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iMotorhome

51 : Jul 05 2014

magazine

Issue

because getting there is half the fun...

Pl u s 2' s Company Horizon’s Banksia Plus 2 – fun for you and an extra friend!

Win!

Travel Notebook

Win!

$50 Caltex Fuel Card!

Auto-Sleeper Malvern… A UK import making itself at home in NZ

Paradise Oasis 4WD

Pt 1 of an owner’s off-road adventures…

Heat of the Moment! Diesel V LPG heater guide


WE’VE BROADENED OUR HORIZONS

The Horizon Motorhomes family just got bigger and you’ll love the new additions.

*ELWB

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Now you can choose from eight Horizon models, all passionately built by master craftsmen using only the finest fixtures and fittings.

E

Introducing the BANKSIA +2 with additional seating and a permanent double bed and the CASUARINA, bringing extra space and flexibility to the Fiat Ducato*


About iMotorhome | 3

iMotorhome eMagazine is published twice monthly and available by free subscription from www.imotorhome.com.au. Your letters and contributions are always welcome! Contributors Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Jess Ciampa, Emily Barker, Elizabeth & Helmut Mueller

Published by iMotorhome

Design and Production

PO Box 1738, Bowral. NSW 2576. Australia.

Design Manager

ABN: 34 142 547 719

E: agnes@imotorhome.com.au

Agnes Nielsen

T: +614 14 604 368 E: info@imotorhome.com.au W: www.imotorhome.com.au Editorial

Advertising Advertising Manager Keith Smyth M: 0408 315 288

Publisher/Managing Editor

T: 03 9579 3079

Richard Robertson

E: advertising@imotorhome.com.au

T: 0414 604 368 E: richard@imotorhome.com.au Roadtest Editor Malcolm Street E: malcolm@imotorhome.com.au

Legal All content of iMotorhome eMagazine and website is copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of content, however no responsibility is accepted for any inconvenience and/or loss arising from reading and/or acting upon information contained within iMotorhome eMagazine or the iMotorhome website.


SLIDEOUT ISLAND BED

SPACIOUS LIVING AREA

TRAKKAWAY 800

seeing australia? take a trakka. >> TRAKKA’s new Trakkaway 800 brilliantly combines the luxury of

>> The Mercedes Benz Sprinter 519 provides the Trakkaway 800 with

space inside without frustration of a large motorhome outside.

140 kW and a massive 440 Nm of torque, making performance under all

>> Using every single cubic centimetre enables luxury features to be

conditions effortless, thanks to a seven speed self-shifting gearbox.

fitted in a size of vehicle which in the past would not have been possible.

>> Visit www.trakka.com or call 1800 TRAKKA to find out why Trakka have

>> A ingenious powered sliding section at the rear enables a full double

been voted “Best of the Best” and before you know it,

island bed, with free and easy access from three sides.

you’ll be seeing Australia in your own TRAKKA.

trakkabout australia


On my mind | 5

The Human Excavator Cania Gorge Big 4 Holiday Park owner Peter Rankin must be ruing the day he placed an ad in his local newspaper, railing against the evils of free camping and the irresponsibility of his local council for potentially setting up a stop to cater for them. He’s dug such a deep hole for himself I’d be surprised if he doesn't strike oil. I’d also be surprised if his RV clientele doesn’t all but disappear. You can read about it in this issue’s News section, but this foolish man has created a lot of ill feeling against him and the nearby town of Monto, where a number of businesses signed-up to support his one-man crusade. Cooler heads are prevailing and here’s hoping Monto doesn’t suffer as a result, but as for Mr Rankin, I hope all of you file past!

Tech Talk We’re adding a new regular column to iMotorhome eMagazine: Tech Talk. It’s your opportunity to write in and ask technical questions about issues you’re having with your motorhome or campervan. Sponsored by Paradise Motor Homes and answered by Ben MacLean, Tech Talk brings a new dimension to the magazine that I’m sure will be of great interest to everyone. So, if you have any problems, be they appliances, body work or mechanicals, email them to techtalk@imotorhome.com.au and we’ll see what we can do.

Keywords Search Our Marketplace Directory now has a keyword search facility. So if you’re after motorhome dealers, accessories or even an emergency dental kit, just type it in to see a list of providers, plus a map to show you where they are. The search is very precise, so if you can’t what you’re after first go, try a different spelling. Technology!

General Classifieds Hopefully you’ve known that as a private advertiser you can place a free motorhome or campervan for sale ad in our online classifieds. But did you know you can also sell just about anything, in our free general classifieds section? So no matter what you want to sell why not place an ad there? And although its early days yet, if you’re looking for something other than a motorhome or campervan, be sure to check them out.

iMotorhome App The iMotorhome App is progressing nicely and the initial version is just about ready for submission to Apple iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. Already I’m looking at what we can add to it and even a second version that… it’s best I kept secret for now!

Website Makeover Our website is looking rather tired an dated, so a professional redesign is in progress and a new home page will be the first thing implemented. Far more visually appealing and intuitive to navigate, recent developments in the back-end of the hosting system we use means we’ll also be able to get rid of the endless scroll-down menus when viewed on smartphones and tablets. The first mock-ups are due any day now and, apart from my web guru moving soon to live the rural life in scenic Albury, you should see changes within a few weeks. Like the app, I’ll keep you posted. See you in two weeks!

Richard


6 | Content

3

About us

5

On my Mind

8

User Guide

Who we are, where and other legal stuff

Human Excavator

How to get the best from iMotorhome eMagazine

11 On your Mind

Share your thoughts for the chance to win a $50 Caltex fuel card!

14

News

22

Day Test: Banksia Plus 2

What’s happening in the wider RV world - and beyond

Supper Size Me! – Now you can invite an extra guest for supper or a ride…

Horizon’s Banksia Plus 2 relaxing by the river…

Missed a Test? No problem. Click HERE to view the complete list of tests.


Content | 7

34

Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern

44

Reader Review Templates

45

iMotorhome Marketplace

46

Travel

56

Tech: Heaters

62

What's Cooking?

64

Next Issue & Show Calendar

English Holiday? Another Euro import in NZ’s already crowded marketplace

Review your vehicle, a favourite place or whatever for a chance to win a Travel Notebook

The latest Marketplace offers

Paradise By The Dashboard Lights – an owner’s off-road adventures

Diesel v LPG Heaters – which is best?

Winter warmers for your next campfire night!

What’s coming up and what shows are on soon

Auto-Sleeper’s smart looking Malvern taking time out

Missed an Issue? No problem. Click HERE to view the complete list of back issues.


8 | User Guide

How to get the best from iMotorhome eMagazine Note: This magazine is designed to deliver the best reading experience on an Apple iPad.

General This magazine is published in the Portable Document Format (PDF). This means that once downloaded it is a self-contained document that can be stored on your smartphone, tablet device, e-reader, laptop or desktop computer and read off-line at your convenience. PDFs are clever things that allow a degree of interactivity not possible with a conventional magazine. For example: The front cover and contents pages feature links in their headings that will take you directly to the relevant articles in the magazine. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer you will see the mouse cursor change to a small hand with a pointing finger, which signifies you can click on the link below it All advertisements are ‘live’ and linked to the advertisers’ websites. This means if you touch one (smartphone/tablet) or click on one (laptop/ desktop) you will be taken to the appropriate website automatically if you are connected to the Internet. If you are not connected to the Internet you will be asked if you want to connect, to complete the action Text that is highlighted and/or underlined in blue is also a ‘live’ link that will either take you to the webpage or website of the topic being discussed, or open an email (if appropriate).

iPad and iPhone Users Important: Be sure you have the free iBooks app installed. Books displays a full page at a time and allows you to read the magazine by swiping the pages sideways, just like turning the pages in a printed magazine. iBooks also has a Library function that displays a small thumbnail of the front cover of each issue. You can even create Collections so that you can store each year’s issues separately or by vehicle brand tested, or however you desire.

