Dean, Shay and their young Aussie family from The Gathering Folk who are self-proclaimed new-age hippies are now looking to learn from real, self-sufficient Australian's from all across the country on how to survive and thrive in their own space. The Gathering Folk sold their house, decked out their Hilux and camper and set about tackling the great open road to enrich not only their sense of adventure but also their minds as they discover new ways to live consciously and happily.
To help share their experiences they've started a video series and recently documented their trip preparation for REDARC on how they have powered their five-month cross-country pilgrimage.
Heading Around The Block
We’re trading the city for the open road, with a five-month loop of Australia. After a successful stint on Channel Nine’s The Block we decided we wanted to invest in a sustainable lifestyle and purchase our own slice of Australia in a little farm. The only problem, we know nothing about farming. So what better way to learn than to travel around OZ and learn from those already doing it. We loaded up the 4WD, a 2017 Toyota Hilux Dual Cab, and the Skamper Kamper Dingo, along with our video equipment in the hopes we could document our journey and share the knowledge we gather with others as we begin adventuring around this diverse country. Needless to say that with the gear we had on board (cameras, laptops, chargers,etc.), and the fact that we had a four-year-old with us and are expecting our second child, it was important for us to have reliable gear that also allows us to travel sustainably.
And so, partnering with REDARC was a no-brainer. They are an Australian owned company renowned for quality and support on the road. We knew they had a great reputation for being innovative and lead the way with portable power technology and, for us most importantly, they could provide us with the ability to produce our own energy; making us completely self-sufficient.
Packing it all up and starting a new life on the road
How We Got Unplugged
There would be river crossings, corrugations, dune exploring and forest adventures to be had and we needed some tough gear to handle all of these conditions and more. Our number one goal for our big lap is to eliminate the need for us to plug into the grid full stop. After talking with the team at REDARC and telling them of our dream to be unplugged and off the grid for the whole trip, and hearing how excited they were to meet the challenge, we got to work and came up with our mobile green power station.
BCDC1225D In-vehicle battery charger
Usually when you want to get away from it all, you will be after some sort of power supply to be able to use your goodies from home that require 240V AC (such as household items, within reason, of course, Shay still had to leave the hair dryer at home) for us we needed to be able to charge all of our camera gear and computers for filming our web series. Under the bonnet of our Hilux we have the battery charger connected to a secondary battery, a 100 amp hour deep cycle battery. This is some tough gear and allowed us to head into some of the most remote parts of Australia as a family and not be concerned about whether we would have access to power.
What we loved (well maybe more me the tech nerd) about the DC-DC Battery Charger, was the fact that it can handle power coming in from either solar or the vehicle’s alternator. So what that means is the Hilux would charge the battery on the way to our next adventure and while we were out there getting our hands dirty we would plug the solar blanket into the charger and voila, the battery would be chock a block ready to handle the next round of camera batteries, laptops, lights and whatever else we threw at it.
All these new ‘fancy’ features that our modern day 4X4’s come with, I believe, are for the greater good. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a 40 series cruiser, but for the environment the use of variable voltage alternators to help with fuel economy and what comes out the back end of the Hilux are a step in the right direction. This is where the in-vehicle battery charger rolls its sleeves up and does all the hard work to make sure the secondary battery gets its full dose of voltage, so it charges the second battery correctly and so the ‘fancy alternator’ doesn’t throw the towel in trying to keep up.
A cuppa joe goes down a treat on those chilly days
Talk about multi-tasking, The Manager30 makes you feel a little less adequate about yourself when you look at what it
can do and how it does it!
What The Manager30 battery management system does is keep everything in check for a thorough 12V electrical setup at your fingertips. We got the BMS1230 installed into our Skamper Kamper Dingo and haven’t looked back. It ticks all the boxes for what we need to be modern-day hippies and stay off the grid for however long we want.
Sustainability is where the Manager30 really comes into play for us. With its features and information easy to access via the remote display, we can simply charge the 200AH battery bank whilst on the road, whether it be low range rock crawling at Granville Harbour or the long red sandy roads towards Cape Leveque. It was also great for our farm stops and even allowing us to plug in the solar blanket with the Manager30 telling us what power we were using and how long it would last.
The Manager30 caters for all types, even allowing my wife to plug in the solar blanket and off it goes with no switches or changing modes, just plug and play. Or if you feel the need to delve into the deep black hole of technology and lose yourself to stats and graphs of how your own mobile green power plant is running you can do that too (it’s perfectly normal to do that right?).
Soaking the rays thanks to the Power of REDARC
190W Solar Blanket
Solar power is something we are very passionate and excited about. It really makes sense to us to want to keep this place we call earth in top shape for generations to come so our kids can take their kids to see the wonders of not only Australia but the world.
This bit of kit is definitely my favourite, and its ability to use it across a range of REDARC gear to make yourself self-sufficient really floats our boat. Whether it be the blazing sun of The Kimberley or the shaded green of The Otways, this little beauty delivers the goods. Sure, like any solar system no sunlight equals no excited electrons but with a bit of consideration to where you set up camp, what items you are powering and how often, the size of this solar blanket in terms of watts can keep you away from the hustle and bustle forever... Yes, FOREVERRRRRRRRRR! (but I might need to watch a few more episodes of Bear Grylls).
The key to my infatuation with this solar blanket is how light and compact it is, making it simple and easy to setup, pack up, and put away. There is no need to worry about breaking or cracking like conventional panels. It folds up to the size and thickness of a breadboard and saves precious room when packing for a weekend away or a big lap. Having a non fixed/portable solar setup means you can set up camp in the shade, to keep your camper cool in the warm summer months, and place your panel in the sunlight by utilising the extension leads available from REDARC.
Light, compact you really can't go wrong with this bit of kit
700W Pure Sine Wave Inverter
On the road we had a job to do (tough gig I know), that job involved us filming and capturing the moments we wanted to share with everyone about our project and what our next chapter of life would hopefully entail.
Keeping the engine room running in terms of camera gear and laptops needing to be charged, the 700 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter did the trick. It has magical powers and turns the 12V DC from our secondary battery under the bonnet of the Hilux to 240V AC. We have a relatively simple setup and don’t run a lot of high powered items through the inverter, thus keeping cable sizes smaller from the secondary battery which makes it easier to get cables into the canopy of the Hilux.
For us keeping it simple in terms of not packing the hair dryer or coffee machine is what we love about getting away but REDARC have the gear if that’s what you’re after (we won’t judge haha). The inverter has some great features like the LED’s near the outlet to show you how the inverter is coping with duties such as: input level, the range/input voltage level and whether it is too high/low or just perfect, load level, the load being placed on the inverter (how much juice your items are taking whilst plugged in), status, and what mood the inverter is in. Good thing for us it was always willing to get to work and never missed a beat.
These products combined allowed us to achieve our goal of being able to complete the trip completely off the grid, and we are proud to say that we haven’t had to plug into the grid at all.
12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road
Watch Episode One Now