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trailer

17 | $12.95 LE NOVEMBER 16 20 ISSUE 120 | ON SA

australia

e h T to

Part One

Treading Lightly

T~he cape york adventure beg

How to protect the places you love

ins! ~

Trip Prep

,!3BD0A6-a hjfb!:L;L

gearing up to survive the toughest destination in Oz

Reef, Rainforest

and Red Hot Rigs!

plus

Cub Campers Frontier Torture Tested on the Cape


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RANGER

OFF ROAD

Market leading, tough as nails off-road trailer, hot dipped galvanised with a continuous chassis.

Packed with standard inclusions. Tried and proven over some of the hardest tracks in Australia.

RANGER Based on the legendary Ranger, the XL offers even more features.

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ULTIMATE Our ultimate, top of the range trailer. Has all that you need and more. Take your camping trip to a whole new level of luxury.

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CAMPER CREW

E R I F P M A C TH E

EDITORIAL

Editor Aaron Flanagan Field Editor Emma Ryan Field Editor Michael Borg Senior Designer Nicholas Ramsamy Designer Janina Roque Content Operations Danielle Beadman Columnists David Cook, Ron and Viv Moon, Kath Heiman. Contributors John Willis, Dan Everett, Nat Cavallaro, David Cook, Ali Millar, Catherine Lawson. Editorial and News 125 Hawthorn Rd, Caulfield North, Vic, 3161 Australia submissions@adventuresgroup.com.au

PHOTOGRAPHY

Contributors Matt Fehlberg, David Bristow, Jack Murphy, Dan Everett

DIGITAL

THE CAPE YORK PENINSULA,

undoubtedly one of the world 's greatest frontier territories. Cape York is famous in the best sort of way — free of hype and spin, its legend is instead built on fable and passed-down storytelling.

Editor

Aaron Flanagan

C

ooktown is a small, sleepy little town, except it’s not really. Spend a bit of time there with your ears pricked and your nostrils flared and you’ll detect a wild scent; a hint of excitement and mystery among a typical outback rural atmosphere. Cooktown is a gateway town. Like Tombstone, Arizona was in fables about the Old West, except it’s here in Australia and its 2017. Beyond Cooktown to the north for about 1000 kilometres there’s wilderness all the way to the Torres Straits and beyond that, the wilds of New Guinea. To the east, in the coastal sea just before the continental shelf drops off to the deep sea floor, four to five kilometres below, splays the Great Barrier Reef. In magical pockets, remnants of ancient rainforest grow onto completely remote and unoccupied beaches. To the west, over the hinterland ranges, lie tracts of open country leading to the Gulf of Carpentaria. East and west — coral sea rainforest 8

country and open gulf country — converge, forming a giant pyramid-shaped land mass with a north pointing apex. Would you call Cape York a paradise? It’s got none of the trappings usually associated with a concept of paradise trotted out in marketing campaigns. There’s no thousand thread-count cotton sheets; there’s no laid-out morning fruit platter or pristine horizon pool with carefully landscaped surroundings. There’s certainly no WiFi. And then there’s the strong likelihood you’ll be savaged by mosquitoes and sandflies; a small nick or cut becoming septic if not urgently treated. During the wet season, it pours relentlessly for weeks and months despite being close to 30 celsius and close to maximum humidity at night. It’s perhaps for exactly these reasons it’s loved. It’s an ancient place, unaffected by human enterprise. It’s not a place for pampering or cocktails by the pool. It’s place you go to peek underneath the veneer of these genteel comforts and gaze full-faced at a savage truth. Camper recently sent a team in search of this savage truth. Where better, we thought, than Cape York to test the mettle of both gear and outdoorsmanship? Ably lead by Dan Everett, our intrepid troupe, including lead lensman and Outdoor editor, Jack Murphy, new Camper deputy editor, Natalie Caravallo, Caravan World and Trade-a-boat editor, Tim van Duyl, were able to experience the Cape. In this issue and the next, we'll recount their adventures. Did things get savage? Well, you’ll have to read on to find out. Enjoy!

Product Owner Will Dolman will@adventuresgroup.com.au Digital Content Manager Leah Glynn leah@adventuresgroup.com.au Digital Content Manager Katrina Minchenko katrina@adventuresgroup.com.au

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EXECUTIVE GROUP

Chief Executive Officer Robert Gallagher rob@adventuresgroup.com.au Chief Financial Officer Matthew O’Meara matt@adventuresgroup.com.au Content Director Travis Godfredson travis@adventuresgroup.com.au

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ADVERTISING TERMS & CONDITIONS www.adventuresgroup.com.au Camper Trailer Australia is printed in Australia. We are proudly Australian-owned and members of a number of industry bodies which are working to grow the camping and RV market in Australia

Camper Trailer Australia is published by Adventures Group Holdings. ACN: 155 672 192 ABN: 29 155 672 192 All material in Camper Trailer Australia is protected by the Commonwealth Copyright Act, 1968. No material may be reproduced without written consent. Distributed by Gordon & Gotch. Printed by Bluestar Web, 83 Derby Street, Silverwater, NSW 2128. ISSN 2205-0515

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S T N E CONT REGULARS

8 EDITORIAL

cape york: Australia's great frontier

142 EVENTS

Latest happenings

14 NUTS AND BOLTS 12V masterclass

106 TOW TEST

toyota landcruiser 200 altitude

136 BENEATH THE SURFACE

56

hinterland wonderlands

139 SHE'LL BE RIGHT She shoots, she scores

140 NO FIXED ADDRESS down memory lane

141 CAMP COOKING anyone for wild boar?

22

10

124


36

REVIEWS

72

36 CUB CAMPERS frontier

62 TERRA TREK tt-e

82 MARS CAMPERS ROVER REAR FOLD HARD FLOOR

90 JAWA CAMPERS trax 12

A D V E NT U R E S 22 RACE TO THE CAPE: PART 1 our ultimate cape york adventure begins

56 HIKING MT SORROW

FEATURES

the cape's most gruelling trek

46 CAPE YORK TRIP PREP

72 CHASING BOODJAMULLA top end destination with a difference

98 TREAD LIGHTLY

124 ALL ROADS LEAD NORTH

114 DENI UTE MUSTER

borgy makes a mate on his mission up the guts

READYING YOUR RIG AND YOURSELF FOR THE SCRUB minimising your impact while camping fun for the whole family

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T O H S R E P M CA

Heaven on Earth The Camper team braves the wilds of cape york to find the most peaceful spots in oz Photographer Jack murphy Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark III F4, 1/3200 SECOND ISO 640

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Waterproof electrical plugs might cost a little extra, but they 're worth their weight in gold

pics by MATT FEHLBERG

Borgy belts out his top tips and expert advice for bush-proofing your next electrical DIY project

Words by MICHAEL BORG

TOUGHER TWELVE VO L T G eez I’ve been hard on the equipment over the years. I mean seriously, I reckon I could single-handedly keep the entire mechanical industry out of recession with the amount of dosh I’ve spent on vehicle repairs and offroad upgrades. The good thing is I’ve learned a few valuable lessons about what works and what doesn’t, especially when it comes to those nifty upgrades you tend to do yourself. So what have I learned? Well, obviously high quality equipment and workmanship is always going to be at the top of the priority list, but equally as important; every upgrade you make needs to be 100 per cent bush-proof! I’ve had equipment installed by so-called experts, break on its maiden voyage simply because your average tradie wouldn’t have a clue about how tough offroad touring can be. It just goes to show — sometimes even the simplest bush-proofing technique can literally save you thousands of dollars in the long run. With that in mind, here are a few pointers to help toughen up some of the most common electrical DIY projects you’re likely to have a crack at.

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nd a s t u N

BOLTS

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The positive battery terminal should have as much clearance as possible from the inner guard in case of an accident

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AUXILIARY BATTERY SET-UP

RADIO HEAD UNIT

This could quite possibly be the most popular camping or touring modification on the planet! Funnily enough it’s also one of the most common things to fail out on the tracks. It’s not so much the wiring that causes all the dramas; it’s more the weight of the auxiliary battery being grossly underestimated. Yep, your typical 100AH AGM can weigh up to around 30-40kg, so you really need to make sure it’s mounted in a nice and secure location. For example, if your vehicle's inner mud guards are looking a little second-hand around the mounting bolts (visible corrosion and cracks), adding even more weight to the mix and then ploughing over thousands of corrugations is just asking for trouble. It’s even more a concern if there are two batteries (double the weight) to be mounted on the one side, yet for some reason it gets overlooked. In saying that, most good quality battery trays are extremely sturdy, and are designed to spread the weight cross a number of mounting points. Another important pointer is to ensure the negative pole/terminal on the battery is always positioned closest to the inner guard on your car or the wall of your camper, not the positive pole. Why? Well, lets put it this way – you don’t want a bent body panel earthing out on the battery if you lean your 4WD against a rock, or worse, have an accident. Also, it might sound super simple but make sure it’s secured properly. In other words, a few self-tapping screws to hold the battery mounts in place aren’t going to cut the mustard if you roll your rig over. Use good strong bolts with nice thick washers and a bit of common sense. And while you’re at it, throw a layer of rubber under the battery too; it’ll help dampen all those harsh corrugations which take a nasty toll on your batteries overall lifespan.

I’ve had several radio head units collapse in a heap and literally fall off the mounting brackets after a day of tough touring. To help beef things up a bit, apply a thread locker solution to thread on the mounting screws or fasteners so they don’t loosen up with the vibrations. When it comes to the wiring, it’s pretty simple really - don’t be dodgy! Use a good quality adaptor plug to ensure the electrical connections are up to the task, and make sure the wiring isn’t going to rub against anything when it’s tucked away either. If the wiring is a bit clumped and messy, an idea is to wrap it up loosely in a bit of old tyre tube rubber, which can stop it from chaffing straight through the insulation. If you like a few mellow tunes around the camp, chances are you’ve flattened your car battery in the process at least once right? A little trick is to wire the radio (constant power and signal power) directly to your auxiliary battery via an on/off switch. It’s super simple, and means you won’t have to break out the jumper leads every second morning either.

Corrugations are notorious for rattling radio head units to pieces

Always ensure you apply heat shrink to any exposed wire


Water will find any weak links in your 4WD pretty quickly

Nut s and

BOLTS

12V FRIDGE INSTALLATION 12V fridges are usually pretty reliable things these days, so if one stops working there’s a good chance it’s due to a wiring issue rather than an internal component of the fridge itself. So if you want as much reliability as possible, pay particular attention to how and where the electrical cable is run, especially if the fridge is on a moving slide; the last thing you want is to pinch and damage a wire! Also, mount the main 12V auxiliary plug upside down, so water or dirt can’t get trapped inside. When it comes to mounting your fridge, one thing’s for sure – they can be heavy buggers, especially if you’re running an 80-90L model loaded to the hilt with beer! The weakest link is usually the poor old fridge slide, which tends to collapse quicker than your average camp chair under those sorts of conditions. I’ve seen some designs that use nothing more than a few cheap pop-rivets to secure it in place, so they literally take the brunt of load. It’s a bit like using match sticks to build a chair... for a bloody hippo! Also, fridges need to breathe. In other words you’ll want to leave plenty of ventilation room around the air vents. The cooler the air is around the fridge the more efficiently it will run, so don’t be afraid to insulate the fridge compartment either. One auxiliary battery can weigh between 30-40kg. so keep a good eye on the condition of the mounting system

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GOING SOLAR SOLAR REGULATOR: There are a few things to keep in mind when mounting your solar regulator. The first is to mount it as close to your battery as possible. The aim is to reduce the amount of voltage drop in the cable between the battery and the regulator, which can cause problems with the communication between the two. The second is to mount it properly. Sounds simple, right? Well most people simply drill a few self tappers into a bit of plywood or chip board and call it a job well done. Sure it seems sturdy enough at first, but after a few days of corrugations I’d bet my last buck it’ll rip right off the wall. Oh, and make sure there is plenty of ventilation around the cooling fins – it can get a little warm at times! MOUNTING SOLAR PANELS: It’s important to remember that solar panels are always live, meaning there’s no “off” switch. So even if the panel isn’t hooked up to a battery, don’t go

Make sure your external lights have an IP67 rating to ensure the best possible seals against water and dust

tidy wiring that lasts We’ve all seen the dodgy backyard

electrical jobs that tend to resemble a bird nest. They’re usually the same ones that wind up on the 6 o’clock news after catching fire! But alas, there are a few handy little tricks of the trade that can really help keep everything neat, tidy and reliable. Read on... CABLE GLANDS – These little beauties are absolutely perfect for running those thicker electrical cables through walls and panels safely. They actually help seal the hole, and keep the cable from rubbing against sharp edges too. FUSE BLOCKS – If you plan on adding a fair few electrical gizmos and gadgets to your set-up, you just can’t go past a good quality fuse distribution block. The idea is to mount a fuse block close to all the added accessories so you don’t have to run the wiring all the way back to your main battery at the front. How’s that for neat and tidy? Plus, you won’t have those pesky in-line fuses scattered all over the place. CORROSION CONTROL – The best way to avoid corrosion is to seal any connections or exposed wire. That way dirt and muck can’t get near the vulnerable copper wire bits. So, when you’re installing crimp terminals or making electrical connections, cut the cable/insulation so there’s bugger all copper exposed when you’re done. Then use heat shrink to seal the deal before wrapping the whole cable in plastic conduit. Oh and use cable ties, not electrical tape to secure the conduit in place – tape won’t last long with mud and water in the mix!

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Don't forget to mount your electrical cables securely

Nut s and

BOLTS

Always ensure you use adequate sized electrical cable with the appropriate amperage rating for the job at hand

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Nut s and

The electrics of our 4WDs are subject to all kinds of harsh conditions

BOLTS

sticking screw drivers in the electrical plug, eh? Always try and mount your solid frame solar panels so there’s a gap underneath for ventilation. The proper solar panel mounts aren’t cheap, but are usually designed to allow optimum air flow. The problem for us 4WDers is that the gap is perfect for snagging low hanging vines and branches. So thinking of a way to add a bit of extra protection can’t be a half bad idea either.

HAPPY TINKERING In the realm of 4WD adventures and offroad touring, the key to a successful DIY installation is to really think about the conditions each component will be subjected too. Then it’s a matter of ensuring they’re well and truly up to the task. Harsh corrugations and vibrations, mud, water and rust will find any weak links quicker than a rabbit could inhale a carrot, but you’d be surprised at how well things can hold up with a little extra protection. So if you’ve got a spare weekend, cast your eye over your setup's electrical gear and double check it’s up to the challenge. Happy tinkering! CTA

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T CHAEUSCTKRALOIAU'S

ISSUE 120

G N I N E P P A H S ’ WHAT ? E N I L N O R E P ON C A M

H BEST BEAGC IN P CAM

CaRmaceper real people on

ISSUE 120 | ON SALE

Cape

australia

Camper

toThe

Part One

The cape york adventure beg

How to protect the places you love

ins!

Trip Prep

1. Camper at the Deni ute muster 2. Top NSW coastal campsites 3. All roads lead north — Melbourne to Kakadu through the centre — continues... 4. Race to the Cape unfolds

gearing up to survive the toughest destination in Oz

,!3BD0A6-a hjfb!:L;L

B ALSO ON THE WE

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Treading Lightly

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Cub Campers Frontier Torture Tested on the Cape

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It's a Long Way

to the

Top Images by JACK MURPHY AND DAN EVERETT

Five cars, two campers, an offroad caravan, 12 adults, two kids and one stray dog all fangin' it to 'the Tip' of Cape York. What could possibly go wrong?

T

he mission was simple: assemble a crew including 4WDs, campers and a caravan, and burn rubber on the way up north to the Australian camping Mecca of Cape York. Over a pint or three it was christened Race to the Cape, and the plan soon evolved into a journey of epic proportions – which is bound to happen with any idea born in a pub. The itinerary quickly became jam-packed, and the next step was to form a cracking team who would be willing to belt up the Bloomfield, rev

22

through river fords and, more importantly, drink mid-strength beer for an extended period of time with minimal complaint. It was an offer hard to refuse (aside from the beer), and it didn't take long to get the right people on board. We gathered them from all over the country – Melbourne, Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and the Sunshine Coast – and met at our starting point of Cairns. We stocked up on essentials (beer, snacks, and enough toilet paper to equip the MGM Grand), and enjoyed

our last night in air-conditioned comfort. We set off, headed for our first stop, Cape Tribulation. Morale was high and the countdown to the first croc and cassowary sighting had started. The next two weeks stretched out ahead of us, on a red and dusty track. Exactly what we'd encounter on our trip to 'The Tip' was unknown. One thing was for certain though – adventure was on the cards.


Rac etoThe

Cape

Part 1

They made it! Parked on the beach at Australia's northernmost point

Consulting the trusty Hema map

OUR TEAM PT 1 TEAM EVERETT Troop Leader Dan, veteran contributor to Camper, avid offroader and our mechanical genius/fixer

JACK MURPHY

NATALIE CAVALLARO

TIM VAN DUYL

MATT O’MEARA

Outdoor Editor, photographer and last out of bed — but always smiling

Camper and Outdoor Deputy Editor, Maxibon connoisseur and cassowary stalker

Senior Editor, pie hunter and recon' Wrangler pilot

Adventures Group co-founder, mad beard grower, support car steerer

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Another day in the Cape, another beach to hoon on

Motley Crew The who's who of Race to the Cape. RECON’ JEEP

Remember being a kid and finding that tree that was a little taller than the others, or a gap you had to jump a little wider than you’ve done before? The solution was always simple: get a friend to give it a crack first so they’re the one with the busted elbow instead of you. Of course, you’ve gotta find a way to convince them. *Radio crackles* “Hey Tim, seeing as the Jeep isn’t towing a camper reckon you could race up ahead and suss out any good filming spots?” And so the Recon' Wrangler was born. In the hot seat was Caravan World editor and man giant, Tim. He’d been with Adventures for around 20 minutes before he was off to the Cape and was in charge of punching out a bunch of articles and presenting a few videos with his unmistakable Kiwi drawl. He’s a mad keen fisho and bombs around Victorian tracks in his tidy HZJ105 Cruiser so was always the first to come running with a set of Maxtrax or a winch line when needed. Next to Tim was Camper and Outdoor deputy editor, Nat. While she’s new to the camper trailer world, she’s no stranger to the outdoors. You’re more likely to find her six hours down a bushwalking track than winding up a camper at the local grounds, but she adapted great to the huge drive days and sheer amount of ground covered. Her radio banter and helpful attitude made her a worthy addition to the trip indeed. 24

THE CAMERA CAR

I’ll be the first to admit when it comes to huge kays in remote areas, a Land Rover Discovery with 20in wheels isn’t exactly at the top of my wish list. However, with a heap of camera gear to charge and the keys to the BM Pro Disco sitting there full of 12V gear, it was a pretty easy choice to bring it along as the camera rig. Up front was Adventures money man, Matt. Fresh from a European trip with his family, he spent a night or two in his bed before loading up the swag and heading north. Matt normally spends his time heading to the hills with his wife and kids in their Jeep, so punting someone else’s car through the Tele, 4,000kms from home pushed his comfort zone to the max. Of course, you couldn’t tell from the outside. Mr Cool and Collected never faulted, even cocking wheels in the air crossing the infamous Palm Creek. Riding shotgun in the Disco was camera magician, Jack Murphy, who also doubles as Outdoor magazine editor. Since he was a teenager, he's been travelling the world shooting photos that make mine look garbage, so he was right at home in the red dirt and azure waters of Cape York. He’s probably been to the Cape more

Words DAN EVERETT times this year than most will ever do in their lives (as this magazine goes to print, he's there yet again) but somehow managed to be outside the 4WD more often than he was in it. I reckon it's a safe bet he’d be the only bloke to ever run the length of the Cape holding a camera. Fittingly, our video man for this trip was a bloke by the name of Cam. Handy Cam. He’s probably the quietest bloke I’ve ever met and I'm still not entirely sure he was actually in the Cape at all. From what I could see he was juggling multiple cameras and a drone so smoothly we might as well have been in a studio. I guess that’s the key to success on a big trip like this: surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing and things just work.