Using iBooks On downloading each issue of iMotorhome eMagazine on your iPad or iPhone you’ll briefly see a message at the very top of the front cover that says “Open in iBooks.” If you miss it, don’t worry. Just tap the space immediately above the iMotorhome title and it will reappear for a few seconds. When it does, tap it and your issue will be moved to iBooks and reopen. You need to do this with each issue you download. Once open in iBooks you’ll see a number of icons across the very top of the page and a strip of tiny page thumbnails across the very bottom. To get rid of them simply tap the page anywhere there isn't text (touching text will take you to the relevant article). To make the icons reappear just tap anywhere on the page again. To read your copy of iMotorhome eMagazine, swipe the page from right to left. Reverse this to go back a page. To go to the front cover at any time just tap on the page your on and then touch the tiny page icon at the far left, along the very bottom. To leave the issue you’re reading and go back to your Library, tap the page and then touch Library in the top lefthand corner.


User Guide | 9

How to get the best from iMotorhome eMagazine Laptop/Desktop Computer Users The software that allows you to view a PDF document – Acrobat Reader – has a number of controls at the top of the page. Chief amongst these are two square buttons in the centre; one showing a page with an arrow across it and the other showing a page with arrows across and top-to-bottom. Press these and you can view the page at the full width of your screen, or the whole page fitted to you screen, respectively. For further help or information email info@imotorhome.com.au.


Relax in Paradise

Australia’s Best Quality Motorhomes • Outstanding value for

money, competitively priced from $158,000.

• Unrivalled Safety including

rollover protection, auto-locking cabinetry and superior appliance mounting systems.

• Industry’s longest & most

comprehensive motorhome warranty.

• Built for Australian conditions. • Models available with or without slide-outs. • Superior finish with stylish new contoured exterior. • Patented moulded bins for maximum storage capacity. • Outstanding road handling & ride comfort. • Genuine island queen beds and huge wardrobes. • Spacious rear ensuites with separate toilet & shower. • Market leading layouts & lifestyle features. • Full living area slide-outs providing superior living space. • Proven reliability of Paradise’s patented slide-outs.

Enjoy the prestige of owning Australia’s best quality motorhome Paradise Motor Homes

www.paradisemotorhomes.com.au

245 Brisbane Road, Biggera Waters, Queensland, 4216

ph (07) 5597 4400 - email info@paradisemotorhomes.com.au Paradise Motor Homes products are protected by registered designs, patents and copyrights ™ © 2013


On your mind | 11

It’s only fitting that since Ed has his say in On My Mind, you should be able to have yours too. If you have anything to say – or ask – just drop a line to letters@imotorhome. com.au and we’ll share it with

our readers. We’ll also reward the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with a $50 Caltex fuel card to help you on your way.

Bright Idea! Hi Here’s a tip I found on the Internet which really helps when we go free camping. Our old motorhome has pretty inefficient inside lights and they drain a lot of juice. Also, they are often way too bright when all we want is some “mood” lighting at night. So here’s what we do. We fill a big plastic milk container or a big spring water container with water, then strap an LED head lamp, like a miners lamp, to it. It gives off soft, glowing light and saves the poor old motorhome batteries! Cheers, Pete. Pardon the pun but it sounds like a brilliant idea, Pete! I reckon it’s worth a $50 Caltex cash card as a reward too, so you can buy more batteries for your head lamp. Enjoy!

A Day in History

1865 – The Salvation Army is founded in the East End of London, England. 1946 – The Bikini swimsuit (a daring 2 piece swimming costume for ladies) was introduced by French designer Louis Reard at a popular swimming pool in Paris. 1996 – The first cloning of an animal by scientists was revealed by the Roslin Institute in Scotland when DOLLY THE SHEEP was cloned from tissue taken from a 6 year old ewe's udder.


12 | On your mind

Cor Blimey…

G’day Richard, I just downloaded the latest edition of iMotorhome and nearly choked on my cashew nuts and tomato juice when I saw, to my horror, the front cover of the magazine, happily in fresh colours displaying the expression "Esprit de Cor" (and repeated on page 22). This was clearly an attempt to test us, uneducated readers, by someone who had heard of a well-known French expression, and was encouraged by the word "Esprit", which is indeed French. To my knowledge (but I haven't been back to France for nearly 35 years) there is no such expression in French. The correct expression reads as "Esprit de corps", which sounds as "Esprit de cor", because in French the "ps" is, in this case, silent.

Sorry to cause you such gastronomic ructions, but the Cor in the title is intended as in Cor Blimey – because the vehicle is highly desirable – and nothing to do with the French expression (except perhaps to see how many people would write in to correct me). Think of it as an interesting adaptation of the old French and the modern derivative of gorblimey (or gawblimey), a euphemistic contraction derived from “God, blind me,” used when someone saw something forbidden/attractive/highly desirable (which had its first recorded use in Victorian times). Congratulations on being the first to point out my ‘error,’ I’m sure you won’t be the last! Glad you enjoyed our US adventures – we certainly did – and watch out for the planned special issue, probably in August.

I enjoyed your U.S.A. adventures! Best regards, Hans.

Old Timers in Question?

Hi, old timers has set in and I can't find the edition, but a while back, maybe 3-4 issues, you published questions by Grace Smith and myself that you would ask of Ms Grey from the CCIA of NSW, whom you were meeting in Sydney at the Show a few days later. I am unaware of a published report of such meeting and the answers you may have been given. I would appreciate your comments and/or advise where the Issue/site which I may find the info. Keep up the good work Kind regards, Mitch.

G’day Mitch. No old timers, my plans to talk to Ms Grey were derailed by having to go to the USA a day earlier than planned and I haven’t rescheduled to follow it up. Thanks for the reminder, I’ll see what I can do find out.


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14 | News

Butcher Required

B

urnett Butchery at Eidsvold, Qld, is on the lookout for a qualified butcher to help manage the shop while its head butcher goes on maternity leave. “This could be a great opportunity for any of you 'ex-butchers' on the road who have a passion for the industry to spend a few months in our beautiful little RV Friendly town of Eidsvold and pass on some of your experience and knowledge to our very new team. Of course free camping and premium quality meat would be part of the deal,” the business said. “Dates are pretty flexible as we could take

someone ASAP to help us out while our butcher is still working. Bub is due in December, no set date for leave as yet. We could take someone for a few months and then someone new if itchy feet became a problem. It is a bit of an experiment, we just think that there is a lot of talent, wisdom and experience out there on the road that we could tap into for a win-win experience. If things worked out the way I imagine it, we could continue to employ this way for the long term.” If you’re interested contact burnettbutchery@gmail.com.

NSW Rest Areas

I

n a post on its website the Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) said it had recently received the following email from the (NSW) Roads and Maritime Services, responding to motorists using rest areas as overnight camping areas: "Driver fatigue is one of the three main killers on NSW roads and can be as dangerous as speeding or drink driving. Roads and Maritime is committed to providing rest areas along key routes in NSW to allow motorists to take appropriate breaks and to avoid fatigue. All motorists recognising the signs of fatigue are encouraged to plan their journey.” “The maximum permissible stay in a rest area is not specified as motorists’ needs are different, with varying levels of fatigue, at varying times of night and day. Some may need to stop for a few hours until they are ready to continue their journey safely.” “Rest areas are not designed to be camping grounds or caravan parks. Using rest areas for multiple overnight stays as part of a planned

itinerary is not in keeping with their intended purpose and reduces the availability of space for motorists needing a break before continuing on their journey. Those needing facilities for an extended stay are encouraged to look for camping areas or caravan parks in towns along the way.” “Roads and Maritime is currently working to enhance the network of state-wide rest areas, including improved signage, provision of coffee and refreshments and improved facilities. We are also working to ensure heavy vehicle drivers are catered for with designated heavy vehicle rest areas available for them.” “In peak periods especially, holiday makers are encouraged to use rest areas designated for light and recreational vehicles. Note that individual local councils not Roads and Maritime monitor and enforce restrictions related to the duration of stay in a road side rest area. To help motorists plan their trip, Roads and Maritime has a Rest Area interactive map available at www.rms.nsw. gov.au/usingroads/restareas/”


16 | News

Free Camping Furore

M

onto, a small town between Bundaberg and Gladstone in Queensland’s Burnett Region, has been at the centre of a free camping furore. It was created when the owner of the Big 4 caravan park at nearby Cania Gorge took out a full page newspaper advertisement railing against Council plans to open a free camping site in town. The ad – on Big 4 letterhead and with signed support from a range of local businesses – cited the usual misinformation about free campers contributing nothing and staying at local rate payers’ expense. It went on to say that many CMCA member “drive rigs worth far more than an average country home” and Council should stick to the business of “managing, roads, sewerage and rubbish” and “leave the business sector to do what they do best.” The advertisement elicited an immediate and wide-ranging series of responses from organisations like the CMCA as well as a deluge of social media commentary, while the local Central and North Burnett Times newspaper was reportedly inundated with comments – including one from iMotorhome. While there has been much publicity regarding the actual advertisement, it’s worth noting a couple of responses from those involved. Firstly, Free Choice Camping’s Lorraine Smith got in touch with Big 4’s media person who included in their response, “We appreciate that people want all sorts of options in regard to their enjoyment of the great outdoors – and that they have the right to choose options that suit them.” As Free Choice Camping’s Arthur Bugden pointed out, “This is the first time a major caravan park chain has acknowledged the right to Freedom of Choice in writing.”

