A little insight to where it all started, how we live on the road and our travel tips as we adventure around Australia in our Troopy!

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Traveling through Central Australia with a dog

There’s nothing worse than missing out on places because the dog isn’t allowed or your pooch gets left behind because you weren’t sure if you could make it work.  If you’re choosing to travel with your dog it does take some initial planning or sometimes even ‘winging it’ to be able to see the places on your list.

As we’ve said before in our write-ups, everyone’s experiences of traveling with a dog are going to be different. It all depends on the age of your dog, the breed, personality, health and so on. These tips that we are giving are what have worked for us. Bowie has pretty much grown up on the road so we know what keeps him happy and we know his limits. 

Exploring New Territory

We didn’t have much of a plan after we crossed the border into the Northern Territory, all we knew was that we were driving from Darwin to Adelaide and checking out whatever we could in between with the dog.  After our battery cooked its self from the NT heat we had to drive straight to Darwin and had to begin our adventures from there and work our way down to Adelaide, which surprisingly turned out to work better for us anyway! 

So we wanted to share with you a few places, caravan parks, campgrounds and ways that allowed us to explore and tick off everything we wanted to on our travels through the Centre. But before you read on please understand that whenever we leave Bowie by himself, we always make sure to check weather, temperatures and surroundings so we never put him at risk.  If it’s ever too hot, uncomfortable or scary for him we don’t attempt it and always aim to check things out early morning or late afternoon.  Also Northern Territory and Central Australia can be extremely hot so if you are ever planning to take your dog on this route, we highly recommend visiting in the middle of winter when it’s the coolest.


The Litchfield National Park Loophole 

As soon as you hear National Park, you instantly think NO DOGS allowed in caps lock with red text and sirens going off. But get this; there are actually National Parks that have caravan parks with in the National Park that allow dogs. We honestly have no idea how but BINGO! It’s freaking awesome! Which means you are allowed to take your dog to Litchfield National Park but only if your staying in this particular caravan park called: Litchfield Safari Camp.  How you visit the surrounding attractions with out the dog is entirely up to you and your pet because unfortunately they need to stay in the caravan park, but at least it’s better than skipping it! 

Katherine Hot Springs

These hot springs are located near the Centre of town. They are not in a National Park but unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed in the springs.  They are however allowed in the car park where you will find some grassy and shady areas.  So in the early morning, we were able to tie Bowie up to the car with his bed, food and water while we had a swim in the springs.

Bitter Springs & Mataranka Hot Springs

These are two separate springs in the small town of Mataranka. The Mataranka hot springs are actually located at a Caravan Park, which is conveniently dog friendly! So it’s super easy to set your car up on a site and walk a short distance to have a swim.  The caravan park is called: Mataranka Homestead Tourist Resort

As for Bitter Springs, there is a park just outside the National Park entrance that allows dogs called: Bitter Springs Cabins & Camping
Same situation, it’s just as easy as setting up on your campsite and walking into the National Park to enjoy the springs, while leaving the pooch to chill at camp.



Devils Marbles

This incredible spot is literally in the middle of Australia, just a quick turn off the Stuart Highway and a great place to stretch the legs! It is a National Park which means dogs aren’t allowed in and around the marbles, however you are allowed to have your dog in the car parks.   It was actually freezing cold when we visited early morning, so Bowie was happy to stay snuggled up in the car while we checked everything out.

Kings Canyon

This would have to be one of the most surprising places that we’ve come across in terms of being dog friendly.  Even though it’s situated in the National Park, The Kings Canyon Resort Campground is actually dog friendly! And you know what’s even better?! You can actually have your dog in the car park where you start and finish the hikes around the canyon as well, given that they are on a 2M lead and are secured to the car. 

PLEASE NOTE: If you have a small dog(s), please be aware that throughout these areas there are heaps of dingoes, which can be a high risk for your dog.
Personally we weren’t comfortable leaving Bowie tied up outside the car at the Caravan Park or car park because he’s a hopeless fighter and an easy target.  So we decided to start the hike in the dark, early morning when it was literally 5 degrees or something ridiculous and left him in the car where we knew he was safe.

