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iMotorhome magazine Feb 2021

Fully

AUTO!

TRAKKA’S TORINO T2 GETS A 9-SPEED SELF-SHIFTER... RELEASED - IVECO DAILY E6 I DRIVEN - EARTHCRUISER EXTREME ADBLUE EXPLAINED I RV SHARED OWNERSHIP UPDATE 1


ON MY MIND

Transitioning the Critical Zone...

H

Moving on, one of the delights of being married to a long serving (and long-suffering!) flight attendant is the collection of anecdotes accumulated over the years. A favourite relates to a colleague who worked in the first and business class cabins and who very much danced to his own tune. One evening, in the middle of a busy meal service, there was a call from the flight deck and he was overheard saying, “Please standby captain I’ll get back to you. We’re just transitioning the critical zone…”. Of course there was no critical zone nor any transition, it was simply his way of dealing with a minor interruption from the boss to the very serious business of looking after his passengers!

ello and welcome to 2021! So far the new year is proving to be a slightly less difficult version of 2020, although still one with many challenges. I hope you managed an enjoyable and relaxing Festive Season and that so far this year is treating you kindly. We finally managed a proper, if too-short break, and while it’s good to be back it was especially good to be ‘away’. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a strong temptation to remain ‘away’, but that’s always the problem when you take a break, or is it just me? 
It appears 2021 is starting as a good-news badnews kind of year, with much uncertainty surrounding interstate travel. Some Premiers seem too willing to close borders, not only stopping travellers but also stranding their own citizens in what appears to be a panic driven overreaction resulting in all manner of personal and economic pain. Those States – basically all except NSW – are the same ones collectively taking 25 percent of international arrivals. That leaves NSW to do 75 percent of international arrivals’ quarantining on the Nation’s behalf, and effectively being penalised for doing so.

I relate this because Mrs iMotorhome and I suddenly find ourselves genuinely transitioning our own critical zone – the one to retirement. The good news is Mrs iM has finally been accepted for voluntary redundancy and ‘retires’ at the end of this month after 32 years and one month’s service. It’s also a full 11 months after her last working flight. Who would have thought? This isn’t the way she wanted to leave nor how we planned it, but given the world as a whole continues towards hell in a giant hand basket, it’s a very good outcome indeed.

Mrs iM and I have twice canceled interstate travel plans this year and have abandoned plans for the forceable future because of this foolishness. I know some will complain I’m not taking the potential spread of Covid-19 seriously, but if people actually practiced social distancing, limited gatherings to the designated numbers and wore masks appropriately – plus trusted the now well-established testing and contact-tracing systems – we could all plan with certainty. As for international travel, that appears to be off the cards until 2022 and frankly, who’d want to venture out into a world seething with the virus and inept political management?

Mrs iM still works casual shifts at our local Woolies and I’m still here, but with the redundancy payment securing our longterm finances, we’ve suddenly come to the realisation that ‘this is it’ and we’re now semiretired. So what does that actually mean and where do we go from here? Those questions have resulted in much overindulgence in food and wine this last month or two, and we’re not a whole lot closer to the answer/s. We don’t want to sell-up and go on the road, but with more time on our hands and many choices, it’s all rather daunting. Have you made or are you making the same sort of transition and how did it go/is it going? Do tell…

Speaking of inept management, in mid January I travelled to Canberra to pick up a vehicle and drive it to Sydney. Due to the ACT’s border being closed to Sydneysiders, train services were terminated at Queanbeyan, which is right on the border (being a regional resident and catching the train locally, I was allowed into the ACT, even though I travelled with Sydneysiders). However, along with several others passengers I presume were from Sydney, I walked about 300 metres from Queanbeyan Station, waited 30 mins and caught a local bus straight into Canberra – no questions asked and no border checks. Go figure…

We’ve thought about upgrading Project Polly to something with more room to move and found what we thought to be a bargain online. Nearly 10 years old but described as being in as-new condition (with photos to match) and at a very reasonable price, we set off to investigate. Sadly, the poor machine was a shadow of its former – and advertised – self. Also sadly, the owner subsequently became disgruntled by my suggestions on how to get it back to roadworthy condition (it wasn’t) 2


ON MY MIND

space, some facilities and is just a stroll or bike ride to the pub and cafes? It would be good to get together again, chew the cud and have some laughs after such a rough time. Thoughts please.

before registration expires in late February. The poor machine had done 85 km in the past 4 years and was home to more spiders than most nightmare homes. It hadn’t moved since its last rego check and was also covered in mould and mildew, although it started first go and everything worked. It’s still for sale and the owner will continue to be disappointed by “Time wasters and tyre kickers”, of whom I’m sure we are now included. Along with the things I see posted on social media, the total disconnect between what some people think and reality continues to amaze and disappoint. For now Project Polly is safe, although we haven’t managed to get away in her since last issue.

Finally, as 2021 unfolds, the vaccine program rolls out and (hopefully) borders reopen and stay that way, it will be interesting to see how the RV market fares. Will there be any shows this year; will prices of used motorhomes and campervans continue to test the bounds of reality and will sales of new vehicles continue unabated or level off? Also, are you confident enough to plan extensive travel this year or are you staying closer to home (including just within your state)? Do tell as it will be an interesting barometer of RVing sentiment. That’s it for now; stay safe and keep smiling, and I’ll catch you next month…

Speaking of getting away, anyone up for an iMotorhome Reader Weekend in October or November? I’m thinking low-cost, low-key in regional NSW, so we at least know we can get there! Maybe Gunning at the showground, which has plenty of

Richard 3


iMotorhome Magazine iMotorhome Magazineis free, independent and published monthly. Download issues HERE or read online HERE Publisher/Editor

Richard Robertson (+61) 0414 604 368 richard@imotorhome.com.au

Published by iMotorhome Pty Ltd PO Box 1738, Bowral. NSW 2776. Australia. ABN: 34 142 547 719 T: +614 14 604 368 E: info@imotorhome.com.au W: www.imotorhome.com.au

Technical

Š 2020 iMotorhome Pty Ltd.

Allan Whiting (+61) 0410 677 966 allan@imotorhome.com.au

All content of iMotorhome Magazine and website is copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the Publisher. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of content, no responsibility is accepted for any inconvenience and/ or loss arising from reading and/or acting upon information contained within iMotorhome+Caravan magazine, in the app or on the website.

Contributors

David Woodrow Herman Eldering Colin Oberin Warren McCullough

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CONTENTS

2 7 8 20 36 40

46

ON MY MIND Transitioning the Critical Zone...

50

LETTERS Shhhh, Letters are snoozing, but will return next issue...

55

NEWS A glimpse at what’s happening in the wide world of RVing

60

TESTED Fully Auto! – Trakka’s updated Torino T2 gets a 9-speed auto

66

DRIVEN In The Extreme – Behind the wheel of EarthCruiser compact Extreme

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RELEASED Daily News! – The new Iveco Daily E6 is news worth waiting for

6

TECH Wild AdBlue Ponder – Explaining AdBlue and why it’s the future

FEATURE Share & Share & Like – RV Shared ownership update

READER All Change Pt 1 – Moving on the old motorhome and planing the new

TRAVEL Spoiled for Choice – Kayaking out of Covid-19 lockdown

TRAVEL Merry Beach Days – Post-Covid family escape to Merry Beach

RV FRIENDLY Three more country towns supporting our great way of life!


LETTERS

Shhhh... Letters are snoozing, but will return next month.

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NEWS

Aladdin’s Cave Tasmanian Ferry Price Police have allegedly uncovered an Aladdin's cave of Reductions For Some stolen property at a caravan park on the Gold Coast. Return ferry tickets will cost $240 less on average after It happened after officersmoved from Mudgeeraba identified the Federal Government to attract more tourists a vehicle of interest that was thought to have been to the struggling Apple Isle. involved in recent property offences in Robina and Broadbeach. That led to a search warrant being “COVID-19 has significantly affected tourism in executed at the Mudgeeraba caravan park, where Tasmania and the number of passenger vehicles numerousacross tools and construction site travelling Bass Strait, which is equipment why we arewere found. Police also allegedly located two syringes and a moving to increase the rebate already available plasticour water pipe. under Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation

Scheme to the value of $6 million,” Deputy Prime A 45-year-old man and woman, both and Minister and Minister for23-year-old Infrastructure, Transport from Mudgeeraba, wereMichael chargedMcCormack with two counts of Regional Development explained. entering with intent, one count of stealing, one count of possessing tainted property, one and count of receiving “For travel between March 1, 2021, June 30, 2021, tainted property, one count of wilful damage and Australians can take their car or motorbike to the three Apple counts of drug possession. Isle at zero cost and discover everything this beautiful state has to offer – a win-win for both Tasmanians and

STOP PRESS! Just as we were going to press, the following update was received regarding the legal battle as outlined in Sorry State in our Letters section: visitors looking to discover more of what the island has to offer.” “Good morning to all our friends and supporters. Your donations are being well spent. The announcement has been welcomed by Caravanning Tasmania who said many caravan parks “Excellent news: Following further hearings, throughout the state were struggling. provisional orders have been handed down until such time as a full hearing is held, which could be some “We rely so heavily on interstate travel to keep our time, due to the current circumstances. businesses open and 2020 has been really tough,” president Bronwyn Wild said. “We would like to “The Orders: Everybody gets their land and buildings applaud and congratulate not only the Federal back and all are to be given quiet enjoyment of their Government for this incentive, but also all of industry sites, no more threats or bullying or blocking friends who pulled together and helped advocate to make from visiting. To keep good faith, we will be paying drive tourism in Tasmania more attractive in difficult appropriate fees, which will be determined by an times.” Spirit of Tasmania bookings have plunged 85 independent expert. I will keep you posted when we percent. get details. Bye for now, Rich”.

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DIY NEWS

52 9 60 58


NEWS

Avida’s New Busselton Avida has unveiled a new model – the Busselton – which is a C-class motorhome built on the Iveco Daily. Three floor plans, ranging from 7.5 to 7.8 metres are available, the largest of which has a combined dinette and bedroom slide-out. Deliveries of that model should now be underway, with single and island-bed models due later in the year.

in the kitchen, a roof mounted air conditioner, a range hood in the kitchen, electric roof hatch, 100-litre fresh water and 100-litre grey water tanks plus much more”.

Billy Falconer, Avida’s Sales and Marketing Manager said “You will be amazed at what the Avida design team have managed to fit into this sized motorhome. There are an abundance of standard and optional features that you can choose from to make the Busselton to your own unique style. Standard features in the new Busselton range include interior LED mood lighting, fold-down bench extension for added space

“Every new Avida has a very important attribute we simply call ‘peace of mind’, with our market leading 3-year factory-backed warranty, 5-year structural guarantee and 2-year emergency roadside assistance. Coupled with our comprehensive nationwide accredited dealer and service network, this ensures we are with you all the way”. Pricing for the new C-class Busselton range starts from $176,070 plus on-road costs. For further information contact Avida’s Nationwide Dealer Network on 1300 4 AVIDA (1300 4 28432) or visit www.avida.com.au.

