A 4WD called Orlando – 4×4 life in Australia

Does everyone else give their car a name? Give it a personality?

Orlando is our 4WD Landcruiser (hence the name adaptation) 😬 He’s worthy of a little humanising. The most solid, reliable, trustworthy, tough, adventurous hunk of metal we have ever had the pleasure of owning. With a little house on his back he takes us the most amazing places and gives us so much joy. We follow remote dirt tracks with complete faith and confidence in his ability and because of that we see some bloody beautiful places. Crawling at a snails pace, windows down, a warm breeze messing up my hair, the fragrance of bull dust and gum trees in the air and sunshine glinting off the windscreen. Our happy place 🤗.

And you know what? Orlando just loves living in Central Australia. He really hates travelling fast on bitumen roads with lots of traffic and he despises big cities. Give him a rough dirt track to follow in the heart of the outback and he purrs like a kitten. Well, actually, with his big V8 engine it’s more like a throaty growl.

There’s no airs and graces. No bells and whistles. He’s not sleek and sophisticated to look at it. Comfort is not his finest feature. It’s what’s below the surface that counts – under the bonnet. Where other people fear to tread he just never lets us down. I like my cars like I like my men 😬.

Yes, we have definitely humanised our car. To the extent that Kevin makes me apologise to him if I dare say anything derogatory. After all, we don’t want to hurt his feelings. It’s a partnership. We look after him and he looks after us and our life sure would be a whole lot less fun without him.

That’s what 4WD ownership is all about. We wouldn’t have it any other way 😊.

These photos were taken around Ross River Homestead in the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges.

I guess all three of us are guilty of style flaws. Lucky it doesn’t matter when we have it all to ourselves.
A chair, a campfire, a 4WD with a house on its back. Simple yet the best life ever

Living Life in Alice Springs

It’s now been twelve months since Kevin and I relocated from Cairns to Alice Springs. It’s taken me this long to formulate an opinion on the journey from then to now and continue the story I started the night before I left Cairns. A life changing road trip from Cairns to Alice Springs (click on link)

It’s certainly been an interesting adventure from the day I drove myself the formidable distance of 3500km, over 4 days. Despite saying I never would, I actually passed four quadruple road trains (53+ metres in length). They are just too slow for even me to sit behind. Gripping the steering wheel really tight and a line of concentration on my brow, I just put my foot down and went for it. Each time was the longest 20 seconds of my life. I learnt early on that truck drivers don’t like being followed when one pulled over to get rid of me after I sat behind him for at least 100km out of Charters Towers. I stayed overnight in a cabin in Charters Towers, a cheap motel in Mt Isa and a tiny donga in Wauchope and then I was in Alice Springs. For me, just getting here took me so far out of my comfort zone. I was so proud of me and felt so brave.

This was an awesome moment. I made it all by myself.

For a couple weeks we lived in our Trayon Camper in a caravan park. The novelty wore off that very quickly. We bought a lovely modern unit in a nice location as renting in Alice Springs is astronomical in terms of cost and there was no way we could live long term in a Caravan Park – jammed in like in a sardine can, listening to the musical accompaniments in the facilities every morning not to mention the delightful aromas that waft by during the morning shower.

We needed our own little sanctuary. A place to call home and we found that to perfection. No regrets. I have lovely Sturt Desert Pea flowers growing in red sand. My life here is complete 😊.

One thing special about Alice Springs is the abundance of work. If you want a job you’ll find one easily. Within a month of moving here I had a new career. Kevin went from coming here as a truck driver to running the depot within six months. That’s Alice Springs. A guy we knew from our tourism past 20 years ago who was making scones at Mt Ebenezer roadhouse is now the Mayor. Our Chief Minister of the NT worked at Big W. Want to climb the career ladder fast, come to Alice.

So the move wasn’t a step backwards for us. It brought new opportunities. Someone asked me early on if our move here was a permanent thing or just an adventure. I wasn’t sure then but now I know the answer.

There are things I love about life in Alice and things I don’t like.

For people like us who love remote camping, 4×4 adventures, constant sunny blue skies, outback scenery, stunning sunrise and sunsets and the feeling of vast spaces, it’s a fantastic sojourn. Every weekend we have free we are out and about. There is so much to do and see out of town. I’ll never tire of campfires under the most amazing night skies and the sounds of the birds. Just wonderful. Alice Springs for us, is and has always been, about the stunning landscape around it.

From hiking the Larapinta Trail to 4×4 adventures. Life in Alice is fantastic for outdoor enthusiasts
There’s been many a walk down dusty tracks

The town itself has issues related to the high indigenous population. It’s very much a government town now with a high need for health and other government interventions. This is just how it is. Just little things annoy me, like not wanting to go to the cinema at night and risk my car windows getting smashed by roaming packs of kids. You wouldn’t believe how common this is. Getting the third degree by police going into a bottle shop – where will I be drinking and whom will I be drinking with and showing of ID to prove I’m me? I feel guilty just going in there to buy a fine liqueur to sip. Just a couple of examples. There are quite a few.

The weather here is both wonderful and awful to live with. Most days are so bloody perfect and it’s very liveable. In summer though the temperature can get scorching for a couple of months straight (45 degrees C), dust storms roll in frequently and the damn flies drive you insane. In winter the bird bath freezes in the bitterly cold morning, that all day cold wind gets right into your bones and ugg boots are a necessity. It can be a place of dramatic extremes. There are at least 4 months of the year where we didn’t use the reverse cycle split system air conditioners though. Perfect weather. So perfect. And I must mention how exciting it is when it does actually rain here – especially when it’s enough to make the dry Todd River flow. The feeling in town is pure elation and everyone’s out taking photos of a light sprinkling of rain.

Yes I photographed rain drops on my Akubra Hat. Such a rare sight to see in Alice.
The dust storms that roll in over the summer are quite an awesome sight. It’s get in every crevice if a window at home happens to be open.

I am so glad we came back here. There’s been times when the rose coloured glasses slipped off and my world became a bit bleak and grey. The Corona Virus situation made us feel trapped and isolated and I miss being close to family. There’s a sense of isolation living here, it’s very expensive to fly out of but overall I feel that I’ve gained a lot. Change, although hard to do, really is good for us as human beings. We grow. We evolve. We expand our horizons and attitudes. We learn what’s important.

So, is Alice Springs our forever place? An unequivocal NO. Has it been a wonderful adventure? Hell YES. It feels like we are on a working holiday trying to squeeze as much experience out of living in this amazing landscape as we can before we do move on one day.

I wouldn’t have missed this opportunity. Not for one moment. The photographs below say more than words.