Uluru

The mighty big red rock! This was the whole reason why we decided to travel through central Australia and we were so happy that we were able to visit with Bowie! It’s another one of those attractions that you think is impossible with a dog but we’re here to tell you otherwise! So for those wanting to visit with their pooch, there is a caravan park in the town Centre of Yulara called: Ayres Rock Campground

Once again this is dingo country so we weren’t comfortable leaving Bowie unattended with the car and we needed the entire day to be able to check out Uluru and the Olgas. Lucky enough, we stumbled across this lady on the Wikicamps app that had just recently started doing dog sitting in Yulara! Her name is Laura and as much as I’d love to share her personal mobile number on here for you guys, I feel it might be inappropriate. So instead you can find her on Wikicamps under Doggy Day Care Uluru.

At the time she was charging $10 p/hr so we left Bowie with her for 7 hrs, which ended up being $70.  It may seem a little steep to some people but we were just so grateful that there was even a dog sitter out there and it allowed us to explore the whole National Park.



Rottnest Island trip with KKday Travel



A trip to Rottnest Island is something everyone should experience when visiting Western Australia.  It's such a unique Island with raw limestone coastline and crystal clear turquoise water.  An ideal paradise for people to escape the everyday and enjoy its laid back atmosphere. What could be better than relaxing on beaches, soaking up the sunshine and bike riding from one secluded bay to another?

Located 33kms off Perth, Rottnest is home to around 300 permanent residents and has up to 500,000 annual visitors. It's best known for it’s population of Quokkas, a small and very cute marsupial only found in a few other locations.  They’re most popular feature is their adorable faces that always look like they’re smiling, making tourists excited to snap a well known Quokka selfie.

About our day trip...

We started our day with a strong coffee (as per usual) and headed to Hillary’s Harbor at 6.30am to check in for our ferry ride with Rottnest Fast Ferries. The journey over only took about 45 minutes and as soon as we stepped foot off the Ferry, we had already began peddling and started our bike ride around the island. Making our way clock wise, we headed to Parker Point and Little Salmon Bay where we stood in complete awe of its beauty.  With no one around, it was the perfect opportunity to have a quick dip and laze around on the beach.


Within a short amount of time a strong southerly wind kicked in (yep, welcome to WA!) and we decided to finish the South part of the island as quick as we could, stopping in at Mary Cove for some morning tea which basically consisted of some bananas and muesli bars to fill in the breakfast we forget to eat before we left!

We then continued further around to Stark Bay, mind you, we didn’t realize the island was going to be super hilly so if you are heading over, be prepared to work up a bit of a sweat! Once we pulled up in Stark Bay, the water was just too inviting with it's bright turquoise water and white sand. So once again, we jumped in for a refreshing dip and enjoyed the entire beach to ourselves. 

By this stage the day had really warmed up and we adventured to Little Armstrong Bay for a quick snorkel, one of the islands smaller bays that features honeycomb shaped, textured rocks which cluster together beneath the waters surface.  Not only are they incredible to see underwater, but it also makes an impressive view from the car park above!



Following the bike track along the North side, we made our way past the more popular swimming spots called The Basin and Pinky Beach. As tempting as it was to head in for another dip, we were feeling pretty salty and were in much need of a cold beer and some lunch after almost 30kms of riding! We found a perfect spot at Hotel Rottnest with beautiful views of Thompson Bay while we shared a cheese platter, a burger and of course a nice jug of icy cold beer!  We somehow managed to even sneak in a cheeky ice cream whilst hanging out with the Quokkas in the main settlement.  By 4.00pm it was time to board back onto the Ferry to head to Perth.  Overall it was an incredible day full of adventure and consisted mostly of us laughing at each other whilst riding around and getting super sunburnt! We were super sad to say goodbye but hopefully we will get the opportunity to visit again someday soon.

