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Caravan AUTHENTIC ADVENTURES AND EXPERT ADVICE

NEW LOOK

New

World

AGE

FAMILY FOCUSED LUXURY

ISSUE 574

ON SALE APRIL 5, 2018

A WEEKEND

$9.95

(INC GST)

WITH INVERLOCH

HENLEY ON

TODD RIVER REGATTA

7 TOP ! ER RV'S$ L P

TO E E R HE RIB K C IC BS CL SU

TESTED M A S


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E x p l o r e r D i s c o v e r y TESTED

Words and pics

Malcolm Street

G r e at e r

pull Explorer Motorhomes has taken a bold new approach to an existing design with its 4WD Discovery.

A

IN BRIEF 4WD HiLux conversion Well setup for remote travel 6WD available as an option

t Explorer Motorhomes there’s definitely a theme of evolution with its motorhome designs, all of which are based on either Toyota HiLux or Ford Ranger 4WD cab chassis. These are the vehicles of choice for many motorhomers who like to get offroad, but cannot afford bespoke designs of larger vehicles. There are a few practical issues even with HiLux/Ranger-based vehicles. The first is usually a weight limit, i.e., keeping the overall weight within the bounds of the vehicle’s GVM. Another problem for many people is that most of these designs have a transverse bed in the Luton peak above the driver’s cab. A third issue is that, given the vehicle’s limitations, internal space can be a bit tight. Based in Clontarf, Qld, Explorer Motorhomes has solved the first two issues in recent years by up-rating the base vehicle’s GVM and designing both single and double lengthwise bed configurations above the driver’s cab in both its Vision and Spirit models. A few months ago John Burke, proprietor of Explorer Motorhomes, rolled out its latest model – the Discovery. It has an extensively modified Toyota HiLux chassis that comes with an extra axle at the rear and an up-rated 4495kg GVM, putting it in the same class as MercedesBenz, Fiat Ducato and Iveco Daily-based motorhomes. It’s a fully load-sharing system and all the work was done by a Victorian based-company, Multidrive Technology (www.multidrive.com.au). I was given first look at the brand new motorhome which also includes a polished alloy bullbar. It’s impressive, to say the least. Although my review model was a 4WD with a lazy rear axle, the option exists for real enthusiasts to get a 6WD version for an extra $25,000.

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ON THE ROAD

Although the prime purpose of the extra axle is to give extra load and space capacity, it also changes the driving dynamic a bit. Not in a substantial way but it's better than a four-wheeler, as there’s less of the fore and aft pitching that sometimes occurs with short-wheelbase vehicles. I didn’t get the opportunity to do any hard-core 4WDing driving to find out if the lazy axle affected the rear wheel traction in any way, but for the slippery conditions I was in I didn’t find it much of a problem. However, I’d reckon it’s something to keep in mind. On the road, the Toyota 2.8L turbo-diesel delivered the goods and the six-speed auto responded willingly under all the driving conditions I could find. Clearview rear-view mirrors are fitted as standard and, along with the rear-view camera, work very well.

BUILDING ON SUCCESS

Using the technique honed in both the Vision and Spirit models, the Explorer body is fully moulded fibreglass. A one-piece moulding offers the advantages of a good strength to weight ratio, as well as a seamless body, thus minimising water leaks. A benefit of not using any framework is that since all the internal cabinetry is screwed, bonded or fibreglassed to the main shell, there are no restrictions on where it might be placed. Windows are Dometic/Seitz acrylics and the Camec door has a separate Crimsafe security screen.

RIGHT Heavy-duty suspension and 4WD provide offroad capability not normally seen in a large motorhome BELOW The six-speed auto gearbox and 2.8L turbo-diesel engine delivered the goods in slippery conditions

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In keeping with most ute-based motorhomes, the external bin capacity is a bit limited with just one at the left-hand side of the rear wall. It should contain most of the external camping essentials – hoses, power leads and the like. It could also be used for a generator. One of the reasons there isn’t a second bin is that space is taken by the slideout barbecue located on the mid nearside wall. There are, of course, the other essential bins for gas (two 4kg gas cylinders) and toilet cassette, complete with SOG ventilation system. Camp chairs and a table will be a bit tricky to store, but I always find the shower cubicle is a reasonable alternative when on the road and the driver’s cab when you are parked up.

