Issue 77: Aug 01 2015
because getting there is half the fun...
Joker’s Wild? Win!
$50 for the! best letter
It might look funny but wait ’til you see inside…
The man From Snow River Festival…
By name and nature – find out more!
The costs of doing business…
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
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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Published by iMotorhome PO Box 1738, Bowral. NSW 2576. Australia.
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AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
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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
On my mind | 5
Horses for courses… Happy birthday horses! Did you know today – August 1st – is the accepted birthday for horses born in the southern hemisphere? Why? Because it fits with their 11 month breeding cycle, and enables standardisation of age groups in racing events. We celebrate with our old paddock boys with carrot cake, when we remember, and a few little treats sans candles (they have terrible trouble with matches). It’s an interesting concept really. Imagine if all people celebrated the same birthday. At least there’d be no excuse for forgetting! In case you’re wondering, January first is the northern hemisphere’s equivalent… Speaking of horses for courses, I’ve recently been thinking about the plethora of motorhome shapes and sizes. It made me wonder if people buy a motorhome to suit them or if they make themselves fit a motorhome – or a bit of both? First-time buyers would likely be the ones to buy a motorhome they like the look of, but when you accumulate experience do subsequent purchases become more head and less heart-based? Project Polly is a case in point: She’s not our ‘dream motorhome’ and to be honest, after swanning around in the latest and greatest in the course of this job, taking Polly on is something of a daunting challenge. Purpose-built rental motorhomes must withstand years of use and potential abuse, so above all they need to be robust. For robust read ‘basic’; but not necessarily in features – Polly has most mod cons – but in presentation and detail. Experience is a double edged sword and as they say, you can’t miss what you’ve never had. We’ve ‘had’ – as in travelled in – some of the very best motorhomes, including those with an abundance of kitchen storage, thoughtfully appointed bathrooms, cleverly designed bedrooms and spacious, comfortable lounges/dinettes. Polly has none of these. There are a few poorly laid out
cupboards to divide the space beneath the kitchen benchtop; the most rudimentary bathroom and an equally basic sleeping area and dinette. What’s acceptable for a week or two in a rental vehicle is quite different to what you want to live with longterm. I’m not highlighting these short comings as a complaint, however, just an observation. Polly is a special horse for a particular course. Polly’s main purpose now is as a vehicle (no pun intended, for a change) to show what can be done to almost any motorhome when you find things that don’t suit, or just want to improve it. Some we’ll do ourselves – Mrs iM is very handy – and some will need to be outsourced (as a handyman I’m a great magazine editor). Where Project Polly excites is in being a semi-blank canvas we can stretch, nip, tuck and snip into shape, and the seemingly endless possibilities that provides. So back to my original question: Do you buy a motorhome to suit or do you fit into one? I think the answer is a bit of both. Polly suits financially and by providing the instant ability to carry our tandem bike. She also fits, size-wise, into the usage pattern we’ve come to value courtesy of our long term Casuarina. Hopefully she’ll be more suitable and we’ll fit better when we’ve tweaked and played with her a while. And hopefully we can inspire some of you to follow suit; be it in personalising your existing motorhome or by starting out more modestly with your own ‘blank canvas’. Best hang on then, it’s sure to be one heck of a ride…
6 | Content
Who we are, where and other legal stuff
Find back issues and more on our website
On my Mind
On your Mind
Horses for Courses
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Snapshot: Westfalia Club Joker
Longtermer: Horizon Casuarina
Travel: Man from Snowy River Festival
Feature: Global Adventurer
Mobile Tech: Fuel Map App
What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
The latest Marketplace offers
Could this be the world’s smallest self-contained RV?
Buy Gosh! – A rundown on the purchase experience and costs
A report card on our longterm Horizon Casuarina
A reader report on a special event you really shouldn’t miss!
A Western Australian school salutes a little known local adventurer…
A winning app from the makers of WikiCamps!
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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money, competitively priced from $158,000.
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rollover protection, auto-locking cabinetry and superior appliance mounting systems.
• Industry’s longest & most
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• Built for Australian conditions. • Models available with or without slide-outs. • Superior finish with stylish new contoured exterior. • Patented moulded bins for maximum storage capacity. • Outstanding road handling & ride comfort. • Genuine island queen beds and huge wardrobes. • Spacious rear ensuites with separate toilet & shower. • Market leading layouts & lifestyle features. • Full living area slide-outs providing superior living space. • Proven reliability of Paradise’s patented slide-outs.
