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Hobby Holidays! This compact Hobby Vantana would make a great Xmas present… New Release
EarthCruiser XPS Slide-On
Product Test Lithium Batteries
Revolution Motorhomes’ Zenith
Meet Marsha Hovey!
2 | About iMotorhome
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Helpful Tips | 3
Here’s how to get the most out of your iMotorhome Magazine with each issue – some tips help youwith navigate our magazine on any device. Here’s how to get the mostbasic of your #RVtoexperience each issue - some basic tips to help you navigate our magazine on any device!
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4 | On My Mind
few days before publishing this issue we cremated my 87 year old Fatherin-law, John. The week leading up to it had been tumultuous, as such things are, and the day after the service we gathered with family and friends to celebrate John’s genuinely remarkable life. Three weeks earlier, John had been in that very room at our local RSL, celebrating the life of another John who suddenly passed away – his next door neighbour – and now Mrs iM’s Mother and her neighbour suddenly find themselves widows together, and just before Christmas. Last night we got word that ‘our’ John’s nephew – yet another John – isn’t expected to last the weekend, following a long battle with illness. As they say, it never rains but it pours. Then, driving home from the celebration I got a call for a close friend to tell me she has breast cancer and that it seems to be aggressive. The operation is next week and she’s being positive, but all we can do is hold our breaths. More rain… I’m telling you all this, not to seek sympathy, but by way of explanation, and as an exhortation. It explains why this issue is a bit ‘light on’ and partially why this is a combined December and January issue.
Our John had been ill since May, when he fell while on what was intended to be his last overseas holiday; one to farewell friends and family in the UK and France as increasing mobility issues were taking their toll. Months in and out of British hospitals were followed by a nurse-escorted flight back to Australia, then time in local hospitals, including intensive care, before respite care in a nursing home. Three weeks ago John finally made it home – although still requiring daily nursing help and against much considered advice – but he seemed to have made a remarkable comeback and it was what he wanted. On that last night, while sitting on the edge of the bed, John reached across for an extra pillow, collapsed and was gone. In the end it was blissfully quick. The cumulative strain on Mrs iM and her Mum have been enormous and so I’d already taken the decision to take a bit of a break over the Christmas and New Year period. This is our seventh Christmas of publishing and even God apparently rested after a similarly numbered time period. The exhortation I mentioned earlier is to take stock of your family and friends this Christmas. Hold them close and be thankful for who and what you have. Life is so very, very short and none of us know what’s in store. continued...
On My Mind | 5
Marsha and More
his issue you’ll meet Marsha Hovey, a young American solo traveler whose RV journey we’ve chronicled in #RV Magazine since issue one. I’ve always loved Marsha’s writing style, openness, honesty and humour, and so I’m bringing her into the pages of iMotorhome. I hope you enjoy her journey as much as I have. Although our next regular issue won’t be until February 2nd, watch for two road test compilation issues in January – one for Australia and the other for New Zealand. Effectively Yearbooks for 2018, they will
provide an easy reference for anyone looking for road tests and will also give me an excuse to briefly poke my nose back in and wish you a happy new year! From the iMotorhome Team our sincerest wishes for a safe and happy Christmas and new year. Thank you for your support and for helping us keep the lights on – we couldn’t have done it without you. Merry Christmas and all the best for 2019!
6 | Contents
On my Mind
On Your Mind
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Street View Haera Mai!
News What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
32 Tested: Revolution Motorhomes’ Zenith 48
Tested: Hobby Vantana K65
New Release: EarthCruiser Express XPS Slide-on
Lithium battery & Redarc charger
Meet Marsha Hovey!
Three more RV Friendly Towns
Wanda’s final instalment…
What’s coming up!
8 | Street View
een thinking about holiday parks a bit recently; more specifically camp kitchens. Just about every NZ holiday park I have been in has one. Certainly of differing size, quality and features, all have the basics for cooking a meal and doing the washing up afterwards. I’ve been in a few which have every modern convenience and others, one in particular just recently, which had a hob which looked like it belonged in a museum. Although I’m usually in a motorhome that has all the essentials – hob, microwave oven,
fridge and sink, I often use the camp kitchen. There’s usually more space for cooking and doing the washing up is often so much faster. Camp kitchens are even more ideal for those travellers who like to travel light. No need to carry any cooking or washing up gear, because most holiday parks will have the basics. There’s one other benefit that arises if you happen to be travelling on your own. If you feel like a friendly chat or just a bit of company, then there’s usually someone around in the camp kitchen who is happy to talk about continued...
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Street View | 9
where they have been and where they are going. All this crossed my mind just the other day when I was overnighting in an Australian holiday park in a well known tourist area. I was contemplating my evening meal and whether I’d head for the camp kitchen. Then I remembered which country I was in, because camp kitchens are really a Kiwi concept not to be found in most Australian holiday parks. One up for the Kiwis I reckon in that department, because camp kitchens are a great idea and very practical on a number of fronts.
second scenario, the travellers have just flown in, done their shopping and are now figuring out how to turn the gas on and plug the power lead in. It’s not only in the holiday parks it happens. Somewhat to my surprise one time, I was at Tuakau on the Waikato River doing some motorhome photography when a backpacker van turned up and proceeded to go through the clean out and packing up process. Not exactly close to the airport (and not exactly appropriate either).
Had a bit of luck recently with some camera gear in that very same area. On a previous visit to I had managed to leave behind a small Still on holiday parks, around the Auckland but expensive bit of equipment – the quick area there are a couple of holiday parks I release plate that attaches my camera to a have used in recent years and there’s one tripod. It’s mostly alloy but I never thought I phenomenon which always entertains me. would see it again, so I bought another one. A motorhome or campervan gets into the Yet on my more recent visit – about four park late in the afternoon and one of two things happen. There’s either a frenzied round months later – there it was sitting on a post right where I had left it! After I had cleaned of activity with travel bags turned out and it up it was ready to go. I now have two – several trips to the garbage bin amongst does anybody need a spare Manfrotto quick other things or a much slower round of release plate? Happy travels and I trust you all activities where the occupants don’t seem have a safe and meaningful Kiwi Christmas. to know what they are doing or maybe start unpacking shopping bags from a recent trip to the supermarket. In the first case, the motorhome travellers are clearly on their last night and going through the process we all hate – clearing out the cupboards, deciding what to do with the leftover food supplies and packing bags prior to departure at the airport the next day. In the
10 | On your mind
WIN $50 FOR THE BEST LETTER!
It’s only fitting that since Ed has his say in On My Mind, you should be able to have yours too. firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll If you have anything to say – or ask – just drop a line to share it with our readers. We’ll also reward the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.
Decision Helper I notice a letter from John and Meg in the November issue of iMotorhome, asking for advice about what type of Motorhome to purchase. Like many others, we too went through the same dilemma, spending a couple of years exploring the options at camping expos and caravan parks. After purchasing our van 12 months ago, we have been asked regularly by others if they can have a look inside, and chat about all the pros and cons of different setups, as they face a similar decision-making process. As a result, we have created a website which canvasses these issues, along with discussion about solar sustainability, useful appliances and accessories, etc, – all the things that we found to be somewhat daunting as we commenced our journey. Please feel free to share the website with John and Meg and others who may have similar questions - click here Regards, Warren PS - I have no financial interest in any of the equipment mentioned, nor do I receive any advertising revenue from this site. Purely an interest/hobby.
Thanks for your email Warren and the link to your website – very interesting and a big job. I’ve passed it on to John and Meg as I think this sort of information is invaluable. Also, please accept this issue’s $50 prize for your efforts in helping others make the difficult decisions. Enjoy!
On your mind | 11
Just Cruisin’ By the way, I have just got back from a tour of Far North Queensland, organised by Gitta and Shawn of Outback-Xplorer. We had about 20 vans on the tour ranging from my little Toyota HiAce to a couple of large motorhomes towing small four wheel drive runabouts, and just about everything in between. We started in Roma and went out to Longreach, Winton and Mt Isa before heading up to Normanton and Karumba and then to Palm Cove just north of Cairns. After the tour ended in Palm Cove I headed to Cooktown before driving home to Melbourne. As I couldn’t make your weekend in Uralla last year I stopped there on the way home from Cooktown to take the enclosed photo with Thunderbolt and his horse. I have just enjoyed reading the November issue of iMotorhome. To add to what Ziggy wrote about using cruise control to avoid speeding in country towns, it occurred to me that some owners of Mercedes Benz Sprinter based vehicles may not be aware that at least recent models have a handy speed limiter. I say this because I was recently looking at a Sprinter based van conversion and I asked the dealer (who shall remain nameless) if the vehicle had a speed limiter. He didn’t know and so would not have mentioned this to any of his customers. For anyone unaware of this feature, the speed limiter switch on Mercedes vehicles is on the end of the cruise control stalk. If you push the end of the stalk in towards the steering column the limiter engages and you can adjust the set speed by raising or lowering the stalk. We use this feature all the time in our family car as unlike cruise control it won’t turn off when you brake and you can just drive normally without fear of exceeding the speed limit – as long as the speed is correctly set. Hope that helps one or more of your readers.
