Author Archives: Jen


Welcome to Justin and Jenn’s overland travel journal!

Shipping our vehicle to Vladivostok and heading west to the United Kingdom for a pint with friends…. and hopefully from the UK to Cape Town and back to Australia….

If your out there we’d love to meet up on the road!

If your at home, come with us through the web!



Thanks to the great relationship developed with NARVA, the first items arrived for installation on our vehicle before shipping in March. It has meant a few unexpected modifications to our camper body which hitherto was considered complete but a bit of bling never goes astray!

Soon it will be equipped with a NARVA 40″ LED Light bar. This is in addition to the vehicle already having mounted 2 x NARVA Extreme HID spotlights to the winch bar. With all this lighting, visibility shouldn’t be an issue! Many thanks to the team at NARVA for their continued support.

Vehicle almost ready

Last of the servicing underway, a quick shakedown run in the next couple of weeks just to check everything is performing as it should prior to loading into the container!

A big thanks to Rob Robson from Robson brothers 4×4 service and repair, makes preparing your 4×4 a lot easier with specialists like those guys at your disposal.

NARVA LED combination tail lights fitted, superior visibility with these on board!


NARVA EXTREME HID driving lights, night into day!






Finite time remaining

Dimitri from gotorussia has proved a wealth of information, our letters of invitation are in the process of being prepared. We are looking forward to receiving them in the next few weeks, organising our visa’s is very exciting.


The planning, reading and organising is suddenly coming together. It’s nice to be on the home stretch, but as with anything in life based around a fixed date, all of a sudden there is a finite amount of time remaining and the tasks requiring fulfilment don’t seem to be reducing at the same rate as the days!


But would you have it any other way, I think not….

Robson Brothers 4wd Service and Repair

Last time on the hoist, A massive thanks to Rob for the unfettered access to his state of the art facilities. Makes the job of preparing the vehicle a breeze.


Although we always keep our vehicle servicing well ahead of what is required, for a trip of this duration we are bringing forward any conceivable mechanical servicing that we can think of. Long duration off road trips always take a heavy toll on vehicles.


The better the level of preparedness hopefully  the less chance of a mechanical.

Well that’s the plan anyway….


Light glorious Light..

Finished installing the NARVA  extreme driving lights last week, this week saw the 40″ light bar installed in the nose cone of the camper. A bit of aluminium work to get it in the right position but the result was definitely worth the modifications. If you haven’t seen one of these lights in action then I guarantee, when you do you’ll be blown away.

They really are unbelievable!

just a quick pic below to give an idea of how crisp and white the light bar is, in combination with the driving lights it’s a fantastic package..

pic’s below +50 headlight’s, Hid extreme driving lights and the light bar!



now that’s bright!!!!


A Step Closer

Quick update..

Confirmation from Maersk Shipping today, the ship departs the 25th of March and we will be loading the Patrol a week prior!

22 days in transit to Vladivostok, much faster that we were expecting, it’s all very exciting.



The Patrol will be departing Fremantle aboard the cargo ship Dubrovnik..


The Earth Speeds Up

The Earth must have sped up?      There is no other plausible explanation! It’s the only way that time could be flying by at the dizzying rate it seems to be…

It feels like all our waking hours are spent getting the multitude of chores completed prior to departure.  On the flip side the pressure comes off in some ways once the clock on the right reads “00:00.00” Guess if it’s not done by then, it won’t be!! 

Realistically, a trip like this was never going to be a simple exercise was it?  A last minute need to change shipping companies had the undesireable effect of raising my stress levels.  I expect that won’t be the only deviation in planning and hence not the last time I’ll have to make a decision on the hop! Better get used to it!!

Hamburg Sud now have the task of delivering the Patrol, hopefully it arrives on time!

If you are shipping into or out of Fremantle we would recommend Strang

If you are shipping into or out of Fremantle we would recommend Strang

I must thank Brett Rayner From Strang International whom we chose to act as our forwarding agent here in Fremantle. The whole process has been pretty smooth with Brett and his staff, they have gone above and beyond in answering our myriad of questions! Highly recommend them! Thanks Brett.

We now have our Kazakhstan visa’s nicely inserted into our passports after a process we found best resembled a maze with cheese in the middle and we were the rats.  Jen will update the visa page shortly with all the details!  Russian visa’s are currently being processed in Sydney and should arrive back late next week.

I hope so as the Patrol will be well into it’s journey by then!

We have been intently watching the Russian/Ukraine situation and informed ourselves as best we can of what it may mean for our travels. We do have a plan B, but it represents a very expensive revision so hopefully plan A remains!

One of the last jobs needing to be ticked off was finishing the packing, It was a little tricky as we are starting in Hot weather en-route to Vladivostok before descending into very cold conditions, we are limited on space and so began the task of what goes and what stays. I have a few clothes whilst Jen has – shall we say a few more!!!! oh, and she won’t run short of shoes either..


Who doesn’t love Twisties!

Obviously we will stock up in Vladivostok but hey, it seems a shame to leave the draws empty!