Secondly, the following Facebook post was made by local Monto businessman John MacElroy. “Please do not blame some of the businesses that signed the letter as they were virtually black mailed into signing it. For the last year I have been trying to get free camping at the bottom of the main street in the railway grounds, there are two entry points one at the bottom end of the main street and the other off Mill road onto mowed grass land and pretty level. I am told that the Council is very much in favour of free or minimum charge camping. There is a posting on WikiCamps. The town of Monto is a lovely town with very friendly people and top businesses. Every thing that you need to stock up on is available here in town. As a traveller and a business person in Monto I would like to think that the town would not be Black listed because of some one like Peter Rankin at the Big 4 at Cania. Come and see us at the News Agency and say g'day EVERYONE IS WELCOME IN MONTO” Arthur went on to say, “We congratulate the town and the Council on their freedom of choice stance and encourage our readers not to threaten reprisals because of the actions of one man. It is time to build bridges and we will all be better off for it, go Monto!” To read more visit the Monto Magic Tourism Action Group Facebook page and/or Free Choice Camping’s website or Facebook page.


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18 | News

Avida Factory Rebates by participating Avida dealers will attract a fantastic price reduction thanks to the Factory Rebate on offer.

T

o help celebrate its upcoming 50th anniversary, Avida Motorhomes is offering rebates of up to $6000.

“We have decided that given Avida is about to turn 50, the celebrations should begin and the time is right now to inject a very good reason for considering one of our motorhomes,” said Mr Mayo, Avida’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “A factory rebate of between $4500 and $6000 can buy a whole lot of fuel and enjoyment for that journey of a lifetime.” he added. To find out more call 1300 4 AVIDA (1300 4 28432) or visit www.avidarv.com.au.

Any eligible new Avida motorhome contracted for sale from 1 July until September 30, 2014

The Wirraway 260 SL

With it’s Full Length Slideout Room & Apartment Styled Layout !

From WIRRAWAY, “Australia’s Most Innovative Motorhomes” Wirraway is a dedicated family owned business striving for Motorhome excellence. Our Motorhomes are our passion! Every Wirraway Motorhome is handbuilt and designed by experienced motorhomers who know the importance of making life easier on the road. New to our Range is the brilliant ‘live like a movie star’ Wirraway 260 SL, the latest in our 260 series; our EuroStyle 260 with it’s European styled interior and “The Motorhome of the Year”, the Wirraway 260. Wirraway Motorhomes feature opulence, style and all the legendary design, electrical and construction innovations that are unique to all Wirraways.

Each Wirraway Model is unique! - All are a Must See!

View Our New Website to view All Models, Download Brochures &Virtual RealityTours For details contact: Rob Tonkin - Wirraway Motorhomes, 6 Hynes Court, Mildura Vic 3500

Phone / Fax: (03) 50 230 230 - New Email: info@wirraway.com.au & New Website: www.wirraway.com.au On The Road Wirraway 260SL Slideout Motorhome - 2012 © Rex Willmer


News | 19

Marketplace Directory Grows

T

he iMotorhome website Marketplace Directory is growing. It’s designed to link you with businesses that can help, no matter what you’re looking for. We’d like to welcome the following companies and hope you’ll consider them if and when you’re in need of their specialised services: Amp-Fibian™ Most motorhomers know – and every motorhomer should know - that connecting a motorhome to the 240v power in a house is not as simple as plugging in an extension lead. The plugs and sockets are made deliberately incompatible to stop people plugging a 15amp system into a 10amp system, thus causing damage to the power circuit. Amp-Fibian™, which is now featured in the Accessories - Product category and the Accessories - Outside the Motorhome category of our

Marketplace, has the problem solved – easily, safely and legally – with an Amp-Fibian™ adapter. Airbag Man Designing and manufacturing air suspension kits for many years, Airbag Man kits provide extra support for suspensions in light motorhomes, trucks, vans, utes, 4WDs and SUVs. Kits are easy to install and enable vehicles to 'level up' when carrying heavy, uneven loads, as well as when towing. Airbag Man is an Australian owned company established in 1995 that has led the way in the design and manufacture of air bags and air suspension systems to suit hundreds of vehicle types and is the leading supplier of Firestone and Dunlop airbags. We supply the widest range of airbag products in component or out-of-the-box kit form to provide simple, safe, effective and cost-efficient solutions. Continues...

TRUCK CAMPERS

FIFTH WHEELERS

FUNCTIONAL SPACES

MODERN INTERIORS

SLIDE ON CAMPERS

ALL CUSTOM BUILT

OFF ROAD MODELS

Buy Factory Direct and SAVE


20 | News ...Continued

Marketplace Directory Grows Australian Bus and Coach Sales

Islander Campers by Penguin Composites

Australian Bus and Coach Sales has joined us in the Bus and Van Conversions category of our Marketplace. They offer motorhomes – buses, coaches and a stock list. Planning to convert a bus or a coach? Australian Bus and Coach Sales maintain a comprehensive stock list for your perusal.

Tasmania has long been famous for the manufacture of quality motorhomes, campervans, slide-on campers and Fifth Wheelers, a retail shop for all your RV bits and pieces as well as a complete RV repair centre -and a great holiday destination. Now it is becoming famous for apples! Penguin Composites, which bought the Islander Motor Camper Conversions business in 2009, is now featured in the Slide-on category of our Marketplace.

B.E.S.T. Water Filters Have you got the travel bug – the ones in your water tank? Colin Hopgood of B.E.S.T. Water Filters, who has joined us in the Water Filters category of our Marketplace, says they “have the only Australian made water filter designed specifically for the RV market. It is the only unit which kills bacteria rather than merely traps it”. Colin also says, “Motorhome water tanks are installed very close to bitumen roads which can heat the tank water during summer months – and provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria”. Dentist In a Box You have found a beautiful, isolated spot to stop for a few days and start nibbling some nuts at Happy Hour. Disaster strikes – a filling falls out of one of your teeth! What to do? Grab the first aid kit? Bandaids won’t help! Your partner smiles a knowing smile and produces the Dentist In A Box, a kit specially developed by a dentist for those with no dental skills. You could say it’s an amalgam of invaluable items all in one small, affordable box!

Spectrum RV Spectrum RV has hundreds of new fifth wheelers from the USA on its website. Tell them your requirements and they’ll find the unit to suit. Importantly, conversions exceed Australia-wide requirements. Spectrum RV imports all makes and models, featuring 1 to 5 slide-outs and 26 to 41ft ultra luxury models. Bunk models and Toy-haulers are available too! Pricing and options available online.


News | 21

Did you know? Google Fun Facts There are various hidden jokes and little time wasters in almost every Google web service, product or new device. Here are some hidden gems users have documented over the years – they are called Easter Eggs! • If you search "What is the answer to life the universe and everything" in Google it will come up with the answer 42, which was made famous in the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Interestingly, 42 is the sum of all numbers on a pair of dice, implying life is just a just a roll of the dice! • If you search 'askew' or 'tilt' in Google the screen will tilt • Search for “Google In 1998” and the search results will appear in the style of a website from 1998, when the company was founded • Type "blink HTML" into Google and the resulting page will feature blinking text • Type “do a barrel roll” into the search bar and Google dutifully obeys. Please note some tricks work only on some browsers. E.g. Barrel roll worked fine in Firefox or Chrome but did not work in Safari.

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Supper Size Me!