Enjoy the prestige of owning Australia’s best quality motorhome Paradise Motor Homes
245 Brisbane Road, Biggera Waters, Queensland, 4216
ph (07) 5597 4400 - email email@example.com Paradise Motor Homes products are protected by registered designs, patents and copyrights ™ © 2013
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
Enjoy the ultimate go-anywhere off road adventure with the Jabiru 4x4 Xtra. From Alice Springs to Halls Creek and via Tamani Track, reach isolated camp spots which require solid ground clearance and traction with this high performance luxury vehicle.
Jabiru 4x4 Xtra. Redefine your camping adventure.
Visit trakka.com or call 1800 TRAKKA
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
the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.
Clean Sweep! Hi iMotorhome magazine. Firstly I would like to tell you how much I enjoy each issue and for all the very useful information therein. I particularly enjoyed the Fiat Ducato drink holder inventions and the final collapsible marine cup holders sent in by Pam, brilliant! I sent away for them immediately having the same issue in the drink holder dept with our Fiat.
price was $59 for the pair including delivery. I also got a 20% discount for showing interest on a return email after signing up. So $47 as opposed to $125 – less than half price for the same item and the packaging was the same! Oh, it also took me – a 59 year old women – all of 30 seconds to fit each blade as they just snap in and out, easy as pie.
I have some interesting information for all Fiat Ducato owners which I would like to pass on, as it will be a great saving for them. Recently we needed some new wiper blades for our 2012 Fiat Ducato motorhome. Firstly I went to all the usual places like Supercheap and the like with no success, so was forced to go to the Fiat dealer (the wipers are different lengths, driver’s side longer). Upon hearing the price of $125 a pair and being told they are very difficult to fit sand o would need to be fitted also by Fiat I picked my jaw up off the desk, went home and started trawling the internet. Soon I came across a fantastic company called Wipertech (Freecall 1300 778502) in NSW, who arranged next day delivery to us in Qld.
Every Blessing for a fantastic next issue. We look forward to it!
They have every blade from every vehicle at less than half the original cost and a YouTube video showing you how very easy it is to fit them. There
Suzanne and Stephen Thanks for the terrific tip, I’m sure many readers will find it useful! Also pleased you found the cup holder saga a valuable one too. I do find it remarkable how much auto manufacturers and dealers charge for even the most basic parts. Then there’s the concept that if you don’t use ‘genuine’ parts you, your family and vehicle will likely go to hell in a hand basket. Only this week I received a press release from an automotive industry group stating just that – in regard to air filters! Please accept this issue’s $50 prize, which now means you’re $3 ahead on your new wipers. Enjoy!
12 | On your mind
Safe Key in Numbers… Hi Richard, for those worried about misplacing their motorhome key a solution is to Sikaflex a small 3 digit combination safe onto the inside wall of their gas cylinder cubbyhole. I did it a couple of years ago. My safe is very small, approx 150 x 100 x 45 mm and I had to hold it in place whilst the Sikafles cured. A potential thief would need to know the combination or have an awful lot of time to feed in the 1000 possible combinations to open it. And because of its position on the side of the cubbyhole it is not apparent to onlookers when the door is open. I think I purchased the safe at Bunnings and it was quite inexpensive.
That’s a great tip thanks Bob, and one we might try ourselves on Project Polly if we can find a suitably small safe at Bunnings or similar. Because you’re obviously a lover of small things I’m going to send you one of our limited edition, hand-made leather-bound iMotorhome note books as a thank you for sharing such a useful tip. Hope you enjoy it!
In-dispenserable! Hi Richard, just reading an old issue re the Suncamper Sherwood Twin Bed and noticed your comment about the shower recess being big enough to pick up the soap, presumably after one has dropped it.
suds and presto, in a couple of minutes (and little water) one is clean for another day. Have enjoyed the magazine since day one. Keep up the good work.
In our Kea Dreamtime we don't use cakes of soap, instead relying on pump action liquid soap that stores nicely below the cabinet doors. We’ve been doing that for a number of years and it makes the showering process very easy. A quick wet down with the hand shower, a liquid soap-up and then another quick wet down to remove the
Thanks for the tip Bob and good to see you reading back issues. Just wondering though, what happens if you drop the liquid soap dispenser? Safe travels!
