Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Film: Motonomad

"When you seek adventure, you are creating a story" - Adam Riemann

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Instagram update: Digidrift (live from the Congo)

Social media has changed the way overlanders communicate and share information... gone are the days of the 'Travel grape vine' - hello realtime updates!

Jason and Liza are currently travelling through the Congo with 'Smokey the Bear', their Land Cruiser Troopy.    Here are a few Instagram updates worth reading and seeing...

Friday, June 19, 2015

The excitement of planning a trip…

How often do we hear the statement that it’s the journey not the destination that counts. Prior to any journey commencing is the planning – this is were the fun begins!
A journey between two locations can be extremely dull and mundane unless planned in advance. The planning – creating a trip budget, researching routes and cross referencing overlanders opinions – extends the journey by adding days, weeks or months of pre-trip planning. The excitement, the anxiety and dealing with the negative soothsayers heightens the senses, evolving the planning into the journey itself.

My excitement for an upcoming trip is brewing. In late September 2015, I will be heading back to the Australian outback to cross the Simpson Desert (West to East) in support of the Simpson Desert Mountain Bike Challenge event. The cycle event, now in its 27th year, is a multi-day stage race for endurance mountain bikers. The route varies each year, with each day divided into two stages. A morning stage, which starts at 6am and an afternoon stage starting at 2pm. The distance covered is roughly 100km per day. A sweeper vehicle ensures that riders make the time cutoff and contributes to the pressure of finishing the stage in the allocated time.
Simpson Desert Bike Challenge - 2015 Route

Friday, June 12, 2015

The evolving rooftop tent... make way for the camper!

Have your thoughts about your overland travel sleeping habits evolved yet?
Camper vs Rooftop Tent?
Ask many seasoned overlanders and a few will start to admit that the idea of a rooftop tent is fading and that the comforts of a permanent bed plus cooking area is very attractive.  The proof point are overlanders on a second extended trans-continental trip... like  Lost World Expedition. Luis & Lacey moved from a Land Cruiser 60 Series to a Mercedes Sprinter van.

I admit, I fall into the latter group.  The rooftop tent was great when it was just the wife and I. Living outside the vehicle, and sleeping on the roof,  in a warm climate made sense.  Years later, my family has grown and my enthusiasm for setting up a dusty rooftop tent and climbing ten ladder rungs has faded.  I want a setup that is quick, self contained and has that extra level of comfort for the family (so as to keep encouraging them to venture to new unknown places).

What I do long for is the ability to use a cabin type arrangement, like a demountable (truck camper), for my family trips and the freedom to use the base vehicle for those remote trips where sometimes the family won't be as interested (i.e. short weekends with lots of driving exploring new routes).

A modified Land Cruiser Troopy makes a lot of sense.  It can comfortably sleep 3 people, and could be used as a daily vehicle.  Aussie Overlanders had a neatly setup interior - perfect for a couple.
Photo Credit: Aussie Overlanders

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Trip Report: A Rant & A Rave...

It was the perfect start to the week. The Hema map was folded open, Memory-Map (an Android GPS app) was loaded with the NSW topographical 25K map and a website loaded highlighting GPS tracks in the area zoned for the upcoming weekend 4x4 trip.

It's winter in the Southern Hemisphere so the enthusiasm by the extended group to head into remote areas camping was rather limited which resulted in only two vehicles (a Jeep Rubicon & a Land Cruiser Prado) departing Friday evening for a remote camping spot in the Jenolan State Forest.

This was to be our third trip to Jenolan having first found the camping spot back in 2012 and again in 2013.

A message to all those who love bushcamping... remember those who follow!

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Range Rover Experience...