22 | Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2

With its extra dinette seat you can invite another person for supper, breakfast or a ride‌ Review and images by Malcolm Street


Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2 | 23

A trademark feature of Horizon’s van conversions is windows all ‘round – including the rear doors. It not only looks good it provides maximum airflow, which you’ll appreciate when trying to sleep on hot summer nights.

O

ne of the advantages of a large van conversion is it offers the convenience of a motorhome in a vehicle still quite easy to manoeuvre around town. Horizon Motorhomes builds an interesting range of vehicles, all of which are large van conversions. Some are designed for just two, but others – like the Banksia Plus 2 – offers sleeping for two but seating and travel versatility for four.

The Vehicle

C

urrently for its van conversions, Horizon use either the Fiat Ducato or Mercedes Benz Sprinter. In the case of the Banksia Plus 2 it's Ducato’s extra long wheelbase (ELWB) model, which at 6.36 m (20 ft 10 in) long is well suited to motorhome use. Clues around the van that this is a motorhome conversion include the roof mounted Fiamma


24 | Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2 This new sliding window eliminates the chance of breaking the push-out unit it replaces, when sliding the door open without thinking (as I’ve done twice – Ed). It matches the size and style of the other windows and therefore doesn’t affect the Banksia Plus 2’s appearance.

awning, hot water heater flue, gas cylinder bin, cassette toilet door and, of course, the windows. A feature of Horizon motorhomes is plenty of outward opening windows, including in the rear doors. But one window that has caused a bit of an issue is the one directly to the rear of the sliding door. Personally I like the window there, but it's always had potential for conflict with the sliding door if you’re not careful – just ask our illustrious Editor! Fortunately, Horizon has come up with a solution and persuaded Dometic to import a sliding window that matches the shape and style of the others. Nice! And proof you can sometimes have your cake and eat it. Another Horizon option that comes highly recommended is the set of insect screens for both side and rear doors. Easily rolled up when not needed, they’re fitted with zippers and work a treat. Being a van conversion there aren't any external storage bins, but there is very nice storage area underneath

the bed, easily accessed by opening the rear doors. There's also an internal door that provides access and it’s surpassingly handy. For wet items, like hoses, I'd certainly be recommending a plastic bin or two in the rear under-bed area.

On the Road

M

uch to my liking the Banksia is fitted with the most powerful Ducato engine, the 3.0-litre unit that produces 132 kW and 400 Nm. I'm not a lead foot – well not often – but that 132 KW engine, in tandem with Fiat's 6-speed AMT gearbox, means

easy cruising and the capability of maintaining posted speed limits without drama. On that note, I understand an upgraded Fiat Ducato is on its way to Australia and one of the things Fiat has done is beef up the 2.3 litre engine to put out 130 kW and 400 Nm, similar to the current 3.0 litre unit. I wonder if this means the 3.0-litre unit’s days are numbered? General road noise intrusion isn't bad and most squeaks and rattles are usually packing related and easily resolved with a towel or cushion in the right place. For driver/ passenger comfort one of the


Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2 | 25

I’ve always thought of the

Fiat Ducato as the sports car of the motorhome world. options fitted to this Banksia Plus 2 were fabric inserts in the seats, matching the seat at the dinette. In the safety department a dash mounted reversing camera is standard. And unlike some full imports that use the Ducato as a base vehicle, local Ducatos like this come with a Tomtom SatNav as standard.

The Ducato’s cab is the best looking and most car like of all light commercial vehicles. Note the side window frames, which house after-market privacy screens. Highly effective at night, they do restrict vision a little by making the windscreen pillars thicker.

Given its size and relatively good visibility down both sides, the Banksia Plus 2 is a snack to reverse and manoeuvre around in caravan parks, car parks and the like. Although they really make a difference when in use at night, the blinds fitted to the cab side windows do tend to increase the impression of an already thick windscreen pillar.

Also worth a mention are the passenger/dinette seats. I've seen, or should I say felt, some square-backed seats that come under the category of emergency transport only, but these have definitely been fitted with passenger comfort in mind. Good to see!


26 | Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2 Banksia Plus 2 gets automotivestyle seating, which makes the dinette about the most comfortable available. Matching upholstery is a nice touch, too. The mirrored bathroom boor (below) is surprisingly effective at making the galley area feel more spacious.

Living inside

C

limbing into the Banksia Plus 2 is quite easy: Open the sliding door, press the electric step switch and you’re in. From the cab, of course, it's just a matter of swivelling the seats around. Making full use of the swivelling cab seats, the overall layout consists of a front lounge/dining area, mid-nearside kitchen, midoffside bathroom and an east west bed at the rear. Given its dimensional constraints the interior of the Banksia Plus 2 gives a surprisingly good feeling of spaciousness. I mention that because I recently looked over a van conversion of European origin and although it featured what the Europeans are very good at – use of space – it somehow missed the mark on any feeling of spaciousness.


Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2 | 27

Highly recommended is the (optional) set of insect screens. Easily rolled up when not needed, they’re fitted with zippers and work a treat.


28 | Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2

The dining set-up is compact but comfortable. The seats have integrated three-point seat belts that retract out of the way, while the adjustable/removable table is a good size. Optional Sirocco 12 volt fan is expensive, but multiadjustable and well worth having.

General internal storage is very good, I have to say. Apart from the more obvious overhead lockers and kitchen facilities, there's some wardrobe space fitted in between the bed and bathroom.

Lounging around

A

s mentioned above the lounge/ dinette seats are all fitted out for driving, but that doesn't mean they’re

uncomfortable after hours. Quite the opposite. And the adjustable table fits in quite well. Wall mounted under the table are 240 and 12 volt outlets, along with two 5 volt USB charger outlets. A tad awkward to get at with the table in position, the good news is they’re not particularly vulnerable to being bumped by legs. In the airspace above both the driver's seat and the table, an open shelf and lockers


Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2 | 29 provide a generous amount of storage space. Down below, three drawers are fitted underneath the false floor and a floor locker door gives access to the underseat area – which is much better than fiddling with plywood hatches under seat cushions.

Time to eat

G

iven the size of everything else in this motorhome, the kitchen bench offers a surprising amount of, well, everything! A stainless steel combo unit provides three burner gas cooking and a washing-up bowl. Not having a drainer in the latter does allow decent bench space on both Kitchen bench space is expansive, especially compared to Euro van conversions. There are also six good-sized drawers, while a filtered drinking water tap is standard equipment. Note under-bed doors that access rear boot.

sides, plus there’s a hinged flap that swings into the doorway area for extra bench space if required. Taking up the underbench area are both a 110-litre Waeco fridge and a Panasonic microwave, but that still leaves room for an amazing six drawers of various sizes. Much easier to get at in a confined space than cupboards.

After hours

T

he limitation on an east-west bed in a van conversion is naturally the width of the van. Still, this one does measure in at a respectable 1.89 m x 1.34 m (6 ft 2 in x 4 ft 3 in), which isn't bad at all. Windows all


30 | Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2 round do much for light, fresh air and space perception, while to improve air flow an anywhich-way adjustable Sirocco 12 V fan has been fitted. Although not cheap they certainly work well and include a number of timer settings. Twin reading lights are fitted on both sides and overhead lockers are fitted all round.

Keeping Clean

T

here aren't classifications for bathrooms but if there were, then this one would fit into the category of just-enoughroom-to-fit-everything-in-without-swinging-a-

The east-west bed is 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in) long and will comfortably accommodate all but the tallest people. Overhead storage is excellent, as is natural light and ventilation.

cat. That is, enough room for a flexible hose shower, Dometic cassette toilet and a small wash basin – all of which can be used without too much difficultly.


Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2 | 31 Although compact, the bathroom has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Its dimensions are designed to maximise vehicle living space.

What I think

H

orizon is one of the few manufacturers in Australia that specialise in large van conversions – and it shows. They have a variety of layouts available on different base vehicles, which means there’s probably something for everyone. I reckon a manufacture doesn't have to show flash new models every year, but certainly has to continuously evolve and improve its designs. That's exactly what the Banksia Plus 2 demonstrates. It offers a good use of space and a practical design that can comfortably sleep two, but equally comfortably transport two more with ease.

If there were classifications for bathrooms this one would fit the category of just-enough-room-to-fit-everything-in-without-swinging-a-cat.


