Tuesday

How Far is Mogo Zoo From Batemans Bay?

We went for a day trip to Mogo Zoo yesterday, it's just a 10 minute drive from Batemans Bay and we had the time of our lives! I haven't been to a zoo since I was 5 years old (how sad is that!) and I must say I suddenly felt like a child again as I wandered around looking at all the amazing animals and listening to the keepers giving their very informative and interesting talks.






The animals were all beautiful in their own ways. Some were funny like the Meerkats, some were cute like the Silver Gibbon mother and her little 5mths old baby boy, and others like the white lion were just adorable.  It was obvious that the animals were all very well cared for and much loved by the keepers.




Mogo Zoo is an amazing place and a wonderful sanctuary for many endangered species whos natural habitat is eroding rapidly from deforestation of their homelands. We learnt that the main reason for this deforestation of the natural habitat is caused by humans insatiable appetite for palm oil. The rainforests are destroyed to make way for plantations, and in doing so destroys the very home of these amazing creatures.










We saw gibbons, reptiles, sumartran tigers, giraffes, zebras, deer, meerkats, otters, frogs, snakes, white tigers, lemurs, ostriches, tamirs, monkies, and so many more that we lost count. My personal favourite was the white lion. She was absolutely beautiful with such a gentle nature.






There are some excellent options for meals at Mogo Zoo. You can enjoy lunch just inside the main entrance foyer at the Jungle Drum Cafe (we had the chilli chicken wrap-Yum!) or you can use the bbq area which you'll find just outside the main entrance building as you enter the zoo area. You can also bring your own picnic lunch and sit among the gardens at the picnic tables provided while you watch the animals. 




The Mogo Zoo shop is filled with really good quality merchandise of all kinds including childrens books, puzzles, stuffed toys, caps and beanies. For the big kids in the family there are some t-shirts, caps, vests, fridge magnets, books and other useful mementos of your visit to the zoo. If you are in the Batemans Bay area and are looking for things to do, I'm sure you'll enjoy Mogo Zoo!

Monday

How Much Does It Cost To Caravan Around Australia?


Everyone’s costs will of course be different but there are some variables you need to consider when preparing your budget.


Will you be buying a caravan and tow vehicle, or will you want to Hire A Motorhome

What will be the length of your trip?

Planning a caravan trip around Australia that will take you 2 years to complete, will be a totally different cost to one that will allow you to be on the road for a much lesser time. So knowing how long you will be away will be a key factor in determining how much it will cost to caravan around Australia.

Australia is a truly vast country. We met a couple on the road who had been travelling for 8 years and were on their 4 circuit around the country. They commented that they felt that there was so much more to see, so try not to rush it.

Fuel Costs

How many klms will you want to travel per week? It is handy to know the average klms/per litre that your tow vehicle will use while towing your caravan. That way you can work out roughly how much you will spend on fuel. If you are planning on travelling to remote areas, factor in higher fuel prices.

Accommodation and attractions.

Will you be staying at caravan parks or free camping? Here's where you can save a lot of money. Australia has a great network of free camps but of course they don't offer the same facilities as caravan parks, although most have toilets, some have outdoor showers. 

The best way to find these free camps is to download the 'WikiCamps Australia' app. There is also a publication called 'Camps Australia' which is very good.

Some attractions are free such as museums. However most come with an entry fee. So again, it depends on how many attractions you want to see. This can really add up quickly and can have a major impact on your budget. 

It is good practice to research attractions and prices on the Internet. Trip Advisor will give you a good idea of the most popular ones in your area, together with the prices for each, so you can plan ahead.

Planning your meals

Here's another way that you can save significantly on your costs. Buy local produce and prepare your own meals.

Clearly home made meals are going to be cheaper than eating out at restaurants or takeaway food outlets. Aldi supermarkets continue to be Australia's most competitive supermarket, however Aldi does not have as many supermarkets throughout Australia as their competitors.

Budget for the unexpected

Always have a repairs and maintenance budget which will cover things like flat tyres, wheel bearing replacement on your caravan, servicing and repairs to your tow vehicle and caravan etc. This will depend largely on the age of your caravan and vehicle you are using to tow it. As vehicle get older they usually require higher costs to maintain as components wear out.

It goes without saying that both your tow vehicle and your caravan should be insured, so this expense should also be factored into the cost to caravan around Australia.