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NEWS

RV Industry Changes Ahead to facilitate a smooth transition to the new regulatory framework, with legislation commencing in full on 1 July 2021,” according to the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure.

This year is set to see a major overhaul of the RV manufacturing industry, with the Road Vehicle Standards Act commencing in full on July 1, every RV manufacturer and importer needs to be getting prepared for these industry-wide changes, says the Caravan Industry Association of Australia.

In addition, a revised version of the gas installation standard is set to be enforced in the coming months, while work continues on electrical installation standards where changes are expected such as battery location requirements.

“The Road Vehicle Standards Act 2018 (RVSA) and associated Road Vehicle Standards Acts relating to consequential and transitional provisions and charges passed Parliament in late 2018. The Road Vehicle Standards Rules 2019, which cover the operational aspects of the RVSA, were made in February 2019. The RVSA will replace the existing Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (MVSA) and deliver an updated and modernised system to regulate the first provision of road vehicles to the Australian market. The RVS legislation is being phased in over the coming months

Industry businesses are strongly encouraged to keep an eye out for more information. In amongst all this regulator and standards activity, the association’s RV Manufacturing Accreditation Program’s technical team will continue conducting compliance reviews on RVs around the country at industry caravan shows and manufacturing facilities.

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11


NEWS

Rail Trail News Early in January, Tweed Shire Council announced that clearing, slashing and spraying of weeds along the Northern Rivers Rail Trail corridor in Northern NSW will allow tenderers for the project to gain access to the corridor. Tweed Shire Council Rail Trail Project Manager, Iain Lonsdale, said the rail trail represents an exciting tourism infrastructure project for the community. The corridor will, however, remain in the ownership of Transport for NSW, to preserve public ownership in case it is needed for a future public transport option. Council held an initial design workshop with its four shortlisted construction companies in January, to be followed by community information sessions, scheduled for February. According to Mr Lonsdale, Council expects to receive a selection of competitive designs that meet community expectations and the needs of adjoining landowners. The Northern NSW Branch Line from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek was formally closed on 15 October 2020. NSW Treasury signed a deed providing $7.8 million toward the Tweed section of the rail trail on 17 December, and returned it to Tweed Shire Council shortly before Christmas. With the Australian Government executing a funding deed for $6.5 million in 2018 under its Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Package Fund, Council now has $14.3 million to

complete the Tweed section of the rail trail. It also has secured a further $600,000 from the NSW Government to cover the cost of promoting, operating and embellishing the Tweed section for the first 3 years. For Council information on the rail trail, visit: www. yoursaytweed.com.au/RailTrail. Meanwhile, watching the smoke and steam from the first trains to puff across the newly opened Snowy River Trestle Bridge in 1916, residents of the Orbost district would have found it hard to imagine that more than a century later, Victoria’s longest timber rail bridge would be reopening – as a pedestrian and cycling crossing on the East Gippsland Rail Trail. The 770-metre-long bridge – last used by trains 34 years ago – is an essential photo opportunity for trail walkers and riders. Now, the Victorian Government has provided $3.5 million for a community-led restoration of the bridge, in recognition of its iconic status and value to regional tourism. The popularity of the East Gippsland Rail Trail has accelerated sharply since COVID-19. Visitors have boosted local accommodation and local cafes, and have invested in real estate lifestyles and businesses close to trails. More information about the Gippsland Tourism Recovery Package can be found here.

Orbost Snowy River Bridge circa 2018 Image: Railtrails Australia

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NEWS

Solar Panel Safety Founder of the Truck Friendly program road safety program, Ken Wilson, has pleaded with caravanners to ensure their roof-mounted solar panels are secure. Ken’s call comes after three people died when a panel broke free from a caravan roof on Tasmania's Midland Highway and another motorist recently had a close call when panels became dislodged from another recreational vehicle in NSW.

 "With more RV owners wanting a fully self-contained vehicle and requiring more power options, solar panels are now a must-have,” said Ken, an avid caravaner. "There are an increasing number of home handymen

doing more and more work themselves and searching for advice from the large number of social media sites where followers are allowed to offer uneducated, dangerous and sometimes illegal advice to those new or inexperienced in caravanning.” 
 Mr Wilson recommends solar panels be professionally installed and checked regularly to help ensure they are firmly secured to the roof of your RV.
"These panels usually have sharp aluminium corners and sharp mounting brackets, which at 100 km/h can do seriously injury or kill anyone in a following vehicle.”

Mt Barker Rest Area

Mt Barker Closure In Western Australia, the Shire of Plantagenet has voted 6-2 to permanently close the overnight RV parking area on Memorial Road, effective immediately. The decision comes after a request from the Mount Barker Caravan Park to close the site. In May last year the park owner argued the free site was diverting caravans away from his business and the shire shut the site for six months.

of the closure to support the privately owned caravan park. He said Mount Barker had become more of a “destination” rather than a place people “drove through to get to somewhere else”. iMotorhome Magazine hopes that in response to the cynical closure, travellers will indeed “drive through to get somewhere (else)” and deprive those responsible of financial gain.

Shire president Chris Pavlovich said he had been “inundated” with letters from local businesses in favour 14


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15


NEWS

Adria Motorhome Recall Fears gas pipes to ovens in some Adria motorhomes could spring a leak have sparked a national recall. It is suspected the ovens in some Adria motorhomes may not be securely mounted, which could cause its gas line to develop a leak.

poisoning or fire, which could result in serious illness, injury or death,” national consumer watchdog the ACCC says. 


“Consumers should stop using the gas oven in their motorhomes and isolate the gas oven by turning off the Adria Coral models which could be affected include 660 DU, isolation valve”. 

 Plus 660 DU, 660 SCS, Plus 660 SCS and XL 660 SCS. The ACCC says that AMH Products Pty Limited will Traders who sold Adria Coral motorhomes between contact affected owners in writing and request they January 2014 to November 2020 include Kratzmann make an appointment to have their vehicle modified Caravans Qld, Sydney RV NSW, George Day free of charge. Caravans WA, Apollo RV Qld, NSW, Vic, SA, NT and Tasmania and Patto’s RV Centre Vic. For further information, consumers can contact AMH Products on 1800 370 783 or email aftersales@ “LPG may accumulate within the enclosed area of the adriaau.com.au. caravan and there may be risk of carbon monoxide

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DIY

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NEWS

Domestic Travel Critical Caravanning and camping remain critical to domestic tourism and the recovery of regional Australia, according to Caravan Industry Association of Australia. It made the point as Tourism Research Australia revealed that the sector accounted for 44 percent of all holiday nights across the nation during the September quarter, as people came to terms with a COVID travel environment. However, the association warns the industry will remain at risk unless sustainable support initiatives are carefully considered.

 Australians enjoyed more than 1.9 million caravan and camping holidays nationally, creating 8.4 million nights for the 2020 September quarter alone. While this represented a national 28 percent and 14 percent decline respectively from 2019, it was well ahead of broader tourism numbers. Caravan Industry Association of Australia chief executive Stuart Lamont said the industry lived in a world of "fragile consumer confidence", creating a twospeed economy. 



towns, transit regions and remote locations who are continuing to feel the financial pain of border closures," he said.

 With the ever changing environment of border closures, the devastating and long-lasting impacts of last season's bushfires, plus challenges with accessing insurance, many businesses still face the real prospect of closure. 

 "We call on government to look at other support programs when Job Keeper comes to an end in March," he said.

This could include concessional funding for tourism operators that is repaid when a return to profit occurs, coupled with increased access to business advisory services to help operators pivot to new opportunities and manage cash flow. Mr Lucas also suggested personal tax deductions for domestic holiday travel to encourage an increased demand to support struggling businesses. iMotorhome Magazine wishes Mr Lucas good luck securing government backing on that point.

"Whilst it is important that governments make health the first priority for Australians, concerns remain for those operators and communities in border

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LETTERS TESTED

AKUNA Get away from it all in style

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TESTED: TRAKKA TESTEDTORINO T2

FullyAuto! by Richard Robertson

Trakka’s updated Torino T2 goes 9-speed auto... 20


TESTED

T

rakka’s model range is evolving and the popular Torino is first rung on its motorhome ladder. Torino sits above the Trakkadu campervan and below the new Akuna, which itself sits beneath the Jabiru and flagship Trakkaway series. Torino, Akuna and Jabiru are all van-conversion motorhomes, with Torino built using the venerable Fiat Ducato, Akuna the all-new VW Crafter and Jabiru the latest Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. While the Crafter and Sprinter are all-new models and feature the latest technologies – optionally, if not as standard equipment – the Ducato soldiers on with yet another makeover, but arguably its most important to date. That’s because it finally has a fully automatic gearbox – one with nine-speeds – in place of the old six-speed automated manual. The ‘new’ Ducato also has some driver technology updates, but more on them and the new gearbox, shortly. Previously a two-model range, Torino now is a single model – the T2. It has swivelling cab seats that do double-duty for dining, a mid-kitchen, Trakka’s patented Switch Mode Bathroom and a pair of single beds running lengthways that quickly and cleverly convert to a king (or damn close). This floorplan is also available in the Akuna and Jabiru, but the Torino T2 measures 6.36 m (21’) long while the Akuna A2 is 6.84 m (22’ 5”) and the Jabiru A2 is 7.13 m (23’ 5”). Trainspotter Fact: While Fiat says the Ducato used for the Torino T2 has an extra-long-wheelbase, both the longer the Akuna A2 and Jabiru A2 ‘just’ use long-wheelbase vans, from VW and Mercedes-Benz, respectively. Go figure…

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TESTED

Newer Ducato

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iat Chrysler Australia (FCA) says the latest Ducato is Series 7 and it was released in Australia in August 2020. Key developments include a reportedly all-new turbo-diesel that’s Euro 6D emissionscompliant, plus the aforementioned nine-speed automatic transmission. FCA says Series 7 now come standard with Full Brake Control and Lane Departure Warning, Electronic Stability Control, Anti-lock Braking, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, Rollover Mitigation, a Hill Holder and a reversing camera. Whilst the first two of those features are new, I believe the rest were already standard equipment.

early ‘transition’ update and retained the small five-inch infotainment screen, even though it gained auto climate control. Production T2s will certainly have the larger seven-inch screen. The engine retains its 2.3-litre capacity and is said to be all-new to comply with Euro 6D emissions standards. Meeting these standards means Ducato now joins the ranks of diesels needing AdBlue – a urea-based additive injected in minute quantities into the exhaust, postcombustion, to control nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions. The AdBlue has its own 19.5-litre tank separate from the Ducato’s diesel tank, which is now reduced to 90-litres from the previous 125-litres. Bugger.

