With a solid Trakka team of twenty-one led by our very own Martin Poate and Alex Berry (along with husband Scott), we knew we were in for a rollicking adventure before we even set out on our 4,000km round trip to/from Birdsville, Queensland.
The Crew and Their Vehicles
With Alex and her family travelling in the Trakkadu AT, they safely tackled the more challenging terrain thanks to the campers’ robust Seikel suspension and upgraded GVM package. A diesel room heater, lithium battery upgrade, Kumho tyre upgrade, alloy wheels and tow bar, meant that their two tone Trakkadu AT, was in top performing condition for the long (long) road ahead, as well as looking the part. Martin opted for the Jabiru 2S for his journey to the Big Red Bash and it proved to handle challenging road conditions really well. Options fitted included the Mercedes electric sliding door, 2000W inverter and induction cooktop, which meant Nespresso coffee every morning, alloy wheels and tow bar. Aside from the drivability of his vehicle, his favourite Jabiru 2S features were, “the big comfy bed, the diesel heater for those cold desert nights and the huge side awning which provided shelter from the sun throughout the day – because let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of trees out that way!”
The Trakka family that joined us for the journey, included Serge and Dot (Trakkadu AT), Kate (Jabiru 4S), Carolyn and Dennis (Trakkadu AT), Paul and Belinda (Trakkadu 4Motion), Steve White (Trakkaway 790), Ev and Dennis (Trakkadu 4Motion), Richard and Heather (Torino 2S Remote), Kath and Chris (Trakkadu 4Motion), Glenn (Trakkadu AT), Andy and Louise (VW T3 Syncro); and Cherry and Terry (Trakkadu AT).
The crew (missing Ev, Richard, Heather & Steve)
The First Overnight Stop
Around 40kms west of Dubbo is a place called Narromine and the town where former Australian test cricketer, Glenn McGrath grew up (see his dedicated statue). Martin had previously spent a lot of time here with his family which, for Scott & Alex meant solid local intel into where we might find a damn good shnitty (thanks Royal Hotel!). After a solid night’s sleep we were prepped for the next leg of the journey.
Bogan Shire to Charleville
About an hour and a half down the road we stopped in the Bogan Shire for breakfast, before making the eight-hour drive to Charleville Bush Retreat. Here, we met up with Chris and Kath in their Trakkadu for a perfect sunset and sausage sizzle by the campfire. It was a long driving day, but not without it’s own incredible scenery.
Chris & Kath. Chris put together the most awesome "Ode to the Bash". Be sure to read that HERE.
The Road From Charleville
From Charleville, we continued on to Quilpie where we started to hit the single lane roads, unofficially known by our convoy as the ‘land of the road train’. But it was around 100kms further along from our slow fuel stop in Windorah when we were off the sealed roads and that’s when the more challenging driving conditions began. Two hundred kilometres on, we stopped off at a very windy Deon’s Lookout for an incredible Mars-like view, before heading to the night’s camp spot.
Betoota has a population of zero, but houses a very special place in our hearts. If you've seen @betootaadvocate on Instagram you get it.. and yes, we have the official merchandise (tshirts and beer coolers). The Betoota Hotel was open for firewood, hot showers and more importantly, cold beer. Half of the Big Red Trakka crew arrived relatively unscathed (apart from a flat tyre), so we spent the night by the creek with the campfire going, and enjoyed a breathtaking sunset, while we made new friends.
Dennis & Scott
From Betoota to Birdsville
When you’re travelling in convoy there’s a good chance you’re going to create a fair amount of dust and we had the exterior of our vehicles covered, just to prove it. With limited vision, the drive between Betoota and Birdsville had its challenges but once we arrived in Birdsville our excitement levels superseded everything. We had made it! As had many others who’d descended upon this little town. Birdsville was buzzing. We drove the extra 30km into the Big Red Bash campsite and headed straight for the designated Trakka zone. The wind was up, but we’d arrived.
Louise & her T3
The Designated Trakka Zone
Trakka friends Kate, Dennis and Carolyn were first to the designated Trakka spot. We marked out the communal area and strategically parked to avoid the wind. Given we weren’t towing caravans, we had a huge amount of space to call our campsite. A short wander away, were our friends at Camp Amarok, front row seats to the concert and (if you were lucky) a full roast dinner.
The Big Red Bash Standout Moments
Besides the thrill of driving to such a remote location for a music festival, other stand out moments included seeing an energetic Peter Garrett live on stage, spending quality time with the Trakka family learning about their camper modifications, and simply appreciating the amount of effort each person had made to get there. According to Martin Poate, the best part of this trip was, “the unique experience of being in dust bowl on the edge of the Simpson Desert with 10,000 others. Great company and great entertainment day and night coupled with amazing sunrises and sunsets from the top of Big Red; it’s an experience that should go on everyone’s bucket list.”
At nightfall we’d enjoy music from the concert (from the comfort of our campsite!), a communal fire, drinks, and shared nibbles while we’d watch Belinda and Paul cook something incredibly good in their Compact Campfire. Those of us up early each morning would climb the sand dune to watch the sunrise to the sound of bagpipes playing in the background. Very special times indeed.
We participated in the Nutbush City Limits World Record to raise much-needed funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and we were spectators of the Drag Race (thanks for representing the Trakka crew Richard; we’re bringing our A-game next year). For those who chose to give cooking a miss the food vendors provided delicious food with the kebabs and beef brisket rolls right up there!
Sunrise from the dune, can you pick the Trakkas?
Sunrise with the dune behind
Queens of the desert
Trakka service & support crew
Best seat in the house
Amarok boys provided the goods
Scottish twist to our morning coffee
The Journey Home
And then it was time to head home, and boy was the drive from Birdsville to Windorah rough and slow. Visibility was extremely poor which meant the trip out was slower than the trip in. Traffic was far heavier too so UHF radios were a safe way to keep updated with one another. With an overnight stop in Windorah and an early start to head to Bourke through Quilpie, Thargomindah and Cunnamulla, we then treated ourselves to a hot shower and a local steak at the Port of Bourke Hotel.
The Scenic Route – Thanks Mudgee
Alex and her husband Scott took an extra day to come home, and stopped in Mudgee, where our Trakka founders Dave and Sal Berry were married. What an awesome country town! Wineries are close by and there are some great eateries available too. Our top picks would have to be Gilbert Family Wines, High Valley cheese, 53 Food Co (the burgers are next level), Logan Wines and the Mudgee Brewery for dinner.
Naturally, after such an amazing trip, we have a few people to thank. A huge thank you goes to Volkswagen , Greg & the BRB organisers for ensuring we made it to the Big Red Bash and for arranging our private camping spot. Young Henrys, thank you for supplying the delicious Pale Ales, Stayers and Gin. AS Colour, thank you for supplying our Big Red merch; with burnt orange beanies and caps we looked very desert appropriate. And Will & Bear, thank you, our wool hats looked right at home in the outback. Finally, our Trakka gang who travelled from far & wide (WA, ACT, QLD, VIC & NSW) - you made this happen and with every conversation, you are the reason we want to build the best campervans and motorhomes in Australia.
So would we go again? It’s a resounding YES.
Kate, electrical extraordinaire & quite the photographer