BIG DOG LC200

It’s only fitting that the biggest 4WD and trailer in the group also had some of the biggest personalities. Now I’m not sure if the guys from Zone RV are ever going to stray from building top-notch caravans into doing offroad tours, but if they ever do it’s worth tagging along just for


Rac etoThe

Cape

Part 1

the radio banter. Big Dog, as Matt decided to name their setup, consisted of Matt and Tom for the first half of the trip, with owner Dave flying into Weipa to meet us halfway up. It’s a safe bet Dave might be the bravest man I know, because the reason he flew up was he missed the kickoff date, due to his wife giving birth to their first born. A day or two to wash some nappies, then he was off on a plane to check out Cape York. He wasn’t missing this one for the world and is already planning on bringing his young fella up as soon as he’s old enough. Now I’ve heard of people who don’t shy away from a challenge, but Matt is more the kind of bloke who peer pressures himself into doing something, even if no one else is in the room. With probably the biggest caravan that’s ever been dragged up the Cape, Matt never once hesitated to get it offroad and into precarious situations. It just about floated the whole way along scrubby creek, dipped below the water line on the most northern beach in Australia and cocked wheels a metre or more in the air through multiple river crossings. He was also in charge of keeping Tom away from the radio. Tom came along to film a bunch of Facebook videos for the boys from Zone, but got relegated to the back seat and radio privileges revoked pretty quickly. I reckon he earned a few brownie points once the guys saw the stunning videos he produced, though.

LIFE ON MARS

If you’ve ever had the pleasure to meet Celso from Mars Campers there’d be a few things clear straight away. The bloke is basically a genius. He’s also incredibly unassuming. And he’s far more well-travelled than he’d ever let on until you ply him with booze under the guise of celebrating the trip. He's Melbourne based but

OUR TEAM PT 2 TEAM ZONE RV Loose units by day, Matt, Dave and Tom slept the best

RANGER DANGER

grew up in Brazil, so is no stranger to the great outdoors. While this was his first time to the Cape itself, he’s punched out thousands of kays offroad on some of the toughest tracks between his home town right up to the Gulf country. He’s always willing to lend a hand and made life-long friends thanks to some of the best barbecues I’ve ever eaten. If you’re in the market for a Mars camper do yourself a favour and offer to pay $500 over sticker if Celso cooks you a barbecue. It'll be the smartest money you’ve ever spent. Now it’s a hell of a drive solo from Melbourne to Bamaga, so Celso brought along his best mate Phil who quickly earned the nickname of MVP (Most Valuable Phil) for being the most handson bloke you’ll ever meet. Despite just coming along for the ride, Phil bounced from one car to the next helping out where he could. A year on the road with his family taught him everything from tricky camping clothes lines through to running vehicle repairs. He dove under my Ranger to help out with a wheel alignment issue then single handedly moved about 10T of dirt on Pennefather Beach with the recovery shovel. If I was stranded on a desert island and could only bring one thing to get me out of a bind it’d have to be Phil, he’d figure it out.

CAM INNISS Videographer, helicopter virgin and purple Powerade fiend

In the Ranger we had a full house. For the first time the stars aligned and I was able to not only bring my wife, Lauren along on the trip, but my six-year-old son, Hunter, and fouryear-old daughter, Nola. We’ve been heading offroad as a family since before the kids were around. Nola did her first Fraser Island trip at sixmonths-old while Hunter entered his first 4WD competition when he wasn’t much older. Lauren has probably done more travel than me and travelled most of the East Coast with her family as a kid in their trusty 60 Series, then again in their brand new 80, so we’re trying to do the same with our kids. We split jobs up pretty evenly while we were away. Lauren kept the kids clean, fed, and out of crocodile mouths while I kept the car and camper in one piece, then acted as the recovery vehicle on most of the tracks and made sure we were always heading in the right direction. While any huge trip is always going to require teamwork, when individual people have specific tasks they’re in charge of it’s a sure-fire way to make things run smoothly. The right people, doing the right jobs and having the time of their lives, is a recipe for a trip you’ll never forget.

TEAM MARS Lead by Celso, cook of the trip, and backed up by Phil, our hardest worker

LUCKY Lucky, a s kinny stray on death's door that the Everetts rescued, who fast became the offsider for Hunter and Nola 25


Rac etoThe

Ready to disembowel us at any second

Cape

Part 1

Here'sssss the Ranger! Dan and Team Everett arrive at Cape Trib

Andway

a

"Are you sure these blokes know where we're going?"

they go!

With the crew belted in and the rigs loaded up, it was time to explore the ultimate offroad destination, Cape York.

Words TIM VAN DUYL

Some got hungry waiting for the Mars barbecue

Day 1

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

For obvious reasons, the Mars crew has the most popular camp at dinner

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Sunrise saw us head to Cape Tribulation after a quick stop for provisions in Cairns. We hit the road, heading past cane trains and clear coastline, before we reached the Daintree River ferry early in the afternoon. This was the gateway to our adventure. The river is said to be packed with crocs — though we saw none on our passing — and marks the border between privately owned farms and the world heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest. After the crossing we were immediately hit with steep climbs, creeks, rivers and more shades of green than I thought possible. As the light diffused and broke through in patches, the forest floor became alive with scavenging birds and lizards fleeing from sight. Our first stop, Cape Tribulation Camping, is a

popular spot for campers; when we arrived at least 10 groups were still set up, holding out as long as possible before the wet pushed them off home. Complete with wet bar and direct beach access, our pause at Cape Trib Camping set the scene for the trip. We were in real seclusion, people wandered the beaches looking afar in absolute silence as the sun set and birds hit full noise. We nailed one of our goals immediately, spotting two cassowaries crossing the road and one cruising the beach, as cool as can be.


Eddie to regale a story as well remembered as if you were there. The campsite is massive and with a ‘set-up where you want’ system, we found ourselves beachside overlooking a wide, shallow bay by nightfall. The close of day two gave us a taste of life in the Cape that we could definitely get used to – cold beer, a barbecue, and plenty of laughs as we relaxed in camp chairs with tunes playing, courtesy of the Zone RV sound system, a fresh adventure awaiting tomorrow.

Cam at the edge of the action The Mars crew tackle river crossings on the Bloomfield with ease

Day 2

BLOOMIN' MARVELLOUS From Cape Trib camping, it’s only one turn to the infamous Bloomfield Track. The signs say 4WD only access — and this should be observed in the wet, especially. It’s a dangerous, difficult place to be driving. We began our passage at the end of the predicted dry season, weeks before the forecast rain, so we had no trouble with traction. The biggest danger was being distracted. We stopped to admire the mangroves, cassowary palms and seemingly endless forest vistas from every pass. The only advice, beyond maintaining safe distances and speeds, is to keep an eye out for the steep climbs either side of Cowie Beach and Wujal Wujal, they require low-range for heavy haulers and an eye on coolant temperatures. Breaking out of the rainforest into Degarra country, the feeling becomes more familiar. On both sides of the forest’s fringe, the land is used for agriculture and its is more developed here. The Wujal Wujal Arts Centre on the way to the popular Bloomfield Falls however, gives a good insight to how the traditional owners see the land and connect with the fauna and flora. Locals produce artwork on site and sell it with the proceeds helping the community. The falls are easy to access and an impressive sight with a drop of around 20m. However, don’t be drawn to the cool and clear water, a 500kg croc awaits patiently at the edge of the pool, locals told us. Our day two stop was one I was most looking forward to: Elim Beach. Also known as Eddie's Beach or Eddie's Camp, named after its caretaker, Eddie, obviously. It sits on a remote headland far away from phone coverage and the distraction of crowds. Getting there, you 28

must pass through Cooktown, legendary for its big-game fishing opportunities off the reef and a good option for restocking to boot. If you are there around October, look out for the Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic. World renowned, it brings thousands to the town and with it a weeklong party. En route to Eddie's you will pass through Hope Vale too, a town populated mainly by traditional owners looking to celebrate culture and history. It is worth noting that the town (along with Wujal Wujal) is dry, as are vast swathes of the Cape but travellers are permitted a small allowance of mid-strength beer or wine, no spirits. Up at his beach, Eddie is a real gem, and one of the most interesting people I have met. Eddie has had the world come to him by way of travellers and in his younger days, saw more than most ever will. Learning who you are and where you come from, it takes only a second for

What do you do on an em airfield? Drag race of pty course!

Beef burgundy or Tandoori chicken? Tough call...


Rac etoThe

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Chatting with local residents at Musgrave Roadhouse

Part 1

The stunning glow of sunset at Elim Beach

You find shade wherever you can at Musgrave

Day 3

ROCK AND ROLLIN' The day started with an unhitched 4WD run to the coloured sands, an area of massive significance for Australia’s first people. The low-tide only access was a good test run for the team. Soft sand met quicksand ‘round turns, and with signs reminding of us of the $2000 tow-outfee, we were especially careful. The sands in the dunes are collected for traditional artwork and we found bright reds, deep oranges and near perfect whites all in one small stretch. It was day three that brought the highlight of the trip for many, Battlecamp Road. After more than an hour preparing and talking about the day ahead, we hit the road with some trepidation of what awaited. The roads deteriorated quickly but never enough to truly slow us down. We hit

dust bowls, with pillowy powder nearly half a metre deep but, mercifully, solid bottoms. We had lunch at Laura Station, though only briefly as we were well behind our scheduled stop at Laura itself, a common theme for the trip. The station was the founding location for trade in the far north and massively important to the development of the surrounding stations, but is completely abandoned now. The history is well documented through signs found on the buildings and if you make it there in mango season, you will confront an orchard with some of the biggest mango trees you’ll ever see. Pushing onto Laura we made our tour of the Split Rock rock art galleries. The region is home to more than 350 individual sets of rock art with Split Rock and the Qinkan Galleries the standouts. Split Rock tells the stories of travellers and their encounters. Drawings of food sources, spirits and people of significance are only a short 29


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walk and a small entry fee from a good sized car park complete with space for trailers. As we ventured deeper along the Battlecamp through Lakeland National Park, our long day drew on as the scenery became awe inspiring. Our radio chatter turned from funny anecdotes to cries of ‘look at that’ and ‘I’ve never seen colours like this’. The roads turned blood red, which together with the forest’s infinite shades of green created a contrast so Australian we all look back at it as one of the trip highlights. Enjoying it meant multiple stops for camera changes, turnarounds and reframing which lead to delays — but they were delays that lead to more wonder and amazement. As the road draws near Musgrave and the Peninsula Development Road, the landscape flattens and opens out of forest and into broken scrubland. What struck us was a savanna sunset so spectacular you could be forgiven for

Dry and desolate, but fascinating — the historic Laura Homestead

Troop Leader Dan is on the case! Adjusting that tyre pressure...

ng! from the Lion Ki Just like a scene

Release the drone... Handy Cam captures the scenery

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thinking you were in the depths of Africa. Surrounded by magnetic and cathedral termite mounds, clean skin stock wandered looking for edible grass as the sky flipped from blue to rust-red and the land was cut by long shadows. No one wanted to push on, but Musgrave Roadhouse only serves dinner till 7pm sharp so the only option was to push on fast to make it in time for nosh. There were no takers of the full bushman option — having to catch and roast a goanna. Musgrave Roadhouse offers accommodation, good meals and stocks enough cold mid-strength to keep the flocks happy. It also

Are we there yet?

has an airstrip, which, after discovering had no scheduled flights, was mooted as an ideal spot for a drag race, trailers included. Where better a location to figure out, once and for all, who really was the quickest? But first a trip to ‘the pond’ behind the pub. Only about 20m from where we set up our swags, the pond is full of fresh water crocs happy to come to the edge for a feed of frozen chicken or leftovers. Don’t worry too much about them, they’re certainly not in the same league as salties, but still, probably best not to go swimming.


Day 4

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE... Our morning gave us the chance to buy some cold iced coffee which hit our caffeine cravings before a date with the roadhouse at Archer River. The drive there, up the Peninsula Development Road, gave us our first taste of mighty roadtrains. Unladen, they travel at decent speed towards the centre of the road, unlike when they’re full and to the side. Be aware of them and always radio through when passing. Getting to Archer River was a non-event, only a surprise chat with a Rio Tinto rep offering us free sunscreen and advice on how to work around the roadtrains was worth mentioning but at the ‘house itself, we discovered that living

so closely for four days made us closer; Archer River Roadhouse burgers all round! Our next stop was the Rio Tinto support town of Weipa. Like Cooktown, it’s also well known for its fishing, though we didn’t head out. Weipa is well stocked and has a strong labour based residency. A major highlight coming into the town on well-maintained roads were the many burn-offs. Local rangers were getting in early, keeping the undergrowth down to prevent catastrophic fires wiping the area clean. The fire’s smoke darkened crow-filled skies, escaping the heat and smoke. Stopping for a photo op and a better look, we all agreed we felt like we were in a warzone but never unsafe. Once in the town, be aware of the mine site highways — massive haul roads made especially for mining vehicles to deliver their loads directly to port without using public space. We stayed at Weipa Caravan Park having read about the famous Barramunchies restaurant, a BYO garden fish and chip shop known for, well, barra. A big feed and a few beers later and the previous massive day caught up with us and an early night followed.

, a highlight Battlecamp Road e trip th on ne yo for ever

Flame trees line the road

PLACES TO STAY CAPE TRIBULATION CAMPING www.capetribcamping.com.au

ELIM BEACH CAMPGROUND

www.hopevale.qld.gov.au/visitor-information

WEIPA CARAVAN PARK AND CAMPING GROUND www.campweipa.com.au

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Day 5

BLOOD, BOGS AND BIG 'OL WATERFALLS

We started with a visit to the hospital. No, Barramunchies did not serve up a bad meal. Jack, our shooter for the trip carried with him a lingering illness that only worsened as the trip progressed so the call was made to take him in for a look. A blood test later and some consideration of water intake and a follow-up consult for later in the trip and we were mobile, a half-day late but our next stop was only meant to be an hour up the road at Pennefather Beach.

Tim hones his radio banter

Pennefather almost ruined us. Within the space of 30 minutes we had the Zone, the Land Rover and Mars camper well stuck in the soft sands at the entrance to the beach. Our goal, to get all vehicles onto the beach for a video and photography shoot, was in doubt. Dan, his knowledge and well-set-up Ranger came to the rescue of the Landie. Beached at the high-water mark, he liberated it through some long-extension winch pulls, while we all toiled on the belied 200 Series towing the 18ft, 2000kg Zone. Try as we might, the Wrangler didn’t carry the momentum to get the heavy combo moving forward so the

call was made for a vehicle to find a way back off the beach to reverse pull the pair out. Two hours later and the affectionately called ‘Big Dog’ was free but in the time of the extraction, Celso, his Prado and the Mars camper found themselves belly deep on a tight turn seaside of where we wanted to be. Dan took charge and through the use of every MaxTrax we could find (six in total), winching, using another car as a tackle-block holder and a couple of hours, we were free — including being free of the bead of one tyre on the trailer. No blood, no broken bones or gear but some sweaty, sandy people needing a rest meant we turned back to Weipa, not our original plan, for another feast of barra and a comfy night. Bramwell Station was our next port of call and with a hardly signposted tight right hand turn onto Batavia Downs Road an hour out of Weipa, communicating to the Mars crew who were delayed to reset their tyre had us stressing we would become disbanded. No such issue as Celso navigated his way easily to catch us near Bramwell Station. We offloaded and set up camp hoping to be able to head into the surrounding bush for some 4WDing only to be denied by the

The Zone RV crew wowed onlookers by tackling this river crossing easily

Made the ferry! The crew get across in time

Croc free swimming! Fruit Bat Falls delivers the goods

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Celso loving every minute of Fruit Bat Falls

station manager. Knowing it was a popular area to explore and one on our list of to-dos, it was a disappointment to be denied but the Old Tele was just around the corner... The Old Telegraph Track is awesome. We’d only hit the start, and without our convoy of trailers, but immediately it lived up to the hype. The aptly named ‘Chicken Track’ — the bypass around the worst of the drops and climbs — is still only suitable for proper 4WDs, while the pro-route will likely lead to panel damage and definitely requires the ability to self-rescue and also of support vehicles. We scraped through only about 20km before the Discovery support car tore a sidewall on a tree root. As great as low-profile tyres are on the road, they were

never cut out for the tight, sharp rock and root lined Old Tele. Back to camp and arriving to an already set up swag felt great. We had achieved some of the Old Tele, recovered a couple of times and only torn one tyre, a decent effort rewarded with cold beer and a barbecue couresty of Celso that will go down as one of the trip's most enjoyed meals. We woke up with content deliverables on our minds. The trip for us, as much as learning about country, was also about testing gear. We hit the Clearview mirrors, Solar Screens and Midland G18XT handheld radios first thing. Then it was onto Fruit Bat and Elliot Falls. Paradise found. Check them out online if you don't believe me and you will quickly realise the

trip north is worth it for these falls alone. High enough to be croc-free, the water runs clear, warm and down cascading sets of falls into deep pools perfect for swimming. The team spent a couple of hours taking it all in before heading on in split teams. It was decided the Zone shouldn’t take on more of the Old Tele, it was getting too tight and the climbs too steep, so off went Big Dog and the Wrangler to meet the rest of the team further north up Bamaga Road. On our way back down the track we stopped at Palm Creek where Big Dog again made the deep crossing and climbs look easy but on our way out we saw one of the sights that will live on with us. A young couple pushing their rental motorhome, albeit a small tray-on bolted to a HiLux, hit the crossing at full noise. Never have I seen so much enjoyment and fear in two people. The driver loving every wave of windscreen deep water washing across the bonnet and his passenger gripping the jesusbar tighter than I’ve ever seen. We would see these two at The Cape later in the week where I congratulated them through a wide grin. We pushed onto the Jardine River ferry crossing making it at 4:13 pm, 17 minutes before our agreed deadline but where were the campers and Land Rover? We had only till 5pm for the last sailing of the barge. With less than 10 minutes to go, the familiar blue hue of Dan’s Ranger appeared and we were off on the barge. Yes it's true, the barge is over a hundred bucks per vehicle but the fees cover camping north of the river and the money goes to maintaining the area. Cash is accepted but they also take card. Part two of our epic journey continues next issue, where we hit the beaches at Mutee Head, hunt crocs at Loyalty and discover a cheat on our Race to the Cape. CTA

Outlander Trax12 White Series

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T S E T mpers Cub Ca tier Fron

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THROUGH BAC K 7,000kms of abuse proves the CUB Frontier can take a licking

HEL L

Words dan everett PICS JACK MURPHY

and

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OTHOLES P G N I L T T A R NCE EE T H T O G R E N I V T E T N I H R E N P E “E V T HE CAM , E R E H W O N A N HOUR FROM ED” NC U O B R O D E K C BU

I

’ve just got home from dropping back a CUB Frontier at their North Rocks factory, and to be honest it’s left me feeling a little empty. Y’see, on a typical review mission, I normally spend a week or two with a camper; I’ll punt it through a set course that’ll see it go through various terrains, then head off for a quick weekend jaunt with the wife and kids in tow to work out what we like, and what’ll lead to divorce. But CUB reckoned to truly see the Frontier in its element you need to practically live out of it. Challenge, of course, accepted. So we brought the Frontier along for Race to the Cape, and by the time all was said and done, I’d lived out of it for nearly a month straight, pounding out 7,000kms on some of the harshest roads in the country to see if it’d still shine after Far North Queensland had its way with it. So why am I feeling empty? Together with the Frontier I took my family to Fruit Bat Falls, we parked on the most northern beach in the country, took on the mighty Tele track then ate fresh prawns as the sun set over the Gulf of Carpentaria. I’m ready to go do it again — but, alas, I had to give the Frontier back.

THE LONG HAUL The tip of Australia is around 1000km north of Cairns if you go straight up the guts. Go the way we went via Cape Melville, Cape Tribulation, and Weipa with plenty of side tracks along the way and it bumps that figure up closer to 1500km, each direction. The problem is Cairns itself is around 2500kms itself from my driveway. Rather than deal with the stop/start traffic along the east coast, I steered the tiller west and headed north via Mudgee, up through Lightning Ridge, then up through Roma and Emerald before joining the coast again around Townsville. The wife and kids flew into Cairns, so I had a mile to make. With the pedal down I travelled far longer than I probably should have, but I was able to because of how well the Frontier towed. Partly due to how light-weight it is (around 1200kg empty), partly due to how well balanced the weight is — just heavy enough to keep things planted, without enough to overload the rear suspension — and partly due to how compliant the suspension is. Even hitting teeth-rattling pot holes an hour from nowhere, the camper never once bucked or bounced. It shook off the knock, got back in line, and let me get on with things.

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Insert Jurassic Park reference here...