“IT HAS AN EXTENSIVELY MODIFIED TOYOTA HILUX CHASSIS THAT COMES WITH AN EXTRA AXLE AT THE REAR”


E x p l o r e r D i s c o v e r y TESTED

FROM TOP A two-door fridge/freezer provides 200L capacity without impacting benchtop space; large knobs on the Thetford three-burner stove

MEASURING

GREAT LENGTHS

UP PROS Island bed fitted Remote camping capability Good load capacity Well sized kitchen bench Spacious bathroom layout

CONS External bin capacity Cab walk through limited Pricey but you get what you pay for

Those who design RV interiors will tell you that it’s surprising just how much 150mm/6in extra width or length makes to a motorhome or caravan interior. So when you add just over 1m (4ft) (compared to the Spirit/Vision models), it’s like ‘manna from Heaven’ to both designer and users. What we end up with is not unlike many caravan layouts, with a lengthways double bed up front, a full bathroom at the rear, and both the kitchen and dinette in the middle. Even in a relatively confined space a generous window area adds both natural light, ventilation and a good space perception.

DISCOVERY BY NIGHT

Up front, the double bed has been set off the floor to fit above the driver’s cab, but there are steps on either side for easy access. This is no flat floor motorhome, but there is limited cab access for emergencies and, to that end, the bed based can be lifted up on gas struts. Fully extended, the bed reaches 1.9m (6ft 3in). Part of the bedroom area fit-out includes small bedside cupboards and drawers, cabinets under the bed, and storage compartments under the steps. Discreetly hidden in one of them is a small safe. It’s all quite a clever design and a very effective use of space – nothing wasted. Windows on either side and 12V Sirocco fans fitted to the overhead lockers ensure good air circulation in warmer weather.

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MARY RIVER MUSINGS

Not far out of Kenilworth (QLD) along the Eumundi-Kenilworth Road is a great little camping site on a dairy farm, through which runs the Mary River. Bluff Creek Campgrounds was a handy little spot for us to test the Discovery. The river level at the time was high enough to give the 4WD a bit of a workout especially when exiting up a fairly steep track on the western side, but the extra traction on the Discovery handled it with ease. At Bluff Creek Campgrounds, there are no facilities except for a few portaloos but it's a great spot for photographs and not to mention very peaceful mid-week. Visit www.kenilworthcamping.com.au or phone 0455 1765 240 for more.

CATERING FOR THE MASSES

Fridges might seem a bit of an odd place to start a kitchen comment, but this one is interesting for the most part from a size point of view. RV fridges in Australia seem to come in two styles – under-bench and sized less than 100L, and anything over that which requires a much taller cabinet. The gain for a smaller fridge is more kitchen bench space or a kitchen that takes up less space. What Explorer has fitted into the nearside kitchen bench is a 200L Isotherm compressor fridge. It’s a two-door unit that fits (ta dah!) under the bench. I’ve also seen a few other variations on the theme in Euro-built motorhomes in New Zealand, but not here in Australia. That two-door fridge then allows for a threeburner cooker, round stainless steel sink and a generous amount of benchtop area. In addition to that, you still get a cupboard with wire basket drawers and slide-out, two shelves, and a microwave between the shelves. There are also three overhead lockers but one, handily located by the habitation door, contains the electrical essentials.

DINING FOR TWO

Opposite the kitchen bench, the cafe-style dinette will seat two people without too much trouble. The large adjoining window gives a good view of the surrounding countryside – a dry view in my case because it was raining heavily at the time! The table is a bi-fold unit,

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ABOVE The frameless construction provides greater freedoms in layout with no studs to stick to BELOW Shelving under the bed

but it doesn’t operate in the conventional way. It has a fold, but the folded section is designed to slide down a slot on the wall, not fold back onto itself. It simplifies the table mounting but requires two hands to lift the table in and out.