The little HiAce travelled about 10,000 kms on this trip and performed beautifully the whole way. I still really love this vehicle but two of my sons and various grandchildren are keen to go away in the camper with me and with only two seats that’s not really practical. So, I’m considering trading up to something which can take 4 passengers. So far I have a shortlist of three: • Mercedes Benz Sprinter van conversion • Toyota Coaster conversion • Mercedes Sprinter based Kea Discovery If you have any views on any of these I would love to hear them. Another option is of course to keep my HiAce and hire a bigger van when I want to go away with grandchildren. That’s probably the cheapest option but it’s fun to consider whether or not to buy something else. Kind regards, Colin.
12 | On your mind Good to hear from you Colin and to know you’ve enjoyed our latest issue. Thanks for jogging my memory on the Sprinter speed limiter, it’s a feature I’ve used many times while driving various models over the years. Interesting/disappointing to hear the dealer didn’t know about it. What is it they say about good staff being so hard to find? You’ve also jogged my memory about the Fiat Ducato, which also has a speed limit function on its cruise control wand. About the only frustration with a speed limiter is that feeling of ‘running into the wall’ when you hit your nominated speed but want to go just a little bit faster, although that truly is a First World problem! Great to hear of your Little Toyota’s big adventure, sounds like an excellent trip and I’m pleased it all went well. Regarding your family ‘dilemma’, renting something suitable on the few occasions it would actually happen
appears to be the way to go (as much fun as it is to contemplate a new vehicle!). On the subject of new vehicles, to me it beggars belief Toyota doesn’t have Volkswagen Transporter and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van equivalents – ones with a front engine and walk-through cab. They would absolutely clean up the RV market with their combination of reliability and reputation. Of the motorhomes in your list, the first or third would be fine, but I’d steer away from a Coaster conversion. Coasters are relatively slow and thirsty (they have bigger, lowertech engines), and aren’t overly comfortable because they’re made for short-haul city work not long-distance country driving. They also lack any real frontal protection in an accident. I know I’ll probably get lots of irate Coaster owners writing in, but stacked up against modern European equivalents it’s not really in the running.
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14 | On your mind
Swift Response A top issue and not necessarily because of the Swift article. I particularly enjoyed the wanderings of Wanda, plus the water filter tips and of course, the saga of Polly’s pipes. The diesel stove and heating as used in the Trakka is a great idea in view of it removing the need for a second fuel source (providing you don’t need LPG for a bbq), and the weight and space needs involved. Regards, Ross Thanks Ross and good to hear from you. The diesel stove is interesting, although not our
favourite. It takes a fair time to warm up and cool down, puts heat into the kitchen (good in winter, not so in summer) and lacks precision temperature control or response. However, it does remove the LPG system and associated concerns, and like anything, when you live with it you adapt. We always carry a ‘lunchbox cooker’ with the disposable canisters; it’s ideal for cooking outside the vehicle and would be a very good idea in any diesel-stove equipped vehicle, especially for making tea and coffee.
News | 15
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16 | News
NEW ROAD VEHICLE STANDARDS ACT
he Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA) says it warmly welcomes the Road Vehicle Standards Act (RVSA) navigating its final hurdle through the Senate. CIAA CEO, Stuart Lamont, commented that this legislation will see safer caravanning products for Australians, and provide better conditions for industry businesses currently burdened with competing with cheap imported product which in many cases do not meet the tough Australian Standards and Design Rules designed to cater for Australian caravanning conditions. “I therefore congratulate the Federal Government and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, in particular, on all their hard work, to ensure that the 1989 Motor Vehicle Standards Act has been brought into the modern age. We also appreciate the work undertaken by Minister Fletcher previously in advancing this legislation for the benefit of all those who go caravanning and camping.” “Australians will be better protected through the strengthening of the laws governing all vehicles, including trailers in the Australian market through the Act. Increased powers for the Government to bring penalty on businesses doing the wrong thing are also welcomed.” “The RVSA will provide much safer and compliant caravans and campers (as well as other light trailers), while maintaining consumer choice of both products manufactured locally as well as those sourced overseas.”
“There were over 57 million nights spent caravanning and camping last year and when the RVSA takes effect those purchasing caravanning product can have even greater confidence in terms of safety, environmental and anti-theft performance of all vehicles (including trailers) entering the Australian market for the first time – whether new or used.” Mr Lamont said. The new legislation will also see better identification of caravanning product and a consistent approach to both locally manufactured and imported product. Importantly it will also see improved enforcement provisions surrounding what is already one of the toughest compliance standards globally within the industry. The CEO further remarked that, “The increasing demand for the caravanning and camping lifestyle in Australia, which has an estimated annual value of $20.4 billion to the Australian economy, is built around consumer confidence in the product and having the highest safety standards.” “Industry businesses who consistently ignore their obligations under Australian Design Rules should not be supplying product to the market, and they are put on notice of increased scrutiny against any such practices.” Mr Lamont said. The new RVSA means: • All manufacturers and importers (over four units annually) will be required to obtain an
18 | News
continued... approval from the Federal Government to supply RV product under 4.5 tonne to the market • All products manufactured or imported (first supplied to market – new or used and above four units annually) within three weight ranges will be required to be covered by a model approval • All products supplied to market (below four units per made) will be required to be physically inspected by a Government approved facility against Federal compliance • All products manufactured or imported will be required to be logged onto a Register of Approved Vehicles (an electronic database) prior for individual products will be able to be registered through a state based registration system. This database will be able to be searchable by Government authorities and consumers alike • The Federal Department will have increased powers which include removing approval to supply to market, fines, or the issuing of a recall (which includes for non-safety related matters)
• The rules and logistics which sit below the legislation are still being worked out through consultative groups, which Caravan Industry Association of Australia is an active participant within • The Bill will be fully operational in twelve months time. The CIAA says it will work with state associations and industry businesses to ensure that industry is both fully aware of their obligations and are compliant by the time the law comes into effect. It will also continue to provide information as it comes to hand of the rules which sit below the new legislation. Opinion: iMotorhome can’t help but see the new rule as a cynical manipulation of political connection to further isolate Australian buyers from international choice. Additionally, it appears to place onerous requirements on local manufacturers that could see some smaller operations close. How even more regulation, compliance and associated costs can be good for consumers or the industry is difficult to fathom and we invite your comments
20 | News
SCHOOL HOLIDAY SAFETY
Little Blue Dinosaur’s “It’s Holiday Time: Slow Down, Kids Around” campaign, which launches every December across 39 councils in 4 States (and counting) is aimed at educating and protecting child pedestrians during school holiday time. The Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation was established by Michelle McLaughlin in memory of her four-year-old son Tom, who tragically passed away in a pedestrian road accident while on a Central Coast family vacation in 2014. The campaign targets all road users including child pedestrians, accompanying adult pedestrian carers and drivers. It acknowledges that holidaying road users may not be fully aware of the impact of ‘differing’ roadway landscapes at their new holiday destination, potentially raising the risk profile for an accident to occur.
Busy caravan parks and holiday places – with roads, shops, parks and beaches all close together – are exactly the kinds of places the message is most needed. It is also a new environment for children where the ‘holidays’ roadway environment can look different to what they are used to seeing and they may not therefore, recognise them as a traditional roadway. Little Blue Dinosaur says it wants all Australian families to have an amazing summer holiday period and for the entire family to return home safely. It encourages you to be extra vigilant during your holiday travels and to help spread the word to family, friends and those you might encounter in crowded holiday park situations.
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22 | News
pollo Tourism and Leisure acquired the loss-making Coromal and Windsor caravan brands from Fleetwood Corp because it was a, “Compelling purchase”. That
was the message delivered by the Brisbanebased global company to investors at the Morgans Annual Queensland Conference. Apollo, which claims to be one of the largest RV operators in the world, said in its presentation that independent forecasts had suggested growth in the RV rental and sales markets would continue in coming years. It predicted after-tax profits of between $22 million and $24 million for the current financial year. An ageing population with increasing savings was resulting in a growing RV market, the company added.
KERSHAW GARDENS CLOSURE
he Caravan Parks Association of Queensland has won its legal battle to ban free overnight camping at Rockhampton’s Kershaw Gardens. The Environment and Planning Court has decided that camping is illegal and ruled that overnight stays must cease on February 15th 2019 and all signs removed. RVers and other budgetconscious travellers are now threatening to boycott the Beef Capital of Queensland and take their tourist dollars elsewhere.
The Parks Association launched proceedings late last year against Rockhampton Regional Council and the State Government, arguing its use as a tourist park at the large camping ground on Moores Creek Rd should be outlawed. Caravanning Queensland general manager of parks, Michelle Weston, said the association was, “Pleased” with the decision, which had provided certainty to its members in the Rockhampton region. “The association was always of the view that the accommodation use of Kershaw Gardens went beyond the ordinary use of a park,” she said. “The fact that the accommodation offered was provided free of charge was detrimentally impacting the business of our members. In light of the continuation of this unlawful development and in the interest of our members, including local caravan park operators, we were left with little alternative but to take legal action.”