HITS Seriously capable offroad Can set up in a matter of minutes A lot tougher than I gave it credit for Low-weight makes for easy towing

MISSES Can’t access internal storage without opening No heating option No hot water standard No shower


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T TES a m p ers Cub C ier F ront

OFF THE BEATEN PATH For those of you lucky enough to have travelled Cape York you’d know it’s not just one location. It’s an area roughly the size of Victoria and far more diverse. Our trip took us through the winding tropics of the Daintree Rainforest where we zigged and zagged through the steep climbs of the Bloomfield Track. We raced along below the low-tide mark at the Coloured Sands to reach Cape Flattery. We pounded out countless hours of corrugations along Battle Camp Road and marvelled as the sun set along the western plains. We (foolishly) took on the incredibly soft sand of Pennefather Beach before rattling our teeth loose on the Peninsula Development Road. The Old Telegraph Track saw us engaging lowrange again as we tackled river crossing after river crossing and snaked our way through the tight tracks. My tow-mirrors copped a flogging, and I’m pretty sure I felt the trailer floating as we breathed in deep to cross Scrubby Creek with water lapping at our windows. And we added countless tree inflicted pinstripes as we took on the Five Beaches run with a detour via Fly Point. And the Frontier excelled. I’d love to point my finger at some fancy suspension system, or unique hitch design, or compact footprint. I’d love to tell you some heroic story of how we faced a perilous situation with the CUB holding on for dear life, only saving

us because of some specific gadget it has. The reality is far more boring. Light weight campers work better offroad, and the Frontier is one of the lightest I’ve come across without stepping into a compact offering. If I could punt the Ranger through a track, the CUB would suck it up and follow. Sure, it tapped a few trees on some of the tighter tracks, but short of watching my mirrors as we made our way through it was never an issue. There’s no end of opportunities to wet your wheels in Cape York

Travel champs – plenty of room for the fam in the Frontier

The Frontier’s suspension was the trip MVP, shaking off every pot hole with ease

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“Where to next? Anywhere the Coke is cold and they sell Bubble-O-Bills”

A NIGHT BY THE BEACH

Step right up and into a new Frontier 40

It’d be great to spend a week at every campsite I visit and park myself up in a camp chair watching the tides go in and out. Unfortunately, with school holidays and budgets being the major factors I’m very rarely at a campsite more than a night or two. It’s because of this I’m incredibly conscious of how painful a set-up can be after doing it over and over...and over. On the very first night away I pulled up in a truck stop on the side of the road just north of Roma after pounding out around 14hrs singing along to Spotify whenever I was able to get reception. I parked at around 2am, and was rugged up in bed by around 2:02am. Sure, I didn’t do the full set-up, but that was the beauty of it. The forward fold design means it opens within its own footprint, and as long as you’re on level ground doesn’t need adjusting of any stabiliser legs. Pop the clamps, winch the lid over and get in. I’m not talking get in and start adjusting poles either. As you winch one end, the opposing end pops itself up with twin gas struts.

CTA RATINGS CUB CAMPERS FRONTIER 1. FIT FOR INTENDED PURPOSE 2. INNOVATION 3. BUSHABILITY 4. QUALITY OF FINISH 5. BUILD QUALITY 6. OFFROAD-ABILITY 7. COMFORTS 8. EASE OF USE 9. VALUE FOR MONEY 10. X-FACTOR

DAN EVERETT


Got dust mate? Yep, just a little

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T TES a m p ers Cub C ier F ront

SN’ T A W I T N A E M ALSO S A V N A C K C I H AWN...” D F “T HE T O K C A R C T HE W O K E N U P AT No adjustment, no spreader poles, no worries. Another huge bonus: the mattress is also hands down the most comfortable camper trailer mattress I’ve ever spent a night on. Even after weeks on the road I was always able to get a comfortable and relaxing night’s sleep just as good as being at home. The thick canvas also meant I wasn’t woken up at the crack of dawn, and on hot days the huge opening windows kept it from turning into a sauna as long as there was any semblance of a breeze. Things honestly weren’t any more difficult once the family joined either. If we needed to disconnect the trailer, we’d pop the four stabiliser legs down (buy yourself a cordless driver), but short of that the process wasn’t any longer. The table needs to be packed down to travel, so as long as you don’t want to use it, the kids bed is constantly set up and there’s enough room on top to leave their sleeping bags and pillows good to go. The living area is nicely laid out without

Leave the kids’ beds set up so they can sort out the eternal question: can a possum defeat a croc?

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Time for a break from those servo pies – food prep’s easy in the Frontier

T HING E N O T E G S ’ T “L E T IER N O R F E H T T A E S T R AIGH T. I B MONE Y ” ME L IK E I T OWED

Tidy up the easy way, by putting everything in one of the many storage cupboards

tripping over yourself to access anything, and the kitchen pulls out and sets up in under a minute. The stabiliser legs are an absolute must, but are quick to deploy while the rest of the connections just pull out and plug into their well-protected counterparts on the back of the camper. The only issue we had was dust ingress. Admittedly I didn’t do the camper any favours and found every patch of bull-dust possible, but it did make its way into some of the internal compartments. If it was my own trailer a $5 tube of silicone and a little investigating would have sorted the issue, although CUB tell me they’re gutting the Frontier to find and rectify the cause of the problem.

BRUISED AND BATTERED Let’s get one thing straight. I beat the Frontier like it owed me money. I didn’t do a lick of maintenance on it (you should), I took it places 42

The speedy set up means the kitchen is ready to go in under a minute


smart people don’t take camper trailers (you shouldn’t), and I went out of my way to make sure if it was going to break, I’d be the person to find out (maybe don’t do this either). So what’s the total damage bill? An aluminium strip on the rear popped a rivet, and I scuffed the rubber bumper pad a little. I did this by dragging the side of the camper along a rock trying to negotiate a river exit on the ‘Tele Track. Some peanut was camped on the main track forcing me to take an awkward line (yeah, I’m talking about you Triton). A little crazy glue and a rivet later and it was sorted. I lost the tap handle. Somewhere in the 2500kms of corrugations the external tap handle vibrated loose. A daily check and a drop of Loctite would have sorted it. For context my bulbar almost vibrated off despite being torqued to spec. I had to remove and reinstall it at camp one morning. The silent winch got noisy. It said to keep it greased. I didn’t. Some dust got in to one of the front storage boxes and the awning got dusty. It also got throughout my tow-tug despite having the doors almost always shut, the AC on, and the windows up. Hey some battles you’re just never going to win.

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Relaxing at Loyalty Beach Campground with rescue pupper Lucky , and Australia’s most docile crocodile

VERDICT camper for the situations we found ourselves in. Its light weight meant it didn’t hold us back offroad or act like an anchor in sand, its quick set-up time meant after a long day on the tracks I wasn’t up for a fight just to go to bed, and its space meant we were all comfortable and could focus on enjoying the trip. I’d still add a shower if I owned one, but for now I’m patiently waiting for CUB to release a MK2 so I can hopefully get the keys to my Frontier for a song. CTA

Locker box

Table

Rollout 3-burner stove & sink

Slide out utility tray

Slide out pantry

Locker box

Lounge area (Convertible to double bed)

Power hatch

Slide out utility tray (optional)

Slide out pantry (optional)

Short of taking the Frontier rock crawling I couldn’t have put it through a more punishing test. Together we dodged kangaroos as the sun set at the back of Dunedoo, we powered our way through the soft sands of Pennefather Beach (and did a few recoveries), we zig-zagged through the Tele Track collecting dents and scratches on trailer and tow-tug, and we had one hell of an adventure my kids will never forget. Was it perfect? No. But nothing in life is perfect. What it was though, was the perfect

CTA SPECS

CUB CAMPERS FRONTIER TRAILER

Tare 1220kg ATM 1750kg Suspension Independent with Rox Shox shock absorbers Brakes 12in electric Coupling AL-KO offroad ball coupling Chassis Galvanised RHS 100mm X 50mm X 3mm Drawbar Galvanised RHS 100mm X 50mm X 3mm Body Steel and Aluminium baked enamel Wheel/tyre 16in steel 265/70r16 Goodyear Wrangler AT Style Forward fold

DIMENSIONS

Box size 3680mm L x 1950mm W x 1550mm H Length (hitch to tail lights) 5500mm Tent size 3680mm L x 1950mm W

ACCESSORIES

Gas cylinders 2 x 4kg gas bottles Water 1x100L with 12V & hand pump Cooktop SMEV Three burner Kitchen Stainless steel slide out Battery 1x100Ah

PRICE AS SHOWN $33,990

ENQUIRIES

To enquire about this camper visit www. campertraileraustralia.com.au/spec or phone 1300 859 084

campertraileraustralia.com.au Video review

Compare campers 43


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*Conditions apply. AU res 18+ only. Starts 21/09/2017. Ends 11.59 AEST 21/01/2018. Draw: S5, Erina Plaza, 210 Central Coast Hwy Erina NSW 2250 on 26/09/2017 at 10:00 am AEST. Winner announced at www.campertraileraustralia.com.au/winaskamper from 29/01/2018. The Promoter is Adventures Group Holdings Pty Ltd (ABN 29 155 672 192) of 125 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North, Victoria, 3161. NSW Permit No. LTPS/17/17446. ACT Permit No. TP17/01747. SA Permit No. T17/1637


TACKLEThpe e Off on your own Cape York adventure? Here’s the low-down on how to prep your vehicle, and yourself, for the trip of a lifetime Words DAN EVERETT Pics JACK MURPHY AND DAN EVERETT

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ape York is a vast inhospitable wasteland. Around every corner is danger; crocs nipping at your heels if you camp in the wrong spot, weeks between supplies, an ever-looming danger of running out of fuel and hoping some other traveller finds you before you run out of tins of spam. The tracks will test your mind as much as they test your vehicle. Except none of this is true. Well it is, but only if you go in ill-prepared. Y’see, Cape York isn’t as inhospitable or challenging as many of the shows would have you believe. It’s a bustling part of the country with friendly faces everywhere you look, if you know the places to look. That hyped-up image has probably turned off more would-be travellers than it’s convinced to actually go, and we’re aiming to fix that. Over the next few pages we’re running through most of the common issues you’ll face on your very own Cape York trip. From vehicle prep to getting your noggin in the right head place these are the secrets to a successful adventure. 46

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The Dobinson MRR shocks in my Ranger proved a smart decision, I was able to maintain speed through rough terrain without turning into a pogo stick

The main ‘road s’ wi far more than m ll test your 4x4 ost of the dedica ted tracks, a set of topmust-have to de notch shocks are a al with corrugat ions

CORRUGATIONS Let’s get one thing straight right from the start, the biggest issue you will face in Cape York is corrugations. The joy of thousands of kilometres of unsealed roads mixed with heavy traffic and torrential wet seasons means corrugations are as much a part of Cape York as prawns at Loyalty Beach. They’ll affect you in two very different ways so require a bit of a holistic approach to battle them. 48

The first, is they’ll rattle everything to pieces. It will affect the base vehicle, your camper, and yourself, so if you’re heading up in an old bus don’t be surprised if you head back with a few new rattles and squeaks under the dash and a crook back. It’ll also seriously take its toll on any aftermarket accessories. Things like bull bars and driving lights are especially prone. My bull bar was torqued by hand and not to spec (after a big rush to get it ready

in time), so by the time we made our way to the tip it had vibrated significantly away from its original mounting position. Our convoy also lost an aerial, and there were more cheap spotlights pointing at the sky than the tracks. Pick yourself up a torque wrench to get things in spec then keep a close eye on things. A drop or two of Loctite on threads is also cheap insurance. The other issue you’ll come across with corrugations is suspension. A suspension lift is great for gaining more clearance and coping with the weight of accessories, but big shocks are the key to surviving corrugations. As the suspension cycles a piston inside the shock pumps back and forth through the fluid. When the fluid gets too hot the oil will foam and pass through the pistons valves easier, rendering the shocks useless. The effect is called shock fade. Bigger capacity shock absorbers can hold out longer than smaller capacity shocks. We kitted our Ranger out with Dobinsons MRR remote reservoir shocks front and rear, they kept on kicking allowing me to travel at higher speeds safely. Even if you’re not chasing an increase in height a set of upgraded shocks on each corner are an absolute must-have for travelling through corrugations.


Rac etoThe

Cape

Part 1

$1.95 a litre hurts, but it hurts a lot less when you can drive on past to the next fuel stop with cheaper prices

FUELLED UP There’s a common misconception that Cape York is the end of the earth and you need 400L of fuel strapped to your back in a Mad Max style contraption. The reality is far different. If you’re exploring down each and every side track you can find and then driving around in circles for days on end you might run into strife, but for anything along the main routes fuel is plentiful at the road stops along the way. In fact, the biggest gap between fuel stops is between Bramwell Junction and the Jardine River Ferry which measures in at 166km if you head up Bamaga Road. Of course, running out of fuel up here is a serious issue, so it’s always vital to always carry a full jerry can of fuel as a back-up. Even at a huge 20L/100km a full jerry can will stretch your range out by an additional 100km, and if you’ve calculated your range worse than that fuel might not be your only issue. While a back-up jerry can is a must have, if you’ve got the funds available a long-range tank is well worth the investment, but not in the way you think. As a general rule, the further away from a major port you

The Old Tele’ Track is the longest stretch without fuel and easily doable on a single tank, but you should always carry at least one full jerry can as a back-up

get the more expensive fuel is. By equipping yourself with a long-range tank you’re able to strategically buy your fuel at a lower rate than

you’d have to pay further up the road (up to $2 a litre in some places!)

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ANIMAL STRIKES I love Kangaroos. The little adorable idiots are like giant puppies walking around on their hind legs. But hot damn are they stupid. Between roos and wombats most tracks anywhere a few hours outside a capital city are lined with the mentally deficient suicide machines. The problem is their preferred method seems to be going head first at the fastest moving 4x4 they can find. Now, you can swerve. Trying to avoid knocking a furry little critter on the head is an admirable quality in a person. But you’ll most likely end up putting your 4x4 in a ditch, hopefully with the tyres still on the ground. Quick steering inputs in a fast-moving vehicle

A big Roo and a heap of corrugations meant my bar needed an adjustment by the time we hit Loyalty Beach

with a camper on the back is a recipe for disaster that not only puts yourself in danger, but everyone else in the car, and anyone travelling near you. So what’s a traveller to do? Knock the roo on the head. Now I don’t mean go swerving all over the road for it. Just stay in your lane, slow down if you can avoid an impact, but don’t try and change your path, you’re safer hitting them head on than swerving. The problem is without adequate protection the stupid buggers will punch through sheet metal, leaving you with a busted radiator in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, with no phone reception. If you’re heading up to the Cape a steel bull bar is a nonnegotiable, and it’s gotta include a radiator loop. A combination of spot and flood lights are vital too. The more notice you get there’s a roided up jumper in front the more speed you can wash off and the less potential damage to your lifeline to the outside world. I had a set of lights on my bench for the Ranger but couldn’t get them installed in time. The result? A shiny new dent in my bull bar and a roo with one hell of a headache.

Big bars are a polarising modification, but when animal strikes are a daily occurrence they start making a lot of sense

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Some of the be st over the other parts of the Cape are sid important to co e of a river so it’s me prepared


RIVER CROSSINGS You can do Cape York without ever crossing a single river or creek, but you’re missing out on half the fun. 30 years ago river crossings were simple. Buy a diesel, put a snorkel on the diesel, maybe tie the engine driven fan off if the water is deep. These days things are a little more complicated, but it does mean petrol and diesel are on equal footings. A snorkel is the obvious first step. Forward or rear facing doesn’t really matter as long as it’s sealed all the way from tip to engine. We went with a stainless jobbie from Phat Bars. The next step is to understand what components on your 4x4 water ingress will affect, and come up with a plan on how to make it a non-issue. In most modern vehicles it’ll be an engine bay full of sensors, keeping a decent bow-wave as you’re moving through the water will keep most of the water out from your engine bay, with a water bra going on for any suspect crossings. If you’re in doubt a little WD40 over your 4x4s sensitive parts can keep them dry enough for a small crossing. Of course, it’s vital to know what sort of strife you’re getting yourself into in water crossings too. In most cases you’ll be able to walk them, although if the water is murky it might not be worth the risk. Regardless, even if you can see the bottom have your recovery gear easily accessible, five minutes digging around for a bow-shackle while your 4x4 fills with water could be the difference between driving home or being towed. A snorkel sealed all the way to the engine in-take is an absolute must have. Backwards or forwards facing doesn’t make a great deal of difference

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In many situations a second vehicle simply won’t be able to get to you without getting stuck themselves, a quality winch and knowledge how to use it are high up the check list

SELF RECOVERY If you’re not going out of your way to drive the more challenging tracks you probably won’t need to perform a single recovery. But you might. And if you do the ability to quickly and safely recover is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. We took on the ‘tele track, including fording the bonnet deep scrubby creek without an issue. But a quick day trip out onto Pennefather beach north of Weipa saw us stuck for hours with countless recoveries till we were back on solid ground. In some situations we were able to rely on each other to get us out. But not always. Even if you’re travelling in a convoy a winch, a set of recovery tracks, and a full recovery kit in each vehicle are an absolute must. There’s every chance you’ll have someone in front of you who should theoretically be able to snatch you out, but can’t either due to them being stuck further up ahead, or not being able to reverse back through a challenging section.

Sadly, recovery boards are a consumable item. We chewed through a set on Pennefather, but without them we’d probably still be digging

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COMMS When you’re travelling in remote country communications are your life-line. Your phone is useless anything more than a few kays from the nearest small town which doesn’t leave you too many options. UHF radios, and smoke signals at last count. A vehicle mounted UHF should be the first option for any serious traveller. They’ll generally have a better range than hand-held offerings, with clearer communications and no chance of the batteries going flat. The trusty hand-held units are still worth keeping in the kit though, they’re great for talking between cars and people standing in river crossings or co-ordinating recoveries. Of course, all the communication gear in the world won’t help one bit, so run through a few rules while you’re on the long stretches of black top so everyone is on the same page. Over the past few trips to the Cape I’ve worked on a system where people will slow down or speed up in order to maintain comms between the whole convoy, we’ll also confirm everyone is “on comms” before setting off, and confirm we’ve heard a message if it’s anything important “copy on-coming road-train on the wrong side of the road in thick dust”. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Hand-held UHFs are… well… handy, but aren’t a substitute for a vehicle mounted system

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If your convoy is full of travellers rather than 4WDers make sure you include plenty of side-stops along the way. Lifting wheels gets old quick if you don’t like lifting wheels

ts with We husked a few coconu the ry mo me a it’s limited success, but kids will have forever

THE PEOPLE A large part of any trip to a destination like this revolves around the vehicle. But you’re not there for the vehicles enjoyment, you’re there for the people. While you’re sitting around with a beer and a map putting together your itinerary consider the people coming along on the adventure and their individual needs too. Obvious factors are drive distances and how

long they can go without a shower. You might be happy smelling like a second-hand kebab and punching out 1000km of corrugations a day but there’s a good chance it’ll tick off everyone else in convoy. Take it easy on the kids too. The reality no-one wants to address is a vast majority of the major roads all look the same, staring at the same tree going past for hours on end gets old quick when you’re six

years old. Before setting off sit down and have a think about the individual participants and what they’ll want to get out of it. While you might love an extra day of fording rivers a day in the tree tops on a zip-line might be the thing that your kids remember forever. CTA


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Be warned, only a fool would underestimate this seven kilometre hike. From leeches to snakes to vines that trap you, every step is a challenge – but it's worth it. PACK THE ESSENTIALS...THEN FORGET THEM

SUMMIT W O R R O S F O Words Natalie Cavallaro Pics Jack Murphy

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With the sun beating down hard, the beer rapidly diminishing, and the only roadhouse in hundreds of kilometres fresh out of Maxibon ice-creams, it was safe to say tensions on Race to the Cape were increasing. The Camper crew had already spent a fortnight tackling the tracks from Cairns all the way to the tip of Cape York, with camper trailers (Mars and Cub) in tow, led by our trusty 'Troop Leader' Dan 'the stuntman' Everett. In desperate need of some chill out time, on our way back down south, we pulled the campers into the sites at Cape Tribulation's PK's Jungle Village. We made a beeline for the air-conditioned bar, and jumped in the swimming pool, free from fear of croc mauling. Well, the others did. I headed straight for the shop in search of Maxibons. Preferably the peanut-butter and jam flavour. We were there to explore the Daintree Rainforest, and the depressingly named ridge trail of Mt Sorrow was in our sights. A perusal of Queensland's national parks fact sheet warned of leeches, the requirement of exceptional fitness, adequate water supplies, enough daylight and an EPIRB. Naturally, I prepared the hiking kit. Snacks, first-aid kit, space blanket, salt for leech removal and more snacks. However, I got swept up in the devilmay-care attitude of my photographer Jack, and accidentally left the whole kit in my room, aside from the water and one out-of-date protein bar. Oh well, I thought. All the more reason to make sure we knock this hike over in enough time. I needn't have worried. We ended up tagging along with a few of the backpackers who worked at our lodgings, including perky American Amber who'd already done the hike twice before. She failed to tell us that she was going for a personal best time, and held a cracking pace to rival Usain Bolt. I knew within the first hundred metres I had nothing – and everything – to fear. We'd be back for Happy Hour, that was for sure.


