Issue 66: Feb 21 2015
because getting there is half the fun...
of Green! Win!
$50 for the! best letter
Touring in an A’van Ovation in beautiful North Eastern Victoria…
Winnebago Launches Downunder Five new motorhomes finally hit the market…
All Things Bright & Beautiful! What to see and do in and around Bright
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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 Facebook “f ” Logo
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On my mind | 5
The Best Job in the World? When I was a kid all I wanted to do was to be an airline pilot. Specifically, I wanted to be at Qantas pilot. And a captain, of course. Apart from a fanatical love of aircraft and encyclopaedic knowledge of all things aviation up until the age I noticed girls, there were other attractions. The thought of being ridiculously well paid to fly enormous airliners around the world; swan about in a flash uniform with gold epaulettes; stay in the best hotels and have a beautiful young women fall over me was enormously appealing. Life hasn’t quite worked out as imagined/ hoped/planned. Part of the problem was that at age 16, when I got my student pilot's licence and started on the road to fame and flash epaulettes, I realised I didn't actually love flying. Rather, I loved the idea of it. In fact, flying aeroplanes proved rather, well, boring. It was a bit like driving a car, except the interesting things mostly just happened at the beginning and end of each flight. Also, should things go wrong they usually went spectacularly wrong. Suffice to say the only epaulettes I wore were when driving a tour coach and they didn’t come with all the other benefits! These days I’m very happy being flown around the world in a comfy seat, dining well and sipping fine wine – something frowned upon if you're steering the plane – as the spoiled spouse of a (very important!) career Qantas flight attendant. It’s funny how things work out… The bottom line is I regularly think I now have the best job in the world. And when I forget, people remind me. Driving new motorhomes in Australia, New Zealand and the USA is a great way to make a living. But
there’s a big difference between making a living and making money while you’re doing something. Making a living implies a regular income, set hours and a predictable future. Making money, as in when you run your own business, brings an irregular income, ridiculous hours and little long term predictability/security. Next Monday we’re off to Adelaide to pick up a new Paradise Integrity SL and drive it back to their factory on the Gold Coast. We’ll barrel up to Broken Hill, slide out to Silverton, whizz through Wilcannia, nip across to Nyngan, goggle at Gilgandra, marvel at Moree and traverse Toowoomba’s treacherous turns towards the glittering Gold Coast. How’s your week looking? I made a note when I started writing this: The difference between getting paid and making money on your own is the difference between security by submission and success by adventure. Neither has guarantees and not everyone can or should do their own thing, but if you get the chance it’s worth trying. Fortune favours the bold, as they say, and wouldn’t you like at least once to have someone say, “You must have the best job in the world?”
6 | Content
Who we are, where and other legal stuff
Find back issues and more on our website
On my Mind
On your Mind
The Best Job in the World?
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Touring Test: A’van Ovation M3 Alcove
Travel: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Feature: Winnebago Launch
Mobile Tech: Geocaching
What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
The latest Marketplace offers
Rental Return! – Touring in what could become a good used motorhome buy
There’s much to love about this picture postcard tourist town…
Winnebago unveils its range and opens for business in Australia
A look at the 2015 Victorian Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow
Join the worldwide treasure hunt that’s going on all around you!
What’s coming up and which shows are on soon!
Resources | 7
because getting there is half the fun...
Magazine Resources Ask a Question
because getting there is half the fun...
Esprit de Cor Blimey!
Dethleffs ‘baby’ A-class is something to ogle at… Review and images by Malcolm Street
seeing australia? take a trakka. >> TRAKKA’s versatile range lets you see Australia in luxury, comfort
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On your mind | 9
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. If you have anything to say – or ask – just drop a line to email@example.com and we’ll 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.
Challenges! Hi Richard. Hope you have recovered from last issue's little email challenges! I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading the Read’s article on the innovations they have developed on their Birdsville. I contrast this style and the content with the over technical writing of Collyn Rivers in the CMCA mag. I generally never do more than a quick scan of his articles. And yes I know he is trying to flog books – and hope he is not a mate of yours! Had a very quick play on the new website. It all seems to work fine and I could not fault the functionality. Well done and no doubt a lot of work for you and Agnes. Cheers, Alan.
Hi Alan, Thanks, getting last issue’s email out was certainly a challenge. It was brought about by unfamiliarity with the new website’s backend. Here’s hoping you’re reading this issue without a repeat performance. Glad you enjoyed the Read’s article and yes, Collyn is a friend/ associate but he writes on another level and no offence taken! Glad you like the new website too. It’s certainly been a lot of work and we’re still tidying it up around the edges and adding/ experimenting with things, so I guess it will never really be ‘finished’. It’s sort of my Sistine Chapel, but without the paint dripping into my eyes…
10 | On your mind
Happy Campers Hi, Richard. For the last 12 months we have been following ads for motorhomes and iMotorhome in particular, in order to find exactly what we wanted. In your January edition you had a review of the Horizon Waratah and it was just what we were looking for. So we have bought it and will pick it up in March after they put solar panels on it and a reversing camera. The people at Ballina Campervan and Motorhome Centre have been very helpful and a pleasure to deal with. We really enjoy reading your magazine and will continue to benefit from the suggestions in there. Thank you. Regards, Jack and Selma. Thanks Jack and Selma, and what can I say?
Glad to have helped you on your way to such a big purchase decision, and I think you’ll be very happy with the Waratah. And you’re right – the folks at Ballina Campervan and Motorhome Centre are very nice people to deal with! Funny you should write, as just this week Malcolm received an email from people who saw him photographing a motorhome in the Blue Mountains for one of our reviews and stopped to chat. Subsequently they have bought a new Paradise Motor Homes’ Integrity on his recommendations for their particular needs and they just wanted to let him know how happy they are with it. These are the kinds of comments that help make what we do worthwhile and we wish you well on your travels and look forward to an owner’s report in the not-too-distant future!
Out Of Season Hi Richard. Thanks for the copy of the ebook on the 12 Great Destinations in South Australia. Last year we took your advice and instead of going north for winter we stayed south and travelled from Perth to Adelaide, taking eight weeks for the trip. Most of our time was spent exploring Eyre and York Peninsulas, and because it was the low season we were able to get into some parks that we would not otherwise have been able to get into without booking many months ahead.
enjoyed the less populated southern parts of South Australia during winter. In fact we enjoyed it so much we are thinking of doing it again in winter 2015 and the ebook has become a great addition to our travelling library. Kind regards, Margaret.
Lovely to hear you had such a great trip Margaret. I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian and never liked following the crowd – hence iMotorhome eMagazine! – let’s just hope not We had a relaxing trip, stopping when we too many people take up the idea or we’ll all wanted to, staying as long as we liked and have to head north in winter! Here’s hoping the really appreciating the beauty of the places we were at. There was no pressure on us to be at a 12 Destinations ebook helps you on your next particular place by a particular time. So we really adventure – please let me know. benefited from the wisdom of your advice and
Personalise your journey... Last year we celebrated our 40th anniversary manufacturing Australiaâ€™s most beautiful recreational vehicles. This year we are looking forward. In 2015 we are excited to release 3 new models on new chassisâ€™, including the grandest motorhome to leave our production facility. We are investing in our customer support with new team members and resources to ensure our Sunliner customers, new and old, feel the same care and attention that we invest in our motorhomes. We have several new projects including our new website release and the introductinon of a new Sunliner Online Community. We look forward to meeting and sharing with you our beautiful motorhomes and campervans throughout the year at the Camping and Caravan Shows, at our dealerships and online.
12 | News
Lock The Gate
he Lock The Gate Alliance, a group of Australianâ€™s uniting to protect land and water resources, says itâ€™s being targeted by the mining industry, which is trying to have its status as a charitable organisation revoked. Lock The Gate has teamed with the organisation Ethical Jobs, which will match donations dollar-for-dollar until the end of March, to help raise $10,000. Apart from the fight to preserve its charitable status, the funds will specifically go towards saving iconic regions of the Northern Territory under immediate threat of fracking. Lock The Gate is asking for a $20 donation, which can be made by clicking HERE, and which will be matched by Ethical Jobs.