Yep there is Vegemite in there somewhere – expecting some quizzical looks when they get a taste of that little Australian Gem!!


All packed up with somewhere to be!








18th March 


Step support removed to clear the door!

I always knew it would be a tight fit – I considered grabbing the grease gun from the tool box and giving the Patrol a nice coat so it would slide in a little easier!!! Tyres down to 10 PSI and we just cleared the door, phew!  After re-inflating the tyres, chocks, ratchet straps and ropes in place, it was time to close the door!  With 20mm at the front and 50mm at the rear I guess if it does move it won’t move much! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA








Any comment that I make probably won’t do justice to the degree of excitement felt when you finally load your vehicle into a container and send it over the horizon.  A little apprehension mixed with a twinge of “what have I done”, and relief that one of the major logistical parts of the journey is now underway!


Ready to close the doors!

It’s been an immense effort preparing for our adventure.  Leaving your home and your country for an extended period requires so much planning – well it has for us anyway so it’s really nice to see the Patrol packed and posted!!

I’m sure the rewards of having our own slice of home waiting for us half way around the world will make the work involved in getting the pieces in place fade away the moment we hit the road!

Thanks to everyone for the messages and we will get another post up as soon as we can!



False Reality

In Limbo! I know I’ve been here before, I’m definitely there now!

It was a ridiculous race to the finish, trying to get all the little tasks completed. But finally with house rented and finding ourselves homeless it was into the car and off to my parents for our final night in Aus!
Not quite so simple however, just when you think “wow” we’ve made it through the list, our remaining car decided it would like a new set of brake pads. I guess it was seeking some attention with the prospect of being left behind, Ahh well I guess my parents will have to carry the ball on that one.

A massive thanks due to all those whom without their help we would have struggled to make it through our list of jobs! You know who you are…..

A couple of hours sleep and on the jet, 7 hours later and I’m drinking ice cold beer in a palatial condo in Kuala Lumpur! It pays to make the right friends….

From frantically sorting out the house and tying off everything connected with our lives to now being in a state of “I don’t have to do anything” has been a little like dreaming with your eyes open- well it was for a day or so anyway. Alas, an email slap in the face quickly reminded me that reality is still out there!

It would seem that a road block has appeared somewhere along the internet between Fremantle and Russia – our Russian shipping agent has yet to receive any of the previously sent instant correspondence from our Fremantle Agent. Ahh well that’s another story! Fortunately however all expat palatial condos have scanners and really fast broadband so copies made and emails sent, crisis averted – I think!

Taxis and hotels booked, it’s back in training for vodka consumption in the form of practising with a little more icy beer! “zazdarovje!”

Well Isaac Newton is in the drivers seat for the moment, guess we will see how reliable he is in a few days..

Back on the jet on Monday, overnight in Korea and then on to the main course – Russia!

I shall leave it at that for now, stay tuned as we travel north and watch the thermometer travel south from 30 + degrees C to below 0!!

Bye for the moment Justin..

Hotel Henderson Staff and Guests!
Hotel Henderson Staff and Guests!

Oh! Those Russians

Apologies to everyone, it’s been a long time between post’s and much has happened, I won’t bore you with the details but instead try and dazzle you with the highlights!!

A quick overnight stop in Incheon South Korea en route to Russia proved really enjoyable. A relaxing stroll through quiet suburbs followed by a traditional Korean BBQ restaurant. Always nice when you’re the only one in a restaurant who seems to suffer from a speech disorder – making sounds that nobody understands. But after much finger pointing, laughing and some hand signals we left well fed and happy!

Korean BBQ Restaurant
Korean BBQ Restaurant

Aeroflot to Vladivostok and waiting for us at the airport was our internet compadre Vladimir! We had been in contact some months ago via the Expedition Portal website. Vladimir and his wife Nina have previously met other international travellers, I think they may become a Vladivostok institution! If you have the chance to avail yourself of their hospitality when travelling overland, then make it quick as shortly they are off in their Nissan Safari across the Stans to Europe, the USA and South America.

Nissan Safari
Nissan Safari

Our first lesson from Vladimir was purchasing fuel, hmmm it’s going to be tricky but we will work it out. Finally to our Hotel for a well needed freshen up. An elderly naked woman moving about in the apartment opposite from our hotel room proved an interesting introduction!

A little shopping and our first Russian Restaurant. Jen was saved by a savvy chef who recognised that chicken liver as ordered by Jen was probably not what she was expecting and that she maybe choose another picture from the menu……

Day 2 in Russia was met with some disappointment, our Russian shipping agent Yuri from Links Ltd, advised us that it would seem our Patrol had decided to spend some time sight-seeing Korea on it’s own! I had a suspicion that something was amiss as we had been tracking the container on the net! Vladimir, Yuri and some of Vladimir’s friends lifted our spirits with a lovely evening at a local restaurant including many pints of amber ale and an attempt at a vodka lime & soda.

