Issue 76: Jul 18 2015
because getting there is half the fun...
Fresh Eyre! Win!
$50 for the! best letter
Avida’s slide-out Eyre features a fresh new floorplan…
First impressions of our new project motorhome…
How ‘our’ Horizon Casuarina is faring!
Hobart to Sydney – the final instalment!
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
The Most Recognised Name in Motorhomes
2015 motorhome range now available nationwide. Proudly Australian designed and built in our Brisbane factory. Accept no imitations. Find a Winnebago dealership near you. Visit: www.gowinnebago.com.au Licensee and authorised distributor of Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City Iowa USA
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! Facebook “f ” Logo
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Contributors Jess Ciampa, Emily Barker and Allan Whiting
Published by iMotorhome PO Box 1738, Bowral. NSW 2576. Australia.
Design and Production
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Richard Robertson T: 0414 604 368 E: email@example.com Roadtest Editor Malcolm Street E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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On my mind | 5
Old Flames… issues, and when a good, used carbon-fibre Specialized Roubaix (Ruby, or course) came along, Missy was relegated to second place. In the cycling world carbon-fibre bikes rule due to their light weight, but titanium is exclusive and has a mystique that sets it apart, so I was never going to sell her.
“I met my old lover on the street last night. She seemed so glad to see me I just smiled. And we talked about some old times and we drank ourselves some beers, still crazy after all these years…” Singer-songwriter Paul Simon penned these lyrics, which came to mind this week when I also caught up unexpectedly with an old flame. I’d seen her around but largely ignored her because of my commitments and the knowledge that getting involved again would cause some angst. Still, she regularly popped into my head and so when we finally couldn’t avoid each other any longer it was something of a relief – and I have to say she certainly made me smile again. Yes there was pain – largely caused by my situational ineptitude – but once that was cleared it was just so good to be with her, and the angst was quickly forgotten. We went out and spent a few hours catching up, reminiscing over old times and although we didn’t have ourselves any beers, there still seemed to be a degree of craziness after all these years. My titanium road bike – a Van Nicholas Mistral, handmade in Holland – has sat rather forlornly at the back of my bike collection in the garage. Missy (as she’s known) had a flat rear tyre and I’d put off repairing it for months; perhaps a year in fact. She’s one of modest collection of bikes for all roads and seasons, but was my first ‘good’ bike. I bought her new about a year before starting iMotorhome, but we’d had a rocky start due to some componentry
Ruby’s my every-day bike and needed a rear tyre replacement. After only putting it off for a day or so I got to work and the job was quickly done. So quickly and easily in fact I thought I’d fix Missy while I was on a roll. Ouch! Obviously not pleased with being overlooked for so long Missy drew blood, but I’m sure it was my fault. Anyway, with a new tube in place and a break in the weather we headed out together and it was like falling in love all over again. Why am I sharing this? Because we all have neglected items tucked away that need just a little TLC to bring back to life. Missy is just a bike, but the principal works with people too. A little bit of effort – some kind words or an apology, perhaps – can bring a big reward. If there’s something or someone you need to ‘repair’ things with, get to it. There’s still time to be crazy, even after all these years…
Farewell Keith Our advertising manager Keith Smyth has hung up his phone and decided to join wife Denise in retirement. We wish them all the best, and with a grandchild recently arrived I’m sure they’ll both keep busy! Think you can fill his shoes? Call me!
Get Together There’s still space at our inaugural iMotorhome get together in mid September. Come and explore the remarkable ruins at Joadja Creek, meet the iMotorhome team and spend a relaxed weekend with a small group of fellow motorhomers. See page 10 for details!
6 | Content
Who we are, where and other legal stuff
Find back issues and more on our website
On my Mind
On your Mind
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Day Test: Avida Eyre 2663 SL
Longtermer: Horizon Casuarina
Travel: Reader Writes
What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
The latest Marketplace offers
Fresh Eyre – now there’s a slide-out in Avida’s Eyre range!
First Impressions – so far so good!
A report card on our longterm Horizon Casuarina
Relocation Road Trip – the final instalment of a Hobart-to-Sydney rental relocation
Camp Kitchen – for lovers of cooking in the great outdoors!
Food Apps For Thought – every food lover will appreciate these…
An A to Z of who’s in this issue!
Next Issue What’s coming up and which shows are on soon!
Relax in Paradise
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ph (07) 5597 4400 - email email@example.com Paradise Motor Homes products are protected by registered designs, patents and copyrights ™ © 2013
Visit trakka.com or call 1800 TRAKKA
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
because getting there is half the fun...
We’ve Booked Out The Valley! cludes Now in night Friday sizzle! ge sausa
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 email@example.com and we’ll share it with our readers. We’ll also reward
On The Fly…
Our little Class-C motorhome came with two "privacy curtains" across the above-cabin bed, which we didn't need or use. So we made one long curtain from breathable mozzie net type material that we can tuck under the mattress. Now we are more or less guaranteed a good night’s sleep in our mozzie free enclosure. Cheers, Steve. Looks like a good idea to me Steve, and so simple. Please accept this issue’s $50 for sharing such a simple concept with our readers. I’m sure others will find it very useful!
Maiden Voyage! Hi Richard, hope you are well. Attached are a couple of pictures for you taken on the maiden voyage in our new Swift Rio motorhome, in Cornwall. I have been making notes and will submit the owners report (warts and all) soon. Best Regards, Ian. Thanks Ian, I look forward to it. Enjoy summer while it lasts, we’re in the depths of winter at present and Cornwall looks most inviting!
the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.
12 | On your mind
Fiat Cup Holders I downloaded my copy of edition 75 minutes ago and have just ordered the Fiat Ducato cup Holders. Cheers, Chris
Good on you, Chris. They look like an excellent solution to the Fiat cupholder issue, and at the right price! Be sure to send us some photos when installed.
Scam Alert? Hi Richard. I am not sure if this is interesting to you? It seems not to be to Scam Watch or the website company Trovit. While browsing motor homes on the internet and having my first coffee for the day, about three weeks ago, I found that someone is advertising the same motor home that we purchased one year ago! They’ve used the same photos, picture, rego number and write up. The address in the same area. I contacted the previous owner and he agreed that it was definitely his photos and words and rego. I was relieved when I tried to browse the rego number and nothing came up (we changed from NSW to SA registration thank goodness). How can we warn others of scams that we find? And is there any one we can report them to have action taken? Love the Mag and look forward to reading it when we are home. Cheers, Dean
Good on you, Chris. They look like an excellent solution to the Fiat cupholder issue, and at the right price! Be sure to send us some photos when installed. Dean, I can well imagine how upsetting it would be to find someone advertising your motorhome! You did the right thing by contacting Scam Watch and the website operator. I’ve contacted the website operator twice on your behalf, but again with no response. I also contacted the supposed seller; again with no response. I’m surprised Scam Watch wasn’t interested, so I suggest you contact the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) by clicking here. Hopefully you might get some satisfaction there. Good luck and please let me know if you hear anything. I’ll do the same.
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14 | News
ollowing the debut of the Reverse Alert reverse-parking system at the Lismore Show recently we have a winner from those who watched the demonstration and entered our online guessing competition. “The winner is Simon from Sandgate in Brisbane, who has a Nissan Patrol and two kids, aged six and eight,” said Ian Costelloe, Reverse Alert’s Business Development Manager. “Simon said his Patrol has a big blind spot, so he’s very happy!”
Congratulations Simon, we’re sure you’ll love the system once installed. If you missed your chance to win be sure to attend the Queensland Outdoor Adventure Show at Toowoomba Showgrounds, from 31 July to 2 August. Ian will be demonstrating the remarkable Reverse Alert system fitted to our very own Project Polly, and we’ll have a new competition running. Don’t miss it!