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14 | News
Camp Hosts Required
cKinlay Shire Council is seeking Camp Hosts for the Julia Creek RV Camping Area to work 2-3 week stints from April to September, 2015. Julia Creek is located on the popular travel route, the Overlander's Way, that runs from Townsville to Mount Isa and out to the Northern Territory. Please contact Katrina Harling on (07) 4746 7690 or tourism@ mckinlay.qld.gov.au for more information.
Dirt n Dust Triathlon
till on Julia Creek, the Dirt n Dust Triathlon takes place on April 19-17 and even if you’re not competing it promises to be a great event packed with things to see and do. Renowned as one of the toughest triathlons in the country, it has seen the likes of Olympians Brad Beven,
Loretta Harrop, Courtney Atkinson and Emma Jackson compete for the crown. Established in 1994 the festival offers visitors three jampacked days of fun and entertainment as the tiny North West Queensland Outback town’s population swells from 400 to 3000 in one weekend! See the gutsy outback triathlon teams in action, back a winner at the Artesian Express Outback Horse Races, kick on ’til late with nightly outdoor concerts, or check out the spectacular Dirt n Dust Bullride, sanctioned by the Professional Bull Riders. Find out all about by clicking HERE.
Trakka Owners’ Club
f you own a Trakka why not become part of the Trakka Family? Join the Trakka Family Facebook Group, which is the beginning of a club for Trakka customers and employees to share product news, stories, ideas, photos and events. For full information contact Alex Berry via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News | 15
Recently on facebook.... Clancy@theoverflow by Joe Wolfe, with apologies to Banjo Patterson I had written him a text which I'd sent, hoping the next time he came into mobile coverage he'd have time to say hello. But I'd heard he'd lost his iPhone, so I emailed him from my phone, just addressed, on spec as follows: clancy@theoverflow. And the answer – redirected – wasn't quite what I'd expected, and it wasn't from the shearing mate who'd answered once before. His ISP provider wrote it and verbatim I will quote it: 'This account has been suspended: You won't hear from him no more.'
While my screen fills with promotions for 'V1aggra' and strange potions, and announcements of the million-dollar prizes I can claim.
In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy; out of reach of mobile coverage where the Western rivers flow. Instead of tapping on the small screen, he'd be camping by the tall green river gums – a pleasure that the town folk never know.
But the looming deadlines haunt me and their harrying senders taunt me that they need response this evening for tomorrow is too late! But their texts, too quickly ended, often can't be comprehended for their writers have no time to think – they have no time to wait.
Well, the bush has friends to meet him but the rest of us can't greet him; out there, even Telstra's network doesn't give you any bars. He can't blog the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, or tweet the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.
And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to trade with Clancy; just set up an email bouncer saying 'Sorry, had to go.' While he faced my inbox jamming up with deadlines and with spamming as he signed off every message: clancy@theoverflow.
I am sitting at my keyboard and I'm too stressed-out to be bored as I answer all the emails by the deadlines they contain.
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16 | News
AL-KO Anti-Theft System Announced providing multi-level theft protection. Yet to be released to the general market, the many features offered within the package provide a multifaceted hi-tech security approach unlike any other.
V component supplier AL-KO has teamed with two Sydney based advanced technology security companies to produce an innovative and state of the art anti-theft system (ATS) specifically for caravans, camper trailers – and motorhomes. The AL-KO ATS utilises technologies including ‘next generation’ M2M (machine-to-machine) GPS connectivity powered by the Vodafone network and NanoTag® microdot technology,
Offering unlimited data and no roaming charges or hidden fees, this device needs no SIM card or mobile phone plan. In addition to no surprise costs this also means the 25 g 'black box' cannot be re-used or re-tasked if stolen. The primary feature is the ability to track the device in real time via smartphone, tablet or laptop when the innovative “Geofence” or pre-defined location radius is breached. Accurate to within 5 meters and with location updates every 15 seconds, this real time precision tracking can also be utilised to track, document and share your journey. Continues...
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: email@example.com & New Website: www.wirraway.com.au On The Road Wirraway 260SL Slideout Motorhome - 2012 © Rex Willmer
News | 17 ...continued.
In addition to tracking features the AL-KO ATS also includes intelligent property protection. The NanoTag microdot tagging wand allows users to discreetly tag belongings with a
unique electronically visible and policeregistered six-digit alphanumeric Security Identification Code (SIC). These Microdots feature the same security code as the Black Knight tracker, allowing real time tracking in the event of theft and also providing proof of identity of assets. A new website has been launched to promote the product and AL-KO is currently rolling out a national network of authorised dealers. Pricing for the system as well as the on-going connection fee after 12 months have also yet to be announced. Visit alkoats.com.au for details and to keep updated.
Thinking about a self-drive touring adventure?
Find all the inspiration and information you need for an awesome journey with our ebooks for iPad.
Get your FREE eBOOK for iPad* www.ebooktraveller.com.au * Applies to Touring Victoriaâ€™s Kelly Country eBook for iPad
18 | News
‘Allo ‘Allo! France Passion is now in its 27th year and the new guide for 2015 is now available. The company says, “Our free stopovers are safe, peaceful and gourmet! The only requirements to use this incredible network of sites are: • a self-contained motorhome (water and waste) • an up-to-date Stopover Guide
f you’re motorhoming in Europe this year be sure to spend the €29 – about A$43 – to join France Passion, so you can take advantage of its huge network of free stopover sites across France. All-up there are some 1850 vineyards, farms and other sites with more than 9200 free RV camping spots just waiting to welcome you.
• Following the France Passion ‘Golden rules: Greet your hosts on arrival, leave the site clean, let your hosts know when you leave… “From Brittany ciders to Provence wines, from Normandy oysters to Basque cheeses, explore France and its hidden treasures at your own pace, all for 29 €: the price of the France Passion guide, and the key to discovery!”
Queensland’s New Road Rules more publicity and advertising to avoid clashes between riders and drivers. Compounding the confusion is the fact road rules applying to cyclists can vary from state to state.
n 1 January new road rules were implemented on Queensland roads affecting both cyclists and drivers. Since then cyclists have been allowed to ride in any lane on a multi-lane road and in any area of a single-lane roundabout, ride across pedestrian crossings without dismounting and are no longer required to ride inside designated cycle lanes. These changes to existing road rules are affecting all road users, prompting the call for
These new changes complement the safe passing distance trial that commenced in April 2014, where a minimum passing distance of at least 1m in a 60 km/h or less speed zone and 1.5 m if the speed limit is over 60 km/h was introduced for motorists passing cyclists. Other road rules have also been changed to allow motorists to cross centre lines, straddle lane lines or drive on painted traffic islands to make it easier for vehicles passing cyclists, when it is safe to do so. There is no disputing that more education is required to encourage motorists and cyclists to better share the road.
News | 19
Canowindra Gains World Sanction Cabonne Council, Destination NSW and the Australian Ballooning Federation for supporting this event. It proves that nothing is impossible for passionate and dedicated small rural communities.”
he Canowindra Challenge is thrilled to have once again been granted a Category 2 sanction from the World Sports Aviation governing body, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale for the 2015 Canowindra International Balloon Challenge. This prestigious event will be held from 12 to 19 April in the small NSW town of Canowindra, situated between Cowra and Parkes. Challenge Chairman Graham Kerr said, “We are very proud of our community and especially
“Canowindra is also working towards bidding to hold the 2018 Women’s World Championships,” he added. The biannual event was first held in Poland in 2014 and resulted in Australian Nicola Scaiffe being crowned World Champion.” Nicola will be competing in Canowindra this year. Entries for this year’s event are coming from France, Japan and the USA, plus Australia’s top pilots, and the event is very popular with spectators. For event information visit canowindrachallenge.org.au or call 1300 908 825.
