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AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
Six-speed auto Transit is a taste of things to come…
Trakka Torinos revisited
Rain-X headlight restoration kit
Bürstner Lyseo T690G
Scottish Arms Hotel
2 | About iMotorhome
iMotorhome Magazine is published monthly and available by free subscription from www.imotorhome.com.au. Your letters and contributions are always welcome!
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4 | On My Mind
ix years ago this month – May 2012 – the first issue of iMotorhome Magazine appeared. I’d started work on it in March, having resigned from a well paid but dull copywriting job at an advertising agency, after hatching an escape plan with longtime friend and former colleague, Malcolm Street. It seemed like a good idea at the time and Malcolm and I canvassed support at that year’s Sydney Supershow in April, when catching up with old Industry friends. To say the idea of a digital-only motorhome magazine caught people off guard is an understatement… In hindsight I’d have been financially better off staying at the agency, with its paid holidays and sick leave, secure car spot and lunches – not to mention a Foosball table! – but know I’d have died of boredom. Hindsight also shows it’s a good thing that I didn’t really know what I was getting myself – ourselves – into (sorry Malcolm!). But ignorance is bliss and so, full of naive confidence, iMotorhome Magazine was born. In all honesty, who would have thought that A: We’d have lasted a year, and B: We’d be here six years later? Probably not us… The reason we are still here is you. Without your support and encouragement the naysayers would have been right. Over the years we’ve built a relationship with our readers that I doubt few modern magazine have. You’re interested, engaged and supportive, and a surprising number of you have become friends – either in person, by email or phone. Although not financially, iMotorhome Magazine has been hugely rewarding on a personal level and has allowed us to go places and do things on our own terms, in a way no corporate job ever could. Would I do it all again? You bet. Only better…
That brings me to the future. Earlier this year I asked about paying for iMotorhome Magazine and the overwhelming response was, “Yes”. Thank you. Producing this magazine costs and while our overheads are modest they still have to be covered. That includes me, Malcolm, Agnes and our contributors. I said I’d give you advance notice of when we move to the paid model and so here it is. From July, iMotorhome will cost $2.99 for a single issue or $23.99 for a 12 month subscription. That’s about the cost of six cappuccinos a year on a subscription basis. Frankly, it’s a steal. The good news is there will be a version for people who only want to read iMotorhome Magazine on a laptop or desktop computer. Even better, you’ll be able to download it for offline reading, whether using a computer or the Apple or Android apps. Speaking of apps, we’ve just released the second issue of #RV Magazine via its apps and the technology is working well. That’s the easy part for iMotorhome Magazine’s transition to ‘properly’ digital. What surprises me are the hoops that still have to be jump through in the background, between the app developer, Apple’s App Store and Google Play. So much for the Brave New World where technology would make everything possible with just a few easy mouse clicks. Don’t you believe it. This Technological Revolution is the same as the Industrial one of the 18th century: Deep in its bowels are people standing around big machines, scratching their heads and muttering, “What if we try this? What can possibly go wrong?”
6 | Contents
On my Mind
On Your Mind
Tested: Coachmen Freelander Micro 20CB
Tested: Bürstner Lyseo T690G
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Street View Haera Mai!
News What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
America. In Transit – Across the U.S. in Ford’s new auto Transit.
Work and Play – Malcolm’s latest NZ wanderings…
Revisiting Trakka’s Torino and Torino Xtra Remote
Current Trends – the move to 12V/48V vehicle electrics
Lead Crystal Batteries
Scottish Arms Hotel
RainX Headlight Kit
Three more RV Friendly Towns
What’s coming up!
Calling All Wilderness Explorers
8 | Street View
s I write this there’s a bit of a breeze blowing outside, enough to move my motorhome around occasionally and I can hear the sound of the waves lapping on the shore. Along with about 20 other motorhomes I’m parked on the shores of the Firth of Thames, just north of Miranda and not far from Auckland. It’s a camping spot called Ray’s Rest and to say the least it’s great, because it’s possible to stay overnight right by the water’s edge. Earlier in the day I had been pondering where to camp for the night and possibly take advantage of the late afternoon light to get a few photos in the frame, preferably with a good backdrop. In the glovebox of my loaned Wilderness motorhome is a guide that claims to list the best camping spots in New Zealand and one of them was Ray’s Rest. Good choice, I have to say! I scored some great late evening images and if I
get up early enough in the morning, I might see the sun rising across the Firth. I’ve not been to the Miranda area for some years and I quite like the rural peacefulness it offers. Judging from the numerous hides in the area, bird watching is very popular, while I have also seen a few people fishing from boats. All this might have come undone because previously I’d failed to notice that my three burner hob did not have Piezo ignition and there was no lighter, matches or anything else to fire up the gas burners. When I decided that an afternoon coffee would be a great thing it nearly didn’t happen, but fortunately a couple who I had befriended earlier came to the rescue with a box of matches and my overnight stay was assured, as were the sunset shots. Not long after I parked up, I lifted my bike off
Street View | 9 the rack and went for a cycle along the line up of motorhomes. More out of curiosity more than anything else, I was keen just to cast my eye over the amazing variety of motorhomes that were overnighting. Not so pleasing to the eye was the lone station wagon that appeared to be sans anything related to camping. Anyone in both New Zealand and Australia who is familiar with the freedom camping issue will know access is often a very fragile thing and just takes one idiot to ruin either a great spot or bring officialdom down in a negative way. Despite the sign beside the entrance track clearly proclaiming “self contained vehicles only”, someone had obviously decided to ignore it. In addition to the no-matches problem, my little work trip didn’t quite get off to the planned start. Wilderness Motorhomes was kind enough to lend me a Bürstner Argos Time motorhome for a few days, but when I arrived I was advised of
problem with the vehicle and asked if I would take a substitute for a few hours. I was half expecting the company ute, which is what usually happens, but a Mercedes Benz sedan appeared and was a wholly different kettle of fish. I found myself reluctant to give it back. Still, even with the matches issue, it couldn’t accommodate me like the motorhome I now have. Finally for now, I’m often surprised by the number of motorhome travellers I meet who own motorhomes in both Australia and New Zealand. Okay, it is not huge numbers but enough to comment on. Most seem to summer in New Zealand and winter in Australia (sounds good to me – Ed), unlike yours truly, who mostly does it the other way around!
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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.
May The Froth Be With You! driving to help reduce fatigue-related incidents on country roads in NSW. There are absolutely no strings attached, apart from limiting the free cuppa to one per vehicle, per day, per town. The brochure I was given at a Visitors Information Centre says, “Don’t be shy. Just ask for a free cuppa”. I had a lovely cappuccino, made to perfection, in the Coonabarabran Bakery.
I discovered a very generous annual program to help keep us motorhome drivers (and others) safe in country NSW. If we are driving further than 100 kms from our home address between 1 March and 31 May, we can call into any of 95 participating bakeries, cafes and other businesses, to enjoy a free cuppa, upon presentation of our driver’s licence. I saw banners advertising the program on the approach to towns. A web site – freecuppa. com.au – provides a list of the relevant towns and highways, so refreshment stops can be planned in advance. The free cuppa scheme is an initiative of the Local Government Road Safety Program. It is designed to encourage us to take a break from
It really is a great scheme that gets people into the heart of towns and into the nicest cafes. By using the app, you can even search for places that offer free barista coffee, compared to instant. Cheers, Di. P.S. I have spent plenty of money on other things in these towns as I walk to the cafes. Thanks Di, that’s a great find and what a good idea. It’s a shame your letter narrowly missed last month’s issue, which would have given readers more time to plan and take up the offer, but better late than never. Enjoy this month’s $50 prize for your efforts and thanks for sharing.
On your mind | 11
Interest Kindled Having found your magazine online several months ago, I am now a keen reader. I lived in Australia for 5-years and have the intention to return and do an extended motorhome tour. Your magazine offers both something new for me as well as a sense of familiarity with a country I love. I now live in the UK, where we have a thriving motorhome economy business and culture, of which I am just starting to get involved and so embracing opportunities to access and learn as much as I can. With regards your app, I have an Amazon Fire tablet which, although the operating system is derived from Android, Amazon has their own app store rather than Google Play store, so not all Google app actually work on Fire tablets. I would like to continue reading your magazine, and will happily subscribe too if I can access it.
Thanks for your email Karen and good to hear from one of our ‘distant’ readers! I hope you make it ‘home’ here sooner rather than later. Regarding the Amazon Fire tablet, my App Man tells me there is good news and bad news. The good news is it can be done, the bad news is it requires, “A bit of mucking around”. Depending on your level of technical expertise you might be better off ‘phoning a (12 year old) friend’. Alternatively, you’ll be able to read it via a laptop or desktop computer. To find out more about installing Android apps in general on a Kindle Fire click here – and let us know how you go!
Free Rubbish I know I’m late to the table – the story of my life when there isn’t food on it! – but for what it’s worth I’d like to lend my support to your plan for a paid subscription. I subscribe to a number of print and online publications across a range of interests, and don’t begrudge the costs because I know everyone has to make a profit, otherwise I’d have nothing good to read. In one way feel I feel I’m being pushed in a direction I don’t want to go, but the option of missing out is more uncomfortable. The internet is full of free rubbish, but free quality content is rare. Must say it took me a while to get used to reading a ‘magazine’ on an iPad, but now it’s just ‘normal’
and even my children are impressed! Keep up the good work and count me in.. Cheers, Peter. Good to hear you’ve make the change, Peter, and thanks for your support. The Internet Information Age is evolving and while rubbish does indeed abound, people are beginning to appreciate the concept of you get what you pay for – or not!
12 | On your mind
Like a Vegan? Lovely to see some simple recipes back in your pages. I’m a solo traveller and don’t really like cooking, well planning it especially, and so appreciate some simple but nutritious ideas. Can you please do some for us vegetarians and even vegans? We’re people too, although you still wouldn’t know it in many country towns! Thanks! April. April, may June bring you your request! Well, hopefully. By the way, are you ‘real’ vegetarian or a Fish & Chipocrite???
NORTHCOACH EQUIPMENT PTY LTD
14 | News
iMOTORHOME GOING PAID
s mentioned in this Issue’s editorial, iMotorhome will become a subscription magazine from July. Price will be A$2.99 for a single issue or A$23.99 for a year – the cost of about six cappuccinos annually.