On this point I must elaborate! In a country built on vodka we didn’t realise it is only ever consumed straight! As Jen is a fan of her mixed spirit beverages, she thought she would persevere in ordering this apparently alien concoction. Now with 4 Russian speaking translators for us at the table we thought we had it right, however as the return visits to our table from our waitress increased in regularity and discussions in Russian became faster and louder we were not so convinced. Example – what ratio vodka to soda, answer 20% to 80%.

Vodka Lime & Soda?
Vodka Lime & Soda?

I had to feel for the waitress when finally a shooter glass of vodka arrived with a separate glass 1/3 full with bi-carb soda! Much laughter erupted from our table when Jen explained that soda water is similar to tonic water. Sprite was subsequently delivered (close enough), an apologetic thank you to our waitress and Russian – Australian relations returned to equilibrium!

At this point after leaving the hotel, Vladimir and his wife Nina have chosen to look after us like family, and I mean family! We are staying with them in their apartment in Vladivostok and have been overwhelmed with Russian hospitality and generosity not only by them but by their friends also.


Prior to leaving Australia Vladimir had mentioned to me that his 4×4 club “Off Road Club Ussuriysk” were organising an event on the Saturday, no need to be asked twice. Friday it was into the Safari and 100km north to the event location, apparently we were to assist in setting up the event. However the ever hospitable Russians had other plans! The competition is to be held on private land owned by Sergey whom is also in the process of developing an archaeological site into a tourist attraction. Known as Emerald Valley – In a lovely gesture we were asked to plant some Birch trees in the Park as a symbol of our visit to Russia, a fantastic idea and now 8 birch trees commemorate our trip and will soon have a plaque with our names!

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To the competition location and yep it had to happen sometime, out comes the vodka and into the glasses it went continuously! Even a bottle of Champagne for Jen. And so it begins…

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Initially we were to be camping but Sergey would not hear of it so it was off to his large home in Ussuriysk, a 2 storey home full of rooms and the now unmistakable Russian generosity! Of course the 2 litres of vodka that disappeared over the next few hours is another story. My only comment on this is that Jen will have to write that post as I can’t remember anything!!

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New Friends!
New Friends!

Up early and off to the competition,5 clubs and over 30 vehicles of all sorts and sizes with a myriad of modifications!





Suzuki Jimny’s are a favourite here and when fitted with 40 inch tyres and Prado axles and maybe a few vodka’s they are fantastic to watch!

Zooks Rule!
Zooks Rule!
Glorious Mud!
Glorious Mud!







The stages progressed over the day and I had to make a concerted effort to avoid more vodka consumption! Jen seemed more than happy to enjoy a small shooter and slide onto the back of a quad bike driven by a six year old cart racing champion – we do have travel insurance!

Drink Driving?
Drink Driving?
The Stig!
The Stig!





After a long and enjoyable day I was informed that it would be lovely if I was to say few words at the presentations, wasn’t expecting that but with a dose of Malatsi (strength) I took the microphone and did my little bit for international relations! I think it was received well although as I write this there is a Mig fighter jet flying around overhead hmmmm!

International Relations!
International Relations!

Back to Vladivostok and a lovely meal prepared for us all by Nina! Smoked Smelt fish, Smoked Salmon, Fried Navaga fish, potatoes and salad with beer!!

Easter Sunday here is celebrated with a nice concentration of tradition! a breakfast of salami, cucumber, toast, cheese and boiled eggs was waiting for us. You hit the boiled eggs together before shelling them and place a dollop of caviar on top before eating! Takes a little getting used too!

We have enjoyed all of the meals here in Russia so far, there are the expected differences. We are not so used to the style of smoked fish or the roe! You can always find something that works..

The Russian people have been overwhelmingly inviting and generous, the longer we are in the city the more I have been able to pick the nuances. When you pass by in the street there is rarely a twitch of expression and watching Russians talking to each other you would not be out of order in thinking they were arguing quite fiercely! But this is generally just our perception, it is just the way they interact! They warm up so quickly once you are past the first awkwardness and then light up with smiles and handshakes.

Easter Sunday evening was capped off with a visit to friends of Vladimir and Nina’s in Vladivostok central, a lovely apartment overlooking the harbour.
Treated as long lost family will set the scene! Igor, Galeena and their daughters Leeyanah, Jenya, an Alyssa were to provide another injection of Russian Hospitality. A wonderful meal and home backed Easter Cake, washed down with Birch tree water harvested by Igor himself and of course vodka and liqueur. No need to have a dry night! The evening was capped off when Igor realised we had not yet been over the 2 bridges that catch your eye from almost anywhere in Vladivostok, so in to the car and off to Russky Island. 6 degrees C and 70kms per hour and there is Jen with her head out of the sunroof taking photo’s – only in Russia!

Vladivostok By Night
Vladivostok By Night

This morning has provided the news we have been waiting for, our Patrol has arrived and will hopefully be released on Wednesday! We are very much missing it and the clothes and sundries within it – we are really stretching our wardrobe at this point!

Hopefully we are on the road for the next update!

For now….