Motorhome Roadside Assist
ictoria’s RACV offers a Tow Pack upgrade to its roadside assistance membership, “Specifically designed to give those travelling with a motorhome, caravan or trailer complete peace of mind. The increased size and weight allowances for towing coverage, added to your Total or
Extra Care package, ensure that you’ll get the benefits of roadside assistance and be towed to a place of repair if we can’t get you going, avoiding additional fees.” Cost is $56-70 per annum in addition to normal membership (depending on membership level) and covers vehicles up to 9 metres (29 ft 6 in) and up to 8 tonnes GVM. In NSW the NMRA offers Premium Plus for $126 pa on top of its Premium Care membership, covering vehicles up to 10 tonnes GVM.
iMotorhome Marketplace | 21
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22 | Touring Test: A’van Ovation M3 Alcove
When this rental A’van Ovation returns to the market it could make someone very happy… by Richard Robertson
Touring Test | 23
A’van has done well to give what is essentially a big white box a sleek and appealing shape. The Ovation looks good and even the bulbous over-cab Luton Peak doesn’t unbalance the design.
’ve long admired A’van’s Ovation-series motorhomes. European design cues provide a visual point of difference, while inside, Euro-styled cabinetry makes a change from the flat-faced designs common in market. A’van is a Melbourne-based operation that over the last 20+ years has evolved from making distinctive solid-walled pop-up camper trailers to also manufacturing a full range of caravans and motorhomes. The brand has a loyal following and I was keen to spend a few days in one of its most popular models, the
Ovation M3 Alcove. Available in both B and C-class configurations, our Ovation was the latter and like all C-class motorhomes is easily distinguished from its sleeker sibling by its Luton Peak: the rather archaic term given to the bulbous nosecone that houses the overcab bed. In styling terms, however, the Ovation is about as sleek as a C-class motorhome gets. New motorhomes are difficult for us to review by actually living in, given they are new vehicles that need to be sold as
24 | Touring Test
At home on the open road. The Ovation is a comfortable motorhome well suited to long distance touring.
new vehicles afterwards. Some manufacturers run demonstrators, but in this case our Ovation was part of a small, bespoke rental fleet operated by Albury Wodonga RV World (AWRV World). It’s unusual for a dealer to run rental vehicles – especially from a semi-rural location – but AWRV World seems to do steady business providing caravans and motorhomes to a wide catchment area of customers on both sides of the NSW/Victorian border.
New or Used?
eing a rental vehicle means this test is technically a used vehicle review. In reality the Ovation M3 Alcove is still in production and being a 2013 build the test vehicle was pretty close to new, especially given it had just 13,000 km on the clock. The rental aspect adds another dimension of interest: How well does an A’van stand up to rental use? By my calculation the test vehicle had had about
Touring Test | 25
You certainly can’t complain about limited lounging/dining options in this vehicle. a dozen renters, but Matt from AWRV World told me many of his customers often don't travel far afield and it was considerably more than that. Given that renters aren’t renowned for looking after vehicles I have to say I came away impressed by how well the Ovation was standing up to its mixed bag of users. Previous inspections of A’van
motorhomes had given the impression the cabinetry was a bit ‘lightweight’, but judging by the condition of this rental vehicle – albeit with rather low km on the clock – it certainly appeared to be holding up well. This anecdotal evidence is backed up by Matt’s commercial experience,
The two seat sofa adds versatility to the lounge/dining area. With the cab seats swivelled there’s room for six to relax with a drink and nibbles, or just one to watch a movie on a wet afternoon… whereby he sells ex-rental Ovation M3s after a few years and finds a ready market for them. For example he has a 2012 Ovation M3 with 31,000 km on the clock and in asnew condition for $103,990 ($108,394 on-road in Victoria). That’s a substantial saving on new, yet the vehicle is basically just run in.
26 | Touring Test The Ovation’s smooth one-piece side paneling promises easy cleaning, while plenty of windows provide good cross ventilation. The streamlined nose should help reduce fuel consumption, too.
Base of Operations
ike all Ovations the M3 Alcove is built on a standard Fiat Ducato cab-chassis. By ‘standard’ I mean it doesn’t use the aftermarket AL-KO chassis. The chassis is still designed as a motorhome chassis from the ground up, but the most obvious difference is in the rear suspension, which uses a simple live axle and leaf springs instead of
AL-KO’s more sophisticated (and expensive) independent torsion bar system. The bottom line is in most situations you’d never know the difference and it helps keep the price down. The Ducato is powered by the 3.0 L MultiJet turbo-diesel that produces 132 kW and 400 Nm and drives through a 6-speed Comfortmatic auto transmission – Fiat-speak for an automated manual transmission (AMT).
Touring Test | 27
This motorhome and itâ€™s siblings from the AWRV World rental fleet would make sound second hand buying.
28 | Touring Test The rear locker easily accommodates quite bulky items like outdoor chairs and a table, while the smaller front locker would be ideal for wheel chocks, a tool box, etc. Both are accessible from inside.
Dual air bags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), cab airconditioning, power steering, remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors, a trip computer, multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an audio system with Blue&Me Bluetooth integration and voice recognition are all standard. Also included are Fiat’s factory-fitted swivel mounts for the front seats – the best in the business. With a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4250 kg and a plated tare weight of 3540 kg for this particular vehicle, the load capacity of 710 kg for passengers, water, goods and chattels is still quite healthy. Being under the 4500 kg limit, only a standard car driver’s licence is required. It was interesting to drive a Fiat Ducato with more than a few hundred or so kilometres on the clock. With 13,000 km under its belt the engine was freeing up nicely and felt smoother and more ‘relaxed’ than a factory-fresh unit. The gearbox was shifting smoothly and the
whole drivetrain impressed, which was another interesting thing to note given its rental usage. We only covered a couple of hundred km over our weekend escape and because the tank wasn't full on pick-up I was unable to record fuel consumption figures. Overall, the driving experience was indistinguishable from a new vehicle, save for the sweeter running engine.
Body of Evidence
vidently, A’van uses what it terms “Vaculite™ aluminium vacuum bonded light weight one piece panelling” for its body construction. I know that because it said so on a sticker on the driver’s side. Double glazed Seitz acrylic windows are fitted all ‘round, while a Euro-style door with separate sliding fly screen is employed. A note with the door is you have to be careful opening it if the lounge window between it and the cab is open, lest the door smacks into it. A catch
Touring Test | 29 Top to Bottom: Rear body mouldings and big lights look good but require care when manoeuvring in tight spaces to avoid damage. Small over-cab windows have built-in insect screens and blinds in place of bulky curtains. Twin 9 kg cylinders mean you won’t run out of gas cooking or hot water in a hurry.
to hold the door semi-open would be good, otherwise the window must be closed to have the door fully open. Up top there’s an Air Command Ibis airconditioner, a non-fan hatch above the bathroom, a large hatch above the kitchen, a wind-out awning and a TV aerial, which is all pretty much as you’d expect. External storage consists of a largish rear boot on the kerb side that accesses the underbed storage area and also had a false floor that’s ideal for storing wheel chocks, hoses and even the outdoor picnic table beneath. There’s also a small locker ahead of the entry door that accesses the space beneath the inwards-facing lounge seat, and which has a small hatch in its floor to reach the optional Webasto diesel heater for servicing. The only locker on the driver’s side is for the 2 x 9 kg LPG cylinders, which provide quite a generous gas supply, although I thought the provision of a single 95 AH house battery disappointing. It points to expected regular caravan park use, which is fine, but limits free camping options. Fortunately an extra house battery is optionally available and I’d be specifying it immediately. Water capacities – 103 L fresh and 110 L grey – are sufficient, but extra capacity would also be appreciated for free camping.
