Thermoguard ThermoGuard Instruments
founded in Alice Springs, NT, Australia - Australia's Red Centre
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The Petersen's Land Rover Discovery fording a river on Cape York Peninsular, Queensland, Australia

ThermoGuard Instruments was formed in 2003 by Ian and Annette Petersen. Ian is a qualified electrical engineer with over 25 years' experience in instrumentation and control systems for industry. In 2001, Ian and Annette purchased a 1997 Land Rover Discovery turbo-diesel 4WD (300Tdi engine) which they are currently using for extensive travels across Australia, with a well-loaded caravan. With his usual enthusiasm for technical knowledge, Ian set about extending his knowledge of turbo-diesel engines - what makes them work and how to get the best out of them.

The Petersen's Land Rover Discovery crossing the Simpson Desert, Central Australia

This soon led to confirming the importance of EGT measurement - without doubt, the most critical measurement to ensure the efficient and safe operation of a turbo-diesel engine. Using his industrial experience, Ian designed an EGT gauge, using industrial-quality components, for his own vehicle. Some 8 years and 200,000 km later, this first gauge is still performing trouble-free. Shortly after completing this first gauge, he began producing kits for other 4WD enthusiasts, initially other Land Rover owners.

During 2003, during a 12 month 'working holiday' in Alice Springs, demand for the kits grew to the point where they registered the business name, obtained an ABN and began thinking about the website, which came 'on-line' in 2004.

In 2003, Ian completed a module of study in Diesel Fuel Systems Service and Repair at Centralian College, Alice Springs, Australia, and continues private study which includes Bosch diesel fuel injection systems.

Travel Updates:

2004

2004 saw the Petersens covering quite a few kilometres in the trusty Discovery, many of them with a caravan in tow. We travelled from Alice Springs (NT) to Brisbane (Qld) in December 2003, with caravan, to visit family and friends. 2004 began with four weeks of relief management of a caravan park in SE Qld for friends, then retracing the 3000+ kms back to Alice Springs to complete Ian's technical work contract. A memorable moment of this trip was the day we (and the Disco) survived ambient temperatures of 47.9 ºC (118 ºF) on the Stuart Highway, near Woomera in South Australia.

The off-road highlight of 2004 was a solo trip across the Simpson Desert in Central Australia in May. The Discovery took us from west to east across the hundreds of red sand hills to the famous outback town of Birdsville in SW Qld. Then it was back via the easy run down the Birdsville Track to Maree, the Oodnadatta Track to William Creek and our old friend, the Stuart Highway, to The Alice.

June found us making the trip to Brisbane once more but swinging further south via the Murray River, rather than yet again through Broken Hill, Cobar etc. in western NSW. The reason for again travelling to Brisbane was a five month house-sitting assignment. During this period we retired our well-travelled and overloaded 1991 Regal 16' single-axle pop-top caravan. It has been replaced with a 2002 Jayco 18' tandem-axle pop-top, with a much higher load-carrying capacity. December and another few weeks of caravan park management brought us to the week before Christmas - just enough time for a quick 1600+ km trip with the 'new' caravan in tow, to Innisfail, north Qld, to spend Christmas and the New Year with Ian's family.

The Petersen's Land Rover Discovery and Jayco pop-top caravan

Our sincere thanks to all the new Thermoguard customers we have had the pleasure to serve in 2004. Your support has been very encouraging and has given us the incentive to finally get some of our planned new products on the market early(?) in 2005.

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2005

Again, a lot of kilometres under the tyres of the Discovery and the 'new' (to us) Jayco in 2005 - about 32,000km on the Disco and, say, three quarters of that with the van in tow. But unfortunately, not all of those kms were 'new territory', as we covered the Barky and Stuart Highways between Mount Isa (north-western Queensland) and Katherine (Northern Territory) four times during the second half of the year!

We managed to stretch our stay with Ian's family in Innisfail (FNQ) until into February 2005, when we finally set off on the long and arduous journey to Kurrimine Beach, a whole 40 km to the south. Here we camped just metres from the top of the lovely tropical beach. The next few weeks saw a relaxed journey down the Queensland coast, visiting places we had not stayed before, including Kinka Beach, Town of 1770 and Moore Park (near Bundaberg). Our next port of call was to our now 'spiritual home' in the south-east Queensland. Having looked after a caravan park for friends here several times now, it has become the closest thing we have to a 'home base'.