Primarily intended for reading on a iPad or Android Tablet, via apps in the Apps Store and Google Play, there will also be a version available for laptop and desktop computers. Importantly, all versions will be able to be downloaded and read offline.
NEW MARKETING MANAGER FOR SMARTRV AND WILDERNESS MOTORHOMES be summed up as: quality, service, expertise and care,” says Sally. “My aim is to build these brands to become world famous as New Zealand’s premier tourism experience.”
nhanced customer experience will be at the heart of Sally de Normanville Guy’s new role as Marketing Manager for New Zealand-owned companies SmartRV and Wilderness Motorhomes. Starting in May, she will work across SmartRV, New Zealand’s exclusive distributor of Carado, Bürstner and HYMER RVs, and premium motorhome rental company Wilderness Motorhomes. “For me, the points of difference that these companies have in common can
Sally has spent much of her career developing innovative network services and customer brand and experience programmes to drive brand advocacy, engagement and sales. She has an extensive background in the telecommunications industry, both in the UK and New Zealand, and most recently worked in entertainment with Live Nation, Spark Arena and Event Cinemas. No stranger to motorhoming, Sally’s first campervan experience was touring the South Island with her British husband-to-be on his first visit to New Zealand. “Since then we’ve done a lot of camping and recently hired a caravan with our two girls – surviving this summer’s big storm in Ruakaka. Our favourite place is just north of Auckland at Tawharanui. It’s paradise on earth!”
16 | News
SUPPORT NSW RAIL TRAILS
ail Trails for NSW and the team of the Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail Project (TBRT) is asking for help to support their efforts to get a new rail trail project off the ground in NSW. They ask that you please take a few moments to do two things: 1. Email Mr Matt Hyde with reference “Draft Tumut Destination Plan”, in support of the Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail Project being left in the Draft Tumut Destination Plan (which is currently on display for comment until late May). “Something along the lines of, ‘I fully support the Tumut-Batlow rail trail being in the Snowy Valleys Destination Management Plan,’ or words to that effect will be very helpful. Obviously a message in one’s own words passionately articulating the reasons you support the TBRT would be really great too,” 2. Click here and vote on their Change.org petition entitled Would you travel to Tumut to cycle or walk a rail trail? The background is the TBRT team is battling a hard push by several councillors to have the TBRT project removed from or deferred in the draft Tumut Destination Plan. If removed or
deferred it would set back the process within the local council by years. It is vital to have Local Government support if the NSW State Government is to be convinced to change the legislation to enable a trail to be built. “Batlow especially, but Tumut, the whole region and the whole of NSW needs to make use of this long-dead rail route to create new opportunities for the benefit of the local community. The 32 km TBRT would complement the nearby, funded but yet-tobe-built 21 km Tumbarumba to Rosewood rail trail,” a spokesman said. “The social, health and economic benefits of a rail trail are real and long lasting. In fact they will grow over time as this potentially extremely beautiful rail trail becomes better known. The W.A. based Recreational Trail consultant who undertook a survey of the line a few years back (and who has been involved in many hundreds of trail developments over several decades) says this would be the most spectacular rail trail route in Australia!” If you are wanting more information about the TBRT project, email chairman Phil Barton here.
This is living Enjoy the adventure of life on the road in the comfort of one of Europe’s most popular motorhomes. Bürstner is renowned for its clever designs, stylish interiors and easy to drive models that are ideal for New Zealand conditions. Don’t wait to start living the life you dream of. Come and see the full Bürstner range, priced from $139,900, at our sales centres in Auckland or Christchurch. Or visit smartrv.co.nz for details. Automatic
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Motorhomes in photo: Ixeo IT734 and Lyseo IT744
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18 | News
AUSTRALIAN CAMP OVEN FESTIVAL
ickets for the 2018 Australian Camp Oven Festival (ACOF), Nov 6-7 at Millmerran, Qld, are now available. The Festival will include a diverse range of Australian heritage inspired activities such as bush poetry, arts, crafts, shearing demonstrations, damper throwing competitions and of course – camp oven cooking. From modest beginnings in 1999, the ACOF has evolved to be one of Queensland’s most iconic biennial events. Today’s event brings together people from all walks of life
to celebrate Australia’s heritage and outback traditions. The Festival is run by a volunteer committee dedicated to preserving and sharing traditions of Australian rural heritage, particularly with the younger generation. Organisers say they are always interested in hearing from people who can contribute to the event. Sponsors find out more here, while volunteers can read about volunteer program here. And, if you’re interested in joining the committee contact the ACOF via email here.
ictorian Grey Nomads Des and Maureen Fraser have copped a $252 on-the-spot fine for illegally setting up their caravan at beachside Norval Park north of Bundaberg, Qld. The fine comes as swarms of RVers from the south head north for Queensland’s winter sunshine. It is thought to be the first penalty imposed by the local regional council since camping at the once-popular spot was banned in 2009. Only tents and camper trailers with permits are allowed to pitch on specially provided basic sites, away from dunes at the pristine area. Caravans, motorhomes, campervans and all other vehicles, “used for accommodation” are prohibited.
Hurr y! New website live TRAKK A .COM.AU
20 | News
SPEED LIMIT WARNING had a 49-year unblemished driving record, drove her campervan past two police cars parked well off a110 km/h road in SA but with their lights flashing. Police gave chase and issued the dumbfounded and confused woman with an infringement notice, after explaining she was clocked at 83 kph. “It is crucial to have a thorough understanding of road rules and how they differ from state to state,” Mr Barwick said.
rivers have been warned to beware of new rules governing the speed at which they must pass stationary emergency vehicles with flashing red and blue lights. This follows an incident in which a member of the CMCA copped a whopping $1007 fine and sixmonth driving ban for breaking the rule in South Australia. The CMCA’s Richard Barwick emphasised on the Club’s Facebook page that the speed limit varies. It’s currently 40 km/h in WA and Victoria, and 25 km/h in South Australia. Meanwhile, NSW will introduce a 40 km/h limit in September. The NSW CMCA member, who
Opinion: iMotorhome believes this to be an extreme example of needless over-policing, especially as it relates to an older driver from interstate. SA Police officers had the opportunity to exercise wisdom in a situation were an explanation and warning would have been appropriate. Sadly, the huge fine and immediate licence suspension do nothing to engender good relations between the public and traffic police. It’s proof the Law can be an ass and a salutary reminder age and ignorance are no excuse for law breaking, even if they can be mitigating contributors.
CMCA BUNDY RV PARK OPENING SOON
he CMCA’s new RV Park in Bundaberg, Qld, is likely to open for business this month. Heavy rains delayed work on the site, which will accommodate up to 50 self-contained RVs at the Rum City’s old
showgrounds. The CMCA has said the facility, which will be available for members only, will operate for at least 48 weeks of the year, possibly closing during the wet season.
22 | News
CARAVAN PARKS TARGET AIRBNB
aravan parks, long-time opponents of free camping and budget sites, seem to be switching their attention to Airbnb properties. According to media reports, the Airbnb industry is causing, “despair and anger” among some Queensland tourist park operators, who are suffering a fall in cabin bookings. One Caravanning Queensland board member reportedly complained that the competition was “massive” and it was impossible to match prices as low as $58 a room. “There has to be regulation,” he is quoted as saying. “If it’s good enough to put regulations on us, then it has to be a fair playing field.”
Accommodation Association of Australia chief executive, Richard Munro, told media it was frustrating for parks to, “See their businesses being swallowed up” by an industry which operated in an opaque fashion, with no one knowing where they were. Opinion: For years the caravan park industry as a whole has been at the forefront of lobbying government at every level to contain or eliminate competition, often on the flimsiest of pretexts. Like the low-performing and highcharging taxi industry decrying Uber, it will be interesting to watch it battle Airbnb. The eventual winner will, no doubt, be consumers, who now have choice and the power to vote with their wallets.
wo men have been charged with attempting to smuggle millions of dollars worth of drugs into Australia, hidden inside an imported caravan. Police claim 91 kg of MDMA and 3 kg of ice were concealed in the caravan, which was shipped from the UK. Australian Border Force identified the sea cargo as being of interest and conducted further examinations at the Sydney Container Examination Facility. After anomalies were noted during x-raying, the ABF Detector Dog Unit attended and the dogs gave a positive reaction. Officers ‘deconstructed’ the caravan and found the drugs, which have an estimated street value of more than $5 million, hidden in 3 cavities. The stash was seized and the caravan allowed to continue to its destination, where police arrested two men awaiting its arrival in St Ives, Sydney. They were charged with two
counts of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. If convicted they could face life imprisonment.
A New Kind of Playground
24 | News
‘VEGETARIAN’ CAMPGROUND OPPOSED Facebook in their fight to block the project. The Residents Against Mullum Tourist Resort page has attracted more than 560 members, who protest that the proposed development on Coolamon Scenic Drive under the shadow of Mt Chincogan would be totally out of character with the town’s rural landscape.
pponents of controversial plans to build a 239-site ‘vegetarian’ campground, complete with yoga and meditation facilities, at Mullumbimby, NSW, have taken to
“It would be the end of Mullum as we know it,” they protest. Developer Mark Franklyn said it would be a purpose-built facility for the, “Consciousness movement” and would not seek to attract grey nomads looking for a camping site.
CAMPS AUSTRALIA WIDE CHANGES HANDS
athryn and Philip Fennell reckon they’ve clocked up around a million kilometres helping caravanners find cheap or free overnight pitches. But after 12 years researching on the road, the couple has retired and handed control of Camps Australia Wide to new owners. The book is regarded as a ‘must have’ by thousands of travellers who shun caravan parks in favour of free camping and roadside rest areas (can’t believe the caravan park industry allows it to be published! - Ed). New owners Heatley and Michelle Gilmore have bought the business and will continue producing the guide, now in its ninth edition. The Fennells intend enjoying, “A bit of a break” before travelling again, but this time at a slower pace.
iMotorhome Marketplace | 25
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26 | iMotorhome Marketplace
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An official Avida motorhome dealer, with more than 50 new motorhomes in the largest undercover RV showroom in the Southern Hemisphere. Our service department is here for all your needs too.
