Outback Traveller Magazine - Featured Travellers - Sparky's on the Loose
We always like to find interesting unique travellers to share their inspiring stories with Outback Traveller Magazine. This issue we explore the Australian outback adventures of the 'Sparkys on the Loose'.
Intro to who we are…
G’day, our names are Amz & Kurt. We are both qualified electricians – hence the name ‘Sparkys on the Loose’. Joining us on our journey around Australia is our beloved dog – Rusty. Amz has had Rusty since a pup, and there was no way we could leave her behind on this once in a lifetime trip. Amz is 27, Kurt is 30 and Rusty, well she is 10 years old.
Our travel set up…
Now, for the nitty-gritty stuff – what have we chosen as our travel setup. Well we are traveling in a 2003 D22 Nissan Narava 3.0L dual cab & our van is a 2005 Coromal Pioneer 17ft pop-top off road beast haha. There is a back story on why the Nav & why the Coromal, so here goes. The Navara was originally Amz’s run around car as an apprentice. I owned it for a good while, before myself and Kurt even got together.
We were looking around for ages before we left for a ‘decent’ tow vehicle, but once we started really looking into the Navara’s capabilities we thought why not the Nav. Even if it got us half round Australia, that would be great. Well she’s still rolling and definitely gotten us around more than half of Australia.
Happy that we were going to use the Navara as our tow vehicle, the next big question was what caravan we should get. We both knew nothing about caravans, our parents didn’t really have any knowledge either, so we started from scratch. We knew we wanted a caravan, as we had planned to be away for a large amount of time and wanted something homely. After coming up with a list of what we wanted in a van, we set off in search to find something that would tick all our boxes. We searched for a good couple of months, attending caravan & camping shows, looking online, visiting caravan yards etc. One day we decided to stop into a caravan yard, that we had been to before and see if they had any new stock come in. Well, we spotted one that had just been traded in which looked good. That evening we researched it and all the information coming up about it was positive, so one week later we had our Coromal!
Both of these have been incredibly reliable throughout our trip. We don’t know how we’ve fluked it, but the Navara has been great and the Coromal, well if you watch our YouTube channel you will see we have dragged it everywhere. Up Cape York right to the tip, we’ve taken it along the Gibb River road and many more outback tracks. We honestly believe we probably driven about 50% bitumen, 50% dirt tracks on our lap so far.
Current time on the road & planned timed on the road…
At the time of writing this article, we have been officially on the road for 2 years, 4 months, 3 days & 13 hours – that’s according to our countdown app. So basically, almost 2 & half years we’ve been on the road. We left our home base in Brisbane at the end of March 2017 with no real plan, just that we wanted to head north. Time wise, we knew we’d probably be away for 18 months, did we think we’d be away for this long – short answer no. Oh my, we quickly came to realise how big Australia actually is after traveling for the first few months.
We spent a good 5 months in Queensland before eventually leaving our home state. Eventually we left QLD and entered the NT near Borroloola and tracked along the gulf, finally popping out at Mataranka. Now, we had a dilemma, it was getting too late in the dry season to head west so we made the decision to head south and through the centre. From here we slowly tracked down and into South Australia, then headed through central Victoria to Melbourne. We booked ourselves over to Tassie for 8 weeks of adventure during the warmer months (February to April), before trekking back through Victoria to the Grampians, back into SA and up through the Flinders onto the Oodoonatta track and back up into the NT.
In the heart of Australia we picked up 2 stints of station works, which was an unreal experience and helped top up the budget. It worked out perfectly, because as we finished up our 2nd stint the Finke Desert Race was on, which is a must-see race. We left Alice Springs and shot back up through the middle to meet some family in Darwin and explore the surrounds. Now with plenty of time on our side, we finally crossed over into Western Australia to begin exploring this mammoth state. At present we have spent close to one year in Western Australia, exploring it from top to toe, from the coastline into the heart of the goldfields. Knowing how far Western Australia is from Queensland, we wanted to make sure we gave it a good crack.