32 | Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2

Specifications Manufacturer

Horizon Motor Homes

Model

Banksia

Base Vehicle

Fiat Ducato 180 Multijet ELWB

Engine

3.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel

Power

132 kW @ 3500 rpm

Torque

400 Nm @ 1400 rpm

Gearbox

Six speed AMT

Brakes

ABS Disc

Tare Weight

2933 kg

Gross Vehicle Mass

4005 kg

Towing Capacity

2500 kg

Licence

Car

Approved Seating

4

External Length

6.36 m (20 ft 10 in)

External Width

2.05 m (6 ft 9 in)

External Height

2.63 m (8 ft 8 in)

External Height with AC

2.75 m (9 ft)

Internal Height

1.9 m (6 ft 3 in)

Rear Bed Size

1.89 x 1.34 m (6 ft 2 in x 4 ft 3 in)

Cooktop

Dometic 3 burner

Fridge

Waeco 12 V 110-litre

Microwave

Panasonic

Lighting

12 V LED

Batteries

1 x 200 AH

Gas

2 x 4.0 kg

Heater

Optional

Solar Panels

Optional

Air Conditioner

Optional

Hot Water Heater

Truma gas/electric 14-litre

Toilet

Dometic SOG cassette

Shower

Flexible hose, variable height

Fresh Water Tank

150-litre

Grey Water Tank

55-litre

Price as tested (on road NSW)

$119,168.95

• • • • • • •

Pros

Well proportioned design Light and bright interior Comfortable seats all round Screened doors Easy to grab cupboard handles Sliding window behind door Excellent load capacity

Cons

• Fiddly power socket location under table • Handing the keys back!

Contact

Click for Google Maps

Ballina Campervan & Motorhome Centre 299 River Street, Cnr Tweed Street Ballina NSW 2478, Australia T: (02) 6681 1555 E: info@horizonmotorhomes.com.au W: www.horizonmotorhomes.com.au

For more iMotorhome Road Tests click here


Day Test: Horizon Banksia Plus 2 | 33

Horizon is one of the few manufacturers in Australia that specialises in large van conversions – and it shows.


34 | Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern

English Holiday!

Auto-Sleeper’s Malvern is an English motorhome that’s a fine holiday destination in its own right… Story and Images by Malcolm Street


Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern | 35

With a distinctly Euro look and quite compact dimensions the Auto-Sleeper Malvern seems ideally suited to life on New Zealand’s highways and byways

U

ndoubtedly one of the challenges for New Zealand motorhome manufacturers is that of imported motorhomes. Mostly from Britain, continental Europe and to a lesser degree the USA, the sheer weight of numbers of what are in many cases quite attractive motorhomes threatens to be overwhelming. Well known NZ manufacturer Traillite has taken an interesting approach to dealing with the matter, summed up by the phrase, "If you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Well almost. What the company has done is add a range of Auto-Sleeper motorhomes from Britain to its existing line up. The idea being that the Auto-Sleepers will complement the company's locally manufactured motorhomes and result in a substantial range of product with something for every taste and budget.


36 | Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern

Faux-wood console surround provides relief from the Benz’s Teutonically efficient but grey dashboard. Auto-Sleeper is a well known manufacturer in Britain and has been around in New Zealand for quite a few years. Unusually, Auto-Sleeper is a private company, not part of a much larger group as quite a few well known Euro names are.

The Vehicle

T

he Malvern rides on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter 516 CDI chassis, with a 120 kW/360 Nm 2.2 litre turbo-diesel driving through Benz's super-smooth seven speed auto gearbox. Unusually, this Sprinter chassis is rated with a GVM of 3880 kg rather than the usual 4490 kg, but a tare weight of 3362 kg leaves a load capacity of just over 500 kg. Many Euro motorhomes have a distinctive look and the GRP (fibreglass) mouldings

The British Auto-Sleeper range will complement Traillite’s locally manufactured motorhomes, providing something for every taste and budget.


Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern | 37

The huge SkyView hatch ensures the Malvern’s interior is light and airy. It can also be left partially open whilst driving. and composite walls of the Malvern are no exception. Undoubtedly one of the features that catches the eye is the big SkyView hatch above the driver's cab. Another that is far less obtrusive is the low profile Thule Omnistor awning mounted on the roof rather than the wall.

weren't any surprises. Certainly, given the low tare weight the 120 kW engine moves the Malvern along very nicely. Most of the necessary Benz fitted driver comforts and safety features are readily available, including the rather basic standard radio. An additional feature is the internal mirror fitted with a reversing camera display. On the road, interior For storage, given the somewhat low profile of squeaks and rattles were minimal and normal the body, apart from the offside gas bin there is conversation could be maintained without one bin low down, behind the passenger door, trouble. and another at the rear nearside that gives access to the under bed area. Living Inside

On the Road

T

o give the Malvern a test run I opted for a drive beside the Waikato River, which gives a good selection of road conditions, and being a Mercedes Benz there

W

ith the Malvern, Auto-Sleeper has made good use of the front cab area with its swivelling seats and they spin easily to mesh well with the sideways facing lounges. That leaves the entire mid area around the entry door for the kitchen area


38 | Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern

Inwards-facing lounges and a removable dining table provide an open and inviting living area. There’s also good storage room, while thoughtful design touches abound.

and the rear for an offside bathroom and nearside bed. DĂŠcor is very much in the faux timber style, with nicely curved cabinets. On the construction front, all the doors are fitted with piano hinges, the drawers have metal runners and the handles are easy to use, even with arthritic fingers. There's no problem with natural light, thanks to a generous window area and three roof hatches, including the front SkyView. Given the number of ceiling, under locker, concealed strip and reading fittings, the electric light level provides plenty of illumination at all levels. Some manufacturers seem to have some odd ideas on switch location, mostly to do with fitting convenience rather than the end user, but Auto-Sleeper is not in


Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern | 39

Although the upholstery won’t appeal to everyone there’s no denying how open and liveable the front of the Malvern is. Euro-style entry door is good, but lacks any flyscreen provision. that category. Most essential switches (and battery control panel) are located above and around the doorway, which is convenient when entering or leaving. Additionally, the TV is fitted on the side of the fridge cabinet, so it’s not in the way when stowed and easily seen from the front seats when swung out.

Lounging Around

O

ne often-overlooked benefit of a swivel seat/sideways lounge setup is it’s comfortable and spacious, and looks good when stepping into the motorhome. Interesting to those who study such things is the angled back style of the overhead lockers, which reduces the crowding-in effect whilst offering good storage.


40 | Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern When dining time comes around the Malvern’s free standing table is hidden under the rear bed and has to be lifted out and set up each time. Although a swivelling table is more convenient (especially when using a proper mount not just a single pole), the downside is it can be in the way. In the end it comes down to preference, but if the front bed is used on a regular basis a swivel or pole mounted table is more fiddly than a free standing one. The two lounges convert to a bed simply by pulling out the timber slatted bed bases and rearranging the seat backs. Under the lounges the nearside area is quite empty except for a small security safe, whilst the offside is mostly taken up by the gas cylinder bin and 230 V circuit breaker/12 V fuse box. Adjoining the latter are a 230 V power point and 5 V USB charger outlet. I'll give Auto-Sleeper 5 of 5 for fitting them, but 3 out of 5 for location. However, I did like the fact the extended seat partition also acts as a barrier to prevent plugs accidentally being knocked out.

The compact split kitchen has decent storage space, while cooks will welcome the full oven and grill. Large fridge is a welcome inclusion, but microwave might be set a bit high for some.


Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern | 41

Front lounges easily make up into a second bed, but the Malvern is really meant for two.

Time to Eat

After Hours

itted out mostly as you would expect, the kitchen comes with a smoked glass lidded stainless steel sink (without drainer) and a four-burner hob with grill and separate oven. Across the walkway are a 2-door 190-litre fridge and Daewoo microwave. Bench top area is minimal, but can be extended by a handy hinged flap. There are only two drawers, one being for cutlery, but also a couple of good sized cupboards. Above the kitchen bench are two lockers, one fitted with wine glass and bottle holders -– glasses included – although the wine bottles are not!

lthough the front seats can be made up into a bed, the main bed is at the rear. Measuring 1.98 m x 1.37 m (6 ft 5 in x 4 ft 6 in), it's decent sized even if it is tucked in the corner. On the subject of beds, it's curious that far too many RV manufacturers on both sides of the Tasman don't seem to appreciate that a bed length of more than 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in ) is almost mandatory these days.