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An Authorised Repco Service Centre just off the Hume Highway at Mittagong. Auto electrical and mechanical service specialists happy to look after your motorhome or campervan! Call Mark or Sharon and tell them iMotorhome sent you!
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iMotorhome Marketplace | 27
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We design and manufacture air suspension kits for all types of vehicles including motorhomes. Easy to install they let you ‘level up’ for stability and safety.
Batteries, solar panels, inverters, alternators and all electrical parts including cables and switches for your motorhome! We can find and fix all electrical faults and are 12 V power specialists.
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America’s favourite motorhome is now available in Australia! Tiffin Motorhomes Australia is proud to offer the Allegro Breeze 32 to the Australian market. Click through to find out why they’re fast becoming Australia’s favourite too!
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28 | Tested: Coachmen Freelander Micro 20CB
America. In Transit!
A petrol-powered automatic Transit is a surprisingly good thingâ€Ś by Richard Robertson
Tested | 29
Already popular in Europe in manual form, new Transit is making inroads into the North American RV market thanks to a slick six-speed auto. A 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine is standard while a 3.2-litre turbo-diesel is optional, as is a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol. This â€˜babyâ€™ C-class Coachmen lists around US$78,000 yet still comes with an electric awning, remote start generator and propane-fired ducted central heating. I found brand new dealer stock online as low as US$52,990! Dream onâ€Ś
n America the C-class has dominated the motorhome market for years. Churned out in mind boggling numbers by every manufacturer, they have been, and still are, the backbone of the market. In terms of bang-for-your-buck these mass produced beige boxes are hard to beat. Ford has dominated the market for years with its E-Series chassis, which it sells for peanuts, while RV manufacturers have been bolting the same bodies onto them for so long their economies of scale are unmatched in any other motorhome style. Usually with sleeping for four or six and with all the comforts of home, a C-class also makes the perfect entry point for people starting out on their RV adventure.
However, the E-Series is long in the tooth and Ford has rested way too long on its laurels to drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. In a world where economy and environmental friendliness are increasingly important the 5.4-litre V8 and 6.8-litre V10 petrol engines are anachronisms. Ditto the size and weight of the vehicle. While big might be beautiful, less can definitely be more. Engine size aside, vehicle size is also something that affects economy and environmental impact. In recent years there has been a growing trend to smaller C-class motorhomes thanks to the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Dodge Ram ProMaster (think Fiat Ducato). More a trickle
30 | Tested than a deluge, it’s a growing trend none the less and one that’s been given a boost with the arrival of the latest Ford Transit. The subject of this review is a C-class Coachmen Freelander Micro 20CB, built on the Ford Transit. Here’s what Coachmen have to say about the Freelander range in general: “The Coachmen Freelander offers you all the ‘Good Stuff’ novice RVers quickly appreciate and experienced RVers demand. The Freelander mantra is to provide more factory installed features than anyone else, unparalleled value and reliable design and quality at an affordable price. The Freelander Class C Motorhome will win you over with its right balance of beauty, function, and value in a quality product that has lead the industry in sales for over a decade.”
Marketing hype aside, it leaves you in no doubt the Freelander range is entry level stuff. And in that range the Micro 20CB sits firmly at the bottom, making it entry level of the entry level! Is that a bad thing? Not at all. In fact I think it might just be the pick of the bunch, depending on your needs and point of view.
Market in Transit
ne thing I’ll never understand is the US RV industry’s apparent aversion to telling the truth about vehicle lengths. The 20 in 20CB refers to length and gives the impression it’s 20 feet (6.1 m) long. However, the Freelander Micro 20CB measures 23’ 9” (7.24 m) long. It’s also 10’ 6” (3.2 m) tall and 7’ 7” (2.31) m wide. I’ve travelled in a 33-foot (10 m) Windsport Class-A that was almost 36-feet (111 m) long and various Minnie Winnie’s that
Overnighting on this vacant lot beside a gas station, I heard bursts of automatic gun fire from the sand hills behind – and poured another glass of red…
Tested | 31 were a couple of feet longer than their model numbers suggested, so Coachmen isn’t alone in this bizarre practice. It’s the only example I can think of where manufactures of anything try to make their products sound smaller than they are! But I’ve digressed… Globally, Ford has been making Transits almost as long as the E-Series – 1965 v 1961 – and made almost as many (both exceed 8 million). Like the E-Series, the Transit has gone through several generations along the way and today is in its fourth incarnation. It’s fair to say the Transit is the World’s E-Series, and you could argue the World got the better deal. That’s largely due to engine choices, with small but efficient turbo-diesels having been the norm for years.
America’s love affair with big petrol engines in commercial vehicles is a global anomaly. Ford certainly has decades of experience producing efficient and powerful diesels, yet for some reason has chosen to keep then from domestic buyers. Even today the standard engine in the ‘new’ Transit is a 3.7-litre V6 petrol; an engine only available in North America. Cheap, proven and readily available, its inclusion isn’t surprising. The good news is a 5-cylinder 3.2-litre turbo-diesel is an option, although it adds cost and so in a basic C-class like this it’s a non-starter (ditto a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6, which is the performance option for lovers of petrol engines). As petrol engines go the 3.7-litre V6 feels right at home in the Transit. It’s a double overhead camshaft engine officially designated
The short bonnet provides access for engine fluid checks, but not a whole lot else.
32 | Tested the Duratec 37 and is designed for heavier vehicles. Amongst its features are variable camshaft timing – called Ti-VCT – and it produces 275 hp (205 kW) @ 6000 rpm and 260 lb-ft (352 Nm) @ 4000 rpm. In Europe, the Transit’s home and traditionally biggest market, automatic transmissions are still a rarity, especially in commercial vehicles. That’s due to a history of small engines and high fuel prices, so Ford had to engineer a whole new drivetrain for North America. In the U.S. you can have any gearbox you like as long as it’s a six-speed auto, but for once the lack of choice is a good thing.
On the Road
or a motorhome with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4699 kg, the ‘basic’ V6 and auto transmission combo works well. The exhaust has a nice note and the driveline is smooth, quite and responsive. Plant your foot and it moves surprisingly quickly. I’ve even read online reports from petrol engine lovers that questions the need for the twin-turbo option. However – and there’s always a however – it’s only good up to a point. That point is about 100 kmh. Beyond that the fuel-economy-versus-time-saved equation drops off considerably. On my 6235 km journey
Transit’s dash uses Ford’s passenger car design language. Note the sporty steering wheel and stubby gear selectors, plus a ton of cup and bottle holders. Strangely, there was no USB connector for charging or media connection.
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Modern touches like the electric awning and LED strip light were great, but American RV body design is still largely stuck in the 80s. Things like small, sliding glass windows are typical, while poor switch positioning (bottom) abound. This main control panel was close to foot height, in the entry stairwell! in this vehicle, from LA to Fredericksburg, TX, for the 2018 RV Entrepreneur Summit and return, it averaged 18.8 L/100 km (13.2 mpg). That was mostly siting on 100 kmh on Interstates, but also included all towns, cities and sightseeing. The best I saw was 15.2 L/100 km (15.5 mpg), while the worst – 24.5 L/100 km (9.6 mpg) – was for 4 hours sitting on 110-120 kmh. It’s all way better than an E-Series will deliver, but the Transit is definitely happier at lower speeds, or at least your wallet will be. The 94 L (25 gal) fuel tank is half the size of an E-Series, but still provided a comfortable 440 km range between fill-ups, with a generous reserve. The test vehicle was a 2017 model from Best Time RV Rentals and had approximately 24,000 km (15,000 m) on it at pick-up. In four weeks it didn’t miss a beat, nor give me a moment’s concern. Considering its life as a rental vehicle that speaks well for the Transit, as well as the Coachmen body.
34 | Tested By U.S. C-class standards the nose is sleek and streamlined. It doesn’t provide much headroom, however, for anyone sleeping ‘upstairs’.
Mechanicals aside, the new Transit is just plain nice to drive. The smallish steering wheel is just the right size and positively sports car-like compared to an E-Series, while the steering itself, along with ride, are also impressive. You sit high in a commanding position and visibility is excellent. The dash is Euro-inspired and uses Ford’s passenger vehicle design language. Instrumentation is large and legible, with excellent blue/white lighting, while the stubby gear stick with flick-across sports mode is an order of magnitude better than the E-Series’ ancient column shifter. There’s plenty of storage, the seats are comfortable and the equipment level is high – think aircon, remote locking, electric windows and (heated) mirrors), etc – plus there’s a full suite of airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability controls, and so on. My final thoughts on driving relate to the 2.31 m (7’ 7”) overall width. In a market where 2.57 m (8’ 5”) is the norm – and also the legal maximum in more than a dozen states – it might sound narrow and the difference is certainly noticeable, but mostly in a good way. Road lanes and car parks become easier to negotiate, as do toll booths and other entrances; something every RV driver will appreciate.
Outside The Box
f the Transit is new and interesting, the Freelander Micro 20 CB’s body looks like so many others, even if it is a little more streamlined thanks to its smaller over-cab nosecone. That’s not bad, just predictable. However, not all is as it seems.
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Box on wheels. At least Coachmen use wood-free Azdel body paneling. Coachmen use Azdel paneling for its RV bodies. It’s a composite panel system made in the USA that combines an outer skin of fiberglass and a sheet of Azdel that are bonded to an aluminum frame, with polypropylene insulation in between and a decor laminate panel on the inside. The result is a body panel impervious to water (unlike wood-framed RVs), light in weight and claimed to be highly insulative. The roof is similarly constructed, apparently strong enough to walk on and finished with a rubber coating, while a six-layer vacuum bonded floor provides a sturdy base. The nose and tail are finished with fiberglass mouldings and the whole thing looks, well, very conventional. External storage is good thanks to a mix of lockers around the vehicle, while space is provided for an optional outdoor 24” TV and sound system, plus there’s
36 | Tested
a plug-in point for portable solar panels. A great feature is the power awning, along with a matching LED strip light in a fashionable sort of purple/mauve. A remote-start 4 kW Onan petrol generator is also a standard inclusion, providing power for essentials (like your coffee machine!) no matter where you’re parked. Roof access is easy via the sturdy rear ladder, while the sewer hose is stored in the hollow back bumper. Outlets for the black and grey tanks are at the rear and unusually there are separate tanks for the kitchen and bathroom grey water. While a city water inlet is provided there’s no extra fitting to flush the black tank, something which would be good to see added. Still on tanks, the 144-litre (38 gal) fresh water tank is located well up inside the vehicle, which is good for winter travel. A full tank heating kit is optionally available for fans of cold weather adventures.
hile overall fit and finish seemed on par with motorhomes from other mainstream manufacturers there were three disappointments: two relating to build quality and one with design.