Webasto – your gas free solution for independent travelling
Quiet powerful operation Low power & fuel consumption Use whilst parked & on the move
Dual Top – Combination Heaters
Heat & hot water from one unit Easy to use multifunction controller Low power & fuel consumption
Thermo Top – Water Heaters
Compact and efficient Fast heat up times Can be combined with fan radiators to provide cabin heat
Diesel Cook Top
High cooking power up to 1800 W No naked flame and no fumes Robust high quality Ceran® cooking surface
Webasto Thermo & Comfort Australia Pty Ltd 423-427 The Boulevarde, Kirrawee NSW 2232 Freecall 1800 244 494 firstname.lastname@example.org www.webasto.com.au
RV Compressor Fridges
Extensive range of Uprights and Drawers Available as DC Only or AC/DC Robust high quality with Danfoss Compressors
Air Top – Air Heaters
News | 15
Frontline $1200 Accessory Offer!
rontline Campervans is offering more than $1200 worth of free accessories to buyers of one of its Volkswagen T5 campervans from stock, before 31 August. The offer includes side and rear flyscreens, plus an outdoor shower. Vehicles are available in Sydney, Ballina and the Gold Coast/ Brisbane. To see exactly what’s on offer click HERE.
European and Canadian Relocations
he iMoova.com website has spread its wings and is now offering limited opportunities for rental relocations in Europe. At the time of writing relocations available included London to Munich and Rome to Amsterdam; both trips costing £5 per day and allowing 4 days. Canada is also on offer now, with trips like Calgary to Yellowknife and Halifax to Toronto (which our roadtest editor Malcolm Street is currently experiencing) available at $25 per day.
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16 | News
Apollo now WiFi Connected
ou’ve come to expect WiFi in your hotel and even on cruise ships. Now you can use it on your Great Aussie Road trip,” says Apollo Motorhome Holidays, who has introduced portable WiFi routers for hire with campervans or motorhomes in its Australian fleet. According to CEO Luke Trouchet, “It’s rare to see a traveller in Australia or New Zealand without a smartphone at their fingertips – the humble travel guidebook has all but been replaced by travel websites and apps. We’ve responded to guest requests for WiFi routers so they can easily use their smart devices on the road and where their own mobile phone data coverage may not extend,” he said. Usage plans ranging from 60 MB to 3 GB from Australia’s largest carrier, Telstra. At $10 per day, with a maximum charge of $50 per rental, plus data usage, the deal compares favourably with many hotel internet packages. International travellers will be the biggest winners, gaining access to the internet
at a fraction of the cost of most international data roaming charges. “The units are removable with re-chargeable batteries so they can be taken out of the rental vehicle, allowing WiFi access down at the beach, near the camp fire or on a rainforest walk, for example,” Mr Trouchet said. Also capitalising on the trend towards online tourism information, Apollo’s New Zealand operations recently launched a free App available to all guests with an iPhone or Android device. “The ‘Apollo NZ Travel Guide’ makes sure travellers don’t miss a thing on their self-drive holiday, with hundreds of points of interest, detailed maps, up to date local information and prices and a ‘take me there’ function to help plan driving routes. This is an absolutely fantastic tool for a New Zealand driving holiday,” said Trouchet, adding that the company is now considering the large undertaking of creating a similar application for Australia. To find out more or book an Apollo holiday, click HERE.
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!
ONS TINATI 12 DES $9.99 ONLY
For more information visit
FRONTLINE CAMPERVANS ...taking you places
ACCESSORIES PACK INCLUDES Side & Rear Fly Screens (worth over $900) Outside Shower (worth over $360)
Frontline VW Transporter • Car like fuel efficiency and maneuverability • Horizontal pop top system for greater ventilation • Swing out stove for ease of use • 3 year unlimited KM warranty • ABS & ESP safety systems
The Frontline range is easy to drive, compact and designed with comfort and functionality in mind. Taking you places you’ve only ever dreamed of. Purchase a Frontline VW Transporter before the end of August and receive an accessories pack worth over $1200 absolutely FREE, making your travelling experiences more enjoyable.
HURRY offer only available while stocks last! Visit takingyouplaces.com.au for available stock or contact your local Frontline dealer: Sydney 02 9939 0600 or Northern NSW/QLD 02 6681 1555 *Terms and conditions apply. See website for details.
SGG Pty Ltd. Lic No. MD11739, MVRL23910 | Frontline Camper Conversions Pty Ltd MD12998
18 | News
ooking for a unique opportunity to create your dream motorhome? The ex-mobile library vehicle for the Riverina Regional Library is for sale and will be auctioned on 5 August in Wagga Wagga. Reportedly in very good condition, its details are: • 2004 DAF 55.250 pantech truck with 315,400 km • Custom-built mobile library 10 m long x 2.5 m wide x 3.8 m high • 6 m x 2 m slide-out • Fully electronic set-up operation (stabilisers, slide-out, awning) • 2 split-system air conditioners • Disabled access • Automatic electric sliding entry-door
• Awning over entry door • Built-in shelving • Kitchen area (sink, fridge, microwave oven) • Two-bay IT desk According to Robert Knight, Executive Director – Riverina Regional Library, “This versatile vehicle has many years of life left as a mobile library, or could be converted into a fantastic mobile home, mobile office, or anything else that your imagination can conjure up! The vehicle will be auctioned at the Rundles Truck Auction on Wednesday 5 August in Wagga Wagga. Check HERE for details or call Brian Plummer, Support & eServices Coordinator – Riverina Regional Library on 0417 221917.
REVERSE ALERT World First Collision Avoidance System
Protect your investment and the people around you.
Reverse Alert is a world first automatic braking technology that can be applied to any vehicle â€“ new or used. When the reverse gear is selected, the rear sensors are activated. If the sensors detect an object, the brake is automatically applied - requiring no driver input. EXHIBITION AND DEMONSTRATIONS AT: 2015 Queensland Outdoor Adventure and Motoring Expo 31 July - 2 August 2015 Toowoomba Showgrounds 302 Glenvale Road, Toowoomba QLD
For further information on this Australian invention visit
- Special show prices - Speak directly with experts - See how the technology works
20 | News
Queensland Drivers Be Warned
rom 1 September 2015, double demerit points will apply for second or subsequent mobile phone offences that are committed by drivers within one year of an earlier offence. The first time you get an infringement notice for using a mobile phone while driving you will be allocated three demerit points. If you use a mobile phone while driving again within 12 months of the first offence, you will be allocated another 3 demerit points. At that point you will also receive an additional three demerit points for it being within one year of the first offence. That means nine demerit points in total for two infringements. The mobile phone offences that could result in double demerit points being allocated are: •a ny driver using a hand-held mobile phone
while driving (including when stopped in traffic or at traffic lights) • any use of mobile phones by learner and P1 provisional licence holders under 25 years of age, and P1 probationary licence holders. You do not necessarily have to commit the same type of mobile phone offence a second or subsequent time to be allocated double demerit points; any driver mobile phone offence counts. For example, the person could commit a first offence while a young driver by using a mobile phone on loudspeaker and commit a second offence by engaging in a phone call holding the phone in their hand. Double demerit points are also applied all year round in Queensland to people who repeatedly commit certain speeding, seatbelt and motorbike helmet offences.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org & New Website: www.wirraway.com.au On The Road Wirraway 260SL Slideout Motorhome - 2012 © Rex Willmer
News | 21
Beware Bogus Police
traveller suffered cuts to his arms, hands and head after knife-wielding bogus police attempted to rob him in NSW. The terrified 53-year-old man was attacked when the men forced their way into his campervan, parked in the Shellharbour suburb of Barrack Heights, NSW. The men were said to have identified themselves as police officers and produced what appeared to be police badges. But when the victim asked for additional identification they forcibly put tape over his eyes and around his arms and legs. They demanded money but fled empty handed when a relative of the man approached the RV. from caravanningnews.com
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22 | iMotorhome Marketplace
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
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
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!
