Navigation and Communication Tools

Finding your way around

GPS

A Dash GPS is a wonderful tool for getting around. Most come with a trip planner and or functions. Learn these functions when not in a rush - you will be surprised what hidden facilities there are. Older Maps are not so good around Cities because of freeway development but fine in the country.
Topograhic maps are useful for the serious offroader but Caravaners need not purchase these.

Satphones

These still expensive to operate and would only apply for someone in very remote area locations or with problematic medical conditions.

UHF Radio

The old truckers stand by is still handy for the travelling Nomad. Not only can you listen out for traffic on a haul road, when travelling in a convoy, it is good to know what is up ahead. Some couple use their hand-helds for an awkward manoeuvre such as tricky backing or when a partner goes off fishing.

ANTENNAS

Running an omni directional aerial off the front of the vehicle will improve reception in marginal regions. Yagi directional antennas require manual adjustments to point to the transmission towers. (There is an app to find the towers.) If your phones does not have an external aerial port (Blue tick phones do), then antennal phone cradles will work.

Maps

Some travellers prefer hard copy and not only are there the pamphlet type maps but detailed books on offer. Books are expensive to produce, hence their cost. There is a publication list on the Links Page
LINKS PAGE

Smart Phones

Most towns in Australia have Telstra 3G. Make sure your phone runs on this frequency 850MHz (UMTS/HSDPA or WCDMA). The Telstra 850MHz NextG services operates on one of 2 paired 5 or 10 MHz channels. Telstra was the initial provider to all rural communities because of its monopoly and has the most coverage. Note: Optus now licensed for 2100 MHz in a number of rural locations. The Optus 3g operates on dual frequencies; 900 and 2100 MHz.


Smartphone Data

Using your smartphone as a hotspot or tethering is fine for checking mail, Facebook or browsing the internet. WikiCamps will download data on campsites.

There is a problem with data mobile connection. Providers use proxies once you are logged into their data. This means that your IP address is NOT static. When you are logged into a secure site, the connection will fail when it swaps IP addresses. You then have to log in again on the new IP which can be tedious.

Boost operates on the Telstra 3G network and provides the best data plan for $40pm - check the latest Plans here: BOOST MOBILE
Data allows you to use the phone as a wifi hotspot for your electronics.


WiFi Data

If you are a heavier user of Data, a Wifi Mobile Broadband Unit like Huawei e5573 ($50 to $60) will help. This will give you a static IP because there is a sim card embedded in the device.

4G/3G Data. Telstra Data Plans are more expensive. Best is OVO running on Optus backbone.

WikiCamps

WikiCamps is an app you install on your Phone/Pad/Tablet - it is kept up-to-date by the users. You will find the information very current with comments and photos. It contains campgrounds, caravan parks, backpacker hostels, day use area, points of interest, information centres and public dump points. Invaluable for free campers as well as spots to be wary of.

TIP: download ALL the maps before you leave on your trip. You can then use the maps offline (no reception).

A personal example was up the Bruce Highway late at night and pulled into the Mt Gordon Rest Area opposite the big Mango. There was noone there so I checked WikiCamps only to find overnight stays were prohibited. I then found the Council sign in the dark and promptly moved on to the Gunthalungra Rest Area just up the road. WikiCamps probably saved me an expensive Bowen Council Fine.
Best Current Camp information - WikiCamps

Local Information

Talking to people in the local Caravan Parks, Shops, Servos and Information Centers reveals a wealth of information. Get out and ask. Local Events are revealed - if invited, go to them.

Fellow travellers are often good sources of road conditions if they come in from the opposite direction.

Road Conditions

Check the links page for current road information in your State.
LINKS PAGE