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24 | News
NRMA OPENS $10M TASSIE PARK
verlooking Georges Bay and just minutes from the Bay of Fires in Tasmania, the $10m NRMA St Helens Waterfront Holiday Park offers 26 cabins and 45 powered ensuite and camping sites, a camp kitchen, recreation room, BBQ, laundry and playground. Managers Ryan and Sally Pendergast were excited to officially open their doors to the public after years of hard work and long days. “We’re proud to be able to build a brand new park in a fantastic location like St Helens,” they said. “It has been custom designed and built and we’ve made sure it is unique and that it differentiates itself from the rest of the market.” It is believed to be the first NRMA park in Australia to be both independently owned
and independently managed. NRMA Parks and Resorts chief executive Paul Davies said the company hoped to bring more tourism dollars to the small communities supporting the parks. “Regional tourism is at the heart of our business, particularly our holiday parks. We do well when regional areas like St Helens thrive.” Mr Davies said tourism was not just about the traveller, ”It’s about the communities they visit,” he explained. The NRMA is now regarded as one of Australia’s largest tourism providers, with a portfolio valued at over $800 million. It is also Australia’s second-largest owner and operators of holiday parks, with a stable of 40 parks nationwide and further expansion expected in the coming months.
26 | News
GREY NOMAD MECCA!
etired couple Peter and Karyn Peeters have announced plans to turn the former Queensland woodmill town of Allies Creek into a Grey Nomads’ Mecca. Members of the online Caravaners Forum have already welcomed the idea, saying they will definitely pay a visit. “We’ll definitely be checking it out in the future,” wrote one member. “Good on ‘em, I say, I hope they are hugely successful!” The Peeters bought the tiny township, about 400 km northwest of
Brisbane, for the bargain price of $550,000 after previous owner Natali Williams, who wanted to convert it into a caravan park, abandoned the idea following the death of her husband. They say they will turn the town into a multi-million-dollar retro tourist attraction for tourists and RVers alike.
28 | iMotorhome Marketplace
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32 | Tested: Revolution Zenith
Zenith Heaven Revolution Motorhomesâ€™ Zenith reaches new heights in the van conversion marketâ€Ś Story by Richard Robertson Images by Malcolm Street
Tested | 33
VW’s new Crafter is a good looking machine and brings real choice and difference to the motorhome scene. You’d be hard pressed to pick the Zenith’s slide-out at a casual glance as it’s a very neat installation.
ollowing the mid-2018 release of the Envy – a ‘revolutionary’ Toyota HiAce van conversion with slide-out bed – Revolution Motorhomes has raised the bar with the Zenith, a VW Crafter conversion with fulllength kitchen/bedroom/bathroom slide-out. Not only is this the first conversion we’ve seen on the all-new Volkswagen Crafter, to our knowledge it’s the first van conversion anywhere to feature a full-length slide-out. Interestingly, Revolution plans to install the same thing on its ‘little’ Envy, which will transform the Hi-Ace into something more closely resembling the Tardis! Conventional wisdom dictates slide-outs to be the province of coachbuilt motorhomes. Van conversions are often seen as stepping
stones between campervans and ‘proper’ motorhomes; their more compact dimensions suit those who value manoeuvrability, ease of parking and economy over ultimate living space. Conversely, coachbuilts – be they A, B or C-class – are often seen as the ultimate motorhome, with slide-outs as the ‘ultimate ultimate’ in providing mobile real estate. So, does the marriage of a slide-out with a van conversion make it the ‘ultimate ultimate ultimate’ by providing the best of both worlds?
Crafting the Base
n the motorhome world the Fiat Ducato and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter reign supreme. Volkswagen’s Crafter has only ever been a bit player, gaining most success Down Under in the rental business.
34 | Tested In case you’re unaware, the Crafter and Sprinter were near-identical twins that started life on the same Mercedes-Benz production line. Towards the end of production the Crafter was moved to Volkswagen’s own assembly line, where its unique engine, transmission, trim and body fittings were added. However, that arrangement ended last year because Mercedes-Benz needed all the production space for its booming Sprinter business. This forced Volkswagen to reinvent its own wheel, this time drawing on the expertise of its MAN truck division. The result was the MAN TGE and VW Crafter. If the Sprinter and Crafter were near-identical twins these two are identical, they just wear slightly different clothes. The all-new Crafter has been in Australia for a little while now, but only in front wheel
drive form. Rear and all-wheel drive models are just arriving and you can expect to see then become a more visible part of the local motorhome scene as RV manufacturers look for something new and different. Whereas the previous Crafter was a bit of an ugly duckling, it’s now right up there in looks as well as specifications. Visually, it echoes current VW passenger car design language, with that influence extending into the cab.
ew Crafter actually has one up on the Sprinter in that it now offers an eightspeed ZF automatic transmission. This is a ‘proper’ automatic, not the lumbering automated manual previously offered, and it’s a beauty. By comparison, Mercedes-Benz is
Two lockers in the slide-out house the gas cylinders and provide good room for hoses, power leads and the like. There’s a third locker on the kerb-side for storage or optional generator.
Tested | 35 sticking with its seven-speed auto in the allnew Sprinter. New Crafter’s other big attraction will be its affordable all-wheel drive option. Called 4Motion, it’s about a quarter the price of the new Sprinter’s admittedly ‘proper’ four-wheeldrive option, but for most people just having all-wheel drive ability will be more than enough. Power now comes from a twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel producing 130 kW and 410 Nm, both much more competitive than before. Naturally, new Crafter comes with a full suite of safety equipment including front, side and curtain airbags for both cab occupants and all the expected electronic aids: Front assist with city emergency braking and multicollision brakes, anti-lock brakes, electronic
stability control, traction control, hill-hold, crosswind assist and more. Along with properly engineered crumple zones it’s good to see light commercial vehicles finally achieving passenger-car safety standards, both passive and active. I only took the Zenith for a 10 km run ‘around the block’, but found the new Crafter to be comfortable, quiet and, as expected, very easy to drive. The small, sporty, flat-bottomed steering wheel is a delight to use, although in a vehicle at this price point it would be good to have it leather-wrapped. I found the gearbox quite a departure from standard automatics and at first thought it to be a DSG because up-shifts were made in a fraction of a second, accompanied by a flick of the tachometer
New Crafter’s interior is a big step forward and in line with current VW passenger car design language. Sporty flatbottomed steering wheel is a beauty, but should be leather wrapped at this price point.
36 | Tested needle. Engine response is good and the vehicle gets up to speed nicely and is very quiet. While the dashboard is contemporary with VW’s passenger cars, I have to say it’s not as ‘swish’ as the all-new Sprinter. However, that certainly wouldn’t put me off and it was good to see connectivity like Apple Car Play as standard. Volkswagen backs the new Crafter with a five year unlimited kilometre warranty and three years roadside assistance, while servicing is only required annually. I should point out that the test vehicle is built on a long wheelbase (LWB) Crafter with frontwheel drive and a 3550 kg gross vehicle mass
Top: When retracted the slide-out sits over the cassette toilet. Production models will have a full rear wall to ensure bathroom privacy. Above: The 3.9 m slide-out seems very well engineered and is rock solid when extended. Built-in storage lockers are a nice touch and the Zenith has more external storage than is usual in a van conversion.
Tested | 37
The slide-out is smooth and ‘lipless’, meaning any water or debris on top is simply pushed off when retracted. (GVM). That’s because this is the prototype; production vehicles will come standard on the LWB Crafter with 4Motion – yes, all-wheel drive as standard – and a 4495 kg GVM. Revolution reports that the test Zenith, filled with freshwater, diesel and 256 kg of people, tips the scales at 3226 kg. That leaves a respectable payload of 324 kg payload for food, clothing, camping equipment and whatever, and means the full production vehicle will literally have a ton of load carrying capacity.
nyway, that’s enough now about the new Crafter, I know it’s the body you really want to hear about.
The slide out runs the full length of the driver’s side, between the cab and rear barn doors. It appears to be well thought out and engineered, and incorporates a high tensile alloy frame to ensure structural integrity. As with the slideout on the HiAce-based Envy, this one is also sealed by an air-operated system to ensure
38 | Tested
Individual tables are an interesting feature that generally work well, but aren’t really conducive to intimate dinners for two. The passenger-side table can be left in place when travelling, if desired, too. Production Zeniths will have a proper motorhome side entry door rather than the dreaded ‘whizz-bang’. watertightness and is ‘lipless’, so any water or debris is simply pushed over the rounded edges on retraction. At 850 mm this is a deep unit, yet when fully extended it feels rock solid and there’s no apparent movement. The slide-out houses the kitchen just aft of the cab, the bed in the middle and the bathroom vanity unit at the rear end. Production Zenith’s will not only feature 4Motion all-wheel drive and a 4495 kg GVM, they will also have a proper motorhome door in place of the test vehicle’s ‘whizz-bang’ side door. The floor plan, however, will remain the same and features swivelled cab seats for after hours relaxation and dining, the mid kitchen opposite the entry door, the bed (with its
Tested | 39 head in the slide-out) aft of that and a fullwidth rear bathroom. Most slide-outs stop short of incorporating a bathroom section, but Revolution has made the most of the available space and it works wonders in this small van. An interesting side effect of this big slide-out is its reported benefit to vehicle stability. That’s because some of the heaviest items – the kitchen unit and bed – move into the centre of the vehicle when the slide-out is retracted. As is usual with van-conversion motorhomes, external storage is at a premium, but better than most. There are two lockers built into the forward section of the slide-out, the front one for storage (it would be the place for hoses, power leads and tools), while the other contains a pair of four kilogram gas cylinders, although twin nine kg cylinders are optional. On the kerb side a single storage locker houses the optional sine wave generator, which on production vehicles will be externally vented to allow for operation with its door closed.
ecause the slide-out is so deep, when retracted there’s not a lot of room inside. Having said that, you can still (just) move from the cab into the kitchen and bedroom area, although if you want to get to the bathroom you need to extend the slideout. The lack of bathroom access isn’t unique to this vehicle and in this instance is a small price to pay. Also, you can’t use the bed until the slide-out is extended because the bottom half of it automatically folds up against the wardrobe as the slide-out is brought back in. When extended, the slide-out transforms this vehicle and it feels like a ‘proper’ motorhome – and a decent sized one at that. It’s quite a revelation (revolution?). I’ll go so far as to say this is the first van conversion that made me think I could live in it long-term.