S ADVENTURE

HMITKSORIRNOWG

"If you envision the mountain goat, you will be the mountain goat"

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BREAKFAST REGRETS After a raucous evening establishing ourselves as 'the zany writers from down south' and toasting drinks to new friendships, we woke surprisingly chipper and ready to bust a move up the mountain. Against our better judgement we shunned simple cereal and toast, opting for bacon and eggs, a rash call we would both regret at the two kilometre mark. We then hightailed it over to Amber and co who almost left without us as they assumed we'd be convalescing from the previous night's shenanigans. We scoffed. Celebratory beverages or not, we were securing a mountain view today! We set off, a crew of five – confident Amber; British Jess, who voiced concerns about the activity level ahead of us, American Leah, who was celebrating her birthday, bearded Jack, certain that I had overstated the difficulty of the task ahead, and me, characteristically sweaty before we even left the PK's car park. The actual trail entrance was 20 minutes walk up the road and the sun was high by the time we arrived. With a quick glance at the warnings signposted at the entrance we set off. I consider myself to be reasonably fit, so the early protests of my heart rate proved we were in for a steep climb.

It's gonna be a bright, sunshiney day...

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The face you make when you realise you should've chosen toast


S ADVENTURE

The trail entrance – I was still smiling at this stage

HMITKSORIRNOWG PREPARE FOR SORROW It may be under 10km, but don't

be fooled. Mt Sorrow is no Sunday stroll. If you don't have a good degree of fitness under your belt, and at least some experience scrambling on steep and narrow tracks, your joy will be scant. Here's some prep you don't want to skip.

Water and a pack for snacks are essential

Which way now? It's easy to take a wrong turn!

You'll want to check for leec hes occasionally... these ones wer e real stage 5 clingers

• Tell someone when you are going and when you expect to return. We signed in and out of our accommodation, but even if you're not staying locally, you will be able to do the same. • When dehydration happens to good people – don't let this be the name of your posthumous memoir. There is not a drop of water to be found on the trail and it's recommended you take at least three to four litres of water per person. We had just over five litres between the two of us, and you best believe we drained them. • Leave early – this is not a track to walk in the dark, and depending on your speed and experience you'll need to set aside six hours. Factor in time to catch your breath and take in the views at the top. • It's not a great idea to do this hike alone, as there are things that can go wrong and schlepping yourself down the mountain with a snake bite or broken ankle would be less than ideal to say the least. • Make sure you're wearing hiking boots that are sturdy and reliable – there's plenty of hazards. • You're going to be a lather of sweat about 20 seconds after starting the hike. Wear gear that's going to wick sweat away, and pack a lightweight rain poncho in case. You'll also want something warm to throw on up the top when you're taking in the view as the breeze is chilly. • Pack a high-energy snack – to keep you going and boost morale. • It's a good idea to have a satellite phone or EPIRB on you, as your mobile phone reception will be extremely limited here.

For more information on the trail and safety guidelines, visit www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/daintreemount-sorrow

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Amber, doing her best to ditc h the rest of the crew on the way up

THE TRICKY TRAIL Steep is an understatement, but it's not the only factor that makes this a difficult hike. The path is extremely narrow, and often obstructed by fallen trees. There's roots aplenty underfoot, and with the foliage and hanging vines you'll be doing more ducking and weaving than Mike Tyson at the height of his career. Speaking of vines, the ones on this trail are of the 'wait-awhile' variety. They hang from the rainforest canopy and may look harmless, but once they've attached to you and you try to walk off, you'll realise they're harder to ditch than drunken Barry from finance at the work Christmas party. Just stop, and slowly walk backwards which should unhook their razorsharp spikes from your skin and clothes. As for Barry, tell him the DJ's playing Footloose and you just can't miss it. Just when you think the undulating track can't get much harder, you'll encounter a rugged section which has a rope that is necessary to haul yourself up. I was relieved to have a helping hand here, and found it to be one of the more enjoyable parts. Less enjoyable were the leeches that hopped on most of us for an easy ride to the top, mostly as the vegetation became wetter as we ascended. The thirsty little bloodsuckers were hard to get off, but to be honest, I was surprised we didn't encounter more. 60

WHATYOU NEED TO KNOW Where is it?

Mt Sorrow is in the Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation. Travel 104km north of Cairns on the Captain Cook Highway to reach the Daintree River Ferry. Beyond the ferry, it's about 36km to the Kulki day use area.

How far is it?

The ridge trail is only seven kilometres, just over three kilometres to the lookout at the top. It's a 680m climb, and the steepness and humidity will test you.

Is it marked?

There are trail markers at every kilometre, however you need to stay alert as the foliage is thick and it's easy to take a wrong turn.

Pro tip: don't get too excited here, this part is nowhere near the summit


S ADVENTURE

While the leeches didn't disrupt our fun, the snake I narrowly avoided stepping on almost did. It was too quick for me to identify it, but there are plenty of venomous snakes in this area, although as long as you use common sense you should be fine. Wear hiking boots, long socks or pants, and give them a wide berth. I'm not sure if the shirtless and barefoot German guy with the furry bear rave beanie we passed subscribed to my brand of caution, but we didn't find him collapsed and frothing at the mouth, so I'm sure he was fine. This is a hard trail, so make regular stops for water and to take in the beauty all around you. Butterflies, birds, creepy crawlies, and interesting foliage abound, and it would be a shame to miss out on the sights because you're doubled over catching your breath. Or because you're hot stepping it, trying to keep up with your unofficial hike leader who's at sprint pace.

Not a bad place to put your feet up!

HMITKSORIRNOWG

HEAD IN THE CLOUDS When you do finally get to the lookout at the top (680m elevation), you'll find it's an extremely small fenced off platform. When we got there about two and a half hours after we began the hike, we were treated to a view that was made up entirely of clouds, or what I imagine it's like being inside a giant marshmallow. Determined to get the scenic view we had pushed ourselves so far for, we jumped the lookout barrier and hiked on another 200m or so over a narrow ridge that

tested my fear of heights, to a comfortable little ledge of rocks. The cloud was still heavy so we sat and waited. After about 20 minutes, it cleared and it was everything I had hoped for. The Reef, vast and blue touched the rainforest, lush and green. The Daintree coastline and Snapper Island were in view, along with the shadows of coral reef. So high above the difficulty we had encountered below, the relaxation was welcome and the sense of achievement satisfying. I nibbled my out-of-date protein bar and tried to commit the view to memory as I mentally prepared myself for the descent. What goes up, must come down, and here's a tip for you – climbing down Mt Sorrow is just as taxing as the way up. By the time we reached the road I was ready to hitchhike back to PK's, my legs were so exhausted. If you love a challenge and feeling like you've achieved something, this Sorrow is worth suffering. CTA

Cape Trib – pretty, but full of achtung

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T S E T TT-E T E R R A T REK

L T E X V E E N L Ad v en tur er Tough, slick and built from real world experience, Borgy takes a closer look at a thrill-seeking new kid on the block WORDS MICHAEL BORG pics AARON FLANAGAN

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E

very man and his dog seems to have a camper trailer these days. And it’s no surprise, really. Most of us tend to realise the benefit of having extra storage, comfort and organisation after taking a few short yet hectic weekends away with the family, right? But as we get a little more adventurous and start tackling those tougher long distance off-road missions, one thing’s is for sure – that entry level camper you bought a few years back probably won’t cut the mustard long term! Not if you plan on putting it through the wringer, anyway. That’s where Mark from Terra Trek Australia steps in. You see, with a background in professional remote outback touring, we’ve got a feeling he understands how challenging things can get out on the tracks. So when it comes to designing a tough, yet comfortable no-holds-barred expedition trailer, it’s no wonder the latest from TerraTrek — the TT-E — is raising a few educated eyebrows of late. For those of you who remember, I actually had the pleasure of testing this camper just over a year ago across the Simpson Desert — I was super impressed with it back then. But this latest version; well, it’s a whole new beast!

AT FIRST GLANCE There’s no mistaking it, this weapon of a camper trailer means business. I mean, look at it – it’s like something out of a Rambo movie! The utilitarian design, the serious BFG KM2 mud terrains, the Rhino Lined front-section and the solid singlepiece drawbar all give it an aggressive overall Nope, no problem accessing your luggage here

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G OUT N I H T E M O S E “I T ’S L IK IE!” V O M O B M A R OF A The TT-E might look chunky, but it’s actually light and nimble to tow


Room for a crowd - albeit a rather sleepy one!

C amper

TESKT TT-E T E RR A TRE

Finally! An integrated draw bar handle

stance. But it’s those super-sleek lines that remind you of its innate purpose – to tackle the toughest adventures on the planet with your friends, family and loved ones, and look bloody great doing it! As you get closer to the Terra Trek, quality is the first thing that springs to mind. It doesn’t have chrome spinning hub-caps or shiny bits and bobs dangling from the tent, it’s more like an, ‘I’ll be handing this down to my grandkids one day’ kind of feel. This latest version of the TT-E looks even tougher than the original , which is thanks to an all-new custom-designed hard-shell tent and a wider body.

axle suspension which features control arms running from the wheel hubs to the opposite side of the trailer chassis, as well as four trailing arms to keep it all in line. Add in Old Man Emu coils (from a 200 Series LandCruiser for easy replacement), shocks and airbags and you’ve got a set-up that flexes incredibly well, soaks up sudden jolts like sawdust on a pee stain and manhandles heavy loads like a lumberjack on a sugar high. Oh, and the TT-E weighs in at a mere 980Kg (tare), which is still under a tonne, but slightly heavier than the prototype model I tested last year.

THE ROUGH STUFF

A UNIQUE APPROACH

You can expect the TT-E to eat the rough stuff for breakfast, and then go back and gobble another full English. There’s more ground clearance than there are blowflies on roadkill, and the impressive approach and departure angles ensure they’ll follow a well set-up 4WD deep into the depths of hell, if asked. But what’s even more exciting is how well they handle the nastiest of corrugations, washouts, dips and corrugations routinely found out on those harsh country tracks. The secret is in the military-inspired swing

It’s refreshing to see a new camper trailer hit the market that doesn’t just follow-the-leader when it comes to innovation. The custom-designed suspension system I mentioned earlier is a bit like the proof in the pudding of that. A big, fat, triple choc pudding! Want more evidence? How about that beefy single-beam drawbar, which is more than capable of handling anything the Aussie outback can dish out, yet actually weighs less than most offroad A-frame designs. Plus, it also allows you to jack-knife the camper on one hell of an angle (about 90-degrees to the 65


Yes Borgy, the beer keg will fit in there

CTA RATINGS TERRA TREK TT-E 1. FIT FOR INTENDED PURPOSE 2. INNOVATION 3. SELF-SUFFICIENCY 4. QUALITY OF FINISH 5. BUILD QUALITY 6. OFFROAD-ABILITY 7. COMFORTS 8. EASE OF USE 9. VALUE FOR MONEY 10. X-FACTOR

The unique suspension system has been custom designed for the TT-E

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MICHAEL VON BORG

vehicle), which can work miracles when you’re hooking a U-turn on super tight tracks. They’ve even got their own built-in handle to make light work out of manoeuvring the camper around by hand. Oh, and you’ll find the super-simple yet super-effective removable jockey wheel design a big winner, too! In the front storage box there’s a custom air-forced (pressurised) dust-proofing system. This is also where the massive 105L optional fridge is kept, too. The main fridge option is actually a lesser known brand name called Trail Blazer. They’re manufactured primarily for the Australian Defence Force, and are built in Australia for pretty much the harshest conditions on the planet. But if that doesn’t tickle your fancy there are other options available.

THE CAMPING EXPERIENCE The TT-E is designed to enhance the whole ‘camping’ experience, not dull it down to a luxury glamping trip similar to the whole caravanning thing. Nope, it sticks to its traditional tropes. What do I mean by that? Well, instead of having a fully-fledged luxury kitchen complete with built-in voice recognition and fingerprint security, you get enough storage space to pack a whole host of cast iron camp cooking gear; you know, so the kids can cook-up a feast straight over the fire while the oldies suck the guts out of a few coldies. Sounds good, eh? Don’t get me wrong, you still get a high quality stainless steel slide-out kitchen with a two-burner gas stove (that’ll boil a billy full of water in about four minutes flat), but I reckon good old-fashioned campfire tucker is always going to steal the show, and the TT-E definitely knows it too! While we’re on the topic of storage and that true blue camping experience, I’m sure you’re wondering where the kids sleep with this set-up,

There’s enough room for up to four jerry cans in the rear storage lockers


C amper

TESKT TT-E T E RR A TRE

R T HE E V O L I A F O T T END S R E L I A R ” T D E T I S F I O T M C E Y R H E W R E RE AND NTS W I E O H P W K N A E E E S W E S ’ S “HE RE THO U S E D A M D N Y E ARS, A right? Well, let’s just say there’s enough storage space for a platoon of swags and tents, so the kids can have their own quarters to call home. But, if you’d prefer them to stay under the same roof, there’s an optional room that zips onto the main tent, too.

LESSONS LEARNED Mark from Terra Trek says he’s learned a few valuable lessons when it comes to outback touring. He’s seen where and why most trailers tend to fail over the years, and made sure those weak points were rectified in the TT-E’s overall design. “When I was running outback 4wd tours, I found I needed a trailer that was super easy to clean” Mark said. “The quicker it could be done, the more cost-effective it would be and the longer the trailer would wind up lasting in the long run”. With that in mind, Mark designed all the storage compartments on the TerraTrek so there are no hidden gaps that are tricky to keep clean. Pretty smart, huh? Then there are the little things like using waterproof Deutsch Plugs for the electrical connections, which are arguably the best form of defence against dusty, rusty and dodgy electrical terminals.

The slide out kitchen is simple but effective to use

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If the tent’s lid can handle Borgy trudging on top, it must be tough, eh?

N TOP O P M U J R O D S TA N O T H G U O N E H CL E VER O T S K N “I T ’S T O U G A H T D, A L L E S O L C S ’ T I N OF WHE OP” T N O S B I R L A STRUCT UR 68


C amper

TESKT TT-E T E RR A TRE

It’s surprising how much room the all-new tent design offers

To keep the storage areas nice and organised, Mark decided to go high tech – by using plastic tubs! Ok, so it might sound a little basic, but trust me, when the cans of crushed tomatoes and baked beans burst all over the place thanks to those relentless corrugations, they’re the most convenient thing out there to clean or replace!

CANVAS QUATERS The all new tent design is another big winner in my opinion. “I tried a fair few different tent designs during the main development stage of the camper” Mark said. “But this is by far the best”. Sticking to the innovative nature of the whole trailer, it’s been custom designed specifically for the TT-E. It’s tough enough to stand or jump on top of when it’s closed, all thanks to clever structural ribs on top, yet, at the same time, nice and light thanks to their aluminium construction. It took Mark about 20 seconds to set it up, too. I mean, I didn’t even get a chance to snatch another one of Mark’s beers from the ice box before he was done. “The tent fabric is actually Weathermax, which is made in USA and has extremely good water resistance.” Mark says. “It’s not prone to mould, like canvas, it breathes well and is nice and light. Plus, it folds nicely on itself, which greatly improves the packing down process”. If you’re after a little more enclosed living space there’s a 2.0x2.1m ground floor kids/ change room. It’s a three-minute set-up, which zips to the roof tent veranda with an enclosable breezeway area under the veranda. It can stay zipped-up permanently too, although Mark says it’s simple enough to remove as you pack down the camper. For shade, the TT-E comes standard with a Supawing awning, which sets up in about 30-seconds flat, although our test trailer didn’t have it installed for this trip.

HITS Custom Suspension designed specifically for soaking up harsh vibrations Innovative tent design with super simple set-up Massive amounts of storage space for the size Very practical design for long range touring expeditions

MISSES Lack of bench space around the kitchen Internal living space is scarce

Kitchen follows a ‘keep it simple’ mentality

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AND N O I T A V O N N I S “OOZE

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COUN T I E R E H W Y G CHNOLO

T S”

GEARED TO GO As you can expect, the TT-E is equipped with everything you need to tackle those big expeditions. That includes two 110AH AGM batteries as standard, a solar panel and a Redarc 1230 BMS charger to look after the electrical side of things. There’s a 90L custom designed under-slung water tank, which is a dead-set thing of beauty! It’s plumbed to an electric 12V water pump, which is switch-operated instead of pressureoperated, so you don’t have to worry about the pump switching on and pumping all the water out if there’s ever a leak. If you want more water storage capability there’s also a 70L second tank available, but with dedicated storage compartments for 4x20L jerry cans it’s probably a bit of overkill, eh? There’s 2x 4.5kg gas bottles up the front to keep the fires burning on the stove-top and the water hot, thanks to the instant gas hot water system too.

CTA SPECS TERRA TREK

Tare: 980Kg Suspension: Custom long travel independent suspension Brakes: 10in electric offroad Coupling: Treg coupling offroad hitch (optional D035) Ball Weight: 95kg Chassis: Ladder-style, steel, hot-dipped galvanised Wheel/tyre size: LT285/75/R16 with BFG KM2Mud Tyres Tent: Custom designed hard shell roof top tent  

Borgy was impressed to see a truly innovative camper concept, rather than the same old styles repeated

4kg gas

ACCESSORIES

Gas cylinders: 2x 4.5kg bottle holders Water: 90L stainless tank with up to 4 jerry cans (170L total) Cooktop: 2 Burner gas stove Kitchen: Stainless steel slide-out

Side storage Tow bar 110 Litre fridge

Main storage

$46,690

Pantry 4kg gas

campertraileraustralia.com.au

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Add on tent

4kg gas

PRICE AS SHOWN

More pictures

Swing out wheel

Roof tent

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Slide out bencg

Twin wok burner Sink

Roof tent veranda

Supawing awning


C amper

TESKT TT-E T E RR A TRE

WHAT’S THE VERDICT? What can I say, I’m a big fan of the all new Terra Trek! It’s tough, fairly light and super-capable off the beaten track. It’s kept that raw, bare bones basic approach to things that most camper trailers tend to over-complicate these days. Yet it just oozes innovation and technology where it counts. Is it going to be everybody’s cup of tea? Nope. Some people might like a few more luxuries and a little more chrome. But I’ll tell you what; I wouldn’t mind calling it home for a few months on an insane outback expedition! Not because it looks like it would scare a Sherman tank into submission, but because I know it’s been designed and built from real-world experience to handle the rigours of travelling outback Australia day-in and day-out. The Terra Trek’s ample attributes really are focussed on what matters when the rubber hits the dirt — and that’s hard to come by these days! CTA

born for ► Air

forced storage for 105l Trailblaza fridge/freezer ► Floating aluminium body; sealed and lockable ► Fully equipped side access pantry ► Quick kitchen side awning ► 4 x 20l jerry cans ► Solar Panel ► Chassis mounted spare wheel ► Rated recovery points ► Hi Lift jacking points ► Old Man Emu springs and shocks ► 90l + 70l undermount stainless steel tanks ► Quality 285 75 16 mud terrain tyres

► Custom

“Trailers may vary slightly from image. Some equipment listed is optional.”

hardshell tent with ground floor room option ► Slide out kitchen with pumped water ► Outdoor capable twin burner cooker ► Huge internal storage with tie down ► Hitchmaster D035 coupling ► 2 x 110Ah AGM batteries. Redarc 1230 BMS ► Gas Hot Water ► 2 x 4.5kg gas ► Hot dip galvanised military-style chassis ► Long travel independent suspension – patent pending

d facebook.com/terratrekaustralia  www.terratrek.com.au @ sales@terratrek.com.au


g n i s Ch a

a l l u m a j d Boo Words Catherine Lawson Pics David Bristow

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Between Cape York and Kakadu lies a less well-known Top End attraction. Catherine Lawson and David Bristow recently discovered why it's so special.