Series 7 Ducato now also comes with two major options: the Safety Pack (Blind Spot Assist + Rear Cross Path Detection, Traction+ and Hill Descent Control) and the Comfort and Tech Pack (7-inch infotainment screen including Navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Digital Radio and Bluetooth, Fiat says that in a motorhome application the engine LED daytime running lights, auto climate control and could consume up to 7L/1000 km (about 404 mpg) on a tyre pressure monitoring system). Both packs are the highway, but only about 2.5L/1000 km (1130 mpg!) included in the Torino T2, but the test vehicle was an 22


TESTED

in urban running. Given AdBlue costs $0.80-$1.00 per litre from a pump at a service station, that works out at something like $0.007 cents per kilometre when touring – hardly a figure to break the bank. Finding AdBlue is another matter and at this stage your best bets are Truck Stops or bigger/newer service stations. We tried three service stations in Tamworth before finding it at the fourth, and one cashier asked what it was when asked. You can always carry a bottle from Supercheap Auto just in case, but you’ll pay $10.49 for 1-litre or $63.99 for a 20-litre container, as I write. Best to use a fuel-finding app like PetrolSpy, which now has an AdBlue search listing.

Power output for the new engine remains the same at 130 kW (178 hp), but torque is up 50 Nm to 450 Nm with the new auto – a handy 12.5% increase. Speaking of the new auto, it’s from German manufacturer ZF and should prove reliable and durable. Drive remains via the front wheels, which have independent coil spring suspension. At the rear is a live axle with leaf springs, and the Ducato rides on 16-inch wheels shod with 225/75 LT tyres. The Torino T2 has a tare weight before options of 3200 kg and a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4250 kg, providing a theoretical maximum payload of 850 kg. Maximum braked towing capacity is listed as 2500 kg.

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TESTED

Driving Miss Ducato

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his is what you really want to know about and so I’ll cut to the chase: The new Ducato is good, but not perfect. It drives like any other recent Fiat Ducato, but of course the new gearbox is a significant improvement. There are now three gearbox modes – Power, Normal and Eco – with each altering the shift pattern accordingly. On the highway the cab is whisper quiet, with the engine spinning at just 1500 rpm at 100 km/h and no wind noise, making for very relaxed progress. The new ‘box shifts smoothly, but feels a bit laid back and not in a hurry to change gear. It lacks the superb crispness of the new VW Crafter or the precision of the Iveco Daily – both eight-speed ZF autos – and I wonder if nine-speeds is just a little too many? I also found the gear lever’s ‘gate’ cumbersome to move between Park and Drive, although flicking across from Auto to Manual, once in Drive, was easy. Because it has so many gears, manually dropping back a gear

for engine braking did little and I often found myself shifting down two or even three gears because the ratios are so closely spaced. Why was I manually shifting down in an auto gearbox? Because the low-tech cruise control allows significant overrun when cresting hills and/or heading down an incline. In fairness it could just have been the settings on this particular vehicle and in April I have a new Ducato van for a week to really spend some time with it. It will be interesting to see if it’s the same, better or (god forbid) worse... The Ducato’s speedo remains particularly difficult to read in daylight due to poor design and reflections; ditto any dash readouts like outside temperature. The new model also suffers from an overly-active lane departure warning alarm, and although it can be turned-off that also turns off the electronic stability control, which isn’t a good idea. 24


TESTED

Trakka offers an AL-KO front-end upgrade called Outback Suspension and it should be the first option ticked as it totally transforms the Ducato’s ride quality and ride comfort. In standard form the short-travel front suspension bangs and crashes uncomfortably over road irregularities and is quite tiring. Digital climate control is a welcome upgrade, as will be the new seveninch infotainment screen. I found the reversing camera image on the five-inch screen required very close attention to safely use. The tyre pressure monitoring system is a worthwhile new inclusion too, but don’t get too excited because it doesn’t display pressures, it simply alerts you to a pressure drop (probably via electronics that measure differences in wheel speeds and other metrics, hence the lack of a display readout).

All-in-all the new Ducato is a significant but incremental improvement and owners will surely welcome the new auto shifter. As for the other points, it’s amazing how quickly you adapt to individual quirks. Just ask Mrs iMotorhome…

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TESTED

Torino T2

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iven Trakka’s growing van-conversion motorhome range and the Ducato’s size and limitations, it’s no surprise the Torino has been positioned as entry level. Reflecting this is Trakka’s standard equipment list, which while in no way lacking has been spec’d to further differentiate the T2 from its more upmarket (and pricier) siblings. For example, Torino T2 has a pair of 100 amp-hour deep-cycle house batteries in place of the 200 amphour lithium battery standard on more expensive models (it’s a $1780 option). It also gets a single 100watt solar panel in place of 200-watts, conventional light switches with dimmer knobs rather than the new, flush-mounted and pressure-sensitive switches, and it has the original, smaller Switch Mode Bathroom in place of the new, longer/slimmer bathroom.

None of this affects usability or practicality, it’s just an indication of where Torino T2 now sits in the model line-up. Nor does it look particularly different from its peers; wearing as it does the very latest Trakka decor and styling, including extensive Star Trek-style LED strip lighting; ultra-thin-and-lightweight table and bench tops; excellent woven-vinyl floor mats that are soft under foot, increase insulation and sound deadening, and are removable for cleaning, and sliding metalframed insect screens for the side and rear doors (absent on the test vehicle due to a delayed delivery). The bones of T2 are also built to the same high Trakka standards, with full body insulation, no visible internal metal panelling so common in van conversions, and an overall feeling of quality and sense of style that still sets the industry standard.

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TESTED

Insights

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orino T2’s layout, as mentioned, is thoroughly conventional in the sense that there are only so many ways you can rearrange things inside a rectangular metal box. How all those elements come together, however, is what makes the difference. The test vehicle is Trakka’s current demonstrator; Trakka being one of the few manufacturers with registered demonstrators prospective buyers can actually use. We borrowed it for four days and took it home to the Southern Highlands, up to Armidale to look at a potential new Project Polly (another story!) and then back to Trakka HQ, spending two nights in her on the road.

For the record, the Alfresco Pack adds an extra 100watt solar panel, a small drinks fridge that’s easily reached from outside or in, an outdoor table that attaches to a rail on the sliding side-door and has a removable, folding silicon washing-up tub, and an external hot-cold shower that doubles as the water supply for the tub.

Despite being smallest in Trakka’s motorhome range, the Torino T2 is every bit a ‘proper’ motorhome. That’s thanks to features like double-glazed acrylic windows with inbuilt privacy and insect-screens, a large roof hatch, an electric awning and entry step (the latter automatically retracting when the engine starts), a 140-litre fresh water tank with easily-reached dump This Torino T2 had a range of popular options, comprising valve to drain it if desired, the luxury of an electrically the Alfresco Pack ($3000), cab seating colour matched operated grey water outlet (no fumbling under the to the cushions/bedding ($1650), a 2000-watt inverter van for the @$£%^ tap handle) and the previously ($1550), built-in induction cooker ($540) and alloy wheels mentioned sliding insect screens on the doors. There’s ($2190). Added to the NSW drive-away price of $140,000 also a surprisingly deep boot under the bed heads for the standard vehicle, it brought the price as tested that’s accessed via the rear barn doors. About the only to $148,930. Personally, I’d delete the colour matched disappointment is the fixed glass in the barn doors, seats and alloy wheels in favour of the Front Outback rather than opening windows. Suspension ($1850), while the Alfresco Pack, inverter and induction cooker are musts. That would also lower the price to $146,940, drive-away. 27


TESTED

Living the Life

L

ife in the Torino T2 is easy, you just have to be organised. Internally, there is storage everywhere and a lot of thought and experience has gone into the design. As living space is limited it takes a disciplined travelling couple to get the best out of it. When we travel I drive and do the ‘outside stuff’, while Mrs iM rules indoors. It’s a fair division of responsibilities that works well and in the Torino T2 it’s essential. To keep out of the way I had the choice of the swivelled cab seats or the ends of the beds that double as inward-facing seats. Both positions take the small, pole-mounted table, but the latter has restricted headroom under the overhead cupboards due to the beds sitting on raised flooring (for storage below). I sat up front, which also made for easy access in and out of the vehicle without disturbing the chef, and I think this will be most people’s choice. When sitting in the swivelled driver’s seat there’s a handy small table to

the left that’s behind the seat when travelling (it also seems to slightly limit rearward seat travel). The table sits against the side wall in the corner against the fridge cabinet end-panel, on top of a couple of drawers. A small cupboard overhead is where four plates (large and small), four bowls and four coffee mugs live, in their specially made racks. The crockery is included with the T2 and it’s a detail thing that, again, sets Trakka apart. The company’s signature silver/grey roller shutter doors are the gold standard for overhead cupboards. They’re light weight, need no locks, have no hinges and can’t accidentally open when travelling or be walked into if left open. Why everyone doesn’t use them is a mystery. The fridge is Dometic’s ingenious new 90-litre compressor unit featuring a door that opens from the left or right. Mounted at mid height, it’s perfectly 28


TESTED positioned and has a silent mode for nighttime operation. The microwave lives in a roller-shuttered cupboard above the fridge, and isn’t too high for the more vertically challenged. The rest of the kitchen – cooker, sink with filtered drinking water tap and a plethora of soft-close drawers – are in the main unit between the beds and cab, on the kerb side. It covers about half the opening of the sliding side door and has plenty of bench space. There’s no rangehood, but there’s a window if the sliding side door isn’t open. Speaking of cookers, the Torino T2 is LPG-free, and so has a Webasto diesel-fired cooktop as part of a system that also includes hot water and central heating. We love the latter two features but find the cooker slow to heat-up and to cool down, and difficult to judge temperature. It’s something you’d need to regularly use to get the best from, and we’re yet to have that time. Fortunately, the test T2 came with the brilliant, optional, built-in induction cooker. It lives in a pull-out drawer at the end of the bench and runs via the inverter when free camping, and provides almost instant heat for fast kettle boiling or one-pot cooking. Mrs iM used it insitu and outside on the Alfresco table – it’s removable – plus the microwave (also via the inverter), to great effect. We also carry a little lunchbox cooker for cheffing away from the vehicle, and between these three quick and easy methods Mrs iM easily took care of our meals. The inverter also powered the (provided) Nespresso coffee machine and we discovered that when sitting with the cab seats swivelled, Mrs could ‘chef’ on the induction cooker in its drawer while I could ‘barista’ with the Nespresso machine on the little table behind the driver’s seat. Very civilised!