he floorplan comprises an over-cab bed, front lounge/dinette, centre kitchen and rear corner bed and corner bathroom. It’s a layout used by many other manufacturers, with variations, and provides sleeping for
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Although not advertised in the brochure, the sofa converts to a small bed that would suit a child (or two). four that’s matched by an approved seating capacity thanks to seat belts on the forwardfacing dinette seat. Up front the cab seats swivel easily and provide comfortable after-hours seating that works in well with the dinette-cum-lounge. The main dinette seat is forward facing on the driver’s side, plus there’s an inwards-facing two-seat sofa on the kerb-side wall, between the entry door and cab. It basically sits opposite the dining table and all-up, six people can be seated for drinks and nibbles, although really only three – two on the main dinette seat and one in the driver’s seat – can dine at the table. In practice two people will likely use the main dinette seat and driver’s seat, unless you
both want to watch TV while dining, in which case you’ll be sitting side-by-side on the main seat. Casual dining for two – think pizza, onebowl wonders or the like – means you can use the sofa and main dinette seat, which makes for quite relaxed television viewing as well. However you do it you certainly can’t complain about limited lounging/dining options in this vehicle. LED lights are used throughout and there are reading lights for the beds and above the dinette, plus a groovy mood light in the corner where the overhead cupboards meet above the head of the main bed. Overhead storage was good throughout, but power point placement seemed a bit haphazard.
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Kitchen space is limited but it still works quite well, although the power point location needs a rethink. Highpositioned microwave is a stretch for most cooks, but at least it – and the entertain-ment system – are nicely concealed when not required. This was especially evident in the kitchen, where the location above the gas cooktop was particularly poorly thought out.
peaking of the kitchen, it sits opposite the entry door on the driver’s side wall and is a compact L-shape. It fits nicely between the back of the main dinette seat and a tall wardrobe unit ahead of the bathroom. There’s little bench space although Mrs iM still found the kitchen worked quite well. She especially liked the round stainless steel drainer in the corner of the bench’s L-shape, between the equally round sink and rectangular threeburner gas cooktop. There’s a stainless steel range hood over the cooktop, plus a drawer and a single cupboard below it. The cupboard houses the Truma hot water switch in a rather
inconvenient position, which took quite a bit of hunting to locate. Despite limited bench and cupboard space, a full oven/grill is provided. Cleverly, it’s set low in the end panel of the bench-return, beneath the sink and directly opposite the entry door. You can actually reach the oven while standing outside, which proved useful when heating a pizza for lunch on the Sunday! The fridge is a generous 175-litre 2-door Dometic unit that runs on mains and 12-volt power, plus LPG. Unfortunately it only runs on 12-volt when driving and requires manual switching to LPG whenever you stop. Our test unit proved finicky and refused to operate on LPG after the first time we stopped, but of course worked perfectly when returned to the depot. Technology! The fridge sits in a tall unit
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The separate shower cubicle is a welcome inclusion and it’s a decent size. Although a bit narrow, the bathroom is well equipped and nicely finished. The mirrors are too high for many people, though, and a long one inside the bathroom door would be a good idea. across from the kitchen and immediately to the right of the door as you enter. The microwave is mounted above the fridge and a TV/CD/ DVD/USB entertainment system sits above the microwave, and both are neatly concealed behind a pair of sliding plastic roller shutters, a la Trakka. Just on a design note, A’van uses a different finish on the overheard cupboards in the kitchen: high gloss versus the light timber used elsewhere in the vehicle. I’m thinking it’s for ease of keeping clean but on first sight it does appear a bit unusual.
Bathing and Bedtime…
he rear corner bathroom and bedroom give rise to the Alcove part of the Ovation M3’s name I’m thinking. The bathroom is well equipped and includes a generous separate shower cubicle at the rear, but is on the narrow side overall. That makes it a bit
squeezy when it comes to towelling off, trying to dress/undress in private or just sitting on the loo. There’s certainly no lack of appointments, as witnessed by the corner stainless steel hand basin with cupboard below and bench space alongside; a shaving cabinet, opening side window and swivel-headed cassette toilet, but the mirror positioning did leave us wondering. Unless you’re 6 ft or more tall you’ll only catch a glimpse of your head in either of them! A mirror inside the bathroom door would be a worthwhile addition, as would a fan in the ceiling hatch and an outlet added for the optional Webasto space heater. Rear-corner beds are a compromise because of the chamfered foot-end required to accommodate the opening of the bathroom door. If you or your partner aren’t particularly
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They don’t call this model the Alcove for nothing. The rear bed/bathroom layout means the bed is a bit narrow; a fact compounded by the chamfered mattress edge. Note how tight our Duvalays sit, although the bed length is fine even for a tall person. tall it’s no real issue, but we chose to use both beds (as we often do in test vehicles) to maximise sleeping room and minimise disturbing each other. The main bed is also a little narrow, again a dictate of the layout, and we were unable to easily fit our pair of Duvalay memory foam sleeping bags side-by-side. We each spent a night in each bed, and while the main rear bed was easiest to access and had the best ventilation, the over-cab bed was the winner in terms of overall room. Apart from having to use the sturdy aluminium ladder for access, only the slightly reduced headroom due to the sleek design of the Luton Peak detracted from sleeping ‘upstairs’, but both these things would quickly become second nature with regular use. Horses for courses as they say.
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The over-cab bed is quite spacious and also makes a good storage place for bulky items. It has a net to stop them – and you – falling out, while the access ladder is sturdy and securely mounted.
What I think
espite the bed/bathroom compromises we thoroughly enjoyed our weekend away in the A’van Ovation M3 Alcove. In hot weather we’d use both beds and in cold weather we’d snuggle into one or the other. Even though the bathroom’s a bit narrow, the shower cubicle is generous and there’s no substitute for a bit of space when showering! The lounge/dining works well – we watched a couple of DVD movies when the heavens opened – and the kitchen, while small, is still quite usable. And then there’s the driving experience of the Fiat Ducato, which in this
case seems to be better with a little bit of age. I was also impressed by how well the A’van was standing up to its rental life, which has to bode well for longevity in the hands of a private owner. As a near-new motorhome with low milage and the guarantee of having been well looked after service-wise, this motorhome and it’s siblings from the AWRV World rental fleet would make sound second hand buying. Especially for a canny buyer looking to save a bundle on an equivalent new vehicle.
In hot weather we’d use both beds and in cold weather we’d snuggle into one or the other.
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Ovation M3 Alcove
3.0 L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
132 kW @ 3500 rpm
400 Nm @ 1400 rpm
6-speed automated manual (AMT)
3540 kg (as tested)
Gross Vehicle Mass
6.96 m (22 ft 10 in)
External Width (inc. mirrors)
2.77 m (9 ft 1 in)
3.03 m (9 ft 11 in)
1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)
Rear Bed Size
1.99 x 1.20 m (6 ft 6 in x 3 ft 11 in)
Front Bed Size (single)
1.98 x 1.50 m (6 ft 6 in x 4 ft 11 in)
Smev 3-burner plus Smev oven/grill
175 L 3-way 2-door Dometic
12 V LED
1 x 95 A deep cycle
Air Command Ibis
Webasto diesel (optional)
Truma 14 L
2 x 9.0 kg
Grey Water Tank
Price on Road VIC
Price as tested
$117,940 (on road VIC)
• Light and bright interior • Easily liveable lounge/dining area • Good sound system • Movable table • Good interior storage • Decent rear boot • LED lighting • Easy driving • Good looks
• • • •
Corner bed shape/size Single house battery Hot water switch placement Some power point locations
Supplied by Albury Wodonga RV World
Click for Google Maps
5 Melrose Drive, Wodonga. Vic. 3690 Ph: (02) 6024 4222 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.awrvworld.com.au
Manufactured by A’van W: www.avan.com.au
For more iMotorhome Road Tests click here
36 | Touring Test
AWRV World Rentals
o our knowledge Albury Wodonga RV World is unique amongst dealers in operating a rental fleet of caravans and motorhomes, especially one comprised of models usually only sold as private vehicles. Most rental vehicles are purpose built and whilst tough, often lack the fit, finish and comfort items private buyers expect. AWRV World keeps its rental vehicles on fleet for just a few years before moving them on though its own sales yard. All vehicles are well maintained and when sold come with a full statutory warranty. Because renters tend to be by local country people rather than international holiday makers, distances covered are less and vehicles are generally better cared for.
before committing to a purchase. Airport transfers or free secure parking are offered and many normally extra-cost items like LPG and outdoor tables and chairs are included, as is 24 hour roadside assistance. Quotes and rental bookings can be made online at www.awrvworld.com.au/rentals or by calling (02) 6024 4222.