If you’re planning on heading over to Rottnest, be sure to check out KKday's Bike & Ferry Experience through this link: https://www.kkday.com/en/product/8104/?cid=6539 

Be sure to pack:
- Hats
- Sunscreen & Zinc (there isn't much shade when riding around)
- Camera (because the water is just too amazing not to and so are the Quokkas!)
- Plenty of water 
- Snacks (food & water are only available in the main settlement area but not towards the West End)
- Backpacks 
- Towels 



Our favourite 'dog friendly' camp spots

We’ve heard numerous times about how ‘difficult’ it will be to travel with a dog throughout Australia and that we would be extremely limited.  There is over 500 National Parks in Australia, so no wonder it makes you second guess if it’s too challenging to travel with your four legged friend or bring them along on your next camping trip.

The good news is, Australia is improving when it comes to introducing more ‘dog friendly’ areas around the country.  Not only are there incredible campgrounds that allow you to bring along the family pet but also dog friendly beaches, cafes, park’s and exercise areas for them to enjoy. 

For us, camping just isn’t the same if it’s not the three of us enjoying it all together.  So, if there’s one thing we get excited about whilst living on the road, it’s finding those amazing camp spots where Bowie is welcome AND it doesn’t feel like your missing out on anything!

As we’ve shared before, a lot of our time on the road is spent free camping, which allows us to have Bowie in more areas and without cost. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t love to enjoy some paid camping as well!

If you’re planning on traveling the country with your pooch or wanting to include them on your next camping adventure, then here is a list of some of our favourite free & paid camping spots that we have come across so far on our travels:


Mystery Bay, NSW

Only 12km south of Narooma, this little piece of paradise offers spacious and shady campsites on the northern end of the bay. With some of them having beautiful views from the cliffs to watch endless whales and dolphins swimming past the coastline throughout the day.  Not to mention a stunning stretch of beach with crystal clear water for you and your pooch to enjoy!

Camping fees - $12 per person/per night
Dogs allowed on leash in campsite
All vehicle access
Cold showers & drop toilets
Drinking water available


Beauchamp Falls, VIC

A little hidden gem in the hinterland that is just a 25 min drive inland from the Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road. You can sit around your own fire or take a short walk down to the waterfall for a refreshing swim.  Being a free campground it can fill up quick so it’s best to get in early and take a jacket, it’s sometimes cold, even during the summer nights.

Free camping area
All vehicle access
No showers
Drop toilets
Dogs allowed on leash
Take your own water


Cosy Corner (North or South), Bay of Fires TAS

If there was one place that completely blew us away in Tasmania it was the Bay of Fires.  The campsites are literally just across from the beach, some of them even offering stunning ocean views or shady little nooks under the trees.  The North and South sides offer plenty of white sandy beach and crystal clear turquoise water for swimming and diving. You can even score some waves if there’s swell!

Free camping area (max. stay is 4 weeks)
All vehicle access
No showers
Drop toilets
Dogs on leash in campsite
Take your own water


Boat Harbour Beach, TAS

Located in the North West coast of Tasmania, Boat Harbour Beach is just as incredible as the Bay of Fires. The campground itself is just to the left of the beach (not even a minute walk away).  Being a smaller size campground it can fill up rather fast so it’s good to get in early and secure your spot! We enjoyed plenty of snorkeling/diving and were lucky enough to even score some surf there at one point!

Free camping area
All vehicle access
Fresh water beach showers only
Flushing toilets
Dogs on leash in campsite
Check signs for times your dog is allowed on beach
Take your own water


Rapid Bay, Fleurieu Peninsula SA

Just an hour and a half south of Adelaide, Rapid Bay offers grassy campsites right next to it’s own private beach. It’s the perfect place to bring a SUP, Kayak or your boat and adventure your way around the cliffs to check out some of the hidden bays. Otherwise you can take a short walk to the main jetty and bag out on fresh squid! It can be an incredibly busy place over the weekends so it’s best to visit throughout the week whilst everyone’s busy at work!