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
iMotorhome Marketplace | 23 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
The E-Twow Electric scooter for adults LATEST TECHNOLOGY FOR RV OWNERS
The alternative to a bike!!
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Folds away quite compact for small storage
To ﬁnd out more call Mark on 0412027330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org www.e-twow.com 1
Nomadic Solutions hitches fully ADR compliant no swaying increased towing safety easy reversing offroad vans available
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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.
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Southern Spirit Campervans
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FLEXIBLE STORAGE SYSTEMS FOR YOUR CAMPERVAN OR MOTORHOME Store those additional items up and out of the way using our adjustable, transportable and modular storage system!
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
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 email@example.com Qld Stockist of Duvalay.
24 | Day test: Avida Eyre B7663 SL
Fresh Eyre! Avida’s slide-out Eyre is a fresh design from Australia’s largest manufacturer… by Malcolm Street.
Day Test | 25
An editorial mix-up explains the Avida Eyre in this review, not the Birdsville as promised last issue! Apologies, but the Eyre is technically more interesting, while Avida claims it to be the “lowest profile motorhome in the market”.
n the Avida range of motorhomes the Eyre is a bit different. Apart from being a sleek looking motorhome, the original layout had a very distinctive European look about it. By that I mean it was a layout that generally used space in a very effective way and didn't have a great deal of empty space – if you understand the distinction! More recently Avida introduced an Eyre model with an kerbside slide-out. It still uses much of the design from the original layout but naturally has more internal area when the slide-out is open.
iven the Eyre is rather a low-slung looking motorhome it's no surprise it comes with a Fiat Ducato X295 cab
bolted to an AL-KO chassis. The Ducato is the Multijet 180 variant with the 3.0-litre 132 kW/400 Nm turbo diesel. Like most of the rest of the Avida fleet, the Eyre is built using a fully welded metal frame for the walls, floor and roof. Moulded fibreglass is used for the front and rear panels, while the walls are laminated together with backing panels and an outer fibreglass skin. Slightly differently, the one piece floor has a ply timber sheet above and metal sheeting below for underbody protection. Earlier Eyre designs did have a bit of a problem with external storage capacity, but a large rear boot with doors on both sides and the rear wall, plus two lockers on the kerb side, works very well. The 2 x 4 kg gas cylinders live in a locker on the other side, just aft of the driver’s cab door. Just a small issue to keep in mind is that if the side bin doors are open, then
26 | Day Test
Right: The boot door/window conflict. Below: The slide-out is kitchen-only and doesn’t add much weight or complexity. Note the large side doors at the rear for the boot, plus a door in the rear wall.
the side windows cannot be opened or closed properly – not a major drama. The house batteries, charger and 12 V fuses are in a compartment accessed via the rear boot, just inside the kerb-side door. About the only problem with this arrangement is it isn’t easy to get to the fuses.
On The Road
iven the 3504 kg tare weight the Eyre SL is quite a nimble performer; certainly on the open road and most of the time around town, except when the six-speed AMT
gearbox decides to dither around a bit in the lower gears. Although the Ducato is the latest one from Fiat, the review model still did not come with cup holders instead of the hinged compartment in the centre console. A better class of radio/CD player does seem to be fitted these days. One of the little features I liked about driving the Eyre was the ability to leave the Skyview hatch open when travelling. It provides fresh air without the buffeting from open driver/passenger windows.
Day Test | 27
If more kitchen area is desirable the slide-out model is definitely the winner. Living Inside
ompared to the nonslide-out model Eyre there isn't much difference in the rear: That means there is an island bed, with a split bathroom ahead of it. In the front though, things are very different. In the earlier (non-slide) model both the driver and passenger seats
swivel and mesh in with a sideways-facing seat behind the passenger, and a forwardfacing two-person lounge, with table, behind the driver. That leaves space in the mid area, opposite the entry door, for the kitchen. But the slide-out changes all this. For a start the entry door is moved slightly rearwards,
while most of the kitchen â€“ the cooker and two-door fridge â€“ are now located in the slideout. Both cab seats swivel and there's an L-shaped lounge behind the passenger seat, but the driver's seat is somewhat blocked by a kitchen bench.
28 | Day Test Below: The kitchen design limits cab access, especially to the driverâ€™s seat, and when the table is in place. Bottom: With the slide-out retracted aisle space is adequate, if a bit of a squeeze.
All the electrics in the Eyre are controlled from a touch panel found at the end of the overhead lockers, by the entry door, which is quite convenient. Also to be found there is the radio/ CD player.
he cab seats and lounge are all on the same level so there's no problem using the Zwaardvis mounted table that sits between them. For two people the most accommodating arrangement is for one person in the passenger seat and the other on the lounge behind it. A flat screen TV is mounted on the wall by the entry door and, given the layout of the lounge/ cab seats, that's probably the best place for it. Due to the kitchen bench extension behind the driver's seat the front area does have a slightly cramped feel about it, even with the big hatch above the cab.
Day Test | 29
The kitchen return has this handy pantry unit, but using it when the driverâ€™s seat is occupied would be difficult.
30 | Day Test With the slide-out extended there’s quite good living room, plus easy access through to the bathroom and bedroom.
Time To Eat
hat the slide-out does give with this layout is more kitchen space and more room to move in it. There's a nominal amount of bench space, with some extra to be found behind the cooktop. There is, however, only one drawer due to the inverter microwave being below the cooktop. Additional storage is provided by the bench extension, which also houses both a round sink and separate drainer. Beneath, the cupboard is split with a shelved area and a slightly awkward to get at wire basket pantry. Extra shelves are fitted in the space above the sink drainer.
ndoubtedly the most European looking area in this motorhome is the bedroom. The island bed measures a full 1.95
m x 1.53 m (6 ft 5 in x 5 ft), but has a slightly rounded shape and sits a fair height off the floor. That's no problem because there are quite wide steps on either side, all fitted with LED strip lighting so you don't trip over in the dark! Instead of the usual bedhead array of cabinetry there are just two side wardrobes with recessed compartments at bed level, which replace bed side cabinets. One additional feature is the mirror behind the bed: good for motorhome users, but awkward for photographers trying to get a photo of the bed! At first glance there does’t appear to be much in the way of bedroom storage, but that is because most is located under the bed. Lifting the bed base gives access to an almost walkin wardrobe, with a shelved area, two drawers and a hanging rack – although that can really
Day Test | 31 Below: The bathroom is split, with the main cubicle on the kerb side complete with vanity, window and swivelhead cassette toilet. If left open, the door closes off the bathroom/bed area, for privacy. Bottom: The shower cubicle sits across the aisle and provides easy access from the bedroom. only be used with the bed raised. It’s a clever arrangement and one that includes strip lights that come on automatically when the bed base is lifted.
he individual shower and toilet cubicles are quite small, but that’s really just a design compromise to accommodate the layout of the rest of the motorhome. There is just enough room in the shower to turn around without banging elbows, while across the way the toilet cubicle has both cassette toilet and small wash basin vanity. Fortunately the cassette toilet is the swivel variety, so there are no elbow banging issues either. It might sound like I’m being a bit critical of the size, but since I am someone who doesn't need oversized amenities in a motorhome I reckon it's okay. For privacy in
32 | Day Test
Above: The queen bed sits in a bright and airy bedroom. Note the recesses in the wardrobes, in lieu of bedside tables. Below: The bed is raised, but has sweeping stairs on both sides, complete with LED strip lighting. the bedroom/bathroom area, the curved door of the toilet cubicle can be fully opened to close off the aisle.
What I Think
am going to pontificate here for a bit. Having seen both the Eyre without slide-out and this model with the slide-out, I think the nonslide-out model is the better design. However, for you it's certainly going to come down to personal preference in the end. I think that the non slide-out design was cleverer in the way space was used. Sure it was a bit tighter inside, especially around the kitchen, but it could carry four people and integrated the cab area into the rest of the motorhome very well. The slide-out design certainly adds more kitchen space and room generally, but the way it's done closes off the front seating area somewhat.