Mid-April found us on the road again, to the familiar haunt of Mount Isa but via a different route including Cania Gorge, Capella, Ilfracombe and Boulia. The plan was to spend just a few days here before heading to the Northern Territory but, as often happens, the plan changed radically! A visit to some old mates at the mines resulted in five weeks work. Then, "as we were ďn the neighbourhood", so to speak, we left the caravan in Mt. Isa and did a 2200 km, 7 day camping trip through the Gulf Savannah country via Burketown (Qld) and Borroloola (NT). Not long after, another chance discussion led to four weeks work helping out at a busy caravan park in Cloncurry. Here Ian ran into a Thermoguard customer from Tasmania - small world!

Gregory River, Gulf Savannah Country

Another camping trip to the delightful Gregory River (to recover from having to work for a while...) and a bit of playing tourist in Cloncurry and Mt. Isa found us finally leave for the Northern Territory in early August (only three months later than originally planned!). But the long days of travel didn't last long. Two days out of Mt. Isa and we arrived at the Banka Banka Station campground, 100 km north of Tennant Creek on the Stuart Highway. And there's a "Help Wanted" sign on the bar... Thus followed an enjoyable two and a half weeks helping out at this delightful spot. Glorious NT winter weather and chatting to the many happy campers during "Happy Hour" every afternoon more than made up for the work involved. Except perhaps for Ian who had to stand in for the manager and present the nightly slide show all about life on a working Territory cattle station. For "city boy" Ian this was quite a challenge but he managed OK after a bit of practice.

Katherine and Darwin were our next stops, but our time in the Top End was to be cut short. A call from friends at a Mount Isa caravan park, to relieve them at short notice, saw us retracing our path to The Isa for a few weeks. Then it was decision time: we'd intended to visit northern WA this year but it was now getting quite late in the year (read: HOT and possibly wet).

Cable Beach, Broome WA

We chose to go for it, returning to Katherine then heading west through the Victoria River District and the Kimberleys to Broome. Yes it was hot; 45 ºC through Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. But while Broome is a distinctly pet-unfriendly town for travellers, we did enjoy a week or two there incuding a couple of magic evenings with new-found friends on Cable Beach. An 'overnighter' at the magnificent Cape Leveque was a highlight of our flying visit to the North-West. Next followed a fairly quick trek back across the continent to Cloncurry where we relieved the caravan park owners for a couple of weeks.

The significant event of the year for us was the purchase of a new Global Headquarters for Thermoguard Instruments! (Well, a rural block in SE Qld with a farm shed anyway...)

Thanks again to all our new Thermoguard Customers during 2005.

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2006

The Petersen's 'Grey Fergie' Tractor in action

The 2005/06 Christmas/New Year period saw us getting to know our new ‘place’ and some of our new neighbours. Several deep and meaningful discussions with them over the festive season concluded that, being members of the ‘landed gentry’ again (and pastoralists to boot!), we must have a tractor. So, some shopping around resulted in a ‘Grey Fergie’ being found. For the uninitiated, ‘Grey Fergies’ are the little grey tractors developed in England by Harry Ferguson in the 1940s & 50s. They were quite advanced for their time and are fondly remembered by many people from rural backgrounds. Ours is a 1949 TE-D20, which originally ran on either petrol or kerosene. It came with a new slasher and has already been quite useful around the ‘station’. Shame we couldn't find a diesel one - to fit up with a big turbo and install an EGT gauge...

The next few months flew by. We planted several dozen tree seedlings in various parts of the block, mostly native plants. On one day we drilled about 60 holes for trees with a motorised but hand-held boring machine – Ian’s teeth are still rattling, he says! Also we did a few weeks of ‘caravan park sitting’. March to June found us once again doing ‘the hard yards’, house-sitting for friends in Brsbane and several weeks of engineering work for Ian's former employers, including a couple of short stints in Mount Isa! (can we ever escape that place?).

