Wandering: Outback Trekking in a VW Van
The great expanse of the NSW Outback was the inspiration behind an epic roadtrip for photographer Britt Murphy and Tree beauty Chelsey Rouen.
For Britt – raised on the red dirt plains of the Far West – it was a journey home, and for Chels the trip provided a perfect opportunity to see a side of Australia unknown.
From Bondi to Broken Hill, the pair made Wilcannia their base as they roamed lonely roads in their dusty VW Transporter – cooking pasta on camp stove by night, brewing roadside coffee by day and hopping from caravan park to caravan park across some 2,500kms.
Here, they share an itinerary and some essential tips for life on the road.
Seven days to cross 2,500 kms meant some epic driving stints, but this is the Outback and perseverance is key to taking it all in. In an area where fuel stations are hundreds of kilometres apart and cell reception is near impossible to find, having a solid plan can save a lot of hassle in the long run.
We broke our trip up into sections, leaving enough time to rest and recoup in peaceful caravan parks, by billabongs and in quaint cafe gardens.
In a nutshell, we mapped our trip as follows:
Sydney – Trangie
Trangie – Emmdale – Wilcannia
Wilcannia – White Cliffs
Wilcannia – Broken Hill – Silverton
Wilcannia – Bondi
The practical essentials:
- A carton of water: Water is gold in the pressing heat of the Outback, where river levels fluctuate and lake beds sit dry for years. In some places, tap water isn’t an option so it’s essential you have a large carton or box of water not only for drinking but for washing, cooking and brushing your teeth! Save on plastic bottles and refill your own.
- Spices & coffee: Save your coins and keep a jar of instant coffee packed away for those mid-morning pitstops. A good selection of spices at arms reach will add extra flavour to your camp meals. Tumeric, Cinnamon, Paprika, Garam Masala and Italian Herbs are our staples.
- Hot water bottles: Stow away a few hot water bottles for those cool desert nights. Most caravan parks have a well-equipped camp kitchen (complete with kettles) and, if not, fire up your cooker for boiling water.
- Portable gas-cooker: Add a portable gas-cooker to your travel wishlist and you’ll have no need for public BBQs. Get creative with what you can create in one-pot. We cooked pesto pasta and experimented with rice dishes. Rice cakes and hummus prove the perfect on-the-road snack, too.
- Extension cords & double adapters: Caravan parks offer powered sites, grab an extension cord to run into the van for phone/camera charging.
- Face wipes and a roll of toilet paper: need we explain?
The fun stuff:
- Cushions: Camp chairs can be clunky and awkward to store away in a small van like ours, to get around that issue we adorned our space with cushions of all shapes and sizes. You can never have too many! By day you can lay them out for lounging and by night they provide extra comfort. Getting out of bed is the hardest part.
- A mirror: You can pick up a cheap second-hand mirror to keep in the van for those nights you want to hit the pub and your ‘windows-down’ hair is getting a bit too much.
- A pack of cards or the like: We spent our nights tucked away in the van reading Oracle and Tarot cards under fairy lights. Playing cards are a great way to pass the time.
- Fairy Lights (solar or battery powered): Battery operated twinkle lights make hanging inside the small van space a warm, cozy experience on cold, windy nights.
- A killer playlist for a killer itinerary: Download your favourite artists to your phone. Streaming needs phone reception (good luck there) and you don’t want to be caught out browsing for AM Radio stations in the middle of nowhere.
We listened to an epic selection including The War On Drugs, Gang Of Youths, The Preatures, Bob Dylan, Husky, City Calm Down, Pond, Drab Majesty, The Growlers and a LOT of The Beatles.
- If you can manage it, pack a blowdryer. You won’t need it for your hair but in lieu of an iron or steamer, it can blow out all your clothing creases.
Keep an eye out for more Outback blogs from Britt and Chels in the coming week
Shot in Outback, NSW