Day Test | 33
In the Avida range of motorhomes the Eyre is a bit different.
34 | Day Test
Above: The bed lifts easily to reveal this quite remarkable walk-in wardrobe. Thereâ€™s a wide hanging rack plus a surprising amount of general storage space. Left: The over-cab SkyView hatch is a great inclusion and can be left partially open when driving. Like so many motorhome designs it really comes down to how you travel. If more kitchen area is desirable then the slide-out model is definitely the winner. However, if that is not such an issue then the non slide-out model really doesn't have any disadvantages and indeed carries some advantages. Whichever way, I reckon the Eyre layout as a concept is quite clever thinking â€“ building European design into an Australian motorhome.
Day Test | 35
• Good sized external bin storage with easy access • Stylish looking motorhome, inside and out • New Fiat Ducato cab-chassis • AL-KO chassis • Island bed with under-bed wardrobe • Spacious kitchen • Front seats all on same level
Eyre B7663 SL
Fiat Ducato Multijet 180 X295 Al-Ko
3.0 L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
132 kW @ 3500 rpm
400 Nm @ 1400 rpm
6 speed automated manual (AMT)
Gross Vehicle Mass
Gross Combined Mass
7.60 m (24 ft 11 in)
2.43 m (8 ft)
2.79 m (9 ft 2 in)
1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)
Main Bed Size
1.95 m x 1.53 m (6 ft 5 in x 5 ft)
Luton Bed Size
Dinette Bed Size
Dometic 4 burner and grill
Dometic RMD 8555 190 L 3-way
12 V LED
2 x 100 AH
Dometic roof mount
31 Pacific Highway Bennetts Green NSW 2290 T: (02) 4948 0433
Truma 14 L
2 x 4.0 kg
Grey Water Tank
Price (on road, NSW)
• • • • •
Cab awkward to access Swivelled driver's seat blocked Only one drawer in kitchen 12 V fuses difficult to access Slide out operation a bit "creaky"
Supplied By Thanks to Australian Motor Homes
Click for Google Maps
Click for Google Maps
32 David Road Emu Plains NSW 2750. T: 1800 428 432
E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.avidarv.com.au
36 | Day Test
I reckon the Eyre layout as a concept is quite clever thinking.
38 | Project Polly
First Impressions They say they count, and so far so good… by Richard Robertson
t’s funny how time dims memories. Since starting iMotorhome I’ve been testing new vehicles built on the Fiat Ducato or Mercedes Benz Sprinter. Early on there were a handful of Ford Transits, but they’ve faded from popularity largely due to Ford’s stubborn/foolish refusal to provide an automatic transmission option. Note to Ford: In the world of motorhomes, buyers don’t want to change gears… The Transit was also getting pretty long in the tooth. Commercial vehicles run in roughly 10 years production cycles and the fourth generation Transit, of which Polly is one, was introduced in 2000. There was a facelift in 2006
– Polly is a 2010 model – but Ford stuck to its manual gearbox-only guns, so it’s little wonder the Transit essentially vanished from the face of the RV world. There is a new Transit out now, but amazingly it STILL only comes with a manual transmission, so don’t expect to see any Transitbased motorhomes unless they’re a custom build. Pity.
bought Polly sight unseen, relying on Apollo Motorhomes’ word she’d be as-described. Apollo sells something like 300 ex-rental vehicles a year and tells me most are pre-sold
Project Polly | 39
Above: The Transit’s 2.4 L turbo-diesel still holds its own in terms of performance and economy. Below: Flying the flag: Polly in her iMotorhome livery – for now at least. from the website description before arriving at their Brisbane depot for a service and pre-sale makeover. Not all go to private buyers; some are wholesaled to dealers around the country, who get a mechanically sound vehicle at a knockdown price that’s ready to put on the sales lot. In my time I’ve had an ex-police motorcycle and car, and an ex-rental car, and both expolice vehicles proved to be pigs in a poke. We still have the former police car and it is serving us well now, but not without more than its fair share of issues early on. If you’re ever tempted to buy one – don’t! The ex-rental car – a Manga – wasn’t with us long enough to reveal any problems. It was bought by friends who seem to have had a trouble free run, thank goodness! So it’s not without some – okay, a lot – of trepidation that I’ve plunged into ex-rental motorhome ownership. My experiences so far have been a fleeting. There was a first drive when handing it over to the guys from Reverse Alert Australia, to fit their system. Then I drove
40 | Project Polly her home from Brisbane for the registration changeover and sign writing, before once again handing her over to Reverse Alert. As they say, so far so good!
t’s always good when something exceeds expectations. Polly has certainly ‘been around’ in her first five years. There are minor body paint chips, bumps and bruises, but overall she’s pretty straight. Inside, the dark timber colour scheme is offset by bright and almost gaudy cushions and curtains. I hope whoever chose the decor originally has moved on to a new career, for Apollo’s sake… Apollo’s conversions are carried out by Talvor, it’s wholly-owned in-house motorhome manufacturing business. Talvor builds for the motorhome rental market and it shows. After 5 years and 260,000 km, the cabinetry and general interior are still solid and in good working order. That’s the good news. On the other side of the coin, she’s pretty basic. Not equipment wise, but in design thoughtfulness/execution. Speaking of equipment, Polly came quite well kitted out. She has a bathroom with shower and toilet, or course, but it’s absolutely basic. The individual hot and cold taps are earmarked for replacement by a flick mixer tap at an early stage. The kitchen has a three-burner gas cooker and a round sink, both with glass lids, in a single unit set in the benchtop, close to the sliding side door. There’s a small 80 L underbench Waeco 12/240 V compressor fridge, an externally venting rangehood and a microwave, but only a single drawer and two largely useless cupboards. Oh yes, there’s a small slide-out metal pantry that will be relocated to a much better position, when we shelve the cupboards. Interestingly, there’s a small hotel-style safe bolted to the floor under the driver’s side bed, but you almost need to lie on your stomach to access it. I do sometimes wonder how often the people who design motorhomes actually use them – if ever.
Top to bottom: The old mattresses are thin, tired – and going. Cooker/sink unit is neat and all we need. Flimsy crockery rack will follow the mattresses!
Project Polly | 41
The Heron 2.2 kW air-conditioner has a 1.5 kW heating element, so as long as we have mains power we can stay comfortable. When I cranked up the TV aerial it felt like it hadn’t been used since new. Quite likely, I’m thinking… A Heron spilt-system airconditioner with heating mode is mounted in an overhead cupboard next to the full height wardrobe, facing the kitchen. Its compressor unit lives in a cupboard below. A 19-inch TV/DVD is fixed, rearwards facing, to the wardrobe end panel, while lighting is limited to one fixture just inside the sliding side door and four reading lights over the beds/dinette. Two of these have already been replaced with LEDs and the others will soon follow suit. The house battery is a single 100 AH item, while the hot water system is a Suburban 22 litre gas-only unit, connected to a smallish 4.5 kg cylinder that also supplies the cooker. Fresh water capacity is a
reasonable 86 litres, while grey is 60. Because of its rental market design there is no mains water connector and no awning or outside light. The lack of the former is a bugger, but the absence of the awning pleases me no end as I personally hate awnings with a passion (just ask Mrs iM and Malcolm)! I’d like a light, though…
In The Cab
umping behind the wheel was like meeting a good friend I had’t seen for a long time. I was surprised by just how well equipped and technologically advanced a five year old Transit is, especially this one as an ex-rental. I
42 | Project Polly
I wasn’t expecting a leather-wrapped steering wheel or cruise control. Dual airbags are a valuable inclusion and I like the stubby gear lever being dash-mounted, up out of the way. wasn’t expecting the leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, hill holder, electronic traction control, electronic stability control, height adjustable headlights, or a reversing camera and rear parking sensors. Anti-lock brakes and steering-wheel mounted audio controls were on my list of expectations, as were remote central locking, electric windows, a CD sound system with auxiliary input, and cab airconditioning. But perhaps the first thing to grab my attention was the plethora of cup holders – they're everywhere! After struggling for years with Fiat Ducatos to find any place to safely and conveniently hold a coffee or bottle of water, the Transit’s four cup holders and two bottle holders on the dash are heaven! Also highly impressive are the deep, long sun visors that fill the windscreen to the corners of the A-pillar and cover the whole of the side window when swung across. Imagine that! Fiat still has much to learn…
I expected the seats to be a bit crushed and uncomfortable after thousands of tourist bottoms had holidayed in them, but that was not the case. Sadly, they’re fixed, and swivelling the passenger seat to provide an extra seating area is a Project Polly priority. While a swivel base is readily available, Talvor has located the house battery beneath the passenger seat and it won’t be a straightforward job. We might have to relocate the battery. Interestingly, the overall layout is almost identical to the Horizon Motorhomes’ Casuarina we’ve been using as our longterm test vehicle, with the exception of Polly having through access via the back doors because there’s no boot. There’s no overhead cupboard across the back, above the bed heads, either. It will be interesting to compare them in the long run for practicality and liveability.
