Issue 73: Jun 06 2015
because getting there is half the fun...
Alice Springs’ secret desert garden…
How ‘our’ Horizon Casuarina is faring!
A quick look at A-frame towing…
$50 for the! best letter
Sunliner’s compact 4X4 Ranger packs a powerful punch…
Relax in Paradise
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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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Jess Ciampa, Emily Barker, Elizabeth & Helmut Mueller
Published by iMotorhome
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PO Box 1738, Bowral. NSW 2576. Australia.
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T: 0414 604 368 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Roadtest Editor Malcolm Street E: email@example.com
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On my mind | 5
Warranty Wonderings… The subject of imported recreational vehicles is an emotive one. On one hand is the desire to protect local industry and on the other is the desire for a wider range of choices. People have been privately importing RVs of all shapes and sizes for years, but it’s only in recent times factory-new models have appeared. On the motorhome front, brands like Swift and Auto Trail are seeking to establish themselves locally. Both offer competitively priced, fully imported Fiat Ducato-based motorhomes; many with features and innovations unavailable in Australia. The companies are major players in the UK and each produces more motorhomes annually than all Australian companies do, combined. Both are also offering five year warranties on their Fiat Ducatos – locally built Fiat motorhomes have a three year warranty – and it’s become a serious bone of contention. Fiat Australia – always difficult to get information from – seems to have been playing hardball with these importers (and probably others) by initially saying it wouldn’t honour warranty claims on fully imported Ducatos. That position appears to have softened, but Fiat needs to clarify its position in the interests of consumers. The sticking point (at least in the early days) seems to be that Fiat Australia makes no money on imported motorhomes because it doesn’t supply the base vehicle. Why that would affect its decision to honour warranties is mystifying, especially considering Fiat Australia is now an outpost of Fiat head office and no longer just an importer. Owners of Swift and Auto Trail models sold in the UK are covered by what’s termed a Tourist Warranty when they travel to Europe or beyond. iMotorhome has been told categorically by Auto Trail that its UK head office pays Fiat in Italy an additional amount to ensure Australian delivered motorhomes are covered for five years. We believe the same is true with Swift. Fiat Australia says the vehicles are only covered by a two year Tourist Warranty but that it is working to
resolve the situation. Fiat Australia also said we’re best not to mention the five year warranty, although it didn’t say whose interest that was protecting. The bottom line? Consumers need a quick and concrete resolution to this situation and Fiat Australia needs to clarify the situation – one way or the other. Watch this space!
Come and meet us! We’re holding our inaugural iMotorhome get together on 11-13 September! We’ve booked out the historic Joadja Town site, nestled deep in a valley on the western fringe of the NSW Southern Highlands. It’s also home to the new Joadja Whiskey Distillery, which is certainly a whole attraction in it’s own right, although it’s early days yet for whisky production. This is a small and informal get together limited by space to about 20 motorhomes, but will include a guided tour of the remains of the 19th century town and oil shale refinery, plus the distillery, on the Saturday afternoon. A highlight will be a Spanish tapas dinner on the Saturday night, as Joadja’s owners Valero and Elisa are Spanish Australians, and it should be an attraction in its own right! The weekend includes two night’s stay (Friday/Saturday) and you can stay Sunday night if desired for a nominal fee. See the ad on page 17 for full details and book early. See you there!
6 | Content
On my Mind
On your Mind
Who we are, where and other legal stuff
Find back issues and more on our website
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Day Test: Sunliner Ranger 4X4
Travel – Olive Pink
Technical: Towing The Line
Longtermer: Horizon Casuarina
What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
The latest Marketplace offers
A monthly roundup on free camping, from the Free Choice Camping people
Power Ranger – Malcolm Street gets to know Sunliner’s smallest coachbuilt
My Motorhome – A custom Toyota HiAce
An oasis near the heart of Alice Springs!
Short Break – Marulan Take a meridian trip back in time…
A quick look at A-Frame towing basics
A report card on our longterm Horizon Casuarina
App Review – Parkfinder WA
Next Issue What’s coming up and which shows are on soon!
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Resources | 9
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
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On your mind | 11
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll share it with our readers. We’ll also reward
More Fiat Ideas!
Adding to the discussion about the Fiat not having drink holders I submit photos of my solution. I procured a suitable size plastic container and attached two pieces of PVC piping that were the right size for our drink bottles. It sits nicely between our seats and is easy to remove to swivel the seats. An added bonus is that it allows us to carry essential items such as Camps 8 book, maps, computer tablet etc. We have the Fiatfitted carpet in the front and it doesn't move at all. People who don't have the carpet might need to attach something to the base of the container just in case it moves. Hope others might find this a suitable solution. Regards, Roger & Julie.
the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.
Thanks for sharing your innovative idea, I’m sure it will give fellow readers even more to think about. Please accept this issue’s $50 prize for your efforts, which could possibly go towards a colourcoded container to match your carpet!
Try Murray Town Hi! In regards to your comments about Melrose in South Australia, I am just wondering if you know about Murray Town? This friendly little place is not far from Melrose (about 15 km south) and it has powered and unpowered sites. There are clean toilets and showers and I can vouch for the fact that the locals are very friendly! The old pub has recently opened up into a coffee shop but I'm not sure what that is like. If you were thinking of going to Melrose give Murray Town a try instead. Cheers, Sharon.
Thanks Sharon, that’s good to know and I’m aways happy to spread the word about RV Friendly towns. Safe travels and please let me know if you come across any other worth-while little spots. Let me send you a runner’s-up prize of a terrific little hand-tooled leather iMotorhome notebook to make note of them in!
12 | On your mind
Hi Richard. Don’t know if this would work or help, but I was thinking about the amount of grey water carried around Australia in motor homes, caravans, etc. Maybe instead of it been dumped it could be used in drought areas as extra water for gardens, laying dust, washing vehicles and so on? Thanks for your great magazine, I look forward every fort-night. Its an excellent read. I don't have a motorhome nor have I even been in one, but I live in hope!
G’day Ray and thanks for writing. Many caravan parks and campsites are happy to let people run their grey water hoses onto the grass or other needy areas, but it would be good if Councils in dry parts of the country could organise a community holding tank or similar – perhaps next to a dump point – where such water could be collected. Any takers out there?
Kind Regards, Ray.
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14 | On your mind
Scooting along… The E-Twow (pronounced E2) is the scooter we use and love, but it wasn't easy to find. In fact there were none in Australia and I had to import two from Shanghai. They seemed to attract a lot of attention where ever we went and I couldn't count how many times I was asked, "Where did you get that scooter?”.
The following is an editorial submission that was easiest to include in this issue’s Letters section. Mark is an advertiser in our Marketplace Directory, so please keep that in mind when reading. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring you a product review to back up his fun-sounding claims – Mrs iMotorhome is particularly keen! “G’day Richard, my name is Mark and I've had an interest in scooters since I was able to ride a bike. I love their portability and simplicity, plus they’re a joy to ride. For quite some time my wife Karen and I have taken our adult version kick scooters into town to explore the walking trails and intercity lanes that cars can never reach. You can cover so much more distance than walking and still get the benefits of being in the fresh air! In the last few years technology has taken my passion to the next level by adding an electric hub motor and battery system to the humble scooter. This has increased the distance of our exploration to almost that of a car, but without sweating it out on a bike! We regularly load our electric scooters into the boot of our car and travel to regional townships to explore things you don't see by car and can't get to, at least not quickly or easily enough, when walking.
After endless testing of the quality and performance I decided to get Australian Government approval to import them for sale here. Modifications were made to meet our stringent road rules so they now meet all the standards for our country. The E-Twow has a range of up to 40 km and travels up to 25 km/h. Most of the time we just manually kick along, enjoying the glide and increased fitness. Sometimes we find our-selves at the end of a long road and the electric power is certainly welcome! If it's hot, traveling on power lets you relax and cool down in the breeze! The scooter weighs only 10.8 kg and when folded you can put it over your shoulder like a bag. I've even gone into town on a busy train with the E-Twow on my lap without problems Needless to say they're a great alternative to bikes and don't need racks to hang off the back of a vehicle. If you’re interested in giving this new revolution of mobility a go, give me a call on 0412027330. We are based in Adelaide but can deliver anywhere. Check out the official web page www.e-twow.com too.
16 | News
everse Alert Australia Pty Ltd has announced the release of a world first aftermarket automatic braking system. The technology, called Reverse Alert, is a unique approach to preventing reversing related accidents and was invented in South East Qld.