A Friend Reports
hen I reported via our Facebook Page that we were heading off in the Avan Ovation M3 for a few days a Friend sent a message saying he owned one and was interested to know if changes he’d suggested since purchasing had been implemented on production vehicles. Our Friend – who wishes to remain anonymous – sent me a PDF of his modifications and suggestions, and as you will see it’s ‘most AWRV World also operate a try-before-youcomprehensive’! It appears his suggestions buy scheme, whereby they will refund up to a have fallen on deaf ears, but I’d suggest A’van week’s rental cost if you buy a new motorhome would do well to reconsider them to help through them. Of course conditions apply improve/refine their product. and you might not be able to rent the specific vehicle you’re looking to buy, but it’s a great To download the full pdf please click here. way to get a feel for a brand or vehicle type
Touring Test | 37 An excerpt from an A’van Ovation M3 Alcove owner’s modifications…
$GGHGVKHOIDERYHVLQN >FULWLFDOO\ SRVLWLRQHGWRDOORZVLQNOLGWRVWD\XSDW DERXWGHJUHHVHQDEOLQJVLQNWREH XVHGZKLOHFRRNLQJ@
• • •
• • •
38 | Touring Test
Bright is renowned for its Autumn Festival, which runs from April 24 to May 3 this year .
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All Things Bright & Beautiful!
Nature lovers will fall in love with Brightâ€™s natural beautyâ€Ś by Richard Robertson
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Cause to celebrate! A shady riverside camping spot just a stone’s throw from the centre of town. How good is that?
e happened on Bright almost by accident; not that we didn’t know of it or of its reputation for outstanding natural beauty. It was suggested my Matt from Albury Wodonga RV World as a perfect weekend stop when we were discussing potential destinations for our two nights away in his rental A’van Ovation.
right is in North Eastern Victoria, at the south eastern end of the Ovens Valley. Despite its image as an alpine town – it’s on the Great Alpine Road that connects the Hume Highway at Wangaratta to the ski fields at Mt Hotham – Bright sits just 319 m above sea level. Nestled amongst towering hills clad in plantation pine and native gums, Bright enjoys a cool temperate climate. That includes frequent winter frosts and occasional snow, plus hot, clear summer days with low humidity. Home to some 2500 very fortunate people, Bright is a
town that invites exploration and rewards those who linger. The area was first explored by Hume and Hovel in 1824 as they sought an overland route between the fledgling settlements of Sydney and Melbourne. They named the valley and river after Major Ovens, Secretary to Thomas Brisbane the then Governor of New South Wales. Indigenous Australians had lived in the valley for millennia and also transited it enroute to the high alpine plains for the summer. Sadly many were killed or forced out when European settlers arrived soon after Hume and Hovel’s initial expedition. Those settlers cleared large tracts of land for sheep and cattle grazing, but it was the discovery of gold in the 1850s that brought a surge in population. While fortunes were won and lost, the skills brought by many seeking gold helped gradually transform the valley into a productive agricultural region.
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The Bright Riverside Holiday Park’s public facilities are basic but clean. Plenty of big shade trees means grass struggles to get a hold, so campsites are dirt – a trait shared by all caravan parks in town.
Initially known as Morse’s Creek, the town was renamed Bright in 1861 in honour of the British politician and orator, John Bright. The opening of the railway from Wangaratta in 1890 – a branch of the existing line to Beechworth – was the catalyst for strong growth, including tourism to nearby Mt Buffalo, where the railway owned a chalet.
the Second World War, particularly from Italy, saw the introduction of tobacco farming. This lasted until 2006 when the two major Australian cigarette producers decided locally grown tobacco was no longer commercially viable. Although the tobacco industry is now dead, drying sheds are still a common and nostalgic site on many properties in the valley.
Forestry was introduced after WWI to help counter land degradation from widespread gold dredging, while an influx of migrants following
The railway succumbed to declining patronage and closed in 1983, only to be reborn in the 1990s as the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail
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From the caravan park it was a five minute walk into town across this road bridge or a smaller foot bridge at the other end of the park. for cyclists, walkers and horse riders. Today it’s Australia’s best known rail trail and is enjoyed by tens of thousands annually.
reveals itself almost bashfully as you round each corner and glimpse streetscapes guarded by trees of majestic proportions. Even the centre of town is off the main road and you have go exploring to find all its shops and facilities.
t some point Bright’s early residents realised the climate ideally suited English and European trees. Today the town is breathtakingly dominated by some of the largest oak, poplar, pin oak, silver birch, claret ash, maple, liquid amber and other magnificent deciduous trees you’ll find anywhere in Australia (but perhaps nowhere else in such concentration). So central are these trees to the town’s persona that Bright without its trees would be like a kiss without the squeeze.
Another part of Bright’s attraction is it’s something of an oasis in the wide open landscape of North Eastern Victoria. If you’ve travelled from Melbourne or Sydney via the Hume Highway the drive up the Ovens Valley leads you into the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. The relative monotony of the open plains gives way to rising ridge lines clad in eucalypts and pine, while the mesmerisingly straight roads are replaced by the winding charm of the Great Alpine Road.
Bright is very much a tourist town and to me such designation usually equates to ‘stay away’. I’m sure there are times to avoid it, but outside peak periods Bright is sublime. An unintentional feature that helps make the town more interesting is its meandering layout. This is no one-long-street country town. Instead, Bright
Bright makes a great base to rest and recharge your batteries – both personal and vehicular. It’s a mecca for walkers, cyclists both road and mountain, nature lovers, four-wheel drivers, kayakers, and hang and para gliders. It’s also surrounded by wineries and farm-gate producers and is home to some very talented
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The Ovens River runs right through Bright and is a major drawcard for everyone from gold panners to inner tube riders. These were views from our campsite, just metres from the river’s edge. chefs, brewers and baristas; all ingredients for a memorable stay. With autumn soon upon us it’s an ideal time to visit to enjoy the unrivalled
change of colours. Proof really that all-things Bright are beautiful – but don’t just take my word for it…
Things to do!
Bright is filled with interesting things to see and do. Here’s what we did or wanted to do during our brief stay…
Park and walk… T
he Ovens River runs parallel to the Great Alpine Road as you arrive from the west (the Hume Highway end of town). Look for Howitt St on the left – the last street on the left before Quin’s Bridge – which leads down to a riverside parking area with free barbecues close by, plus public toilets. From there take a stroll along the river’s edge, back towards the way you came into town, and watch for the signs for the 3 km ‘roundtrip Canyon Walk. We didn’t make it – so much to do and so little time – but it leads along the Ovens River into a small canyon where you can also see water races carved by the gold miners. Or just take a stroll along the river – there’s a good loop walk over the suspension bridge, through the Bright Riverside Holiday park and back across the Star Road bridge – and enjoy the tranquility.
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46 | Travel Bright’s boutique brewery is the town’s social hub. Backing on to the park and river it offers live music on the rear deck on weekends and a large range of beers and ciders, as well as local wines and excellent food.
