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Q8. The IsatPhonePro on the Inmarsat Satellite Phone is much cheaper than comparative phones on the Iridium network.  How good is the Inmarsat network?   At under $700 for purchasing the IsatPhonePro phone and $20 for prepaid calls with up to two years access, and calls to landlines $1.00 per minutes and $1.20 per minute to mobiles, it sounds like a good deal.  Is it? 

A.  Yes it is a good deal, with the following reservations on emergency services calls.  The network has good global coverage. The handset is considerably cheaper than a comparative phone on the Iridium network eg $1695 when purchased from Telstra on a plan. 

 

It depends on whether you want a satellite just to make regular phone calls, or if you are going remote and want to have satellite phone for emergencies. # Update: As of 1 July 2013 all hand held satellite phones registered in Australia are required to be able to call emergency services 000. 

 

The majority of 13 or 1800 numbers will not be available to you on an international network such as Inmarsat.

 

Police Australia wide use 131444 which won't work, so you'd need to have done research to find the local numbers to call just in case needed.  If you choose this phone, research and print the list of likely phone numbers and take this list in the phone case so it is with you on hikes as well as when you are in the car.  Print in large font if you normally need reading glasses as in an emergency you may not have your glasses.

 

Otherwise their deal is good value and has free SMS # service, which your family can use from a computer to send you a message.  You to call them back, as calls cost those phoning you $20 per minute. Outward SMS cost $0.50. 

 

Costs to phone from Inmarsat phone: To landline in Australia $1.00 per minute, to mobile phone $1.20 per minute, to Inmarsat networks $2.50 - $4.90, to other Satellite phone networks $4.00 - $6.90 per minute, SMS up to 160 character $0.50.  Free # SMS can be sent from a computer to an IsatPhonePro.

 

Prepaid cards are available from $20 and they give access for 2 years.  Update: check with your provider as times may have been reduced. 

 

With no monthly fees and the two year access period, higher call costs are a bargain if only using the phone for minimal calls.  

 

IsatPhonePro can be purchased for under $800, or lower on a special offer. 

 

See more about satellite and other mobile phones on the Communications page.

 

2011and updated July 2013

 

References to the no longer available Government subsidy and been removed.

Q9. Where can we free or low cost camp on the Western Australia Ningaloo coastline that is accessible with our large off road caravan?

Ningaloo Station would have to be the pick of the bunch with camping at key locations along the absolutely glorious coastline.  They now have a number of beaches open at very low cost.  Some are suitable for boats for the fishing enthusiasts, and you may even get patchy Next G internet cover.  Access road after leaving the Exmouth-Minilya Road can be rough.  Ningaloo Station can also be accessed from the north via the Cape Range National Park when the sand bar at Yardie Creek is passsable.  See Ningaloo Station Camping 

 

Then there is Cape Range National Park camping along the coast between Ningaloo Station and Exmouth.  This is now so popular, that DEC they have put a few of the sites on their on line booking system, whilst the others are still ‘get in if you can’.  Prices for just about all National Parks are now $7 per person per night with no services other than perhaps a pit toilet.  See DPaW Campgrounds.    Update: Prices for these campgrounds now $7.50 or $10 per person per night. 

 

Another nice option is Warroora station to the south of Coral Bay.  Twenty three kilometres west of the North West Coastal Highway accessed by a sometimes rough road, but regular rigs can visit.  Like Ningaloo, unserviced remote beach camps, some of which can be accessed without four wheel drive. See Warroora Station Camping 

 

2011 

A. Exmouth Shire does not permit camping outside of authorised area.  The only optionsfor low cost camping are on the pastoral station stays or in the National Park.  None of the following would be a problem for you to access. 

 

< Ningaloo Station map from their website 

 

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Q10.  Where can we camp along the Stuart Highway between Alice Springs and Darwin?

A.  Roadside 24 hour rest areas along the Stuart Highway seem to fill early, and being alongside a highway and packed in with others does not appeal to us at all.  We like to get a bit away from the traffic and usually out on our own.  Popular roadside rest areas that would be satisfactory for an overnight stay if you don’t mind being close to the highway and having plenty of others around you were Bonney Well, Attack Creek (toilet), Newcastle Waters (toilet), Warloch (toilet) and King River (toilet).  Link to rest area details  

 

There are serviced sites at most of the roadhouses and towns along the way if you are not fully set up for independent camping.  At Tennant Creek we chose to stop at a caravan park to catch up on the laundry choosing the Outback Caravan Park.  At Mataranka where we spent a few days, we also went to a caravan park, choosing the Mataranka Cabins and Camping near Bitter Springs.  This park only takes 42 rigs, so either arrive in the morning or telephone a day before to book a place.  Telephone network coverage isvery limited along the Stuart Highway, with Telstra haveing the best cover, but still confined to around only a few towns and localities.

 

What else did we find as we headed north?

 

Suitable for the first night out of Alice Springs at around thirty kilometres north of the Central Mount Stuart reserve and 38 kilometres south of Barrow Creek there is a truck rest area on the west side of the Highway.  The truck stop is on strip of old highway and you can continue north a little way from the rest area on this old road and be tucked in behind trees screened from the highway.  Do not stop in the truck rest area itself.  The road terminates, so you need to find a way to turn around on it, which we managed with our F250. 

 

Alternatively, thirty kilometres north of Barrow Creek again on the east side is a track with small sign WWII Barrow Creek.  This historic site of the WWII New Barrow Army Bivouac is on station land, but they allow access to clean campers. There is plenty of room as you drive around to find very private campsites and it is about a kilometre away from the highway.

 

The NT parks campground tucked in behind the Devil’s Marbles is also a good place to camp (fees apply) Link to Parks website 

 

Ten kilometres north of Tennant Creek on the west side of the highway is the turn off into Kunjarra, the Aboriginal women's cultural site know as The Pebbles. Dirt road access for five or six kilometres, toilets; free.

 

120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek and not far past the Helen Springs Station turnoff, on a hill and on the east side of the highway, we stopped at a large former road works camp, with old cattle yards near highway.  It was beautiful there and although a motorhome came in late they parked well away from us so we have a quiet and private camp.   We chose this rather than the very popular Banka Banka caravan park (unpowered) 100 kilometres north of Tennant Creek, which although grassy green is alongside the highway.        

On the west side of Elliott, there is a dirt/sand track to Longreach Waterhole on the west side of the town.  We did not go into this bird watcher’s paradise, but it makes a nice remote camp for those set up to get there.  Directions are a little complex, so best to ask in Elliott, and also about the condition of the road at the time. 

 

At Larrimah, although the Birdum runway forms a street of the tiny town, tracks around the WWII sites west of the highway allow access into the bush.  Nine kilometres north of the town a track gives access to Gorrie airfield; these air strips make good flat clean campsites.

 

Eighteen kilometres north of Pine Creek again on the west is the access for McDonald airfield. 

 

Fenton airstrip is further from the highway and past the lovely Douglas Hot Springs.  Fenton is accessed from the road heading to Douglas Hot Springs a few kilometres north of Hayes Creek, but go north on Oolloo Road instead of driving into Douglas Hot Springs.  We took both options of camping at both Fenton and the nearby Douglas Hot Springs (NT Parks fees at the latter).   More detail in my 2009 travelogues      Note: Fenton airstrip is now closed to the public

 

For camping along the Barkly Highway from Camooweal in Queensland to Three Ways Roadhouse on the Stuart Highway see Q12.   For further authorised camps in the Northern Territory see Free and Low Cost Camping.  For distances between fuel outlets see Distances between fuel stations Port Augusta to Darwin.

 

2012

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