F

Adjoining the kitchen bench towards the rear is a large cabinet, more orientated to clothing than food, with a substantial hanging area above and a shelved area below.

A

Fitted above the bed head are two lockers and although bedside shelves are a bit tricky with this sort of bed design, the simple but effective magazine/reading glasses holders on both sides of this design are a welcome inclusion. One of the problems with fitting shelving around a bed is associated with a fully hinged bed base. In this case it’s solved by splitting the bed base and hinging it at the rear, making it lighter to lift and giving better access. Under the bed there's not a great deal of storage as the Truma Combi heater takes up most of


42 | Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern the front, leaving just the rear, which is also externally accessible.

Keeping Clean

F

itted into the rear corner and surprisingly more spacious than it appears is the bathroom. It comes with a separate shower cubicle, swivelling Thetford cassette toilet and vanity cabinet with a contemporary pedestal wash basin. I did like the space saving roller shutter door used on the vanity cupboard, too. Another interesting feature were the two wall mirrors – a simple but effective aid to space perception, but practical at the same time. Ventilation is courtesy of the large (frosted) window as there isn't a vent hatch. In many ways this is a good sized bathroom which, despite being compact, doesn’t suck space from the living area.

What I Think

L

ike many of its British/European contemporaries the Auto-Sleeper Malvern is a pleasantly deceptive motorhome and the layout is surprisingly liveable. Sure there are some who are not going to like the corner bed, but it's well sized, as is the rest of the motorhome. I say it's a bit deceptive because there are a multitude of features that are small but add greatly to overall comfort. Items like wine glass holders with glasses; plate rack in an overhead locker; portable cooler with plates and cups; paper towel holder in kitchen cupboard; towel rail in the bathroom and the bedside pouches all make a difference. In short the Malvern, like the Cotswolds area of Britain it takes its name from, is going to make for a happy and memorable travel experience!

Rear corner bathroom is quite spacious and well equipped and includes a separate shower cubicle.


Day Test: Auto-Sleeper Malvern | 43

Specifications Manufacturer

Auto-Sleeper

Model

Malvern

Base Vehicle

Mercedes Benz Sprinter 516 CDI

Engine

2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel

Power

120 kW @ 3800 rpm

Torque

360 Nm @ 1400-2400 rpm

Gearbox

7 speed auto

Brakes

ABS Disc

Tare Weight

3362 kg

Gross Vehicle Mass

3880 kg

Towing Capacity

2000 kg

Licence

Car

Approved Seating

2

External Length

7.29 m (23 ft 11 in)

External Width

2.35m (7 ft 9 in)

External Height

2.86 m (9 ft 5 in)

Internal Height

1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)

Rear Bed Size

1.98 m x 1.37 m (6 ft 5 in x 4 ft 6 in)

Cooktop

Thetford Caprice 4 burner/grill/oven

Fridge

Dometic RMD 8555 190-litre 3-way

Microwave

Daewoo DC

Lighting

12 V LED

Batteries

185 AH

Gas

2 x 9 kg

Heater

Truma Combi 4E

Solar Panels

1 x 80 W

Air Conditioner

Optional

Hot Water Heater

Truma Combi 4E 10-litre

Toilet

Thetford cassette

Shower

Separate cubicle

Fresh Water Tank

130-litre

Grey Water Tank

100-litre

Price as tested (on road NZ)

NZ$165,000

Pros

• Well proportioned layout • Great day and night lighting levels • Good size bathroom • Good length main bed • Nice looking motorhome • Comfortable lounge/dining area • No fixed dining table

Cons

• No insect/security screen on entry door • Limited external storage • No fixed dining table • No bathroom vent hatch

Contact

Click for Google Maps

Traillite

77 Paerata Road Pukekohe NZ T: 0800 872 455 W: www.traillite.co.nz

For more iMotorhome Road Tests click here


44 | Reader Review Templates

Win!

Travel Notebook

Share your experience for a chance to win a Travel Notebook!

Y

our fellow iMotorhome readers have told us they want to know all about the rig you drive and those special places you’ve discovered during your travels. To make it easy simply use the appropriate template below!

Copy and paste the template, fill in as much information as you think relevant under each category and email it, along with a maximum of 12 photos, to reviews@imotorhome.com.au. Not only might you see your name in print, you’ll be in the draw for a Travel Notebook! Vehicle Report: My name My email address My location

Special Place Report: My name My email address My location

Vehicle: Type (e.g. camper/motorhome/bus conversion) Factory or Custom built Make & Model Year Bought new/used/dealer/private Mileage when bought Mileage now Length Licence required (car/LR/MR/HR) Base vehicle brand Engine size (litres) Transmission (man/auto) Average fuel economy No of berths No of seatbelt-equipped seats Why did I choose it First vehicle or replacement Options fitted Best features Worst features Warranty issues Dealer support Manufacturer support Recommend to a friend (Yes/No) General comments

Place Location: Name Address State Phone E-mail Website Details: Description Visited (month/year) How I found it Why I visited Was it RV Friendly (parking/dump point/etc) Price range (cheap/average/expensive) What I liked What I didn’t Would I go back General comments


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46 | Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights

Paradise by the Dashbord Light!

Part one of new owner’s off-road adventure… By David Spencer


Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights | 47

Testing the handbrake! The long wheelbase and rear overhang ultimately limit the Benz’s off-road abilities.

A

fter 12 months ownership of a new Paradise-built Oasis Deluxe 4WD it was well and truly time to take the motorhome for an extended run. Until now the longest trip had been the two week delivery run from Queensland back to Melbourne. Since then we’ve taken it out on many weekend trips and as a result have made quite a few modifications to get it just right for us. We had decided on the Mercedes 4WD option, which added about $30,000 to the price. This included the more powerful V6 engine, electronically controlled part-time all-wheel drive system, low-range gear box and upgraded suspension. We hoped the increased versatility would justify the expense! So with future plans for an extended Kimberly trip a longer term road test was needed to identify any issues and with annual leave due,

a trip north was planned. The idea was to avoid major routes and take the paths less travelled. We would explore the national parks and state forests around the NSW/Queensland border. The trip would hopefully answer a few questions about both man and machine. The two of us have sailed extensively and not gone stir crazy in a 45 ft yacht, but a 23 ft motorhome? I was reasonably confident about the human elements, especially with the GPS and a host of apps like Wiki Camps and Hema Maps to make finding a campsite easier. With this in mind the chances of one of us ending up in a shallow outback grave were considerably reduced. Machine-wise it was a different story; there can be a big difference between how something


48 | Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights

This small electric chainsaw comes in very handy. Newnes map (left) shows the extent of the industrial complex in its heyday.

looks and works in the showroom and how it performs in the field. The weekend trips had ironed out a few things; all the draws and lockers now had 20 mm of foam sheeting bases to reduce rattles and the lockers had been rearranged a dozen times to fit everything, including a chainsaw and recovery equipment. After getting stuck in a washaway on a weekend trip, air bag assisted rear suspension was fitted to improve the departure angle. Additional USB plugs were fitted to run all our iThingies, plus extra lighting and other mods to improve livability. The list was extensive. But would it be enough? Questions lingered, like just how far can a Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 motorhome go, is it worth the extra $30K and would the Paradise build hold together on miles of corrugations?

There was only one way to find out – and it was time to turn the key and head north.

Something Unexpected

W

e left Melbourne and headed to the historic township of Newnes, north of Lithgow, NSW. It’s an industrial ghost town at the end of a corrugated dirt track that we found by accident. We were hoping to catch up with a friend that worked at the luxury Emirates Spa Resort, some seven kilometres before the “township" of Newnes. We followed the signs and wove our way along the scenic but narrow, newly paved road that wound down an escarpment into the Wolgan valley. The area is mostly Wollemi National Park and Emirates-owned conservation land.


Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights | 49

Creek to the glow worm tunnel (top). Remnants of the old railway give a reminder of how busy this place must have been. Now it’s peaceful and remote and surrounded by natural beauty.