Project Polly | 43
Two old dinosaurs? Why are people so unkind…
On The Road
olly is a long wheelbase XM-series Transit Jumbo van that’s 6.50 m (21 ft 4 in) long, 1.97 m (6 ft 6 in) wide, excluding mirrors, and 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in) tall, allowing for the roof hatch and TV aerial. Gross weight (GVM) is 3550 kg, while the tare escapes me for the moment – I was sure I had a photo – but is around the 2700 kg mark I think. Power comes from a 2.4 L Duratorq TDCi engine and drives through a 6-speed manual gearbox. TD means Turbo Diesel and Ci is Ford-speak for Common-rail Injection, which marks it as a late model technology engine. Power is 103 kW @ 3500 rpm, while torque is 375 Nm @ 2000 revs. Although outright power is down on current engines the torque figure is surprisingly competitive. Compared to ‘our’ Horizon Casuarina, Polly is also almost identical dimensionally. Where she
differs markedly is in the amount of rear overhang (more), engine capacity (2.4 L v 3.0 L), drive configuration (rear-wheel v front-wheel) and gearbox (manual v auto). They really are apples and oranges, but I have to say that for an old ‘apple’ Polly acquits herself quite well. On the road the gearbox shifts smoothly and the engine, which at around 260,000 km should be about half-life, is also smooth and sweet. The clutch takes up nicely and the dashboardmounted gear lever is conveniently out of the way when you want to slip between the seats into the living area. While the engine runs out of steam quite quickly in the lower gears – a combination of lowish overall gearing and the modest kilowatt output – in the higher gears it pulls strongly. That’s when the healthy toque output is put to good use and at peak torque – 2000 rpm – she’s sitting on 100 km/h in sixth gear, while 110 km/h is about 2750 rpm. Those are indicated speeds and like most vehicles, optimistic (by about 5 km/h
44 | Project Polly
according to the GPS). Unusually the odometer is absolutely spot on!
The Long Drive Home
aving driven the Horizon Casuarina from Ballina to home via the roadwork nightmare they call the Pacific Highway I was in no hurry to repeat the experience. Instead, I opted for the New England Highway, which although a little longer and with lots of hills, is a far easier and more enjoyable drive. I also think it’s a more scenic drive and I particularly like the towns from the Queensland border down to Muswellbrook. Polly was empty, save for about 20 kg of luggage, but there was a 225 kg box trailer behind and I thought if I could average 80 km/h I’d get about 800 km ‘down the track’ before needing a rest, probably for the night. She had other plans! Heading out through suburban Brisbane and Ipswich, then turning south west onto the Cunningham Highway towards Warwick, I was
surprised – very surprised – by how well she was running. Holding the 100 km/h speed limit using cruise control was no problem and I didn’t really notice the trailer, which sat rock steady and right in the middle of the reversing camera’s screen (the camera isn’t connected to reverse, just activated by an on-off button). Cunningham’s Gap proved an anti-climax as Polly whizzed up without being pushed, and in no time – ish – I was stopping for the first of the day’s coffees, at Warwick. Stanthorpe, Wallangarra,Tenterfield and Deepwater slipped by, before a fuel and lunch stop in Glenn Innes. After earlier fuelling up near Ipswich and climbing up ranges towing a trailer, Polly had averaged 12.45 L/100 km, or 22.7 mpg. She was running as well as any new motorhome and just as comfortably, while the direct drive of the manual gearbox meant there was no delay between putting my foot down and the vehicle accelerating. You might think sixth gear would be a very tall overdrive, but that’s not the case. On the open road I was surprised how easily Polly pulled sixth up some considerable inclines, even when using cruise and without
Project Polly | 45
putting my foot down to give her a head start.
Home and Hosed
Guyra, Armidale and Uralla rolled by before more coffee in Tamworth, then on through Wallabadah, Willow Tree and Murrundi as night fell. The first signs of fatigue appeared, but the coffee must have kicked in because they soon passed, as did Scone, Muswellbrook and Singleton, my dinner stop. I could smell home and I think Polly could too. Soon we were on the M1 Freeway and after more coffee at the awful Caltex service centre at Wyong we hit Sydney, then followed the M7 around to the 24-hour Woolies service station at Prestons for a big drink – of diesel. We’d covered 644 km since the top-up in Glen Innes and used 72.22 litres of diesel, for an average of 11.2 L/100 km (25.2 mpg). Despite the comparatively small 80 L fuel tank there was still about 80 km range showing on the trip computer, which would have been about right. The last time I relied on a Transit’s trip computer for an accurate range figure is left us stranded on the Hume Highway, having lost the last 100 km indicated in about 40 km actual! Needless to say I’m not very trusting these days…
’d left Brisbane at 8:30 that morning and pulled up at my front gate at 11:20 pm. Total distance driven was 1099 km and total coffee consumed was, well, never mind. Polly didn’t miss a beat and my backside was neither sore nor sorry. She had proven herself as capable and comfortable as any new motorhome – albeit with a few more interior rattles over the rough stuff – and in the morning I hosed off the bugs; the only sign of the previous day’s travels.
The journey had gone better than expected – without a hitch in fact – and my fears of having bought a lemon evaporate. For the moment, at least. Next issue I’ll talk about the buying process, what you get for your money and what Apollo does to aid adopters of its retirees. Stay tuned!
46 | Longtermer Update: Horizon Motorhomes Casuarina
Kerbside Eats! Heading to the city for a night on the townâ€Ś
Longtermer Update | 47
he combination of winter and a hectic work roster for Mrs iMotorhome has once again limited our ability to get away. The lack of a diesel-fired heater hasn’t helped either, but we did manage an unusual night out last Saturday, which highlighted yet another use for a motorhome – especially a compact one. The GoodFood website recently ran a story on the 10 best places for pizza in Sydney. One place in particular caught my eye. It read: One of Sydney's best pizzas is made on a truck. Let that sink in for a bit. A long-term labour of love project for three mates, two of whom were once chefs at the great Gigi Pizzeria in Newtown, Happy as Larry was almost a restaurant in Darlinghurst before the team decided to grow wheels instead. The truck itself is a marvel, a heavy hauler decked
out with an enormous woodfired oven while still allowing up to six staff to move around inside. The business – Happy As Larry – turns out to be just four months old. I looked them up on the Happy As Larry Facebook page, which told me where they were going to be parked, and messaged them saying we were going to join them for dinner on Saturday. It seems Saturday and Sunday nights they can be found at one of the regular haunts – a carpark in Bexley, not far from Sydney Airport. Storms were rolling in from the west as we headed up to Sydney; a half-bottle of red tucked neatly away in a kitchen drawer. The Bexley carpark turned out to be behind shops and the Bexley Branch Library. We found the big truck parked in a corner, making the most of open space at the rear of the library
48 | Longtermer Update
Above: The huge wood-fire pizza oven bakes at 400ºC, and in just 60 seconds! Below: Having a motorhome meant we could pull out real wine glasses when everyone else was drinking from plastic. Cheers!
buildings. There, they had set up outdoor gas heaters and dozens of plastic milk crates with plywood tops, which double as seats and tables. Very clever! The place was a hive of activity around 7 pm as I slid ‘our’ Horizon Casuarina into a single spot alongside and just slightly ahead of the truck.