Held in prestige, the Range Rover has been the vehicle choice for upper class Britain and her shrinking Commonwealth for decades. Feature rich and capable, the 1970 introduction of a permanent 4wd mid sized vehicle encouraged trans-continental overland explorers to adopt and prove the capability of the new Land Rover brand. The 1971 crossing of the Darien Gap by Range Rover, led by Colonel John Blashford-Snell, proved the Range Rover but required plenty of air support to fly in axles and other important items that needed re-engineering.
Photo Credit: Range Rover Classic Website
Roll on the 1980's and Range Rover needed a new proving ground for their vehicles.  The Camel Trophy, only a year old, introduced the Range Rover as the flagship 4x4.  Not many vehicles exist after the event as it was rumoured that Land Rover had all the participant vehicles crushed.
Although capable, this vehicle has not inspired independent overlanders to adopt it as a trusted platform, preferring the rugged Defender and even the Discovery.
The question remains: Why is the Range Rover not popular?  A fact: the Mercedes G-Wagen has more trans-Africa trips associated with it than the Range Rover!
Range Rover vs Defender 110

TV Series: Breaking Loose - A family in Search of Roots

Five years ago, Luca and Sameena (plus two kids), departed Italy for Pakistan via North Africa.  The orange Fiat truck became their home for two years, during which they filmed the journey,  the highs and lows of trans-continental overland travel.

The TV Series has just been released with a wonderful introduction about the journey.  Unfortunately, the Vimeo clip can't be embedded so head over to GA&A:  Breaking Loose - A Family in Search of Roots

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Land Rover Defender Mini Rig

Aussie Overlanders: Mini Rigs
The Land Rover Defender might be likened to the old Meccano set of parts. Hundreds of misaligned objects that actually resemble something. Having owned two Land Rover Series models and a single Defender before, and knowing how easy it is to 'tinker' and make various modifications to the base vehicle, I have been left with a desire to rebuild a Series II Landy. Thankfully, I have not needed to go from zero capability to full rebuild without the ability to practice on slightly smaller options. Introducing the Mini Rig Defender:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Navman MiVue 530 Dashcam Review

Welcome to the dashcam, where your view, your voice and your location are being recorded!

Roll back to 2007 and the demand for a TomTom GPS satnav had the motor vehicle industry buzzing with in-car tech gadgets.
Google image search: Dashcam photo
Roll onto 2015 and standalone gadgets are almost a thing of the past with the majority of new vehicles (except for the Land Rover Defender) integrating the radio, satnav, phone and vehicle ECU information into a single console.  In fact, some vehicles allow you to start your car with your mobile phone!

Yet, one gadget remains... the dashcam.  Better known for those strange YouTube vehicle accidents where a driver narrowly misses a bus or a motorcyclist almost collides with a cow! Police and Insurance companies are still getting to understand the personal media and how it impacts evidence.

My need for a dashcam was purely to capture those interesting driving moments, and to potentially upload to YouTube. Dashcam footage on YouTube is becoming one of the most popular watched genres due to the ridiculous near-miss accidents that occur worldwide.

Navman MiVue Dashcam

Navman was established in 1986 in Australia and was eventually sold to MiTAC (MIC).  It is a sister company to Magellan and is a worldwide leader in consumer GPS products.

The Navman MiVue dashcam has three options available in the latest 500-series. The entry level, the MiVue 530 has 1080p recording, integrated GPS, Photo mode, Emergency mode and parking mode. The MiVue 560 and MiVue 580 include touch screen functionality, and night vision mode (580 only).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This "Mum's Taxi" could be your next expedition 4wd...

It might be a well known "mum's taxi" but have you considered the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado as your expedition vehicle?
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado D-4D
We all know about the Land Cruiser Troopy, the popular 80-Series but what about the 120-Series as a vehicle option for overland travel?
Stacked within the ranks of the Land Cruiser naming standards, the 120-Series is typically known as the Prado (or in the UK, the LC3).

The 120-Series entered the vehicle market in 2003 replacing the six year old 90-Series (known as the Colorado in the UK). Upon initial release, it was fitted with the same 3.0L diesel engine as its predecessor however many drivers claimed it was underpowered which potentially contributed to Toyota to replacing it with the 3.0L D-4D common rail diesel matched to a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic gearbox.

The Land Cruiser brand personifies reliability, durability and the Toyota 'sameness'.  The vehicles all seem to have that similiar driving style... that of comfort, and driveability. The brand attracts loyal follows who actively defend their vehicle decision especially against Land Rover fanatics.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

You Create Your World... Sydney Overland Meetup report

Sydney Overland Meetup (March 2015)
The Sydney Overland Meetup took place on Saturday 14th March 2015 with guest speakers Gareth and Kirsty from Aussie Overlanders and hosted by Expedition Centre.