Sunday

How To Keep Ants Out of Caravans

Ants in caravans can be a big problem. Once they have entered, it almost seems impossible to eradicate them. They can be very annoying, not to mention spoiling food and messing with electronics. So how do we keep ants out of caravans?
  • When you're parking your caravan try to avoid overhanging trees. Even though it's tempting for
    shade, if there are ants in the trees they will drop onto the roof of your van. We had this happen to us in Cairns where we were invaded by green ants. They were so bad we asked to move to another site.
  • When you are out on the road, use food containers with a sealed lid, or zip lock plastic bags. If you eat it, they will too.
  • An old fashioned remedy which my grandmother used to have on hand is a mix of Borax and honey. If the Borax isn't available at the supermarket, try a hardware store. Some of the old methods are often the best, and this one has certainly worked well in the past. Just mix it up (small amount of honey) and place on a piece of cardboard in a couple of your caravan cupboards.
  • Talcum powder is probably the most popular way (and cheap) to deter ants. Simply sprinkle it around any entry points to your caravan. Around tyres, jockey wheel, stabilising legs, and any other point of contact with the ground. Ants don't like crossing this dry material, but it has it's limitations in damp or wet conditions.
  • Ants also detest cinnamon. Crushed up sticks of cinnamon sprinkled in the back of your caravan cupboards will not only deter them but also release a pleasant aroma.
  • Surface spray used around the underside of your caravan will provide a barrier which will kill most insects. Use the domestic spray can which is readily available in supermarkets, or you can use a 'professional' insect sprayer which is also available in supermarkets in a 2 litre container with hose and spray nozzle. This one treats ants, cockroaches and spiders for 3 months. These are both chemicals, so use with care and according to directions.
  • There is a commercial brand of ant poison called 'Ant Rid' and there are probably other similar brands on the market. This can be a handy little bottle to carry with you. This product also comes in a bait type plastic container which only ants can enter, which is better to have around children and pets. You can also place it around your caravan when you get back home to help prevent ants entering whilst your van is in storage.
  • Don't forget to remove all food from your caravan pantry cupboards and fridge whilst you are not using it. Food that's left behind is very attractive to ants.
We also had an infestation of little black ants while caravanning in Queensland a couple of years ago, which decided to make a home in our laptop. Of course we couldn't open the computer to sweep them out, so resorted to laying baits around, hoping they would come out on their own.

They didn't, and months later they were still crawling on our hands when we were using the keyboard. If we had known some of these handy hints back then, it might have been a different story.
Please leave your hint in the comment box below. Thanks.

How Safe Is Free Camping In Australia?

I am a huge fan of free camping around Australia. If you are a full time traveller you will know just how much money you can save yourself in a year usine free camp sites, but how safe is free camping in Australia?

During the course of being on the road for 18mths, there was only one time that we decided to move to the next free camp to be safer.

The only reason we moved was that no other free campers had arrived before 4pm. We used that as a general rule, so that we would have enough time to get to the next free camp before night fall. (WikiCamps Australia is a great app for free camping).

We work on the premise that there is safety in numbers and the criteria for us, is that there must be other campers at the site.

The picture at right is Saunders Beach Free Camp (Qld). Get there early for a shady spot. If you are there on a Saturday night, the local Volunteer Fire Brigade might ask you to join them for Lamb Shanks at the fire station! (it's a fund raiser - $6 per person)

Of course caravan parks have their place and provide wonderful amenities that free camps just don’t have, and it’s always nice to treat yourself to some of those luxuries from time to time. There’s nothing like a porcelain loo and a washing machine to get you excited after a week or two on the road!
                                                                                                         
The reality is for most people on the road, particularly family groups; it is just too expensive to stay in caravan parks long term, so free camping is more of a necessity than an option. Fees can range from $140/week to outrageous prices upwards of $420/week and even more in remote or very popular areas, depending on demand and the time of year.

Making your money last as long as you can is often the strategy employed by many nomads, but safety must always be your first priority. After all it’s about seeing as much of the country, and experiencing as many different locations as you possibly can on a budget.  I’m sure those people that are out there on the road at the moment will agree that there is indeed a travel-bug and once it gets hold of you it’s hard to shake off. You just want to keep going and going.


So back to how safe is free camping in Australia... What are the benefits?
  • Very safe with other campers around
  • No cost
  • Easy to find
  • Most have Telstra signal available
  • Most have toilet and water available
  • Great way to meet other like minded people

 Calliope River Free Camp near Gladstone turnoff. You can tell by the numbers of other campers here, that it is one of the safest free camps in Australia.


I’m sure you will be able to think of many more reasons why you like free camping in Australia. Please leave a comment by clicking on "comments" below, and tell us about your free camping experience.

Calliope River Free Camp near Gladstone turnoff, Queensland.