14 | News
major milestone for Horizon Motorhomes was recently reached: the sale of its 500th motorhome. This was a proud moment for Clayton Kearney, the owner of Horizon and the Ballina Campervan & Motorhome Centre (BCMC), which is the sole dealer. The Horizon story began in the early nineties with a 21 year old Clayton working as a mechanic and buying a second hand car yard with his stepfather. "One day we had a campervan on the yard and it sold straight away. So we started sourcing more campervans and developed our own look and before we knew it we had a brand, and called it Horizon Motorhomes. Back then, we never would have thought this business could have grown to this size” Clayton said. “We are extremely excited and grateful to be in our 20th year and to be selling our 500th motorhome”. Donald and Lorraine Kirkaldy of Toormina, Coffs Harbour, purchased a new Horizon Casuarina and, with their family, collected it from Ballina. To their surprise and delight they found they were the lucky 500th purchasers. With the Casuarina came a gift:
a congratulatory bottle of Chandon and a certificate certifying them as the 500th Horizon Motorhomes owner. Previously the couple were caravan owners, but after running into several issues with their van during travels to Ballina a few years ago they called into the BCMC showroom to get some assistance and that was when they spotted their first motorhome – a burnt orange Horizon model – and decided a motorhome would be their next choice. “We chose Horizon Motorhomes due to quality, reliability, the in-built design and safety features. We also love the freedom to move the whole vehicle with ease, backing it and parking anywhere and also the compactness of it,” Donald said. The couple is set for their first big adventure, heading to North Queensland during the remaining winter months, then on to the Great Ocean Road in summer. Horizon specialise in built-in (van conversion) motorhomes and to find out more information visit horizonmotorhomes.com.au, bcmc.com. au or call (02) 6681 1555.
News | 15
Portable Lithium Power electricity for everything from laptops to espresso machine, game consoles, CPAP machines, kitchen appliance and more. Of course, it provides 12 V power for a range of other uses.
volithium says its battery system is designed and manufactured in Australia for Australian conditions, and built tough to handle even the most remote desert tracks and corrugated roads. Through the use of an optional inverter its lithium battery system provides portable 240 V
The lightweight, self-managed plug-and-play unit powers most appliances and can be charged using a variety of technologies. Itâ€™s also claimed to employ a guaranteed, fail-safe management system that goes above and beyond the basic systems of other lithium batteries. The company says a proprietary, quality casing and unprecedented built-in safety measures protect users from hazards associated with battery units. With proper care and maintenance itâ€™s claimed it will last 10 years or more. To find out more visit evolithium.com.au or Freecall 1800 944 044.
NORTHCOACH EQUIPMENT PTY LTD
16 | News
young couple based in Geelong has just launched Australia’s first designer campervan company, Achtung Camper (AC), saying it is giving people a new way to go travelling. ‘Achtung’ means attention in German and is often used in international signage on hiking trails to alert hikers to important information. The name was chosen due to owner Ronny Probandt’s German nationality. “In a market that is traditionally known for its unfashionable and cumbersome campervans, AC offers people the latest style and innovative solutions to everyday camping problems,” a press release claims. AC claims it has the only vans on the market with fully insulated interiors (utilising Greenstuff insulation made from 80% recycled bottles), plus a fully carpeted interior. Thanks to custom sized storage AC also claims its campervans have more storage space than any other similar sized van on the local market. Owners Tania Differding and Ronny Probandt says they share a love for campervan travel. The idea was sparked eleven years ago when they ventured off in an old campervan to tour Australia.
Ronny commented, “Friends wanted to buy a campervan but didn’t want to spend their hard earned dollars on something that looked like it was designed and built in the 80s.” After more research we discovered a plethora of people under 60 who wanted to travel in something stylish and weren’t being catered for. While travelling we also met many campervan owners who were disappointed by the look and feel of their purchase due to the lack of alternatives on the market. AC says its ‘designer campervans’ are built using high-end designer fabrics, fittings from Germany and the best quality materials available. They feature Dinosaur Designs accessories and furniture grade hardwearing film faced plywood available in over 10 colours. The company encourages customers to choose their own colour scheme and material for the floor, walls, upholstery, cabinetry and curtains, at no extra cost. Ronny, originally a carpenter from Germany, has lived in Australia for 11 years working on high-end design projects around Sydney and Melbourne. To find our more visit achtungcamper.com.au, email email@example.com or contact Tania on 0423 321 995 for more information.
