My experience at the Big Red Bash
It’s no Woodstock, but the three-day outback extravaganza outside Birdsville, The Big Red Bash comes pretty close. I’m not normally a big listener of country music, but when I was asked if I would like to attend I jumped at the chance, and to say I was excited was a bit of an understatement.
I’ve dabbled in the odd weekend away here and there, but nothing comes close to what I experienced during my time at the Bash. Here is my story of how it played out.
Big Red Bash Preparation
The key to any journey is preparation. First things first, modifying the swag by adding a couple of extra layers of foam and aquiring a new sleeping bag that would keep me warm on those frosty nights.
As we were taking the REDARC Hilux with its full suite of products, I made a last minute decision to bring an electric blanket, which let me tell you was an absolute godsend (more on this later).
When it comes to preparing your food, I would recommend taking some pre-cooked meals that can easily be heated on the camp oven. Some of the food available at Big Red was a bit on the steep side, $9 for a coffee is a bit stiff but there aren't too many choices when you're in the middle of the desert.
The REDARC Hilux all decked out and ready to roll
A CB radio is another essential item. It can be a life saver as it's a handy communication device and a source for a good laugh every now and again. It was also important as it acted as a news source relating to road conditions, weather and other important information.
The Auto-Electrician in me also recommends testing all equipment before departure. Make sure your lights work, check your batteries, wires and anything else which relies on a stable power supply. And don’t forget the basics like checking vehicle lights, oil, coolant, power, steering fluid, tyre pressures and washer fluid.
And I'd suggest you make sure all battery powered devices have new batteries before departing on your trip, and remember to take the charger too!
Other than that, I’d say rug up and get warm as some nights can be a bit rough and many people under estimate those cold nights when out bush
My modified swag ready to tackle the cold
Getting to Birdsville
Day one saw us travel from Adelaide to Coolibah Campground at Dulkaninna Station. The 800km journey is highlighted on the map below and the drive out of Adelaide was cruisey with no traffic, with the first stop at the Mid-North town of Hawker, allowing us to stretch our legs, swap drivers and refuel the Hilux and our bodies.
Driving in the evening is a different story, it requires more attention. Once we passed Maree the road switches from bitumen to dirt which is a game-changer. It’s important to pick a well-driven path as you get a reduced amount of cabin noise and at one stage the dirt caused the trailer to wobble, but there was no need to worry as we had our very own Tow-Pro Elite electric brake controller switched to manual mode, ready to activate the brakes if things got out of hand.
From Dulkaninna the next stop was Birdsville, again the quality of road worsened with rocks, floodways and crests significantly slowing us down. Although Birdsville was closer in distance, it would still take the same amount of time as the previous day to reach due to the conditions of the roads.
This is where the worst of the damage occurred as an overtaking Ute kicked up a fist-sized rock and broke our windscreen. A quick tape job was all that was needed and within 20 minutes we were on the road again. On the way, we stopped past the infamous Mungerannie Road House filled with obscure paraphernalia and the highlight of the night was watching the footy with the locals colourful commentary.
The road less travelled, Happy Valley to Birdsville
During the festival
There’s an old saying here at REDARC “you can take the auto electrician out of tech support, but you can’t take tech support out of the auto electrician”. Ok, not quite true, but as a local auto electrician that has been working on the tools for 12 years, I know a thing or two about the installation and diagnosis of REDARC components and parts. Which is definitely a good thing as not long after arriving and setting up, we had four people come up asking questions about why their product were not working.
Three of their queries were easy enough and I was able to provide some assistance and told them to test their device. It was clear by the look on their faces that they didn’t believe what I said could fix the issue. But the following day they came back grateful for the troubleshooting I provided as the issue had been resolved.
The power of REDARC
When arriving at the event the first thing that struck me was the size of the venue. After all, we were in the outback but it was still the biggest venue for an event I had ever seen. The furthest point of the camping area would easily exceed 1km from the stage and it would be at least 300 meters wide.
REDARC Plaza saw plenty of welcome passers-by
Apart from the unique setting, the major drawcard of the Bash is the music itself. 2017 saw the likes of Missy Higgins, Lee Kernaghan, James Reyne and Mark Seymour grace the stage. And the REDARC plaza was right in the middle of the action, so I probably had the best seat in the house. And after the event, I can definitely say I have a new-found respect for country music.
The mornings were a little fresh but with our Pure Sine Wave Inverter powering a coffee machine getting the day started was a breeze.
The sun setting on another incredible day at The Bash
A trip to Poeppel Corner
It was decided that once the formalities were done a day trip to Poeppel Corner was in order. We were a tad concerned as we were a single car and the Corner is extremely remote and isolated. However, we linked up with the boys from Touring Down Under so ended up having safety in numbers. And although running the sand dunes could be a little uncomfortable, especially with people in front causing a lot of ruts, it was a lot of fun and something I thoroughly enjoyed.
Poeppel Corner is a must-see
Setting up camp overnight was quickly done with the swags, but it was also the coldest night of the trip. While it may be considered “glamping” running an electric blanket off the Pure Sine Wave Inverter, it kept everything warm and snug.
The run back was even more entertaining with some interesting characters out there lacking the appropriate equipment, resulting in some colourful language over the CB Radio. It was also noted on a number of occasions that it was good to see the REDARC Hilux out there getting involved. I even got to tackle Big Red a couple times myself which has sparked more of an interest in the 4X4 world, and my WRX's future is not so certain as I’m keen to hit the sand dunes again.
Strength in numbers, teaming up with the lads from Touring Down Under
The trip back home
Having a HUGE meal at the Birdsville Pub the night before meant breakfast was not required first thing the next morning.
We passed by someone who didn’t have a CB radio to warn us they were overtaking, which again resulted in rocks being thrown up and breaking the windscreen in the Hilux. Once again this highlights the importance of a CB radio, an absolute must have when going off the grid.
The idea to get all the way back in one night was attractive, but as the sun was setting we spotted kangaroos all over the place. The decision was made to stop at the Prairie Hotel in Parachilna. The Hilux was grubby enough from the Birdsville track without adding animal body parts on top, so we decided to eat them instead in the form of their famous "Roadkill Platter" which consisted of kangaroo, camel sausage and emu mignon.
Tackling the Prairie Hotel's famous Roadkill Platter
The following day saw us hit the road early and get home by 3pm, and it sure was great to see the family and share some of the tales from the past week.
Overall this trip was fantastic with the only down points being the lack of a regular showers at the show and the incredible amount of dust that the Outback is renowned for. That being said the sights, sounds, and approachable people truly make the Big Red Bash a highly recommended destination and must for the bucket list, even if country music is not normally the genre of choice. I will be aiming to get back the next opportunity possible.
Words by Cameron Moore, Customer Support Technician