The rubber-coated roof is strong enough to walk on, as witnessed by someone’s footprints! RV park ‘hookups’ are all at the rear.
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Flapping insulation in both rear wheel arches was disappointing, while the front gutter ‘spouts’ poured water directly onto the electric window switches when the cab doors were open. One the build quality front, both rear wheel arches had pieces of what looked like black fabric hanging down, above and/or behind the wheels. Probably something to do with insulation, they were there from the outset and never got worse, but did leave me wondering about quality control. At best they looked shoddy and at worst might have allowed water in during the many wet days driving. The other build quality issue was a light brown stain in the ceiling, around the sides of the domed skylight above the shower. It indicated water entry and I reported it to the rental company, but they seemed disinterested. I climbed the ladder to check for obvious leaks, but all seemed well sealed. From experience I know water will find its way in anywhere it can, especially around roof hatches and fittings, but in a near-new motorhome that was a disappointment. The design disappointment related to the gutter ‘spouts’ at the front corners of the roof. The problem? When raining, if you opened either cab door to their limit, water poured directly onto the electric window switches! Monty Python would call it a triumph of design because it would actually be quite difficult to
design something so precisely. In reality, it shows nobody tried to get in and out of the cab when (or if) the prototype went through its watertightness checks. If it were my vehicle I’d remove the spouts as they appear to be unnecessary and are also looking for tree branches to snag. Problem solved! In fairness, few new RVs leave their factories without some issues needing rectification under warranty. High production volumes and low wages are a recipe for indifference, but there’s no excuse for not having a quality control inspection system that at least can pick up things like the dangling wheel arch material. Water leaks take time to develop, unfortunately, while the spout position is just a design glitch that’s easily remedied.
What’s In the Box?
he floorplan is straightforward, especially as there’s no slide-out to complicate things. A swivelling passenger cab seat is optional, but otherwise you have the living and dining area up front, galley in the middle and the main bed and bathroom in the rear corners. Decor is mainstream dull and it will
38 | Tested be good when US manufacturers embrace the light colours, gloss finishes and clean lines so prevalent in Europe, in their mainstream models. Stepping inside you find the light, generator, water pump and tank level switches and gauges clustered fairly low down in the stairwell, on the kitchen end panel. It’s not overly convenient, especially when inside, so I can only imagine it’s cheaper to put them there.
etween the entry door and cab is a single lounge seat that makes a surprisingly useful place to sit and put on shoes, and generally pile with stuff when you come back from shopping. It’s also a good place to sit and work with a laptop, or talk to those sitting opposite at the dining table. The lounge/dinette is L-shaped and runs between the driver’s seat and refrigerator. It has a long but narrow table with a pair of sturdy legs that are a tight fit to squeeze past. Once seated you tend to stay there! There’s a good sized sliding window behind the dinette and lights beneath the overhead cupboards, but the sole power outlet is by your legs, in the seat base, and it’s easy to get tangled up in power cords. Travelling solo I usually sat facing forward, on the return part of the L-shaped lounge, across from the entry door. That way I could plug into power to the left without getting tangled, plus enjoy a good view and breeze from the side window and door when the weather was kind – so not very often. Plus, I could keep an eye on the world through the windscreen. It was also the best place to watch the TV, which swung out on an arm from a wall bracket just above and ahead of the entry door.
The L-shaped dinette – J-shaped in the brochure – was reasonably comfortable and made a good mobile office, although a cushion was needed due to the shapeless backrest cushion.
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The flip-up bench extension was invaluable at breakfast time, while the two-burner cooker was adequate. Note tiny window, complete with annoying venetian blind. The dinette becomes the third bed, but you’d need to be small.
Food For Thought
ou can cook up a small storm in the compact L-shaped galley, although if you’re looking for an oven you’ll be out of luck. Your storm will have to be concocted on the two petrol burners of the small cooktop and/or in the microwave, then washed up in the single sink. None of that is a hardship and it’s a fair tradeoff for the vehicle’s compact dimensions. At least there’s a good size twodoor refrigerator and freezer (opposite) so you can go for days at a time between shopping safaris. Galley storage is a bit haphazard and it would be good to see more drawers and fewer big, but inefficient, cupboards.
he 1.32 m x 2.02 m (52 x 80 in) main bed is in the rear passenger-side corner and to reach it you step up onto a small raised floor section that marks the boundary between bedroom/bathroom and living areas. I have to say this was one of the most comfortable RV beds I’ve ever slept on; the innerspring mattress having the Goldilocks attributes of being not too soft and not too firm, but just right…
The bed itself butts up against the kitchen sink and it’s only a small but precisely sized and positioned clear acrylic panel that stops your bedding getting wet when washing up, or your feet dangling in the sink at night! It’s not really as bad as it sounds and only longer folks would ever end up getting the chance of a nocturnal foot bath. Perhaps it could be marketed as an added design feature?? Overhead storage was good and without a window in the rear wall – the bedhead – it was easy to sit up and read or work on my laptop. The only negative was the positing of a small, flip-up bedside table on the bathroom wall,
40 | Tested
which was set low and would cause issues for the person on that side for any couple. It needs to be moved up at least six inches as it’s a great idea – ditto the 2 x USB and 1 x 12 V power outlets alongside – but just one that’s been poorly positioned. The bed has a very slightly chamfered corner at its foot end, but it’s really not an issue in use. Between the refrigerator and bathroom door is a half-height handing wardrobe with drawers below, and they provided a surprising amount of clothing storage. Ditto the overhead cupboards, although they can be a bit hard to reach.
he corner bathroom, with its separate shower cubicle at the very rear, was a pleasant surprise. That was largely due to the shower having a semi-flexible door/ curtain that ran on a curved top rail and provided noticeably more elbow and turning room than a conventional, sliding shower door. It also opened wide for easier access. Nice! Other than that the bathroom was the standard corner arrangement, with a pedestal toilet to the right of the door as you enter and
Top: Main bed was surprisingly comfortable. Above: Packing up after a month on the road, but still work to do. Cab curtain was crude but effective.
Tested | 41 a small corner cupboard over it, plus a pedestal vanity with handbasin between it and the shower. It was good to see a central heating system outlet in the bathroom, although it didn’t seem overly effective, probably due to its close proximity to the toilet. Speaking of the heating system, it had an outlet under the dinette and another beneath the refrigerator, which could warm the bedroom. The thermostat was on the outside of the bathroom wall, above the bed, and it was easy to reach first thing in the morning without getting cold. Being able to hunker back under the covers while the motorhome quickly heated – another benefit of its smaller size – was pure luxury!
What I Think
fter four weeks and more than 6200 km in the Ford Transit-based Coachmen Freelander Micro 20CB I came away impressed overall, despite the finish and design glitches. I found it easily liveable and even its foibles became part and parcel of everyday life after a while. It’s ideal for a single traveler and good for a couple (if the bed’s too narrow use the one over the cab as well), but for the advertised six people – adults at least – well, I don’t think so. Priced around US$75,000 it’s a lot of motorhome for the money. A bit of hunting online found a couple as low as US$52,990, brand new, which makes it a steal – especially considering how good the new Transit is. Would I buy one? Yes. Maybe not in a heartbeat and certainly not as my ideal RV, but in fun and bang-for-your-buck terms, yes. It’s also a taste of things to come for North America as Euro chassis become the new norm. It also bodes well for Down Under, when the auto Transit finally arrives. It seems North American buyers and the industry as a whole, not just Coachmen, is finding itself in transit – and are all the better for it. The corner bathroom worked well and the shower surprised me with its spaciousness. The handbasin lacked bench space, though.
42 | Tested
Specs GENERAL Make
Freelander Micro 20CB
3.7-liter V6 Ti-VCT gas
205 kW @ 6000 rpm
352 Nm @4000 rpm
6 Airbags, ABS, ESP, Traction Control & more
Tow Hitch Capacity
1.32 m x 2.02 m
1.22 m x 2.21 m
1 .04 m x 1.63 m
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Specs EQUIPMENT Slide-Out
Electric with LED lighting
2 x gas
Single stainless steel with mixer tap
160 L Double-door, electric/propane
12 V LED
4 kW Onan remote start gas generator
13,500 BTU non-ducted
18,000 BTU ducted furnace
Plastic, foot flush
CAPACITIES Coach Batteries
1 x 100 AH (est)
Optional (pre wired)
80 L (tank)
Pros… • New Transit • Fuel economy • Compact dimensions • Good storage • Overall value • Equipment level • Non-wood framing
CONs… • Gutter spout placement • Build quality issues • Table a tight fit • Switch and power outlet locations • No USB outlets in the cab or living area • Main bed width • Some cupboard designs
Warranty – Motorhome
12 months/12,000 miles
Warranty – Chassis
36 months/36,000 miles
Warranty - Drivetrain
60 months/60,000 miles
Manufacturer: Coachmen RV 423 N Main St, Middlebury, IN. 46540, USA www.coachmenrv.com
44 | Tested: Bürstner Lyseo T690G
Work & Play At work or play this little Bürstner does a great job… By Malcolm Street
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Selfie time! It’s no secret Malcolm loves his time in N.Z. – and European motorhomes. Not only are vehicles like this Bürstner Lyseo comfortable and easy to drive, they fit well into shady caravan park sites like this one, too…
n some respects I am probably a slightly odd motorhomes for my travels. It’s a 6.99 m (21 ft) motorhome user because whilst most people motorhome and has a layout that features two use theirs for recreational travel, I frequently single beds or one very large double. use mine as a mobile office. I suspect that Mr iM Publisher does much the same. Familiar Story I mention that because I reckon it demonstrates the versatility of a motorhome. On this occasion I had to spend a few days travelling around the Auckland area and I needed not only a bit of transport but also somewhere to sleep and somewhere to keep my gear safe. One of the side benefits of all this is that there is no unpacking or packing in hotel rooms and minimal risk of leaving something behind when out working during the day. Wilderness Motorhomes – the rental arm/ sister company of SmartRV – was kind enough to lend me one of its Alpine 2 models, otherwise known as a Bürstner Lyseo T690G
otive power is the ubiquitous Fiat Ducato, in this case the Multijet 130 with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) rating of 3500 kg. Thus, with the tare weight of 2885 kg its gives it a decent payload of 615 kg. Not that I was likely to get anywhere close to that, even though the combined weight of my camera, computer and related chargers does sometimes give problems when flying! A point of note to keep in mind is that although the 96 kW engine performed willingly enough for me, being relatively lightly loaded I suspect that if more fully loaded, it would certainly be slower going up steel hills.