“What makes the technology unique is that the system can be fitted to any vehicle new or old and does not conflict with Australian Design Rules. The system has been designed to automatically apply the brake when the rear sensors detect an object or person. This is achieved through the use of a clamp that is attached to the brake pedal. The clamp pulls the brake, stopping the vehicle automatically without driver input when the rear sensors detect an object at specific distances,” business manager Ian Costelloe told iMotorhome. He said he believes the technology can greatly reduce the number of children being injured by reversing vehicles, as well as reduce carpark and campsite reversing accidents.
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because getting there is half the fun...
We’ve Booked Out The Valley! Date: 11-13 September 2015 Location: Joadja Creek Heritage Site, NSW.
Click for Google Maps
Cost: $59 per person
What’s Included? • Entry fee • 2-nights non-powered camping (Fri/Sat) with basic facilities available The inaugural iMotorhome get-together is being held at of one of Australia’s most interesting historical sites – Joadja Creek. Set deep in a valley on the western fringe of the Southern Highlands of NSW, this tranquil and picturesque location was once a thriving industrial centre and township, complete with its own railway.
• Guided historic site tour by the owner • Tour of Joadja Whisky Distillery • Spanish tapas dinner on Saturday night
Extras Extra night (Sun): $6 per person
Come and meet the iMotorhome team, enjoy a guided site tour, a tour of the recently completed Joadja Whisky Distillery and delight in an authentic Spanish tapas dinner, followed by a few drinks by the camp fire!
Beer with dinner: $5 each
We’ve booked out the valley for the weekend, but space limited to about 20 motorhomes, so book early and secure your spot!
Email email@example.com with your name and contact details and we’ll put you on the list. Payment via EFT required to confirm booking. Space is limited so contact us today!
Wine with dinner: $6 glass
Fine Print (please read): 1: Due to licensing restrictions BYO is not available with the Saturday night dinner, but okay at other times (like around the camp fire!). 2: A ccess is via several kilometres of dirt road. The final 2 km can be tricky after heavy rain and we reserve the right to reschedule or cancel the event due to weather conditions. In either case a full refund would be offered. 3: Access isn’t recommended for coach-sized motorhomes, but anything up to about 9 m will be fine.
18 | News
ower specialists Baintech has introduced a new portable power system – the PowerTop – and it offers some unique features. It’s designed more for campers, boaties and those who need the flexibility of a portable system. Built around a rechargeable 100 AH gel battery, the PowerTop is compact and comes with five outlets that suit a wide range of devices. These include two 12 V cigarette sockets, an Engel fridge socket, a USB socket and Baintech’s new and exclusive LockOn socket, which it claims will stay connected on the roughest roads.
The PowerTop also comes with an LCD volt meter with low volt alarm, LED operations panel, a resettable thermal breaker and a large on/off switch. It also comes with three Anderson Plug charging connectors, for AC, DC and solar. Price is $599 and you can find more details and your nearest stockist on their website, or by calling 1300 224 683
Portable Dog Run
ooking for something to keep your pet safe and nearby, but give it a bit of freedom whilst motorhoming or Camping? This might be for you. A press release reads: Talos Products by Omega Pacific presents the first packable, portable dog run that can be
taken anywhere and sets up in minutes between a pair of trees, posts or any other sturdy anchor points. The K9 Sky-Trak provides your dog up to 40 feet of roaming space while still securely leashed and legal in parks, campgrounds, rest stops or almost anywhere. Each kit comes with 50 feet of high-visibility poly cord, a pair of snap-link connectors, a tensioning cleat, a trolley pulley and a leash – everything you need to let your pet roam while safely tethered. The system has built-in dynamic tensioning to prevent your dog from being jerked harshly if they run to the end of the line. Sets up in just a couple minutes and can be stowed in the included tote bag that is roomy enough to contain a collapsible water bowl (included) or treats and favourite toys (not included). Available from Talos Products website or Amazon for US$39.95 plus shipping.
News | 19
Win a Motorhome Holiday!
vida RV is offering you the chance to win a 10-day holiday in one of its new motorhomes. To enter just ‘Like’ the Avida RV Facebook page, share it and then enter your details on their website by clicking HERE. The competition runs until late December, so good luck!
Product Safety Recalls
he Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has a website for Product Safety Recalls in Australia. It covers everything from cars to camping equipment, fashion and clothing to kids toys. It also has a section on caravans and motorhomes. If you’re in the market for a used RV it’s well worth checking out to see if your intended purchase is listed.
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20 | News
Queensland Rego Charges Increasing
ccording to an ABC report, â€œQueensland, already the most expensive place in Australia to own a car, will raise vehicle registration fees again on July 1, with the State Opposition accusing the Government of treating motorists as cash cows.â€?
The fees will rise at more than twice the rate of inflation, and come on top of a 3.5 per cent rise in Queensland driver's licence fees due to take effect on July 1, according to the RACQ. Registration of a four-cylinder car is set to rise by about $12, a six-cylinder car will go up by about $17, while an eight-cylinder car will rise by $23. It will take registration for four-cylinder cars from $328.90 to $340.40, six-cylinder cars from $492.30 to $509.50 and seven or eight-cylinder cars from $669.80 to $693.25, excluding insurance costs. Earlier this week before the rise was announced, the RACQ told the ABC that Queensland was already the most expensive state in Australia in which to own a car. To read more click HERE.
News | 21
Murgon Success! while. Now Murgon is the sort of town that you often drive through when going from one major centre to another, so the plan was ambitious and of course had some opposition from certain sectors of the accommodation industry.
n opinion piece from Free Choice Camping: Once upon a time there was a small country town in the South Burnett which like all country towns has seen its ups and downs and lost its major employer and industry. It had a small council-owned caravan park that over time became less viable and eventually closed, but the Businessmen’s Association was determined to keep it open as a free park to encourage tourists to stay a
Well we have just received an email advising that the freedom camp is working, they ask freedom campers to place their receipts from local spending in a box at the park and it is cleared weekly. Last week it was chockers, with over $4500 in receipts spent with businesses in the town. We congratulate Murgon for its forward thinking and trust that the partnership between the town and RV travellers will continue to flourish for the benefit of all. Next time we all pass thought it might pay to linger for 48 hours and discover what the town has to offer.
From the ocean to the outback and destinations in between. Fancy some scenic touring through the Flinders Ranges, or paddling a kayak on Cooper Creek? Perhaps a bit of camping solitude in the Gawler Ranges is more to your liking. Maybe a spot of fishing at Beachport or just lazing back at Melrose for a couple of days. Whatever your fancy, this ebook for iPad contains a selection of 12 of South Australia’s most accessible and beautiful destinations that offer travellers great touring and fantastic camping opportunities. Whether you’re travelling by motorhome, towing a caravan or just packing a tent, there are destinations for everyone!
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22 | News
Marketplace Directory Updates
on’t forget, if you’re looking for parts, service, accessories or a myriad of other information – including links to Australia’s top motorhome manufacturers and dealers – you can find it all in the iMotorhome Marketplace Directory. Here’s a selection of excellent businesses that help keep this magazine going. By supporting them and the other businesses in our Marketplace Directory you help keep iMotorhome arriving in your inbox!
Active Campers Our slide-on campers are a unique, light weight and well-crafted solution designed to fit all single, 1½ and some dual cab utes. The aerodynamic profile is ideal for efficient travel
and true off road performance. The roof lifts easily and quickly, creating a spacious and practical interior.
Bonetti Campers Bonetti Campers imports Mondo-Pickup slide-on camper "Musica" and shortly, the "Carbonio" a lightweight carbon fibre shell. Established 2012 by Stefano, former KEA Campers Manager. Purchasing the KEA Parts stock, he is the only KEA parts stockist in Australia. The main business is KEA Camper repairs, refurbishing, conversions and manufacturing.
News | 23
Marketplace Directory Updates
Motor Homes International
Robert’s RV World
Based on the proven Mercedes Benz Sprinter extra long, the Columbus motorhome by Motor Homes International is a very comfortable motorhome for two people. The most storage of any van based motorhome. No structural changes to the body. The best Sprinter based conversion anywhere! Visit our website for 50 photos.
Robert’s RV World has the largest undercover motorhome showroom in the Southern Hemisphere, where browsing is always easy and comfortable. With our newly renovated service department we can fit all available accessories and offer motorhome servicing as well as insurance repairs. Very proud to be Avida Dealer of the Year 2010.
Parkland RV is the official dealer for Avida Motorhomes, Crossroads RV and Opal Caravans in Western Australia. We also stock a range of quality used motorhomes and campervans. Our modern service department maintains and repairs all types of recreational vehicles. When you’re in WA make sure you visit us!
