May 20, 2006
This week we take our OKA for its first trip.
As the OKA is still is not licensed for the road (even though
all the ADR tests have been passed) we have to drive it
using the dealer plate. This is not a problem as Ruedi
is has been made
an OKA employee in the meantime.
The goal of the week is to test the OKA and the camper
back-section under various conditions, on- and off-road.
For that reason we drive to Kalbarri as
off-road tests can easily be done in the nearby riverbed of the
Murchison River. This is area flooded every year
so we do not
have to worry a lot about making new tracks or damaging existing
Saturday afternoon all is packed and we head north. It is
already pitch dark when we reach Kalbarri, so after diner
we go strait to bed.
May 21, 2006
Kalbarri: Red Bluff, 1st visit
Soon we recognise we first have to learn to live with
the limited space we have in our new home.
At the beginning we constantly disrupting each other, but soon we learn to
share the available workspace, or simply to sit down and wait until there is
Oh by the way - waiting is something we most definitely have to learn first as
we still have not peace at all. Everything must be done chop-chop ...
We visit Red Bluff outside of Kalbarri and
for the first time in the last few months we are able to
relax a bit. The last months have been quite demanding and
our "batteries" are
May 22, 2006
Kalbarri National Park
Today we are already in the mood to see something new. We
drive to some of the recommended spots within the Kalbarri
The reason we don't show photos of the visited places
is not due to their missing beauty, but the quality of the
was not to our satisfaction. Something went wrong today.
May 23, 2006
Kalbarri: Testing on the beach
We drive to the beach to test our recovery gear in the sand.
Ade, our friend from OKA (he has actually built major parts of the truck),
is our instructor (he runs 4WD driver- and recovery-trainings).
Ruedi has to bog the OKA in the soft sand, which is not
a big deal with this heavy weight truck.
Then we gain our first experience with the sand boards.
It is amazing to see how the boards just disappear
in the sand as the OKA digs itself out of the sand on them.
If one doesn't know exactly where they were it is very
hard to locate them afterwards. In the future we will attach
some rope to them for easier retrieval.
Next we try our hydraulic winch and the sand anchor.
The anchor disappears completely in the sand, but it gets
the OKA out of its bog.
Only shovelling must still be done by (Susi's) hand
Since we still do not have our own, wider tyres with
the bead-locks fitted, we do not let the tyre pressure
as one would normally do for sandy conditions. We
are scared of rolling a tyre from the rim. Due to this
OKA digs itself into the sand instead of rolling
Our OKA with its camper back-section is too heavy and we will
always encounter problems in deep sand.
The situation will for sure improve as soon as we have our
own tyres fitted, but by how much we will only know once we
have tested them.
May 24, 2006
Kalbarri: Red Bluff - Mushroom Rock
We really like Red Bluff, especially today as there are
some nice waves. Of course we leave this beautiful crab
alive .... and eat its friend in the restaurant in the evening
At the mushroom rock we see some very special limestone
The vertical tube-like structures are remnants of burrows
of an ancient worm. Skolithos (Silurian worm) lived in the
Silurian waters of 400 million years ago, and dug vertical
to those made by today's sand-worms. As the sediments rose
the worm would build its burrow upward, filing in behind
with sand. The compacted sand which filled the old tube was
resistant to weathering. As the soft rock eroded away, the
tubes were left standing.
May 25, 2006
Kalbarri: Bluff Point and testing in the riverbed
of the Murchison River
In the morning we visit Bluff Point. There are a few nice lookouts along the cost south of Kalbarri.
In the afternoon we are quite brave and head off to the
dry riverbed of the Murchison River.
Since Ruedi is not yet used to the 2.1 m width of the new
truck, Susi screams every so often (followed by a tirade
of not liking to drive at such angles ...) and also some
loose a few branches. Soon after the white paint work has
received its first severe scratches, but the truck is built
to be used hard and we will get used to it. The so called
The trip up the river isn't difficult and we encounter no
problems, but on the way back Ruedi misses the track once
Susi screams once more and we are bogged in the sand (Ruedi
doesn't scream because he is too busy driving ...)
Susi gives it another go with the shovel. This is what we mean with fairly shared
responsibilities: Ruedi bogs the truck and Susi digs it out .....
Getting the OKA back to the track is no big deal this time and we are very proud
In the evening during diner we tell
Ade of our adventure.