News | 17
Tour Bus Ban
he recent decision by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to ban riders sleeping in motorhomes during the Tour de France, in order not to give competitors an unfair advantage, did not apply to non-riding staff. Consequently, Team Sky took its American A-class motorhome on the recently completed Tour. Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford said it would actually
make more space available for riders in hotels along the way and permit some to have a single room. Australian rider Richie Porte, right-hand man to 2015 Tour winner Chris Froome, stayed in the motorhome during the 2014 event and was reported to have been “disappointed” with the UCI ban.
burning A-class Winnebago drove into a gas station in Kosse, Texas, when the driver pulled in to ring for help – apparently without considering the consequences. Fire spread to the canopy of the station but due to the
local fire brigade’s close proximity it was quickly extinguished. No-one was hurt but damage to the station forecourt and equipment was considerable, and the old motorhome gutted.
18 | News
Motorhome Sunroof! Initially, outer dimensions will be 1,850 mm long x 742 mm wide, with a height of 75 mm. Two other sizes of 655 mm x 1200 mm and 960 x 1,200 mm will later become available. Total weight of the smallest sunroof including, frame is 19.5 kilos.
utch company Polyplastic is claiming to have invented the first fully automatic sunroof for motorhomes and caravans. The electric roof can be operated whilst driving and will be available from October 2015 for manufacturers and from the (European) summer of 2016 for end users for DIY installations.
Various colour options will be available for the heat-insulating acrylic glass. Acrylic glass Roxite IQ can also be used which makes the unit resistant to hail damage. In addition, the sunroof can be manufactured using a special scratch resistant coating. Inside, a patented acrylic panel system with indirect and individually controllable LED lighting borders the window frame. The sunroof can also be operated manually by a switch on the frame or by remote control.
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
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 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: Access 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.
20 | News
Tried and Truma
third generation is about to take over at RV accessory maker Truma. Alexander Wottrich will gradually take over the reins from his mother, thereby continuing the tradition of this successful family company. In addition to a mechanical engineering degree, Alexander also has a Masters in family business management and last worked for the company Hilti as a technical project manager. "I am very much looking forward to my new role at Truma and helping to design its future," he said. The 32 year old already has work experience in many areas of the company and is himself a camping enthusiast. Truma says that it will remain a family owned company.
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
SUNLINER HOLIDAY H531
A’VAN OVATION M8
$175,390 DriveAway Away $180,575 Drive
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WINNEBAGO BIRDSVILLE — U1191— $108, 374 Drive Away Suit New buyer, Only 24,000kms
WINNEBAGO ESPERANCE — U1265 — $124,956 Drive Away Tow Bar, Diesel Heater, Low kms
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TALVOR KEPPEL — TA5008 — $114,940 DriveAway Away $117,772 Drive Only 31,000kms, 6 berth, U Shape Club Lounge
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22 | News
Accident Cause Results
n the UK the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has identified that once again ‘failure to look properly’ is the most common contributory factor included in over 30,000 vehicle accidents a year, following a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Transport. Analysis of the 2013 contributory factor combinations shows that top of the list was ‘failure to look properly’ combined with a ‘failure to judge another person's path or speed’. These two together were responsible for 13,299 accidents, or 7% of the total number. Next up was ‘failure to look properly’ combined with ‘carelessness or recklessness’, or ‘judged to be in a hurry’. These totalled 9132 accidents, or 5% of the total. Other reasons to emerge from the data were more than 3000 accidents caused by ’slippery roads
due to weather conditions’ combined with ‘loss of vehicle control’ (number seven on the list) and 1,470 accidents caused by ‘excessive speed’ combined with’ losing control of the vehicle’. The top 20 combinations of reasons totalled some 200,074 accidents. The full table can be downloaded HERE and makes interesting reading. Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “These figures show conclusively that simple human errors continue to cause the majority of accidents. We feel that many people eventually get complacent behind the wheel and inattention creeps in. Combine this with fatigue and distractions inside and outside the vehicle, and the message is clear that drivers must apply their full attention to driving – you simply cannot do two things at once if one of them is driving.”