S ADVENTURE

d n E p o T Travel

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Renting a canoe is great, but bringing your own is a way to beat the crowds at the hire stand

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t the end of every wet season swimmer's wait, left high and dry as an alarming number of estuarine crocodiles are cleared from the Northern Territory’s most popular waterholes. Yet just across the Queensland border in remote Boodjamulla National Park, campers splash about in a spring-fed savannah oasis that might just be the best destination in the far north for adventurous water-lovers. Traditional owners say that the Boodjamulla (or rainbow serpent) carved Lawn Hill Creek’s vivid, palm-fringed waterway from the sandstone plateau, blazing a path across the plains towards the Gulf of Carpentaria. Today, the former Waanyi hunting grounds and pastoral property-turned national park sanctuary easily outranks its NT rivals for river frontage campsites, budget priced stays and easy, breezy, no-rules paddling. The swimming is sheer heaven after time spent hiking Boodjamulla’s network of short trails, and the wildlife encounters — the harmless freshies, raucous flying foxes, wallabies and more — make this far-flung destination all the more appealing to off-thetrack travellers. There are no park entry fees and the spacious riverside campsites cost a tiny $6.15 per person, leaving plenty in the kitty for canoe rentals, hot meals and cold ales at nearby Adels Grove. The national park also throws a protective border around nearby Riversleigh World Heritage Area where you can discover the weird and wonderful fossilised remains of

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Remote route road signage on the track to Riversleigh

SPEN T E M I T R E T F A H E AV E N R E E H S S IL S" I A G R N T I T M R M O I H W S S F  " T HE ORK O W T E N S ’ A L L U AM HIK ING B O OD J


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T HIS Y K S E H T N I IS HIGH N " U S P I E D H A T R E C O F E L  "ON B RESISTI R I S I T O P S G ENERGISIN

WETWILD &

25 million-year-old Aussie mega-fauna. Paddling Lawn Hill Gorge is the number one thing-to-do at Boodjamulla, and because it’s impossible to be content with just a few hours in a rental canoe, you’ll want to make some space on board for your own boat. That way you can be first on the creek at dawn (before the rental stand opens) to watch the sun ignite the sheer rock walls, and linger late when this waterway will be all your own. From the national park campground on Duwadarri Waterhole, a paddling trip into Upper Gorge and back takes up to three hours. If you manage an early start you’ll be rewarded with solitude and as you enter Middle Gorge, the chance to catch the rising sun as it colours the red cliffs that shoot skywards. Upstream and around the bend, lilies carpet the way to Indarri Falls, short limestone tufa falls that stalls Lawn Hill’s crystal-clear creek, sending it cascading over a broad two-metre high drop. This is a great place to cool off and with a mask and snorkel you can eyeball the giant catfish, spitting archerfish and the snapping turtles that thrive in the clear, 30 metre deep pool beneath Indarri. Once the sun is high in the sky, this energising spot is irresistible for a dip. A lookout just above the falls provides a grand vista for very little effort too. Indarri Falls separates Middle and Upper Gorges, blocking the way upstream. To explore further, you’ll need to get out and portage your canoe a short distance along the banks. Paddling Upper Gorge is a quieter experience because not everyone makes the effort. That means you are bound to spot more wildlife – crimson finches flitting amongst the pandanus, and at dawn and dusk, the wallabies and wild pigs that appear to drink at the water’s edge. When you reach the pretty cascades at the head of Upper Gorge you can tie up your boat and picnic on the banks in the invigorating mist, toying with the archerfish that spit and jump for insects. These jumpy little fish feed by spraying out jets of water to knock down insects, frequently launching themselves clean out of the creek to the great surprise of paddlers whose fingers often attract a nibble too! 76

Boodjamulla's striking landscape at sunset

Paddling is the number one thing to do at Boodjamulla


S ADVENTURE

Top End Travel

Enjoying sunset on the Constance Range

ON THE TRAIL Little red flying foxes moved into Lower Gorge in 2017

Of all the walking trails that lead along the gorge rim and delve deep into Boodjamulla National Park, two favourites stand out. My top pick for an early morning stroll is Wild Dog Dreaming (4.5km/1.5hrs return) where you’ll discover 10,000 year-old Indigenous rock art, petroglyphs, and a midden of mussel shells and stone artefacts. You might also hear (and then meet) the huge colony of little red flying foxes that unexpectedly moved into Lower Gorge in winter 2017 for the first time in recent history, according to park rangers. Linger here to spot freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks below. At day’s end, a scenic trail skirts alongside Lawn Hill Creek and climbs the Constance Range to a grand viewpoint over the gorge and the endless spinifex plains and sandstone outcrops that stud the landscape all the way to the far horizon. If you tackle this short hike in time for sunset, remember to carry a torch for the trip back down. It’s not too taxing a distance at 4km (return) and it takes about three hours to complete. Other worthy leg-stretchers include the stiff ascent to Duwadarri Lookout above Middle Gorge for 360 degree views (600m/30mins return), and the Island Stack track that elevates you to panoramic viewpoints across the escarpment and loops around the edge of its tabletop formation (4km/2hrs return). Beyond the gorge, palm-fringed Lawn Hill Creek ebbs slowly north 77


Still pools gather at the base of Island Stack

The stiff ascent to Duwada rri Lookout rewards with 360 degree views

Waterfront camping On the edge of Duwadarri Waterhole, Boodjamulla’s oh-so-popular national park campground provides just 20 spacious sites, guaranteeing plenty of elbow room and a good chance of quietude after dark. The price is right at just $6.15 per person, per night, and you can’t beat the camp’s proximity to the water. Easy access to the gorge means you can cool off at any time, get your canoe wet early or paddle until the daylight fades. Although you’ll need to make a booking well in advance during the popular wintertime travel season, sites are not allocated so you can take your pick of what’s available when you arrive. The trick is not to show up too early in the day or late risers won’t have vacated their campsites yet. Overall Boodjamulla’s campground is well appointed with toilets and cold water showers, water taps dotted around camp and an interpretive shelter. Helpful national park rangers are available to answer questions, provide advice and dispense walk trail maps. About 10km away, the cushy camp at Adels Grove provides two things that the national park doesn’t: hot showers and cold ales. Although none of the campsites come with power, you can enjoy a campfire and pets and generator use are permitted in the spacious, demarcated sites furthest from the creek. 78

Good facilities and spacious campsites await those who venture here

FAST FACTS Location:

The smoothest route to Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park is via the Wills Developmental Road, 100km west of Gregory. Expect corrugations and dust west of the mine entrance. From Mt Isa, a more rugged route pushes 330km northwest to the park (allow four hours).

Camping & facilities: There are no entry fees

and campsites cost $6.15 per person, per night. Water is available (boil first) and facilities include toilets, coldwater showers, picnic tables and a park interpretive shelter. No pets, campfires, generators, fishing or motorised boats are allowed in the national park.

Best time to visit: Expect cool, dry conditions

(12-28˚C) from May to September. The park is busy during school holidays and may be cut off by wet season rains from December to March.

Contact: Book all campsites in advance for stays from April to October (www.npsr.qld.gov.au, phone 137 468). Adels Grove can offer camp sites when the national park is full. Find out more at www.adelsgrove.com.au.


S ADVENTURE

Top End Travel

COOL N A C U O Y S N GE ME A R O G E H T ." . . O Y T L R S A S E E C T C E A W Y  "E AS CANOE R U O Y T E G , E M O F F AT A N Y T I There’s a restaurant and bar, fuel and gas are available and a small shop sells all the essentials that are easily forgotten. Down by the river, the Grove’s shady, freerange campground gets mighty busy in peak seasons, but if you manage to nab one of the waterfront camps you probably won’t want to leave, ever! Campfires are permitted at the Grove but dogs aren't and neither are generators, so solar panels are de rigueur. The downside is that when you want to tackle a national park walking trail or launch your canoe or kayak, you’ll need to drive back into the national park. All the creature comforts at Adels Grove come at a price - $18 per person to be precise! Blending in at sunset on the Constance Range

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S ADVENTURE

Top End Travel

Riversleigh showcases the fossilised remains of meat-eating kangaroos, giant wombats and carnivorous lions

lla 50km of dust separates Boodjamu area and the Riversleigh World Heritage

DON’T MISS THE MEGA-FAUNA Spot giant catfish and spitting archerfish in the clear, limey water

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About 50km from Lawn Hill Creek, world heritage-listed Riversleigh is a popular day trip destination that showcases the fascinating fossilised remains of 25 million year-old prehistoric mega-fauna. Think meat-eating kangaroos, giant wombats, carnivorous lions and an almost complete skeleton of a thylacine – all of which have been unearthed on site. You’ll encounter some of these along a short, self-guided walking trail that loops around D site. As you explore, interpretive signage points out the fossilised bone of a five metre-long freshwater crocodile and an oversized Riversleigh turtle, and there are bone fragments everywhere you look. Not only is Riversleigh Australia’s richest known mammal fossil deposit but it’s also one of the world’s most significant. More than 300 fossilised species were discovered at Riversleigh in the 1960s, and the most impressive you’ll encounter on the trail is the rocky remains of Big Bird: limb bones and gizzard stones of a flightless thunderbird or dromornithid that reputedly stood around 2.5m tall and weighed 250-300kg. Close by, Miyumba Bush Camp on the Gregory River is a quiet spot to overnight, especially if you are tackling the rugged shortcut back to the Barkly Highway and Mt Isa (330km). For national park daytrippers, a detour to Riversleigh is a great way to fill a morning, leaving plenty of time to swim and paddle back at Boodjamulla before sunset. CTA


RED 82


PLANET

If its name is anything to go by, the mars rover can definitely handle the red aussie outback — and everythinG in between.

READY WORDS and PICS John Willis

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T S E T VER REAR FOLD MARS RO

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LLS I H , S E H C A E B N T HE O T A E R G O S L  "IT 'S A N T ER..." U O C N E Y A M YO U AND F ORES T S

Earthlings more than happy with Mars

T

ravelling the seemingly endless expanse of Australia’s red centre, it often resembles the landscape of a strange new planet. Our continent truly contains a harsh, almost alien world full of pleasures and pitfalls where only the strong survive the demanding elements and climatic extremes. The Mars Rover is 'red planet ready' and primed for lift-off on your next intergalactic odyssey to outback Australia. It's also great on the beaches, hills and forests you may encounter along the way to your favourite far-flung destination. The Mars Rover is the largest rear fold hard floor camper in the massive range of

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Mars offerings. This is a company that has listened and learnt plenty in its 11 years of manufacturing campers for Australia’s outback astronauts. I make no secret of the fact that I have a personal preference for rear fold campers, a view that is constantly challenged by many exceptional forward folding offerings. Yet I still hold true to my choice. I simply find hard floor rear folds easier to set up, particularly for overnight trips — and I enjoy a solid base low to the ground without the need to climb stairs and ladders to dinette settings that I rarely use. Most recent camper trends contradict my tastes, yet I still maintain this view.

For my personal use I would rarely go to the added trouble of assembling an annex when touring, preferring to simply fold out the main camper body for a night on the road. The extra time required for settingup most pole-style annexes is fine when establishing a campsite at a destination where you intend staying a longer period. Hence the Mars Rover with its removable annex suits me down to the ground. The small step up to the solid floor provides a base that is easy to keep free of dust and grime, and results in offering a more homely feel inside. The main body of the Mars Rover


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T TEVS ER REAR FOLD MARS RO

HITS Terrific value for money 15oz close weave canvas Sensible presentation of standard equipment Rear fold hard floor Easy for overnight trips

MISSES Sealed bedroom divider

and both internal and external awnings will certainly help tame the extremes of climate that any traveller is likely to encounter. The hard floor is finished with faux parquetry vinyl that not only looks aesthetically inviting but is practical and hard wearing. There is a large amount of storage under the bed with a long pole cabinet running north-south accompanied by two large sliding drawers. Immediately next to the drawers is the lunar command centre for both AC and DC power circuits with isolator switches, battery management system, water tank and battery charge gauges. These also have an individually fused switch panel, 12V and USB outlets, and 240V cut-off switch (240V inlets and outlets are options). The Rover comes with a single 100 Ah AGM battery as standard, which is easily expandable for those on longer missions into the solar system. The DC control centre ready to receive the optional 120W solar panel connected via the forward Anderson Plug. Overhead is a pair of LED strip lights and there are independent reading lights at the bedhead. You climb into bed quite easily with a full-width step and the hinge mechanism

Set up is quick and easily secured

Time for a cuppa ...

assembles in a matter of minutes. Simply fold the spare wheel retainer to the side, unclip the compression catches and the floor pivots over 180 degrees on well-weighted gas struts. The 15oz poly-cotton canvas tent springs to life requiring very little adjustment, and the canvas tropical roof follows automatically. The annex roof can stay secured, and this does save considerable assembly effort for your next campsite. This process reveals a high camper with massive head space, including over the queen-size inner-spring mattress on its elevated setting. The amount of volume inside the tent, combined with tropical roof and windows with midge mesh 85


The tent springs up with little adjustment needed

is well sealed with a strong PVC lining that has no sharp or hard edges with which to contend. This step also makes a terrific dressing seat and there are plenty of canvas pockets in the tent for phones, torches, wallet sand other items. Overall the internal living space is comfortable, roomy, inviting and accommodating, for both overnight and extended exploration. From the ground up the Mars Rover landing module seems rugged enough to skim the stratosphere for your next earth orbit. Its base is a square section galvanised chassis culminating at the drawbar with a 50x100x4mm A–frame configuration with AS rated polyblock coupling and chains. Mars manufacture their own track-proven independent trailing arm suspension with twin gas shockers each side, including 16in six stud alloy wheels with all-terrain tyres and 12in electric brakes with handbrake. Underneath we also find a wind-down leg on each corner and a 120L stainless steel water tank that is neatly plumbed and fully shrouded with alloy checkerplate. There are two fully engineered recovery points should

Plenty of practicality thanks to the parquetry floor 86

Alloy checkerplate protects the stainless steel water tank

you need to be towed backwards out of a black hole. The Mars Rover is an exceptionally well equipped unit with a host of standard features, options and accessories. Out in front there’s a convenient handle near the coupling for manual manoeuvring, plus a removable jockey wheel (optional wind-down) and a mounting base for the manual winch that we need to use when packing-up the unit. An electric option is available yet not really required. Next is the combination toolbox and corner stone-guard combination. The toolbox is quite large and can carry a host of equipment, awnings, recovery gear and jerry cans, if required. Either side of the toolbox is a checker-plate guard that protects the twin 9kg gas bottle holders (bottles not included). In between the toolbox and the main tub is a combination unit that has a large storage compartment on the driver’s side, plus a fridge-slide and three drawer pantry on the kerb side. All of the cabinetry is fully dustsealed and carpet-lined with auto-lighting and fan venting for the fridge. On top is a luggage rack that will double as a firewood holder or you can use the full length of the trailer for larger items, such as kayaks, as the top of the tub is strengthened with four support beams. A full boat-loader is available as an option and the base unit comes complete with the


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T TEVS ER REAR FOLD MARS RO

CTA RATINGS MARS ROVER REAR FOLD 1. FIT FOR INTENDED PURPOSE 2. INNOVATION 3. SELF-SUFFICIENCY 4. QUALITY OF FINISH 5. BUILD QUALITY 6. OFFROAD-ABILITY 7. COMFORTS 8. EASE OF USE 9. VALUE FOR MONEY 10. X-FACTOR

JOHN WILLIS

chassis supports so it can be easily fitted aftermarket. The stainless-steel slide-out kitchen is a beaut! It fits neatly into the front of the tub and slides out easily, revealing a sink with cold water as standard. This can also be upgraded with an optional portable gas hotwater supply. There’s a three-burner Thetford gas stove and the undersides have removable leg support and three utensil drawers — plus there’s a tea towel rack and a full-length folding benchtop. Other body features include; a combination of steel and alloy checkerplate panels, polished alloy edge trims, lockable water-tank filler, LED trailer lighting, body with black hammertone or enamel paint, automotive seals all around and adjustable compression locks. For a longer stay at Lunar base you can set up the 6x2.4m annex and full array of canvas accessories that come as standard with the Rover. There’s a full-length PVC floor, draft skirt, side wall kit and even an extra awning for the forward box sections that extends

NALLY O I T P E C X E N A VER IS O R S R A M T OF S E O H H  " T A H T I W D UNI T E P P I U Q E L L E UR E S" W T A E F D R A D N A ST

A place for everything and everything in its place 87


Outside cook ups are easy, just be prepared for a few keen visitors

CTA SPECS

MARS ROVER REAR FOLD TRAILER

Tare 1350kg ATM 2000kg Suspension Independent trailing arm suspension with dual shock absorbers and coil springs Brakes 12in electric Coupling 2000kg Australian Compliant Poly Block Chassis 70x50x3mm galvanised RHS Drawbar 100x50x4mm galvanised and painted RHS Body 1.6 zinc anneal with hammertone finish Wheel/tyre HT 265/70R 16in tyres Style 16in alloy mag

DIMENSIONS

Box size 2220x1860x 700mm Length (hitch to tail lights) 5.3m Tent size 4200x1860mm, annex room 6000x2400mm

ACCESSORIES

Gas cylinders 2x9kg holders only Water 125L stainless steel with shroud Cooktop Three-burner Thetford gas stove Kitchen Cooktop, stainless sink, pressurised tap, utensils drawers Battery 100Ah AGM deep cycle

right out to the end of the tow coupling. Now that’ll keep your firewood dry! Should you wish to go the whole hog, those smart little men from Mars offer the Rover Deluxe Upgrade for a very attractive kit price of only $18,990. This includes; silver baked enamel paint, a boat rack, 120W solar panel, extra 60L water tank, wooden bedbase, solar power controller, CD player and speakers, 1000W inverter, electric winch, portable hot water and a portable toilet. We put the Rover on a tough little course exploring a lunar landscape full of pits and troughs, wombat holes, wet mud and thick bull dust — as well as some tracking

through grassy undulations, steep rises and corrugations — and came out smiling. The dry kit weighs in at around 1350kg with 180kg ball weight and 2000kg ATM. In real terms you should expect to be towing approximately 1600-1700kg on the road where it'll sit and track beautifully. The camper's low towing height provides little atmospheric drag reducing overall fuel consumption for greater radial velocity through the atmosphere. The Mars Rover supplies a constellation of value, is fully-equipped for intergalactic exploration and won’t leave a black hole in the ministerial budget. The men from Mars

Ensuite included

PRICE AS SHOWN

$14,990 plus on road costs and fridge

campertraileraustralia.com.au More pictures

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Compare campers

Queen bed

Storage box fridge Fridge

Manufactured and distributed by MARS CAMPERS Factory 7/ 1695 Centre Road, Springvale, Vic, 3171 Email hello@marscampers Web www.marscampers.com.au Phone 1300 667868

Storage

ENQUIRIES

Kids room optional

Slide out kitchen included Canvas room walls and floor included


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T TEVS ER REAR FOLD MARS RO

The Mars command centre is easy to access, but out of the way

G, O H E L O H W E O GO TH T H S I W U O Y FFER O S R A M  "SHOULD M O R MEN F E L T T I L T E" R D A A M R G P U E X THOSE S U L T HE ROVER DE

are happy to mix and match the options between the standard Lifestyle and the full Deluxe package to suit your personal needs and budget. They back their products with factory outlets in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, combined with a wide range of service and sales dealerships throughout the country for your convenience. Step inside a Mars Rover for your next journey through time and space. CTA


Making WORDS BY John Willis PICS Alison Kuiter

TRAX 90

Lightweight and tough, the jawa white series trax 12 is perfect for heading out on tough tracks — without shirking comfort

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here’s something about recent camper trailer manufacturing that, to me, is all about world-leading innovation. It’s refreshing to see raw ingenuity come to life from the fledgling ideas and experiences of smart Aussie campers simply going about their business, camping. As popularity leans more towards hybrids, so too have Queensland’s Jawa Camper Trailers, with their Trax 12 and larger Trax 15


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T S E T WHITE SERIES JAWA AX 12 TR

models leading the charge. Take the time to have a second and maybe a third look at the Trax 12 that we recently took for a test on the Sunshine Coast; you’re in for a pleasant surprise. I’m all about easy, especially when I’m camping. However I do appreciate some level of comfort especially on a long road or an extended holiday in an ideal location. The Trax 12 supplies all of this with an exceptionally easy three minute set-up for a comfortable overnighter, or maybe a couple of minutes more to wind out the awning. It has a relatively light weight of 1690kg Tare, a solid aluminium body with pop-up fibreglass roof, a solid offroad capable trailer with independent trailing arm suspension, 200L of water and plenty of power. There's also plenty of cooking space, refrigeration and personal facilities, a few

creature comforts and even an extendable bed unit that creates immense volume for a fully enclosed queen size bed. The Jawa Trax 12 is a tough little home away from home that is ready to go the hard yards on a challenging track, but also provides easy and appealing accommodation for satisfying nights in a remote location. It is built on a tough box section chassis most evident from the large 150x50x4mm A-frame drawbar out front with a 360 degree offroad heavy duty ARC ball hitch (rated 3.5T), and heavy duty independent coil suspension with double shock absorbers either side. The Trax 12 has a Tare weight of 1690kg and an ATM of 2290kg with 136kg ball weight unloaded. Its overall dimensions are only 5.5mx2050mm wide so it is quite easy to tow and weighs little more than most forward and rear fold campers. The overall height on the road is 2.2m so it will cop

a little bit of wind over the top of most towing vehicles however the front of the van is quite aerodynamically designed to reduce drag. Aesthetically the Trax 12 is quite a nice looking unit with its white aluminium composite body and black window frames, drawbar and checkerplate protective panels as offsets. Out in front is a replaceable mesh stone guard with checkerplate wings and behind it is a pair of tool/firewood boxes made of the same alloy that will resist wear in this highly abrasive area. There’s also twin gas bottle and twin jerry can holders before you get to a large doorway in the front of the main camper body. One has access to the fridge compartment on the kerb side and the other houses the electrical control box complete with volt and amp meter, 240V and 12V circuit breakers and switch gear, 12V outlets plus independent 12V circuit 91