Winjana RV specialises in quality, small and affordable 5th wheelers. Vans built in Australia, to suit Australian conditions. The ‘Cattai 760’ hybrid van is the first in Australia. Based in Toowoomba, Queensland, our factory is open to visit. Vans start from $67,500 fitted. Custombuild options. Custom-built vans and ‘off-road’ vans available.
24 | News
he Monto, Qld, community and business people, who rallied together under the banner of ‘Monto Magic’ have secured a lease over the railway yards at the bottom end of the Main Street for a 72 hr low cost rest area for self-contained units.
“We are now looking for a caretaker to look after the area, mow and keep it clean and collect the overnight fee, which goes towards keeping the area clean and tidy. After receiving all the bad publicity early last year we are moving forward at a very fast rate. This is a very friendly town to any one that likes to stop and talk,” said local spokesman John Mac Elroy.” Anyone interested in the position please contact him on 0429 661 075.
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BUY FACTORY DIRECT AND SAVE 222 Governor Road Braeside VIC 3195 Ph: 03 9588 0077
News | 25
his post appeared recently on Trakka’s Facebook page, following the first anniversary of the tragic passing of company co-founder Sally Berry.
Black Dog Institute is leading the way in suicide prevention. Their aim is to save lives and prevent the grief that suicide inflicts on families. It is something we feel strongly about and hold very close to our hearts here at Trakka. We have made a donation and urge you to read the post below. We are sharing Trakka co-founder Sal's story to educate and empower individuals and families. We want to open up conversation around suicide and remove the stigma from a very permanent effect of mental illness. "Sal was our mum, a wife and a successful business owner. She was an organiser, a perfectionist and a worrier, but such fun – bubbly, adventurous and always trying new things. She was the most selfless person you could meet, always ensuring we, her family, were happy, healthy and well looked after. Fiercely independent, she never wanted to let anyone know when she was struggling or having ‘lows’.” “We found out about mum’s death on Mother’s Day 2014. She would have felt at peace knowing we were all safe and together that day for support. Even in the last moments of her life, we would have been at the forefront of her mind.” “We crave not having to lower our voices when we mention ‘suicide’ as to why Sal is no longer here. Removing the stigma around suicide and ensuring families have the proper support to talk about it, is so important. By sharing our story, we want to ‘break the cycle’ to talk about what happened. We want to empower other families to talk and not feel ashamed.” We'd like to thank Sal's family, David, Alex, Olivia and Alister for allowing us to share their story and helping us to break down the stigma. To read more about Sal and Black Dog Institute’s work in suicide prevention click HERE. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing distress and needs urgent assistance, please reach out to your GP, family and friends or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
26 | iMotorhome Marketplace
Parkland RV Centre
Roberts RV World
Parkland RV is the official dealer for Avida Motorhomes, Crossroads RV and Opal Caravans in WA. We stock quality used RVs and our modern service department can look after everything.
An official Avida motorhome dealer, with more than 50 new motorhomes in the largest undercover RV showroom in the Southern Hemisphere. Our service department is here for all your needs too.
Australia’s leading fifth wheelers, designed here in Australia and built to suit our demanding conditions. Fifth wheelers from 24’ to 36’ available. Call 02 4953 7141 for information!
T: (08) 9493 7933 W: parklandrv.com.au
T: 1800 253 136 W: robertsrv.com.au
T: (02) 4953 7141 W: summerliferv.com.au
Battery Traders Super Store
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
We design and manufacture air suspension kits for all types of vehicles including motorhomes. Easy to install they let you ‘level up’ for stability and safety.
Batteries, solar panels, inverters, alternators and all electrical parts including cables and switches for your motorhome! We can find and fix all electrical faults and are 12 V power specialists.
Visit our world famous 300 ha open range sanctuary, home to some of the most exotic and endangered animals on earth. Explore by foot, bike, electric cart or in your motorhome!
T: 1800 AIRBAG W: airbagman.com.au
T: (07) 3209 3144 W: batterytraders.com.au
T: (02) 6881 1400 W: taronga.org.au
Australia’s leading solar power and satellite TV manufacturers! We stock the revolutionary In Flex and Mini Flex panels, Plus our Complete Traveler Satellite TV package is perfect for motorhomes.
In the heart of Victoria’s Gippsland region. Come and enjoy our natural beauty, famous lakes, High Country and expansive beaches. Find ‘Experience 40 Great Things to Do’ on our website too!
T: 1300 483 249 W: itechworld.com.au
T: (03) 5144 1108 W: tourismwellington.com.au
Bony Mountain Folk Festival This great Aussie festival in the bush is on again, featuring the legendary Murphy’s Pigs! Many other great artists, a Bush Poets breakfast, billy tea, damper, great tucker – don’t miss it!
iMotorhome Marketplace | 27
Southern Spirit Campervans FLEXIBLE STORAGE SYSTEMS FOR YOUR CAMPERVAN OR MOTORHOME Full & part fitouts Hitop, Poptop and Reimo roofs True custommade conversions Repairs & improvements BYO van from Hiace to Sprinter
Store those additional items up and out of the way using our adjustable, transportable and modular storage system!
The Duvalay memory foam sleeping system - for those who enjoy a comfortable nights sleep but hate making the bed. All the comforts of home while you explore the extraordinary! To order simply call (08) 9336 7714 or email email@example.com www.duvalay.com.au
Over 11 years cover manufacturing experience Australia wide.Free Measure & Quote Call in Factory 1:354 Mons Road Forest Glen : Sunshine Coast Queensland PH-‐1300 304 332/0754564818 www.caravancovers.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org Qld Stockist of Duvalay.
The E-Twow Electric scooter for adults LATEST TECHNOLOGY FOR RV OWNERS
The alternative to a bike!!
25km/h with a range of 40km in ideal conditions! Super light too at 10.8kg
• • • • • •
More Versatile Than Any Other RV Camp Anywhere - It’s Self Contained Large Bathroom With Shower & Toilet Easy To Operate With Electric Jacks Models For Single, Extra & Dual Cabs Plus! Famous Ozcape Quality & Support
Folds away quite compact for small storage
To ﬁnd out more call Mark on 0412027330 or email email@example.com www.e-twow.com 1
Nomadic Solutions hitches fully ADR compliant no swaying increased towing safety easy reversing offroad vans available
5th wheeler specialist
Nomadic Solutions - the original, quality constructed ‘lifestyletable™’ that is easily attached to the side of your motorhome. Now available in ‘mill finish’ for custom painting.
T: (02) 9011 8144 W: nomadicsolutions.com.au
America’s favourite motorhome is now available in Australia! Tiffin Motorhomes Australia is proud to offer the Allegro Breeze 32 to the Australian market. Click through to find out why they’re fast becoming Australia’s favourite too!
T: 0411 616 617 W: tiffinmotorhomes.com.au
28 | Feature
Freedom Camping O ur regular feature keeping you in touch with what’s happened and happening in the world of freedom camping in Australia. These stories and more can be found in detail at the Freedom of Choice website, indexed by state and town, while you can also find the latest news and updates on their Facebook page. 1 May – C IAWA Launches its own RV Friendly Town scheme In the past the Caravan Industry Association of Western Australia (CIAWA) has been EXTREMELY anti anything to do with freedom camping and has launched numerous attacks on our freedom of choice. This new PR blurb says "CIAWA have developed a set of criteria to allow any town, community or destination to promote itself as a destination that Welcomes Recreational Vehicles.” We await with great interest the details of the "set of criteria" to see if it truly is RV friendly or just another effort by the CIAWA to increase its protectionism of its own industry. We truly hope this is a genuine effort on behalf of the CIAWA but experience tells us to welcome it with caution. 1 May – " Caravan and Camping Industry has 'reinvented' itself" And we have been lead to believe the industry was in dire straits caused by freedom camping if we listen to lobby's presentations to government inquiries, etc. This is an interesting article in Caravanning News 2 May – T hings are moving along in Warrnambool "The contentious issue of free camping by vanpackers and grey nomads could be thrown open
for community debate at a forum suggested in a Warrnambool City Council report. If the proposal gets the thumbs up from councillors at their monthly meeting Monday night, the forum results would help shape a new policy document." 3 May – Geraldton Sometimes it can become frustrating dealing with governments/councils, etc, and the long, drawn out process to try and achieve a desired result. We have just published on our web site the Geraldton Council minutes of the 24th April, with the relative documents attached, so you can get an appreciation of the processes some of these matters go through. Interesting comments in some of the private submissions made and Free Choice Camps would like to thank each and everyone who took the time and effort to make submissions. (Read from page 33 onwards) 5 May – Fraser Coast Camping Options Strategy Council is asking for your feedback on their proposed strategy. Our personal opinion is that if the council were to go ahead with the suggested changes it would do next to zero to change their image and attract the RV tourist. It is obvious that the balance of power within this subcommittee that made these recommendation has no idea of how the RV market operates. Please take the time to give the council your opinions before it is too late 6 May – Purely a Coincidence? This post on Free Choice Camping’s FaceBook page reached over 19,000 people and was shared onto 50+ other sites. Just goes to show the power of social media when Councils make questionable decisions and the public responds to them.