News | 23
Parents Drive Further
arents drive more than 1800 km a year further than the average Australian drive: the equivalent of an extra trip from Melbourne to Brisbane during the year. And the older the kids, the more kilometres parents spend behind the wheel, new automotive data from Roy Morgan Research shows. Australian’s drive an average of 15,813 km per year, down around 2000 km per year compared with 10 years ago. However, the 4.9 million drivers who are parents with children under 18 in the home drive 17,659 km per year on average: a cumulative 87 billion kilometres annually (like driving to Pluto!). Parents with babies aged 0-2 and toddlers aged 3-5 drive an average 15,807 and 15,570
km/year respectively, which is close to the norm. But all that primary school dropping off and picking up at ages 6-8 takes the total up to 16,764 km per year. When the kids are 9-11 their parents drive farther still: an average 17,433 km/year. You’d think once kids are 12-15 years old there are bikes and public transport to get them round. But no. Having a new tween or teen in the house adds a massive 1580 km, to 19,013 km per year. And once you’re teaching them to drive, at ages 16-17, expect to hit your driving peak at 4233 km per year more than the average driver: a total 20,046. That’s like a leisurely family road trip – from South Korea to South Africa!
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
24 | 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 July – Sydney – An unexpected proposal Sutherland Council is proposing an RV camping trial in Sydney’s south.
2 July – Kulin Council WA – Progressive thinkers This has to be a first for Australia and we congratulate the Council for its progressive thinking and promotion of RV tourism. Not only have they taken this bold step for a 2-year trial, they also provide 48 hour free parking for RVs right on the main street, in a beautiful setting. Read item 6.3 of these Council minutes. 7 July – RVs are welcome in Eumundi Recreational vehicle owners are staying where none have stayed before late last year, thanks to the $250,000 new amenities block and recreational facility at Eumundi on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
8 July – Port Hedland embraces free camping Recently, travellers have been voicing their concerns about a distinct lack of free camping on the West Coast – and just like that, Port Hedland turns around and makes this sensational move. This is a massive win for travel folk, who now have the affordability and comfort of this camp, while the beautiful mining town itself is already seeing the benefits of the travel dollar! 12 July – C ouncil wants camping to return to Dumaresq Dam Community feedback is now being sought for the planned upgrade of Dumaresq Dam’s recreational area. Once complete, Council hopes the venue will be Armidale’s answer to Bondi Beach! 14 July – T here are advantages in attracting the Grey Nomad Marburg is cashing in on the rise of Grey Nomads and the camping culture by serving up a convenient site for travellers. Marburg Showground has become an official home away from home for motorhomes, vans and caravans as well as a staging point for local tourists.
Feature | 25 14 July – Kenilworth – happy campers at showgrounds There is a misconception out there that Grey Nomads bring little to communities; staying where they can for free and living off the smell of an oily rag. But RVs are big business and rural communities like this one are reaping the benefits. 14 July – WA is taking step to boost RV tourism Campers heading to popular coastal campsites in four Mid West Shires of Western Australia will soon benefit from $1.5 million of campsite improvements funded by the Royalties for Regions program. Works to install new infrastructure, improve camp grounds and upgrade access roads and tracks at Cliff Head, Sandy Cape, Halfway Bay, Lucky Bay and Milligan Island camping grounds will begin soon. 15 July – Park staff disappointed at moves on RV rules "Mr Pascoe said he doesn't necessarily have an issue with overnight, RV-only campers”. Well you would never know it if you read the whole article. This article brought a huge response on social media. 15 July – Grey Nomad business is worth chasing So often we hear claims that Grey Nomads don’t spend, or as one tourism leader said, “Not all tourism is good tourism”. These business people would argue that point! 16 July – Cessnock City welcomes RVs Yet another Council recognising the benefits of attracting the RV traveller. Are we starting to see a swing towards positive stories on RV tourism? We think so! 17 July – Elizabeth White says “Not all tourism is good tourism” This news clip is a few months old but just came to our attention. Just love the way the head of the Victorian Caravan Park Association portrays its clients. Remember, their own research says 85%
of RV tourists uses caravan parks either full time or part time. Just have to wonder if other business refer to their potential customers in a similar light. 18 July – Outback benefits from tourism In the past few months there have been numerous pleas not to desert the Outback due to the continuing drought as they need our help. Looks like the pleas have not gone unheeded. Nice to see our fellow countrymen getting the support they need to keep their communities viable. 21 July – Australia just got a little friendlier We like that catchphrase used in this press release from the City of Port Lincoln announcing it has just become RV Friendly. 23 July – The grapevine at work – Port Hedland To quote from this story: “The first night there was one van, the second night there were five and the third there were thirty .... and that’s just word of mouth out on the road,” local Councillor Julie Hunt said after the town of Port Hedland decided to install a free site next to the local turf club last month. Within three days of the visitor centre posting the announcement on Facebook, it had received more than thirteen thousand views. 24 July – H ere we go again – Alice Springs this time Government-owned showgrounds undercutting caravan parks in Alice Springs, owners say: ”It's very disappointing to see Blatherskite Park taking so many caravans," local caravan park owner and Councillor Brendan Heenan said. 30 July – Biggenden does it well Sometimes a town just does things well and Biggenden must be added to the list, with its recently opened RV Stopover. For $5 a selfcontained RV can now park right in the centre of town. The site is the disused railway grounds in the main street and all the shops, hotels, bakery, newsagent, etc are just a short stroll away.