29


TESTED

Sleeping the Night

C

ome shower and bed time, you readily appreciate the amount of space taken up by the bathroom and expansive bed area. As previously mentioned, the T2 has the original version of the Switch Mode Bathroom (SMB), which is shorter but wider than the current design. The reduced length is necessary to make the floorplan work, but the slight increase in width is noticeable compared to the Akuna or Jabiru, and makes the aisle a bit ‘squeezier’ (my word). Inside, it features the electrically retracting cassette toilet that tucks neatly away beneath the vanity/hand basin; a big mirror with shaving cabinet concealed behind the left side, a bilge pump to actively drain shower water rather than hoping gravity will do the job, and a duckboard to stand on to keep you out of 'the bilge’. The hand basin tap extends to become the shower, while above is a roof hatch, although not powered. Being the old style SMB I was very pleased to see the shower curtin, which wraps around and press-studs into place to cover the towels, loo roll and door, and keep them and the walls dry. It’s missing from the newer version for some reason, meaning the walls and door get wet, the loo roll has to have a (hopefully) waterproof plastic cover and the towels have to be

30


TESTED

Image: Trakka

removed when showering. Hopefully one day it will reappear, but for Torino T2 owners there are no such concerns and it’s a great arrangement for a ‘wet’ bathroom.

mounting points. This is Trakka’s new standard and would have been good to try, but unfortunately the actual iPad holder was missing. Bugger…

With windows beside both beds, a large, wind-up roof Despite being a bit shorter, the T2’s SMB is surprisingly hatch and a 12-volt Scirocco fan, nighttime ventilation roomy to shower in, while the press studs ensure wasn’t a problem. As mentioned, the windows in the the curtain doesn’t try to ‘embrace’ you. The shorter barn doors are fixed glass, but the doors have an cubicle length is noticeable, however, when sitting on internal trim panel and a cut-out for each window, the loo, as knee space is quite limited. complete with the same lift-up privacy screen and slide-down insect screen as the normal windows. It’s a Come bed time you have a choice of singles or a king. nice touch, although of course, the insect screens are The kerb-side single has a chamfered edge to blend redundant. it into the end of the kitchen unit, but Mrs iM found it restricted foot room when sitting-up using the tilting We slept one night on single beds and the second on bed head, which positions you down the bed a bit (it the king, and both were practical and comfortable. We was no problem when sleeping). To that end we tried used our Duvalays to avoid the usual sheet/doona the beds as singles and the king; the latter a superdebacle, but fitting conventional bedding would require easy 30-second conversion thanks to the central pullsome clambering in the king-bed situation. out board you infill with the daytime backrest cushions. The only issue with the king bed is it makes getting in There’s a wide cushion between the bed heads, which and out a little more difficult, but that’s a small price to sort-of doubles as a central bedside shelf, but being pay for its comfy expanse… a cushion it’s not a secure place for wine glasses, nor does it provide any actual storage. It would be good This was the first time I’d tried the tilting bed backs in to see a small box between the bedheads, with a liftthe real world. I’d alway thought the angle looked a bit up lid that sits flush with the bedding, and which could too laid back for reading or iPading (also my word), but double as a shelf and even include USB charging I was pleasantly surprised. Mrs iM sat up and watched outlets inside (a-la Trakkaway 720, but not as bulky). ABC iView on her iPad, and we noted the absence of a TV but the inclusion of a couple of iPad-holder 31


TESTED

Bed board simply pulls out

Good storage boot System controls easily reached

Backrest cushions make up king bed

Optional induction cooker works in this drawer and is removable

Small drinks fridge is part of the Alfresco pack and very handy

Cavernous under-bed drawers 32 are raised and easy to access


TESTED

What I Think

D

espite entry-level status, Torino T2 is an excellent entry point to the Trakka ownership experience. Ideal for a disciplined couple and perfect for a solo traveller, it is expensive compared to some rivals, but you certainly get what you pay for – and then some. Fiat’s latest Ducato is a work in progress and while not up to the ride quality or driver technology standards of its competitors, does an honest job – especially with the new nine-speed auto. Just remember to upgrade the front suspension for a transformed driving experience. As the popularity of van-conversion motorhomes continues to grow, Trakka is well positioned with its three model range. While the floorplans are basically the same, each has subtle differences and prospective buyers should compare them all before making a decision. Whatever’s chosen, a buyer is unlikely to be disappointed and the Tornio T2 is the prefect place to get a true taste of Trakka. It really is an automatic choice... 33


SPECS GENERAL Make

Trakka

Model

Torino T2

Type

Van Conversion

Berths

2

Approved Seating

2

Licence

Car

VEHICLE Make/Model

Fiat Ducato XLWB MultiJet2 180

Engine

2.3-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel

Power

130 kW @ 3500 rpm

Torque

450 Nm @ 1500 rpm

Transmission/Drive

9-speed automatic

Safety

Dual airbags & various electronic aids

Fuel/AdBlue

90L/19.5L

Pros... Quality Inclusions Practicality Nine-speed auto Ducato upgrades

WEIGHTS Tare Weight

3200 kg

Gross Vehicle Mass

4200 kg

Braked Towing Capacity

2500 kg

DIMENSIONS Overall Length

5.36 m (21')

Overall Width

2.05 m (7' 8")

Overall Height

2.68 m (8' 10”)

Internal Height

1.93 m (6’ 4”)

Bed (singles)

1.90 m x 0.75 m (6' 3" x 2' 6”)

Cons... Ducato limitations Fixed rear windows Pricey

EQUIPMENT Slide-Out

No

Awning

Electric

Entry Steps

Electric

Cooker

Webasto diesel-fired

Rangehood Sink Fridge Microwave Lighting 12 V Sockets/USB Outlets Air Conditioner Space Heater Hot Water System Toilet Shower CAPACITIES Batteries Solar LPG Fresh Water Grey Water Hot Water Toilet PRICE - drive-away NSW From As Reviewed Warranty

No Round w folding tap & filtered drinking water Dometic RC 10.4T 90L 12/240-volt compressor Yes 12 V LED Yes/Yes Optional Webasto Diesel Webasto Diesel Retractable Cassette Wet bathroom/Flexible hose shower 2 x 100 AH Deep Cycle 100 W Not Equipped 140 L 80 L 10 L 19 L Cassette A$140,000 A$148,930 Fiat: 5-years/200,000 km. Trakka: 3-years

34

Contact

Trakka 9 Beaumont Road Mt Kuring-gai NSW 2080 E: trakka@trakka.com.au W: www.trakka.com.au


RV FRIENDLY TRAVEL NEWSTOWNS

JABIRU AWD Off the Beaten Track

35 20 3


DRIVEN

In the

EXTREME EarthCrusier & LandCruiser unite in this compact and capable expedition wagon‌ By Allan Whiting of OutbackTravelAustralia.com.au

T

he original Earthcruiser ute-based motorhome model was based on the Mercedes-Benz G-wagon Pro cab-chassis, but the 2021 model is built on the ubiquitous LandCruiser 79 Series.

The Extreme can be supplied with the standard manual five-speed transmission, with upgraded clutch and part-time-4WD transfer case, or with a Toyota six-speed automatic box, driving through a full-time4WD transfer case. Earthcruiser engineers have upgraded many 79-Series components, including the notorious narrow-track rear axle. The Extreme features a JMACX track-corrected rear axle, with chrome-moly half-shafts and ventilated rear disc brakes. Bilstein shock absorbers are fitted all-around. The all-disc braking system is upgraded by fitment of a larger brake booster that is part of the Extreme’s engineer-approved 4.5-tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM) upgrade. 36


DRIVEN

Bodywork

U

nlike most bodied ute-conversions, the EarthCruiser Extreme offers access to the camper section from the driver’s and passenger’s seats. There’s no need to open the cabin doors to enter by the rear door. The pop-top bodywork is fully moulded, featuring high-density thermal foam walls, floor and roof. It has an integrated, powered awning, three exterior LED spotlights, two opening windows fitted with fly-screen and black-out blinds, and an entry assist handle. Inside the camper there’s a double bed with highdensity mattress and memory foam topper; a singlebed-convertible dinette; interior lights, a fridge with freezer, diesel heater, hot water system, freshwater drinking fountain with purifier, and a fire extinguisher. The kitchen houses a two-burner induction cook-top and stainless-steel sink with mixer tap. Home comforts include an external and internal shower and a toilet. There’s also a fold-down swivel table with legs, for outdoor use.

37


DRIVEN

Electrical System

E

arthCruisers are noted for their state-of-the-art electrical systems and the Extreme is no exception. Standard are 450 Ah lithium batteries, 25-50-amp battery charger and 270-watt solar roof panels. There is also a 3000-watt inverter. All electrical and electronic systems are operated from Finscan displays in the cab and in the camper that have more than 120 functions. The electricals have built-in override, allowing alternative power sources for critical functions.

Options

T

he options list is extensive and includes an upgraded Bluetooth infotainment system with touchscreen control over cruise control, Hema mapping, phone connectivity, reversing camera, modem and other functions.Bar work and front and rear Runva winches are also optional.

Other options include driving lights, rear-mounted air conditioning; roof-mounted fans; on-board compressed air; a second spare wheel and carrier; 250-litre fuel tank capacity and 250 litres of water. 38


DRIVEN

First Drive

O

ur first drive of the 2021 EarthCruiser Extreme was a brief jaunt on secondary roads. This initial model had the full options kit, including an auto box and fulltime-4WD. The auto transmission made driving the LandCruiser a much easier job for people who don’t like manual boxes. Also, the additional ratio allowed lower revs at cruising speeds. Because the 75 Series didn’t run to niceties like traction control, the constant 4WD driveline and wider rear axle track gave much better loose-surface traction than the standard part-time-4WD system. Despite its loaded weight being close to its upgraded GVM the Extreme felt well-balanced, thanks to its well-sorted rear end. The combination of suspension, axle and powertrain changes made by EarthCruiser have modernised the 75 Series just like Toyota should have done. That improved base makes a fitting mount for the high-quality and well-equipped EarthCruiser camper module on its back. For further information contact Mark at EarthCruiser on 0412 642437, email sales@earthcruiser.net.au or visit www.earthcruiser.net.au. Alternatively, call in at 53 Montague St, North Wollongong, NSW, 2500.

39


RELEASED

Daily News! There is good news for fans of Iveco’s popular Daily...

40


RELEASED

I

n the motorhome world, Iveco’s Daily has built a solid reputation as the cab-chassis of choice in the medium-to-heavy end of the market. Iveco primarily manufactures ‘serious’ trucks, but while the Daily is its entry level model it has serious-truck in its DNA. Unlike smaller sibling the Fiat Ducato, or the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the Daily is essentially a big truck engineerddown rather than a light truck engineered-up. The new Daily E6 (Euro 6) looks much the same as the current model – it does get a new grille and headlights – and the model designations carry through too. The cab-chassis range still comprises the Daily 50C, with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4495 kg (5200 kg optional), and the Daily 70C, with a standard 7000 GVM (7200 kg optional). Those are serious figures and it remains the heavyweight champion of the mainstream motorhome world. Iveco also offers the Daily as a van – 35S, 50C and 70C – but it has never cracked the motorhome conversion market. That’s despite GVMs from 3800 kg to 7000 kg, lengths from just under 5.5 m to almost 7.7 m, and the availability of electronically-controlled rear airbag suspension and a rear differential lock on certain models. All Dailys are rear-wheel drive and have a maximum braked towing capacity of 3500 kg (3200 kg on 35S van), making them a special favourite with RVers needing to tow boats, trailers or vehicles on a A-frame.

