plan as all the maps are offline on your phone
Also with a GPS speed readout you can drive at the speed limit, even though your odometer tells you you are going over it (apparently this is built in by the car manufacturers – presumably to avoid class action over speeding fines)
Wiki Camps $5
Great little app of camp grounds around Australia, a check of places we had already been to showed us they were pretty close in the recommendations and facilities. They hand over the address to Metroview too. You can also download everything to be available offline
Memory Map $1 get s you started and then $hundredscamping-apps
A map reading map that everyone seems to be using. The app itself is about $1 and you get 1:250k scale for free (this is what most car maps are). Pay a bit more to get finer scales topographic maps. Also people like Hema and Ozaustralia sell their augmented maps, with track notes, places to stay etc.. as well.  You can get the 25000:1 bushwalking maps as well. Imagine every map in Australia in your pocket. Maps are bought in bundles (mostly by state) from anywhere from $50-200.
Not sure if you like it, you can download the maps temporarily for a day to see if they are the business
imagesSky Guide and similar ~$2-5
We love this App, using the compass and GPS in the phone this app, and many like it let you see the sky in augmented reality, HUD (head up display like) so you can actually name what you are seeing , without being busted for making it up by your 6 year old. Where all signs of astronomical interest, stars constellations and satellites are marked out , some with trajectories too.

What a Croc…

crocs shoesCroc’s surely the ugliest piece of footwear to grace this earth (excepting possibly Birkenstocks – which double as a contraceptive device perhaps). I have avoided them for years, but on a whim, and needing some last minute footwear I purchased some out of a sale bin.
Hmmpf!! turns out I really like them for camping, they are like a set of pluggers (AK thongs, flip-flops ) but with some protection on the sides and tops, a bit more grip down below and just as easy to get on or off.
A one shoe for all camping occasions: one the beach , in the water, crossing a creek, showering in that swanky (err… skanky) campground shower. Slip them off at the door of the tent and back on again when leaving. With a pair of socks you get to feel a bit European and have warm tootsies in winter too. Wide or narrow feet – no problem they morph to your feet for that perfect fit too. Most importantly they come in enough colours for you to look unfashionable no matter what you are wearing 😉


Home movies from down South

camping-antarcticaSome years back I did some research at Casey base Antartica. I went down with Peter a colleague from our Radio Science Laboratory to study glaciers, ice depth and crevasses. Its got into his blood and he’s made the trip several more times. Below are some great video’s around winter time of the Aurora, the brief glimpse of daylight they get around midwinters. Be sure to checkout the rest of his youtube channel Some of these were featured on TV for midwinters day last week
Sunrise to Sunset
The Aurora Australias (yes we get one in the southern hemisphere )
For all you four wheel drivers out there
practice rescue https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBCMeMX92Z8

Suspension and Electrics, is this OK

He’s a question for my buddies on myswag.org  I was thinking of doing a bit of wiring for solar on my trailer and noticed that the wiring goes through  above the suspension bush? is this OK? i reckon its a candidate for wearing through the outer insulation over time

camping electrics


Lots of responses on the thread http://www.myswag.org/index.php?topic=37912.msg613802  Thanks Swaggers. Jamie (see comment) also sent me this image showing it router the other way on his trailer.


I checked in with the manufacturer and its no problem  to run about the suspension bush – and as quite a few ‘swaggers’ pointed out ” It don’t move much so no problem”


Noosa North Shore


noosa-north-shore-tinberwah2We wandered up to Noosa North Shore a few weekends ago, we had been thinking about it for a while but there wasn’t much info about it, but then heard from some friends had been there and really liked it!  We are mostly mountain people but a diversion to the beach isn’t so back, except for the sand that gets into everything. Summer is well and truly over and so the grounds are gone. Chilly nights and sunny days were all part of the majic. Its an easy drive from Brisbane, a little ferry ride gets us there to almost beach based campsite on unpowered sites (powered sites seem to attract the bogans for some reason).

Anyways a nice weekend free camping in the large open area ()rather than amongst the Mulga (err Melaluka trees a bit further back).

We opted to camp right close the the beach, it meant its was a bit windy and we were also hit by some rain, but the views early morning were worth it. plenty of time to dig in the sand, collect pumice and other goodies (for show and tell at school) and muck about in the water noosa-north-shore-tinberwah3

Note to self, get some more sand pegs for beach camping, though i found a 3” bit of poly pipe I could bang into the sand for one anchor and buried a stick (dead mans anchor ‘alpine’ style) as well.