Top: You can’t get much closer to the ocean than this. Shellharbour’s main street is just a few minutes walk away, too. Above: What tourist town would be complete without gift shops?
Music was pumping and a crowd of 30 or so people of all ages were making the most of the crate seat/tables and heaters, and either tucking into pizzas or waiting patiently for them. Chris, aka Larry, quickly spotted me taking photos (although I wasn’t the only one) and we got chatting about the truck and business. Interestingly, Chris’ greatest excitement was over our longterm Horizon Casuarina as he said his father always wanted a motorhome and dreamed of travelling Australia. We showed Chris through and he was amazed, saying he couldn’t believe you could get a shower and toilet into something this size. Needless to say Dad is now a subscriber. Welcome!
Longtermer Update | 49
Above: A team of up to six takes orders, creates, cooks and serves the pizzas. Right: Chris (left) is the main man – and as Happy as Larry! Bottom: Our longterm Horizon Casuarina was dwarfed by the truck and its shipping container body.
True Roadside Eats!
he truck’s body is a cleverly modified 20 ft shipping container, with the kerbside finished with large perspex windows that allow an uninterrupted view of the staff hard at work, while providing them with a measure of ventilation. They’ll need it, because pride of place is taken by a custom brick oven from Naples fired by wood that creates baking temperatures of 400º C. Pizzas are made from largely Italian-sourced ingredients – the dough, tomatoes and fior di latte (mozzarella) – while the high temperature ‘blast cooks’ them in about 60 seconds. And what pizzas they are. We tried the two Happy As Larry signatures: prawn and truffle, followed by Nutella calzone.
50 | Longtermer Update
A Nutella-filled calzone for dessert? Yum!
Black truffle pate, fior di latte, prawns, cherry tomatoes, oyster mushrooms, aromatised olive oil, parsley, seat salt and cracked pepper were our main course’s ingredients. The pizzas aren’t big – maybe 12 inches – and we could easily have scoffed one each of these $19 beauties. However, there was dessert… Imagine a pizza smothered in rich, chocolatey Nutella, then folded in half and wood fired, dusted with icing sugar and served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Bellissimo (for $14)! Other pizzas on the menu were the Margherita, Bianca, Marinara ($14 each), Mixed Mushroom ($15) and – believe it or not – Lasagne ($17) It’s not an extensive menu but it does include homemade lemonade ($5) and three shakes for $7 each: Lychee & Mint, Watermelon & Strawberry, and Nutella!
Rain, rain, go away…
e were the only people sitting under one of the outdoor gas heaters to have wine in proper glasses with our pizza. And when the rains came, we were the only ones with proper undercover seating – all courtesy of the Casuarina. Being able to travel with the comforts and conveniences of home certainly has its advantages. As does the small size of a van like this: had we been in anything bigger we would probably have had to park out on the street. A fierce thunderstorm dispersed the crowd, who up until that time had been having a great time sitting under the stars and keeping warm by the heaters as they ate, drank and made merry. The storm dispersed us too and followed us home for quite a while – what is it with this motorhome and rain? – but well before any carriages could turn to pumpkins we were home and fast asleep.
Longtermer Update | 51
Above: Four slices of dessert heaven – with ice cream! Right: Chris loved the Casuarina. His father has always had aspirations of touring Australia by motorhome. Maybe one day... Although it was only a night out ‘Cassie’ proved her worth. Again. We’ll miss her when she’s gone, which won’t be long now. She’s quiet on the freeway, comfortable, economical and just plain fun/easy to live with. And she takes us to all the best places – who could ask for anything more?
52 | Travel: Reader Writes
Relocation Road Trip! The final instalment of a Hobart to Sydney rental relocation adventureâ€Ś By Dave & Kathy Boxwell
Travel | 53
e headed back towards Maydena and on to Derwent Bridge via Hamilton, basically tracing the winding route of the Derwent River to the bottom end of Lake St Clair. This was our only trip disaster: A genuine red cordial moment. Kath had decided to put the cordial in the fridge for safety, whereupon it fell over and unclipped the cap unnoticed, until we arrived in Derwent Bridge. It was all over the floor, down the step and up the outside of the motorhome. A couple of days before I had commented that the floor was very slippery and that carpet might be better. Kath had kindly pointed out the error of my ways and said something along the lines of, “Aren’t you glad we didn’t have carpet!” We took advantage of a powered site in the National Park to refill the water tank (after cleaning up the cordial) and to do some laundry. An interesting aside was that the floor was much less slippery after the red cordial incident, so if you are looking for a handyman fix for slippery floors in motorhomes, take my advice wash the floor in red cordial and rinse thoroughly. It does a great job! We had a coffee in front of the fire at the local café/visitors centre/National Park office and then I went for a bit of a fish before dark, again without success.
hursday morning we went into Derwent Bridge to refuel and visited ‘The Wall’: A fantastic artistic tribute to Tasmania’s history, carved in Huon Pine panels about 2.7 metres high and some 50 metres long. It was created by Greg Duncan over a decade, without any Government assistance, and the wood carving is so intricate and detailed it’s amazing. The figures are so lifelike you forget you’re looking at timber panels, the details of veins on the back of the men’s hands, boot buckles and creases in shirts are so clearly
Below: Cradle Mountain with a dusting of snow! Bottom: Tassie is full of places you can easily pull over, be it for a cuppa or an overnight stay…
54 | Travel Convict-era ruins, Sarah Island.
portrayed. It’s a work in progress and not yet complete, and unfortunately you can’t take photos due to copyright, but you can buy an excellent photographic book as a keepsake. It shows the work of the Hydroelectric Scheme and the early timber getters with their horse drays; wildlife and birds, and a particularly poignant scene of a young wife receiving a telegram of her husband’s death, visiting his grave and packing up her belongings on the horse drawn dray to move on. There are also some static art displays around the perimeter of the main feature that will have you looking closely to see whether they are real or carved out of timber. This is a must-see in Derwent Bridge!
e headed to Strahan via Queenstown, where we were able to use a dump point as there are no dump facilities in Derwent Bridge in the National Park. Apparently there used to be, but in light of environmental concerns this has now been discontinued. Queenstown is a fascinating place that is slowly but surely recovering from the ravages of mining smelters and bushfires. It’s an eerie place without trees, but they do make pizza in the main street, which was very welcome on a cool, cloudy day. We sought out some Tasmanian salmon and apple cider at the local supermarket, keen to rekindle some past memories, and headed to Strahan on Macquarie Harbour.
Travel | 55 Top to bottom: History lesson, the easy way. Re-boarding our river cruise. Magnificent sunset over the Gordon River.