Top to bottom: When travelling, the bed automatically lifts as the slide-out is retracted. It blocks bathroom access, but the toilet is covered by the vanity anyway, so it’s not really an issue. However, the kitchen can be accessed and it’s a great size.
40 | Tested Upfront, the cab seats swivel to become your dining and after-hours seating. Individual, polemounted tables are provided for each seat and the passenger’s table can be left in place when driving as there’s still just enough room to squeeze past it to get to the kitchen. The kitchen itself is well equipped and has a very deep benchtop, courtesy of the depth of the slide-out unit. All cabinet doors and drawers lock automatically when you drive off and there is plenty of storage; indeed the size of this kitchen puts many larger motorhomes to shame The east-west bed is a double and it comes with a small table on each side, but if you want more sleeping room you can lose one of them and choose the optional queen size bed, which would be my choice. The same actuators that lift the bottom half of the bed as the slide-out comes in can also be used to lift it when fully extended, to access storage space below. This is really the only bulky-item storage space suitable for outdoor chairs, table and the like. Opposite the bed is a good size mirrored wardrobe unit with a very sturdy, swivel TV mount on top that allows easy viewing from the bed or cab seats. Forward of the wardrobe and protruding partially across the side door opening (opposite the kitchen) is slightly curious bench seat; the base of which swivels up to become a small desk! You’d need a stool or chair to use it, but it’s a novel solution to providing extra workspace. Across the back, the bathroom has the shower in the kerb-side rear corner, cassette toilet in the middle and vanity on the drivers side. There’s a mirrored sliding door to provide privacy which, cleverly, automatically locks in the open position when travelling. The shower cubicle is generous and there’s good room between it and the vanity for drying off and getting dressed. In production vehicles the bathroom will have a full back wall with a small
Top to bottom: A small inwards-facing lounge sits inside the side door and is interesting, but the base sits as a slight awkward angle. However, it swings up to become a handy work station (you just need a stool or small chair). The kitchen is huge by van standards and has plenty of storage. Drawers lock when travelling, for added safety.
Tested | 41 Thereâ€™s a ham in every shower.
42 | Tested amount of storage shelving on the outside, accessed through the barn doors.
he difficulty writing about complex motorhomes is getting all the details in and doing it justice. The Zenith certainly falls into this category and its standard equipment list is impressive. Highlights include, but aren’t limited to: • 120 Ah lithium house battery • 2 x 100 W solar panels • 140 L fresh water (59 L grey water) • Reverse cycle air conditioning • Instant hot water system • Electric entry step with LED light • 24 inch LED smart TV with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth built-in DVD • RV-specific Wi-Fi with 4G modem •6 x double and one single USB charging ports • 2 x thermostatic, variable speed and multi direction roof hatches • Filtered drinking water • 1 x set of steak knives (well, room for them at least)!
What I Think
e had just a few hours to go over Revolution Motorhomes’ new Zenith and it certainly impressed. So much so we’re trying to organise few days to take it away once properly finished – this was the working prototype – to see just how liveable it really is. As anyone experienced in motorhomes can tell you, there is no such thing as perfection.
Top to bottom: The compartment for the optional generator will be ventilated to allow closed-door operation; Roof-top aircon can be swapped for a diesel heater and the generator for offgrid travellers; Electric entry step has an LED strip light built in above. Nice…
Tested | 43
Everything is a compromise and personal preferences rule, but the Zenith raises the bar for innovation and features in this market segment and both Mrs iM and I can’t wait to properly try it out, so watch for our report. Price is projected to be around the $182,000 mark on the road for the full production version, which includes 4Motion all-wheel drive and the upgraded GVM. Meanwhile, Revolution is offering to pay the GST on the first two orders, so if interested you need to get in quick. Make no mistake, this is a groundbreaking vehicle and it should have great appeal. Revolution is living up to its name and Zenith seems apt, although doubtless the company will continue to push the boundaries. Watch this space…
The bathroom is difficult to photograph but runs full width across the back and is generously proportioned. Shower size is good, hot water is instant (continuous) and there’s even the option of a small washing machine!
44 | Tested
Specs GENERAL Make
VW Crafter 35 LWB FWD (Crafter 35 4Motion AWD std on production)
2.0-litre 4-cylinder twin-turbo diesel
130 kW @ 3600rpm
410 Nm @ 2000 rpm
6 Airbags and a full suite of electronic safety aids
WEIGHTS Tare Weight
3226 kg with fuel, fresh water and 2 passengers
Gross Vehicle Mass
3550 kg on test vehicle
324 kg on test vehicle
Braked Towing Capacity
DIMENSIONS Overall Length
6.84 m (22' 5")
2.43 m (8' 0")
Overall Height with a/c
2.79 m (9' 2")
1.95 m (6' 5")
1.88 m x 1.38 m (6' 2" x 4' 6") Est. Queen optional.
Tested | 45
Specs EQUIPMENT Slide-Out
Yes (3.9 m)
Dometic PerfectRoof 3.75 m
Electric with automatic LED light
3-burner Dometic stainless steel sink combo
140 L Dometic CoolMatic 12 V compressor
25 L LG
12 V LED
12 V Sockets/USB Outlets
6 double and 1 single USB
Dometic Air Command w reverse cycle
Hot Water System
Cassette - swivel
1 x 120 Ah Lithium
2 x 100 Ah
2 x 4.0 kg (2 x 9 kg opt)
PRICE ON ROAD QLD From (2019 Crafter 35 4Motion LWB)
iMotorhome reader offer First 2 orders only
Warranty - VW
3 yrs/unlimited km
Warranty - Conversion
3 yrs/100,000 km
Warranty - Appliances
As per manufacturer
Pros… • New VW Crafter • Standard all-wheel drive • Standard 8-speed auto • Long warranty • Space efficiency • Standard equipment • Large kitchen • Large bathroom • Total storage space • Value
CONs… • New manufacturer • Individual tables not ‘cosy’ • No ‘driving’ bathroom access • No ‘driving’ bed use
Contact Revolution Motorhomes T: 0437 000 599, (07) 5578 1268 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: revolutionmotorhomes.com.au
46 | Tested
Zenith Update: We strive to bring you correct information, but are at the mercy of details supplied by manufacturers and vehicle suppliers. Between previewing the prototype and going to press, specifications and information relating to the Revolution Zenith have changed/been updated as follows: 1.Production Zeniths will be on the 2019 Crafter 35 LWB with 4Motion, which has a GVM of 3550 kg (not 4495 kg). 2. A rear-wheel drive Crafter with 4495 kg is optionally available at additional cost. 3. Zenith says the tare and payload weights quoted for the prototype already incorporate the 127 kg weight increase of the production 4Motion Crafter. 4. Buyers looking for off-grid living can opt to swap the rooftop aircon for a diesel heater and sine-wave generator at no cost. 5. Note: Revolution says the Crafter’s warranty is 3 yrs/Unlimited km, although Volkswagens’ website says 5 years/Unlimited km on 2019 models.
“Make no mistake, this is a groundbreaking vehicle and it should have great appeal. Revolution is living up to its name and Zenith seems apt, although doubtless the company will continue to push the boundaries.”