Not many photos to show, well we took plenty, but some under 10 yrs old was deleting them we suspect 😦

On the way back home we summitted Mt. Timberwah for some lovely views of Noosa, lake Macdonald etc..



Camper trailer power… for cheap skates


camper-trailer-electricscamper-trailer-power A few trips out in the camper trailer and we realised that the little head lamps and lanterns weren’t quite going to cut it in terms of convenience. A brief look around at what other people were doing and we were, well …gob smacked. inverters, dual car lead acid batteries seem to be the norm…and come with a complexity and price tag to boot.

So we set out for something a little more modest for our needs which were basically to have a bit of light to see by a night.  A lot came from junk lying around the workshop and a few trips to ebay (who’s got time to shop anyway)Outside PicturHere’s what we came up with

– old plastic tool box for portable power

– A 12vdc sealed gel cell  (7Ah capacity,  more than enough to run a few lights)

– some LED strip lights from ebay  (can get 10m of lights for $10 or so)

– A 12VDC accessory 4 socket outlet (i picked this as the standard connection system cause its common, not as expensive as those anderson plugs)

– some switches

– a solar panel charger (paid less than $20 for this one from supercheap)


Top opening panels reveals

main power switch – which when the lid shuts it shuts off the power…gotta be fool proff

– 12V accessory sockets to plug lights in,

– swithces for a night light (essential for small kiddies)

–  some on box lights from the LED strip  (just peel and stick)

– USB charger for electronics bits

– a $2 accessory socket volt meter (tried to buy a panel meter but they are $12 go figure )


Gel cell, 7Ah

Strip lights on a wooden stick i can hang from roof of tent using velcro

Solar cell as charger (I added a shotkey diode so it wouldn’t drain the battery when the sun isn’t out and I forget to unplug it). NOTE its a slow enough charger than its a trickle charger so no need to worry about a charge controller

Power budget

Lights draw anything from 10mA to 100mA which is 0.01 or 0.1A. Given the battery is rated to 7Ah it means I have at least 70hrs running time before a charge is needed…depending on how many lights I want to plug in and for how long. The solar cell is rated at 4w and charges up from 12.3v to 13.2v in a morning so that seems OK


Camping lists

We are a bit of family of list makers. Ideas come and go from our heads and if you don’t write them down then they appear its something forgotten when you go shopping, a research idea that may not appear again fro months, or a really important job that needs doing. David Allen  “Getting things done” talks about psychic baggage, that is unnecessary things running around in your head sapping energy and creating worry about things you haven’t done yet.

For the camper trailer though its a much simpler thing, anything you have forgotten on your camping trip is probably something you are going to do with out! If its some food item or an unessential at best its a inconvenience, but if its something like a tent…its a pretty big deal.

Camping lists

Camping lists

There was this one time a friend and I were driving to the Snowy mountains for a some winter camping above the snow line, it was about an hour our of Brisbane, nearing Toowoomba that we both worked out the other person didn’t actually pack a tent….so there was an extra 2 hours on our big drive to rectify the problem. There was also a research field trip to Fox glacier for ice cracking measurements from on top. The journey up the glacier to somewhere reasonable safe behind the terminus was about an hour each day, usually threading our way knee/ankle deep across the melt river (complete with chunks of ice) each day to navigate. A beautiful sunny day and we were looking forward to lunch…that was left safety on the back set of our high care  (so all we ended up having that day was the contents of the bottom of our packs…namely 3 cheese slices and a tube of vegiemite). Such is the life!

These days with a camping trailer and Mr 4 and 6 to look after there is so much more to pack…and ultimately forget as well. In lieu of marriage guidance counselling and unhappy children  we have found our camping list to be invaluable. Right down to the boxes things go in it means we are ready to go with all the essentials.  Some might say its OCD, but going without a list …we’ve been there done that and its not our preferred option.


Camping Spots around SE Qld



AnderFinding all out old favourite camping sports and revisiting them is fun, but with young kids and a camping trailer, we can’t just head up South-East Ridge and spend a night in Rum Jungle at Mt Barney

Enter some great resources on the web to help us find more. Here are a few

thanks to myswag.org for these

http://gapcreekfarmstay.com.au/home-dp1.php  (note – motorcycle park)













Two excellent van parks:



And a NP across in NSW:


here’s a nice blog with pics and travel diary


Found this one on a camping trailer site



And some nice locations (listed by state here), with pics and review/commentry too – lots are free it seems