A tough little home you can take on the road

The water tanks are well protected but the plumbing hoses are a bit vulnerable

fuses. There are two 100A AGM batteries as standard charged via the Anderson plug to the towing vehicle or via the 200A portable solar panels, and a 30A battery charger is included (or upgrade to a Projecta 2510 ). Underneath the trailer the galvanised drawbar extends well down the chassis around the forward spring hangers, and all of the welding appears to be well executed. There’s more alloy checkerplate in the underside floor up the front leading down to impact protected Zincanneal beyond. It rides on 265/75/R16 mud terrain tyres with attractive 6in stud alloy rims with 12in electric brakes. There are two 100L stainless steel water tanks giving plenty of life’s blood. They are well shrouded with checkerplate covers but I did feel the plumbing should be neatened just a little as I wouldn’t want to see a stray stump dragging out the flexible hoses. Other trailer features include a handbrake,

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HITS Lightweight but strong Ease of use Sensible options Separate toilet/ shower tent

MISSES Shrouded water lines (Jawa have taken the hint and said they will fix it!)


a tough Ark jockey wheel, wind down stabilisers on each corner and engineered recovery points to the rear. Out in back is a swing down tailgate with single spare tyre wheel and tyre and this is beautifully balanced with gas struts making life easy. You need to drop the tailgate in order to assemble the extenda. We took more time choosing our campsite than we did assembling the Trax 12 including the awning! The basics are wind down the stabilisers to level (an electric drill and socket makes short work of that), drop the tailgate, lift the hinged rear wall panel and folding sides, pull out the bed base complete with the folding rear panel and clip it all in position. The whole extenda process could be done in about 30 seconds. Next we open the door, pull out the step and hop inside to lift the fibreglass roof with its easy spring loaded mechanism. That’s all you need for a quick overnighter. Full assembly is just as easy. Wind out the overhead awning, slide out the kitchen from the rear, plug in the Quick connect water and gas fittings, and pull out the fridge slide. Don't forget the music from the Bluetooth stereo, fold out your camp chairs and find your drink holders! You can have a break for lunch on the road just as easily, including enjoying the shade from the 4x2m awning (optional walls). Jawa have standardised the stainless steel kitchen available in all their campers. It slides out easily from behind the doorway that features automotive seals and waterproof compression locks, as do all of the access hatches. The kitchen has a pressurised hot and cold water mixer for the stainless sink

The bunk is a great option if you have kids, and it's easy to fold away

C amper

T TES HITE SERIES JAWA W AX 12 TR

UR O G N I S O O H C E T IME R O M K O O T E G T HE  "W N I L B M E S S A D WE DI N A H T E T G!" I N S I P N W A CAM E H T G UDIN T R A X 12 INCL 93


Enjoy a drink downstairs then climb up for some rest and relaxation

Flip the laminate benchtop up to find a multi-use cabinet

fired by a Duetto hot water system (optional extra), which heats the kitchen and outside shower. Jawa supply portable gas hot water as a bonus. There’s a four-burner gas stove with windshield plus three utensil drawers, a pull-out bench extension and adjustable stabilising legs. There’s even a 240V outlet plus 12V outlets next to the kitchen in case you have an electric kettle or frypan. Slightly forward is another compartment that can be used for bowls, plates or pantry. Up in front is the large pressurised compartment for the fridge slide that is large enough to take a 110L Evakool or similar, plus a full width enclosed pole carrier storage compartment above. We enter the hybrid through a large and secure side door with separate security screens. I had to duck my head a little on the way in, and those taller than me (six foot) will notice this. My interest was straight onto how well the big bed sat within its extenda and I was pleasantly surprised. I like a big comfortable bed and this is a ripper. The mattress is two pieces to accommodate the slide out section and it is an inner spring that measures a large Queen of 1520x2040mm. There is plenty of head room even above the extension, and heaps of light and ventilation options so you won’t feel at all claustrophobic. The soft section of the pop-top has Cranking the playlist is no problem in the Jawa

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T TES HITE SERIES JAWA W AX 12 TR

CTA RATINGS JAWA WHITE SERIES TRAX 12 1. FIT FOR INTENDED PURPOSE 2. INNOVATION 3. BUSHABILITY 4. QUALITY OF FINISH 5. BUILD QUALITY 6. OFFROAD-ABILITY 7. COMFORTS 8. EASE OF USE 9. VALUE FOR MONEY 10. X-FACTOR

JOHN WILLIS

zippered windows with fine mesh flyscreens all around, and the fibreglass roof provides added insulation and drop lighting options. There are high quality windows either side of the bed, and at the head as well, all with sliding awnings and flyscreens. It would be a lovely place to awaken looking out over a trickling stream or majestic view. Under the bed is a compartment for a porta potti that can be kept inside. I’d personally take it outside to the 16oz canvas toilet/shower tent that comes complete with a portable gas hot water unit as part of their White Series “Show Special” kit. This it also contains solar panels, a padded vinyl stone guard for the front and the battery charger. Back inside there is a multi-use cabinet immediately to your left as you enter with a black stone laminate bench top that is common to all of the flat surfaces. It’s probably best described as a pantry but also has room for pots, pans and utensils, and is backed up by three more utility cabinets above the workspace. To your right

Step inside, although you may have to duck if you're on the taller side!

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T TES HITE SERIES JAWA W AX 12 TR

Got three minutes? Then you've got time to set up the Trax 12!

CTA SPECS

JAWA WHITE SERIES TRAX 12 TRAILER

Tare 1650kg ATM 2290kg Suspension Independent trailing arm suspension with twin shockers and coil springs Brakes 12in electric Coupling Arc heavy duty offroad 3500kg Chassis Welded box section Drawbar 150x50x4mm galvanised Body Composite aluminium panel with fibreglass roof Wheel/tyre 265/75/16in all terrain Style 16in alloy mags

DIMENSIONS

Box size 3.7x1.2x2m (pop-top closed) Length 5.5m(hitch to tail lights) Tent size 4x2m wind out awning (optional side wall kit)

ACCESSORIES

Gas cylinders 2x9kg holders only Water 2x100L stainless steel with shrouds and filter Cooktop Four-burner gas with wind deflectors Kitchen stainless steel slide out with three drawers, cooktop, sink with pressurised cold water, adjustable legs and pull out bench Battery 2x100A AGM deep cycle

is a proper wardrobe complete with some full length hanging space and shelving. Immediately ahead is the small convertible two person dinette with the table dropping down to form the base for a small bunk. Overhead is a foldaway bunk making the van suitable to a family with up to two small children. If you have toddlers I reckon I’d be putting a little bit of webbing around the top bunk as a further restraint but overall the design works really well. The Jawa Trax 12 has a good array of LED lighting both inside and out including individual reading lights to the Queen bed. There is another 240V outlet at the benchtop and multiple 12V and USB sockets plus a CD/ MP3/USB/radio sound system that I believe has now been upgraded to Bluetooth. Jawa offers a huge array of options and accessories to provide you with your ideal package, including an internal bathroom with Thetford cassette toilet and shower that replaces the dinette and bunk beds and includes a small sofa bench opposite the wardrobe with swing around table. I have to admit the more I see in this midrange hybrid market the more I like. I’m not

Gas

From $34,999 with many optional extras

MANUFACTURED AND DISTRIBUTED BY: Jawa Offroad Camper Trailers Shop 3, 27 Evans St Maroochydoore QLD 4558 Email info@jawa.com.au Phone 0754 796844 Web www.jawacampertrailers.com.au

campertraileraustralia.com.au More pictures 96

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a caravan tourer, and enjoy the freedom of travelling a little lightweight and with some considerable offroad ability. Plus I demand immediate, easy creature comforts or I lose interest quickly. The Jawa White Series Trax 12 hits this target with a bullseye and best of all, it comes at a reasonable cost with a long list of sensible equipment and options. This Jawa is really making Trax to be a best mate on your next journey. CTA

Converts to single bed & bunk above

PRICE AS SHOWN ENQUIRIES

The four-burner gas stove has a windshield, perfect for less-than -perfect weather

2x jerry cans

Storage trays

2x batteries Gas

Sofa

Table

King bed Vanity Entry

External fridge tray

Sofa

Wardrobe Sink External tray External wall pantry & drawer

Draining board Stove


Custom-made to fit any window be it 4WD, caravan, boat or camper.

Cool in Summer, Warm in Winter Manufactured and developed in Queensland, Solarscreens are constructed from a unique, high-quality, ninelayer, flexible fabric that has been designed to insulate against extreme conditions; providing complete UV protection and unmatched thermal performance

Why Solarscreen …

Keep the heat out in summer and stay warm during those cold nights … to the exact shape of every • Made window to put up and pull down • Easy Sound • Absorbs Out Light • Block condensation • Reduces Strong storage allows compact • and convenient bag storage. Made & Owned • Australian Australian brand with almost • Trusted 20 year history year written warranty on all • 3products

FOR ALL ENQUIRIES  Ph: (07) 3398 5500 Web: www.solarscreen.com.au

9-layer thermal barrier


Treadht ly

An appreciation of nature goes handin-hand with the camping lifestyle, so how can we ensure we ‘leave no trace’ as we tour around the country? Words ALI MILLAR Pics GLENN WARDLE

B

y nature, campers are, well, nature lovers! So doing our bit to look after the environment and protect the Aussie bush for future visitors and generations to come is something that’s already top of mind. An awareness of how your actions impact our environment and how you can minimise some of these impacts is a good place to start and there’s plenty of simple things you can do to live more sustainably. It could be making little changes to your setup to increase energy efficiency, being more mindful of your resource use, or limiting your waste at camp. When it comes to living more sustainably, small changes can make a big difference in the long term. Here’s a few ideas for reducing your environmental footprint on the road and when you're at camp.

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Set yourself up with enough solar energy to power your rig

ASK D N A S I H T U O YO UR M E R E Y'VE H E H W T Y S E E N C O I T M C R A AT P R H W  "PU T YOU S R E L A E D ERS AND R U LIT Y" T I C B A A F N I U A N T A S M U S DS TO R A G E R N I E C A P U T IN PL ENCOURAGE BEST PRACTICE

BE ENERGY SMART

Environmental sustainability starts well before you drive your camper trailer out of the dealership. The manufacturing process has far reaching environmental impacts and supporting organisations that are doing their bit for the environment can encourage other businesses to follow suit. Put your money where your mouth is and ask manufacturers and dealers what practices they’ve put in place in regards to sustainability, and use this to help inform your purchasing decision. It might be the use of more eco-friendly materials, a conscious reduction of waste in the manufacturing process, the fitting of more sustainable fixtures, or even minimising energy use in the factory.

Speaking of energy, consider the ongoing requirements to run your camper’s appliances. Minimising power draw means your battery will last longer, so you can limit your reliance on the external power grid and reduce your carbon footprint, as well as extend your time out bush. Check the energy ratings on fridges and stoves, and reconsider the need for heavy-draw appliances like air-conditioners and microwaves. Most rigs are now fitted with energyefficient LED lighting, but if you’re purchasing secondhand or have an older model, it’s time to upgrade any halogen lighting. Good insulation and adequate ventilation go a long way in maintaining an optimal climate inside, meaning less energy expenditure on

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Protect wildlife by not feeding it

heating and cooling – something to consider if you’re purchasing a new camper trailer. When choosing a campsite, seek shade in the heat, or when you're in colder climates, park in the sun or where you’re best protected from the wind. Awnings are not only great for providing a shady spot to sit, they also keeps things cooler inside. In hot weather fridges and freezers use more energy to stay cool, so shading your rig helps take the pressure off batteries. Set yourself up with adequate solar to power your batteries rather than carrying a generator. Aside from the obvious environmental benefits of clean power, you won’t have to carry extra fuel (more space and weight for other things), plus your neighbours will thank you for the peace and quiet.

Limiting power draw reduces your carbon footprint

MAXIMISE YOUR FUEL EFFICIENCY Until the day we’re all driving around in electric vehicles, we’re reliant on combustion engines to get us from A to B, wherever that may be. Fuelefficient vehicles achieve better fuel economy, which means less fuel is used when we're on the road, resulting in less damaging carbon emissions escaping into our atmosphere. To improve the fuel efficiency of your tow tug, stay on top of regular servicing and maintenance – keep the engine tuned, use the correct engine oil and run tyres at the pressures recommended by the manufacturer. Your rig’s aerodynamics can also affect fuel efficiency – the camper’s height and shape, as well as any external fittings, such as airconditioners, awnings, and roof racks. Weight can also play a role so minimising your towing weight should be a top priority when packing for a trip.

GET WATER WISE Only a very small percentage of the earth’s water is fresh, so clean water is a limited resource that must be preserved. Most campers are pretty water savvy – there’s nothing like having limited water storage capacity and knowing there’s not a tap for hundreds of kays to keep water conservation top of mind! It’s amazing how little water you actually need to rinse your vegies (use a bowl rather than running water), shower (turn off the water while soaping up), brush your teeth (don’t leave water running), or clean your dishes (only half fill

Protect fragile environments MINIMISE CONTAMINATION of waterways by covering up rather than putting on sunscreen before swimming. Chemicals in sunscreens can be damaging to the environment and, in fact, recent studies indicate that oxybenzone, a common chemical in sunscreen, is contributing to coral bleaching. Our food can be dangerous to birds and animals so protect wildlife by cleaning up your camp and not leaving out dirty dishes, rubbish bags, or food scraps. Help stop the spread of invasive species by following quarantine guidelines and restrictions. They’re sometimes inconvenient but they’re there for a reason. Be careful when tying ropes around trees and use a rag for padding to avoid ring barking or damage. Leave behind what you find – don’t pick flowers, collect shells, rocks, seeds, fossils, etc.

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Make sure you always have reusable shopping bags handy

MOST E H T F O E N O STE IS A W R U O Y E" K G A N I M S I N M A I C N I U M O . . Y  ". ANGES H C E L Y T S E F I I M P O R TA N T L Limit plastic bag use where you can and avoid pre-packaged fruit and veg

the sink). To help conserve your water further, ensure your rig has water-efficient, low flow fittings on the showerhead and taps. If you’re plugged into mains water, be frugal and continue using water as you would if you were reliant solely on your tanks. This is particularly important in drought-affected regions that are already struggling.

REDUCE YOUR WASTE Anyone who saw ABC’s War on Waste will know what we’re talking about here. Dealing with the huge amount of waste we produce is a massive environmental issue, so minimising your waste is one of the most important lifestyle changes you can make. While it’s very difficult to avoid food packaging completely, try to cut down wherever you can: keep fruit and vegies loose rather than using separate plastic bags, avoid pre-packaged fresh produce, carry reusable shopping bags, purchase a reusable coffee cup, and use beeswax wraps instead of cling wrap. Invest in a good reusable drink bottle rather than buying single use plastic bottles of water. 102


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Healthy parks, happy campers

Australia’s national parks provide some incredible camping opportunities. To ensure they remain the kinds of places we want to visit, stay and enjoy, employ these environmentally sustainable camping tips from Parks Victoria and Four Wheel Drive Victoria.

STICK TO ESTABLISHED SITES Prevent damage to the roads and surfaces of campsites by staying on formed tracks and camping in established sites. If you’re unsure of the track’s condition, do a surface check first to prevent damage from spinning wheels or getting bogged, which impacts future visitors. Always set up in an existing campsite rather than creating a new camping space or driving into an uncleared area, and choose a well-drained site or raised area instead of digging trenches for water run-off.

TAKE IT WITH YOU Always leave a place as you find it, or in even better shape! Take all rubbish and camping gear when you leave and if you find other rubbish there, do the bush a favour and take it with you as well. Think twice before throwing food scraps into the bush, as it can be harmful to native animals. Even natural materials, like fruit skins, don’t always decompose quickly and can become unattractive litter. Don’t bury or burn rubbish – burying it disturbs the natural balance of the soil, and animals will just dig it up anyway.

KEEP STREAMS CLEAN Set up camp at least 20m from streams and waterways to keep the waters free of pollution. Wash up at least 50m from open waterways, and avoid using soaps and chemicals where possible – sand and a scouring pad can do the job just as well.

MINIMISE THE IMPACTS OF FIRE If you’re gathering firewood, only ever use dead or fallen wood and avoid logs with hollows as they provide homes for birds, as well as small creatures like gliders and pygmy possums. Collect wood from places where it’s plentiful as it’s usually in short supply around campsites, and never cut down plants or standing trees. Be especially careful with fire in dry areas and in summer, and obey fire restrictions. Wildfires can burn much hotter than a controlled burn, doing a lot more damage. Limit the size of your fire and use wood sparingly. Always use an existing fireplace if there is one, rather than creating your own. Make sure the fire is extinguished completely before you leave. You’ll need water to do this properly as soil or sand won’t completely extinguish it.

CHECK YOUR VEHICLE Before visiting parks and reserves, check your vehicle doesn’t have any oil or chemical leaks, which can leave permanent and unsightly stains as well as damage the soil at camping sites. A well-serviced vehicle will also emit less pollution, both on the road and around campsites – an all-round winner for the environment.

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CE LEAVE NO TRA Alongside the waste produced from throwing out empty bottles, consider the fossil fuels that are burned to refrigerate and transport them, and the water systems placed under pressure to fill them. If you’re concerned about water quality, invest in a water filter and carry a separate water tank especially for drinking water. Minimise wastage by not overbuying food, especially perishable items that’ll end up a Regular servicing and maintenance of mouldy mess in the bottom of your your tow tug can improve fuel efficiency camp fridge. A Department of the Environment and Energy report estimates that Australians generate a massive 361kg of food waste per – buy them purpose-made or recycle an old person each year. Approximately 6.8 million backpack – just ensure it’s a tough fabric that tonnes of carbon dioxide were released the animals can’t get into. same year as a result of sending organic waste to landfill. Now there’s some food for thought… Inconsistencies in waste disposal across CLEAN YOUR GREY WATER Australia, particularly a lack of recycling facilities Food scraps, detergents and chemicals in grey in remote areas, can make it difficult for water can be damaging to wildlife and sensitive campers. Make sure you have somewhere to ecosystems. If your rig is fitted with a grey water store your waste, preferably outside your rig, holding tank then it’s just a matter of finding an so you don’t have to worry when there isn’t a appropriate dump point, but for many campers, disposal facility for miles. Wheel bags are great this won’t be the case.

IN T S E V N I Y T I L A T ER QU A W T U O B A D K..." E N N A R T E C R N E O T A C E W E 'R E P A R AT  "IF YOU S A Y R R A C D R AN A WAT ER FILT E

Preserve nature for future generations, so they can enjoy the spectacular Kimberley scenery

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To protect waterways and vegetation, limit the use of soaps and detergents and always use biodegradable and eco-friendly products for cleaning. Capture grey water in a bucket rather than letting it run straight onto the ground, and remove food scraps using a fine mesh sieve before disposing of it well away from waterways. Scatter water rather than letting it pool in one spot, so it better filters through the soil. CTA


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t s ju ’ N I S I U R C WORDS MICHAEL BORG

Ever wondered why the LandCruiser is so popular? We hit the road and crossed the entire country to find out!

I

t’s real ‘Cruiser country here in the land of Oz. Sure the little buzz-box hatchbacks or SUVs might rule the streets of the big smoke, but make no mistake, the trusty LandCruiser is still the king of the bush! The big question is, why? I mean, they’re not cheapest option around. They’re not exactly the pinnacle of modern technology, either. And to be brutally honest, there are loads of other makes and models that would seriously leave Toyota for dead when it comes to the fancy pants bells and whistles side of things. Still, there are more LandCruisers in outback Australia than fleas on a dingo, especially when it comes to grey nomads lugging three-tonne vans right around the country. So we thought we’d put the latest from Toyota (a 200 Series Altitude Special Edition) through its paces. You know, to see what all the fuss is about. But your average lap around the block is never going to cut the mustard with this heavy weight. So in true Camper style, we upped the ante, big time. How? Well, we tackled an epic cross country trip from Sydney in the east, right over to Port Augusta in the south and then right up the guts to Darwin up north. Oh and we slapped a three-tonnes on the back, you know, for testing purposes. Here’s how it fared... 106


LAIORNS EGDUIT E L R IA C E P S E D 200 ALTITU R E IS U R C D LAN

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, Y A W A T O O F E F TH O K C I L F A T S S S JU L Y E A E F W L T I A S O I S R Y E IT CH “P OW W T O O T T ’ N S LE I T T O R H T E H T YET D” A O R E H T N O SAFE

THE TEST VEHICLE The vehicle we managed to get our mittens on was a brand new 2017 model LandCruiser 200 Altitude Special Edition. If it sounds a bit fancy, trust me, it was – especially when you’re a fairly basic fella like me that literally just completed a similar expedition in a worn out 80 Series ‘Cruiser with over 600,000kms on the clock. If you’re wondering what the “Special Edition” model has that the other versions don’t, don’t get too excited. It turns out the top of the range Sahara model still wins the war on luxuries. But the Altitude does come with a healthy dose of additional extras when compared to the mid-range GXL model. You get things like front and rear parking sensors, a refrigerated cool box and leather-accented seats which are now electrically adjusted. Oh, and there are only 600 of these bad boys being produced each year, so we feel quite privileged to chuck a few kays on one!