Calling All Wilderness Explorers
48 | Tested: Hobby Vantana K65
Wilderness adds the interesting Hobby Vantana K65 van conversion to its rental fleetâ€Ś By Malcolm Street
Tested | 49
Wilderness has alway operated B-class coachbuilt motorhomes in its rental fleet, so the ‘little’ Hobby van is a significant departure. However, it makes a lot of sense and will give the company an even more competitive entry price point. As such it’s likely to be very popular, so expect to see the company expand its van-conversion offering.
ere are a couple of thoughts to kick this review off. One is that I quite like large van conversions; those motorhomes in New Zealand and Australia based mostly on vans built by either Mercedes Benz or Fiat. I know they have smaller interiors than coachbuilts, but the lack of size is ideal for solo travellers or couples who don’t want a large motorhome. The second is that to date, I have always thought Aussie (and to a lesser extent Kiwi) manufacturers do a better job than the Europeans in terms of space and space usage with such layouts. Of the van conversions I have seen, the Euros have always seemed to be a bit too clever with space utilisation, resulting in a cramped interior. However, that second line of thinking might be about to change. Enter the Hobby Vantana K65, otherwise known as the Vista 2 in the Wilderness rental fleet and which Wilderness was kind enough to lend me whilst I was doing a bit of work in the Auckland area. I was particularly interested in it being a Hobby
motorhome, which is built in Germany, because I haven’t seen one before apart from a single unit that made a brief appearance a few years ago in Brisbane. It disappeared again, presumably because it ran into Australia’s default tariff policy, otherwise known as State and Federal compliance.
he Hobby brand, despite the plethora of European built motorhomes currently available, is new to NZ and I had one that was very new indeed, with just a few running-in kilometres on the odometer. You might not be surprised to learn that a Fiat Ducato Multijet is the base vehicle, but what is a little different is it’s a 150 rather than a 130. Hobby has chosen not to use the smaller engine – 130 means 130 hp (96 kW) but the more powerful 150 hp (109 kW) unit. Why Fiat chooses to use horsepower rating for its model numbers in the almost totally kilowatt-based market the Ducato sells into is a total mystery! Anyway, given the
50 | Tested
relatively light weight of the van it certainly gives it a kick along when the right foot is pressed down. Of course the six-speed AMT gearbox is a standard feature.
nyone hoping for a kerb-side sliding entry door isn’t going to get one, but like the larger German-built motorhomes, getting used to the door being on the opposite side doesn’t take long at all. My biggest problem is when I am setting up for photos and after getting the motorhome carefully positioned, remember where the door is…..
Top: Compared to a conventional door on the driver’s side the big sliding side door is better in traffic and tight conditions. Above: There’s good storage under the twin beds and it’s good to see proper windows in the barn doors.
As with any van conversion, in addition to the windows there are a few cut outs to be seen, mostly for water, power and the toilet cassette. Not visible is the gas cylinder locker, but that’s because it is inside the rear kerb-side door (an interesting location depending on how you read the gas standard, AS/NZS 5601).
Tested | 51
nside, the 6.3 m (20’ 10”) Hobby has a compact but quite versatile layout and although this is a relatively small motorhome it has seating for four; there being a two person lounge behind the passenger seat. Both the driver and passenger seats swivel, of course, and there’s a table behind the passenger seat. Filling part of the sliding door area and the kerbside wall is a kitchen bench, while opposite is a very compact bathroom. That leaves the rear area for the sleeping arrangements. Certainly the interior has a contemporary look about it and even though this is quite a small motorhome, the lighting setup – a mixture of LED strips and reading/downlights – is very well done. Awning-style windows are fitted all ‘round, including on the rear doors, but there are none on the bedroom walls. This seems to be a bit of a European thing on the large van conversions I have seen and may well be seen as a security feature. However, on warm nights it would be something I’d miss (not
Top: Hobby provides a full lounge/dinette for four despite this being a two-berth motorhome. Above: The compact kitchen is easily accessed and the big side door means an exhaust fan won’t (usually) be missed.
52 | Tested
having windows in the body panel recesses where they usually go increases the the bed size – Ed). To be fair, there is a large roof hatch directly overhead and with the rear windows open there should be reasonable air circulation. However, a 12-volt fan would be a good inclusion.
hat Hobby has done with the bed arrangements is quite clever and typically European: You get two north-south single beds, having lengths of 1.86 m (6’1”) and 1.93 m (6’ 4”) respectively, and a width of 0.8 m (2’ 7”), with a thin mattress strip in between. Alternatively, you can make them into a giant bed measuring 1.89 m x 1.84 m (6’ 2” x 6’), which is close to king size. There’s a step up to the beds, which are quite high off the ground, and although the lack of side windows does give a slightly confined space feel, as someone who has a bit of a problem with that I can say I slept quite well on the comfortable mattresses. I particularly liked the
The lack of side windows provides extra bed width, while the twin beds can also become a massive kingsize bed. There’s decent ventilation via a big roof hatch and rear door windows.
Tested | 53
convenient touch panel light pad on the wall behind the pillows. Overhead lockers all ‘round provide a considerable amount of storage.
Versatile and Flexible Use
ne of the reasons for the bed height is that it provides a considerable amount of storage space underneath. It’s not just open space either; for convenience there are compartments, including a cupboard as well as the gas cylinder bin, and access to the water tank. I like the idea of the little compartments, which while they are not a security safe in any way, allow small and valuable items to be stored there without being obvious. But wait there’s more: Both single beds are hinged and can be strapped up to the walls. Also, the bed steps can be moved out of the way, making the whole bedroom a walk through one. It’s not difficult to see how a couple of push bikes or even something like a surfboard or ski gear could easily be stored.
Clockwise from top left: Gas locker positioning is an interesting interpretation of the gas regs; Other under-bed lockers are handy for smaller item storage; Both beds can be folded up for bikes, kayaks or whatever.
54 | Tested Other Wonders
here are other surprises in this motorhome. For example, in the compact bathroom there’s a flexible hose shower, corner vanity sink and a Thetford cassette toilet. That final item might well be in the way when showering, except that it sits on runners and can easily be pushed out of the way into a little compartment. I’ve seen a similar arrangement elsewhere, but it was electrically operated. This is just a mechanical device that operates quite simply, and the unit has to be recessed into its compartment for the cassette to be emptied. A roller shutter door closes off the bathroom from the rest of the motorhome, but the toilet arrangement does still mean this is a ‘wet’ bathroom.
n keeping with the bathroom the kitchen is quite compact, with a combo stainless steel sink and a two-burner hob. Also, all the well sized drawers, which are large enough for all the cooking and eating essentials, have soft-close locks. Between the kitchen bench and bed is a cabinet with an 80-litre Dometic 3-way fridge, plus a small wardrobe below.
Left: Combined cooker and sink is neat and practical. Above: All-in-one ‘wet’ bathroom has simple push-aside toilet to maximise room.
Tested | 55 Up Front
ven though the Vista has limited interior, there is still enough room up front for four people to comfortably sit around the table. And even though the table isn’t particularly large, it has a rotating extension that accommodates all the seats. There’s a small step to get to the dinette seat and that, naturally, has been used to create a small under floor storage compartment. Fitted to the seat base are a pair of 230 V power points, one supplied from the 800 W inverter
What I Think
he Hobby Vantana 65/Vista 2 was definitely a surprise in the Wilderness Fleet and a pleasant one at that. I enjoyed driving it around for a few (far too short) days and while it is definitely a small motorhome, it’s a very well equipped package indeed. I liked that it is a compact design, but practical and at the same time very flexible, particularly in the rear bedroom/cargo carrying area. About the only disappointment I guess is that the motorhome is currently only available in the rental fleet because I reckon it has real potential in the retail market as well.
Top: The lounge/dinette certainly doesn’t look like a van conversion. Above: Kitchen storage is good despite limited space.
56 | Tested
Specs GENERAL Make
Vantana K65 (Vista 2 -Wilderness RV)
Fiat Ducato Multijet 150
2.3-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
109 kW @ 3600 rpm
350 Nm @ 1500 rpm
6 speed AMT
Airbags, ESP, ASR, Hill holder & Traction
WEIGHTS Tare Weight
Gross Vehicle Mass
Braked Towing Capacity
DIMENSIONS Overall Length
6.36 m (20' 10")
2.05 m (6' 9")
2.64 m (8' 8")
1.9 m (6' 3")
1.86 m x 0.8 m (6' 1" x 2' 7")
1.93 m x 0.8 m (6' 4" x 2' 7")
1.89 m x 1.84 m (6' 2" x 6' )
Tested | 57
Specs EQUIPMENT Slide-Out
Combo stainless steel
80-litre Dometic RM5380 3-way 12V/230V/LPG
12 V LED
12 V Sockets/USB Outlets
Truma Combi 4E electric/LPG
Hot Water System
Truma Combi 4E electric/LPG
Retractable Thetford cassette
Flexible hose combo
Pros… • Practical multipurpose layout • Single/double bed setup • Versatile rear cargo area • Internal storage • Moveable cassette toilet • Easy driving
CONs… • Limited window area in the rear • Not available in the retail market • Limited space interior
2 x 95 Ah
2 x 9.0 kg & 1 x 4.5 kg
Click for Google Maps
North Island SmartRV Auckland 11 Pavilion Drive Airport Oaks, Auckland. 2022 T: 0800 007 627 E: email@example.com W: smartmotorhomes.co.nz
PRICE - ON ROAD NZ From
Not on sale at this time.
Click for South Island Google Maps SmartRV Christchurch 3 Export Ave Harewood. ChCh. 8051. T: 0800 007 628 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: smartmotorhomes.co.nz
58 | Tested
â€œThe Hobby Vantana 65/Vista 2 was definitely a surprise in the Wilderness Fleet and a pleasant one at that.â€?