Spirit of Tasmania III leaving Tas for the last time, Sep '06

Not much travelling this year? Just wait – we’re getting to that bit. On 28th August, we (together with Land Rover, caravan and Cloud the wonder cat) boarded the “Spirit of Tasmania III” at Darling Harbour, Sydney for her final voyage to the Apple Isle.

The last months of '06 found us touring Tassie in our usual totally-unstructured fashion. We’ve spent many weeks at various delightful locations on the north and east coasts, as well as an intense 3-week ‘Tour de Tas’ in November with Ian’s relos. They hired a small motor-camper and we toured all the well-known tourist venues plus a good assortment of more out of the way places – and we all had a great time. What can we say about this spectacular place? It’s just such an intense place to visit. So much to see in such a relatively small area. Highlights have included the West Coast Wilderness cog railway (Strahan to Queenstown), the Tahuna Air Walk (up in the tree tops, above the Huon River), the beautiful Spring flowers (including tulips at Wynyard), deserted beach driving at Bridport etc. etc.

Cog steam loco, St Albans beach, Bay of Fires camp

We set up camp at the small town of New Norfolk for the Christmas/New Year period. It’s about 40 km west of Hobart, further up the Derwent River. From all accounts, the coastal towns become massively crowded from Boxing Day onwards, so we opted for this quiet location.

Wynyard Tulips, White Christmas - Mt Wellington, East coast bushfires

For readers in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas time in Australia is in the early summer and is frequently a hot day. Imagine our delight then to wake on Christmas morning and hear on the radio that it was snowing on Mt. Wellington just outside the city of Hobart. We postponed plans for our roast lunch, drove to the top of Mt. Wellington and had a great time throwing snowballs at each other and posing for photos beside a 'snowman' built by some earlier visitors . Tassie had turned on an Australian White Christmas, just for us!

This year the 100th Thermoguard EGT kit was despatched and demand continues to grow steadily. Our sincere thanks to the many customers who have supported us this year.

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2007

Well, we finally took our leave of Tasmania at the beginning of April ’07 after several more months exploring and enjoying this delightful part of Australia. This included some camping and 4WD travel in the rugged western side of the island.

Soon after arriving back in Melbourne and catching up with extended family, we began to make our way back towards south-east Qld, where were we booked for another caravan park management assignment. This included a visit to friends in Albury on the Vic/NSW border where Ian’s 1985 BMW motorcycle has been “on agistment” since we began long-term travels in 2002.

Next stop was the town of Forbes in southern inland NSW, and its excellent clean, grassy and quite shady caravan park situated in a “U” bend of the Lachlan River. The river flows over an old weir behind the caravan sites, creating the peaceful sounds of running water to calm weary travellers. We’d intended only an overnight stop but the pleasant surroundings and a little misbehaviour from our Land Rover (a minor coolant leak) persuaded us to stay over the Easter long weekend.

A week or so later we took up our park-sitting assignment, this time for about 10 weeks while the owners gave themselves long-service leave after ten years of ownership. Next came another spell of house-sitting for our friends in Brisbane.

The latter part of the year we spent in residence at our “Country Estate” (rural block with a large farm shed to house our caravan). The facilities were rather rudimentary but we enjoyed a few months “roughing it” on the property. In this period, as well as keeping very busy with Thermoguard business and property maintenance and improvements (including more tree planting!), we actively pursued employment in the local region but without success. So we ended 2007 enjoying a quiet semi-rural lifestyle but without firm plans for the coming year.

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2008

Early in the New Year of 2008, Ian completed some maintenance on the undercarriage of our caravan (brakes and wheel bearings etc.) so we decided to take it for a short test run. The small town of Woodgate Beach, on the coast of Hervey Bay between Maryborough and Bundaberg in southern Queensland seemed like a likely candidate, as we’d not been there before and we fancied a few days by the seaside.

Woodgate Beach Driving

This proved to be an ideal choice for us, who prefer quiet locations. We found a tidy, well-run caravan park with cool, shady sites right on The Esplanade above a long, clean sandy beach. A feature we particularly appreciated about this place was the distinct lack of the high-rise apartments, resorts and the massive over-development so prevalent in most other SE Qld coastal locations. Long may Woodgate Beach remain like this… The nearby Burrum Coast National Park provided scenic drives through coastal bushland and a beach drive back to the township.