Feature | 29 8 May – Port Douglas to crack down on “illegal” camping Douglas Shire Council is allocating extra funds and resources to crack down on illegal camping. An extra Local Laws Officer will be recruited to assist Regulatory Services with the management of illegal camping, including early morning patrols, and associated enforcement. Council will also allocate funds to engage local police on a commercial basis to assist Local Laws as required. Illegal camping signage will be installed at hot spot locations throughout the Douglas Shire to complement the crackdown. Council will investigate long-term options to address illegal camping, including the consideration to establish free or lowcost camps in the Douglas Shire. 10 May – Clarence Valley could learn from others Although it happened on a smaller scale than what's in store for the Clarence Valley, the by-pass of Bulahdelah could teach the region some lessons. The RMS Pacific Highway general manager Bob Higgins said Bulahdelah was thriving, despite losing direct connection to the highway, which had been the lifeblood of its economy. 12 May – Tourist skipping drought ridden Central-Western Qld The crippling drought in Queensland's central-west is turning off tourists who fear there is a shortage of water for drinking and bathing, one local business owner says. 17 May – Courier Mail opinion piece brings storm of protest Opinion: It’s time to tackle the unregulated and undertaxed menace of caravans “Let’s face it, for the average (non-vanning) motorist, caravans are the highway equivalent of cholesterol – the stuff born of overindulgence that clogs up the arteries and, if allowed to fester, could well kill you in the long run.” Is it any wonder there was public reaction? 21 May – Could there be vested interests in this story? Headlines scream “Indigenous homeless fined in Alice Springs but not illegal camping tourists” See the full story on Free Choice Camping
21 May – A story from NZ It is stories like this that give us all a bad reputation. We fully endorse Council taking action against repeat offenders. 23 May – WA spend on camping “Environment Minister Albert Jacob has confirmed a $6.25 million investment in the 2015-16 State Budget for low-cost, high-quality camping and caravanning accommodation and visitor facilities in Western Australia’s national parks and reserves.” 24 May – At last the consumer being listened to For a long time we have advocated that the caravan park industry has been providing to us, the consumer, what they wanted and not what we wanted. We have all seen the comments on social media, forums, etc, re jumping castles, swimming pools and all those things that put prices up to pay for it that many of us simply don't want. Well we take out hat off to KUI PARKS who obviously are listening 24 May – Caravan Parks Association hits back at Courier Mail Opinion Piece 27 May – Bright, Victoria. People power in action When Council rejects proposal for a dump point local resident Yvonne Huggins starts a petition and collects over 1000 signatures. 29 May – Success story in Murgon An opinion piece: “Once upon a time there was a small country town in the South Burnett which like all country towns has seen its ups and downs and lost its major employer and industry. It had a small council-owned caravan park which over time became less viable and eventually closed but the businessmen’s association was determined to keep it opened as a free park to encourage the tourist to stay a while.” 30 May - Monto is fighting back After receiving some adverse publicity last year, the Monto community and business people, under the banner of Monto Magic, has secured a lease over the railway yards at the bottom end of the Main Street for a 72 hr low-cost rest area for selfcontained vehicles. Congratulations to the Monto community for this progressive step!
30 | Day Test: Sunliner Ranger
Malcolm Street gets to grips with Sunliner’s powerful 4X4 Ranger…
Day Test | 31
The Ranger’s compact dimensions and four-wheel drive ability let you get well off the beaten track. Height is the biggest consideration when accessing out-of-the-way places.
ne sector of the motorhome industry that is relatively small – no pun intended – is for motorhomes built on small cabchassis like the Toyota HiLux or Ford Ranger. Although their small size is sometimes seen as a disadvantage there are several advantages, one being the availability of four-wheel drive – a feature often available only on much more expensive motorhomes.
just south of Newcastle. If you haven’t been there recently you’re in for a surprise. AMH’s Bert van Leeuwarden gave me a tour of the revised original premises and the more recent additions, which will include a separate parts and accessories area. There’s even a new area devoted to those engineless thingys – you know, caravans.
Down To Business…
Sunliner, for the most part, build full sized ack to motorhomes, the Ranger has coachbuilt motorhomes, but one of their little a GVM of 3200 kg and a tare weight niches is the 4X4 Ranger. Named after the of 2740 kg, giving it a reasonable 460 Ford Ranger it’s built on, the test Ranger was powered by a 3.2-litre turbo-diesel motor with a kg load capacity for people, fuel, water and belongings. The body is done in the same 6-speed automatic gearbox. Sunliner style as with all their motorhomes; that My Ranger was made available by Australian is with composite fibreglass (Thermotough) Motor Homes (AMH) of Bennetts Green, walls and moulded front and rear end caps. It
32 | Day Test Top: The Ranger looks good with its integrated cab and body decals. The large over-bed skylight is a winner, just watch for low branches. Middle: The boxy body makes good use of space and has a hatch to access underlounge storage. Bottom: Twin 4 kg LPG cylinders are in keeping with the Ranger’s shorter-trip focus. also includes their trademark sidestep under the cab doors. That might sound like an odd extra, but along with the moulded nose, rear moulding and the rakish looks of the Ford Ranger, it does dilute the boxy look considerably. Given the body shape, the awning is just long enough to cover the entry door and side window. One other point of note is the rather striking paint scheme: The decals on the body work having been designed to match in with the metallic colour of the cab. Classy too are the striking alloy wheels. Often a weakness in this sized motorhome is the lack of external storage space, but the Ranger is served quite well, utilising the under seat area at the rear. Although the driver’s side bin is devoted to the two 4.0 kg gas cylinders, the kerb-side door offers plenty of space for hoses, power leads, plus camping chairs and table. It’s not a huge area, but then I reckon this size motorhome is pitched at a more lightweight style of travel. Behind the driver’s door, the external bin there is for the battery and charger.
Day Test | 33
The Ford Ranger’s cab is comfortable, modern and well equipped. Larger aftermarket side mirrors are a real bonus.
The test Ranger was powered by a 3.2-litre turbo-diesel motor with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. It’s all neatly wired up, but the 12 V fuses which are labelled (hooray!) are a bit awkward to get at.
On The Road
he Ranger moves along purposefully, with the ‘big’ turbo-diesel and six-speed auto working smoothly together. Along the flat and up low rise hills the engine doesn't appear to be
working much at all. Of note are the external mirrors: the standard Ford ones have been replaced by a wider set that give good vision down the sides of the vehicle. Also fitted is a rear view camera – very handy when manoeuvring in tight places. Often, smaller cab-chassis based motorhomes are not particularly good in the handling department. Their
relatively tall height means a bit too much side-to-side sway, but I have to say the Ranger was not too bad in that department. I did wonder if the suspension had been modified in some way, but apparently not. Although the Ford Ranger is definitely a four-wheel drive vehicle, the Ranger should be treated more like an allwheel drive vehicle, given
34 | Day Test
The rear club lounge provides good viewing, especially when reversed into a picturesque spot. It also doubles as a second bed and has good natural light and ventilation.
its construction method. It's not a hard core Land Cruiser, but traction in slippery and soft conditions will be much better than a conventional two-wheel drive.
n a motorhome only 5.8 m (19 ft) in length and with its engine in front of the cab there are always going to be a few restrictions on living space. However, the Ranger layout is quite well designed. There’s a bed over the cab, a forward entry door and a compact version of a club lounge in the rear. That leaves enough room for a small bathroom directly behind the driver’s seat, along with a three quarter height wardrobe and a split kitchen filling the middle. Apart from the bed area, overhead lockers fill the top wall area all round. Above the cab the bed base is fixed and cannot be lifted up to give more headroom.
Seitz-brand hopper windows all-round improve space perceptions no end and give a great view from the club lounge. Sunliner has opted to fit a Lagun swivel table mount, which is much better than a single pole mount and makes it very easy to move the table. It’s also very practical in a dinette/lounge arrangement like this.