Grab a beer! B
What: Bright Brewery Where: 121 Great Alpine Rd, Bright. Vic. 3741
When: Open daily, with lunch 12 - 3 pm right Brewery is a trendy micro brewery and dinner from 5:30 pm. right on the Great Alpine Road. It backs Click for Google Maps T: (03) 5755 1301 on to the riverside park area, it’s slogan W: www.brightbrewery.com is ‘MountainCrafted’ and it seems to be very much a social hub for the town. Beer might be its passion, but live music on the open rear deck seems to be a close second. There’s a packed schedule of performers every weekend and starting on Friday nights; from jazz to ‘recycled blues’, pop and rock covers, pop classics and more. In addition to beers, ales, ciders and wine, lunch and dinner are served daily, and you can even indulge your beer-based fantasies by becoming Brewer for a Day!
Bright is festival central and there always seems to be something happening.
Travel | 47 The tiny 60 seat Cloud 9 Cinema is fully licensed, beautifully appointed and almost like having your own private movie theatre.
Watch a movie… W
e never seem to get to the movies these days, so when we walked by the diminutive Cloud 9 Cinema, with its beckoning red carpet and beautifully restored stone facade, we couldn’t resist. What sealed the deal was it’s actually the Cloud 9 Cinema & Bar, and you can not only enjoy your favourite tipple before or after the show, you can take it inside! The public areas are beautifully presented in art deco style and are both intimate and comfortable. Inside, the single cinema seats just 60 people in leather-upholstered comfort, with the seats being arranged as a single, twin, single, twin and so on. So with a glass of sparkling each we settled into our soft ‘love seat’ and spent a memorable afternoon watching Benedict Cumerbatch's stunning performance as the tortured-soul computer-genius Alan Turing, who helped shorten World War Two by developing the first computer, which in turn cracked the German’s ‘uncrackable’ Enigma code machine. What: Cloud 9 Cinema & Bar Where: 119 Great Alpine Rd, Bright. Vic. 3741.
When: Open daily T: 0433 430 449 W: www.cloud9cinema.com.au
Click for Google Maps
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Make a Splash! F
rom the parking area it’s only a few minute’s walk in any direction to most parts of town. The Ovens River intersects with Morses Creek (which flows in under Quins Bridge, beneath the Great Alpine Road) and where they meet – Centenary Park – the Council has established the Bright Splash Park. Aimed at young people and strictly for hot days, the Splash Park is still a mustvisit attraction, if only to watch how much fun kids can have with water in a public place! Kids plus water equals fun! Bright’s Splash Park is free and a great source of entertainment for everyone.
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Coffee, Cake and More… O
n the edge of Centenary Park, just before Quins Bridge, is the delightful Ginger Baker cafe. It fronts the Great Alpine Road with a rustic mix of undercover outdoor seating options, but at the rear is its piece-de-resistance: a casual outdoor dining area beneath towering elms that overlooks the park, Splash Park and river. On weekends you’ll fight hard for a table out the back, but at any time the food – be it breakfast, lunch or dinner – is delicious, as is the coffee. Highly recommended!
Bright is cycling Mecca and regularly hosts State and National road and mountain biking events. It’s also the terminus for the 90-plus kilometre Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail.
What: Ginger Baker Where: 1 27 Great Alpine Rd, Bright. Vic. 3741
Click for Google Maps
When: O pen Sun-Thu 8 am - 3 pm, Fri-Sat 8 am - 10 pm T: (03) 5755 2300 W: www.gingerbakerwinebarcafe.com.au
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Festivities Galore! B
right is festival central and there always seems to be something happening. Here’s a short list of upcoming events but you’ll find plenty more – plus full details – on the Visit Bright website. • Brighter Days – 6-8 March: Bikes, cars, live music and community generosity come together in Bright, on the March Labour Day long weekend. • 2015 Subaru Australian National Mountain Bike Championships – 12-15 March: the 2015 Championships will again have a big feast of mountain biking disciplines and is certain to attract fierce competition from the elite to age-groupers alike. • Brewer For A Day – 13 March: Join Bright Brewery for the ultimate beer lovers’ experience. You'll have a hands-on role
brewing one of Bright Brewery’s Mountain Crafted beers during a real brew day. • Bright Autumn Festival – 24 April - 03 May: Bright Autumn Festival is a 10 day celebration of the wonderful autumn colours and autumn produce of the valleys of Victoria's Alpine High Country. The highlight is the Gala Weekend with a market, music in the streets and parade. • Autumn Long Lunch – 16 May: Enjoy a six course lunch created by Feathertop Winery head chef Simon Buckley and enjoyed on a long table set on the Winery’s terrace, surrounded by the glorious colours of the vineyard in Autumn. • Bright Rockabilly Festival – 16-17 May: The Bright Rockabilly Festival is held over two days with great Rockabilly bands on the playlist and competitions, dancing lessons a fashion parade, show ’n shine and much more!
Spoon Owls for sale in the tourist information centre in nearby Myrtleford.
Places to Stay F
ree camping options are pretty limited around Bright, although the WikiCamps app showed a couple of places on the far side of town. We checked one out – Freeburgh Bridge – but found a recently erected No Camping sign. Smoko campsite, a few km further on, appears to be okay, but as our fridge was playing up we returned to Bright and mains power at a caravan park. In all we checked out three caravan parks before deciding where to stay: The Bright Holiday Park seemed quite spacious and well laid out, but I was looking for a powered site with green grass and due to the combination of massive shade trees and sparing summer rains, most sites were dirt – although some had artificial-grass mats. Quoted rates were $45 a night for powered and $39 for unpowered. The BIG4 Bright was tiny by comparison, felt cramped and just manoeuvring our 7 metre A’van around looking at sites was a bit of a squeeze. The sites all looked quite small, too, and seemed very closely packed. Quoted rates were $44 a night for powered, but there was a min of two nights at the time. The Bright Riverside Holiday Park got our business, partly because we were tired and it had been a long day, but also because we could have a powered site looking across the Ovens River, just a stone’s throw from town. It was also a dirt site, but the lure of big shade trees, the river view and the sounds of live jazz drifting across from the brewery’s rear deck sealed the deal. We stayed two nights and didn’t turn a wheel on the second day, as it was just a short walk into town. The park is fairly basic and the site cost $46 per night, but given the location it felt like money (relatively) well spent.
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Shop Smart! A
Four Amazing Seasons B
lbury Wodonga RV World offers a terrific service that made our ‘rental’ experience a whole lot easier. They suggest you use Woolworth’s Shop Online service to prebuy your groceries and have them delivered to their depot on the day of your departure, where they will receive and pack them away into your vehicle. What a brilliant idea! Grocery shopping is often the first thing we do after collecting a motorhome, if we can’t take supplies with us, and this saved us a considerable amount of time and mucking around.
right’s tourism catch cry is Four Amazing Seasons and here’s what they have to say:
• Autumn – A canvas of colour, autumn is showcased in Bright. Brisk mornings, sunny days and cool nights invite adventure, exploration, lots of gourmet food and wine indulgence. Scaling the skies, riding the rivers or being cosy and decadent beside a toasty open fire make autumn in Bright a special ‘getaway’ experience!
It also got us thinking about using the service generally when travelling. Why not go online and shop, then have everything delivered to a caravan park or other local address (like a tourist information office carpark) to save you time as well as the angst of finding a suitable parking spot and lugging everything back to your vehicle?
• Winter – Cold means snow and Bright is the ideal home base for the winter sport enthusiast. Three major snow resorts can be accessed easily from Bright with Mt Buffalo only a 45 minute drive and Falls Creek and Mt. Hotham approximately 75 minute drive from Bright. Bright can cater for all your snow needs.
Both Woolworths and Coles offer a delivery service, which is free above a certain price point (it seemed about $30 when we ordered through Woolworths). The first time you shop you need to set up an account, which only takes a few minutes, and that’s where you designate a delivery address. You can have multiple addresses on file, or just nominate to pick-up from the store, which at least saves you the shopping time. The Woolworths’ system is very comprehensive, but takes a bit of time to find all the specials and how to navigate your way around. Once mastered it opens up a whole new world and is yet another tool in the clever traveller’s arsenal.