26 | iMotorhome Marketplace
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iMotorhome Marketplace | 27
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28 | Snapshot: Westfalia Club Joker
Jolly Joker! Westfalia’s Club Joker is arguably the world’s smallest motorhome… by Richard Robertson.
Snapshot | 29
Function over form is the order of the day, but what function it has. German manufacturer Westfalia is a van specialist and has converted every series of VW Transporter since the original T1. Consequently they know a thing or two about space efficiency.
his issue we’re taking a break from our usual test program to bring you something different: A look at arguably the world’s smallest production motorhome. Westfalia is one of the oldest manufacturers of motorhomes in Europe. The business traces its roots right back to 1844, when founder Johann Bernhard built a forge to manufacture heavy horse-drawn wagons for transporting goods arriving at the newly-built railway station. Fast forward a century and in 1951 the first
Westfalia conversion of a Volkswagen T1 Transporter was created as a special order for a British officer stationed in post-war Germany. The resulting ‘camping car’ was so successful it soon entered production and the rest, as they say, is history. From that unlikely beginning every iteration of Volkswagen’s venerable Transporter series has been subject to a Westfalia conversion, with the current T5 series being no exception. Interestingly, Westfalia has
30 | Snapshot Right: This slimline panel controls and monitors all vehicle systems, including battery condition, heating and hot water. Below: An optional second bed covers the rear passenger seats and sleeps one adult or two kids. You can see the main bed overhead, folded forward, and its tracks between the top and bottom side-windows.
carved a niche for itself not unlike Australia’s Horizon Motorhomes, in that it only offers van conversions. There are only four model ranges in the Westfalia line-up: the VW-based Club Joker; the Amundsen and Columbus models, built on the Fiat Ducato; and the Marco Polo, based on the all-new Mercedes V-Class (which replaces the Viano and Valente people movers). Impressively – and an indication of Westfalia’s conversion prowess and quality – the Marco Polo is also sold by Mercedes Benz dealers in Europe as a ‘compact camper’. Decades of maximising every available millimetre show in the design detail of all Westfalia models.
There’s no doubt some of the designs would feel cramped to your average Australian or New Zealander, but bear in mind Europeans are much more accustomed to, and adept at, living in smaller spaces.
Meet the Joker
he Westfalia Club Joker is available in two models: the Club Joker City and the Club Joker. In a nutshell the difference is the City is a lower specced model, with a narrower main bed and no shower, although it still includes a cassette toilet. For those willing to forgo an internal shower and who could cope with a 1.21
Snapshot | 31
Decades of maximising every available millimetre shows in the design detail of all Westfalia models. m (4 ft) wide double bed it actually has a lot going for it – including a saving of close to £5000 (nearly A$11,000) on the Club Joker.
by the Recreational Vehicle Manufacturers Association of Australia called ‘RVs of the New Millennium'. The idea was to showcase to the public the exciting future of RVs and However, it’s the rangeto include as many futuristic topping Club Joker that’s the innovations as possible, subject of this feature. In 2000, with a view to eventual Australian manufacturer Trakka production. Using a T4-series built the one-off Trakka 2000 Volkswagen Transporter, in response to an initiative Trakka built a high-roofed
version its pop-top camper of the day, but included a rear corner bathroom. Sadly the Trakka 2000 didn’t become a production reality, but it does show the idea of a highroofed, bathroom equipped VW-based motorhome has been around for some time. Referring to the Club Joker, which was introduced at the
32 | Snapshot
Below: The main bed features a clever folding base that incorporates an interesting rubber-spring mattress support system. Note step cut-outs in bulkhead behind seat, for bed access. Bottom: You can also use the internal shower outside by running the hose though a hatch and hooking it up under the tailgate. Clever!