We booked on a Gordon River cruise for the next day (courtesy of FlyBuys) and found a nice free camp overlooking Ocean Beach. Again we parked with the nose pointing to the way out, and were joined by another motorhome we crossed paths with frequently. Friday morning and we joined the river cruise for a fascinating full day learning about the early harbour and its entry through Hells Gates, and the convict penal colony on Sarah Island that pre-dates Port Arthur. The Round Earth Theatre Company provided an excellent and entertaining history of Sarah Islandâ€™s convict and ship building history, with the last ship built there used by convicts to escape to South America! On the way to Sarah Island we cruised past numerous Atlantic salmon and sea trout farms in the cool, clean waters of Macquarie Harbour. This is a vital new industry for the area and is environmentally supervised and regulated. We then ventured up-river to the Gordon below Franklin World Heritage area,
56 | Travel
Ticking all the boxes: Sunshine, Cradle Mountain with snow, and the lake and boat shed for effect!
with a full buffet lunch and a walk amongst the rainforest area of Huon pine, celery top pine and other magnificent rainforest vegetation. Some of the trees predate the birth of Christ! We finished up at an old working sawmill on the harbour shores that shows a bit more local history and the links with Huon pine, a fantastic and aromatic timber used originally for boat building. We headed to the outskirts of Strahan and had a bit of a fish off a small jetty, where I caught an Australian salmon. We camped the night in the area with a fantastic pink sunset over the water. Life truly is good!
aturday we headed towards Cradle Mountain via Zeehan and Rosebery, which are old West Coast mining towns. There is an interesting museum of metallurgy and mining at Zeehan with outdoor displays including an old blacksmiths shop, vehicle museum and locomotive display in a massive
covered area. The town itself is interesting and features well-preserved historic buildings. By the time we got to Cradle Mountain the rain was at a 45 degree angle and we caught the shuttle bus to Dove Lake, but the rain was such we couldnâ€™t even see the lake, let alone Cradle Mountain, Tasmaniaâ€™s most iconic mountain! We ventured back and booked in to a powered site at the caravan park as we needed to refill with water and do some more washing, and with the weather closing in we thought there might be others thinking of staying overnight in the hope of seeing the mountain the next day. This turned out to be a very good move because the weather turned very cold overnight, with snow forecast down to 1100 metres, and we certainly gave the blow heater a good work out. But before settling in for the night we visited Devils at Cradle Park. Arriving at 4:00 pm we only had a short visit, but there was a nighttime education tour happening later, so while we waited we had a cuppa in the car park and
Travel | 57
Tassie Devils are highly endangered due to the spread of a so-far incurable mouth tumour. feasted on Tassie Salmon on crackers, with Camembert cheese. Did I mention I love motorhomes and their convenience? We toured the Tassie Devil park and received some insightful information on this iconic carnivorous mammal that is so threatened in the wild by a terrible facial cancer. Apparently the disease has been genetically traced to one female devil and since 1995 some 85 per cent of the wild devil population has been wiped out. It is now on the endangered list, although there are some isolated pocket on peninsulas where devils occur in the wild and which are natural sanctuaries, and there has been a sanctuary established in NSW in order to protect and preserve this iconic animal so it doesn’t go the way of the Tassie tiger, or Thylacine. Quolls are also on display and proved fascinating, as we observed their nighttime feeding antics. Sunday dawned clear and cold day and a light dusting of snow had fallen on trees, cars and also Cradle Mountain. Yippee – what a sight.
Cradle Mountain had turned it on again for us just as it had 13 years ago. We caught the shuttle bus back to Dove Lake and ventured on a short walk to the boat shed for the obligatory photos of the lake and shed, with Cradle Mountain towering in the background. As our knees were not up to it we decided against the longer walk and headed back to pick up the motorhome and continue our adventure. We drove to Sheffield – the town of murals – to sample Tasmania’s famous scallop pies, then continued to Railton, famous for its unusual topiary throughout the town. From there it was up to Latrobe to visit House of Anvers, a Belgian chocolate and fudge maker. Yum! Did we indulge? Of course…
Catching The Spirit
ith a few hours to go before catching the Spirit of Tasmania to the mainland we motored up to Penguin and found a nice little grassy spot overlooking the beach
58 | Travel
Getting ready to board. Rental motorhomes are a regular sight on the Bass Strait crossing.
for some afternoon tea. Did I mention I love motorhomes? We drove back to Devonport and boarded the ship. We found our ‘ocean recliners’ and enjoyed dinner looking over the harbour before departing in darkness and leaving this beautiful and fascinating island State behind. Trying to sleep semi-reclined in the rolling waves of Bass Strait wasn’t that good; what between old mate across the aisle snoring and some chatterboxes who decided that because they couldn’t sleep at 5 am no one else should either. Note to self: Pay the extra next time and grab a cabin upgrade!
departing the ship. We visited some of Kath’s relatives in Melbourne for second breakfast and mid-afternoon headed off to Lakes Entrance and a nearby free camp.
Tuesday morning saw us on the way to Orbost and Cann River, then Bombala and Cooma through the Monaro Plains. We stopped in Orbost on the Snowy River and found a dump point not listed in our Camps 7 book. We also supported the local community by fuelling up and buying some groceries. This was a very scenic route in autumn thanks to the deciduous trees and we stopped just out of Nimmitabel for some ham and cheese toasties cooked in the frypan, for lunch. We Monday morning we docked in Port Melbourne ventured on and headed through Cooma and at daylight and had an early breakfast before
Travel | 59 Queanbeyan before stopping at Goulburn to refuel. For some reason Kath wasn’t that keen on stopping in Belanglo State Forest on a wet, wild and windy night so we stopped at a free camp just outside Mittagong. Wednesday morning we made it home to the Blue Mountains and dropped off our gear, gave the motorhome a quick spruce-up and delivered it to Taren Point in Sydney’s south. Mission accomplished: one motorhome relocated from Hobart to Sydney and we had a fun trip to boot. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat!!
e were quite impressed with the number of free camps and dump points available in Tasmania. Obviously the Tasmanian’s understand the value of the tourism dollar. They’re also a friendly and fiercely independent bunch that’s willing to cater for tourism needs. We are certainly planning to visit again, but hopefully next time in our own motorhome. Postscript: Our original thought for holidays was to go tent camping at Forster. We realised when we got back this coincided with the once-in-a-decade storms that hit the Hunter region and we would have been packing up a soggy tent! Have I mentioned that I really like motorhomes?
60 | Travel
Fast Facts Here’s a total of our actual travel costs, which were pretty close to our original budget. We did the whole holiday for just a bit more than the cost of a normal motorhome rental, which would have been $2700. Relocations – even if you buy extra days – are certainly great value! Tassie Relocation Holiday Air fares – two adults
Motorhome relocation – 7 days @ $50
Motorhome extra days – 5 days @ $150
Fuel – average $1.32 per litre
Ferry Travel – extra ocean recliner seat
Accommodation – mostly free camping but allow 3-4 nights
Spending – attractions, occasional takeaway, coffee etc
Food – rest of meals
Relocation contact: Apollo Rentals
Travel | 61
• Take out travel insurance – recommended by the hirer
• Take the ocean recliner seat. It can be an uncomfortable night if you are not used to it
• Book a cabin on the overnight ferry. A bed is nicer than a recliner seat
• Fret about getting to places. You have your accommodation and meals with you, so it doesn’t matter
et a copy of Camps Australia Wide 7 •G (version 8 is now available) to find the free camping spots and dump points (the WikiCamps Australia app is also a musthave – Ed) • Be security conscious and park your vehicle overnight with a way out – just in case • Keep an eye out for interesting scenery and stop and take photos • Be aware of not creating a nuisance, but there are places not listed where you can overnight. E.g. roadwork stockpiles • Keep a journal, it makes putting the photos together easier and gives you some nice memories • Have a rough itinerary but be flexible and change if you want • Stay in park accommodation every couple of days, do your laundry and top up water & empty out etc • Enjoy the freedom
• Try and travel too much. Allow about 250 km max a day. Stay an extra day in a place if you get sick of driving • Stress. Remember it is meant to enjoyable!
62 | Product Review
Camp Kitchen Versatile and portable solutions for those who love to cook outdoors… by Allan Whiting, outbacktravelaustralia.com.au
Coleman Powerhouse Dual-fuel stove was our faithful servant for many years, but eventually the time came time for a replacement. After 15 years of hard bush work it just plain wore out.