• Spring – Just as impressive as autumn, spring in Bright is a veritable bouquet of colour! Everything comes to life with startling clarity. Locals proudly open their garden gates to boast their colourful bounty. Snow fed creeks and rivers roar and the skies overhead are a brilliant blue. Aerial sports and taking on the rapids seem highly inviting even to the fainthearted! And, just like autumn, festivals and events abound. • Summer – A gourmet picnic of lazy days and shady rivers. Catching fresh trout in an alpine stream and sipping the great wines of the alpine valleys at a street side café. The heart of the gourmet district offers freshly picked berries, home made ice creams, cheese, wine, tantalising restaurants and cool evening breezes. Concerts at the Sound Shell in Howitt Park make the evening BBQ even more enjoyable. Music and laughter resound as people of every age make the most of summer in Bright.
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The railway succumbed to declining patronage and closed in 1983, only to be reborn in the 1990s as the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail .
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Winnebago launches in Australia The long awaited ‘official’ Winnebago range is now on sale…
Manufacturing giant Winnebago launched its officially sanctioned Australian operation to an industry gathering on the eve of the first day of the new-look Victorian Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow. The long awaited debut revealed a mix of fully imported caravans and locally manufactured motorhomes, in what was billed as just the first round of a long term plan to firmly establish the Winnebago brand right across the Australian RV industry. Winnebago RV Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian-owned Apollo Motorhome Holidays, has granted the exclusive use of “Certain Winnebago trademarks on motorhomes, campervans and caravans across Australia and New Zealand,” by Winnebago Industries from the USA.
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Spoon Owls for sale in the tourist information centre in nearby Myrtleford.
Winnebago USA Towables President, Johnny Hernandez, said the American industry leader was proud to partner with Apollo Group in Australia and New Zealand. “Winnebago is to RV’s what Hoover is to vacuum cleaners, or Kleenex is to tissues – it is synonymous with the RV lifestyle and we are extremely confident about the range that will be sold here in Australia and in New Zealand,” Mr Hernandez said. He went on to say the 2015 Winnebago RV range of been designed combining the best of their manufacturing from North America with Australian market knowledge and expertise. Winnebago RV CEO Luke Trouchet heads up the AU$65 million Australian-owned Apollo Group with his brother Karl, a family business started by his parents in Brisbane in 1985. Mr Trouchet said the Apollo Group had “Jumped at the chance” to bring Winnebago products to Australia and been given access to import the entire Winnebago Industries range from the USA, as well as producing motorised product
under the Winnebago brand at the Group’s Brisbane manufacturing facility.
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The Whitehaven gets a slide-out dinette and bed while the Cottesloe has a rear corner bed and bathroom. Construction is solid and the designs build on Talvor’s experience making tough, practi-cal motorhomes for the mass rental market. “This is only the start – we have been overwhelmed with interest from dealers and we expect to establish a national dealership network both in Australia and New Zealand during 2015,” Mr Trouchet said. He said Winnebago RV had designed and built an entire new range of five motorhomes and two campervans in Australia, and went through a rigorous process to make the highly popular Winnebago Minnie caravan range, fully imported from the USA, compliant with Australian caravan standards and consistent with the tastes of Australian travellers.
Plans and Products
Motorhome had the opportunity to chat at length with CEO Luke Trouchet, who hinted at plans that would prove very exciting for local motorhome customers in the future. In a sign of just how far the Apollo Group has
come, 2015 is its 30th anniversary year and we learned the business started with Luke’s father renting out a single campervan on weekends, which also happened to be the family car during the week! Luke said he believed Apollo is now the World’s largest motorhome rental company, operating across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. Apollo is also one on Winnebago’s biggest fleet customers in North America, buying hundreds of new motorhomes annually for its steadily growing rental fleet. The Australian Winnebago motorhome range is manufactured in the Group’s Brisbane facility, where they cut their teeth making Talvor motorhomes, primarily for Apollo Rentals. The new range is named after famous Australian beaches and comprises four coach-built motorhomes – the Airlie, Byron, Cottesloe and Whitehaven – and one van conversion – the Bondi. The coach-builts are available
Feature | 57
The Cottesloe’s concertina bathroom door doesn’t comprise bed width to the degree the same layout does in Ava’s Ovation M3 Alcove, with its solid door. Wardrobe drawers are basic but solid, providing plenty of space for his and hers socks and you-know-whats… in two-berth B-class or four-berth C-class configurations (the Byron sleeps four as a B-class or six as a C-class), while the Bondi is available with two or four seats, but only two berths. Only the range-topping Whitehaven comes with a slide-out, which contains the dinette and main bed, and while it and the Airlie are Fiat Ducato-based, the others are Mercedes Benz Sprinter or VW Crafter based. iMotorhome is pleased to say that while all five designs are essentially redeveloped Talvor models, much work has gone into them. Not only has the standard of fit, finish and attention to detail lifted, so too has the choice of fabrics and overall decor. The result is what appears to be a well made, well finished and visually appealing range of motorhomes that we’re looking forward to begin reviewing soon. It’s worth noting the Talvor heritage is a bonus, given the company’s considerable experience
58 | Feature
building tough motorhomes for the unforgiving mass rental market. As new kids on the block it will be interesting to see how the ‘new’ Winnebago fares. Given the number of ‘old’ Winnebagos still running around there is sure to be a level of confusion in people’s minds, at least those new to the motorhome scene. A national dealer network is already partly established and new locations will be announced in the months ahead. Given that big RV dealers are few and far between and that most are locked into long term arrangements with established local manufacturers, don’t be surprised to see Winnebago setting-up in conjunction with existing auto dealerships – something the now-defunct Matilda Motorhomes tried with Toyota, without success, many years ago. If any company can bring a new brand to the Australian market, establish it nationally and make it work I have no doubt the Apollo Group can. Given the small size of our overall RV market – especially motorhomes – and the already crowded marketplace, the stage is surely set for a serious battle for your business.
Interesting fabric options help brighten otherwise neutral interior colours.
60 | Show Report
Bigger & better? Believe it!
Show Report | 61
Apart from its eye catching finish this compact dual-cab slide-on by Travelander attracted plenty of attention, opening and closing at the touch of a button. Very convenient…
aving outgrown its Caulfield Race Course home of many decades, the Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow moved across the city to the Melbourne Showgrounds for 2015 and it was smiles allround. The new venue is a marked improvement, not only in terms of size, but in layout and overall spaciousness, feeling modern and open compared to poor old Caulfield’s cramped accommodations. Once again a fleet of shuttle buggies ferried the weary, lost and/or bewildered around the venue as a welcome courtesy service, again ably driven by a host of enthusiastic volunteers. iMotorhome does
wonder, however, why such a commercially focused event needs to rely on the goodwill of volunteer drivers when it’s clearly not short of cash. The event kicked off with the usual media breakfast and welcome speeches, the highlight of which was the Victorian Minister for Industry, the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio, saying something about the state of Victoria’s ‘ecomony’ and finishing up by welcoming us all to the 2005 Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow. Not an auspicious start…
62 | Show Report
Top to Bottom: Jayco had new Fiats and a big Iveco on its huge stand. Avida’s new Birdsville with slide-out dinette and bed garnered plenty of attention. A’van also displayed its attractive Euro-sourced Knaus motorhomes, which have some interesting design features. Mumbles and fumbles aside, the 2015 Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow actually had a lot of new and interesting products across the entire RV spectrum, and here’s a quick round-up of what caught our attention in the motorhome world: • A’van – An extensive range of coach-built and van conversion motorhomes were on display, including three under the German Knaus brand. The range-topping Ovation M7 with bedroom slide-out and rear bathroom was particularly impressive, finished in eye catching silver, black and white which the company calls
its Titanium finish. • Avida – Three new models were unveiled: A Birdsville with a full-length slide-out, an Eyre with a new front-kitchen layout and a slideout, and an Esperance with a full-length slide-out. Avida is obviously ready to take the fight to Winnebago and the winner will certainly be the customer. Look for aggressive pricing, worthwhile upgrades like memory foam mattresses and a three year/one million km factory warranty, plus five years structural warranty and two years roadside assist.