Road signs warned of rough dirt roads and the GPS confirmed it by suggesting it was going to take over an hour to drive the 35 km! It was late evening, so on the smooth paving we only drove at 60 km/h, even though the posted limit was 80, due to the risk of inserting a roo in the radiator. It was pretty clear who had arranged the road: 10 meters past the resort gates it became a rutted dirt track. Still, it was great while it lasted and with only seven kilometres left it wouldn’t take long to get to the town. We followed the river, a plume of dust fogging the way behind us. The truck handled the washboard corrugations easily at low speed, but as the track degenerated I started to have

reservations about the very existence of the alleged ‘town’ of Newnes. It was with some relief we found the Newnes Hotel, which was founded in 1907 as the faded and chipped facade signage proudly proclaimed. A couple of guest houses sprawled nearby accounted for the town’s entire habitable structures. The rest of the ‘town’ consisted of ruined foundations. A couple of old rail carriages indicated the history of what 100 years ago was a huge shale mine and oil refinery. Somewhat incongruously, banks of auto tracking solar panels are now probably the town’s biggest feature. It seemed incongruous this place had once been a


50 | Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights

Crossing the Newnes River – the first test of the Sprinter’s 4WD abilities. Below: An old coke kiln slowly being reclaimed by its bush surrounds.

thriving industrial complex, given the dense bush and towering escarpments each side of the picturesque river. The flat land beside the river has a sign on it claiming $40 for a weekend campsite, payable at the kiosk, which we assumed is the hotel overlooking the area. No idea what you get for the cash, other than a flat piece of grass overlooking the river. The track continues to the free State Forest and National Park camp grounds a couple of kilometres further on. There you have a choice: A large paddock suitable for 2WD vehicles or turn right and ford the shallow river if you have a 4WD. The track forks again and to the right takes you a kilometre to the start of the glow worm tunnel walking track. To the left you can camp closer to the industrial ruins. Sounds odd, but the place is fantastic. The coke ovens are definitely worth a look. Many are complete and the mosaic brick work is impressive. From the 2WD campsite you must walk across the Wolgan River. Alternatively if you camp at the 4WD sites it’s only a short walk to the start of the trail. Camping spots are plentiful and the


Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights | 51

Ruins litter the bush, but still give a glimpse of the scale of industry that once thrived here. The tunnel (below) used to transport oil products between refining processes. place must get busy in peak, but off season it is very quiet. It has pit toilets if you need them, the river looks clean and there are no rubbish bins, so be sure to take it out with you.

Look Before You Leap

W

e decided to camp closer to the industrial ruins. Taking the advice of the warning sign we selected 4WD before driving into what appeared to be an easy shallow water crossing over a sand and pebble base. The approach angle was fine as we entered the water and I immediately felt the electronic 4WD kick in. The sand was much softer than I thought, however, and the vehicle slowed alarmingly as the narrow front wheels cut deep. Instantly I realised my approach speed was way too slow and that this could become embarrassing very quickly. I pumped more power to the wheels and felt the stability control electronics shuffle power from the slipping wheels. I realised I had made a second mistake and not turned the ASR-traction control off. By now the wide dual rear wheels were in the water and all that torque finally had somewhere to go. The motorhome surged forward and cleared the water.


52 | Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights

All that's left of an old acid vat. The crossing had caught me by surprise because I had forgotten what I was driving. I was used to lighter car based 4x4s, not a close-to 5000 kg delivery truck. The return trip was easy with the right speed and ASR off.

Industrial Wilderness

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rom the campsite you can walk to the start of the walking track, which completes a circuit of the oil refinery. Most is totally ruined, with just brick outlines and rusty pipes covered in bush, plus stinging nettles for the unwary. Some large structures remain, including a 15 m high wall unimaginatively called The Big Wall. There are various brick tunnels that channeled oil between refining stations, plus acid vats and other environmentally disastrous remnants of the industrial oil refining process. Signage shows what the place looked like in

its peak, between 1911 and 1920. Think of English industrial revolution images complete with 45 m smoke stacks, smoke, a landscape devoid of trees, plus erosion. Then add acid and caustic soda baths, used to ‘clean’ the shale oil, leaking into the river, along with ammonia and other by-products collected in vats with condensers. Finding the actual mine tunnel isn't easy as it's across the other side of the river. I think the raw shale was moved across the river via a huge gantry to the top of the hillside. The refinery is terraced down the hill, making clever use of gravity.

Glow Worm Tunnel

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fter exploring the ruins we drove back the way we came, in search of the start of the trail to the old railway tunnel. About seven kilometres before you get to

Newnes is an industrial ghost town at the end of a dirt track, which we found by accident.


Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights | 53

Contrary to the signs the glow worm tunnel is closer to a 10 km walk than the posted 8 km, according to our GPS.


54 | Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights

Newnes campsites there is a small clearing on the left and a track off to the right, crossing a concrete ford over the river. Parking is a little tight and we had to angle park. The track is closed to vehicles, so it's a shoes and socks off for an ankle deep walk across the ford. Contrary to the signs the glow worm tunnel is closer to 10 km walk than the posted 8 km, according to our GPS. At any rate it is well worth the effort. The track is of moderate difficulty, with the first kilometre up a steep fire trail that crosses the old railway track. Once on the rail track the climb is predictably gentle, affording spectacular views of the valley as it climbs the escarpment. Towering yellow cliffs to one side, shattered rock with gum trees overlooking a green valley on the other. Walking over the remnants of railway sleepers you can imagine how spectacular the trip would have been in its day. The track skirts the

sheer cliffs before plunging into a narrow gorge screened by shade ferns. It follows a creek to the mouth of the tunnel, which sits as a gaping black hole at the end of the gorge. Torches are a must and watch your step, for while the tunnel is large and clear of obstructions the floor is uneven, due to years of water erosion. Fortunately it is only a small creek and we went through after a day of rain and managed to keep our feet dry. After the first 100 metres a gradual curve blocks the light and the only way to move is by torch light. Once well inside turn the torches off and give your eyes a chance to adapt. At first it is rather dull, but then pin pricks of light form constellations like stars. The longer you wait the greater the show. Once you get sick of standing in the dark looking up, or until your imagination starts to feel the weight of the blackness, the urge to get some lights on takes over.


Travel: Paradise by the Dashboard Lights | 55

Continue through the tunnel and into a narrow gorge, where the track moves away from the creek, which disappeared under boulders, carving out tunnels. The path then forks and to the right it continues towards Lithgow. To the left the walking track works its way back to the car park to complete the circuit. There was plenty more to explore around the area, however we had to keep moving on.

So far the Oasis had lived up to our expectations. It was proving to be very comfortable ‘camping’ indeed. Just as importantly, my wife and I remained on speaking terms! However, we still needed to test our truck on some rougher tracks. With this in mind we headed further north to revisit a childhood memory and drive the Old Grafton Road. But that’s another story…


56 | Tech: Heaters

e h t f o t a e H ! t n e m o M

When you need to warm up, which heater is best for you? In conjunction with RV World Online Store (NZ)


Tech: Heaters | 57

Even a basic campervan can benefit enormously from a diesel or LPG heater, transforming it into a viable year-round escape machine.

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here are very few things in this world that can surpass the pleasure of entering a nice warm motorhome or camper in the middle of winter. Considering the amount of money tied up in a vehicle, only being able to comfortably use it in the warmer months is a source of frustration for many owners. The alternative is to either 'tough it out' during the cooler months and hope your marriage survives, or install a good heater. Fortunately, technology is available to make

off-season and off-grid travel much more comfortable and cosy. Previously, if you did have an alternate heating source, it usually gobbled up heaps of battery power and was very noisy. Newer electronic technology – in particular variable speed motors – means it’s now possible to reduce the airflow speed of the circulating heated air once the cabin temperature reaches the ideal temperature. New heaters now not only draw a fraction of the power older units did, they’re whisper quiet, too.


58 | Tech: Heaters

If your vehicle already has a gas system for cooking and/or hot water, an LPG heater could well be the way to go. It’s also much cheaper than a diesel heater.

LPG or Diesel Heating?

demisting, not to mention driving comfort.

hile most RVs use LPG for cooking and water heating, if your engine uses diesel you have a choice of two fuel types. However, those without diesel can opt for installing a small diesel tank to provide heater fuel. The diesel tank can be situated up to 10 metres from the heater, giving flexibility in selecting a fuel storage site.