Time To Cook
eal times are going to be relatively simple, which is to be expected in a motorhome like this. The kerb side cabinet adjoining the dinette comes with a round stainless steel sink and two burner cooktop sans grill, plus drawer and cupboard space below. On the opposite side, an almostfloor-level 90 L 3-way fridge has a microwave oven above it. There’s also an adjoining wardrobe with shelf space above.
Day Test | 35 This shallow-but-tall cupboard would benefit from some netting restrainers or similar to avoid things falling out en masse when opened.
36 | Day Test Top: Light decor keeps the inside bright, while the table’s Lagun swivel mount provides maximum dining flexibility. Bottom: Bed access is simple via a short ladder, while the over-bed skylight ensures good nighttime ventilation.
This kitchen set-up is a change from an earlier layout where an under bench fridge was fitted and the microwave was located in the overhead lockers. Consequently there has been a bit of a trade off – almost no bench top working space, but more general storage, both above and below.
here are two bedtime choices in the Ranger: the above-cab bed and the rear lounge, which can be folded down into a bed. I reckon most will opt for the over-cab bed, but the rear lounge is good if a couple of good sized single beds are desired. Bed making is often seen to be a chore, so there’s much to be said for something like a Duvalay on both beds. The over-cab bed measures 1.9 m x 1.45 m (6 ft 3 in x 4 ft 9 in) and there’s a step ladder
handy for clambering up and down. Although an earlier model had small windows on either side, the bed area did have a slightly cramped feel and the Skyview hatch above the bed in this model is a welcome addition, both for light and airflow.
Day Test | 37 Top: The bathroom is typical for this size vehicle: compact but more than sufficient. Bottom: Looking good. Note the side steps below the cab doors, which integrate the cab and body nicely. Just watch them on rocks if you take it seriously off-road.
o surprises in the bathroom, that is for sure. It comes with a swivelling cassette toilet, variable-height flexiblehose shower and other essentials like a vent fan hatch and towel rail. A shower curtain prevents water flow to the door mounted mirror and all-essential loo paper, too!
What I think
unliner has made a few changes from its earlier Ranger and for the most part thatâ€™s a good thing. Also, and for its size, I reckon the Ranger is a classy looking motorhome. Although relatively small and with not a great deal of living area, it does offer several advantages: four wheel drive, a width that is suitable for narrow bush tracks, easy parking as long as the height is remembered and relatively good fuel economy.
38 | Day Test If you’re planning to hook up a boat, horse float or similar pay close attention to the Ford Ranger’s handbook. Its claimed 3500 kg towing capacity is a dubious one…
Ed’s Note On Towing
quick quiz of the gross vehicle mass (GVM) and gross combination mass (GCM) of the Ford Ranger put it at odds with its rated towing capacity. The accepted formula for calculating towing capacity is to subtract GVM from the GCM. In this instance that’s 3200 kg from 6000 kg, which leaves 2800 kg. Ford proudly proclaims a 3500 kg towing capacity, even though the brochure says the GCM must include the weight of a braked trailer. So what’s the truth? Digging deeply into Ford’s brochure I found the following, relating specifically to the 3500 kg towing capacity claim:
“Braked towing capacity when fitted with a Genuine Ford towpack and tow ball, subject to State and Territory towing regulations. The weight of the vehicle must not exceed the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM). The combined weight of the fully loaded vehicle and trailer must not exceed the Gross Combination Mass (GCM). Maximum individual axle loads must not be exceeded. Tow ball downforce must be taken into account when calculating payload. Tow ball download must be a minimum of 10% of the towed weight for all model variants. Tow ball download must not exceed 350kg for all model variants built on or after 1 November, 2012.” continued…
Day Test | 39
Fordâ€™s claimed 3500 kg towing capacity appears to be nothing more than smoke-and-mirrors.
40 | Day Test
The bottom line? It appears you can tow 3500 kg – but only if the vehicle is 700 kg BELOW its maximum loaded weight (GVM) AND the payload is distributed in such a way as not to exceed individual axle limits! Given the Sunliner Ranger’s payload is 460 kg
all-up, it’s 240 kg behind the eight ball to begin with. Unless I’ve missed something, Ford’s claimed 3500 kg towing capacity appears to be nothing more than a smoke-and-mirrors attempt to deceive buyers and bolster the Ranger’s image in the marketplace. Once again it pays to read the fine print.
Day Test | 41
Ford Ranger 4X4
3.2 litre turbo-diesel
147 KW @ 3000rpm
470Nm @ 1500 - 2750 rpm
Gross Vehicle Mass
Gross Combination Mass
5.8 m (19 ft)
2.13 m (7 ft)
2.85 m (9 ft 4 in)
1.97 m (6 ft 6 in)
Main Bed Size
1.9 m x 1.45m (6 ft 3 in x 4 ft 9 in)
Thetford 3 burner
Dometic RM2350 90 L
12 V LED
1 x 100 AH
1 x 80 W
Truma 14 L
Flex-hose, variable height
2 x 4 kg
Grey Water Tank
Price on Road in NSW
Pros • • • • • • • •
Smart looking Relatively good exterior storage Generous window/hatch area Comfortable and practical rear club lounge Standard solar 4X4 package that won’t break the bank Powerful and smooth to drive Compact dimensions
• Almost no kitchen bench space • 12 V fuses awkward to access • Cab access awkward due to fixed bed
Manufacturer Sunliner RV T: (03) 8761 6411 W: www.sunliner.com.au
Supplied by Thanks to Australian Motorhomes 31 Pacific Highway Bennetts Green. NSW. 2290 T: (02) 4948 0433
Click for Google Maps
E: for email contact form click here W: www.australianmotorhomes.com.au
42 | Day Test
I reckon the Ranger is a classy looking motorhome.
44 | Reader Report
Custom Toyota HiAce by Cookie Lloyd Make & Model: Toyota HiAce custom built by Southern Spirit Campervans Year: 2014 Bought: New. Mileage now: 5000 km km Length: Short! Licence required: CarÂ Base vehicle brand: Toyota HiAce Engine size: 3.0-litre turbo diesel Transmission: Auto Average fuel economy: N/A No of berths: 2 No of seatbelt-equipped seats: 4 Why did I choose it? Combination of own design and advice of Southern Spirit Campervans.
First vehicle or replacement: Downsized from camper trailer. Options fitted: Solar panels, fridge, gas stove.
Reader Report | 45
Features Best features: Easy to be in, comfy, convenient to pack and unpack. Every little thing has been thought through thoroughly. Worst features: Not enough time to travel in it! Warranty issues: None. Dealer support: Toyota proved a lemon but the manufacturer has more than made up for it. Manufacturer support: Southern Spirit have become almost family, and their support is amazing â€“ nothing is too much trouble no matter how dumb our questions are. Recommend to a friend: YesÂ
46 | Reader Report
Comments The whole experience of designing and getting our van built has been fun – a steep learning curve but a fun one. Our van was built in Brisbane and we live in Wollongong. This is because we could not find anyone closer that would do the conversion we were keen on. Many didn’t even respond to phone calls or emails. One could expect then that the process of long distance campervan construction with picky clients like us would be hard. It wasn’t. Would recommend Ollie and Pia of Southern Spirit to anyone keen on a professional van fit out that is efficient, clever and very personal. We were quite decided on what we wanted and how we wanted it. This was so easily accommodated and added to by Southern Spirit. Many manufacturers offer custom building but in the end try to sway you into what they want to build. Southern Spirit
Reader Report | 47
listened to us and improved on our ideas rather than change them. For us this was very important so consequently we are more than delighted with our van. The fit out is so expertly constructed with an amazing attention to detail that is so often lost on mass produced vans. Little things make the difference, like accommodating my wish for a space to chop the tucker near the stove – yep, complicated and hard to fit in such a small area – but Ollie did it! A seat with an approved seat belt for the dog harness next to the window – no problem! Down lights on the rear door – easy. A place for my early morning cuppa next to the bed – done. We cannot recommend Southern Spirit too highly.
48 | Travel: Olive Pink
Thank You Miss Pink!