CLEANING UP

Like a few other features in the Discovery, the bathroom is slightly different. Yes, it has a shower cubicle, cassette toilet, and washbasin all set around the rear offside corner. Logic might suggest the shower door cubicle faces the side, but it actually faces the rear. That integrates with the overall corner layout and means the bathroom can be closed off by the sliding door when in use – actually it has to be to get to the shower cubicle. The layout made it very tricky to get a decent bathroom photo but, more practically, it did seem to be a workable arrangement.


E x p l o r e r D i s c o v e r y TESTED

EXPLORER

DISCOVERY WEIGHTS AND MEASURES Base vehicle Toyota HiLux Tare 3700kg GVM 4495kg Licence Car Passengers 2 EXTERNAL Engine 2.8L turbodiesel Power 130kW@3400rpm Torque 450Nm@1600rpm Gearbox six-speed auto Brakes ABS Disc Suspension Full suspension upgrade and body stretch, inc. full load sharing suspension by Multidrive, Geelong Brakes Full disc brakes on three axles Wheels Alloy 17ix8 in wheels and Pirelli 245x70 R17 ATR Tyre DIMENSIONS Overall length 7m (23ft) External body width (incl awning) 2.18m (7ft 5in) External height 3.2m (10ft 6in) Internal height 1.95m (6ft 5in) Bed size 1.95x1.37m (6ft 5in x 4ft 6in)

ROBE SEAT

TABLE

SEAT

TOILET SHOWER

QUEEN BED

FRIDGE ROBE

C/BDs GEN LOCKER

EQUIPMENT Water tank 150L (fresh); 55L (grey) Gas 2x 4kg Batteries 3x 105Ah Solar 4x 115W Air-conditioner Dometic roof-mounted AwningDometic electric Internal Cooking Slide-out BBQ (outside) and Dometic three-burner (inside) Fridge Isotherm CR200 2 door, 200L Microwave Yes Bathroom Dometic with SOG and separate cubicle shower Hot water Dometic diesel Price as shown $243,700 More information

To inquire about this motorhome, phone 1800 660 035 or visit www.explorermotorhomes.com.au

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TESTED EN xe pwl Ao gr e rM DR i2s0cBoCv e r y

RATINGS VALUE FOR MONEY “Not a cheap motorhome but if a spacious 4WD rig is desired, then it’s a winner” SELF-SUFFICIENCY “Most definitely designed for remote travel with plenty of water and electrical capacity” LIVEABILITY “Reasonably user-friendly given the van length” SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING

In the rear corner, the cabinetry is devoted to both a small wardrobe and cupboard space with shelves. The lower half being for the external bin. Overall, I’d have to say the internal storage scores quite well.

“Be hard to argue with the fitness for purpose of this vehicle” LAYOUT “For a van this length and layout, there’s still room to move around”

OFF THE GRID

QUALITY OF FINISH “All features are of very good finish” BUILD QUALITY “Nothing much wrong with the overall fitout” CREATURE COMFORTS “Has most of them” INNOVATION

“Quite a few small and large innovations, the most obvious being the HiLux chassis conversion” X-FACTOR

“A motorhome designed for serious offroad travel, what more could I say?”

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FROM TOP Above the cab, the north-south bed is accessible from both sides, with bedside tables and cabinets reminiscent of a caravan layout; a separate shower is accessible from the bathroom; there's a corner sink and separate toilet

You would expect a motorhome designed for offroad travel to be well equipped for that purpose and the Discovery delivers. It offers 150L of fresh water capacity as well as 55L of grey water. Electrically, three 105Ah deep cycle batteries are charged up by four 1.15kW solar panels and, of course, both the mains and vehicle chargers.

THE BOTTOM LINE

As I noted in my opening comments, it’s hard not to be impressed by Explorer’s Discovery, both inside and out. Just how much interior space is added by fitting the extra axle is quite amazing, and I gathered from their comments the Explorer design team were surprised, too. Of course the price jumps somewhat from the more conventional four wheelers, but then this is a rig designed for serious and sustained offroad travel. An advantage it has over larger cab chassisbased vehicles is the width is better for tight corners and narrow bush tracks, whilst still providing a decent internal living space.