What led us to travel Australia…
What made us want to pack up our lives in Brisbane, quit our jobs and head off to explore Australia? There was a couple of reasons why, first reason was the 9-5 work grind was really getting to us. We had both been qualified for over a year and was simply working for the weekends. Initially we were working so hard to save up for a house deposit. We actually had signed a contract for a house but after a lot of talking and weighing up our options we pulled out of the contract and well ta-da – here we are today traveling Australia – worry free. The last reason we wanted to travel Australia was, myself and Kurt had been on quite a few overseas holidays together but we had both never really ventured far from Brisbane, let alone interstate. We are both young, healthy, debt free and thought why not travel Australia now while we can.
First impressions of the outback – what led us to want to explore the outback…
I think both myself & Kurt being ‘city folk’ as you would say, had both wanted to definitely travel and see a lot of the outback on our lap. You see all these photos, hear stories and watch video’s on the outback, but it’s not until you truly experience it do you really appreciate how special outback Australia really is. Our first impressions were the obvious, “wow it’s dusty out here” & “geez there really is kilometres of nothingness”.
The outback air is dry and it generally takes a couple of days for us to adjust. We usually categorise the roads into two categories – 1)” the dirt road is actually better than most bitumen roads” or 2) “boy, that road was a real bone shaker, we wonder if everything is still on and intact”. You also quickly learn, that there can be long distances between things, towns, people etc. As much as we like being by the coastline, nothing beats being in the outback - setting up camp and usually being the only souls for kilometres in each direction, having a campfire and watching the stars light up the sky.
Your outback highlight in detail
Our biggest highlight while in the outback would have to be getting engaged atop of Mt Augustus – the largest rock in the world [situated in central outback WA]. Surrounded by dirt roads in every direction and really having to venture into Western Australia to visit this place. Mt Augustus had been on our radar for quite some time, almost making it out here the previous year, but while at the Kennedy Ranges we got ourselves FIFO jobs in Perth. So we had to vow to eventually return back up and out to see Mt Augustus and well it’s safe to say it was well and truly worth the wait. The proposal was completely unexpected but if you ask our friends and family, they would say “it’s about time” haha.
We had started the summit walk nice and early in the morning, and being the only car in the carpark, it was safe to say we were going to be the first ones up for that day. After an hour and half and a 6km hike, we reached the summit! Usually we take some snaps, eat our snacks admiring the view, and then start the trek back. Little did I know what was about to happen on top of Mt Augustus – a moment I will never forget. It was very romantic with epic views overlooking the surrounds and if you look closely, the sun was actually shining on Kurt’s hand - when he got down on one knee.
Before getting engaged, we would tell people our favourite part about the outback would have been working on a true cattle station in the heart of Australia. It was situated a couple hours east of Alice Springs, covering enough land to be a European state and for extra outback points* the station bordered the Simpson dessert. If you ever get the chance, we would highly recommend experiencing life on a station. The remoteness and lifestyle is definitely not for everyone and it makes you really appreciate our farmers and what they do.
Your personal biggest travel tip for the outback
Our biggest tips for travelling the outback is to be prepared, stock up and enjoy the adventure. We like to be fully self-sufficient and carry a lot of safety gear, tools and mechanical spares. For us personally, we carry a PLB, satellite phone, a fully stocked first aid kit with medicines along with some fire extinguishers, fire blankets and flares. We do tend to travel remote quite regularly, so for us these were must have items, to ensure we felt completely safe heading off into the outback. Along with a good range of mechanical spares, tools and Kurt’s knowledge, we fell pretty content 99% of the time on our travels throughout Australia, no matter how remote we go.
Be sure to always stock up with fuel when you can and ensure you have plenty of water and food. We’ve lost count about the amount of times we have dragged our feet because we haven’t wanted to leave a place or found some unreal spots, well and truly off the beaten track.