Whilst we’re firm believers in getting away from your phone when you’re on holiday, there are times when the iPhone or Samsung can come in really handy.
These are apps that we actually have on our own iPhones & iPads, and have found useful when travelling or planning our trips. Where possible, we’ve included both the IOS and Android versions (some apps don’t have an Android version yet).
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We recommend this app a lot. That’s because we find it really useful when travelling to new places, and we think it’s excellent value for money.
You’ll find information about caravan parks, road side rest areas, free and paid campsites (like those in national parks), points of interest and even whether campsites are accessible for caravans or camper trailers.
All of the information is displayed as symbols, so you can tell instantly whether a campsite has power, water, is pet friendly, has toilets and showers and even whether there’s wi-fi available.
The content within Wikicamps is user-generated. This means ordinary people who use the app can enter campsites and other useful info, like pictures of the campsites.
There’s also an active user’s forum, where you can ask questions and share experiences with other people who use the app.
Wikicamps is constantly updated by its makers. They also respond superfast to any issues or critiques you find with the app.
The downside of the app is that some people have added campsites that are illegal, have changed or give incorrect co-ordinates. This happens with many other guides (even Lonely Planet), which is why it pays to have more than one source of information if something doesn’t quite seem right.
Cost: $7.99 in the iTunes store.
2. Australian Road Trips
Published by Lee Atkinson of the Ozzyroadtripper.com.au, Australian website, this app is an extensive overview of 40 popular Australian road trips and destinations all over this wide, brown land.
The app is very easy to use and can be used alphabetically or filtered by categories such as 4WD road trips, camping & caravans, location, day trips and many more.
It features campsite reviews, photos and maps. Information includes national parks and other attractions, hikes, pet friendly campsites and places to eat.
The information is available offline for those places like the much of the outback where there’s no mobile coverage.
3. Willy Weather
I was introduced to Willy Weather by well-known outback photographer, Julie Fletcher, as an alternative to some of the other well-known Australian weather apps.
Julie uses its moon phase and sunrise/sunset calendars to plan her photography field trips.
As soon as I saw the beautiful, intuitive layout I was converted.
What’s great about Willy Weather is the usability and layout of the information.
The clear icons tell you exactly where the information on temperatures and forecasts, UV, sunrise, moon, wind, tides, swell and even rain radars.
I’m using the free version which comes with ads across the top, but they’re unobtrusive, which is why I haven’t upgraded to the paid version.
The paid version is $2.99 (this only removes the ads – you don’t get any extra functions, so I haven’t bothered paying).
Don’t know a triangle bandage from a gauze pad? Can’t remember whether you should bandage or splint a suspected fracture?
Then THIS app is for you.
The Australian Red Cross’s First Aid app will supplement your first aid kit, and tell you what to do if someone is injured or bitten by some bitey creature out in the bush.
It’s very easy to use, and comes with step-by-step instructions for all common first aid situations. There’s information on resuscitation and CPR, treating breaks, bites, and stings, burns, allergies, blisters and more.
As it’s FREE, there’s really no excuse for not having it on your smart phone.
5. Australia Bushwalking
Many of you probably know from our Facebook page that we are keen bushwalkers. If you’re a non-Australian reader and have NO idea what we’re talking about, bushwalking is the Australian word for hiking (tramping, rambling).
This app combines its creator’s passion for hiking with her eye for detail and keen interest in Australia’s natural history. In other words, it’s more than just a guide to finding which hikes are nearby your campsite.
The guide’s track notes are highly variable. For example the short walk to Mushroom Rock within the Rainbow Valley Conservation area is far more detailed than that of the Larapinta Trail – which is 223km long and the app’s creator says she’s done twice.
The walks around more populated places, such as NSW’s Blue Mountains, appear to have the most detailed track notes.
The app features links out to many supplementary sources of information, photos, and an interactive way to leave your own notes on the walks you’ve done.
6. Michael Morcombe & David Stewart’s Australian Birds eGuide
If you’re a birder or someone with an interest in natural history, fauna and flora, you MUST get this app (Yes, we know. If you’re a birder, you’ve already got this app).
No more carting field guides around if you’re out on a short walk or just wondering what that bird is that calling in the trees above your camp.
The app has pictures, notes on the appearance, habits and where the birds are found, along with maps showing the living range and BEST OF ALL: playable bird calls.
The app is allows you to search by the physical features of the bird -which is great if you don’t know a Chiming Wedgebill from a House Sparrow. You can also search by name (I think it’s some kind of Honeyeater) and by taxonomy if you’re a real bird nerd.
The app also allows you to save your sightings to a list, with the date, location and room for notes.
There is a free ‘lite’ version of the app, but it only lists a handful of the 790 species that the full version has.
This is the most expensive app I’ve ever purchased, it was worth EVERY cent. (We were able to see Chirruping Wedgebills near Hergott Springs and brought them close up using the recorded bird calls within the app. Oh YEAH!).
We use it all the time when we’re travelling and camping. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
Get the Android version here.
With GoSkyWatch, you’ll be able to point your phone at the sky and instantly identify what you’re looking at.
It’s really easy to use – you simply calibrate your phone by ‘rolling’ it, then the star chart appears, and you can rotate it around the horizon.
You’re then able to locate the constellations, planets or other astronomical features, and click to learn more about them.
Be warned – it’s addictive fun and may lead to the purchase of a telescope!
Like Morcombe’s Birdwatching app, this is another app that will save you space in the your backpack.
Although it doesn’t feature every single plant in Australia, it does feature 600 of the most common flowering plants you’ll encounter.
It’s easy to use, as you can search for a flower by colour, shape, common name and scientific name. Each flower features a full colour photograph and detailed field notes.
Whilst keen field naturalists will be disappointed – it doesn’t really replace a regional field guide to plants- most campers and bushwalkers should find the app satisfies their needs.
9. MotionX GPS
Well, MotionX GPS is the kind of app that rolls a standard handheld GPS, smartphone navigation apps and tracking apps ‘Map My Run’ into one place. You can even upload your own maps, waypoints and tracks – just like a real GPS.
You can track and mark waypoints with the app – just like a GPS.
The makers of MotionX GPS have free downloadable maps which cover the entire world. Their website has a quick start guide and a detailed set of tutorials to help get you going.
*Some specialist maps which you wish to download and use with this app may have an additional cost.
If you have NO IDEA what Geocaching is all about, then start by reading our beginner’s guide to this addictive high tech treasure hunting game that kids and adults love. It’s ideal for kids on long road trips.
It’s a real life game where you use your smartphone to find hidden ’treasures’ -usually small Clip Lock or Tupperware containers- packed with souvenirs, swaps and toys, and of course, a log book.
You sign the log book, then register that you’ve found the cache using the app. Then you’re off to your next one! There are over 2 million geocaches hidden all over the world, so finding a few won’t be too hard.
There’s a free ‘intro’ version of the app, but you can only find 4 geocaches before you’ll need to buy the $9.95 FULL version of the app.
My advice is to SKIP the free/intro version of the app and just download the full version – this game is fun and addictive!
It’s super-simple to use, and we’ve found it very handy on a number of occasions when a torch just hasn’t been within our reach,
You can change the colour of the screen and you can set it as a strobe light to drive you mad.
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