We drove from Sydney to London via Africa...

In 2013, Gareth and Kirsty departed Sydney in their 1989 Land Cruiser Troopy.  After a neat 585 days on the road, the couple arrived back in Sydney having traveled across three continents. This past weekend was our turn to hear their stories, share their passion for overland adventure travel and to meet past, current and future overlanders.
Sydney Overland Meetup - March 2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sydney Overland Meetup: 14th March 2015

Google Search: Aussie Overlanders
Looking for some travel inspiration?  Feel like sharing the overland travel passion?
On the 14th March 2015, Gareth and Kirsty (Aussie Overlanders) will be sharing their travel stories covering three continents and two oceans!

The Plan:

12:30pm to 1:30pm: BBQ (Traditional South African Boerewors Rolls)

1:30pm to 3pm: Aussie Overlanders

3pm to 4pm: General Catchup
Join us from 12:30pm at the Expedition Centre
Expedition Centre
69 Anderson Rd, Mortdale NSW 2222

 Hosted by Daniel & Martin

Please Bring:

Chairs & Drinks

Thursday, January 22, 2015

10years ago today... memories from BigSky Adventures

Ten years ago, my wife and I climbed aboard our blue Land Rover Defender 200Tdi and headed South from the UK towards Cape Town on an overland adventure called 'BigSky Adventures'.

Although the finer granular details of our trans-continental overland travels have faded into memory, there are moments which have kept that year alive throughout the last ten years.

Here are a few thoughts from these last ten years...

My trans-Africa trip was a dream come true and a dream that is cherished today.

I had made the decision to complete a trans-Africa trip back in 1994 - eleven years before I actually departed.  Time dragged towards the departure date, with moments of pure excitement and nervous planning yet in comparison, these last ten years have vanished.  I fully acknowledge that the planning phase is as important as the actual travel.

Planning extends the travels as the dreams are expanded, the journey researched and the excitement shared.

The internet was young in 2005 and was a struggle to publish content compared to the social media options today. BigSky Adventures was my way of sharing the journey.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 Africa Overland Statistics - The chosen vehicle: Toyota or Land Rover?

Africa Overland Websites
Land Rover might have dominated the last decade of independent overland adventure travel but Toyota is bouncing back...
The Toyota Land Cruiser has succeeded for the 2nd year as the most popular Africa overland vehicle of choice for trans-Africa trips departing in 2014.

In this blog post I highlight the two primary vehicles for overland travel, the average travel time in Africa and the average age of the overland vehicle in 2014.

I have been recording vehicle choice for the last five years based on websites listed on The Africa Overland Network.  A quick comment on the website and the impact of Facebook.  Facebook has eroded the need to host a blog or website detailing overland adventure travel however a few overlanders have managed to successfully balance published content (website blog) and social interaction (Facebook) whilst traveling.  I fully recognise that many travelers don't blog, speak different languages or simply don't know about The Africa Overland Network.  However, this is still the most reliable website to provide these statistics.

Interested in the previous years statistics?  2010 (LR) | 2011 (Toyota) | 2012 (LR) | 2013 (Toyota).

Roll on 2014...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 Overland & 4x4 Forum Statistics

Four years ago I started collecting overland and 4x4 vehicle-based forum statistics.
Overland Internet Forums & Magazines
I was interesting in tracking the number of registered users, threads and posts on the forums and providing a comparison on the top websites.

The challenge for 2014?  Could the popular forums keep the growth momentum up and were the thread counts increasing?
What about the magazines?  Are they challenging the forums for content or are web users divided between the content creators (forum users) and content consumers (magazine & facebook subscribers)?

Here is an overview of the previous years: 2012 | 2013 | 2014

A few websites stand out in 2014 which include ADV Rider, Expedition Portal, Horizons Unlimited and Prado point.  A detailed list of all the websites (forums & magazines) are at the end of the blog post.

2014 to 2015