LINCOLN TOURER LE FEATURES • • • • • • • •

20’6” External Torflex Independent Suspension Large 190Ltr Dometic Fridge Leather Café Dinette with Bifold Table 150w Solar & Dual Batteries Top Loading Washing Machine Twin Lockers & Generator Hatch 2 x 95Lt Water Tanks

Buy from a trusted dealer who listens and cares! ∙ Good Quality Service ∙ Friendly Knowledgeable Staff ∙ Easy Convenient Parking ∙ Trade-ins and Appraisals Welcome

• Sales

• Spare Parts

• Accessories

∙ Customized Layouts No Problems ∙ Free Comprehensive Delivery with Experienced Staff ∙ Complete Caravan Spare Parts & Accessories Shop ∙ Large Workshop For Servicing, Repairs & Insurance Jobs

• Insurance Quotes

• Servicing

7 Blackman Place Port Lincoln SA Ph: 0886 824155 www.portlincolncaravans.com.au

• Repairs


Breaking Loose in

LIMMEN Fourth time's a charm for Catherine Lawson and David Bristow, as they delve deeper into the spectacular Limmen NP. Words C AT H E R I N E L AW S O N Pics D AV I D B R I S T O W

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L I M M E N N AT I O N A L PA R K , N T TRAVEL

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O

ur best paid plans went AWOL just 50km inside Limmen National Park when wheel bearings shattered by too many unrelenting NT tracks sent us limping back to Borroloola on the back of a towtruck. After pulling an all-nighter in the McArthur River Caravan Park, we set off again for round two with tougher bearings and lighter wallets, determined to shake out the fishing rods, stoke a campfire and lose ourselves in one of the most isolated wilderness areas in Australia’s far north. Etched with deep, emerald rivers and lily-covered lagoons, Limmen protects great swathes of woodlands and towering sandstone spires. Basic bush camping and corrugated access roads help deter all but the most passionate anglers and solitude-seekers, who arrive in well-stocked, offroad rigs for lengthy stays in the NT’s remote northeastern corner. What lures them to this big patch of green is the unrivalled fishing on lurid green waterways where the crocs remind you just who rules the food chain in the Top End. There’s uber-scenic waterfront camping and just after the wet season when roads open and lagoons retract, the birdlife is simply dazzling. Throw in some wild strolls through the Lost City’s dramatic towering rock pillars and you’ve got a whole lot of reasons to pack up and hit the dirt.

The Southern Lost City

Rising suddenly on the park’s southern fringe, the Southern Lost City’s dramatic cluster of sculpted domes and bulging buttresses turns golden with the rising sun, luring campers into their hiking shoes at dawn. Treading a meandering, easy path, we disappear into slender chasms, squeeze past tumbledown boulders and gently climb to a grand viewpoint over the Arnhem Land Plateau to watch this multi-hued sandstone wilderness shine. From this ridgeline littered with the bright pink blooms of turkey bushes we gaze wistfully over the O’Keefe Valley to the distant and far-less-visited Western Lost City.

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ABOVE Transluscent waterways flow through the park, demanding high clearance to keep vans dry.


L I M M E N N AT I O N A L PA R K , N T TRAVEL

“What lures them to this big patch of green is the unrivalled fishing on lurid green waterways where the crocs remind you just who rules the food chain"

On three visits to Limmen we’ve tried to access this remote spot, only to find the roads flooded or washed out and the entry gate locked. This undiscovered Lost City is what will undoubtedly lure me back to Limmen a fourth time, so don’t miss it if you arrive to find dry roads! Phone the Nathan River Ranger Station or pull into the visitor centre for the code needed to unlock the access gate (it’s written on the whiteboard). Set out early on the rugged 28km-long 4WD track and allow 90 minutes for the drive in and plenty of time to discover the Indigenous rock art and enjoy excellent walking trails. The expansive campground at the Southern Lost City is a rather hot spot with little daytime shade, but at dusk, you can stroll across the spinifex flats and climb the trail through sandstone pillars to watch short-eared rock-wallabies emerge from their daytime lairs. Campsites with picnic tables, fireplaces and wheelchair-accessible toilets cost a tiny $3.30 per adult (half-price for kids), and while generators are permitted, you’ll need to bring drinking water and stockpile your rubbish until your return to civilisation.