Red and yellow and green and blue, this garden is a dream come trueâ€Ś Story by Elizabeth Mueller, images by Helmut Mueller
Travel | 49
Alice Springs’ suburbia is close but far enough away.
ithin cooee of Alice Springs’ busy Todd Mall is a little pocket of paradise called Olive Pink Botanic Garden. There’s no way this little patch can compete with the mighty gorges of the West MacDonnell Ranges or even attempt to overshadow the glorycharged features to the east of Alice. But what Olive Pink’s garden does have is a centre of calm, and a wealth of underlying treasures to be found.
of a character; an eccentric with a moral strength that led to her being described as “indomitable”. Apparently she preferred an Edwardian style of dress, sold flowers and fruit to help makes ends meet and, at the age of 72, lived for several years in a tent on the site that would become the flora reserve. But Miss Pink is best remembered for her achievements as an anthropologist, botanical artist, Aboriginal rights activist – and as a gardener.
Naturally, the focus here is on flora, specifically trees, shrubs and flowers that grow in the arid regions of Australia. In turn the plant life attracts birds, insects and other animals, so the garden is a celebration of the biodiversity of Central Australia.
The garden is named after its founder, Miss Olive M. Pink, who first visited Central Australia in the 1930s. It seems Miss Pink was a bit
he Olive Pink Botanic Garden is now listed on the Register of the National Estate. Over the years the eclectic collection of plants has evolved and, just as in nature, it continues to transform as the seasons roll on. Within the grounds any hint of the nearby city is quietly quashed.
50 | Travel
Rough-hewn steps ease the slope at Annie Meyers Hill. A network of walking trails winds around shrubs and under trees in a seemingly haphazard way. In reality, the trails explore gardens within the garden. And the current curators of Miss Pink’s vision are doing a wonderful job. Eremophilas are grouped in one section, with a range that hints at the diversity of this desertloving plant (there are more than 200 species of eremophilas in Australia). The flowers are bright sparks of colour on both bushy groundhuggers and taller shrubs, while intricate markings decorate some blooms. Nearby, a wire-wrapped emu sculpture reminds visitors of one of the eremophilas’ common names – the Emu Bush – which seems quite appropriate. Emus, it seems, like to eat the seeds produced by different eremophila, while insects and birds are attracted to the nectar. There’s little in the way of formality here, and each sub-garden blurs within the whole. The
tangled branches of flowering lignum – another of the eremophila species – borders part of the car park and leads visitors under towering casuarinas draped with beautiful grey-green needles. Some of the trees in the botanic garden are quite unusual and the waddy trees here represent a species that grows naturally in only three places in the country. Others are notable for their oddity, and the curling bark that peels from the trunk of some red mulga adds a decorative yet bizarre touch to these trees.
or many visitors, flowers are the main attraction. Though the flora of Central Australian is rarely gaudy or flamboyant there’s always some colour to be found. Reds might be seen in the holly-leaf grevilleas, with blooms peeking through needle-tipped leaves. Shades of purple might leap out from bush
Travel | 51
tomatoes or other solanum species, or peep from a corner in the form of a tiny daisy. Wattles can display a whole gamut of yellows and a large section of the gardens is devoted to this abundant species. A walk around the wattles is quite a wonderful experience, with all manner of insects busy with the fuzzy blooms. Add to that the myriad green of foliage and a huge blue-bowl of the sky, and a veritable rainbow appears. Of the walking trails, some are well marked while others blend with the landscape and it’s easy to be led off the garden path (so to speak)! From the wattles, it’s a natural progression to explore some of the boulderstrewn slopes where mulla mullas, seeding spinifex or perhaps poached egg daisies might be seen. A longer walk leads up Annie Meyers Hill. Miss Pink insisted “Annie” be included in the official name of the hill so it couldn’t be confused with a male dignitary. The Arrernte name of Tharrarletneme expresses the cultural heritage that’s woven throughout the gardens, and from this northern ridge the views are a reminder of being just a stone’s throw from the city. It can be a bit of a scramble to the top but it’s an interesting untamed – and unplanted – location that gives yet another perspective to the landscapes of Central Australia. Throughout the gardens, benches and other seats are scattered in a number of settings for visitors to simply sit and enjoy. Many of the spots are perfect for a bit of casual bird watching, and with a bit of luck one of the resident western bowerbirds might make an appearance. With a bit more luck it’s possible to spot the males arranging shiny things in their
Top: Bright yellow balls of bloom on one of the garden’s wattle species. Bottom: There’s a bug in there, having a lovely old time in a flowering lignum.
52 | Travel messy, though functional, bowers. There are quite a variety of birds to see, of course, from parrots to miners to babblers.
n on-site café is an excellent addition to the botanic garden. Named presumably for the bat’s wing coral trees loved by Miss Pink, the Bean Tree Café has just enough touch of the gourmet to be fabulously delicious. Breakfast is served from 8:00 am every day and lunch from 11.30 am. There’s coffee and a range of cakes on offer for morning and afternoon tea, plus a small gift shop showcases local handcrafts. With a jumbled rock face at one end of the open dining area and shady trees overhead, the setting is superb. It’s not unusual to spot a euro hopping around the rocks, or a lizard out soaking up the warmth of the day. Birds fly through as well, with the cheekiest on the lookout for a free feed. It all blends well with the idea of a botanic garden. There is a subtle education to be gained here, from personal observation as much as from absorbing information that’s presented on boards here and there throughout the garden. On occasions guided tours meander through the gardens, with some concentrating on bush tucker and others on different points of plant ecology. The garden also plays host to a range of other events including festivals, fairs, workshops and musical extravaganzas. Thanks to Miss Pink’s dreams and determination, the botanic garden is a place for all to enjoy. In one of those rare “good” seasons the floral show would be breathtaking. But no matter the season, the Olive Pink Botanic Garden is a place to appreciate the colours, textures, shapes and smells of those hardy plants that survive in the arid zones of Central Australia.
Top: A perfect setting for a meal at the Bean Tree Café. Bottom: Breakfast anyone? The accompanying bush tomato relish is a Bean Tree Café special.
Travel | 53
Above: From near the top of Annie Meyers Hill, views look over the café and on to Mount Gillen in the Heavitree Range. Top right: Floral symbol of the Northern Territory, Sturt desert rose. Bottom right: A larger-than-life emu is one of the artistic installations in the botanic garden.
Olive Pink Botanic Garden is on Tuncks Road, Alice Springs. The grounds have plenty of parking and there are bicycle and walking paths nearby. Entry is by donation, with an honesty box located near the entrance. The garden is open from 8:00 to 6:00 daily (except Christmas Day and Good Friday); the Bean Tree Café is open from 8:00 to 4:00. For more information and details on upcoming events and garden tours see www.opbg.com.au Recommended reading to find out more about Miss Pink’s life is an excellent biography by Professor Julie Marcus: The Indomitable Miss Pink: a Life in Anthropology.
54 | Short Break: Marulan
Meridian Trip! Donâ€™t pass Marulan next time to hurry along the Hume Highwayâ€Ś by Richard Robertson
Short Break | 55
t’s easy to miss the tiny township of Marulan, some 170 km southwest of Sydney. Best known these days for its heavy vehicle weighing stations that straddle the Hume Highway, Marulan has never been a picturesque town in tourist terms. It is, however, steeped in history and also has a unique claim to fame. The town sits on a narrow neck of land some 18 km wide between the Wollondilly and Shoalhaven Rivers. This provides the only navigable route between Sydney and points south west – like Canberra and eventually Melbourne – unless you cross the Blue Mountains or follow the coast. For centuries, Indigenous people from four tribes met at this point for trade; it marking the boundary between their traditional lands. European Beginnings…
lthough explored by Europeans as early as 1798, it was 1818 when, together with the deputy surveyor-general, James Meehan, and explorer Charles Throsby, a young Hamilton Hume reached and explored the Goulburn Plains. Governor Lachlan Macquarie ordered construction of the Great South Road – the forerunner of today’s Hume Highway – from Picton in 1819 and it was planned the township of Bungonia, at its southern end, would become a major commercial centre. That didn’t eventuate due to the unsuitability of the land for intensive agriculture and the road was realigned, with a junction built for a new road towards today’s Goulburn. It was this junction that became the fledgling settlement of Marulan, servicing travellers on both roads. The advent of the railway in 1868 put Marulan on the map, and if you’ve ever driven through
Top: Faded signs and rusting farm equipment tell of better times and simpler days. Bottom: The railway brought life to Marulan in 1868. Today the station is visited by an infrequent passenger service and mainly sees goods trains speeding through.