Camping fees - $9 per person/per night
All vehicle access
No showers
Flushing toilets
Dogs on leash in campsite
Take your own water


Fishery Bay, Eyre Peninsula SA

This free campsite might seem bland or a little boring when you first arrive. It’s not until you walk over the dunes and onto the beach that you realize how awesome it is. A small little crystal clear bay with incredible snowy white sand and lucky for us, we had it all to ourselves at the time! It has all vehicle access to the campsite however if you have a 4WD you can drive on the beach and hang out for the day.  Go for a walk and explore some of the incredible rockpools around the area and indulge in some fishing! If you’re not scared of great whites, it offers some good surf too!

Free camping area
All vehicle access (4WD on beach only)
No showers
Drop toilets
Take your own water

Other option: Paid camping at Whalers Way (just south of Fishery Bay)
Check with Port Lincoln Info centre before you head there.


Corny Point, Yorke Peninsula SA

There’s plenty of camping options when it comes to Corny Point. Located on the southern west end of Yorke’s peninsula, there are 4 different dog friendly camping areas between Daly head and Gravel Bay campground.  With each of them offering different views of beautiful beaches and the wide, open ocean. Along the coast offers a range of surf and awesome fishing! Payment for your campsite must be paid either online or at Minlaton Info Centre before arrival as council rangers do patrol those areas.

Camping fees – $10 per night/per vehicle or $50 per week
No showers
Drop toilets
Dogs on leash in campsite
All vehicle access
Take your own water


Coronation Beach Campground, WA

If your exploring up towards the Coral Coast, be sure to check out this little campground just north of Geraldton.  With decent sized gravel sites and a short walk to the beach, it’s the perfect place to have a fish or launch your boat at the boat ramp. If you’ve got a 4WD you can adventure down the sandy track to find good waves and calm lagoons for diving. Don’t forget the fishing rods as there’s plenty to catch and is the perfect spot for incredible sunsets.

Camping fees - $8 per person/per night
No showers
Drop toilets
All vehicle access to campground (4WD tracks to surf spots)
Dogs on leash
Take your own water


Lucky Bay, Coral Coast WA

Now this isn’t the famous lucky bay campground down near Esperance (however that is an awesome place but unfortunately isn’t dog friendly).  This lucky bay campground is located just 40km south of Kalbarri. Definitely an advantage if you’ve got a 4WD for this one! You can drive along the beach and find a spot right in front of the huge lagoon where you can fish or even snorkel. With an incredible backdrop of big sand dunes, there’s plenty of space to secure the perfect spot overlooking the water.

Camping fees – $15 per vehicle/per night
No Showers
Drop toilets
Mostly 4WD access only (some parts you can access with 2WD)
Take your own water


Warroora Station, Coral Coast WA

With over 11 different campsites to choose from, Warroora Station (pronounced ‘Warra’) has so much to offer for all different campers. There is 2WD access to some of the campsites, however having a 4WD allows you to enjoy more options.  It offers everything from surfing, fishing or snorkeling and swimming in beautiful sanctuary zones.  With the Ningaloo Reef running parallel, there’s plenty to explore!

Camping fees - $10 per person/per night or $50 per person/per week
Bring your own chemical toilet or hire one from Homestead
Hot showers available at Homestead $2.50
All vehicle access (some parts 4WD only)
Take your own water


Eating on the road

Food is just one of the many expenses you get to enjoy when living on the road.  For us, everything comes out of our savings so eating cheap is essential to keep our travel costs down and allows us to spend money on other things or even continue living on the road for longer.

Meal ideas can be limited when you’re living out of a small space and even when you’re battling different weather conditions at times. This doesn't mean you have to live off 2 minute noodles/Mi goreng or baked beans every night. Although, they can be a good backup if you can’t be eff’d cooking in the rain or strong winds!
There are still ways to eat low cost meals that are healthy, nutritious and easy to make on the road. With a little bit of planning and by following a suitable food budget, you'll be able to save yourself some money. Here’s a little insight to how we eat on the road.