Go wherever the road takes you. Literally.
Lake Pukaki, South Island
No road restrictions, modern self-contained motorhomes and outstanding customer service. Experience New Zealand your way in a premium rental motorhome from Wilderness. Find out where the road can take you at wilderness.co.nz/itineraries
60 | New Release
A long inclusions list and a hefty price tag combine in what promises to be an excellent compact slide-on camper by Allan Whiting of outbacktravelaustralia.com.au
New Release | 61
arthcruiser Australia has released the USdeveloped Earthcruiser Express slide-on camper that is said to fit most Australianmarket utes. Tray backs aren’t popular in the USA, so it’s no surprise that the Earthcruiser Express is designed primarily for ute tubs. However, Earthcruiser Australia says that it will fit tray backs just as readily. There are models for short, extended and crew-cab utes, but we always have concerns about the legal rear axle weight of extendedcab and crew-cab slide-ons. The Express slide-on is moulded from carbonfibre-reinforced, high density thermal foam laminate in the walls, floor and roof, and the claimed dry weight starts at only 280 kg. Width is1.73 m and maximum headroom is 1.98 m. Equipment includes an integrated awning, LED light bar, three exterior LED spot lights, two opening windows with fly-screens and blinds, clamshell rear door with steps, gas strut assisted roof and four adjustable legs. There’s also a touch screen for function control, a water pump, swivel table for outdoor use, a double bed with memory foam topper plus convertible dinette double bed, 12 V outlets, stainless steel sink and tap mixer with pull
out hose, drinking fountain with filter, internal shower and toilet, single pot, diesel cook-top and diesel heated air and water. On the capacity side of things it comes with a 100-litre water tank, 10-litre diesel tank for heating and cooking, 70-litre compressor fridge with freezer and a 300-litre storage locker. There’s also a 1600W inverter/charger, lithium 200 Ah Earthcruiser battery and BMS, 400 W solar panels, 240 V inlet, fire extinguisher and a DC/DC 60A charger and roof fan. Earthcruiser products always have nocompromise quality, so it’s no surprise that pricing for the Express starts at a heady $79,800. We’ve asked for an on and off road test Express slide-on, so watch this space.
62 | Product Test
Ions In The Fire Our Lithium-ion battery has been in the firing line for four years and is still going strongâ€Ś by Allan Whiting of outbacktravelaustralia.com.au
Product Test | 63
Chances are you can’t just hook up your existing battery charger to a lithium battery. You need a lithium-specific unit like this BCDC1225D from redarc to ensure correct charging and protect your considerable battery investment.
he lithium-ion battery has changed our way of life. We’re mobile-connected virtually everywhere and the lithium deepcycle battery allows remote-area camping with ample power for fridge, lights, entertainment and communications. Our Revolution lithium battery has been faithfully pumping out amps for the past four years and is still performing perfectly. The basic lithium ferro-phosphate cell being used by Revolution Power Australia, one of the leaders in lithium-ion battery development, is 3.2 V. Four of these make a 12.8 V unit that’s topped by an integrated battery management control power board and packaged in a case that makes it look like any normal battery. However, the LFP equivalent of a 120 amp-
hour AGM battery weighs only 12 kg – around 24 kg less. Put another way, three LFP batteries of the same weight as one AGM can produce constant power for more than three times as long. But, before you rush out to buy a lithium replacement for your deep-cycle battery, there’s a catch (apart from price - Ed): Your existing charger cannot be used with an LFP battery. That’s because to avoid damage to the LFP cells that could be caused by excessive charging voltages, temperature-based voltage compensation, equalisation or continuous trickle charging, it’s vital the LFP battery is connected to a purpose-designed charger. Redarc has been working with a number of companies, including Revolution Power
64 | Product Test
Australia and Trayon/Traytek Campers, in the development of several lithium-battery charging systems. We replaced the 12 V AGM battery in our Traytek Slide-on Camper with a Revolution Power Australia 100 Ah LFP battery kit. The installation was done at RPA’s Brisbane HQ in December 2014. The first charging system we evaluated was Redarc’s LFP1240 charger that’s specifically designed for the task of charging an LFP auxiliary battery, via normal alternator voltage or through a solar panel. The solar charger uses top-shelf maximum power point tracking (MPPT) technology.
a Redarc Smart Start battery isolator with lowvoltage disconnect function, to ensure that a flat vehicle battery cannot cause the LFP battery to drop below the critical 8 V mark, below which the battery can suffer severe damage. We tested this kit for its durability and performance through six major Outback trips and the Revolution-Redarc combo behaved faultlessly. The camper functioned with fridge and LED night lights running for two days without solar or vehicle power. Given the average mix of sunlight and cloud, the camper was self-sufficient 24/7 without anything other than solar power from the 200 W roof panel and the lithium battery.
Our current (poor pun) test phase is with In addition, although Revolution Power Australia Redarc’s Manager30 battery management LFP batteries have inbuilt under-and-oversystem controlling power input. That charger voltage protection, the Revolution kit included was fitted in January 2016 and has experienced
Product Test | 65 widely varying weather conditions, so the charger’s three-mode charging system has had a workout. The Manager30 uses solar power whenever possible – even with 240 V mains power plugged in – and our mono-crystaline 200 W solar panel fed some amps into the charger nearly all the time. Only very thick cloud reduced solar input to less than one amp, at which point the Manager30 needed power for the lithium battery from the engine alternator or mains power. That has happened only twice in 120,000km of bush tripping. We check its operating mode several times each day on the Manager30 display and monitor battery voltage every morning, after overnight fridge operation. The lowest voltage we’ve experienced is 13.2 V. The Manager30 edges slightly over its rated 30amp charge capacity with mains or alternator input, giving a very fast recharge. However, even with typical solar input around 6.5 amps the lithium battery recovers in a couple of hours every sunny morning. The Redarc Manager30 isn’t cheap, but our testing shows that it’s the best battery charger and management system we’ve used. OTA’s test area for the Revolution-Redarc combination has embraced freezing weather in the Flinders Ranges, steamy tropical and hot dry NT conditions, and has been bounced and rattled over some of the nation’s most rugged and corrugated tracks, including the Anne Beadell, the Connie Sue, the Tanami and several trackless desert treks across the Northern Simpson. Our old 75 Series isn’t famed for its soft ride, so we reckon we’ve given the battery and charger a severe workout and we wouldn’t go bush without our Revolution-Redarc power supply.
We wouldn’t go bush without our Revolution-Redarc power supply.
66 | SheDrives
What Drove the Drive Setting out on the road as a solo female #vanliferâ€Ś by Marsha Hovey @someginger
Marshaâ€™s former Portland home, equipped with biker babe roommate, cats, dogs and Subarus.
SheDrives | 67 I stood hunched over the bathroom sink, avoiding eye contact with myself in the big mirror that stared back at me. I was hoping the very obvious redness in my face would miraculously go away after a few deep breaths. I had excused myself from the final contract signing just as the pen in my hand began to shake and the tears started to well up. The two salesmen in ill-fitting suits told me to take my time as I darted off down the hallway. Crying in the women’s restroom at the car dealership was not one of my most shining moments, but it was a memorable one. For some people, buying a new car is just another transaction, while for the salesmen, just an-other day. For me, buying this van meant starting a new chapter and a whole new way of living. A few moments to freak out and ask myself, “Am I really doing this?” seemed appropriate.
The 2015 Nissan NV200 S: Brand new in all her glory.
68 | SheDrives
Marsha and her gang of snowboard campers with Windells Camp.
Drawn to Move
While all of us were living in the moment in Portland, Oregon, the cost of living began to rise. have always been drawn to life on the move. Year after year the economy started to improve As soon as I could I left the one home I and a housing boom began to ravage our city. had known my whole life and set off across The once-affordable oasis for the progressive the country to go to college amongst the millennials was no longer affordable. I was stuck mountains. My westward expansion continued be-tween a rock and a hard place. I desperately after graduation and I wound up in the Pacific wanted to put down roots in the city that I loved, Northwest; other-wise known as the outdoor but buying a home quickly became unrealistic. enthusiasts dream world. I surrounded my-self Also, spending my savings on skyrocketing rent with a community of like-minded people; people costs seemed like a total waste of money. This who would rather spend their most recent pay housing frustration became the main catalyst check on a last minute skate trip to Montana that pushed me towards living a mobile life. than tuck it away for a future down payment on a We all joked that running away to live in a van hypothetical home. My community was filled with seemed like a way better option and, over time, snowboarders, artists, skate-boarders, hikers, the joke began to resonate with me as a realistic travellers, musicians, etc. We all shared the same possibility. ideals: Enjoy each and every day and experience as much as possible.