41


RELEASED

Daily Developments

F

rom a motorhome conversion perspective, the single biggest improvement is the electronic handbrake on the dash in place of the lever on the floor. That means for the first time, a Daily’s driver's seat will easily be swivelled! True, manufacturers like Latitude Motorhomes have offered it as an in-house solution, but now it’s a factory fitting. Power-wise, the 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel remains standard on the cab-chassis, but has been modified to comply with Euro 6 emissions requirements and now requires AdBlue (in a 20-litre tank in addition to the Daily’s 100-litre diesel tank). Kilowatt output is up slightly although torque remains the same, but fuel efficiency is claimed to improve by up to 10 percent. In standard form the revised engine puts out 132 kW (up from 125) and 430 Nm

Interestingly, the optional 150 kW/470 Nm version in the superseded model now produces 155 kW/470 Nm, but does so using a single, electronically-controlled variable geometry turbo (eVGT) in place of twin turbos. The excellent HiMatic 8-speed ZF fully-automatic transmission remains an option over the standard 6-speed manual, but it’s unlikely any motorhome will be built without it. Speaking of options, the electronically-controlled self-levelling rear airbag suspension is still on the cab-chassis menu, as is the differential lock. Combined, these would provide not only the best level of ride comfort in-class, but also a high degree of all-road and even light off-road ability, enhanced by the Daily's substantial ground clearance.

42


RELEASED

Safety Plus

W

hile the previous Daily range already included features like four-wheel discs with anti-lock braking and electronic stability control, four airbags and the availability of lane departure warning, the new E6 model takes safety to a new level. Standard across the range is an advanced emergency braking system, adaptive cruise control, crosswind assist and an enhanced ‘ESP9’ suite of stability control technologies. ESP9 comprises anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control, anti-slip regulator, drag torque control, hill hold control, enhanced under-steering control, adaptive load control, trailer sway mitigation, hydraulic rearwheel boost, hydraulic fading compensation, rollover movement intervention and rollover mitigation. Other active safety features available either as standalone options or as part of a pack include lane departure warning, LED headlights, hill descent control, city brake, queue assist and traction plus. There are three packs on offer and it's likely all will be included on most Daily motorhomes. These comprise: • Hi-Business: Hi-Connect multimedia system with GPS, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, wireless phone charging and USB charging, front fog lights and reversing camera (van only)

• Hi-Comfort: Automatic climate control, leather steering wheel, tyre pressure monitoring system with digital readout, automatic wipers and headlights • Hi Technology: Queue assist (auto only), lane departure warning, city brake, traction plus, hill descent and automatic high beam control. Technologically, the safety systems most likely to be welcomed by motorhomers are: • Adaptive cruise control: Slows you to match the speed of the vehicle in front and maintains a preset distance, then reaccelerates if you change lanes or overtake • Queue assist: In bumper-to-bumper traffic it automatically brakes to a complete stop and reaccelerates, while maintaining distance from the vehicle in front • Crosswind assist: Uses the electronic stability control program to help stabilise the vehicle if hit by a sudden gust of wind, including turbulence from a passing truck • Hill descent control: Works like cruise control for low speed downhill driving, particularly in wet and slippery conditions • Traction plus: Operates up to 30 km/h and helps maintain traction on slippery surfaces by automatically applying the brakes to the drive wheel losing grip and transferring power to the wheel with most traction

43


RELEASED

Inside Story

W

hile the interior remains largely unchanged, there is a new instrument cluster that’s clearer and comes with a new central 3.5-inch hi-res display screen for trip computer read outs, etc. The optional leather steering wheel looks like a beauty and is truly multifunction; it should also mean the cruise control will have digital speed settings rather than ‘press and guess’. The Daily retains all the usual conveniences of remote central locking, air conditioning, electric windows and (heated) mirrors, plus the previous model’s individually heated suspension seat for the driver (and usually, the passenger in motorhomes). While part of the Daily E6’s big news is the new optional multimedia system, there is no word nor pictures of the standard unit, but the thinking is it will be a carryover from the current model. 44


RELEASED

Thoughts

T

here's no doubt these upgrades and improvements propel the Iveco Daily E6 to the front of the motorhome cab-chassis pack. Effectively, they fill-in the missing pieces of the puzzle needed to make the outgoing model class-leading and its success therefore appears assured. Covid restrictions are complicating access to Iveco’s press fleet, but the hope is to bring you driving impressions on the new Daily E6 in the March issue or April’s at the latest. Fingers crossed…

45


TECH

wild

AdBlue

®

ponder

Explaining AdBlue and why it’s the future… By Richard Robertson

46


TECH

S

eemingly out of the blue, AdBlue has entered the motorhomers’ lexicon. A quick browse through social media pages shows it’s causing great confusion, so it’s time to explain what it is, why it’s needed and which vehicles require it. First, however, some background… In the global quest to reduce motor vehicle exhaust emissions, varying international standards have been introduced. While Europe and America set the highest standards, we have our own Australian Design Rules (ADRs), but they lag a fair way behind best practice. Because our market is tiny in the global scheme of things, our ADRs are aligned with European values, although we also accept equivalent American and Japanese standards. It’s worth noting America sets the toughest emission standards. It is also most stringent in initial and ongoing testing; the latter uncovering Volkswagen’s criminal manipulation of software to defeat emissions monitoring checks – nicknamed Diesel Gate – and which lead to the company paying out US$25 billion in fines and damages (and counting). The two major differences between the US and European Union (EU) systems are the US has a single national authority

– the Environmental Protection Agency – and sets the same emissions standards for petrol and diesel engines. By contrast, Europe has a single overall emissions standard, but allows manufacturers to choose between Type Approval authorities and testing facilities, and has different emissions standards for petrol and diesel engines. Some EU member states are less stringent than others in their application of the blanket European standards and some manufacturers are known to cross borders to have their engines certified under more ‘favourable’ conditions. In 1992 the European Union introduced Euro 1 emissions standards, with Euro 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 following in 1996, 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2014, respectively. Euro 7 is slated for 2025, but is still to be confirmed. Australia’s current, minimum emissions standards are based on Euro 5 for both light and heavy vehicles. The Federal Government is currently considering Euro 6 standards for light vehicles, but maintaining Euro 5 for heavy vehicles. The main difference between the two is the allowed level of damaging nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are 180 mg/km for Euro 5 engines and 80 mg/km for Euro 6.

47


TECH

Double Standards

W

hile Euro 6 has been the EU standard since 2014, manufacturers have effectively been able to ‘dump’ dirty-engined vehicles in Australia ever since. However, it’s only a matter of time until new ADR standards are mandated and Euro 6 becomes the norm for cars and light commercial vehicles. To achieve the required reduction in NOx, two competing technologies are employed: Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). In a nutshell, EGR is simpler but less effective because it reduces power and is detrimental to engine longevity, while SCR is costlier but cleaner and doesn’t affect engine power or life. Exhaust Gas Recirculation works be mixing some cooled exhaust gas with fresh air on its way into the cylinders for combustion. Because the exhaust gas can’t be burnt again it lowers the temperature inside the cylinders – very high temperatures being the source of NOx.

Selective Catalytic Reduction works by spraying a very small amount of a special liquid through a catalyst into the exhaust stream. The resultant chemical reaction converts NOx into nitrogen, water and tiny amounts of carbon dioxide, which exit via the exhaust pipe. While both systems are effective and some Euro 6 engines employ it, SCR is the future due to its ability to reduce NOx by more than 90 percent without adverse effect on power or longevity.

48


TECH

DEF or What?

T

he special liquid used in the SCR process is called Diesel Exhaust Fluid or DEF. Typically made from one-third synthetic urea and two-thirds deionised water, DEF is also called Aqueous Urea Solution, but better known as AdBlue. Manufacturers say the rate of AdBlue consumption can be roughly calculated at five percent of normal fuel consumption. Interestingly, looking at Fiat’s guide to AdBlue consumption for the latest Ducato, consumption is highest at highway speeds and lowest in urban operation. That’s the reverse of normal fuel figures and possibly due to the high volume of exhaust gas from an engine operating at highway speeds.

In the motorhome world of 2021, AdBlue is the norm and required in the latest Fiat Ducato, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter. The current Iveco Daily gets by with a Euro 5 engine, but the updated model due for release in early-to-mid 2021 will be Euro 6 and require AdBlue. Renault’s facelifted Master soldiers on with a Euro 5 engine and there’s no sign of anything else on the horizon. Ford’s latest Transit is Euro 6 and needs AdBlue, but is yet to reappear in the local motorhome marketplace.

In the campervan world of 2021, Toyota’s all-new HiAce still has Euro 5 diesel and petrol engines. Volkswagen’s new Transporter T6.1, however, is an oddity, having a Euro 5 diesel if you order 4Motion AdBlue is increasingly available ‘at the pump’ in truck all-wheel drive, but a Euro 6 diesel needing AdBlue stops and major service stations for between $0.80 in 2WD guise. Go figure. The Ford Transit Custom is and $1.00 per litre. It’s also available in containers from Euro 6 and an AdBlue drinker, but Renault’s Traffic auto accessory stores and some service stations, but appears to continue with a Euro 5 diesel. at anything up to $10 per litre, depending on container size! While AdBlue/DEF is another expense and can be seen as one more thing to remember/fill/go-wrong, it’s Vehicles requiring AdBlue have a separate tank, with here to stay. For the moment it’s less than one cent a filler beside or close to the normal fuel cap. It has a per kilometre (at the pump) and a small price to pay bright blue cap that says AdBlue, and is much smaller for cleaner air. And if you’re wondering just how much diameter than a normal fuel filler. While that stops cleaner these new engines are than those ‘back in the people putting diesel or petrol into the AdBlue tank, it day’, consider a well maintained diesel from just 20 doesn’t stop misfuelling the other way. In that situation, years ago: It’s claimed it would take 60 Euro 6 engines an engine must not be started as serious damage is to equal its pollution. Worth pondering? likely, and the contaminated fuel needs to be drained.

49


FEATURE

Share & Share & Like!

In January 2014 and September 2017 we published articles in iMotorhome Magazine on our project running a joint purchase motorhome scheme in Australia. This is a report on the success of the scheme after 10 years of operation and on our third motorhome.

by David Woodrow

Background

F

or those who have not read the previous articles, we originally considered buying our own motorhome but could not afford the capital outlay or ongoing expense. We realised that many motorhomes are used for one long trip or a couple of times a year but then sit in storage for most of the time. Fortunately, there were others interested in a joint purchase and we were able to share the initial capital cost and running expenses. The syndicate – RVShare – purchased a Winnebago

Leisure Seeker in 2011, with owners who have two or three months away each a year. Subsequently, after a very successful four years we sold it, with over 200,000 km on the clock. We had originally predicted, that with a good resale, it would have cost us about $50 a day to operate (then with only $200 insurance excess). We actually did better at $46 a day, compared with hiring at $240 a day and with a massive insurance excess.