The main advantage of the newer LPG heaters is that they are more affordable than diesel units. At this stage, however, they don't have variable speed motors and run at a set speed, switching on and off as required by a thermostat. Older generation LPG heaters had a huge current draw (about 10 amps), but newer units only draw a fraction of that – 1.5 amps. Also, LPG heaters are generally a lot noisier than a diesel heater running on its mid or lowest speeds, purely as a function of circulating a larger volume of air.

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Both LPG and diesel are widely used and considered safe. However, diesel is a lot harder to ignite in a worst case situation. For this reason, diesel heaters can also be used while driving and this a strong decision influencer for many. It’s also a huge benefit in many bus conversions, where the main heating for the dashboard has been removed. Ducting your heat to the dashboard is helpful for windscreen

Diesel heater installation lends itself more to a DIY installation, while LPG on the other hand requires a certified LPG installer to connect and certify the gas installation.


Tech: Heaters | 59

US motorhomes use LPG central heating that is highly effective, as we discovered when caught in spring snow in May this year. The only downside is the fan is very noisy.

How Air Heaters Work

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uel type aside, these heaters work on the same principal: Air for the combustion process is drawn from an external intake pipe (usually through the floor) and passed into the heater's combustion chamber. It’s mixed with fuel (diesel or LPG) and automatically ignited to heat up the large surface area of a heat-exchanger. Importantly, combustion exhaust is kept separate from the inside cabin air and vented externally through a dedicated exhaust pipe. The heater’s internal blower motor draws cool cabin air over/through the heat exchanger, before blowing it back into the cabin.

LPG in Cold Temperatures

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ou might not be aware, but as the temperature drops LPG faces some problems. The gas available in NZ and Australia is typically a 60:40 mixture of Propane and Butane. Both are hydrocarbon gases and both are a Liquefied Petroleum Gas, so the mixture of the two is still known as LPG.

The big disadvantage of having butane in the LPG mix though is that if the temperature gets below about 2 to 3º C, the butane content of the cylinder will stop vaporising and only the propane portion of the gas mix will be used. This is because propane will continue to vaporise down to a very chilly -45º C. Once all the propane has been used the cylinder will be unable to produce any vapour until the contents warm up and the butane turns back to a gas again. A strong recommendation is to ensure you completely empty the contents of your LPG cylinder before refilling. If you just top it up, in cold climates you’ll will find that what was left in the cylinder before refilling might predominantly be Butane. This can subsequently cause you grief as the butane content of the cylinder progressively increases at each refill, reaching levels higher than the recommended 60:40 mix. Obviously the problem of the 'ambient air temperature' around your gas cylinder becomes more crucial the further south you travel. For someone wanting to heat their RV

Few things surpass the pleasure of a nice warm motorhome in winter.


60 | Tech: Heaters This Eberspacher Airtronic D2 heater is popular for smaller vehicles. Its digital controller makes setting the temperature simple, too.

in the middle of winter in the snow, the butane characteristic of the LPG mixture could be a problem.

Diesel in Cold Temperatures

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n winter, however, diesel has its own issues. According to Wikipedia, “Diesel fuel is prone to waxing or gelling in cold weather; both are terms for the solidification of diesel oil into a partially crystalline state. Below the Cloud Point the fuel begins to develop solid wax particles giving it a cloudy appearance. The presence of solidified waxes thickens the oil and clogs fuel filters and injectors in engines. The crystals build up in the fuel line (especially in fuel filters) until the engine is starved of fuel, causing it to stop running.” “The Australian Standard for Automotive Diesel AS 3570 specifies maximum limits for cloud point based on the 12 calendar months and different climatic regions in Australia. The Standard lists 12 climatic regions and the limits range from -3 °C to 15 °C. Ordinarily, Australian automotive diesel fuels on average have a cold filter plugging point value that is about 2 °C below the cloud point. The Standard also lists particular locations where

fuel problems may possibly occur because of cold weather conditions.” Unfortunately, AS 3570 cannot be viewed unless purchased, unlike New Zealand’s Engine Fuel Specifications Regulations 2011. NZ diesel is formulated differently and is categorised as summer or winter, in relation to cloud point. For Auckland and Northland, summer diesel has a cloud point of 6ºC, while it’s 4ºC for the rest of the country. Winter cloud point is set at 2ºC for all of NZ. The bottom line is diesel fuel – even when formulated for winter or with aftermarket additives – has issues comparable to LPG, but with whole-of-vehicle ramifications if the fuel starts to solidify.

Running Cost Comparisons

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he new technology Propex 1.9 kW LPG heater uses 142 grams of LPG an hour, which works out between NZ 47-55 cents per hour. A regular 9 kg bottle of LPG used just for the heater will last 63 hours (9,000 g / 142 g). A typical 9 kg refill costs NZ$30-$35.


Tech: Heaters | 61

Much cheaper than a diesel heater – maybe half the price – an LPG unit like this Heatsource HS2000 is well worth considering, especially if your vehicle has gas installed. The similar sized diesel heater to compare against the LPG Propex heater mentioned above is the Eberspacher D2 (2.2 kW), which uses 0.28L of diesel per hour. To make a fair comparison with the Propex LPG unit, we have scaled the Eberspacher 2.2 kW down to 1.9 kW and this makes the diesel fuel consumption 0.24 litres per hour. Based on diesel costing NZ$1.51 per litre, running this heater for one hour would cost 36 cents. Typically, diesel fuel cost seems to be around 65-75% of the LPG cost in NZ.

intended destinations, check out the options and do your own research. The prospect of a toasty warm RV this winter is an enticing one, while the required investment will soon seem one of the best financial decisions you ever made. Visit the RV World Online Store by clicking HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page for a handy multi-choice buyer’s guide.

Conclusion?

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he bottom line is your heater choice will likely be guided by financial considerations as well as personal preferences. If your RV is diesel fuelled a diesel heater is probably the go, whereas having to install a small diesel tank on a petrol powered vehicle is much more of an impost. Most campervans and motorhomes already have an LPG system, so slotting a gas powered heater into the system seems the easier solution. Either way, what is clear is there are pros and cons for each and there seems no clear-cut winner. Consider your specific requirements, including the possible climatic extremes in

Click here forYouTube Clip NEXT ISSUE – Watch for a DIY installation guide of an Eberspacher diesel heater!


62 | What's Cooking?

Ideal Winter Warmers!

Baileys’ soaked marshmallows or any port in a billy?


What's Cooking? | 63

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lanning on sitting by a campfire this winter? Don’t forget a bottle of Baileys, a packet of marshmallows and some skewer things. Lightly toast the marshmallows, then dip them into a glass of the liqueur, which you’ve warmed in your hands to take the chill off. How good is that?

For something different try hot port and lemon. Heat a blend of port – cheaper is fine – and lemonade in a billy over the fire. Let it steam but not quite boil. The heat will evaporate much of the alcohol and you’re left with a warm and comforting nightcap.

Hint: E  xperiment with the ratio of port and lemonade (start at 50:50) to find your preferred taste.

Cin cin!


64 | Next Issue

Pot Luck!

Oakura Landmark 758, a sturdy and capable looking C-class motorhome on Iveco’s popular cab-chassis. David Spencer’s travels in his Paradise Oasis Deluxe 4WD continue; this time further north as he and his wife continue to explore both this fabulous country and the off-road limits of their new vehicle.

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alcolm’s promised us a new Avida for next Issue, but can’t say which one yet because it depends what’s available on the day. Seriously. He’s also reviewed another NZ model, this time from Auckland-based manufacturer Traillite. It’s the

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Mid North Coast Caravan & Camping Show

Border RV & Camping Show

Penrith Caravan, Camping & Holiday Expo

Wauchope Showground, Beechwood Rd, Wauchope. NSW. • Open 9:00-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Not specified. • Adults: $15 • Seniors: $11 • Kids: U16 Free with adult

Wodonga Racecourse, Thomas Mitchell Drive, Wodonga. VIC. • Open 9:30-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Free. • Adults: $12 • Seniors: $10 • Kids: U15 Free with adult

Penrith Panthers, Mulgoa Rd, Penrith. NSW. • Open 9:00-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Free • Adults: $10 • Seniors: $6 • Kids: U16 Free with adult

CLICK HERE Click for Google Maps

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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 info@imotorhome.com.au and we’ll happily promote it in this calendar.

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iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 51 - 05 July 2014  

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iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 51 - 05 July 2014  

Get a FREE subscription at imotorhome.com.au

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