About this time we received a call from caravan-park-owning-friends in Charters Towers, north Qld. They had been left without relief staff at short notice and asked if we could help out. Having no other firm plans, we packed up and hit the highways northward. Three weeks of park management was followed by a couple of weeks with Ian’s family in Innisfail, as we were ‘in the neighbourhood’, so to speak.

Earlier in the year we had agreed to once again house-sit for our Brisbane friends so we returned to SE Qld via few days at the delightful Cania Gorge, near Monto in inland central Qld. This year the house-sitting kept us in Brisbane from May until September and both Annette and Ian returned to temporary employment, both working with employers from previous years.

Another few weeks at our rural block attending to property maintenance and deliberating about where to go next led us to plan a return to Tasmania for the coming summer months, with the idea of perhaps finding employment that would enable us to stay for 12 months or so.

We sailed to the Apple Isle again at the end of November and immediately made return visits to some of our favourite locations for our visit in 2006/07. These included Deloraine, the Bay of Fires and Arthur’s Lake. The search for longer term employment then took us the Derwent Valley in the south of the state where Ian had an interview arranged. Unfortunately the Global Economic Crisis had reared its ugly head prominently in the engineering sector in Tasmania and the prospective job was no longer available.

Bay Of Fires beach camping

Undeterred, we shifted camp to the pleasant seaside location of Snug, south of Hobart. In nearby Kingston, Ian’s friend Justin runs a specialist Land Rover workshop so Ian began casual part-time work here, helping out as a ‘go-for’ and ‘grease monkey’. In quiet times he carried out some much needed long-term maintenance on our Discovery which now had about 270,000 km on the odometer.

Just prior to Christmas we relocated to one of our favourite caravan parks in Tasmania, on the banks of the River Derwent at New Norfolk. Here we saw out the remainder of 2008, including a Christmas Lunch with all the trimmings under our caravan awning on a balmy Australian Christmas Day.

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2009

They say of Tasmania, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it’ll be different”. Well, New Year’s Day 2009 demonstrated this clearly. While by the calendar it was mid-Summer, the warm days around Christmas had disappeared and a cold front was crossing the state.

We drove up to Great Lake in the Central Highlands, past the historic Waddamana hydro-electric power station. [Waddamana PS was commissioned in 1916 and was the first power station operated by the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Department, later called the Hydro-Electric Commission (HEC or “the Hydro” to most Tasmanians)]. It was de-commissioned in the 1960's and is now a museum of great interest to anyone of a technical bent.] We continued on to the Great Lake Hotel for lunch, where we were greeted with a much-appreciated log fire. And just as we ordered lunch, it began to snow outside. Welcome to the New Year, Tasmanian style!

Bird River, West Coast Tas

The next few months included more episodes of casual work/Discovery maintenance with Justin in Kingston, interspersed with short trips to explore more of the parts of Tasmania we’d not seen before. This included a week in the north-west, based on the coast near Stanley and exploring the Arthur River forests. A few weeks later we could be found at Zeehan near the West Coast, spending several days exploring the wild west again. A highlight was a day trip to the edges of the Franklin River gorge via the Mount Macall Track and the magnificent Bird River.

Mt. Macall Track, SW Tas

Our second enjoyable spell in Tasmania came to a close in late April and we returned to SW Qld, again via inland NSW. This time, as well as a return to our favourite park in Forbes, we visited the towns of Junee and Temora. Both are thriving inland towns.

Junee boasts Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory, housed in the historical old Flour Mill building. Temora is host to the Temora Aviation Museum, Australia's largest collection of flying-condition military aircraft. If you have any interest in the War Birds of Australia's past conflicts, put this place on your "must see" list. I hope they don't mind me including the photo of their display photo...

Temora Aviation Museum War Birds

That's about it for now. The rest of 2009 & 2010 coming soon, sometime in 2011.

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Copyright © 2004-2013 Ian Petersen