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The 4.5L twin turbo diesel donk delivers enviable pulling power at the flick of a foot


LAIORNS EGDUIT E L R IA C E P S E D 200 ALTITU R E IS U R C D LAN

TOWING THE LINE

HITS Heaps of torque for towing Comfortable seating position Great offroad-ability Reasonable fuel consumption for its size and power

MISSES Feels bulky to park around town Less tech than other vehicles in the same price range Not as optioned up as I expected from a limited edition model

I’m going to come right out and say it, the LC200 Series is a weapon of a tow vehicle. I mean, the thing rolls off the showroom floor with 200KW of power and 650nm of stump pulling torque thanks to a 4.5L twin-turbodiesel donk! What’s even more impressive is the way that all that grunt is delivered right to your door step. The power is always just a flick of the foot away, yet the throttle isn’t too twitchy which lends to that “safe” kind of feel on the road. So it goes without saying, acceleration is effortless – with three-tonnes on the back or not! I mean you know there’s a load on the back, but the ‘Cruiser never actually feels like it’s working! It handles the rigours of dirt road travel like it should. There’s obviously less traction so that load we were lugging didn’t mind pushing its weight around like a six-footseven bouncer on a bit of liquid courage. In saying that, the LC200 would make an absolute meal out of towing your average camper trailer pretty much anywhere. Those huge brakes keep the ‘Cruiser firmly in control, and with the towball’s 350kg rating camper selection isn’t exactly limited either.

This Altitude special edition is one of only 600 produced each year

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Back row seats fold away for ample cargo storage space

CTA SPECS

LANDCRUISER 200 ALTITUDE SPECIAL EDITION VEHICLE

Tare 2740kg GVM 3350kg GCM 6850kg Towing capacity 3500kg Engine 4.5L V8 twin turbodiesel Torque 650@1600rpm 4WD system Full-time dual range Fuel consumption 14.2L/100km, as tested Fuel capacity 138L Suspension Front: independent coil spring; rear: live axle coil spring Brakes Front and disc Seats 8 (2/3/3 configuration) Wheels/tyres 17in alloy 285/65R17 Style Wagon

DIMENSIONS

External dimensions 4990x1980x1945mm (LxWxH) Cargo load space 1276L Wheel base 2850mm Wading depth 700mm

PRICE AS SHOWN $88,460 plus on roads

MORE INFORMATION www.toyota.com.au

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T HE N I R O R E P A P UP ON K C A T S L L I W “F E W ISER” U R C D N A L A E IK REAL WORLD L


LAIORNS EGDUIT E L R IA C E P S E D 200 ALTITU R E IS U R C D LAN The factory rear suspension springs will need a bit of beefing up if you plan on towing big, like us. The suspension sagged a fair bit, so a good chunk of the weight transferred off the front wheels. We had a few teething issues with the load swaying around at highway speeds, but that can mainly be put down to the 'Cruiser’s factory rear-end suspension being a bit soft for such a job, and bugger-all ball weight, thanks to an unloaded van at first.

INSIDE OUT From the captain's chair the LC200 feels quite bulky, a bit like a Prado on steroids. But in saying that, the first time I planted my butt in the driver’s seat, I just felt at home. It was familiar in a comfortable, traditional sort of way. Everything was in arms reach, which was a little surprising when you consider how chunky it looks from the outside. While I wouldn’t say internal space is lacking, it doesn’t feel quite as roomy as the older 100 Series 'Cruiser, in my opinion. But hey, any vehicle I can drive from one side of the country to the other without whining about a sore back, knees or neck gets a pretty big tick in my books. While it’s got a few little mod-cons, like the push-button start and smart entry system, there were no adaptive cruise control systems or lane departure warnings. No blind spot sensors or crash mitigation. To be perfectly honest, I felt it lacked modern features for a vehicle of this calibre and price bracket. We unhitched the van and drove it around town a number of times (Alice Springs and Darwin, mainly), and I’m happy to say it pretty

much drove like a car – until you want to park it in a tight spot. The good news is you do get parking sensors and a reversing camera in the Altitude, which really helps take the guess work out of those tighter parking spots. It’s a true eight-seater, too. Although I reckon the three seatbelts on the third row is a little optimistic. The front five seats are big enough to handle a couple of burly big units quite comfortably though! Like the majority of eight seat vehicles you effectively get no boot space when the third row seats are in use, but hey, your towing a camper so it shouldn’t be a problem right?

LOW RANGE TO TOUGH TOURING When it comes to offroad and touring ability, few will stack up on paper or in the real world like a LandCruiser. The LC200 might appear soft and overly stylish (compared to previous models), but it’s still surprisingly capable. It’s a full-time 4WD system with no manual locking hubs to worry about, so transitioning from high speed bitumen to fire trails requires literally no input from the driver. If the going gets tough, a centre diff lock button locks both front and rear axles together, although with an absence of cross axle diff locks at either end, a lot of the equation is left up to electronic aids. The hill start assist system is an absolute pearler if you’re tackling steep terrain, and Toyota’s Crawl Control helps take the guesswork out of tricky ascents and descents where you’d rather focus on the precise steering input rather than juggling the brake and accelerator to maintain speed. There are three selectable

Offroad capability is proven, although almost makes things too easy

CTA RATINGS

TOYOTA LANDCRUISER 200 ALTITUDE

BORGY

1. FIT FOR INTENDED PURPOSE 2. TOWING ABILITY 3. INNOVATION 4. BUILD QUALITY 5. OFFROAD-ABILITY 6.ON-ROAD PERFORMANCE 7. COMFORTS 8. EASE OF USE 9. VALUE FOR MONEY 10. X-FACTOR 111


average weekend adventure with the family and camper in tow, the 200 Series LandCruiser is more than capable enough to go anywhere you’d want to take it. Like the base model GX and the GXL, the 200LC Altitude comes standard with traction control and multi-terrain anti-lock braking system.

WANT ONE? Borgy reckons it’s a bit more plush than his 80 Series with 600,000km on the clock!

speeds you can choose from, depending on the steepness of the terrain. Turn Assist is also available to help tighten up the turning circle by locking the inside rear wheel, something that seriously comes in handy towing down tighter tracks. Like most LandCruisers, I found the 200 to essentially be point and shoot, incredibly capable but it did make things a little boring. Any track that would challenge it offroad is the exact kind of track you wouldn’t want to punt close to $100K worth of car down. For the

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The 200 Series Altitude asks $93,460 before on-road costs, so you get all the extras and convenience features for a conservative $4630 premium over a GXL turbo-diesel. While some might argue the extra chrome and a few little knick-knacks aren’t really worth it, the fact that it’s a limited edition would probably be enough to persuade me into coughing up a few extra bucks. Surely a slightly inflated purchase price would pay dividends in resale value of a limited edition model down the track, right? You’d want to be quick to buy one though, rumour has it these things sell like hot cakes.

THE THUMBS UP Toyota’s LandCruiser has been the go-to 4WD for serious offroad work for the better part of a century now. The earlier models were capable because


LAIORNS EGDUIT E L R IA C E P S E D 200 ALTITU R E IS U R C D LAN of their simplicity, whereas the 200 is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s still every bit as capable offroad, thanks to some smart technology and does it in a way that doesn’t compromise its on-road performance. It’s the kind of rig you can load up with camping gear, hitch a 1.5t camper on the back of and drive from Melbourne to the Old Tele’ Track, or as luck would have it, Port Augusta to Darwin with camper in tow with not a care in the world. So to bring you right back to the start of this article, when the question begged: why is it so popular? I think it’s pretty clear – it’s the perfect blend of capability, performance and reliability. It does have its drawbacks in terms of its sheer bulk and lack of tech that should realistically be standard at this price point, but in a lot of ways that same lack of tech is often preferred for long distance touring — less to break, eh? If you had the keys to a 200 Series LandCruiser and the trailer of your choice on the back, you’d be hard pressed to wipe the smile off your face, and even harder pressed to doubt its touring ability! CTA

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STER DENI UTE MU

BOYS E H T M FRO BUSH Move over wild boys' weekend, Deni Ute Muster might just be the best family camping in the country

Words and Pics by DAN EVERETT

Dressing up for Deni is hilarious, or at least this bloke thinks so

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STER DENI UTE MU Amateur wood choppers draw huge crowds as they power through logs

Kids were awe-struck at Matt Mingay's stadium super truck

Big dollar builds take second place to home-brew setups in the Show n Shine

I

t’s not too often a music festival and camper trailers come up in the same article, and it’s because it’s not too often the two are entwined. But Deni isn’t your average music festival. If you haven’t heard of the annual Deni Ute Muster before you’re obviously from a small Latvian village somewhere, so let me get you up to speed on something that’s become an institution of Aussie culture, and why there’s far more than meets the eye. A little under 20 years ago on the edge of the outback, the small country town of Deniliquin was suffering one of their worst droughts on record. With their agricultural income drier than their skies, the call was made to put together an event that’d not only show off the natural beauty of the Riverina Plains, but raise some

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much-needed relief funds for local farmers. In 1999 the Deni Ute Muster was born, and fittingly for its 18th birthday it’s matured into an event for the whole family. Think the Royal Easter Show with camping, replace cheap show bags with Aussie culture and you’re onto a winner, and so is Deniliquin.

THE FUN So just what the heck do you do at the country version of an Easter show? Well that all depends on how old you are, on your birth certificate and on the inside. There’s entertainment for the young ones from sun up to sun down. The big drawcard is the carnival area and family centre. There’s loads happening including magic shows, face painting, carnival rides and even a

giant ferris wheel that soars above the festival. Kids will love heading over to the whip cracking demonstrations, watching the wood chopping, or even ducking into the big-top circus for an hour or two. Bigger kids (adults I think they’re called?) have plenty on too. The bull-riding is a show all unto itself with some of the toughest blokes I’ve ever seen strapping themselves to a tonne of angry bull then holding on for dear life. Right over the bleachers is the sports arena, which is code word for circle work and barrel races with utes big and small giving it their all. The tradie challenge put skilled builders head-to-head to see who could knock out the most impressive creation from a couple of pallets and a few nails. A full set of patio furniture was the most practical, but it was hard to go past some of the genius inventions in the paddocks, which included a John Deere road train stroller ferrying around a couple of little ones. Those with deep pockets (around $80 from memory) were able to head up for a chopper ride to get a bird’s eye view of the event, while many others found themselves buried in the crowds soaking up the live music, although more on that later.


EDGE E H T N O N W O IT TLE T L A S I T L U S E KUM N I D  " T HE R R I A F F O , FULL K C A B T U O E H OF T RY..." O T S I H T S E W WIL D THE PLACE You’ve probably heard the name Deni before, but might not be familiar with Deniliquin itself. There’s around 8,000 full time residents, although for one weekend a year that number swells to around 30,000. But that’s not what makes this area so special. It’s on the intersection of trade between Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, so for the better part of 170 years has been a vibrant hub of business and agriculture. The town itself is on the edge of the Riverina Plains, the flattest plains in the world that rival even the iconic steppes of Mongolia. The land was run by cattlemen, bandits, farmers and early explorers. Even William Wills from the famous Burke and Wills expedition cut his teeth at a sheep station just outside Deniliquin. The result is a little town on the edge of the outback, full of fair-dinkum wild west history complete with river boats, vigilante justice, WWI and WWII facilities, and some of the best music festivals either side of the black stump. The tickets to the Deni Ute Muster cover camping fees for all three nights, with plenty of room to spread out your camper, but if you’re keen to immerse yourself in country life there’s no shortage of new and historic places to lay your head at night in town, and plenty of places for a feed after a swim in the rivers.

Toasting to Deni

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The utes fire into life for barrel racing and circle work

The PBR bull riders put on a hell of a show, but the clown is the bravest man in the stadium


STER DENI UTE MU THE PEOPLE You’ve probably seen beat-ups in the Daily Telegraph bemoaning the bogan element, and that’s because they’re idiots. The reality is there are still the wild party seekers having the time of their lives, but they self-segregate themselves in the ute paddock and are some of the most polite and respectful yobbos I’ve ever done shoeys with. The result is the wild days of Deni are still there if you go looking for them, but the overwhelming majority of spectators are families young and old. There’s a diverse mix of country and city folk too with seasoned Deni veterans right through to first timers keen for their first visit. If you’ve got a heartbeat you’ll fit right in.

You'd pull the same face if you were about to be kicked in the air by 100kg of pissed off bull

The PBR bull riders put on a hell of a show, but the clown is the bravest man in the stadium

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THE FOOD As a first-timer to the infamous Deni Ute Muster I mentally prepared myself for three days of sausage sandwiches and cans of Coke. Boy, was I in for a shock. While many campers were content to slide out their kitchen back in the family camping areas, nestled between the main stage and kids carnival area was perhaps the best food alley I’ve ever seen at a festival. And I’m not talking 20 kebab stands either (souvlakis for you Mexicans). Real, fair-dinkum food with everything from gourmet wood-fired pizzas and pulled-pork burgers to top-notch healthy stuff I stayed well and truly away from. I think it was called yoghurt. It’s not limited to the food alley either. Just wander around the event and you'll realise you can barely take two steps between food stalls scattered around the grounds. I probably ate 10kg of jam donuts over the event.

The event is fantastic for food lovers, but not so great for financial planning

Some of the nicest bogans you'll ever meet

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The crowd gathers for Nollsy


STER DENI UTE MU

ARED P E R P Y L L A T N ...I ME R E M I T T S AGE R I S F U A S F O  "AS A S Y A HREE D T R O F F L E S Y M OKE..." C F O S N A C D AN SANDWICHES

Nollsy had his share of stage time... wait, are Nollsy jokes still funny?

THE MAIN STAGE Despite having the title of Ute Muster it’s safer to say Deni is a country music festival with utes, especially when you sit back and take in just how much live music comes pouring out of the multiple stages around the festival grounds. From local acts while you’re sitting on a picnic blanket eating lunch to massive artists performing late into the night. Saturday afternoon the field in front of the main stage became a sea of cheering footy heads, with toddlers all the way through to retirees donning their AFL teams colours and kicking back with an esky full of cold drinks to watch the grand final on the huge main screen with thousands of other fans. I follow sports about as closely as I do the Lithuanian Knitting Championship but even as an outsider it was hard not to get wrapped up in the electric atmosphere and find myself cheering as the points racked up. As the sun set on the final night of Deni,

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STER DENI UTE MU

UP, E N I L E I S S U A N ALLA S A W T I R A E S T I VA L E F N A I L  "...T HIS Y A R T S OST AU M E H T R O F G FI T T IN ND" E T T A O T E P O YO U CO UL D H

AFL crowds going wild for the Tiges Making a bang – fireworks closed the show

Whip cracking is a whole lot more impressive than it sounds on paper 122

the crowds reconverged front and centre around the main stage as celebrations of all things country went on into the night. In years gone by American headliners have taken pride of place, although this year it was an all-Aussie line up, fitting for the most Australian festival you could hope to attend. Over a dozen Aussie artists took to the main stage, with Lee Kernaghan and Shannon Noll drawing huge crowds whenever they belted out their famous tunes. As the rabble passed out back at their camp a huge fireworks show was the final hoorah for kids and many families before the Wolfe Brothers finally closed the festival around midnight. It’s hard to do the Deni Ute Muster service with so much ill-informed negative press over the years, but if you’re after an honest Aussie cultural experience it should be on your mustsee list next year. I just wonder if I can grow a mullet in time to fit in at the ute paddock? CTA


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AD NORTH E L S D A O R L L A

ALL ROADS LEAD

NORTH n i w r a oD

lA ice t

From Alice Springs to Darwin, new recruits Loz and Coops join Borgy on the family adventure of a lifetime! Words MICHAEL BORG Pics LAUREN GRIGG

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T

here’s just no place like Australia. It’s a one-of-a-kind sort of joint and to be completely honest and upfront - I bloody love it, especially when I get to show it all off to the world and explore the best parts of it for a living! You might remember last issue, Camper’s new editor, Aaron the thrill seeking adventure man, and I forged the path on the first leg of the insane All Roads Lead North tour from Broken Hill to Port Augusta and up into Alice Springs. This issue, poor Aaron got the flick and had to board a plane home from Alice Springs, but I was lucky enough to continue the adventure north. Now the whole idea of this voyage was to access the suitability of this particular route for family touring. Well, that’s how we managed to con

Big 4 MacDonnell Range has plenty to offer families - even free pancakes!

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Borgy had plenty of time to get to know Loz and Coops on the looong NT highway hours


AD NORTH E L S D A O R L L A

set-up to the hilt with entertainment for the young whipper snappers. A few hours later, Coops and I were just getting to know each other – and by that I mean he was comfortable enough to jump off my head in a bid to make the biggest splash possible in the pool. Oh, and apparently that waterslide has a weight limit of 100kg. I must have scoffed down one too many burgers on the way up because the speed I built up on the way down was comparable to an F1 race car on nitrous.

er when they're free! Om nom nom! Pancakes taste bett

“COOPS ENTERED THE VEHICLE VIA THE BOOT, BECAUSE THAT’S APPARENTLY WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE EIGHT YEARS OLD” the boss into letting our rainbow unicorn-loving, event-co-ordinating guru, Loz, and her campfirestarting extraordinaire son, Coops, join in on the fun. Geez, talk about real world testing! One thing’s for sure, this expedition had all the right ingredients to be an absolutely epic adventure, and trust me, it didn’t disappoint.

LOZ, COOPS AND THE ALICE

LONG DRIVES AND BELLY LAUGHS To get a true understanding of just how big this country really is, you’ve really got to hop in the car and drive through, well, nothingness. And that’s exactly what we did for the first leg of our journey. Yep, the attractions are few and far between for the first day or two. But, it does give the kids a little real world education if you ask me. It was intriguing for Coops (a bit of a city kid) to get a glimpse of life in remote rural towns. If anything the kids will get a grasp on how far the distances really are between those two black dots on the map. Were we bored at times? Yep, trust me there were plenty of “are we there yet” moments. But hey, long drives are a great opportunity to brush up on your trivia! In fact, after getting my backside handed to me by both Lozzie and Coops I learned of this really cool new game; it's called, the Quiet Game. Yep, the first person to make a noise loses, and thankfully my two passengers were both fierce competitors. It’s too bad Coops quickly mastered the art of the silent but deadly fart – you try keeping quiet when your nostrils are literally melting!

Coops took to Borgy like a croc

to water

While Lozzie and I have travelled together in the past, I’d never actually met her young fella, Cooper, before this trip. For a bloke who doesn’t have any kids and spends most of his time enjoying the goodness of Mother Nature's sweet serenity; it’s safe to say I had absolutely no clue what the heck I was in for. A high pitched excitable shout, screaming “BOORRGGY!” from one end of the car park to the other was the first thing I heard as the pair emerged from the terminal, bags in hand and full of beans. Coops entered the vehicle via the boot, because that’s apparently what you do when you're eight-years-old and about to travel for 10 days with a bloke you’ve never seen let alone met before. First stop of the day was the Big 4 MacDonnell Range caravan park in Alice Springs, which is 127


ORTH N D A E L S D A ALL RO

He's looked behind the couch, in the car and all through his handbag, but the Devil still hasn't thought to check the NT Where the 'waters' run amber

FIRST STOP – KARLU KARLU (DEVILS MARBLES) Just south of Tennant Creek you’ll find the Devils Marbles, which is arguably one of the best free camps in Oz. It’s crazy, you’re driving for hours and then, bam! Majestic big round boulders pop out of bloody nowhere. Coops had a few hours’ worth of built-up energy, so naturally he was pretty eager to investigate these massive masses of ancient granite up close and personal. If you’re visiting here yourself, make sure you spend the night — the Devils Marbles look utterly spectacular at sunset!

DALY WATERS PUB In the past this cool old pub has witnessed murders, shoot-outs in the main street, cattle stampeding through town and the odd drunken brawl between ringers. These days it’s an extremely popular and friendly spot to stop in and visit. Although rumours of a ghost, named Sarah, still haunt staff when they’re on their lonesome of a night. A good chunk of the history is literally written 128

Borgy passing on the secrets of his misspent youth

on the walls, and over the last few decades visitors have added to the decoration, leaving mementos behind, with a heck of a lot of bras stuck to the ceiling too...strange! Oh, and don’t forget to wrap your laughing gear around the infamous crocodile slider!


