Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Trip Report: Family Long Weekend

"It always rains on the Easter weekend in Australia" stated a friend of mine as we discussed the various options for the long weekend. Traffic chaos was guaranteed if we opted for the rural campsites along the NSW coast line, so we decided on a route heading inland towards the Blue Mountains, in particular, the Newnes State Forest bordering the Wollemi National Park.

There are not many roads left in Australia that the Google Street car has not visited and I wanted to make sure we evaded those roads and followed alternative routes inland.
4x4 Earth Australia was my starting point. The website allows people to upload and download GPS routes across the country. I spent a few hours searching all the tracks until I had successfully downloaded a few that intersected my journey to the remote campsite. The route I opted for covered unsealed roads, fire tracks and potentially a few minor tracks linking the various fire roads.

My primary GPS application (PC & Android) is Memory Map.  My primary reason for using Memory Map is the easy integration to Australian topographical maps.  The application needs to be licensed however it is worth paying for the mapping service as the quality of the maps are very detailed and quick to download.
The alternative product I use is Locus Pro.  This application uses the OSM online maps (Open Street Maps) and has more features than I generally need but is worth having just incase the primary app fails or you need an alternative perspective.
Memory Map - Scale: 250K
Memory Map - Scale: 25K Topographical
My Google Nexus 7, mounted via a Ram X-Grip mount, kept us on track using the Android Memory Map application and inbuilt GPS.
The route inland varied from smooth gravel road, to potholed fire tracks.  The scenery varied enough to keep our attention as we headed North.

Technically, this route was not challenging and did not require low range or the diff lock engaged. 
The BFGoodrich AT tyres did well, actually, very well when compared to the number of punctures we had over the weekend.  Two punctures, on two different vehicles, required both vehicles fitting the spare tyre as the puncture hole was in a difficult spot to fix. It certainly made us realise that on any 4x4 kitted for overland travel, it is incredibly important to match the tyres to the terrain.  

Our final stop before the campsite was the Maiyingu Marragu Aborginal site.  This rock art site, known as the Blackfellow Hand Shelter, may be between 500 and 1600 years old and that the hand stencils were 'signatures' of the local people who lived in the area.
Maiyingu Marragu Aborginal hand Stencils

If you live in Sydney and are looking for a weekend adventure, then this route is a good family trip - enough driving for the 'Gents' to enjoy whilst balancing the family needs i.e. not spending the whole day sitting in the car! The campsite in Newnes offers basic facilities (two toilets) and can be very busy over long weekends. We had no problem finding a spot for four vehicles and families.  

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