Ben Hathaway is a fisherman and explorer with experience tracing the coastline of Australia. As a professional photographer and fisherman he has managed to make his work also his play and that has taken him on the round Oz fishing trip of a lifetime squeezed into just 4 months. Here he tells us about the leg from Broome through the Kimberley’s to Darwin and into Arnhem Land. We learn that when it comes to Australian adventure it is the preparation before departure, the quality equipment you transport and the local knowledge you can access that sets a great trip apart from a hazardous one.
(All Images and Video by Ben Hathaway - Check out his Instagram @fisheyetrips
: Broome through the Kimberley’s to Darwin then into Arnhem Land
: April and May 2014
Sunseeker II Awning
Conduit Clamps X2
Shovel Holder Bracket
What was the inspiration for this trip? And who did you travel with?
It was my mate Crossy and I. The route was designed as a big fishing trip. We wanted to see (and fish) the whole coastline of Australia.
How did you prepare for this trip? What are important steps to take?
We brought heaps and heaps of fishing gear. It took us 6-8 months to properly prepare the gear. We had between 16 and 18 fishing rods and trying top figure out where to store that was the hardest part. The two conduits we added fit most of that though and no you don’t want to know how much that cost.
Top end teaser from Ben Hathaway on Vimeo.
Besides the fishing gear what sort of car modifications, route planning and permit attaining did you need to do?
We needed permits from the Northern Land Council to fish up there and drive along the Central Arnhem Highway. For general camping and special sacred site visiting permits from Dhimurru Land Management Council are also required. Most of these can be obtained whilst in northern Australia but it’s a good idea to check out the major website www.klc.org.au
As for our 4WD; it was a Nissan Patrol. Originally it was a 3L diesel but they’re known as a grenade at 170,000 km and we were over that when the thing blew up. We changed over to a 6.5L V8 Chevy in Crossy’s garage over a 6 month period while preparing the body of the Nissan, our route and gear.
Draw systems in the rear - Fitting a rear bar - Setting up all the fuse boxes - A dual battery system - Installing a fridge - Put in a front air locker - Setting up the lighting systems - Fitted 33inch Maxxis Big Horn Tyres - Side brush bars - Long range tank - Every bit of recovery gear - Phone booster and portable wifi
Serviced everything from wheel bearings to rear diff.
Pulled out the back seats and created a sleeping area and storage area.
False floor in the rear where we stored 160 litres of water.
And most importantly what was on the roof?
We put on the Rhino-Rack Foxwing Awning
and it is super versatile. We needed somewhere to store fishing rods so we stuck on two Rhino-Rack Conduits Clamps
, one on top of the Foxwing and one on the other side. We then set up Shovel Brackets
and still had room to fit a boat on top which worked perfectly.
So you camped out in the car mostly?
Nah I didn’t sleep in the car at all; it was for Crossy. When we got up into croc territory he’d take everything out of the top layer and sleep in there. I’d sleep outside in the swag and wait for the crocs to come and get me.
I put obstacles up so if it was going to come at me then it had to walk through bags and boats and stuff. I slept with a knife under my pillow every night so that I could cut myself out of the swag if I needed to. It was good fun.
What are the weather and terrain conditions like?
At the end of April, as we left Broome, the roads heading north were just opening from the wet season and the temperatures were astronomical. We were driving at night and it was 38 degrees in the car. Coming through the Kimberley’s after Broome was like a kick in the face. That was the hardest part; trying to get used to the temperatures. We made sure we had a 160 litres of water and we went through that in a week and a half just drinking.
Once we started hitting the middle half of the Kimberley’s, on the way to Mitchell Falls we did come across rain or at least we knew it was coming. When you cross a river, especially that far up, and you know the rains are coming you know the only way to get back is to cross that river again. That’s what happened to us. The water level rose 50cm from what we originally crossed. It was only lapping the tyres as we went across then a couple days later as we came back it was over the bonnet. There were people there who said ‘if you don’t cross now you’re stuck here for another week’. We were lucky to get out just in time.
Terrain wise though, Kimberley's was pretty good, its notorious for having bad corrugations but once we hit the end of the wet season we were pretty much right behind a grader the whole time so all the roads were pristine, no one else had really gone through before us.
Arnhem Land was different; we called the Northern Land Council and they weren’t sure what the river crossings were going to be like. They said the water level should be okay but to cross at our own risk. We went and checked the depth a little bit but the problem is the river has crocs in it. We gave it a shot and water went over the bonnet but there wasn’t much flow so we were fine. All in all the road conditions were great on the main roads but when you get off-road the terrain is more challenging with soft sections, mud and tidal changes.
How did Rhino-Rack products help to facilitate your adventure?
Ben Hathaway: Foxwing
was the biggest saver of the trip especially in the top end. It wasn’t really to do with rain, it was mainly just to have somewhere shady. Whenever we pulled up to camp the Foxwing came into its own. It’s so easy to set up and seeing as though we were only at spots for one night we quickly whipped out the Foxwing, put in the pegs, chucked our swags under it-done.
The BC2 Conduit Clamps
held our most valued gear safely the whole trip (we cut the conduit to the same size as the Foxwing). They allowed us to make room for other important equipment.
And the Shovel Bracket
was great, any time we needed to dig a fire pit or use it to beat off a croc it was easily accessible.
What is it about the Kimberley’s and Arnhem Land that drew you there?
Through the top end we wanted to experience the Kimberley’s. The waterfalls and 4wd scene in that area are remarkable. Arnhem Land’s remoteness was a real draw card. I wanted to get out of Sydney, change it up and see what this country is about so we quit our jobs and just disappeared.
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