46 | Tested
or the body structure, the Lyseo features the familiar fibreglass composite panels with large double-glazed acrylic windows and Euro-style door, with an upper-half window and lowerhalf complete with a garbage bin. Insects and other undesirables are kept at bay by the internal concertina style screen that slides across the doorway. Certainly the body moulding above the cab gives the motorhome a very streamlined look and I always reckon the big Skyview hatch adds to that.
This cavernous boot – garage in Euro-speak – is made possible by setting the beds high. Like everything in RVing it’s a space compromise, but the result is well worth it.
A noticeable feature of this Lyseo is the very large rear storage area, which is quite spacious and will fit an amazing amount of gear; well over the usual camping list. My Lyseo came fitted with a Fiamma bike rack, a very useful item if you like a bit of
Tested | 47
healthy exercise when parked up. I always like the handy utility locker and gas cylinder locker, which are located mid way along the passenger side. I also like the handy carrier that neatly contains all the hoses and power leads. For those who need them, a second carrier bag contains snow chains – just don’t forget to fit them to the front wheels!
here are naturally variations on a theme, but the front layout has a familiar look about it, with the swivelled cab seats, forward-facing rear lounge on the passenger side and sideways facing seat behind the driver. All the mid area of the Lyseo is taken up by a kitchen bench and shower/toilet cubicle. That leaves the rear area for the bedroom which, as noted earlier, has either two singles or a very large double, depending on choice. The overall colour scheme has a light brown/white them about it, which might sound a bit dull but it is quite easy on the eye and does keep natural light levels up quite high.
A bike and rack is a great inclusion for a rental, while having the entry door on the ‘other’ side is something you quickly get used to.
48 | Tested
At nighttime, of course, there are plenty of choices for lighting. Indeed, there’s a system for every occasion, with fittings discretely hidden for a mood setting and the others better for reading or using a laptop computer. There are light switches everywhere but the bathroom switch took me a while to find, it being hidden under the bathroom cabinet as it happens. Setting up the motorhome takes a minimum amount of time. Once level parked, more or less, it’s a matter of plugging in (if power is available), turning the gas on and swivelling the front seats.
ecause of the rear storage area, the single beds, which measure at least 1.9 m x 0.8 m (6’ 3” x 2’ 7”) do sit quite high off the floor. That’s not really
Top: Decor is modern and understated, while leather upholstery is a nice touch. Ditto the Skyview over-cab hatch. Above: High-set beds allow for slide-out clothing storage below.
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a problem because large steps make it an easy passage up and down, while there’s the additional benefit of both steps having hinged lids to access the storage underneath. Getting in and out of bed is quite easy and even better when travelling by yourself because the other bed gets used as an oversize bedside shelf! There is no shortage of bedroom storage generally. In addition to the rear overhead lockers, both the beds have large compartments at the forward end, with the offside offering hanging space and the nearside a set of good sized slide-out shelves.
Wet or Dry?
ombo bathrooms are great space savers but have the downside of having a wet floor post shower. A typically German solution to this problem is to have a swinging wall that includes the wash basin, such that the cassette toilet, wall cupboard and wash basin can be
Top: Single beds are increasingly popular, especially when one person sleeps ‘poorly’. Above: Difficult to photograph, the bathroom has a swinging wall divider between the wet and dry areas.
50 | Tested
Typically Euro-compact, the L-shaped kitchen is well equipped and surprisingly functional. Storage space is good, as is having a full oven. closed off when the shower is in use. It certainly cuts down water spray.
e rigueur in many a European motorhome seems to be an L-shaped kitchen. This one is no exception and the thinking seems to be about making the most of available space – as this one does with a three-burner hob, oven and stainless steel sink. Being a rental motorhome, all the drawers and overhead lockers (of which there are plenty) were filled with cooking and eating utensils. I liked the wine glass and cup rack in an overhead locker – much better than loose items and less noisy. Fitting in between the kitchen bench and the rear area is a 145-litre, 3-way fridge. Not really kitchen items, but there are two small underfloor storage areas, one with a safe, that can be used for stashing valuables. Okay so the are not secure in any way, but they are discrete and not totally obvious. Out of sight, out of mind often works…
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Dining and Relaxing
get that the front area isn’t totally oversized for stretching out – that is what beds are for! – but it’s still a neat area where four or five people can sit down for a meal. It’s made easier because the table extension can be swivelled out and used. Naturally, two persons won’t have a problem with stretching out a bit, but if they wish to watch TV then both the swivelled cab seats will have to be used; the TV being located on the panel by the entry door. Also on the same panel is a shelf for items like the portable WiFi and an iPad, as well as all the electrical and audio controls. It’s all handy when entering and leaving, as well as just when living inside.
Nobody does compact lounge/dinettes like the Europeans. Practical and comfortable, this one can easily seat five and comes with a table extension to give everyone room to dine.
52 | Tested
n the subject of electricals, the Lyseo is quite well appointed, with 2 x 90 AH deep cycle batteries, a 150 W solar panel and a 1000 W inverter. If for nothing else, the inverter can be used for Mac laptop charging as you drive along. A small issue I ran into was where to locate my charging station. By that I mean the multi power board for laptop, i-devices, camera batteries and even my Kindle. In the end I opted for either the kitchen bench or the dining table, depending on what I was doing.
Having all services accessible in one place is great. The large red cover unscrews for ease of water tank cleaning, too. The TV’s position means it’s really only ‘watchable’ from the swivelled cab seats.
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What I Think
lthough I really was using the Alpine 2/Lyseo T690G more as a mobile office than a touring vehicle, it served me well. Being on my own I liked the single bed layout, but itâ€™s not hard to see how that would work well for a couple who have mobility or insomnia issues. An additional benefit of this layout is that there is minimal set-up involved, making it a very easy camper indeed. If you fancy one for yourself an ex-Wilderness Motorhomesâ€™ rental is good buying through sister company SmartRV as it comes fully refurbished and with a whole range of other benefits. To find out more click here.
54 | Tested
Specs GENERAL Make
Wilderness Alpine 2/Lyseo T690G
Fiat Ducato Multijet 130
2.3 L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
96 kW @ 3600 rpm
320 Nm @ 1800 rpm
6 speed AMT
ABS, ESP, driver/passenger air bags, traction plus
WEIGHTS Tare Weight
Gross Vehicle Mass
Braked Towing Capacity
DIMENSIONS Overall Length
6.99 m (21')
2.30 m (7' 7")
2.95 m (9' 8")
2.05m (6' 8")
1.99 m x 0.8 m (6' 6" x 2' 7")
1.90 m x 0.8 m (6'3" x 2' 7")
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Specs EQUIPMENT Slide-Out
Dometic 3 burner & grill/oven
Round stainless steel
142 L Thetford N3142 3-way
12 V Sockets/USB Outlets
Truma Combi 6E LPG/Electric
Hot Water System
Truma Combi 6E LPG/Electric
Pros… • Under 7 m • Large external storage • Easy set-up • Hinged-wall bathroom • 12 V battery and solar capacity • 4 seat belts fitted • Internal lighting
CONs… • Minimal number of 240V outlets • Double bed fiddly to setup and access • Not enough time to play!
2 x 90 AH
1 x 150 W
2 x 9.0 kg
PRICE ON-ROAD NEW ZEALAND New
Call 0800 007 627 for availability and pricing
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 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
56 | Tested
â€œCertainly the body moulding above the cab gives the motorhome a very streamlined look and I always reckon the big Skyview hatch adds to 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 more at wilderness.co.nz
58 | Quick Spin: Trakka Torino and Torino Xtra Remote
Twins Under The Skin! Same parents, different personalitiesâ€Ś By Richard Robertson
Quick Spin | 59
t’s interesting to watch the evolution of companies. When iMotorhome launched in 2012, Trakka had a full line-up of coachbuilt motorhomes and it seemed to me that van conversions were seen as a stepping stone between a Trakkadu campervan and ‘the big time’.
Fiat Ducato van, but calling it extra long is a bit of a misnomer because at 6.363 metres long it’s far from huge. To put it into perspective, it sits between the medium wheelbase and long wheelbase Sprinter vans, which are 5.926 and 6.961 metres, respectively.
Both Torinos are two berth motorhomes, but Fast forward to 2016/17 and Trakka has while Torino is a two seater, Torino Xtra seats reduced the coachbuilt lineup to a single model four. How so, you ask? Easy. Torino has a pair – the Trakkaway 700. One of our favourites and of lengthways single beds that can convert a top seller, it’s as close to the perfect balance into a near-kingsize. Torino Xtra, on the other of size, features and liveability as you’ll find. hand, has an across-vehicle double bed that Over that same time period Trakka’s van-based cleverly hinges up on one end to provide walklineup evolved into a two vehicle range: Torino through rear access and enough space to carry on the Fiat Ducato and Jabiru on the Mercede- a motorbike. Turning the bed sideways frees Benz Sprinter. It has been a strategic move that up enough space for a permanent dinette, has concentrated on a limited number of niche with forward-facing seating for two extra models, and it came at a time the whole vanpassengers. Spin the cab seats and it’s dinner conversion market was experiencing significant for four – no reservations required! Meal time growth. Part prescience and part good fortune, in the two-seat Tornio is no chore, however, as today Trakka’s van conversion range sits at the you have a choice of front or rear dining areas. top of a booming market segment. Up front, a removable table slots in between the swivelled cab seats, while down the back you can use the foot-ends of the single beds Tale of Two Sisters as lounges and pop in a larger, removable table orino started out as a single model that between them. Presto! was later joined by Torino Xtra. Both use the same extra-long wheelbase (XLWB)
60 | Quick Spin
Above: A corner table in Torino makes a good little workstation from the driver’s seat, while a small pole-mount table slots in between the seats. Below: Torino Xtra’s east-west bed hinges up to provide walk-through access and great cargo space. As standard, Torino and Torino Xtra come with gas cooking and hot water, plus the option of a diesel-fired room heater. Add the Remote Pack to either model and you do away with gas. Cooking and water heating become diesel-fired and room heating is included. The Remote Pack also adds significantly more thermal and sound insulation, plus 135-watts of solar panels to charge the (standard) 2 x 100-amphour deep-cycle house batteries. A 1600-watt inverter is optionally available. All Torinos carry 120-litres of fresh water, have an 80-litre grey water tank and 19-litre toilet cassette.
new Torino and Torino Xtra Remote out for a day to play catch-up on recent developments, it seemed an offer too good to refuse.