SheDrives | 69
Chasing waterfalls in the Columbia River Valley Gorge with Friends in Oregon.
s time went on all I could think about was living in a van to free myself from everything I felt tied to. Pair all of that housing talk with a new corporate desk job that was driving me crazy, plus a partner who was already living on the road for his career of building skateparks, and this grandiose idea of living in a van became more of a reality each passing day. I filled my free time with YouTube videos and blogs and forums about DIY van building. I was hooked. After two solid months of re-search I made the very big decision to sell my beloved Subaru Impreza to jumpstart the van dream. I cleaned her out and sold her to a deserving outdoor enthusiast who would carry on her legacy of adventure. With that chunk of change tucked aside I began to cut costs everywhere I could. I was going to quit my job
and live off of savings until the road brought me to what I was looking for. What was I looking for? That was yet to be decided, but the excitement of the unknown was more exciting than any pay check I had ever received. The research was compiled, countless pro and con lists written, over-thinking definitely achieved and decision made. I was going to buy a brand new van, build it out to be my little home and drive it in any direction I wanted. I was going to find odd jobs when the money ran out, get lost on purpose, watch the sunrise in new places and experience all that life on the road had to offer. I was going to leave it all behind and set out as a solo female #vanlifer. The only thing left to do wasâ€Śfollow through.
70 | SheDrives
Representing in big numbers, Marsha and her female skate ladies.
Overlooking Washington and the lush expanse of the Pacific Northwest.
SheDrives | 71 Back to Business I wiped the remaining crusty tears from the tips of my eyelashes and walked back out to the meeting table. The two salesmen looked at me like I was an absolute crazy person. They spoke to me in a tone that screamed, “We know you were just crying, so we are going to speak softly and slowly to make sure it doesn’t happen again, because crying women make us uncomfortable.” I did as they asked and signed my name on all the pages with all the Xs, glancing outside every so often at my soon-to-be new van. They had pulled it up to the main doors right on cue. They congratulated me on my new purchase, gave me a folder of information, a coupon for a free oil change and handed me the keys. I had never held new keys to a new vehicle. It was surreal. I walked outside and unlocked the door. I re-moved the courtesy floor cover, adjusted my mirrors and started the en-gine. It was real. It was mine. And it was so much more than a van. It was follow-through on a dream that so few actually follow through on. I drove out of the dealership, turned right and put the first mile on my new house’s odometer…
Marsha Hovey is a USA based traveler, artist, storyteller, teacher, outdoor enthusiast and, most importantly, kid at heart. She accepts all the twists and turns of the open road with open arms.
72 | Wanda
S.A. Great! It’s good to be back in our home state…
By Sharon Hollamby
Wanda | 73
e had a beautiful red sunrise welcome us on our way into South Australia and it set the tone for the rest of the day. Wanda was running well, my hip wasnâ€™t hurting too much and life was good. We pulled into the Marla roadhouse midmorning and decided it would be a good place to rest up for the night. The park was the usual roadhouse-type set up: Nothing fancy, but I could have a shower, do some washing and I had Optus coverage. It was only after setting up that I remembered we needed gas. Rather than repack everything I just carried the bottle to the roadhouse. The manager was busy so I said I would pop back later. When I went to pick the bottle up the manager (Michelle) said she would get her husband (John) to drop the bottle off for me and within minutes, John
was depositing the bottle at my doorstep. It was all service with a smile at Marla and I was impressed! Anyone who has travelled the road from Marla will tell you the plains can get a little boring, unless you are into counting all the cars wrecked by the side of the road. Things change dramatically when you get closer to Coober Pedy and the huge mounds of dirt signal the fact that you are now entering world famous opal country.
anting to get a good feel for the place I parked Wanda up in the large rest area and had a walk around the town. It is a wonderful place to visit and the underground establishments are not only
Things change dramatically when you get closer to Coober Pedy and the huge mounds of dirt signal the fact that you are now entering world famous opal country.
74 | Wanda interesting, they’re a great relief from the heat. After re-stocking we ventured down the road to the free camp called Hutchison’s Memorial and the story of Will Hutchison intrigued me. In 1915, William Hutchison was just 15 years old when he embarked on an expedition with his father for the New Colorado Gold Prospecting Syndicate. Will wandered off in search of water and after some time his father became concerned for his son’s welfare. He intended lighting a fire to guide Will back to camp, but before the fire was lit Will returned and threw a sugar bag half full of opal at his father’s feet. Will not only found opal, but a good supply of water and records indicate he was more excited about finding the water than discovering the opal. However, his opal find resulted in the creation of one of SA’s most historic towns, an industry of opal mining and a thriving tourist industry. Unfortunately, Will didn’t get to enjoy the results of his discovery for long. In 1921 he drowned while droving cattle across the Eyre River in Queensland. William Hutchison is recognised as the founder of Coober Pedy – Aboriginal for ‘boy’s waterhole’ – and a plaque has been erected just south of town to commemorate the spot where he found the first opal. It is also a great place to free camp and although there are no facilities there is plenty of space, great views and beautiful sunsets. Driving down the other end of town we found a house that has a permanent garage sale and so stopped in for a look. I got my grandson a toy four-wheel drive that has opal glued on the top, as if it is being carted. The lady’s grandson makes them and raises money for his own holidays – a wonderful idea and very enterprising! The lady is very friendly and also has a huge selection of books.
Wanda | 75 Moving On
eading south I noticed a lot of wrecked cars on the sides of the roads. Many of them look as if they have hit animals and I can only hope that the occupants of these vehicles got out alive. Wanda and I travel fairly slowly, so we do have a lot of time to stop when we see animals on the road, but all I can do is urge other drivers to slow down and not to travel at night. Wanda was going very well but I was still struggling a little with my hip after long distances, so we stopped at Bon Bon rest area for the night and watched as an enormous dust storm crept towards us. Eventually the sky darkened, thunder boomed and lightning lit up the skies. The wind was so bad that Wanda was rocking and I closed the toilet just in case we were blown over as I didn’t want to have to clean that up! It was a spectacular sight with lightning striking all around us. I had never seen anything like it and never expected to again, but two nights later, at Lake Hart, another storm hit and once again raged all around us. One young traveller told me it even hailed in Alice Springs. Amazing! We reached Pimba and stopped at the terrific community campground just near the roadhouse. For five dollars a night you get flushing toilets, while showers are available for two dollars. One dollar will also buy thirty litres of drinking water, plus there are barbecues and undercover seating. There was a service centre for any of those nasty little mechanical problems and although Wanda didn’t need any repairs, the place received a glowing recommendation from a fellow traveller. The legendary Spud’s roadhouse was just a short walk away for supplies, while the meals there are highly recommended. Pimba is an aboriginal word meaning ‘pine tree,’ which is rather ironic in this flat treeless tableland. The town began as a workers’ camp
76 | Wanda during the construction of the Transcontinental Railway at the end of the First World War. Many labourers and contractors who were not allowed to live in the closed town of Woomera chose to live in tents and shanties in Pimba.
Woomera and Beyond
peaking of Woomera, which gets its name from a stick used by Aboriginals to throw a spear more forcibly, I was fortunate enough to arrive just in time for a memorial service. It was a small gathering, but moving nonetheless. The Woomera Rocket Range was established in 1947 and until 1982 access to the public was restricted. The town is still administered by the Department of Defence and although only its personnel and government contractors are allowed to live there, Woomera welcomes visitors and offers a full range of modern services and accommodation for travellers. The town has an eerie quality to it, with many of the homes and units now vacant, but itâ€™s certainly worth a visit.
Wanda | 77
We stayed at Pimba again and awoke to a hive of activity. A marquee was erected and filled with tables and chairs; trucks were rumbling in, equipment was being set up and people were everywhere. It seems part of a film was being shot there. Produced for SBS and Foxtel, it’s the story of a man taking a piano from Darwin to Adelaide. Along the way he meets a young girl hitchhiker and gives her a lift. Keep your eye out for it – you might even spot Wanda in the background! I feel sad that our journey is ending for this year, but we have seen some wonderful things and
met some wonderful people along the way. My next stop is Pt. Augusta to meet up with a lovely lady (Anita) who I met at Bromus Dam. A fiercely independent lady, Anita has been travelling Australia in her panel van and like me, loves this lifestyle. It will be great to catch up and swap stories and tips, and maybe get some ideas for next year. Safe travels everyone!
Farewell Wanda! Sadly, this is the final adventure for Wanda as Sharon has decided to dedicate 2019 to writing a book. We hope you have enjoyed their adventures and will join us in wishing them the safe travels and all the very best for 2019 – and beyond!
78 | Travel Events: 32nd Illawarra Folk Festival
RV Friendly Towns
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. An RV Friendly Townâ„˘ (RVFT) is one that provides a certain number of amenities and a certain level of services for these travellers. When
RV tourists enter a town displaying the RVFT sign they know they will be welcome. Certain services 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. This monthâ€™s featured RV Friendly Towns are:
Travel | 79
shford is a small village with a population of just 600 people, on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales.
The community of Ashford provides visitors with access to basic shops, churches, recreation and entertainment facilities, such as the local pool, golf course and bowling club. Other attractions within the area include Pindari Dam, MacIntyre Falls and the Ashford Caves. Anyone visiting the area is sure to have an enjoyable time.
RV tourists visiting the area can access both short and long-term parking at Ashford Caravan Park. For a rate of $13 per vehicle per night, access to showers, toilets, bins, water and the barbecue, is included. The length of stay is negotiable, which is convenient for those wishing to stay in the area for both short and long lengths of time. A dump point is also located within the caravan park, while potable water is available at the ISC Depot.