Show Report | 63
Sunliner took out the Best Stand award for its huge display that ran almost the length of one side of the this pavilion. Trakka, Paradise, Wirraway, Frontline and Horizon occupied the opposite side, while Winnebago took up the far end. Below Right: AL-KO displayed it’s after-market motorhome chassis on a new Fiat Ducato.
• Horizon – The new model Fiat Ducatos were on display and they looked good. No new layouts to report, but watch for some interesting developments later in the year. • Jayco – A large range of mainly Fiat-based Conquest models were on display, but a big 8.5 m (28 ft 7 in) Optimum on an Iveco dominated the stand. With a 7000 kg GVM and a big step up into the body it actually looked like a 4WD, despite its standard rearwheel drive chassis. • Paradise – The new model Iveco-based Integrity SL wasn’t at the Melbourne show, but is planned for the Adelaide Show now on. We’re driving it back to Queensland after the show on what promises to be a memorable, if quick, cross country adventure! • Sunliner – A huge stand garnered the Best Motorhome Stand award and the limited edition 40th Anniversary model occupied pride of place. It certainly has some innovative deign features and we’re looking forward to getting our hands on one to review.
• Trakka – No new models, just evolutionary design improvements like dimmable underbench-edge LED strip lighting in the kitchen that shines down into the drawers so you can clearly see what’s in them. Nice… • Winnebago – Five models kick off the range in Australia, with NZ to follow soon. See our separate report and watch for our first review soon. • Wirraway – A 4WD Wirraway was on display and we’re planning to get our hands on it soon for a day test. Looks very interesting!
64 | Mobile Tech
Itâ€™s the global treasure hunt happening near you right nowâ€Ś By Emily Barker
Mobile Tech | 65
here is a real treasure hunt going on right now all around us, all over the world: It’s called Geocaching and it involves an enormous and diverse community of spirited adventurers from all walks of life. Geocaching quite literally might be the perfect fusion of travel, discovery and technology. In a nutshell it’s a real-world, outdoor hide-and-seek game using GPS-enabled devices. Caches are waterproof containers of various shapes and sizes hidden by fellow participants in areas of interest or significance to them. These locations are recorded as GPS coordinates that are uploaded to the official website with a brief description of the cache site, often accompanied by clues of varying complexities. The contents of each geocache can vary from small trinkets such as key rings or novelty objects to official registered ‘trackables’. Consistent in each, though, is a log book that every geocacher signs and dates upon discovery. The concept is simple: Take some stuff, leave some stuff, sign the log book and share your experience!
In The Beginning…
he history behind this innovative outdoor hobby began in America when selective availability, or the scrambling of GPS signals for military security, was switched off in the year 2000, enabling accurate use by civilians for the very first time. Up until then satellite navigation systems remained solely for use by the US Department of Defence and civilian accuracy was degraded to 100 meters or more. To celebrate this newfound technological freedom a fellow by the name of Dave Ulmer hid a bucket of trinkets in the woods in Portland, Oregon, then posted the coordinates on an online discussion group dedicated to satellite navigation. The rest, as they say, is history! Over time technology has advanced making this high-tech treasure hunt accessible to just about everyone with a GPS or even just a GPS-enabled mobile phone.
66 | Mobile Tech
ll you need to get started is to register for a basic free membership at www. geocaching.com (or one of the many similar sites), visit the "Hide & Seek a Cache" page and search for a nearby geocache. The coordinates can be entered directly into a GPS device or you can use the free app with access to many (many) standard caches. Once discovered, trade any objects, sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location, then share your geocaching stories and photos online.
wo Geocaching apps currently exist from the primary web site Geocaching. com, available for both Android and iOS devices. The first ‘Geocaching Intro’ is free and contains tips, hints and instructions to get you started. It allows you to see and locate nearby geocaches, guiding you through the entire searching, locating and logging process. You can also upgrade to Geocaching Premium from within the app to find even more geocaches, although this is certainly not necessary as all types of geocache coordinates (excluding premium caches) are available on the website.
Perhaps what makes Geocaching such a successful worldwide phenomenon is the fact people are sharing little gems of personal insight with each other. Each cache site is unique; it might be the perfect rest spot to break a long drive, a secret waterfall a little off the beaten track or a view unlike any you’ll find directions to in a travel guide. Some caches provide a local’s insight into an area while others are areas of historical or natural significance so special they simply should not be missed. Whatever the reason someone has for creating a cache spot, it’s one they want others to experience!
The second app costs $9.99, which may be worthwhile for those otherwise unequipped with any satellite navigation tools. However, recent feedback indicates that the free introductory app actually contains more favourable user-friendly features than the Premium. The only real positive to the upgrade appears to be the availability of more preprogrammed and different cache types. Geocaching is suitable for everybody and literally all abilities are catered for; from young
Mobile Tech | 67 families to the hard-core adventurer and everyone in-between. Each location contains a difficulty rating in terms of both terrain and complexity to find, so you know what to expect. It’s also a great idea to read the recent feedback activity to see what others have to say about their experiences, particularity in areas influenced by seasonal weather. This information is readily accessible via the app through its clear interface, utilising a series of tabs for each cache and making it a handy ‘on the ground’ tool. Active in more than 185 countries, Geocaching is truly a booming ‘underground’ community activity unique in its ability to connect travellers who often never meet, but who explore and share areas otherwise unknown. There is also the strange propensity for this quietly united community to call those not in the know “Muggles”. In fact Geocaching has its own complete glossary of terms, such is its exclusivity. It might be a game or it might be a sport, but it’s definitely something happening near you – right now!
Fast Facts: Name: Geocaching Intro By Groundspeak Inc. Cost: Free Category: Navigation Platforms: iOS and Android Size: 36.6 MB
68 | Next Issue
A Matter of Integrity… A
s per my editorial, we’re on the road this week in a new release Integrity SL from Paradise Motorhomes. We’re delivering it back to their Gold Coast factory following its debut at the Adelaide Caravan and Camping Show, and it should be an memorable trip. The new Iveco promises much, February 19-23
including a more powerful engine, 8-speed fully automatic transmission and optional air-bag rear suspension. The test Integrity is a production prototype that’s built on a new-look cab, but one with the current model’s mechanicals. Still, it has the new cab interior and I’m told it’s a significant improvement in its own right. Watch for a full report on this interesting motorhome in two weeks time, plus a write-up of our whistle-stop Outback travels. Issue 67 will be out on 07 March. Until then we hope you enjoy this issue and invite you to join Friends our more than 21,000 Facebook and Twitter followers to follow our marathon Integrity review as it unfolds. Facebook “f ” Logo
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Adelaide Caravan & Camping Show
Perth Caravan & Camping Show
Sydney Caravan, Camping & Holiday Supershow
Adelaide Showground, Goodwood Rd, Wayville SA 5034 • Open 10:00-6:00 daily • Parking: $7 • Adults: $13 • Seniors: $10 • Kids: Free U 15 years with adult
Claremont Showgrounds Claremont. WA. 6010 • Open 9:30-5:30 daily (2 pm last day) • Parking: $5 • Adults: $19.50 • Seniors: $13 • Kids: Free U 16 years
Rosehill Racecourse, James Ruse Dr, Rosehill. NSW. 2142 • Open 10:30-5:00 daily (4 pm last day) • Parking: $5 • Adults: $25 • Seniors: $20 • Kids: Free U 16 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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