Big Day Out.
ooking back through the iMotorhome archives (blow dust, cough, wheeze) it seems we’re reviewed Torino once (Issue 44 15/3/14), but Torino Xtra thrice – issues 58 (18/10/14), 79 (5/9/15) and 102 (3/9/16). So, when Alex from Trakka suggested we take a
The planned route was from Trakka’s Mt Kuring-Gai showroom on Sydney’s northernmost fringe to the Pines Campground in Olney State Forest, in the hinterland between the Central Coast and Newcastle. It provided about 90 minutes driving each way and while
Quick Spin | 61
Torino Xtra has passenger seats and a flip-up coffee table, plus a removable dining table. that was mostly freeway, it also entailed some winding back roads and a decent dirt road run into the woods. I drove the Torino up and Torino Xtra Remote back and it was an excellent opportunity to compare identical vehicles with different suspension.
he Torino Xtra Remote was also fitted with the optional Outback Suspension Pack. That meant it came with ALKO’s Comfort Suspension (ACS) up front and ARS – I kid you not – at the back (who said Germans have no sense of humour?). ARS stands for AL-KO Rear Suspension, which involves new shock absorbers and a set of ‘helper’ coil springs to assist the standard leaf springs. It provides a more controlled ride with less bottoming and body roll; ideal attributes in a laden motorhome. Up front, ACS brings replacement suspension struts and springs.
Not only do they provide better control, plus increased wheel travel and ride comfort, they raise the nose 40 mm to provide a level ride (Ducatos sits nose-low in standard form). On the freeway the Torino, with its standard Fiat suspension, rode well enough. On backroads things got a bit bumpy in the front over broken and uneven bitumen, which is a Ducato norm, but nothing untoward. Heading down the dirt road into Olney State Forest, however, things got tougher. Long stretches of corrugations tested our tooth fillings and required a distinctly defensive driving approach, while potholes hidden in dappled light produced crash-bangs. Coming out of the forest in the Torino Xtra Remote, the Outback Suspension Kit transformed the ride. The front end had noticeably more wheel travel and was better controlled, and while the corrugations still shook us they were far less intrusive. Also, the crash-bang was gone from unseen potholes.
62 | Quick Spin Overall the Torino Xtra felt more composed, controlled and comfortable – more complete – and this would be the first option I’d be ordering.
f the Devil is in the detail he’d be right at home in either of the latest Torinos. It’s interesting to look back at my earlier reviews and see just how far the detail finish has come. What at the time seemed cutting edge has evolved to the point now where the level of sophistication isn’t just market leading, it’s world class – in every sense of the term. From decor colours and style to finishing trim and fabrics, Trakka’s visual and tactile aesthetic is outstanding. A clever mix of concealed and conventional lighting – all LED of course – provides an ambience to match any mood, while features like a TV that can be positioned in the bedroom or dinette via a height-adjustable pole mount is simple and
East-west bed in Torino Xtra is long enough for all but the tallest.
Quick Spin | 63 clever. As much as anything it reflects a level of thoughtfulness that comes not just from years of motorhome construction – there are plenty of companies out there with decades of experience – but from actually using the vehicles they design and build, and caring about the user experience. I’ve written at length in past issues about the design features and benefits of both Torino layouts. In that regard nothing has changed much and both vehicles are as practical as ever, with the notable exception of enhanced utility via Torino Extra’s hinged bed (earlier models had an electrically height adjustable bed). A patented Trakka trademark is the Switch Mode Bathroom (SMB). It’s a slightly larger than usual all-in-one design, with a toilet that retracts by remote control beneath the vanity when not required. The SMB also has a sliding roller-shutter door that doesn’t intrude into the cubicle or aisle. It can be left open when Spacious single or giant king. Torino provides multiple sleeping options.
64 | Quick Spin
Poles in kitchen and bedroom hold the TV on its removable mount. Kitchen pole lets TV be swivelled for outdoor viewing, too. showering because a wrap-around shower curtain press-studs into place to keeps towels, loo roll and the doorway dry, so it doesn’t flap or try to cling to you. The only downside is you still need to dry the floor after showering to use the loo, but a teak duckboard makes that easier. As design compromises go it’s an easy one to live with.
What I Think
orino and Torino Xtra are twins with differing personalities. Each suits different buyer preferences and either is a terrific van-based motorhome. Torino provides the most sleeping room and the choice of single or a near-kingsize bed. It also has two dining options plus a clever little workstation when the driver’s seat is swivelled. If you don’t need to carry extra passengers and like room to stretch out at night, this is the one for you. Torino Xtra is ideal if want or need to carry passengers and/or value a permanent dinette. It’s east-west bed is less spacious, but
surprisingly I found it long enough for my 1.85 m frame simply by lying on my side with legs slightly bent, which is the norm. The bonus is the bed that hinges up on the driver’s side, making it a full walkthrough van with a huge rear cargo area ideal for all manner of lifestyle equipment (and it even has tie-down points). Unusually for van conversions, both models have concertina bedroom dividers so one of you can retire early while the other sits up and plays computer games. Or something… Add the Remote Pack to either Torino and you add true versatility for all-weather touring and off-grid living. Add the Outback Suspension Kit and you’ll be driving the best handling Fiat Ducato on the road. For twins, Torino and Torino Xtra do their parents proud. Maybe it’s the DNA, but both get under your skin and are well worth getting to know. For full details and prices, click here.
Quick Spin | 65
Pros… • Style • Quality • Innovation • Comfort • Convenience • Liveability • Practicality
CONs… • Vans aren’t for everyone • Semi-wet bathroom • No electric option for side door
Click for Google Maps
Trakka Pty Ltd 9 Beaumont Rd Mt Kuring-gai, NSW. 2080. T: 1800 TRAKKA (1800 872552) E: email@example.com W: www.trakka.com.au
66 | Technical
More powerful electrical systems are coming, reports Allan Whiting from Outback Travel Australia…
he 12-volt electrical system has been with us for many years, but is now running out of capacity. A dual 12V-48V system is the first step towards a higher-voltage solution. Remember when you could turn off your engine and listen to the radio for a couple of hours or so, with the ignition switch on ‘Acc’? In a new vehicle that radio-time is down to around 5-30 minutes, after which it either turns off automatically or you get a dashboard message to run the engine to replenish the battery. Partly, the cause is a move to lighter, lower-capacity starting batteries, but the main reason is the high electrical power demands in modern vehicles.
Standby Your Van!
ven on standby the battery needs to keep ‘alive’ various vehicle engine control units (ECUs), the navigation system, sound system powering multiple speakers, visual entertainment system, power outlets, central locking, immobiliser, door security, external cameras…the list grows almost daily. Running all this stuff from a 12-volt battery is becoming difficult and wiring looms are growing in girth and length. Voltage drop in lengthy 12-volt circuits is another problem and voltagecritical components need to be fed power by thicker, heavier wires.
Technical | 67
Medium and heavy trucks from Europe and Asia have employed 24-volt electrical systems for many years, to cope with engine-start power demands and voltage drop at the rear of long combination vehicles. Interestingly, even early model Nissan Patrols had a 24-volt system.
n the 1990s the major German vehicle makers decided to triple automotive electrical system operating voltage from 12-volts (14 V when charging) to 36-volts (42 V when charging). The reasoning was simple: Because power (W) = voltage (V) x current(A), raising the operating voltage reduces current draw and wiring that carries lower current can be thinner and lighter. In the then-proposed 42-volt charging system, alternator output could more than double
from about 3 kW to 8 kW, providing much more power for electric systems such as communications, navigation, power steering and dynamic suspensions. Early discussions found agreement on the need to have parallel 12 V and 36 V systems on a vehicle, to avoid the need for completely new sub-systems: lighting, communications, sound, locking and instrumentation, for example. It looked like the 36-volt movement had stalled by the early 2000s, mainly because of increasing use of low-current-draw components such as LEDs; the use of more efficient electric motors and digital multiplexing that shrank and lightened wiring looms. However, the swimming duckâ€™s feet were very busy under the surface (powered largely by the need to comply with ever-tightening regulations for CO2 emissions)â€Ś
68 | Technical
n increase in sub-system voltage has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by improving stop-start efficiency, allowing ‘free’ battery regeneration when slowing or braking, and the ability to employ electric motor assistance at lift-off and electric supercharging at low engine speeds. In 2010 UK-based Controlled Power Technologies installed a 12/36-volt system on a VW Passat with a 1.4-litre TSI engine and it almost matched 1.8-litre TSI performance. CPT later developed a turbine energy recovery system capable of generating 2-4 kW of electricity from the exhaust. Parallel with this development, R&D in Europe and the USA indicated that a dual 12/48-volt system would be even better than 12/36-volts and would take advantage of the fact there
were many 48-volt lithium-ion-battery, charging and motor components already developed for electric vehicles. Major automotive electrical system component makers in Europe and the USA, including Johnson Controls, Continental and Delphi, have developed 48-volt systems and Audi has been the first European car maker to announce this technology. “We are using the full bandwidth of electrification in our drive principles strategy,” said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at AUDI AG. “Running part of the vehicle electrical system at 48 volts plays a central role in this. It enables us to make more energy available and pave the way for new technologies with which we can make our cars more sporty, more efficient and more convenient to use.”