56 | Short Break Marulan Meats trades from one of the many historic buildings on the main street.
you will have passed The Terminus Hotel in the centre of town. As the railway passes through to Goulburn, Canberra and beyond, I’d often wondered why the hotel was called The Terminus. It turns out Marulan was initially the end of the line and from it, Cobb & Co coaches and supply wagons delivered people and goods to outlying properties and settlements. The railway line terminated three kilometres north of Old Marulan and the site, with its makeshift workers’ cottages, was known as Mooroowoolen. It didn’t take long for businesses and residents to move ‘up the road’ to the railhead, which was quickly renamed Marulan. The railway was soon extended to Goulburn and Marulan’s glory faded somewhat, but it remained an important town on the Great South Road. Marulan’s unique location meant that when the Great South Road eventually morphed into
the Hume Highway, in 1928, it became the logical place to monitor road commerce. The first vehicle checking station was established in 1931 and it developed into the first heavy vehicle weighing stations in 1958. Marulan was bypassed by today’s dual carriageway Hume Highway in 1985 and much of the travellerrelated commerce in the town soon shut down.
arulan is undergoing a steady, if not rapid, renaissance. Just 15 minutes from Goulburn it’s turning into something of a ‘satellite suburb’, with a large and expanding new housing area on its western boundary. It also appears to becoming popular with retirees; offering affordable housing within easy reach of Sydney and Canberra and good road access for travelling. The Town’s long main street – George Street,
Short Break | 57 Top to bottom: The amenities block in the main park is brightly painted and leaves you in no doubt as to where you are!
which is actually the Old Hume Highway – has a few new buildings near the Terminus Hotel, including a bakery and small supermarket, and there’s now a modest museum by the park. Perhaps the most compelling reason to detour into town is the chance to stand on – indeed straddle – the 150º meridian of longitude! Marulan is the only town in the world this meridian passes through, and it also happens to place Marulan at the centre of the Eastern Standard Time Zone. Here, every equinox, the sun rises at exactly 6 am and sets precisely at 6 pm! Meridian Park is at the very southern end of town, immediately on the right as you take the Marulan turnoff heading north. Sandwiched between the Old and ‘New’ Hume Highways, the small park features a rather abstract concrete structure that marks the meridian’s passage. There you can stand on or straddle it, while watching a metal sculpture overhead that represents the World’s longitudinal meridians, spin on a windy day. Such excitement!
58 | Short Break
This unusual sculpture in Meridian Park marks the exact spot where the 150º east meridian of longitude passes through Marulan.
From Meridian Park a historic walk stretches to the far end of town, but you’re likely to drive its couple-of-kilometre length. Along the old road historic buildings in various states of repair have plaques out the front explaining their significance. The old Royal Hotel – now a private residence – is superb, while the old General Store and neighbouring sheds, replete with fading Billy Tea advertisements and featuring a collection of old farm machinery, are pure nostalgia. You can even download a self-guided tour of the Great South Road here, which includes all the historic buildings in town. In many ways Marulan is like a town time forgot, and the old and new rub shoulders in a kind of easy going mateship any busy tourist town would long ago have segregated and sanitised.
Go Fly a Kite!
hings to do include taking the historic walk, oohing-and-aahing in Meridian Park, enjoying a picnic in neatly kept Tony Onions Memorial Park and checking out the museum, antique shop and cafes. That could keep you busy for anything from an hour to a day – maybe even two. On Saturday 24 October Marulan hosts its annual Kite Festival! This is supported by local and visiting stall holders offering everything from handicrafts to fresh food and real coffee, plus there’s live music and plenty of activities for kids of all ages. There’s even a Kite Parade led by players from the Goulburn Pipe and Drums, so if you’re looking for a fun day out be sure to mark it in your diary.
Marulan doesn’t have a tourist office, but Regardless of when you visit, the main thing is information can be found on the Goulburn to stop by and explore. Marulan has rewards Visitor Information Centre website. Not you’ll never discover if you simply drive past… being a tourist town is part of Marulan’s charm. It certainly doesn’t bustle, but its historic buildings and interesting past make it a little slice of Australia well worth exploring.
Short Break | 59 The Blacksmiths Tucker Box trades from a historic stone building that’s seen many uses. The toastie brekkie wraps are to diet for!
he Terminus Hotel is a small country pub with a bistro open Wednesday to Sunday. Right in the centre of town it’s the place to go for a cleansing ale any day of the week, but I haven’t tried the food. The Meridian Cafe is the best known eatery and it has been there for years. It must be pretty good as my In-Laws recommend it! However, our favourite is across the road from the Terminus in a tiny old stone cottage: The Blacksmiths Tucker Box. Open daily and operated by single-mum Anna it claims to be, “The cutest lil takeaway… Come try our BBQ Chooks, Chicken Burgers, Chick Snitz Burgers, Fish and Chips, Fresh Cut Sandwiches, Hot Food Snax, Coffee Tea and Cakes, lollies, icecreams and much much more….” We popped in on a Saturday night, which along with Fridays turned out to be Pizza Night! The tiny shop is basically a take-away,
but there are two inside tables and a few outside in the, cough, ‘alfresco dining area’. We BYOd (inc glasses!) over a BBQ chicken pizza with garlic and chilli as a steady stream of locals dropped by for their take-home treats. Immaculately clean, neat and tidy, we backedup Sunday morning for Brekki Toasty Wraps of cooked bacon, sausage, egg, cheese and tomato or BBQ sauce, and good coffee. Delicious! The only downside? It’s cash only.
60 | Short Break
The Old Hume Highway, now called George Street, has seen better day. The Marulan Town Clock, presented in 1991 by the Lions Club, is set in a 30-tonne piece of limestone. Quarried nearby, itâ€™s said to be the largest piece of limestone ever transported by road in the southern hemisphere.
here is no caravan park in Marulan, nor are there any free camping sites listed on Wikicamps. We overnighted in the small carpark at Meridian Park, which was well suited to our longterm Horizon Casuarina van conversion and would be fine for vehicles up to about 8 m. With the freeway right behind and a truck stop across the road it wasnâ€™t the most serene spot, but being late autumn and rather cold the closed windows kept out quite a bit of background noise. Truck Stop 31, directly across from Meridian park, has a huge parking area on its northern side and we saw a couple of caravans staying there overnight. Being a Saturday night the
Short Break | 61
parking area was deserted, but it might be a different story during the week. There also appear to free camping opportunities down by the railway station, which would escape the highway noise but be subject to occasional nighttime goods trains. There is even a set of level concrete wheel tracks big enough to park a bus on, to one side of the station’s informal car park. A bit of a hunt around would likely reveal many more free camping opportunities, and the god thing is there isn’t a ‘No Camping’ sign in sight. Top: We free camped at Meridian Park without problems, although it’s best suited to smaller vehicles. Right: The historic walk has some interesting buildings and a selfguided walking tour is available.
62 | Technical: A-Frame Towing
Towing The Line Some insights into the mysteries of A-frame towing…
ecause iMotorhome has no first-hand experience towing a ‘toad’ – or ‘dinghy vehicle’ as Americans call them – we recently had a quick chat with Mark Blyton, proprietor of Brisbane-based Northcoach RV Equipment, about the basic requirements of A-frame towing. “A-frame towing continues to become more popular. However, here are a number of important factors that you must take into account when considering towing a vehicle behind your motorhome. Each State has different laws regarding the towing of vehicles and it is important you check, or contact us so we can advise you,” Mark said. Things you need to know before deciding what to tow include: • Check your tow bar rating. The rating must be more than the GVM (gross vehicle mass)
of the towed vehicle. Do not assume it is the Tare Weight of the vehicle •Most manual vehicles can be towed. The Suzuki Grand Vitara can be towed in automatic. Check with us before you buy a vehicle to be sure it is able to be towed • Not all models of a particular vehicle can be towed. For example, the Suzuki Grand Vitara is the most popular vehicle towed, but the 2006 3-door version can’t be towed • Not all vehicles have base plates (the attachment to the towed vehicle) available. It is possible to have a custom base plate made, but at additional cost • Depending on the weight of the vehicle and different State regulations, you might need a braking system
Technical | 63
• A-frame towing is also known as “flat towing”. This is because the frame needs to be parallel with the roadway. If the A-frame isn’t flat when hooked up you may need a drop receiver for the towbar. This allows for the frame to become level • A-frames with retractable arms are easiest to hook up • All A-frames must be ADR approved and supplied with appropriate certification.
Optional Extras Here are a number of extras to make life easier: • Locking Pins, which are available individually or in a set of three. They secure your A-frame to both the motorhome and car so it cannot be stolen or tampered with
• Cover – used to protect your A-frame when not in use • Stone Guard – protects the towed vehicle from stones and other loose objects. “Northcoach RV Equipment supplies Blue Ox and Ready Brute A-frames and we have a comprehensive range of accessories and spare parts,” Mark concluded. If you have any questions Mark is happy to help and you can contact him or one of his team on (07) 32096654 or via email at enquiries@northcoach. com.au. You’ll also find plenty of information in their website at www.northcoach.com.au.