50


FEATURE

The New Motorhomes

I

n 2016 we continued the scheme with some new owners and purchased a 2013 Avida Esperance. It was fully equipped and we added many extras such as a BBQ, generator, tables and chairs, CB radio, ground matting, privacy screen, inflatable kayak and a small 1999 Suzuki Vitara 4WD, which was flat towed. In 2019 the new owners decided to sell and go upmarket, and we purchased a new AutoTrail Delaware on the Fiat Ducato platform and transferred the extras from the Avida, including the Suzuki and tow frame. It is certainly a luxurious, well-equipped unit and a pleasure to drive, especially with the recently added rear airbags. All you need to add is food and fuel.

51


FEATURE

How it Works

S

cheduling has worked out well, with some owners taking their time in separate months. The system is set up legally with one of the owners (me) acting as voluntary manager with a Common Fund, like a body corporate, to cover registration, insurance, maintenance, service, tyre replacement, and cleaning. We have meetings once or twice a year to discuss the scheduling and improvements, and to set the Common Fund contribution. The timetable is on Google Calendar, accessible to all owners. Our meetings are more social BBQs and we have all become friends. Most were originally from around the Sunshine Coast, but we have also had Kiwis who spend some time in Australia each year and owners from as far as Mount Isa and Adelaide. We were able to even up the allocated time with the Covid restrictions in 2020 and we had extensive travel within Queensland after State travel restrictions were lifted.

We are flexible in scheduling and have had little trouble in satisfying requests. The last three days of any usage is reserved for servicing, maintenance, cleaning etc. We do not have a requirement for storage as the motorhome is on the road most of the time – diesels are best kept running. Four owners at any one time is ideal as any more becomes a little difficult to coordinate. The ownership has changed over the years, with shares being transferred with restrictions (like no smoking inside) set out in the legal agreement. Since the start, we have had 18 couples participate and one of the long term owners is now ready to sell. Because we all own the motorhome, everyone looks after it. We have a set of Hints or “Operating Procedures� that is added to after each trip.

52


FEATURE

On the Road

M

y travel companion and I personally love freedom camping and are impressed with the increasing number of Motorhome Association-sponsored dump sites. About one day in five we book into a caravan park to recondition, do the washing, refill the water tank, dump the dunny and buy our supplies. We certainly support the growing number of RV Friendly Towns, and “Leave no Trace”. To add flexibility, we now have the small 4WD which most of us use. It is easy to tow and we don’t even know it is there (except when you want to reverse).

two months up to the tropical Daintree and to the Tip of Cape York, and two months up the centre of Australia. In 2018, in the Esperance, we explored Southern WA, around Albany, Esperance and Margaret River; the area that we missed on our rather rushed aroundAustralia trip.

Towards the end of 2016 we travelled from the Sunshine Coast and transported the unit across on the Spirit of Tasmania to explore Tasmania. We then handed it over to another owner in Launceston. They spent two months in Tassie and passed it on to other We also try to organise remote changeovers to prevent owners in Hobart who had their turn around the Island, having to bring the motorhome back to the Sunshine brought the Motorhome back on the Spirit and handed Coast, thus reducing kilometres on the road and time it over to the next owners in Melbourne. They then away. So far we have had changeovers in Cairns, travelled the Nullarbor and up the West Coast before Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Darwin, Adelaide, returning back to home for a service and new tyres Broom, Atherton and Perth. (after nine months away). Durng our ownership we have done a three-month around Australia trip; spent two months in Tasmania;

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What of the Future?

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fter ten years, we have seen most of Australia and advancing years and medical issues have forced the decision for some owners to sell and overseas travel beckons. When the three years were up in 2017, we reluctantly planed to sell the Esperance and Vitara and close the scheme, but there was considerable interest in continuing so we purchased the new Delaware and have continued with some new owners. The coloured tracks on a well used map show that almost everywhere in Australia has been visited. The owners, both past and present, indicate they would probably not have had the wonderful motorhome experience without RVShare.

Joint-purchase (or proportional ownership) is a great concept for those who cannot justify sole-purchase, but it does take a bit of time and effort to set up the scheme and manage it. It should be emphasised that this is not a commercial venture, it merely enables us to afford and enjoy motorhoming. It is amazing the number of articles and photos in travel magazines that trigger memories of our visits. I have attached selected photos from some trips and no doubt many readers will be able to identify them without the need for captions.

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READER

All

Change

Moving-on the old and planning for the new – part 1... by Herman Eldering

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READER

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ur much loved and faithful 2011 Mercedes Benz 519 turbo- diesel 3-litre Sunliner Holiday motorhome served us well for almost 9 years and 88,000 kilometres. The choice now was to do some substantial upgrades or sell and buy a new motorhome. This article will outline our experiences in purchasing our first motorhome, operational lessons learnt during our travels and the modifications that resulted. Finally, it will detail the planning for our new motorhome purchase. After a high-powered business career in marketing, Apple Computer, industry and public company chairman roles, it was time to have some fun. Wifey and I spent five years at annual camping shows looking over all the offerings and compiling a shortlist of Sunliner, Paradise and Avida. The CMCA Wanderer magazine was read cover to cover each month (iMotorhome was not around back then), adding to our research knowledge. Water consumption, battery power, fuel tank capacity, seating capacity, engine power and type, fridge sizes, washing machine, generator options and lights were all carefully considered and discussed. The Mercedes 519 turbo-diesel with 100 litre fuel tank was settled as the chassis of choice due to power, range and reliability, even though this was the more expensive option. The water capacity was doubled from 120 to 240-litres at the cost of losing a passenger seat from 4 to 3 persons, due to weight considerations. LED lights were relatively new but Sunliner had them as standard, while the 185-litre fridge was a three-way absorption unit (which we wouldn’t do again as current 12/240 volt compressor fridges are far more efficient). Wifey got her front load washing machine, which to her was a must, and we added a Weber Baby Q barbecue and Honda 2 kVa generator to the list of extras. Standard items were aircon, 2 x 100-amp hour AGM house

batteries, a 3000-watt inverter, 2 x 80 watt solar panels and an electric awning, plus we added a front nudge bar and rear towbar. At the Rosehill camping show in April 2011, a senior technical manager from Sunliner agreed our extras were able to be provided. We made an offer of $200,000 – $15K less than the list price – which was accepted and took delivery in December that year. With much excitement, despite a poor handover process by a junior salesperson with little knowledge, we started the preparations for the first trip. First task was storing 128 bottles of wine, which was no problem they all fitted under the bunk seats. Then we looked at a solid Thule bike rack on our rear tow ball for our Gazelle battery bikes, which needed to fold down to allow the rear bed slide-out to operate. A 12-volt battery station, clothes, food, tools (including cordless drill and electric meter), camping chairs and table all found storage places, aided by the amazing packing skills of my wife.

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Lessons from the Road

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he first trip was from home in Canberra to Broome, via South Australia up to Alice Springs, then left at Katherine for Kununurra and we made the same mistake most rookie motorhomers make: Forgetting how big our continent is! The eight weeks we had allowed should have been doubled and we ended up doing many days of six hundred kilometres. But you learn these lessons quickly and there’s no substitute for experience.

Lessons learnt included the need for an additional awning for sun screening, tie downs that could be quickly screwed into the ground with a cordless drill, and equally importantly removed quickly and easily. Be sure to bring your own bottled water for drip filter coffee as water tastes vary a lot in your travels. A portable satellite TV, with helpful fold in half antenna dish for easier storage, was also good. Initially it took some time to get the hang of fine tuning the dish angle, but Wikicamps on the iPad made it simpler. An Apple TV unit was modified for 12-volts (a helpful YouTube video explained the process) and enabled smart TV functions on the road, when internet was available.

One of the first lessons was take great care in car parks: A sharp piece of rebar sticking out from the concrete ripped through a rear tyre sidewall and because of the dual tyres we didn’t notice till we got to the caravan park, some six kilometres away. After In tropical heat the absorption fridge on 240 volts was getting the jack and tyre lever out, there was no way fine, but on 12 volts struggled to hold temperature to get any leverage on the tyre lever to undo the nuts while travelling. Temperatures frequently climbed from because the rear wheels were recessed under the three degrees to between seven and nine degrees, body. Fortunately, there was a tyre repair place nearby which wasn’t good. This was partially addressed by who fixed it. Next stop was a Supercheap auto store dropping the temperature while on 240 volts to 1 for a 12-volt rattle gun, so we didn’t ever face the same degree, but it was fiddly. Taking a four kilogram gas problem again! The dual rear tyres means that in an bottle out from the locker and taking it to the Baby Q emergency it is possible to drive carefully if one tyre every time was a pain and we resolved to have a gas goes down and get to the next town (that depends on line installed with bayonet fitting next to the barbecue. tyre’s load rating, which could easily be exceeded due to vehicle weight and axle loading - Ed). 57


READER

Upgrades

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n 2016, the battery management system was upgraded to a digital Finscan system, with the attendant challenges of working with existing wiring and the more difficult job of finding access for new cable runs. It was a bigger job than anticipated and highlighted the difficulty of retrofitting, which is considerably more work than the manufacturer doing it all in the factory with intimate knowledge of all the details. Power management and tank level monitoring by touch screen was a big improvement, but several things did not work at first and required investigative work to fix. After looking at hydraulic levelling legs we opted for the Red Foot fully-automatic offering and have been very happy with the convenience, solid footing (no sway when a midnight toilet break calls) and ability to raise tyres for any puncture repairs without having to get a jack out and laboriously raise the chassis. The hard part of the decision making was relinquishing space for 32 wine bottles as the hydraulics required internal space (I’ve heard there are shops around Australia the sell wine - Ed). The installation was done in Perth by a mining engineering company and was very professional. The very dated Mercedes radio

was replaced with a modern digital GPS/SatNav and Apple CarPlay interface by Pioneer. The $18,000 total upgrade costs were considered worthwhile and we have had the convenience of more modern technology along with making the motorhome more attractive for resale.

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READER

Time to Change

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n late 2019 we considered a new fridge, new lithium battery system and new continuous hot water as we were very happy with the existing floor plan. I turned 70 last year and thinking we have at least another 8 years of motorhoming ahead, would mean the existing vehicle will almost be 18 years old by the time we might be ready to call it quits. Therefore, it was decided a new motorhome might be the best option. A stop at Paradise Motorhome on the Gold Coast piqued our interest and we looked over the Integrity and Inspiration models, having seen many in our travels and engaging with the owners on their experiences.

our time) before I asked if he was keen to buy. He said, “No, my budget is less than half your asking price”.

Selling a motorhome requires lots of patience. We advertised primarily on the CMCA marketplace and the Caravancampingsales websites and there was steady interest. The latter website has a very annoying tactic of, after taking $490 in fees for an ‘Ultimate' listing, asking for $39 for multiple further 14-day extensions of a ‘higher priority’ listing. After complaining that this listing was supposed to be ‘Ultimate', they provided one free 14-day enhanced listing, but then still continued with this gouging tactic.