Technical | 69
udi has showcased its 48-volt electrical system with two technology demonstrators: an Audi A6 TDI concept and an RS 5 TDI concept. Both are fitted with an electrically-powered compressor that acts like a supercharger from practically zero rpm, eliminating turbocharger lag. It operates independently of engine load and therefore improves acceleration. In the current versions, a compact lithiumion battery supplies 48-volts as the energy source during engine off-phases and a DC/ DC converter integrates the 12-volt electrical system. The lithium-ion battery is fed by an optimised alternator that virtually makes the drivetrain a mild hybrid because of its 10 kW energy-recovery capability. That adds up to a saving of up to 10 grams of CO2 per kilometre, equivalent to around 0.4 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.
Continentalâ€™s 48 Volt Eco Drive system has been designed so the alternator/starter, electric motor, DC/DC converter, lithium-ion battery, powertrain and energy management modules can be integrated into virtually any vehicle. In its demonstrator vehicleâ€™s 48-volt system the alternator starter is belt-driven, but can be directly-mounted on the transmission. The demonstratorâ€™s lithium-ion battery is also relatively easy to integrate, because its dimensions are virtually identical to those of a 12V lead-acid battery. A 48-volt electrical system should work very well in a motorhome because the power demands can be greater than those of a highly-specified passenger car. It would also have the capacity to replenish house batteries significantly quicker. Transitional 48-volt systems in recreational vehicles will most likely follow passenger car practice and be dual, 12/48-volt types, given the prevalence of 12volt equipment in RVs todays.
70 | Technical
Crystal Battery Gazing Lead crystal batteries hold promise for RV applicationsâ€Ś by Allan Whiting of OutbackTravelAustralia.com.au
Technical | 71
his valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) battery type is relatively new in Australia, but the technology has been around for many years. Lead crystal technology was patented under United States Patent 4143216 in 1979 and here’s what the literature has to say…
Note that the comparison is with flooded lead acid batteries, not more advanced AGM or Gel types, let alone lithium ferro-phosphate batteries. The only lead crystal battery maker claims it has better discharge tolerance and faster recharge time than Gel or AGM.
A unique storage cell is provided in which the active mass on the positive electrode is a mixture of crystalline and an effective amount of polycrystaline lead super-oxide (PbO2).
Lead crystal batteries are said to tolerate deep discharge better than other types and are also said to have more cycling life. However, while they can withstand deep discharge and partial charging they do need periodic mains charging at the correct current rate, to maintain battery life.
These cells are characterised by their remarkably lower internal resistance, higher activity, better charging and discharging characteristics, lower sulphatisation, higher storage capacity and greater ability to draw larger amounts of electric current in a considerably shorter period of time as compared with conventional lead-acid storage cells. A battery made from such cells also exhibits superior performance characteristics as compared with storage devices made from conventional lead-acid cells. Batteries made from such cells will be referred to as ‘leadcrystal’ batteries.’
Betta Batteries warrants its lead crystal battery in under-bonnet locations, unlike AGM or Gel battery makers. For the moment, lead crystal batteries are expensive and the amp-hour range is limited. If, or as, that changes they hold promise as a bridge between traditional deepcycle and lithium batteries, providing deeper discharge (so more useable power) and faster recovery than the former, but at a significantly lower cost than the latter.
72 | Product Test
Lifting the Fog
Testing the Rain-X headlight restoration kitâ€Ś by Allan Whiting of OutbackTravelAustralia.com.au
Product Test | 73
any older vehicles have plastic-faced headlight housings that have oxidised, giving them a distinctive hazy and yellow appearance. That ‘fogging’ and discolouration greatly reduces brightness and beam size, which is a dangerous situation for the driver and others on the road. One solution is to replace the headlight assembly, but that’s usually a very expensive process. Another is to rely on driving lights for distance and spread, but that makes the contrast worse when you click back to low beam. An easier and cheaper process is to recondition the moulded plastic headlight coverings. The Rain‑X Headlight Restoration Kit is a multistep recondition process for yellowed, hazed headlights, using fine abrasives, a specially designed polish and a sealant. Rain-X says the multi-step kit provides a more thorough cleaning process than single-step products. Firstly, three grades of sandpaper are used in sequence with a spray lubricant to remove yellow haze.
Secondly, a fine Rain‑X polish is used to remove scratches and minor imperfections. Thirdly, a sealant is applied as the final step to slow future oxidation. We picked up a Rain-X Headlight Restoration Kit for around $35 at Supercheap Autos and set to work on a couple of badly affected vehicles. The whole process worked as promised and each headlight, we recon, took around half an hour. There was also enough kit content left to do the vehicles again, in the future. The photos tell the story of this product, which actually does what it promises.
74 | Eats
Brothers in Arms? Bowral’s Scottish Arms Hotel is a great pub with a distant connection… by Richard Robertson
Eats | 75
eing a canny Scott I love a bargain. So does Mrs iM, because as fate would have it we’re both Robertsons by birth. One of our favourite local haunts is the Scottish Arms Hotel in East Bowral, which turns on an excellent weekday lunch special worth making a detour for. Built by another Robertson family who had its roughly 85,000 bricks made by a Scotsman, the Scottish Arms is a slightly over-the-top celebration of all things Scottish – and in particular, Robertson. Robertson tartan carpet, Robertson coats of arms and an impressive collection of spears, swords and other regalia decorate the floor and walls. There are even
specially commissioned Robertson-themed stained glass windows, to round things off. Tokens of other things Scottish are on show, but be in do doubt: When you walk through the doors you’re in the House of Robertson! It almost feels like going home… The building itself is unusual, both in location and appearance. It’s on a roundabout in otherwise suburban and genteel East Bowral, far from the madding crowds and well off the tourist circuit. You have to be going there to visit, but it’s worth the detour. It also doesn’t look like a pub. Rather, it’s more of a modern bistro-restaurant-thingy-place, and the last thing you’ll find is a tiled bar or outhouse toilets.
Call in on a weekday and you’ll be in time for the Lunch Time Meal Deal for $16.99.
76 | Eats
Down to Business!
It’s a good idea to call ahead as word has been out for a while on our best-kept secret, although it’s not essential. In winter it’s cosy warm indoors, while in summer the recently made-over outdoor area is now known as – wait for it – Scotland Yard Beer Garden! It’s a thoroughly modern facility that’s also perfect on a sunny winter’s day, so year-round you have dining location choices.
he Scottish Arms is open seven days from Noon until 10 pm. However, call in on a weekday and you’ll be in time for the Lunch Time Meal Deal for $16.99 (holidays excluded). That buys you one of a choice of meals from the menu plus a schooner of XXXX Gold, a glass of house red or white, or a soft drink. Unlike many ‘special menus’, the food is always excellent, the portions generous and the The Scottish Arms Hotel scores 4.5 stars from service (usually) lively and friendly. 139 reviews on Trip Advisor, with 49% rating it Excellent and 41% Very Good. It’s well worth Today, Mrs iM had the Honey Mustard Chicken a timely detour, but first a closing note of Salad with roast pumpkin, Danish feta, honey warning: Car parking in the marked spaces is mustard dressing and aioli. I had the Panko at a premium (there’s no room for motorhomes) Crumbed Flathead Fillets with chips, salad, and under no circumstances should you lemon wedge and homemade tartare sauce. occupy any spot marked as belonging to the Other favourites include the 200-gram Grain adjacent Community Centre. If you do the Fed Rump Steak, Guinness Beef Pot Pie, Salt local Revenue Raising Service will gleefully and Pepper Squid, and the Wagu Beer Burger. sting you $106, making lunch somewhat less There are 10 menu choices and each is worth of a bargain. However, you can park cars or a visit! motorhomes on the street quite close by, with
Scottish Arms Lunch Specials
Eats | 77 CREAMY LINGUINE BOSCAIOLA with Mushroom, Bacon, Parmesan and Shallots
BEER BATTERED BARRAMUNDI BURGER with Tartare Sauce, Lettuce & Aioli served with Chips
PERI PERI CHICKEN BURGER
$16.95 MONDAY – FRIDAY MEAL DEALS Includes Complimentary Schooner of XXXX Gold, Glass of House Red or White Wine, or Soft Drink (excludes Public Holidays)
Aioli, Cheese, Lettuce, Coriander & Peri Peri Sauce, served with Chips
GUINNESS BEEF POT PIE served with Straight Cut Chips, Mixed Salad Leaves & Mustard Dressing
200g GRAIN-FED RUMP STEAK served with Straight Cut Chips, Mixed Salad Leaves & Honey Mustard Dressing and choice of Mushroom Sauce, Diane, Peppercorn Sauce or Gravy
WAGYU BEEF BURGER with Cheese. Caramelised Onion, Lettuce, Tomato, Beetroot, Gherkin, Aioli & BBQ Sauce, served with Chips
HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN SALAD with Roast Pumpkin, Danish Feta, Honey Mustard Dressing & AiolI
CHICKEN SCHNITZEL with Chips, Salad & Gravy
PANKO CRUMBED FLATHEAD FILLETS with Chips, Salad, Lemon Wedge & Home-Made Tartare Sauce
SALT AND PEPPER SQUID with Nam Jim, Mesclun Salad, Cucumber, Glass Noodles & Coriander
(ANY CHANGES TO MENU WILL INCUR A COST OF $2)
Rowland Rd the recommended and easiest option. Otherwise, enjoy – and may the spirit of Clan Robertson cause all your lunch bills to be little ones. Och aye!
Fast Facts Scottish Arms Hotel 69 Boardman Rd, Bowral. NSW. 2576. Hours: 12:00-22:00 7 days Bistro: L unch 12:00-14:30. Dinner 17:30-late T: (02) 4861-4333 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: scottisharms.com.au
78 | Travel Events: 32nd Illawarra Folk Festival
RV Friendly Towns T
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
ueensland’s fourth oldest town, Nanango is 190 kilometres north-west of Brisbane. It’s history is evident in the many buildings that still stand, including the Butter Factory and Nanango Court House. The area was established on the timber industry, mainly red cedar. There are plenty of events held there throughout the year, such as the Nanango Country Music Muster, the Nanango Show, Nanango Campdraft and the medieval festival. Tourist/Visitor Information Centre
Casual Parking (near retail centre) Short Term Parking
Dump Point Potable Water
The visitor information centre on Henry Street is a great place to start exploring Nanango. Casual parking is located at Scott car park and the RSL Club car park, both on Henry Street. Short term, no-cost parking for 20 hours can be found at Tipperary Flat on the D’Aguilar Highway. A dump point is also located at Tipperary Flat, while potable water is available at the corner of Brisbane and Drayton Streets.