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Butterfly Falls

ABOVE The waterhole at Butterfly Falls provides sanctuary from crocodiles.

You only have to travel 25km north of the Southern Lost City to reach another unmissable camping destination at Butterfly Falls. This shady oasis takes its name from the thousands of common crow butterflies that rise in spectacular, fluttering clouds from the amphitheatre’s cool, stone walls when disturbed. We watch them, floating beneath the trickling waterfall, soaking up Limmen’s only croc-free swimming opportunity as waterbirds wade amongst purple water lilies and azure kingfishers flit overhead, feeding on the wing. Around our shady campsite, sulphurcrested cockatoos feed on blooming, bright orange fern-leaf grevilleas, bending branches and filling the air with a delicious honeyscented nectar. On our most recent midwinter visit, we shared this spacious camp with just two other rigs, even though it could easily accommodate a crowd. The waterhole is deep enough for a proper swim and within easy reach of the campground, which means you can wander down again and again before finally drying off and stoking up a campfire. Like every camp in Limmen National Park, this one provides wheelchair-accessible toilets, fire pits and picnic tables, all for the low, low price of just $3.30 a head.

Towns River Camping

Pushing north, Towns River offers the most idyllic camping in the park, perched on the high set limestone edge of this clear, dark river. Like the Roper River, Towns River conjures up the kinds of legendary catches that lure barramundi aficionados so far down Limmen’s corrugated tracks, and it’s popular with caravanners for the hard ground and clear views. We slip through a sea of caravans to a riverfront nook just waiting for us, and spend the afternoon watching anglers reel in their fish dinners while bold black kites swoop for their share of the catch. An elderly couple warns us about the estuarine crocodiles nearby, but from our

ABOVE Limmen's lily-covered lagoons blaze with colour.

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L I M M E N N AT I O N A L PA R K , N T TRAVEL

highset position they pose little danger, even as we dangle our rods over the edge. The next morning we pack up and drive on, poking down skinny tracks to discover big, blue lagoons carpeted with purple lilies, roosting magpie geese and lots and lots of ducks. We stop at Lomarieum Lagoon just behind the St Vidgeon Ruins, and ponder the wisdom of launching a kayak so early in the dry season. The boat stays dry and we spend the day on the banks of the Roper River instead.

The Mighty Roper River

Winding for more than 1000km between Arnhem Land and the Limmen Bight, the Roper River’s translucent emerald waterway attracts the bulk of boaties to Limmen National Park. So green and clear that you can eyeball the crocodiles competing for their share of the barramundi, the Roper bears the name of John Roper, part of Ludwig Leichhardt's1845 expedition team that crossed the river at Roper Bar on a year-long, 4800km-long overland journey from Jimbour in Queensland’s Darling Downs to Port Essington on the NT’s Cobourg Peninsula. Today, four ultra accessible Roper River campgrounds attract annual wintertime ABOVE Limmen's billabongs are where wildlife and their watchers meet.

fast

FA C T S CAMPING Basic national park campgrounds at Towns River, Butterfly Springs, Limmen Bight River and Southern Lost City, provide toilets, picnic tables and fire pits. There are three bush camps along Roper River at Didi Baba, Mountain Creek (unsealed boat ramp) and Yurrlmundji (pit toilets). All charge nightly fees of $3.30/ adult, $1.65/child aged 5-15 years and $7.70/ family (no pets).

SUPPLIES Limmen Bight Fishing Camp provides the only fuel and basic supplies on the 338km stretch between Roper Bar and Cape Crawford. Stock up before leaving Mataranka in the north and Borroloola to the east, and carry ample supplies of drinking water and fuel.

CROC WATCH Freshwater and estuarine crocodiles inhabit Limmen’s waterways so avoid swimming except at Butterfly Falls, and take care when fishing, launching and retrieving boats.

Munbililla (Tomato Island) has 4G mobile reception, hot showers, free gas barbecues, drinking water, picnic tables, rubbish bins, a dump point, central fire pits and a boat ramp. Fees are just $6.60/ adult, $3.30/child aged 5-15 years and $15.40/ family (no pets).