With borders re-opening, interest in motorhoming resulted in a flood of interest for used vehicles and we had three serious buyers in three weeks. New motorhome manufacturers were fully booked with new orders for 15 months and therefore many people appeared to opt for a used vehicle.

Many people love wasting your time without the slightest intention of buying. A serious engagement means about two hours of explaining the features and operations, as a motorhome has lots of technical features. One inquiry resulted in two visits, two test drives and much detail provided (some four hours of

Needless to say, my approach became more focussed after that. On two occasions potential buyers wanted to swap a block of land in Queensland or a motor vehicle for our motorhome, despite no mention of this by us in our advertisements! The other memorable inquiry was an offer, sight unseen, by SMS of half the asking price. We now have an understanding of how many people dealers need to show their products to before a sale and how patient they need to be.

After 14 inspections of our motorhome over the 12 months sales process, and from as far afield as Tasmania and Brisbane, our eventual buyer was from Cowra. They were delightful people who carefully went through all the detail as well as a test drive. We agreed to do a detail on the outside of the vehicle and a full mechanical service at Mercedes Benz Canberra before they took delivery. Now, it was time for the next adventure, but you’ll have to wait until next issue...

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Spoiled for choice

Kayaking out of lockdown… by Colin Oberin

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rifting through the shallows in my kayak, listening to the birds and the gentle lapping of the water on a calm and sunny day, my spirits soared and my mind wandered. Victoria had just celebrated 28 double doughnut days in a row (28 days with no new Covid cases and no Covid deaths) and we no longer had any active Covid cases. Officially, Covid had now been eliminated in Victoria; the restrictive lockdown had eased and even the Ring of Steel which separated Metropolitan Melbourne from Regional Victoria for several months in the middle of 2020 had been lifted. Two days earlier, with our new found freedom, Anne and I had ventured down to Cape Paterson and the holiday house we hadn’t been able to enjoy since last summer. We took the ‘van so I could load up the kayak gear if the weather was good, and it was. Cape Paterson is about two hours drive south east of Melbourne and about eight kilometres from the regional centre of Wonthaggi. Being off the main highway and with no road running through town, it is a

quiet secluded village that comes complete with a pub, general store, caravan park, two real estate agents and two lifesaving clubs. The Wonthaggi Life Saving Club services the Bay Beach, which is a usually calm stretch of beach sandwiched between two rocky outcrops and suitable for young children who especially love the shallow swimming pool carved into the rocks in years gone by. About five minutes walk along the well-maintained cliff top path, (or if the water is low, rock hopping past the numerous rock pools that are uncovered at low tide) brings one to the First Surf Beach and the Cape Paterson Surf Lifesaving Club. The First Surf Beach is on the eastern side of the actual cape and just around the point is the Second Surf Beach, which is on the wild and wind-swept western side of the cape, with uninterrupted views of Bass Strait. Because of the different aspects of the two surf beaches, if the surf is not running at one, there is a good chance it is at the other.

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Inverloch Bound

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ext morning, I headed off along the very picturesque and winding cliff top road to Inverloch. This 14 km scenic drive, sometimes called a mini version of the Great Ocean Road, comes complete with magnificent views and plenty of parking areas at various vantage points. They encourage visitors to check out the secluded bays, the off-shore rock stack and even the view across the water to Cape Liptrap (and behind that to Mount Oberon on Wilson’s Promontory). However, I didn’t stop to admire the views or soak up the atmosphere as the sun was shining, the day was calm, the tide was full and I was on a mission heading straight for my favourite kayaking spot. Mahers Landing is about half way along Anderson Inlet, which at that point is several kilometres wide. The inlet is a crescent shaped body of water about 15 kms long and stretches from the Tarwin River at its eastern end to the western end at Inverloch, where the mouth of the inlet opens into Bass Strait. This inlet is a favourite of fishermen and where I like to kayak when I am alone, as it is relatively sheltered and, apart from a deep winding channel, the mostly quite shallow. This means that even if I ever fell out of my kayak, I could simply stand up or swim the short distance to the edge

of the channel and then stand up. So far, I have never fallen out but I have run aground now and then on a falling tide and found myself a kilometre or so from shore, walking in ankle-deep water to a deeper spot while pulling the kayak behind me. After launching from the small stretch of sandy beach beside the Mahers Landing boat ramp, I headed west into the slight breeze so that I would have a breeze assisted return journey. Staying close to the shoreline as usual, I headed for the rocky bluff in the distance. However, I didn’t round the bluff as the bird life was too numerous on this day and I was happy to simply drift as I watched a flock of birds wheel and swoop as they caught insects close to the water line while I struggled trying to position the kayak to get a good photo without dropping my phone into the water. Meanwhile, high overhead a flock of ibis headed north in a classic V-shaped flotilla. Sick of paddling one handed while trying to take photos, I headed for the shore where I spotted a large group of very small birds. These were no bigger than sparrows but for their size had long legs and beaks. I’m no ornithologist but I think they may have been red necked stints that had flown from their breeding

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grounds in Siberia to spend the summer in South Gippsland. They made quite a racket chirp chirping away as they pecked for food among the seaweed and on the muddy shoreline, or simply sat facing the breeze as if ready for take-off at any moment. I was careful not to get too close even though they had no obvious fear of me or my bright red kayak, so I just sat quietly looking, listening and enjoying the scene. I had been hoping they might suddenly take off all at once but they didn’t cooperate, so I eventually turned back to Mahers Landing and headed home for a shower.

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Even Better

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he next day was calm and even better kayaking weather, so it was off again to Mahers Landing. This time I headed east but could just as easily have headed south east across the inlet to the mud islands that shield the Venus Bay Boat ramp, or south west to the Point Smythe nature park which, between stretches of mud flats, has a few secluded sandy beaches facing the inlet where I have beached a kayak and had a very enjoyable picnic lunch on more than one occasion. Also, there are good walking tracks in the park. Hugging the shore line as usual, I skirted the mangroves and just let my mind wander as I enjoyed the quiet, punctuated only by bird calls, an occasional outboard motor chugging along or snatches of conversation from fisherman chatting in their boats anchored out in deeper water. Once again there were plenty of water birds strutting along the shoreline or through the mangroves and even a flock of silver gulls just standing around. I had been thinking how lucky I was to be able to enjoy this day and decided to head to shore and have a rest from paddling. Just as the nose of the kayak scraped onto the sand, a crab with a body the size of a fifty-cent piece scuttled into the shade of the kayak while I hurriedly tried to turn on the camera and take a photo. After I got out of the kayak and stood still for a minute or two the crab obligingly scuttled out into the open letting me take its picture.

While paddling back to the boat ramp I was thinking that although the day was calm and the water clear, I hadn’t seen any of the usual underwater life. Suddenly, a stingray glided silently past just a couple of metres away, as if reading my thoughts. When kayaking in the shallows I often disturb a sunbaking ‘ray and a few minutes after the first swept past I did just that, and with a furious flapping of its wings the ‘ray sped off along the bottom. All too soon I was loading the kayak back into the van ready for the next good day to go kayaking. Of course, not all days are good days for being out on the water, but there are plenty of other things to see and do in the area. Options range from the State Coal Mine at Wonthaggi to the Penguin Parade, Vietnam Veterans Museum and other attractions on Phillip Island, and the trendy cafes and boutiques of Inverloch, among many others. The nearby small towns of Meeniyan, Koonwarra and Fish Creek are all a short drive away and well worth a visit, while the famed Wilsons Promontory National Park is an easy day trip away. There are also many walking tracks and bike paths to enjoy when the kayaking is not beckoning, so really, I’m spoiled for choice. How good is that?

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“Because of the different aspects of the two surf beaches, if the surf is not running at one, there is a good chance it is at the other...�

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TESTED TRAVEL

Merry Beach Days! by Warren McCullough

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ur biggest speed bump for campervan travel during 2020 wasn’t the dreaded virus, but rather our two-day-a-week commitment to grand-parenting duties, in the form of child minding. Not that we don’t love it, but a commitment it is.

Every time we hurtled past the turn-off as we headed further south on the highway we would say, “We must go there one day”.

None of our family have had a holiday break for the past 12 months, so when our daughter (with grandson) found that she had a work-free Friday and adjoining weekend coming up at the end of November, the call went out to the whole tribe for a weekend away. With our family scattered along the NSW South Coast, we had some brief planning discussions and booked beachfront sites at the Merry Beach Caravan Park.

We powered up the fridge on Thursday night, packed clothes and food on Friday morning and pointed the van south. First stop was Ulladulla for lunch. It’s hard to go past SeaJuiced in the main drag for a healthy start to the weekend: Old style salad sandwiches packed so full of ingredients that you wonder how you will manage to open your mouth wide enough to take a bite! Washed down with a freshly squeezed fruit juice, we really felt like the holiday had begun!

Now, that day was about to arrive!

This is one of those iconic destinations that many of our friends have talked about over the years, but where we had never stayed. We knew exactly where it was:

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On the Road Again!

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ack on the road, we wound our way down the Princes Highway through what were once sleepy fishing villages south from Ulladulla, further entrenching that ‘holiday feel’ in our psyche, until we reached the Merry Beach turnoff at Termeil. About 20 minutes later we are pulling up in the reception lane at Merry Beach Caravan Park. And yes, it is still called a Caravan Park rather than the more-hyped Holiday Resort! This place is one of those quintessential coastal gems; always popular in holiday times, but now, in the COVID-19 era, extra-busy all year round. So much so that you will need to book well ahead to secure a prime site on most weekends. We’d booked beachfront powered sites. These are much sought-after and when we are talking beachfront we are talking almost right on the beach. There is power available at each site, but no water or sullage services. In fact, the whole park is supplied with bore water, with only a few designated outlets for drinking water, which is all trucked in to the park. So fill up your

onboard tanks at home, and maybe pack some extra water containers. We had 80-litres with us and that was enough for three day’s cooking, dishwashing and quick daily showers.

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Parked Up

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he park amenities also run on bore water and we found them to be very clean and well-maintained, with several blocks located for easy access throughout the park. There is a four-minute hot water timer switch on the showers, and the bore water does have that faint hint of a NZ hot spring!

Once everyone was settled in and the children’s playground and beach had been explored, home-made hamburgers – cooked on the BBQ hot plate – were the order of the day for an early dinner.

Settling in on Friday afternoon, we had a first-hand introduction to the locals – a mob of about 100 kangaroos. They live in and around the park and enjoy grazing amongst the campsites. While most people observe the request to not feed them, there are always a few who just can’t help themselves and have to entice the wildlife with bread and biscuits in an effort to setup their Insta-pics. Very disappointing…

A new addition to our travel kit for this trip was a flatpack fire pit. What a winner! Everyone brought a share of firewood and we splashed out on a couple of telescopic marshmallow-toasting forks. Sitting around the fire at dusk is what these trips are all about; the sun setting behind us, surf breaking in front of us, marshmallows toasting over the coals, kangaroos grazing all around us. It doesn’t get much better than this!