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Bromance in the air

CL E AR L A T S Y R C T A TH "E VEN T UALLY, ERING BL UE WAT ER LIT T SPRING -FED G F HIM" ER O T T E B E H T T O G Bitter Springs ain't a bitter pill to swallow

MATARANKA HOMESTEAD Now this is the place you can have a great camping experience with the kids without really roughing it. Yep, after a few days of full blown caravan parks we finally had the chance to light a nice campfire to settle into for the night. And it was also the place Lozzie and I realised that Coops, like most young boys, was attracted to the good old naked flame – a bit like an ant to honey. For a first time camper, Coops really took to the whole campfire thing seriously. So naturally it was the perfect time to teach Coops how to use a flint to light a fire, the funny thing is I learned a thing or two in the process - like why you shouldn’t explain to an eight-year-old kid in detail exactly how indigenous folk used to make sharp spears with fire to harden the tip. Or how to restart the campfire in the morning using nothing more than a few dead leaves and the heat trapped in the previous night’s coals. Yep, imagine waking up to a kid on a mission in the morning! The good things is, while there are heaps of kangaroos and wildlife around the park, the only shots fired were from Cooper's camera, not the hunting spear – geez, that kid's mind is like a sponge! 130


AD NORTH E L S D A O R L L A MATARANKA THERMAL POOLS Just two hours up the road we found ourselves floating around the natural thermal pools of Mataranka, a place I was adamant we had to visit on the way through. “Yuck, what stinks?!” Coops said, as we proceeded down the main wooden boardwalk through the palm forest. “There’s bat poo everywhere”. He was right, there were a lot of little red flying foxes hanging down from the trees, and bats do tend to poo a lot. While the screeching noises of these creatures don’t typically worry me, I can definitely see how a young whipper snapper born and raised in a concrete jungle could potentially find them slightly unappealing. “I’m not swimming in bat poo”, Coops declared. “That’s disgusting, and there are probably crocodiles in there”. Eventually, that crystal clear spring-fed glittering blue water got the better of him. It might have had something to do with the water temperature, sitting at a luxurious 34-degrees, and the inviting shimmer of light on the water’s surface after filtering through the tree canopy.

BITTER SPRINGS But, if you want my pick of the litter in terms of swimming holes, it’s just got to be Bitter Springs. It’s a completely natural setting apart from a few man-made steps, and I honestly reckon its one of the best spots up here. But, if you’re a little bit croc conscious (as you should be) there’s a good chance this one will have you a little on edge; especially if your name’s Loz! Yep, there’s nothing like a recent croc spotting to turn you off a dip up north, especially when you’re struggling to see the bottom as you float down the canal with the current. While I was coaxing Lozzie into the water with classic words of encouragement like “it’s okay, crocs don’t eat that much” and “I’d be more worried about the snakes”, I found myself jumping nearly six-feet out of the water as my legs brushed against a submerged log – talk about payback, eh? What was super interesting, though, was watching Coops gain a heck of a lot more confidence around a natural swimming hole the second time round. It got me thinking, isn’t that what experiencing new things and different parts of the country is all about; learning?

Coops learning fire art from the master

iew ervCREW IWITHntTHE 1. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP? LOZ: Visiting all the natural springs. While I was overly cautious about seeing a 'salty' and obsessed with checking the updates on the park's site, they were stunningly beautiful and a really different experience that you can't really get anywhere else in Australia. Also, just a super ace way of cooling off on the hot days. COOPS: FIRE! Learning how to build a fire. Holding the crocodile and other animals at Crocosaurs Cove. I liked learning what all the place names meant, like Cutta Cutta Caves.  2. WHAT WOULD YOU DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME? LOZ: Plan better for the long drive out of Alice! I knew it was isolated, but wowsers! The two days' drive to reach Katherine was long and there was nothing to see or do. More car games, a DVD player or iPad packed full of movies. I was really keen for Coops to break free from technology on this trip, but the two-day drive is where we needed these the most. I would stay at the Devils Mables and skip Tenant Creek for the night. I would have loved to learn or research more of the Never Never history before going, to 3. WHAT DIDN'T YOU LIKE ABOUT THE TRIP? COOPS - I loved it all! Except for the Bats and Bat Poo!  4. WHAT TOOK YOU BY SURPRISE?  LOZ - The sheer space and beauty! Places like Mataranka, Bitter Springs and Berry Springs were unexpected. I thought it was going to be desert and nothingness from Alice to Katherine but all the beautiful natural stops like the springs and Natmiluk were unexpected. I also thought we might see a snake or two which we didn't and that surprised me.  5. HAVE YOU GOT ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PARENTS TRAVELLING TO THE NT FOR THE FIRST TIME? LOZ - Some days are going to be long! But all you really need are a pair of bathers or some boardies and a pool noodle. Being more practical pack the Hydralite or extra Gatorades for the kids in the heat. Look for parks set up for families - Big 4 Macdonnal Ranges Holiday Park was amazing! Free Pancakes on a Sunday - what a win. Plan your activities for early morning or late afternoon, be in the pool or somewhere cool during the middle of the day. Spend some time in Darwin, what a great city. I never knew there were such great food and entertainment options, it is easy to get around and the markets are off the charts!

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ORTH N D A E L S D A ALL RO KATHERINE GORGE The Top End of Australia is world famous for its spectacular gorges, and Nitmiluk Gorge, previously known as Katherine Gorge, is right up there with the best of them. The Katherine river system actually comprises 13 gorges in total, and while you can opt to paddle upstream with a kayak tour, we decided to go for an early morning river cruise right up the guts of the two main gorges. It’s safe to say this place is nothing short of mind blowing. It was intriguing to learn just a snippet of the knowledge the traditional owners have of the land. In fact, as we learned of an ancient method used to poison fish to help catch them easier, I’m pretty sure I muttered to Loz, “Geez, I hope Coops didn’t hear that”. Naturally, this place is a haven for wildlife, too. Freshwater crocs can be spotted during the Dry Season and the area is closed for swimming in the Wet Season; apparently the big saltwater crocodiles like to explore the river system, too. Birdlife is abundant, and when you’ve had enough exploring for one day you can head back to the swimming pool at the main campground near the Nitmiluk Information Centre.

CROCOSAURUS COVE Naturally, one of the major highlights of this region is the saltwater crocodile. I mean these reptilian power houses are basically living, breathing dinosaurs. While you can see them in

The beautiful Katherine Gorge is best explored by river cruise

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their natural habitat with a jumping-croc cruise, or by getting too close to the water (if you know what I mean), the world renowned Crocosaurus Cove was our poison this time around. The main reason being my little mate Coops had the opportunity to actually hold a baby crocodile. Yep, that’s a once in a lifetime sort of experience if you ask me. Then there are the hundreds of other reptiles, fish species and massive crocodiles sharing the spotlight too. We were lucky enough to catch the snake feeding show. Although, going off the look on Loz’s face I don’t think she knew what she was in for. Something about the reptile keeper handling a dead rat like it was a piece of chocolate put her off the experience. Weird, huh? Coops, on the other hand, was utterly entertained.

Cooper 'at peace' with the baby crocs of Crocosaurus Cov e

Borgy contemplating the meaning of life (or thinking about what's for lunch)


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ORTH N D A E L S D A ALL RO THE SCHOOL OF LIFE If you’re thinking of hitting the road to Darwin with your family and friends, don’t procrastinate. Stop worrying if there are enough activities for the kids to do, or if it’s too remote to explore on your own. Trust me, it’s more family friendly then you think, and when you reach the city lights of Darwin you just can’t help but feel accomplished. If you ask me, I don’t think there is a better way to teach the kids about Australia – the real Australia! I saw young Coops go from being too scared to swim in a natural swimming hole, to grinning from ear-to-ear as he jumped off a 5m rock straight into the turquoise waters of Berry Springs. We witnessed his confidence grow with every place we visited, all while he gained an invaluable understanding of cultural significance and traditional way of life. So go on, explore the Northern Territory with the family and get back to the basics of adventure. Heck, with any luck, your kids will get as much out of it as young Coops did...just make sure you supervise around the campfire, eh? CTA

From Borgy's head to 5m rock shelves, Coops developed plenty of confidence to jump off stuff

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The Northern NSW region has attracted a large number of what would loosely be referred to as hippies; people seeking an alternative lifestyle

NORTHERN Words david cook

Camper's resident geologist, David Cook, casts his trained eye over this year's Camper Trailer of the Year destination. Just enjoying the relaxed lifestyle

NORTHERN NSW is one of those gloriously laid back areas where rolling, lush green hills meet warm temperate seas and long strands of golden sand back sweeping bays facing onto the South Pacific. Rich sub-tropical rainforests and sweeping vistas of sugar cane and banana plantations are pierced by high spires of extinct volcanoes and numerous wide green rivers slide smoothly down to the sea. It’s little wonder that it has become one of Australia's great sea change destinations. The area was opened up to holiday makers and those seeking a rich life away from the modern world by the surfing generations of the 1960s , who found dream breaks bending around headlands from north to south and warm waters that were a pleasure to ride all year round. The surfers were followed in the late 60s and early 70s by the dropout generation of hippies who retreated to the rich lands and forests away from the coast looking for simpler solitude to get away from a world they’d lost faith in. They and their children today populate the market stalls and small towns in many nearby areas. The very features – the rich soils and beautiful warm climates – which eclipse commerce and bureaucratisation as ruling forces to life, tell us much of the region’s earlier history.

Volcanic Necks Australia is a continent on the move. It began to break away from Antarctica about 80 million years ago, opening the great Southern Ocean and its global circulating ocean currents and winds which 136

Idyll dominate the globe's southern climate. Macquarie Island, which lies the same distance south of the Equator as London is north of it, is so cold and bleak that no woody plants will grow there, yet its Northern Hemisphere equivalents, warmed by the Gulf Stream and sheltered by large continental land masses, are carpeted by rich forests and populated by cities of many millions. As Australia has climbed towards the tropics at the rate of a rapid 6.9cm per year (with a slight clockwise rotation) it has been passing over a global hotspot. Such hotspots are believed to form over a narrow mantle plume of molten material

The rim of the Tweed Caldera has been formed from resistant basalts while surrounding ash deposits have eroded away


SGURLAFARCSE E E R H T H T A E N BE

Chill out man – take it easy in Northern NSW

about 3000km below the Earth’s surface. They are unusual in that most volcanoes are formed at the edge of the Earth’s tectonic plates, where they collide. Another famous hotspot exists beneath the Hawaiian Islands in the central Pacific. Like a blow torch blasting its way up through thinner areas of the crust, it has punctured the continental surface in a series of volcanoes which start in the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland and have continued in a line down through NSW and past Melbourne and now lie beneath Bass Strait. At some point in the future – it will be millions of years away, so don’t be concerned for your real estate investments – it will likely reappear, this time in Tasmania. At 2000km in length it is the world's longest line of continental hotspots, nearly three times longer than that of the Yellowstone hotspot track in the USA. One of the primary features of this chain on the far North Coast of NSW is Mt Warning-Wollumbin. The former name was applied by Captain Cook in his journey along Australia’s East Coast in 1770, but altered to the latter traditional indigenous name in 2006. It is, for two brief periods each year, the first part of the Australian mainland to be touched by the morning sun. Mt Warning-Wollumbin, like so many other prominent landmarks along the East Coast – such as the Glass House Mountains

in Queensland and NSW’s Warrumbungle Mountains — is formed from the eroded remnant core of an extinct volcano. Mt Warning-Wollumbin lies at the centre of the Tweed Valley Caldera and despite years of erosion, stands at a height of 1156m, about 900m of material having been eroded away. A caldera is a depression formed after the collapse (explosively, by physical collapse due to the exhausting of a lava chamber beneath; or through erosion) of a volcano. At 40km in diameter and over 1000m in depth, the Tweed Valley Caldera is one of the largest in the world and bigger than the famous Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. The volcano became active about 23 million years ago and over the next three million years rose to a height of over 2km, with lava and ash deposits spreading out over a diameter of 100km. Most of that ash and lava has been eroded

since, but it has left a heritage in the form of deep, rich soils which support a strong agricultural industry in the region. Mt WarningWollumbin and the rim of the caldera to the west are formed from hard, resistant basaltic rocks.

Long Mountains Australia’s Great Dividing Range is the third longest continental mountain chain in the world, at 3500km in length. By world standards it may be long, but it is fairly low and in some ways insubstantial, but it has significant impacts on climate, population distribution and river systems. While there is much controversy, it appears that the Great Dividing Range was formed over two periods of uplift, one about 100 million years ago, and the second about 50 million years later, as Australia drifted across a zone 137


E SURFACE H T H T A E N E B The north coast NSW region was once the centre of a major logging industry

Mt Warning-Wollumbin is covered in thick, warm rainforest

The area has an abundance of wide green rivers flowing down to sea

of upwelling mantle material. All this was complicated by rifting – the breaking apart – of Eastern Australia, with the coastal edge sliding off and then sinking below the ocean in the Tasman Sea. One of the most significant impacts is on Australia’s river systems, with those west of the Great Dividing Range flowing largely west and south to the Murray and Darling basins, and those to the east flowing towards the ocean. The greater level of rainfall on the mountains and short

distances to the sea have produced prosperous, well fed rivers that sometimes astonish travellers from elsewhere in the nation. The river systems of the Tweed, Richmond, Clarence, Macleay, Hastings, Manning and Hunter Rivers are all relatively short but wide and rich, supporting numerous small towns and communities. They were, at least in the earlier colonial era, navigable by coastal shipping in their lower reaches, subject to flooding and impacted by run-off of pesticides and fertilisers. Few are dammed to any extent. CTA


These days, it's a family affair, with everyone pitching in to set up camp

HT SHE'LL BE RIG

BACK BEGINNING TO THE

TH HEIMAN Words and Pics KA

Times may have changed for the heimans, but the joy of camping hasn't waned, just evolved. NOW AND THEN life has a way of reminding you how quickly time flies. Back in 2009, my husband Scott brought me to a traditional archery shoot in the Hunter Valley. Not long before, I’d completed chemotherapy for an aggressive cancer that had seriously threatened to take me out of the game. But we’d kicked that menace in the butt and were slowly re-establishing a sense of normality after a pretty rugged year. We brought our baby daughter here in 2011 when she was just nine months old. It was the first occasion that we’d elected to rent a TVan Track Trailer as part of market research ahead of an intended purchase of a camper of our own. Having made a few efforts at tent camping with our baby, it was pretty obvious

that our preference for long distance travel — interspersed with short stop overs — required a re-think of previous approaches sleeping under canvas. While we were committed to getting our daughter ‘back to basics’ as often as possible, pitching tents one-handed with a toddler on weekend getaways was less than ideal. Since 2011, our little family has evolved immeasurably. For the first couple of years, Scott took our daughter around the archery range in a backpack, attempting (often fruitlessly) to counter-balance her tendency to fidget as he let-loose arrows down range. By three years old, she’d started competing herself – although her efforts with a bow and arrow had to be closely monitored. And at night, we’d

settle around our newly purchased Echo 4x4 Kavango camper trailer, still coming to terms with the ‘perfect pack’ and keeping a close eye on our baby so she'd not injure herself around the campfire and among the snaky-hollows. But nothing stays the same. In 2017, our camper trailer is now a veteran of some 45,000kms of highways and byways, from as far north as the Gulf of Carpentaria and as far south as Kangaroo Island. Today, when arriving at camp just before writing this, we settled into a well-oiled routine that saw us set-up and have a cold beer in hand within 30 minutes. Provisions were easily located in their usual cupboards and alcoves. And each of us took our place as awningerectors, bed-makers and lunch-providers without need for discussion. Our daughter was integral to bringing the camp together, pitching in as needed. And then the real change happened. Having helped set-up, our daughter disappeared. You see, we’ve been here annually since before she could walk, so she’s made quite a few little buddies around camp. In previous years she’s generally kept so close to us that we’ve risked tripping over her. But, this year she’s obviously decided it’s time to spread her wings. And it looks like the only thing that will keep her broadly tethered to our campsite is the promise of food, a book before bed and the occasional cuddle. The biggest challenge I’m left with is to remember how I spent my free time before our daughter arrived on the scene. Perhaps to help me remember, it’s about time I went and strung my bow. While it seems like just yesterday, it’s actually been nearly seven years since I’ve had time to line up in front of the practice butts. CTA

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DRESS D A D E IX F O N The FJ Holden at Ivy Tanks on the Nullarbor, in 1967

Words and PicONs

LOOKING BACK

RO N AND VIV MO

Ron takes a trip down That old 4WD memory lane WE'VE BEEN towing trailers around this country for darn near longer than I can remember — certainly before there was such a things as commercially available camper trailers and certainly well before the current, vibrant and burgeoning camper trailer industry. Taking stock, it seems we've reached a bit of a milestone so you'll have to excuse me if I seem to indulge myself a little here. Fifty years ago this month, in 1967, my mate and I headed off across the Nullarbor in the first vehicle I ever owned, an FJ Holden. We weren't towing a trailer back then, I gotta say, but the 'highway' — for want of a better term — was a corrugated and pot-holed dirt track from Ceduna in SA, to Norseman in WA, a distance of 1200km. We knelt down and kissed the bitumen when we got to the other side!

Then in 1977, we headed north with my boat and boat trailer behind a shorty Cruiser. Man I wish I had that ol' Tojo now. Anyway, we went up through Central Qld — what we now know, rather touristy-like, as the 'Matilda Way'. It was a dirt track back then for much of the way and by the time we got to Normanton and Karumba on the Gulf, the near brand-new trailer was falling apart; the axle bent out of shape from dragging it through black soil roads we ploughed flat. The next year, on my honeymoon with Viv, we headed to WA and up around the coast northwards. Back then the so-called highway was dirt from Port Hedland all the way to Kununurra and from Alice Springs south to Port Augusta. Needless to say the boat trailer went through another rebuild. By this stage I was starting to understand the wear and tear a

trailer is subjected to on long stints of corrugated roads and washed-out creek crossings. The most memorable of those crossings being on a nascent and grandiosely named Gibb River Road, where the winch pillar on the front of the boat trailer broke, allowing the boat's nose to poke its way quite suddenly and dramatically through the back window of the Landy! The following year we towed a trailer loaded with canoes part way up the Cape for a canoe trip down the Mitchell River from its source near Mt Carbine. We had a slight hiccup along the way when the bloke who owned the tow tug — a Ford F100 — lost control just north of Injune in the Carnarvon Ranges and we went over a cliff backwards. Luckily for us, the trailer somehow ended up underneath the Ford and we rode the trailer and its nine fibreglass canoes to the bottom, the canoes acting something like giant exploding airbags. In 1980 we finally made it to the top of Cape York. We'd left behind any thought of towing a boat, but had a canoe on top of the ol' 47 Cruiser and were towing my custom made camper trailer. The trailer started life as a Telecom works unit and we upgraded the chassis, whacked on bigger tyres, replaced the springs with Toyota leaf springs; while an awning that wasn't commercially available for many years gave us a bit of shade. That was the start of our camper trailer lifestyle, something we are still doing, albeit with a hybrid camper that, heaven forbid, looks more like a caravan! Anyway, wehope you all can enjoy many years of camper travel and then, in the future, like us — look back. CTA

The awning connection with the attached slides is inserted into the centre eyelet and raised to the required height. You then pivot the slides to the corner poles, making for an easier and faster way to erect your awning. (check out our website for prices and sizes).

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info@raawcon.com.au www.raawcon.com.au


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? G N I N E P P WHAT'S HA

CAMPER TRAILER OF THE YEAR UNLEASHES MASSIVE SHOWCASE This year’s Camper Trailer of the Year adjudication event is massive. Due to unprecedented interest in living a life dedicated to outdoor adventure, Camper has been busy reviewing a huge sample of superbly constructed camper trailers. We’d only just finish a schedule of reviews, when another swathe would loom into vision, such has been

the frenetic progress of manufacturing activity within the industry this year. A huge thank-you to our tireless reviewers: Dan Everett, Michael Borg, John ‘Bear’ Willis, David Cook and Emma Ryan. But all the while adventure continues unimpeded. The stories we harvested from our trip up north to the Cape are reaching fruition,

and so too the epic tales gleaned from our bolt northwards through the centre to Kakadu and the Top End. Keep an eye on our social channels for realtime updates!

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THE CAPE Part II Bearded, beaded and bashed-about: The adventure concludes

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Where moments become memories... Holidays should be a simple and relaxing affair for the whole family. Jayco Camper Trailers are easy to tow, quick to setup and spacious to live in, making them a perfect way to achieve your dream RV escape with ease. The simple things in life are always the best, and a feature packed Jayco makes them easier to discover, and easier to enjoy. So start planning your Jayco adventure today. Visit jayco.com.au or call 1300 52926 78 to ‡find your nearest Jayco dealer.


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Race to the Cape Part one

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Race to the Cape Part one