47. THE ART OF 'CRAMPERVAN' LIVING…WATCH OUT!


Despite being odd looking, our little home on wheels was drawing in the crowds and clocking up the compliments. It had now become a regular thing, that either one of us, would spend some small part of the day talking to random approachers about the crampervan. The 4x4 aspect seemed to be the main draw and it wasn’t long before we’d started to collect names, numbers and email address on a blank page in a note book, listed under the heading: “Folks interested in buying our van!”.


After leaving Mount Tamborine and The Gold Coast, we spent 10 days cruising North. Brisbane, to The Glass House Mountains National Park (see previous blog post), then up through the Sunshine Coast and Noosa, further North to Gympie (where it rained 2 days solidly) then beelining it to catch the barge onto Fraser Island where we hoped to escape the rain. 

(Photo: Glass House Mountains National Park)

(Photo: Glass House Mountains National Park)

Although the living quarters might be considered compact, L and I have both noticed that there’s no compromise on some luxuries within the van. The seat cushions for example, which double up for sleeping on when pulled out to configure the bed, are super comfortable. I’d even go as far as saying, more comfy than the mattress on our bed back in our old house, and that was a pretty good mattress. 

We’ve become very proficient in the art of outdoor showering, taking on average around 4 minutes, and using minimal water aided by the handy on/off push valve on the shower head. Although neither L or myself have plucked up the courage to ditch the swimmer, (even when camped alone, we’re convinced someone else will rock up mid shower and it would be just our luck) the experience is still incredibly liberating and refreshing. Made all the better for having an amazing view as a backdrop, which trumps any bathroom wall no matter how expensive the tiles. 

Perhaps also worth a mention is that of the nightly ritual of setting up and making the bed. A laborious task, which over the last 3 weeks, L and I have managed to reduce in time from around 6 minutes to 3. Surely worth an acknowledgement under ‘achievement’s’ in our Cv’s?

(Photo: Surfers @ Noosa Heads)

(Photo: Forget the surf board, bring the metal detector @ Noosa Heads)

(Photo: Sunset @ Noosa Heads)

(Photo: More Sunset @ Noosa Heads)

As free as we felt just living out of the van driving to a new place and ‘free camping’, we are finding that small living does have some drawbacks. Mainly the lack of a dishwasher but also because of the extra time needed to put stuff away in it's correct home, there just isn’t the space not to. Accepting bumps and scrapes after misjudging a manoeuvre within the confined space of the crampervan was also a common occurrence, and we soon learnt that the saying "you wont do it twice”, really doesn’t apply in all situations. I can confirm that I've hit the same spot on my arm, at least 6 times, on the same shelf at the back of the van. 
Then there was the time when L knocked the kitchen knife off the counter and onto the floor next my feet, and appeared more concerned in checking the linoleum wasn't damaged than checking to see if I still had all my toes! When I highlighted this, his response was: well you always have to think about the van’s resale value! Charming... 

The other day I heard L mutter something under his breath, it wasn’t the first expletive of the day and so I turned around to enquire as to the problem. So I didn't feel left out having apparently missed witnessing such a ridiculous spectacle, L very thoughtfully proceeded to reenact what had just happened, and this gem had me fits of laughter for the following 10 minutes. It went something like this: L was sat on the seat facing the cooker, making lunch. A flask fell out of the cupboard and rolled on the floor. Still sitting down L bent forward to pick up the flask and in doing so, leant into the end of frying pan handle, hitting him square on and right in the centre of his forehead. Crampervan living had it’s challenges, this was one of those. Another was the following day when I was stood up at the back end of the van holding a laptop, I turned around suddenly only to accidentally whack L in the head with it. Poor L, he had been sat down minding his own business, reading a book. Still, not one to miss an opportunity, I used this to level the score from the knife drop linoleum incident... holding back the guilt, I tried to act overly concerned for the laptop. 1-1.

(Photo: LOOK OUT... Goanna About!)


(Photo: In search of food. Keeping those van doors closed.)

To wash, or not to wash… your lettuce in the toilet sink!? (Quick Poll.)
What has become a peculiar yet regular sight when free camping, is that of the weirdos who wash their fruit and veg in the toilet sink! Bare in mind that some free camps only have a long drop toilet, in which case the smell is quite foul and the last thing you’d think anyone would want to be doing, is washing anything edible within a 10 meter zone of a toilet block. I can definitely say that I’d rather the thought of consuming the pesticides on the unwashed veg to that of toilet sink rinsed veggies. Surely L and I can’t be the only ones who think this?

(Photo: L comparing vans- the standard Mitsubishi vs our 4x4 poptop.)
We were gearing up for a week long (at the point of writing), off road expedition on Fraser Island and to ensure our 4 wheel drive trip went as problem free as possible, we still had a few things we needed to acquire and/or adapt. These were:
1. Increase our water carrying capacity: We bought 2 x 20L plastic water carrying containers and L welded a bracket behind the bull bar for them to sit neatly into.
2. Aquire an inverter to transform 12v into 240v for the laptops and camera battery: Done. 
3. Aquire a 12v portable compressor for inflating and deflating tyres to suit different terrain: L spent a long time agonising over reviews until finally settling on a ’Dr Air 150’ which I’m told, is a good one. Personally I'd have been happy for anything that just worked but according to L, I lack the understanding in the varying specifications of 12v portable compressors. So we snapped up a Dr Air 150 for $130 from a chap in Gympie who was selling his ‘new and unused’ on gumtree for less than half price. L was happy with his bargain and keen to test it out...he wouldn't need to wait long.

Fraser Island, a world heritage site, is the world’s biggest sand island and home to Australia’s purest breed of wild dingos. A number of inland sand tracks (of varying severity) wind their way through the forest interior, connecting crystal clear lakes, with areas to camp and access to the beaches. A week on Fraser would be putting the crampervan to the test and the both of us were super excited! One thing’s for sure, with the island only accessible to 4x4 vehicles, we were fairly confident we were going to be the only pop top campervan over there. Fraser’s East coast is the main hub of 4x4 activity: 75 mile beach (actually 58 miles long) acts as the main highway for 4x4s, the occasional monster truck tour bus and any inbound light aircraft! After driving S.E Asia and in particular Vietnam, where you just focus on what's happening in front of you without the need to even look at the chaos behind, it was clear L and I were going to have to get back into the habit of checking our rear view mirrors more often. Perhaps tilting them toward the sky a little... the last thing we needed was a collision with an aircraft!


The track we followed for the barge crossing ended, we dropped the tyre pressures and emerged from behind some shrubbery onto the beach at Inskip Point. L engaged low box and we kept driving, in a vaguely straight line, through the sand and towards the waters edge. There was no sign to say so, but we guessed here would be as good a place as any to wait for the barge. The little dotted line on a paper map of the area seemed to confirm this. So we waited a few minutes until the barge came into view and watched excitidly as it beached right in front of us. Three 4x4's sprang off and we rolled on. We were in luck, it looked like we would be starting our Fraser Island expedition with a private ferry crossing... or perhaps we were the only ones crazy enough to risk the tide, now on it's way in and a couple of hours beyond the optimum beach driving window...


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