Tourist/Visitor Information Centre
Ashford Rural Transaction Centre 30-32 Albury St, Ashford Phone: 02 6725 4455
Casual Parking (near retail centre)
Martyn St, between Albury St & Inverell St
Short & Long Term Parking
Ashford Caravan Park, 43 Bukkulla St, Ashford $13pvpn, negotiable stay limit, pets on lead, mobile phone coverage, showers, bins, toilets, covered seating, BBQ, water
Ashford Caravan Park, 43 Bukkulla St, Ashford Lat: -29.323030 Long: 151.097808
ISC Depot, Albury St, Ashford
80 | Travel
arratha is the largest regional centre in North West Australia. With a fresh and vibrant city centre Karratha offers visitors everything they need, including a wide selection of cafes and restaurants, making it a great place to stop and recharge. The city features beautiful beaches, amazing natural features, convenient access to some of Australia’s stunning national parks, and the untouched islands of the Dampier Archipelago, which can be explored via helicopter or boat cruise. Karratha is also home to the largest collection of Aboriginal rock art in the world, Tourist/Visitor Information Centre
Casual Parking (near retail centre) Short & Long Term Parking
Dump Point Potable Water
which can be seen with an award winning Indigenous tour guide. Short-term parking is available at Discovery Parks – Balmoral. Parking is only available for self-contained vehicles, at a cost of $10 per vehicle per night. A time limit of 48 hours applies, and access to the dump point and water is included. Pets on leads are also permitted. An additional dump point is located at Lot 260 NW Coastal Highway, and potable water is available at the visitor information centre.
Karratha Visitor Information Centre Lot 4548 De Witt Rd, Karratha Ph: 08 9144 4600 www.karrathavisitorcentre.com.au Parking areas near shopping centre off Welcome Rd, Karratha Discovery Parks – Balmoral, Balmoral Rd, Karratha. Selfcontained vehicles only, 48hrs, $10pvpn, dump point, pets on lead, mobile coverage and water. Site season is from 1 May - 31 August each year. Lot 260 NW Coastal Highway Lat: -20.79445 Long: 116.85928 Karratha Visitor Information Centre Lot 4548 De Witt Rd, Karratha
Travel | 81
ust a quick two minutes off the Hume Highway between Goulburn and Yass, Gunning is an historic transport town located on the Main Southern Railway line. The beautiful Meadow Creek runs alongside the picturesque Barbour Park, offering a very welcome stop for those travelling north or south. Yass Street features a wide range of historic buildings including the Pye Cottage Museum, Old Gunning Courthouse, and the iconic Baileyâ€™s Garage. Gunning provides excellent
facilities for those passing through, including a selection of eateries, service stations and mechanical repairs. Many flock to the area for the townâ€™s annual Gunning Fireworks Festival. Short-term parking is located at Barbour Park for up to 48 hours. At no cost, parking is only available to self-contained vehicles; however, access to bins, showers, toilets, barbecue and water is available. A dump point is located on the corner of Yass and Gundaroo Streets, while potable water is available at Barbour Park.
Tourist/Visitor Information Centre
Crookwell Visitor Information Centre 36 Goulburn St, Crookwell Phone: 02 4832 1988 www.visitupperlachlan.com.au
Casual Parking (near retail centre)
Barbour Park, Yass St, Gunning
Short & Long Term Parking
Barbour Park, Yass St, Gunning 48hrs, nil charge, self-contained vehicles only, pets on lead, mobile phone coverage, showers, bins, toilets, covered seating, BBQ, water
Cnr Yass & Gundaroo Sts, Gunning Lat: -34.780509 Long: 149.270122 Barbour Park, Yass St, Gunning
82 | Mobile Tech
Colour You Happy! De-stress, zone out or simply find a little quietness in a world of busy and embrace the youthful delightâ€Ś By Emily Barker
Mobile Tech | 83
book for Adults, and Stress Less Colouring, as publishers target grown-ups seeking a novel way to relax, clear their minds and even overcome difficult emotions and anxieties.
In adults, colouring-in has many additional benefits which, using the same principles, creates many positive outcomes. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung was renowned for his use of mandalas in combination with colour therapy to sooth and explore the mind. These repetitive designs remain some of the most popular and bookstores around the world are stocked with titles like The Mindfulness Colouring Book, The Really Relaxing Colouring
Naturally, there’s a digital twist on this calming, meditative diversion, with adult colouring apps maintaining a firm hold in app store rankings and the following are two of the most popular around. It’s important to note that these are just two of many colouring apps available. Some are completely free, others by monthly subscription with free daily images, and each with its own merits. For most, you simply tap each section to fill it with your chosen colour with the available tools or palette options varying slightly. While this may not satisfy everyone’s creative urges, the actual process seems to be secondary to the action of mindfully applying oneself to the task. For the true creatives there are an entire host of apps
here is no disputing 2018 has been the year of colouring books for adults and it’s a trend that doesn’t appear to be slowing. Adults from all walks of life are turning to colouring books as a form of stress release, mindful therapy and just plain fun. Traditionally a youthful domain, colouring is encouraged during childhood as an essential fine motor skill developing concentration and coordination, as well as being a delightful activity.
84 | Mobile Tech
available to bring your freehand artwork to the next level, but that’s a whole other story! Colourfy: Colouring Book & Games Size: 157.6 MB Cost: Free (with in app purchases) For: iOS & Android Sitting at the lofty position of number 18 in the entertainment category is Colourfy. Eighteenth might not sound like a great achievement, but considering its up against hard hitters like Netflix, YouTube and all the on-demand television apps, its quite remarkable. And with over 25 million users world-wide, it’s got to be worth a shot! Colourfy is available free, but it will constantly encourage you to upgrade to the premium version via a monthly subscription. You can ignore this, however, and the app will remain
quite functional – you simply won’t have access to the premium features (and you will be told this every time you try and use one). Alternatively, take the free seven-day trial and see if its value for money. As a casual pastime activity the free version works well – surprisingly so – and you can also choose to watch short ads, unlocking extra features and images if you wish. This app has all the features you’d expect and then some: You can even draw your own images and upload them to colour or share your creations across social media. It has a great range of colour palettes – some are premium; turquoises, skin tones, golden yellows etc. – and there are a range of tools, shading options and post production filters. Basically, Colourfy provides hours of entertainment packaged into a not-so-small but engaging and responsive app.
Mobile Tech | 85
Pigment – Adult Colouring Book Size: 194.9MB Cost: Free (With in-app purchases) For: iOS & Android For some, the actual feel of pencil on paper is what turns this elementary activity into a calming and therapeutic pastime. Pigment enhances the digital experience by supplying a surprisingly deep array of artists’ tools and tweaks. Get creative with the watercolour and pastel tools or use markers, coloured pencils and even oil paint. Described as the only colouring book app that genuinely simulates pencil, markers, and paintbrush strokes, unleash your creative energy with a realistic experience just like you would on paper. You
can also choose to ‘tap and fill’ if stroke by stroke is simply too intensive. Pigment also fully supports Apple Pencil and third-party stylus inputs for a more immersive experience. As with most of these apps, Pigment offers a free and a premium version via subscription. Many of the premium features relate to colour palettes, tools and fill textures, and of course access to unlimited images. However, for the casual creative enthusiast there is more than enough content to whet the creative appetite and potentially unlock the calming therapeutic effects. De-stress, zone out or simply find a little quietness in a world of busy and embrace the youthful delight!
Next Issue | 86
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR! From across the Pond, Malcolm brings us the Bailey Autograph – a British-built B-class on the Peugeot Boxer (a twin of the Fiat Ducato). It’s something different, plus being British it has the bonus on the entry door on the ‘usual’ side. Watch our mid-December email for any updates and also the last issue of the free iMotorhome Magazine Lite for 2018!
e kick off the New Year in February with a revisit to the 4x4 Waratah by Horizon Motorhomes: The updated version of the machine Mrs iM and I drove from Alice Springs to Ballina a few years back. Tough and capable, it makes an ideal rough road tourer and has a surprising amount of space.
From all of the iMotorhome team, we wish you a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year! February’s issue will be out on Sunday the 2nd. Until then why not join our more than 32,000 Friends and followers on Twitter Facebook , Pinterest and Instagram ?
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Newcastle Caravan, Camping & Holiday Expo
Adelaide Caravan & Camping Show
Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Show
Newcastle Entertainment Centre & Showgrounds Brown Rd, Broadmeadow. NSW. 2292
Adelaide Showgrounds Good wood Rd. Wayville.
Melbourne Showgrounds Epsom Rd, Ascot Vale. Vic. 3032.
• • • •
• Open 9:00-5:00 (4:00 Sunday) • Adults: $TBA • Concession: $TBA • Kids - TBA
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pen 9:30-5:00 Wed-Sun, O 9:30-8:00 Fri-Sat, (4:00 Monday) • Adults: $20 • Concession: $16 • Kids - U15 Free
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Know of a local or regional show coming up that attracts and promotes motorhomes, campervans and the great RV lifestyle in general? Drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll happily promote it in this calendar.
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