We helped the others unpack and then setup their accommodation by feeding flexible poles through canvas tents, pegging down fly sheets and inflating air mattresses. It reminded me how sensationally quick and easy it is to setup our van: Park it, swivel the passenger seat and plug in a power cable – all done in under three minutes!

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Mogo Zone

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aking to cloudy skies on Saturday morning we headed off to the Mogo Wildlife Park. With a two year old in the group, this was always going to be a must-visit attraction over the weekend. The 45 minute drive to Mogo reinforced just how widespread the fires had been earlier in the year. We arrived not long after the 9:00 am opening time, which proved to be a smart move given how busy the carpark was when we departed a couple of hours later. The Park houses a wide range of wildlife, from cuteand-cuddly meerkats and deer (great for the two-yearold feeding experience) to the more imposing lions, rhinos, zebras and giraffes; all contained in expansive range-style settings similar to Dubbo Zoo, though not quite as vast. 

For me, monkeys swinging precariously through tall trees is always a highlight, and the inhabitants of Mogo’s Primate Island didn't disappoint. The hand feeding of the deer will no doubt be a discussion point for the two year old for at least the next week or two… With our jungle wildlife explorers’ appetite not likely to be sated with the standard park cheeseburger and fries, we navigated from the Wildlife Park towards beautiful Broulee for the more satisfying gourmet fare available at the popular Mossy Point Cafe. With in-house dining limited due to social distancing restrictions we were only too happy to load takeaway meals in the van and roll down the hill to consume toasted mexican wraps in the shade of the trees adjacent to the Tomakin River. How good is our home on wheels in these situations? Chairs, crockery and washing facilities right there when we needed them.

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Zzzzzzz…

Wandering back to the campsite from the pool, an enthusiastic team of experts assembled at the van to eturning to the caravan park, the two-year-old’s provide advice on the preparation of an extravagant after-lunch nap provided us all with some siestarange of bespoke pizzas for dinner, baked to glorious time for our own nanna-naps, lazy reading of books and browsing of Saturday papers. However, siesta time perfection in a couple of Weber Baby Q BBQs. doesn't last forever and with the afternoon nor-easter Of course dinner was followed by another evening picking up at the beach, it wasn’t too long before we around the fire, with the same team of experts solving found ourselves spreading our gear over a platoon the world’s most pressing geo-political problems; of deck chairs adjacent to the park’s very tropical the depth of conversation no doubt enhanced by the swimming pool. A huge expanse of crystal clear water consumption of marshmallows warmed on our newly at just the right temperature, a rocky waterfall and a acquired toasting forks. separate toddlers’ pool made an idyllic backdrop for a relaxing afternoon. However, we were careful to wear broad-brimmed hats and slop on the sunscreen as the pool area provides very little in the way of shelter from the sun.

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Although we had only been away for just over a day, already it felt like a week! How quickly the camping lifestyle cleanses your brain of the day-to-day issues that occupy your mind when home.

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Sunday morning signalled the start of a warm sunny beach day. Not a cloud to be seen in the clear blue sky. With many of the group staying under canvas there were no sleep-ins once the sun was up. A short pre- breakfast stroll to the sand and a dive in the ocean started the day on the right note. If we were not fully awake before we dived in the ocean, we certainly were afterwards, with a cool coastal current holding the water temperature at a refreshing 17ºC! After our cleansing dip in the waves, fresh fruit, toast and cereal was the order of the morning for breakfast, consumed around the remains of the previous evening’s fire. The coffee connoisseurs in the group found their way to the local Saltwood cafe – “Dream, Create, Caffeinate” – for their morning caffeine fix. With breakfast cleared and tidied, and tents rolled and packed in preparation for a later departure, beach activities became the focus of the morning’s activities. Merry Beach has a small shallow estuary at the back of the sand, filled with fresh ocean water as the waves wash over a narrow section of the beach. It is nature’s toddlers pool! The adults in the group displayed their inherent engineering skills through the construction of increasingly complicated and detailed pools, bridges and tunnels in the damp sand adjacent to the water, while the two year old fine-tuned his natural demolition skills! 71


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Happy Endings

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gain all good things find themselves meandering towards an inevitable end. As morning stretched into afternoon, younger members of the group said their goodbyes and steered out onto the highway for their return journey, while those of us without Monday work commitments settled back in at the campsite for another well-deserved afternoon siesta.

With the Pretty Beach trek conquered, we took the opportunity for a quick freshen up in the ocean before breaking camp for the journey home, again reinforcing the wonderful advantages of the motorhome lifestyle. Packing away any loose gear in the van, stashing the fold up table and chairs, the Weber and the fire pit, rolling up the power cable and were packed and ready to go in well under 15 minutes.

There was only one more decision to make: Where to stop for lunch? Berry! Again... It was very busy for a Monday, but so much more peaceful now the On Monday morning we pulled on our walking shoes previously constant convoy of trucks and commercial and ventured on the short bush walk (three kms return) vehicles have been diverted via the highway bypass. from the southern end of the caravan park, through We enjoyed the hospitality offered by the local bakery, the Murramarang National Park to the nearby Pretty before a wander through the very trendy homeware Beach, via Snapper Head. We learned the hard way retail outlets. Then back on the road for the final stretch that the main walking trail actually commences about home on the upgraded highway. 50 metres to the right of the National Park entry sign. However, taking the very narrow track adjacent to Arriving back on home turf, as we backed the van the sign provided a more exciting closeup view of the into the driveway we had to remind ourselves that we sheer cliffs on Snapper Head, which we may not have had only been away for a few days. A short change in otherwise discovered! routine certainly makes for a great holiday! 72


TRAVELTOWNS RV FRIENDLY

CMCA

RV Friendly Towns image: Joey Csunyo

he RV Friendly program is a Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia Limited (CMCA) initiative aimed at assisting RV travellers as they journey throughout this wonderful country.

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will be provided for them that may not be available in other centres, and they will have access to a safe place to stay overnight and possibly for a longer period.

An RV Friendly Town (RVFT) is one that provides a certain number of amenities and a certain level of services for these travellers.

On the following pages are this issue’s featured RV Friendly towns. If possible please include them in your travels and support the communities going out of their way to welcome those of us fortunate enough to be travelling. Enjoy!

When RV travellers enter a town displaying the RVFT sign they know they will be welcome. Certain services

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RV FRIENDLY TOWNS

Campbell Town, Tas

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ampbell Town is on the Midland Highway halfway between Hobart and Launceston. Today the town is the primary service centre for the surrounding agricultural properties, as well as a highly popular stopping point for travellers on the Midland Highway. The serene Elizabeth River meanders by Campbell Town with the banks of the river offering superb locations for shaded picnics. The town has several niche shops including a traditional lolly store, handmade leather goods, rich chocolates, a bookstore

and more. Less than 30 minutes from town, Lake Leake offers a premium fishing spot stocked with brook and rainbow trout. The town’s wide, tree-lined streets are accommodating for recreational vehicles with ample parking in the centre of town on Commonwealth Lane. Short-term parking is available at Blackburn Park Rest Area for up to 48 hours. Vehicles must be self-contained to stay at the rest area, and a free permit must be obtained online to stay overnight. A dump point is located on King Street, and a potable water station is available at War Memorial Oval on High Street.

Tourist/Visitor Information Centre

Heritage Highway Museum & Visitor Centre 103 High Street CAMPBELL TOWN Tas T: (03) 6381-1353 E: campbell.town.tas@gmail.com W: www.discovertasmania.com

Casual Parking (near retail centre)

Commonwealth Lane car park

Short Term Parking

Blackburn Park Rest Area, Franklin Street Self-contained only, 48 hr max stay, free permit required, avaialble online

Dump Point

King Street Oval (W side of High Street, adjacent to oval)

Potable Water

War Memorial Oval, High Street.

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RV FRIENDLY TOWNS

Cobram, Vic

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obram is on some of the most picturesque sections the wide sandy Thompsons Beach, which is claimed to of the Murray River. With towering gums, native be the largest inland beach on the Murray. bushland and a comfortable Mediterranean climate, it There is short-term parking at Dead River Beach, free is an appealing and unique holiday destination. of charge. Located on the banks of the Murray, two Cobram is also a wonderful place to visit, especially separate camp areas offer a shaded, relaxing stay. For for RV travellers. Discover the region by bike, boat or both a dump point and potable water, travellers can canoe, or simply take a stroll through the bush. Visitors make their way to Cobram Showground. are encouraged to try their luck fishing, before visiting

Tourist/Visitor Information Centre

Corner of Punt Road and Station Street, COBRAM Vic T: 1800 607 607 or (03) 5872-2132 E: cbtinfo@westnet.com.au W: www.cobrambarooga.org.au

Casual Parking (near retail centre)

Punt Rd

Short Term Parking

Dead River Beach, turn north of Racecourse Road. Tom’s Beach, east of Racecourse Road, no cost.

Dump Point

Cobram Showground

Potable Water

Cobram Showground, 50 m northeast of dump point, Bank Street

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RV FRIENDLY TOWNS

Whyalla, SA

W

hyalla is located 396 kilometres north-west of Adelaide and is the largest city in the Upper Spencer Gulf region. Founded in 1906 and originally named Hummock Hill, it was not until 1914 the town was renamed Whyalla and established as a port for shipping iron. The city boasts a fabulous Mediterranean-style climate that provides around 300 days of clear and sunny skies each year, making it the perfect place to visit year-round. Spend a lazy afternoon swimming or windsurfing at the local beach or fishing from the

nearby jetty, Whyalla is bound to be an enjoyable experience for everyone. When visiting you will find short-term parking at Stuart Park (Weeroona Bay Football Club), for $10 per vehicle per night. Parking is strictly for self-contained caravans and motorhomes only and for a maximum of seven days. For stays of up to 14 days, Point Lowly Campground offers sites for just $5 per night. Visitors will find both a dump point and potable water at Jubilee Park, the Southern Information Bay and Point Lowly Campground.

Tourist/Visitor Information Centre

Lincoln Highway, WHYALLA SA T: (08) 8645-7900 W: www.whyalla.com

Casual Parking (near retail centre)

Jamison Street, between McBryde Tce & Horwood St

Short Term Parking

Stuart Park (Weeroona Bay Football Club), Cartledge Avenue, $10 per night maximum of 7 days. Point Lowly Campground $5 per night maximum 14 days

Dump Point

Jubilee Park, the Southern Information Bay and Point Lowly Campground

Potable Water

Jubilee Park, the Southern Information Bay and Point Lowly Campground

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“If you think adventure is dangerous try routine, it’s lethal.” – Paulo Coelho 77

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iMotorhome Magazine - Feb 2021  

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