Then we spotted Coleman’s Eventemp AL-3 Instastart stove with full size griddle and grease cup. The stove is a clever design, because the two round burners are separated by a rectangular burner and with all three alight and the griddle on top there’s even heat over the We then tried camping with a couple of butane- entire plate. Cooking a bacon and egg reviver can, single-burner stoves we picked up in a for six people is simple: The stove lid and a pair hardware store for around twenty dollars each. of folding side plates form a wind break and They were fine in mild weather, but butane boils we’ve cooked successfully without a flame-out at zero degrees, so on frosty mornings in the in 20 knots of breeze. desert the butane stubbornly remained liquid and the stoves didn’t want to light. Yes, we The stove uses easily portable, disposable know you can take a gas can to bed with you LPG canisters that vary in price, but are usually to keep it warm, but if you forget, there’s no around $8-10 each. These have no external morning coffee, unless you can prod some life valves or projections and they’re cylindrical, so out of last night’s camp fire. they’re very easy to pack. The canister attaches
Product Review | 63 to the stove by way of a rigid pipe connector that incorporates a pressure valve. As backup, the stove comes with a conventional, flexible hose that can screw to a normal LPG bottle. The canister needs to be rigidly attached to the stove and doesn’t sit on the stove stand. We were concerned the canister’s hanging weight might cause a problem, but we’ve had no difficulty to date. Canister life has been excellent. We did a two-week trip on one canister and a three-week trip using one and a half, so we now know how many back ups we need to carry. The stove, with full size griddle and grease cup, retails for around $279. Complementing the stove is a Coleman PackAway Kitchen, which disappears into a tiny case. The sides of the case open out to form the serving table top. The stove-stand opens on one side of the table top and a slip-on cooking-tool frame clicks in place to hold tongs, spoons and the like. A light pole, with a snap hook on the top, clicks together and slides into a socket on the kitchen frame. A woven string ‘shelf’ clips under the table, to hold pans and plates. The folding kitchen retails for around $99. This Coleman camping stove and kitchen combo has done three years of bush trips with us and has proved to be the best arrangement we’ve ever had. The kitchen is quick to erect, functional and easy to clean and pack away. If the new stove and folding kitchen work as well as the liquid-fuel unit and folding stand we had for years, we’ll get excellent bush service from them. So far, they’ve proved to be very userfriendly.
64 | Mobile Tech
Food Apps For Thought By Emily Barker
Mobile Tech | 65
Meat Cuts Size: 25.3 MB Cost: Free
No matter what your tastes though one thing is for certain – it’s never been easier to source healthy wholesome foods in our supermarkets and local stores. Australia is indeed a lucky country. For those simply interested in good food, with nothing too fancy in the name or preparation and without the attached baggage of ideologies, then these apps are ideal. Whether you are equipped with a complete kitchen or a barbecue I believe great food comes from great ingredients, a little inspiration and a dash of adventure. It also need not cost the earth. Enjoy!
Meat & Livestock Australia is no novice when it comes to digital technology. Meat Cuts is their third app released in Australia and it certainly fits their brief of “Knocking down purchasing barriers by increasing public knowledge”. This app is simple, and fresh; pretty much how you want most things. Unfortunately meat today is expensive and while most of us might like the idea of equating red meat with seared rib fillet or filet mignon, truth is it can get costly. What Meat & Livestock Australia is trying to achieve is to educate the public about the variety of cuts available and the most appropriate cooking method for each. Chuck steak may be classed as a ‘steak’ but throw one of those on the grill and no one is a happy camper. Slow cook it into beef, Guinness and mushroom pie, however, and it’s everyones favourite!
t may be my inner grizzly bear coming out, but there is something about winter that makes me want to head for the kitchen – and stay there! There has been a dramatic shift in the food world recently and if you’re not a Master Chef in the making or declaring the ruling status of your kitchen you might be caught up in the paleo rush, or even spending your days foraging for everything organic, sustainable and bee friendly!
66 | Mobile Tech Meat Cuts looks at the various cuts of beef, veal, lamb and goat. It explains where on the animal each cut originates; its individual characteristics, the most suitable cooking methods and why. It also recommends substitute cuts for various dishes and boasts 107 delicious recipes, from Osso Buco to the perfect ‘slip off the bone’ winter-warmer lamb stew. In terms of a kitchen aid this app should give anyone the confidence to shop, cook and serve some wonderfully hearty meals, with a price tag a little easier to swallow! For those who take their steak seriously (and perfectly cooked) it’s also worthwhile checking out Meat & Livestock Australia’s other app SteakMate, guaranteed to revolutionise the humble barbecue! Leggo's Loves Italian Size: 30.1 MB Cost: Free
pasta timer specific for individual types including fresh and dried, plus a shopping list. In terms of an app produced by a brand to promote its products Leggo’s has blown the competition out of the water. And unlike many brand-associated apps, this one is entirely free – no subscriptions or expansion packs required!
Worth A Mention
hen it comes to shopping, cooking and preparing meals there are many valuable apps to choose from. You can literally plan a meal, find a recipe, order the ingredients and have them delivered straight to your door if you wish. Finding the right assortment of apps is simply a matter of figuring out your requirements.
The Sustainable Seafood Guide is a wonderful Australian app for those equally passionate about their seafood and oceans. Love Food Hate Waste Rich creamy soups, crisp crostini, pizza, is a UK app designed to help people cook with the calzones, pasta, Mediterranean vegetables every ingredients they already have on hand in an effort which-way, delectable seafood and meat dishes to reduce waste. It also has a handy meal planner, to dream over; I may be getting a little carried shopping list and access to hundreds of recipes. away but that’s the effect this app has on me! I’m The POI Palm Oil Barcode Scanner, on the other usually skeptical when an app remains untouched hand, is useful for those concerned with the ethical for over a year, but it seems Leggo’s got it status of the products they consume and there right the first time. Incredibly enough, this app is soon to be released a barcode scanner app to when displayed on the iPad is atmospherically finally solve country of origin labelling issues once inspirational: Rich beautiful imagery, a clear and for all. Then there are the apps designed to crisp interface and recipes that are not only take the leg work out of finding a place to eat. easy to read and follow, but are also genuinely Restaurateurs beware, the people have a voice, authentically wholesome, oh and did I mention but that’s a whole new story! the music? It’s entirely optional but try it: Verdi, Rossini, Mozart, Vivaldi, Puccini, Respighi – Italian is a passionate food and with such fine company what could possibly go wrong?! The many health benefits of a Mediterranean diet have been widely recognised by medical professionals. It’s good food, made well and enjoyed completely. The range of recipes in this app is suited to many different situations, skill levels and tastes. There is also a range of tools within the app including a pasta serving guide, a
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68 | Next Issue
– complete with bathroom and sleeping for three! Reader Alan Price shares his adventures from the Man From Snowy River Festival in Corryong, in the Victorian High Country, while we bring you a light hearted look at a special roadside residence for very small people – also in Victoria!
alcolm’s in the USA trying his hand at a rental relocation, but one with a difference – Halifax to Toronto! He’s promised to send photos of his travels and we hope to bring you a review of his rental vehicle, which might well be a smaller Euro-style vehicle. Speaking of Euro style, next issue we’re going to do something a little different and show you a high-top European VW T5
Jul 31-Aug 02
There’ll be one of the last reports on our long term Horizon Casuarina, plus a look at the pros and cons of buying an ex-rental motorhome, in our Project Polly update.
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2015 Queensland Outdoor Adventure Show
Mid North Coast Caravan & Camping Show
Toowoomba Showgrounds Glenvale Rd, Toowoomba. Qld. 4350.
Wauchope Showgrounds, Beechwood Rd Wauchope. NSW. 2446.
• • • •
• Open 9:00-5:00 daily (4:00 last day) • Parking: Free • Adults: $15 • Seniors: $11 • Kids: U16 free
Parking: Free Adults: $10 Seniors: $8 Kids: Free with adult
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Border RV & Camping Expo Wodonga Racecourse, Thomas Mitchell Drive. Wodonga, Vic. 3690 • 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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