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TRAVEL L I M M E N N AT I O N A L PA R K , N T

ABOVE Frequently flooded causeways call for high clearance in Limmen.

pilgrims who spend time wrangling fish, talking fish and barbecuing their impressive daily catches to perfection. There are truly excellent facilities for such a remote location; including a sealed boat ramp, hot water showers, toilets, drinking water and free gas barbecues, along with picnic tables, a fish cleaning station, rubbish bins and a dump point. Centralised fire pits bring campers together after all the fishing is done for the day, and you get all this for a tiny $6.60 per person, per night! Kids are half price and families pay just $15.40, which is a bargain compared to what you are asked to hand over at Darwin holiday parks! Understandably, Munbililla is a popular spot but it is well set up to cater for the numbers. Downstream along the Roper River, three much more basic national

park campgrounds provide smaller clusters of campsites with pit toilets for half the price, and the pick of these is Mountain Creek for its partial shade and unsealed boat ramp. At Roper Bar itself, 200km east of the Stuart Highway, Leichhardt’s Caravan Park offers unpowered bush sites with solar hot showers ($15/adult and $10 for kids & seniors). You can launch a boat, top up food and fuel supplies, and the park permits pets on leads and generators (roperbar.com). The Roper Bar causeway provides access to the Aboriginal community of Ngukurr, and a thrill for those who just want to ford it. Downstream lies the wreck of the Young Australian, a 58-tonne paddle steamer that

once hauled large merchant ships up the Roper’s dangerous tidal reaches during the construction of the Adelaide to Darwin Overland Telegraph Line, and ran aground in 1872. Self-sufficient travellers continue to rave about Limmen National Park, a destination just rugged and remote enough to remind you that you’ve gone wild. If it weren’t for the corrugated access roads and frequently flooded causeways, more travellers would be dining on barramundi at Limmen National Park’s secluded waterfront camps, so if your rig is off-road ready and you are looking to break new ground this winter, you won’t do better than a stint in Limmen.

SEE YOU AT THE FEBRUARY SHOW SITE NO: 227A

14B CAPITAL LINK DRIVE, CAMPBELLFIELD, VICTORIA

PH: 1800 332 622 info@thelittlecaravancompany.com.au www.thelittlecaravancompany.com.au

GO OFF ROAD IN A LITTLE CARAVAN...NOT A TENT


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TRAVEL HAPPY We shine the spotlight on caravanners, their rigs and their travel tales.

Michael and Maureen were at Graeme Claxton Reserve, SA, when they snapped a photo of their 2011 LandCruiser 200 Series and 2012 New Age Jewel 21ft rig. The couple from City Beach, WA, have traversed the Nullarbor to the east and back three times. “We always stop off at Graeme Claxton Reserve on the Murray River near Cadell, SA, on our way to and from Mildura, Vic, where Maureen's mother lives.” Having wandered more than 35,000kms, the couple say this site is their favourite, closely followed by Oura Beach on the Murrumbidgee River in NSW. “If there are better sites, hopefully we will find them on our future trips,” writes Maureen.

WIN! 42 caravanworld.com.au

This month’s winner will receive a Purple Line Saracen Ultra hitch lock, valued at $149. Saracen Ultra is a highly visible, simple to use, compact, high security lock which works both hitched and unhitched to keep would-be caravan thieves at bay. It fits to most standard 50mm ball hitches on caravans, camper trailers, boat and car trailers, and even work trailers. For more information about this and a host of other vanning accessories, visit www.purpleline.com.au


R E A D EpRoSs' tRbI aG gS

REGULARS

Brenton and Josephine Bowley from Adelaide, photographed their rig during a recent Victoria High Country trip coming into Dargo from Omeo on the Birregun Road. “From Mt Birregun (1370m), it was a long, narrow and steep downhill run with not a lot of space for passing!” they write.

HOW TO WIN

Just email your most travel-inspiring picture (2-3MB) of yourself, family and friends with your rig, along with a brief description to: submissions@adventuresgroup.com. au with ‘Readers’ Rigs’ in the subject line, or send a print to Caravan World Readers’ Rigs, 125 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North, Vic 3161. All entries must include your full postal address (not for publication). Photo submissions may also appear on www.caravanworld.com.au.

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