South Burnett Energy & Information Centre 41 Henry St Ph: 07 4189 9100 www.southburnett.qld.gov.au Scott carpark, Henry St & RSL Club carpark, Henry St Tipperary Flat, D’Aguilar Hwy, 20hrs, pets on lead, m/ coverage, bins, toilets, covered seating, barbecue, water, nil charge Tipperary Flat, D’Aguilar Hwy (Lat: -26.6800 Long: 151.9963) Cnr Brisbane & Drayton St
80 | Travel
Tailem Bend, South Australia
ailem Bend sits on the banks of the mighty Murray River, 99 kilometres east of Adelaide, and was created when the railway came through in 1886. The railway station is a must-see when visiting. The town is full of history and Old Tailem Town is the best place to discover the days gone by, with the oldest building in the pioneer village dating to around 1870. For these and other attractions, visit the Tailem Info Station, located in the main street. While in the region, explore the Murray River and take the opportunity to do a spot of boating and fishing.
Casual parking can be found on Railway Terrace, where potable water can also be accessed. Short term parking is at Tailem Bend Forest and at the Princess and Dukes Highway intersection, for 24 hours at no cost. Parking for up to 72 hours is available at Tailem Bend Oval on Granites Road for a cost of $10 per vehicle per night. The dump point is located on the Princess Highway, close to the town sign with the locomotive.
Tourist/Visitor Information Centre
Tailem Bend Information Station Railway Terrace Ph: 08 8572 4277
Casual Parking (near retail centre)
C/park opp Foodland on Railway Tce and c/park in front of Railway Station Tailem Bend Forest, Princess Hwy, 24hrs, nil charge, bins, mobile coverage, pets on lead, Princess Hwy & Dukes Hwy intersection, 24hrs, nil charge, mobile coverage, pets on lead Tailem Bend Oval (Football Club), Granites Rd 72hrs, $10 pvpn, toilets, bins, water, m/coverage, pets on lead
Short Term Parking
Long Term Parking Dump Point Potable Water
Princess Hwy, close to town sign with locomotive (Lat: -35.2691 Long: 139.4583) Railway Tce, between public toilets & railway station
Travel | 81
owah is a small opal mining town 938 kilometres west of Brisbane and 132 kilometres west of Cunnamulla. The town is known for the Yowah Nut, a type of opal distinctive to the area. Because it’s an opal mining town the population fluctuates between 60 and 250, depending on the season. While in town, try a bit of opal mining at the designated area for recreational fossicking (license required and with hand tools only).
Yowah might be small, but it has all the facilities required to make an RV traveller’s stay enjoyable. Casual parking is at the corner of Bluebonnet Boulevard and Harlequin Drive. Short and long term parking is available at the Yowah Rest Area on Matrix Drive off Gemwood Street, where a donation is welcomed. The dump point and potable water are also situated at the rest area. The Yowah Rural Transaction Centre has a library, café, internet café and all the visitor information you require.
Tourist/Visitor Information Centre
Yowah Rural Transaction Centre 20 Harlequin Dr Ph: 07 4655 7001
Casual Parking (near retail centre)
Cnr Bluebonnet Blvd & Harlequin Dr
Short & Long Term Parking
Yowah Rest Area, Matrix Dr off Gemwood St Neg hrs, pets on lead, m/coverage, showers, bins, toilets, covered seating, barbecue, water, donation welcomed Yowah Rest Area, Matrix Dr off Gemwood St (Lat: -27.9669 Long: 144.6330) Yowah Rest Area, Matrix Dr off Gemwood St
Dump Point Potable Water
82 | Mobile Tech
Helping Hand A Little Technical Assistance Pleaseâ€Ś By Emily Barker
Mobile Tech | 83
e all know that apps can be a valuable source of assistance in many areas of our lives. There are to-do list apps you can speak to, while others speak to us; some are designed to put us to sleep, wake us up, order our groceries or help discover our inner Zen. Fancy stocktaking your freezer, pantry or shed, or perhaps you require a tool to help select the perfect watermelon? No? Well, there’s an app for that if you change your mind. Thanks to the increasing affordability of smart devices the app industry has exploded – big time. It has also never been easier to create apps and yes, there are now apps for that too. This process no longer necessarily requires thousands of dollars and months of work, and there are many platforms available to help build apps on a budget — quickly, and with no knowledge of coding required. Sorting through the results of this generational shift can be a little overwhelming, especially when not all apps are created equal. Some can be downright painful, non-functional or even nonsensical. The following is a brief series of logical and hopefully helpful motoring-focused apps, each with the potential to make life on the road a little less complicated. Name: My Wheels Australia Cost: Free Size: 22.9 MB For: iOS & Android
It’s no secret vehicle theft in Australia has increased dramatically in the last decade. We currently have one of the highest rates of vehicle theft in the world. On average, more than 60,000 cars are reported stolen in Australia each year, with only about a third ever being recovered. These are sobering statistics for any vehicle owner, and while it’s hard to distinguish if RV theft is increasing at the same rate, one can only assume we are all vulnerable.
MyWheels is an app designed and developed by Crime Stoppers SA, in an effort to assist motorists keep their vehicles safe and to streamline the reporting process should anything ever happen. The app caters for any number and type of vehicles, including trucks, bikes, boats, caravans, scooters, trailers or motorhomes. Users securely store details of their vehicles, including photos, license and insurance information for easy retrieval. Reports of theft, serious vandalism or suspicious activity can be made directly to police, and the insurer if required, from within the app. A social media post can also be generated to share with the community.
84 | Mobile Tech
Available for both IOS and Android phones the app is very basic in design and not optimised for the iPad, but it’s a simple concept that doesn’t require frills. It does, however, offer a handy geo-pin parking assistant – simply tell the app you’re parking the vehicle, drop the pin onto the map, run through the safe parking checklist, review any community submitted reviews on the area and Google maps will guide you back if needed. MyWheels is trying very hard to engage the power of social media and the knowledge of its users to combat car theft. Users are asked to review areas to earn Samaritan Points’ and it’s hoped that as word spreads and momentum builds, this online community will grow, unite and strengthen to prevent and respond to automotive crimes.
Name: Convenience Cost: Free Size: 32.6 MB For: iOS & Android
As the name suggests, this app can make things a little more ‘convenient’ if you find yourself needing toilets, baby changing facilities or caravan dump points while travelling throughout Australia. Utilising verified data provided by the Australian Government, Convenience quickly locates public facilities near you. The app is neat, functional and one would imagine, very helpful in a time of potential personal crisis. Use your current location or plan ahead of time by easily searching for locations and points of interest to find nearby facilities, with an estimate of the distance, travel time, hours of operation and a map with the optimal route.
Mobile Tech | 85
There is a premium version available that appears to include even more features, including displaying more facilities at a time, a complete overview map, extended information including images of locations, a facility list filter, caravan and RV dump points, viewing facilities ahead of your route and much more, which may just be worth the $2.99 peace of mind price tag. Name: Caravan Level Remote Cost: Free with Pro Version available Size: 24.9 MB For: iOS & Android
This app, I would like to believe, was designed as a peacemaker. It’s an affordable and logical solution to an often-frustrating dilemma! The app utilises a device’s inbuilt accelerometer to detect positioning and allows the driver of a vehicle to remotely view the level positioning of a towed trailer, caravan or motorhome using two connected devices with the app installed on each. Simply place a device with the app open inside the vehicle or trailer, pair another device via Wi-Fi and remotely view the positioning results. An alert will sound and a red pulse will indicate at which point the
vehicle is low, while when level a green pulse will flash and another alarm will sound. In the free version the alerts are general indicators only, while the pro version offers calculated angles or required distances to level the wheels. Good news too: the audio alarms can be disabled in both. The app offers only a limited number of options, but the basics are covered, such as vehicle type and measurement units. There are a number of similar apps available in the app store – some fancier than others – but all work with the same technology and principals. The 3D imagery concept used appeals to my logical brain as it’s an easy visual to comprehend and apply necessary corrections to. Sourcing quality apps can be a little hit and miss, especially if marketing skills outweigh actual technical performance or vice versa. Reviews are often a good indicator, as is support responsiveness. If in doubt send the creators a message. Apps also take time to refine, while those relying on community support and input might need more time to grow than others. Let us know if you’ve discovered any homegrown gems!
Next Issue | 86
MYSTERY TRIPLE TREAT!
e’ve got a mystery triple treat for you next issue: One Australian and two New Zealand motorhome reviews. Which ones? Can’t say at this stage, you’ll just have to wait and see! We’ll also be back with more technical and travel yarns, some great recipes and more terrific apps. Oh, and Project Polly will stick her nose in again to update you and what she’s been up to. The June issue will be out on Saturday the 2nd. Until then why not join our more than Friends and followers on 32,000 Facebook Twitter , Pinterest and Instagram ?
Queensland Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow
Coffs Harbour 4WDm Caravan & Camping Show
Brisbane Showgrounds 600 Gregory Tce, Bowen Hills. Qld. 4006
Coffs Harbour Racing Club Howard St, Coffs Harbour. NSW. 2540
• Open 9:30-6:00 daily (4:00 Monday 11th) • Parking: Limited paid (take train) • Adults: $10 • Concession: $7.50 • Kids: U16 free with adult
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• • • •
Open 10:00-4:00 daily Adults: $12 Concession: $10 Kids 5-16: $5
Visit Website Click for Google Maps
June 29 - July 16-11
Mildura Great Outdoor Expo Mildura Racecourse Cowra Ave, Mildura. VIC. 3501 • Open 9:30-6:00 daily (4:00 Monday 11th) • Parking: Free • Adults: $15 • Concession: $12.00 • Kids: U16 free with adult
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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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