2012 Dusseldorf Caravan Salon, Westfalia says, “With this vehicle the company from RhedaWiedenbrück carries on more than 60 years of tradition. Westfalia’s engineers and developers consciously continue to build on the experience gained from converting more than 100,000 camper vans.” “A special feature of the new Club Joker is the combination of driving comfort based on the excellent Volkswagen T5 chassis and the unequalled motor home functionality in this class. Four permitted seats, a big kitchen in the rear side area and the new Westfalia Flex bathroom – a toilet-shower room combination – make the Club Joker a fully-fledged motor home. Westfalia’s use of hot water heating is also a trendsetter in this class. The vehicle is heated more consistently and for longer compared to a hot air heating system.”
Snapshot | 33
The raised roof allows a raised floor, providing invaluable storage space. Not sure if the frame on the bathroomâ€™s back wall is for an outdoor table or the optional second bed. The hatch to the right accesses more storage and houses the 2.8 kg LPG cylinder below.
34 | Snapshot
Above: The bathroom’s multi-fold doors are a work of art. They conceal the toilet when discretion is desired, but reconfigure to enclose the rear section of kitchen floor, which lifts to reveal the shower floor pan (see pic on Spec’s page). Right: There are full size motorhomes with much less kitchen storage space. Impressive! “But the very best feature is the functional roof especially designed for the Club Joker. According to development manager Thomas Siegert, it would also have been possible to use a standard roof, but this would not meet Westfalia’s requirements as regards insulation and quality. This functional roof houses an almost 1.30 m wide double bed and the seating can be converted into an additional bed at the flick of a wrist.”
At 2.0 m x 1.3 m the roof bed is cosy, widthways, but impressively long. Thereâ€™s plenty or light and ventilation, and nicknack storage is everywhere.
Snapshot | 35
36 | Snapshot
Above: The dinette remains fully usable when the roof bed’s extended. Optional leather upholstery appears beautifully done. Note the board for the extra bed, stored behind rear seats. Left: The two-burner cooker is the only gas appliance as the small 50 L fridge is electric while the hot water and heating system is diesel-fired.
Beyond a Joke?
here’s no doubt the Club Joker’s looks are a little polarising; the result of a functionover-form design brief. Also, the high-top wouldn’t suit people looking to use this size vehicle as a daily driver if they needed regular access to underground parking. Aesthetics and dimensions aside, the Westfalia Club Joker is an impressive piece of design and engineering, and it would be good to see an Australian or Kiwi manufacturer ‘embrace' some of its features. No joke…
Snapshot | 37
Volkswagen T5 Transporter
2.0 L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
62 kW @ 3500 rpm
220 Nm @ 1500 rpm
Gross Vehicle Mass
Gross Combined Mass
5.29 m (17’ 4”)
2.28 m (7’ 6”)
2.80 m (9 ft 2 in)
Main Bed Size
2.00 m x 1.3 m (6’ 6” x 4’ 3”)
Luton Bed Size
Dinette Bed Size
1.8 m x 1.1 m (5’ 11” x 3’ 7”) - optional
Dometic 4 burner and grill
12 V Compressor 50 L
12 V LED
1 x 80 AH
Diesel-fired hot water convection
1 x 2.8 kg
Grey Water Tank
Price - from in UK (not available in Aust/NZ)
£47,250 (A$100,500 approx)
Pros • • • • •
Bathroom in a VW T5! Bed above seating area Space utilisation Innovation Quality
• • • • •
Odd looks Height limitation Expensive Long options list Unavailable locally!