He is not
about today's journey at all, because we didn't inform him
in advance. We could have been stuck there without anybody
knowing where we are ...
When asked if he would like to come
us into the
again tomorrow of
course he agrees.
Being the actual builder of the OKA he is interested in
knowing its limitations.
And besides that, testing is fun!
May 26, 2006
Kalbarri: Testing in the riverbed of the Murchison
The next morning everything goes well at the beginning.
A few branches and some sandy patches later Ruedi once more
on the left side and we are bogged again.
And the ground beside
hadn't looked soft at all .....
This time we stick in stinking, black, wet, sandy soil.
And this time the ladies let the men do the work. They step back .... and shoot pictures.
Even after clearing the mud in front of the wheels,
using sand boards, low gears and diff locks the
men have no success in freeing the OKA.
Then we notice that the front diff-lock doesn't engage.
This way the front axle is not locked i.e. instead of all 4 wheels turning at
the same speed, only the back axle and the front wheel with
no traction turn. The left front wheel doesn't move.
All of a sudden the system alarm comes on and we hear a hissing sound.
Ade notices that the compressed air on the front diff leaks. Since he fitted
himself he instantly knows how to fix it.
But even after the successful repair the front diff does not lock and with only
one locked axle and one spinning front wheel the chances to get the OKA unstuck
are pretty dim, especially since it is bogged down to the axle.
Ade tries to free the OKA out of its bog with a snatch-strap.
It doesn't work, even after Ruedi finally
releases the handbrake .... Ade once more is not very impressed
about his trainee
Next the men try freeing the OKA using the sand anchor.
The sand at the possible anchor point is too soft and the
underground towards the OKA.
So this doesn't work either.
Out goes the rope of the winch again, but this time they
use Ade's Patrol as anchor point.
But the same happens again.
of the Patrol stand still the car is dragged along the sand
by the OKAs winch power.... hmmmm, so this doesn't work either.
Next Ade decides to place one front wheel of his Patrol
over Ruedi's sand anchor to increase the resistance of the
anchor and at the same time pull with the Patrol's winch.
Slowly the wheel sinks into the sand as the OKA starts pulling the Patrol, but
all of a sudden the OKA starts moving out of its bog and shortly after is back
on the track.
Jupeee - afloat!
These were a few hours of hard work.
Here the movie ...
(file type: .wmv, size: 8'092 KB).
We all agree that this was a severe
bog and once more because of the weight of the OKA.
other hand, the recovery
gear we have is of good quality, is strong enough and
we now know (more or less) how to use it.
After the diff
be fixed by OK we will be able to start travelling with great
May 27, 2006
Kalbarri - Hut Lagoon
It is already time to head back
On our way we pass the Hut Lagoon. The
lagoon looks strange with its unusual colour.
colour is due to the microscopic algae
Dunaliella Salina, which lives in very salty
The algae is farmed in shallow ponds and harvested. The orange
pigment Beta-Carotene is extracted and exported to Europe,
Asia and the USA. It is used in vitamin capsules, as food
colouring and as animal feed supplement.
We find ourselves a spot for the night in a new developed
area near Greenough-on-Sea, south of Geraldton.
May 28, 2006
Greenough-on-Sea - Perth
On our way to Perth we stop at Eneaba, a National Park famous
for its wildflowers.
The season is just beginning .....
We reach Perth in the afternoon.
we have to give our new home back to OKA again.
- We are ready for our journey!
The truck is too heavy, but we will have to live with that.
- The truck is clumsy and we have to get used driving a truck.
It will never feel like an ordinary 4WD
like a Land Rover or a Toyota.
- Because the OKA is a military spec vehicle it has no anti
sway bars which results in scary sways. We have to get used
to this first.
There is still a lot to be done and implemented, but most of the things are not important, so we can also do it in November, when we return from our first trip.
Most of the things we built work fine. Specially the solar
system which is able to recharge the batteries even in winter
when the sun's power is lower and when the sky is partially
We expect to get at least get a temporary licence within
the next few weeks and so we should be ready for our first
We will travel for 2 months with our friends Guido
and Judith and cruise from Alice Springs via Gibb River Road
Since a few tracks could be quite demanding (small Simpson Desert Loop, Kimberlys and parts of the Tanami Track) we will most likely get the chance to recover there car as well as our truck at some time.
But this is part of the adventure - or isn't it?