Australia’s immensity, sunny days and stunning landscapes make travelling this vast land an absolute pleasure. A typical day for us often includes meeting with the local tourism centre, heading down the roads less travelled (while still respecting the limitations of our 2WD moho), seeking out the unusual, and meeting with a few local characters before nudging into a new campsite.
As we want to stay connected as often as possible, while still seeing as much as possible, we’ve hand-picked the technologies that suit our circumstances. Here’s our top dozen.
1. Telstra connected smartphone – Telstra has the widest coverage in Australia, and the newer your smartphone then the greater the probability of connecting in more places. That’s handy to best access the apps that we find most useful, including Camps Australia Wide, Wikicamps, CMCA Geowiki, Bridge Alert, Toilet Map, as well as the emergency services in each state. (And yes, we have downloaded off-line versions of some of these apps.)
2. Cel-Fi GO Mobile mobile coverage extender – This is a little black box inside our moho that connects to a thick antenna (the one on the right) locked to our bull bar. We used to lose connection no more than 10 kilometres outside most rural towns, but no more. The extender picks up the slightest connection and amplifies it approx x 8. This meant that we had connectivity throughout eastern Queensland all the way from Cooktown to the NSW border.
3. Selfie extender (preferably with built in tripod, like mine 😊) – A selfie extender means that you can put yourself in the picture, so there’s no need to pester other travellers to politely ask if they could take a shot of you in front of Uluru or frolicking in the shallows at Lucky Bay. That becomes even more valuable when your selfie handle can turn into a tripod so you can set up your phone, walk into the distance and get great panoramic photos.
4. Tractive for the dog – This GPS tracker lets me keep an eye on my dog. I’d be devastated if anything happened to her on the road, and while I can’t make contingencies for all situations, I can place a tractive tag on her collar that links to an app on my phone. As long as she has that tag on her, then I can find her anywhere in Australia – even in areas without internet connection! (Image by tractive)
5. Portable Charger Power Bank – Great for free camping, this little gadget lets us top up the charge on our phones, tables or other mobile devices, such as Bluetooth speaker, in a jiffy without hassle.
6. Wind-up radio, USB charger and LED torch (no batteries needed!) – Low tech has become high tech. This three-in-one device works on good-old man power, with as few as 20 turns of the handle needed to bring the torch, radio or USB charger to life. Great when you are off grid or free camping.
7. Drone – I know they can very annoying when they’re misused or flown without consideration, but they are a wonderful tool for giving people a new perspective. It’s hard to believe that only five years ago the only way to get a bird’s eye view was to hop into some contraption that lifted you high off the ground. Now, the greatest danger in getting aerial photographs is losing your drone to over-protective eagles.
8. Solar Oven – Harnessing the sun really is an amazing technology! This is our newest gadget and it packs up into a shoulder bag. No fuel needed. It weighs less than 10 kg, cooks on sunny and cloudy days, and turns any campsite into a mobile camp kitchen. I’m still learning all the things I can bake, but the eggs, damper and potatoes came out pretty tasty!
9. Mobile Bluetooth speaker – Even though we have speakers built into the moho, this little device allows me to create a playlist and, once it connects to my phone via Bluetooth, I can get down and funky anywhere at any time. Even Elvis would never have been so lonesome he could cry.
10. Laptop - Self-explanatory, and totally necessary for all those things that I don’t want to squint to see!
11. Hema GPS – The moho came with a GPS monitor and then we bought a truck GPs, but neither one works like the Hema HX-1 Navigator, which includes on and off-road GPS and is linked with Camps Australia Wide’s 6,000+ free and low-cost campsites. With this beast, we’ll never be lost up Ship Creek. (Image by Hema)
12. UHF CB radio – Let us weigh into the debate. To CB or not to CB? We’ve found it invaluable from a safety perspective. It’s left on Channel 40 turned up so we can hear any truckies in the area, which gives us fair warning on on-coming wide loads and other hazards. It’s also been handy when communicating with truckies that want to pass us without slowing down.
It seems like a big list, we know. However, there’s one gadget that I’ve resisted largely due to fear of looking like a wanka. It’s video recording sunglasses. Yep, there really are such things. In fact, they’re pretty stylish, protect your eyes with polarizing lenses, and take photos as well as 10-second videos. So run if you see me with reflective sunnies!
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