64 | Longtermer Update: Horizon Motorhomes Casuarina
Steady As She Goes How our longterm Horizon Casuarina is faringâ€Ś
Longtermer Update | 65
he three weeks since last issue started with a flurry of activity – our return from a week in and around Mansfield in North Eastern Victoria – but have been very quiet since. This was largely due to a week in Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island, and no matter how convincingly I argued the Qantas ground staff wouldn’t let me bring the Casuarina along – even as excess baggage! Our week in Victoria added 1724 km to the odometer. When we left home the trip computer showed 11.1 L/100 km (25.4 mpg) average fuel consumption since filling up in Sydney the week before and also doing some local running round. The Ducato’s 125-litre fuel tank is a valuable asset, allowing easy touring between major centres and the chance to find the best priced fuel. We topped up at Woollies in Laverton (suburban Albury) for a true average of 11.96 L/100 km (23.6 mpg) for the run south, which although higher than past figures was pretty good considering we’d battled ferocious headwinds at freeway speeds all the way down. Interestingly, the trip
Mansfield is a beautiful place in Autumn. The monument is a tribute to three police offices killed by the Kelly Gang, while the steps of the courthouse are from where Ned Kelly was proclaimed an outlaw.
66 | Longtermer Update
computer said we’d averaged 11.1 for that same journey. The tank capacity proved invaluable for our week in Mansfield as we were able to do all our running around and get back to Laverton for a 92.7-litre fill on the way home. That equated to an average of 11.14 L/100 km (25.4 mpg) for the week, although again the trip computer proved optimistic at 10.5 L/100 km (26.9 mpg). That last fill was on 17 May and we’re still on the same tankful. The most interesting/challenging drive of our Mansfield stay was up to the ski resort of Mount Buller the morning after a pre-season snowfall. Despite its Man From Snowy River reputation, Mansfield is only about 350 metres above sea level, whereas the ski resort is 1750 metres. We crossed the snow line around the 1100 m mark and despite the steep climb, -2º C temperature, slush on the road and lightly falling snow the Ducato didn’t miss a beat. We didn’t linger up top as conditions were deteriorating and we didn’t have chains. On descent the gearbox’s action of holding a gear when there is little or no accelerator applied, plus the engine’s 3.0-litre capacity, provided excellent engine braking. Top to bottom: Mt Buller in the spring snow, at 1750 m altitude. It’s quite a climb but the Ducato handled it easily. The ice warning light comes on at 3ºC, but up on the mountain it dropped to -3ºC. Brrrr…
Apart from a few local trips to the shops the Casuarina has been sitting on the driveway, enduring our first local frosts and snow flurries.
Longtermer Update | 67
Given its Euro heritage it’s no wonder Fiat’s Ducato is at home in alpine conditions. Front-wheel drive is a bonus in the snow, too.
It’s also well overdue for a wash and floor mopping! Poking around at home I happened on the jack and (very) basic toolkit, which lives under the passenger seat in a plastic case. I also re-discovered the tray under the driver’s seat, which is an excellent place for a tool roll, torch and other occasionally used items you need to keep near a door. All-in-all the Casuarina continues to demand nothing, yet remains an enjoyable, comfortable and practical vehicle to have on the driveway. I can hear the road calling again, though…
Fiat Ducato XLWB van
Odometer on pick-up
Odometer last fill
Av Fuel – overall
11.04 L/100 km (25.6 mpg)
68 | Mobile Tech
ParkFinder WA Itâ€™s all happening in Western Australia By Emily Barker
Mobile Tech | 69
arkfinder WA is part of a range of online and mobile resources being rolled out over the next four years by the Western Australian State Government as part of a new ‘Parks for People’ initiative. This grand scale revamp aims to expand and enhance camping and visitor experiences in parks and reserves throughout WA by improving infrastructure, advertising and information services. We are increasingly seeing government agencies releasing great new apps that intelligently provide information solutions directly to the public and this app is no exception. The Western Australian department of Parks and Wildlife works hard to protect and conserve the State’s natural environment, but it’s clear they also want to share the amazing experiences and biodiversity that this extensive region has to offer. The app itself is a fabulous tool that provides a specific and detailed overview of the many
parks, significant sites, state conservation reserves and features such as hiking trails and mountain bike tracks that WA has to offer. Initial searches can be conducted by map, park name search or by utilising your location to find parks nearby. Results can then be filtered according to the activities and facilities you are seeking. Designed to be used on the move and often in remote areas, data can be downloaded to enable offline access to park information or when out of mobile range. Once discovered, parks can also be saved to a favourites' list or even shared with friends on social media. The app also offers a ‘your account’ option, which once you have registered using an active email account enables you to interact socially with the app by posting reviews of your experiences and even gives you the option to share photos. Parkfinder WA contains various external links to websites such as the Parks and Wildlife ‘Explore Parks’ website. This
70 | Mobile Tech
data linking ensures all information stays up-todate – particularly important when planning to travel in remote areas.
he interface is nice and neat, making it incredibly easy to locate and interpret information. Each park has an initial description complete with images followed by a list of relevant information tabs. Each tab then breaks down further into specific details including sites such as lookouts and points of significance, activities available such as swimming, fishing, hiking, etc. It also details public facilities, including toilets and dump points, plus entry fees and contact details where applicable. It even offers an in-app map feature utilising your location services to display route directions and distance to travel. Perhaps the best feature of this app though is ‘alerts’. This will notify you of everything from
bushfires, floods and weather warnings to road works, construction related closures and even recent crocodile warnings! The app’s creators have obviously left ‘room for improvement’ – not uncommon in a first edition of a new app – which just means some areas are a little sparse and obviously lacking content. That said, the app offers an incredible amount of essential information that is bound to enhance any travel experience in the area. Western Australia boasts some of the most breathtaking natural experiences in Australia and travellers and locals alike are set to benefit from the announced, ongoing upgrades and improvements. According to the website many national park features are set to be improved, including provision of low-cost, high-quality camping and caravanning accommodation and visitor facilities, upgrades to mountain bike trails, new lookouts, more interactive interpretive signage and more picnic area-style rest spots.
Mobile Tech | 71 Also excitingly in the pipeline is a new Trailfinder app specific for bushwalkers and a mobile flora and fauna guide! ParkFinder WA is only available for iPhones at present, however an Android version is currently in development and at 56.3 MB itâ€™s not only convenient but relatively compact too! ParkFinder WA Platform: Apple iOS Cost: Free Size: 56.3 MB
72 | Next Issue
external USB and 12 V charging outlets, and even a mains water connector – unusual on a European motorhome. Apparently well priced it could certainly put the Euro cat amongst the Aussie pigeons!
alcolm brings us a day test on an imported Adria Coral motorhome based on a Fiat Ducato that looks set to join the local lineup. It seems the Apollo Group – owners of Apollo, Talvor and Winnebago – are pretty much committed to adding Adria motorhomes to their mix, and Malcolm came away quite impressed. Considering it’s an entry level model possibly destined for the rental market, the Coral has rear air suspension,
Queensland Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow Brisbane Showgrounds Bowen Hills. Qld. 4006 • Open 10:00-6:00 daily (4:00 last day) • Parking: $12 (Take free train instead) • Adults: $18 • Seniors: $12 • Kids: School age free with adult
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Travel stories will include a must-visit winery on the Hume Highway steeped in colonial history – this time for sure! – plus there’s a look at catching the music bug and learning the ukulele while you travel! Of course there will be another Longtermer update, more apps and who knows what else? We’re back in the two week groove and Issue 74 will be out on Saturday 20 June. Until then why not Friends join our more than 25,000 Facebook and Twitter followers and share laughs, fun and more? See you soon! Facebook “f ” Logo
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Mid North Coast Caravan & Camping Show Wauchope Showgrounds, Beechwood Rd Wauchope. NSW. 2446.
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Border RV & Camping Expo Wodonga Racecourse, Thomas Mitchell Drive. Wodonga, Vic. 3690
• Open 9:00-5:00 daily (4:00 last day) • Parking: Free • Adults: $15 • Seniors: $11 • Kids: U16 free
• Open 10:00-6:00 daily (4:00 last day) • Parking: $12 (Take free train instead) • Adults: $18 • Seniors: $12 • Kids: School age 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll happily promote it in this calendar.
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