What we eat & keeping healthy

Jasper and I are the kind of people who seriously LOVE their food. We love teaming up in the kitchen or in our case, at the back of the troopy to cook up a tasty feed together. We like to eat a wide range of foods and our meals can vary from vegetarian & vegan recipes to also enjoying seafood and meats.

I know everyone’s opinions on ‘healthy foods’ can vary. There are so many different beliefs these days on what you should and shouldn’t eat. To us, eating healthy is about giving our bodies wholesome, nourished foods and making sure we’re getting enough nutrients like proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals.  We’re usually extremely active throughout the day so planning out balanced meals and eating good food is important for us.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t like to enjoy a little sweet treat or a cold beer/glass of wine every now and then. We believe it’s all about having a little bit of balance and just keeping yourself happy!


Food Budget

You don’t have to spend big to eat healthy on the road and sometimes it’s just about sacrificing those naughty treats for something more nourishing. The best way to keep your food costs down is by going off a manageable budget. We always aim to follow a weekly food budget of around $100 a week so that we don’t overspend or splurge out on unnecessary things.

I must admit, it can be a bit of a struggle when you’re strolling through the supermarkets and some of your favourite (and expensive) foods are literally staring at you and you have to force yourself to walk away. Sometimes it all comes down to having self control. By taking the time to plan out our daily meals for the week and write up a shopping list, it allows us to only purchase the products that we need and stops us from buying random items. 


Buying staple products

If there’s one thing that is going to help you maintain your food budget, it’s buying staple or basic products that allow you to create various, cheap and easy meals.  
Foods like: rice, quinoa, pasta, noodles, oats, bread or wraps, spices, sauces and eggs can easily be stored for longer periods of time.  Buying meat can be expensive so eggs are a great source of protein and will last around 3 weeks in the fridge.

We also like to make sure we have a range of tinned foods to add to meals or for when we’re traveling through more remote areas. They’re super cheap and stay preserved for even longer. We usually buy anything from lentils, chickpeas or bean mixes, coconut milk (for curries), tuna, tinned tomatoes or sometimes vegetables (incase we can’t access fresh ones).

When it comes to fruit and veggies, we try to keep them stored in our fridge for as long as possible. However, if you’re off the beaten track or away from fresh produce, foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, avocados, apples, stone fruits & citrus fruits usually store well without refrigeration so you can still manage to add them to your diet.


Catching our own food

Fish and other seafood make up a huge part of our diet. The ocean always provides us with a lot of our food on the road, which makes eating even cheaper! Apart from surfing and getting sandy on the beach, a lot of our time is spent fishing, spearfishing and diving for fresh seafood together.  Most of our catches consist of a range of fish, crayfish (or rock lobster), abalone, squid and sometimes oysters as a treat.

Storing these types of foods can be difficult so we prefer to eat it while it’s fresh and only ever take what we need (or sometimes a little extra fish as Bowie loves it too!).  I know I have probably turned off a number of vegans right now and I apologise (especially my lovely vegan friends!). But for us, it’s a rewarding feeling when you’ve provided food on the table that you have successfully and sustainably caught yourself.


Cooking on the fire

Don’t get me wrong, we love cooking with our double burner stove and 2.5kg gas bottle but when it comes to cooking on the campfire it’s a whole other world of flavours! Not all campsites allow fires and sometimes through summer there are fire bans in place. So when and wherever we can, we usually like to get some flames going and sizzle up some dishes. 

It’s important to make sure you’re using the right equipment as not everything is suitable to cook in that extreme heat. The perfect pan is a cast iron skillet to cook up anything from meats to sauces and stirfrys.  If you’re like us and you love hearty stews or soups you’ll also want to carry a decent camp oven to use on those hot coals. You can even use it for baking! 

When it comes to burning up your hot coals for cooking, it helps to have decent timber that will burn well and radiate enough heat throughout the process.  Whether you're finding your own or buying it on the road, here is a little list of some of the best timber for the different states around Australia.

