Useful and Useless Items

These are some issues and tips that don’t seem to fit into any other category so are gathered here.


  • Carry a spare set of bearings and bearing seal and a spare set of wheel studs and nuts (you will of course already be carrying a grease gun and grease as part of your 4×4 equipment) for your caravan. You do of course have a record of the bearing and seal part number;
  • Loose wheel nut indicators are a great safety device that enables you to quickly and easily see if a wheel nut has worked loose;
  • Electronic tyre pressure monitoring on all tyres may prevent a leak becoming a destroyed tyre. It is difficult to detect a leak on a towed vehicle but if it can be detected early the tyre may be saved. There are several makes on the market TyreDog is one such make that can monitor more than just four tyres;
  • A laptop with a Next G connection. Receive and send emails, pay the bills, write a blog, even use Google Earth to look at intended camp sites. The only carrier with suitable coverage is Telstra. They claim to cover 95% of the population which unfortunately is only 8% of the land mass;
  • Modified 12 volt drill

    Modified 12 volt drill

    An electric drill that will plug into 12 volts is very handy for repairs and changes. Buy a cheap 12 volt rechargeable drill, cut off the battery housing and solder 5 metres of cable to the switch terminals. Add a cigarette lighter plug and you have a very versatile tool;

  • A small inverter, around 300 watts, is handy for charging batteries, running hair clippers etc;
  • Do not waste money on expensive toilet chemicals. Napisan is as good if not better than expensive commercial toilet chemicals. Lots of discussion about this on various internet forums, almost all positive. I use one cupful in a quarter of a litre of water. Shake well in a small container and pour into the waste receptacle. There is nothing needed in the flushing water. This is a relatively safe biodegradable (to Australian Standards) chemical that can safely be emptied into septic systems. I have never experienced an unpleasant smell when emptying. Buy the cheap generic Woolies or Coles brand;
  • tent peg puller

    Tent peg puller

    A strong tent peg puller will make life much easier. Forget those things sold in camping stores, they all break after a couple of uses. You will need a large tent peg, about 375mm should do and a length of 20mm galvanised water pipe, 130mm is sufficient. You should be able to scrounge a piece of discarded water pipe. Drill a hole in the centre of the water pipe, insert the tent peg and weld in place. Ensure that the handle and hook are in the same plane, this makes controlling it much easier. Cut the hook with an angle grinder so that it is relatively short and pointed, this makes inserting under pegs easier. Finally spray with fluorescent paint, makes it easier to see when on the ground. You now have a better puller than can be purchased and one that makes a great billy and camp oven lifter as well.

  • Carry plenty of tea towels. They come in handy for stopping things moving in lockers and drawers;
  • Good maps and a copy of the latest Camps book make travelling and finding camps easier;
  • Ugg boots are great. Can’t be beaten on a cold morning or night and even in the tropics keeps the sandflies and mosquitoes away from ankles;
  • Take a couple of light weight stools. Handy for putting your feet up, use whilst changing tyre pressures and with a top great for resting snacks and drinks on;
  • Have an LED torch mounted in a permanent place for easy and quick access;
  • Carry a bucket with a rope on it for getting water out of streams etc;
  • A small bags of rags;
  • A small  ground sheet, for getting under the car or van or a privacy or shade screen;
  • Assorted rope and line; and
  • Ant Dust (available from most supermarkets) is invaluable to keep ants at bay. Particularly needed in the Kimberleys when the presence of Singapore Ants is suspected. These little ants bite and have been known to chew through electrical wiring and canvas.
  • If you like to read consider taking an eBook Reader. Join your local library and then with your laptop and internet connection borrow ebooks whilst travelling. Download eBooks on the Internet from Project Gutenberg including the journals of Australian explorers. Do not buy a Kindle eReader as these do not support the EPUB format used by Australian libraries. Sony make an excellent eBook reader.


  • Too much junk. If it isn’t really necessary don’t take it. Remember, within reason, travel as light as you can. At the end of each trip review the gear you carried;
  • A washing machine and microwave. Do you really need them when camping in the bush?
  • Water filters, if filling up from a caravan park then you are using potable water anyway. If in remote areas you have to fill your water tanks using a bucket then you don’t have the pressure to force the water through a filter. Remember that if you use water filters they must be maintained strictly in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.

updated 28/01/2012

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