Northern Horizon – Paul Kowalski

Background story

The count down is well and truly on for what is going to be an epic journey. On the 12th of April, yep not long to go, my wife , two daughters and I will be driving away for nearly four months to capture landscape photographs of the northern areas of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, what an exciting time.

The original plans for our upcoming trip first entered my mind almost two years ago, whilst travelling on our last big trip to Western Australia. We were in Esperance at the time experiencing all that it has to offer but even then I knew a trip to the far north would be something very special. On that occasion we travelled as far north as Exmouth and then turned for home. I can remember the day we turned south and I said to myself , one day we would get to places like The Kimberley, the northern tips of the Northern Territory, The Savannah Way and beyond.

The preparation for Northern Horizon has been huge but in our opinion preparation makes for fewer issues later, down the track. From trip planning to camper trailer fit out and four wheel drive upgrades, I want to leave with as much confidence as possible. That has meant a huge amount of leg work in assessing what we need and assuring that it will be fit for purpose and will last. We already own a four wheel drive and camper trailer that are capable but add ons were necessary for a trip like our next. We will be free camping as much as possible and getting into some remote areas, being set up and prepared is essential in our opinion.

Vehicle upgrades

We have modified our Toyota Prado to a large extent to offer a well rounded experience. Some of the mods include –

– A fantastic new set of Cooper S/TMAXX tyres to provide that assurance that we have come to rely on when travelling for months at a time. This will be our second full set and we could not be happier with them- New suspension that provided a much needed 3 inch lift and better handling- A new, heavy duty clutch to offer insurance and better drive line strength- A snorkel to allow us to tackle water crossings and offer better all round performance- A full length aluminium roof rack for extra carrying capacity- A pre-fuel filter system to reduce water risks in remote areas- New starter battery- New AGM auxiliary battery to run fridges, lap tops and all the other devices we have

Camper Trailer upgrades

Our Camper Trailer is looking less and less like it did when we bought it, our home away from home must be comfortable and reliable. Some of the add ons we have invested in for this next trip include –

– Suspension and brake upgrades- An extra fridge freezer to deal with a growing family and allow us to travel for longer- New 120 amp hour AGM battery fitted and all new wiring throughout, we will be using a lot more power on this trip and had a need to support it- New LED lighting throughout, this may sound small but is going to change our world from the days of relying on just having torches- Brand new tyres- New water storage to allow us to carry an extra 40 litres

Location planning

It is essential that, as a landscape photographer, we find and photograph the best an area has to offer. I have spent countless hours researching areas to see what is available and where we can camp. I also spend a lot of time in my gallery talking with people that have been to many of the locations we plan to visit, to get more local knowledge of where to go and where not to.

Trip itinerary

It is very important for us to find a balance between creating a new set of immaculate photographs, spending time together as a family and not being too regimented in our approach and travel. The freedom of the open road is the big lure for a trip like this. An overview plan of attack is to get to the Kimberley through the center of Australia, visiting places such as Finke Gorge, Alice Springs and Devils Marbles. Once we hit the Kimberly the plans are completely open and will depend on the currently unstable wet season. Visiting the mighty Mitchell Falls is the planned pinnacle of this trip, we must get there. The Gibb River Road will feature, as well as Derby, Broome, Cape Levique and many more.

From there we plan to travel east back into Northern Territory to visit Litchfield National Park, Kakadu, Katherine to name a few. The plan thereafter, assuming we are afforded the time, is to head further east along the Savannah Way all the way to Cairns, visiting places such as Lawn Hill. Once we are in Cairns, Mossman Gorge is high on the list, as well as heading further south to the Whitsundays where relevant. We will head south from this point stoping in at many places on the way home, such as Carnarvon Gorge, Lamington National Park, Crescent Head, the list really does go on.

All that is left to do now is to pack and jump in the vehicle, it has been a very busy but exciting time for the four of us.

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