Western Australia - Jarrah & Wandoo wood
QLD & Northern Territory - Ironbark & Box wood
NSW, Victoria & South Australia - River red gum
Tasmania - Brown peppermint wood

Cooking on a campfire sometimes takes a bit of practice and even some patience at first, but once you get the hang of it your creativity is endless and it’s always good fun!


Where we buy our food

Finding the cheapest yet best quality food is the key. For most of our staple products and some fruit or veg, we usually shop at Coles (or if we can't excess one, we use woolworths and ALDI). A lot of their homebrand products are the cheapest you're going to find on the market and you can hardly taste the difference these days.  

Wherever we can, we love finding a good farmers market because nothing beats fresh produce straight off the farms! If you're like me and you tend to get a little excited at these sorts of markets, just remember to stick to your shopping list. Also a little tip: You can score some great bargains in the last hour of the stalls being open as most of the farmers need to sell their products that day! 

When you're driving on the road, be sure to lookout for fresh fruit & veg signs or fresh eggs as it's another way to purchase even cheaper, fresh produce. We prefer to purchase our eggs at these sorts of places rather than buying them at supermarkets. 


Some of our favourite meals

Our meals can vary each week as we tend to mix it up so we don't feel like we're eating the same thing.  Here's a couple of dishes that get us going throughout the day and night.


Whole Oats are a great option for breakfast in the morning. These little cereal grains will keep you going for hours! They are naturally gluten free and super easy to make. It may seem boring to eat these every day but the trick is changing up your toppings! We like to mix it up with different things like honey, dried fruits, fresh fruit, nuts & seeds, peanut butter, cinnamon or even cacao powder.  

All you need is:
Oats
Water or milk (we usually just use water)
Honey or brown sugar 
Cinnamon
Your choice of toppings!



Noodle or Rice Bowls are a great idea for lunch or dinner. We enjoy eating these a few times throughout the week.  Once again it's as simple as changing up your proteins and veggies. Add a little bit of soy sauce (or your preferred sauce) or some mayonnaise. And voila! A tasty bowl of goodness!

All you need:
Tin of tuna or cooked chicken (or if your vegan, you can use seaweed strips)
Veggies & Salads
Noodles (we like soba noodles) or just plain rice
Soy sauce or other sauces
Mayo (optional)




Curries or Dahl are always easy to make and pack a whole lot of flavour. Whether you're vegan, vegetarian or meat eaters, you can always alter the recipe to suit your needs.  We usually like to use KEENS curry powder as the base for our curries. It's compact, super easy to store and lasts for ages! From there we like mixing it up with different veggies, legumes, coconut milk and tinned tomatoes. Most of our curries are vegetarian, however if we do decide to add meat in we'll usually have beef, chicken or fresh fish. When it comes to making dahl we are loving this sweet potato dahl (pictured). Using the same curry powder, turmeric and tinned lentils, I was able to improvise from my dear friends original and vegan recipe, which you can find at: www.lifeofgoodness.com.au

All you need for a decent curry:
KEENS curry powder
Onions
Garlic
Ginger
Veggies (potatoes, carrots, broccoli, zucchini etc.)
Legumes (lentils or beans)
Coconut milk
Salt & Pepper
Rice (we like to use Basmati as it cooks quicker on the stove)


Crayfish & Abalone pasta would have to be one of our all time favourite dishes we have had on the trip so far. The first time we made this was in Tasmania on a little fire beside a beautiful lake on the East Coast.  We were catching heaps of crayfish and abalone off the beaches during that time and there's something about seafood and pasta that just goes so well together!  If you're into catching your own seafood then this dish is incredibly easy to make and with only few ingredients you need to buy.

All you need is:
Fresh crayfish & abalone 
Spagettini 
Bunch of fresh parsley (sometimes we used dried parsley if we can't access fresh)
Chilli flakes (or fresh chilli)
Brown onion
Garlic 
Olive oil
Lemon wedges