Westfalen Mobil GmbH
Click for Google Maps
Franz-Knöbel-Straße 34 33378 Rheda-Wiedenbrück Germany. T: +49 5242 150
E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: westfalia-mobil.net/en/
38 | Project Polly
Buying an ex-rental motorhome has proved an interesting experience… by Richard Robertson
ast issue I wrote of my first impressions of our ex-Apollo Rentals’ 2010 Ford Transit Euro Tourer, christened Project Polly. Now it’s time to talk about the process and costs of the purchase, and the surprises encountered along the way. Apollo Rentals has a website section devoted to vehicle sales though its Brisbane depot. Considering they have 300-plus vehicles a year ‘retiring’ from the rental fleet, that comes as no surprise. What is surprising is you can buy a new motorhome, campervan or caravan from Apollo’s website. Listed are new Winnebago van conversions and motorhomes; an Adria
motorhome, plus Talvor and Adria caravans. But I’ve digressed. In the Used section, where we found Polly, is an ever-changing list of Talvor (Apollo’s in-house motorhome manufacturing brand) models coming off the rental fleet. Some are in stock but many are listed as “available late July” or similar, and all include a drive-away price. On the website as I write are another two 2010 Ford Transit Euro Tourers identical to Polly for $41,490 (269,169 km) and $41,240 each (275,306 km). There are also a couple of 2010 Ford Transit Euro Deluxe C-classes around $60,000; a trio of 2010 VW Crafter Euro Deluxe C-classes in the low-to-
Project Polly | 39
Apollo’s website invites you to buy new motorhomes and caravans in addition to ex-rental motorhomes. It’s well worth a look… mid $60,000s, plus a couple of 2010 VW Crafter Euro Tourers that are essentially a VW version of Polly, around the $50,000 mark. Generic photos are used and there’s little chance the images shown will be of the exact vehicle listed, but they will give you a good idea. Before vehicles are sold they go through a workshop inspection to ensure everything works and all fixtures and fittings are sound. Apollo is a licensed Queensland motor dealer and the following are included in the purchase price: • A Queensland roadworthy certificate • A Queensland gas system (LPG) certificate • A minimum of six months registration • 1 month’s warranty of the vehicle (appliances and motorhome build) • 12 months aftermarket mechanical warranty
he purchase process is simple. You can email or call about a vehicle and a nominal holding deposit is all that’s required to secure it. Prior to or upon collection you need to transfer the balance into Apollo’s account. On delivery day there’s the usual paperwork to deal with before one of the team walks you around and through the vehicle,
40 | Project Polly giving it a final once-over as they run you through all the features. Apollo’s depot is only a few kilometres from Brisbane Airport which is good if, like me, you’re flying in to collect. Prior to pick-up I arranged insurance and roadside assistance; the latter providing real peace of mind for the long drive home. Being a business vehicle I opted for an NRMA BusinessWise package, which came in at a not-inconsiderable $379, but includes passenger transport and accommodation, increased towing allowances and so on. Speaking of peace of mind, Apollo provides a one month warranty on the appliance and fit-out side of things. A 12 month aftermarket mechanical warranty is also provided, which I talk about at length in a separate piece at the end of this story. The handover was painless despite the reams of paperwork to read, sign and nod knowingly at. Patient Apollo man Graham guided me though the process, explaining everything in detail before escorting me to Polly for the walk-around and hand-over.
s stated, the purchase price includes a minimum six months registration. In Polly’s case the registration, which was in Victoria, had been renewed just a week or so before the sale, for a year. Had I been a Queensland resident Apollo would have transferred the registration to the Sunshine State, but being a ‘foreigner’ made things more complicated. Once back in NSW Polly had to go through a detailed mechanical inspection known in the trade as a Blue Slip, plus have the LPG system inspected and certified. Because we run LPG-powered cars my mechanic – who also owns the local taxi service – said he could do both inspections. As it happened he couldn’t, because the gas system inspection is distinct from an LPG vehicle fuel system inspection,
Top to bottom: Upholstery items were nicely cleaned but we’ll replace the ageing mattresses and likely ‘redecorate’; The modest 80 L Weaco 12/240 V fridge was replaced relatively recently, but could well have been taken from another vehicle. Kitchen cupboards are basic and poorly thought out.
Project Polly | 41
Apollo get its money’s worth from its rental vehicles, so don’t expect a silk purse for the price of a sow’s ear. Having said that the vehicles seem well priced, are regularly maintained and should have years of service left in them. but he arranged a local gas specialist to come down and check things over. Interestingly, when I took both certificates to the motor registry to surrender the Victorian plates and transfer registration into New South Wales the clerk had no idea about the gas inspection certificate and waved it away as irrelevant.
to Vic Roads for a refund of the unused portion of Polly’s 12-months Victorian registration. Talk about win-win! It certainly stands in stark contrast to most dealings I’ve had with motor dealers…
In a turn of events completely unexpected Apollo covered all the costs of the registration transfer process, including stamp duty, and paid for six months registration. Had it been required they would also have covered any repair costs for the Blue Slip or gas system inspection. The only downside was I had to pay all this myself and send receipts to Apollo for a refund, but that’s a small ask. The icing on the cake was that once the transfer was complete I was able to apply
eing a fleet vehicle Polly didn’t come with any written or stamped service history, or an owner’s handbook for that matter. On request I did receive a single page printout entitled Short Service History, which made for interesting reading. Her specific handbook was also found and popped in the post, although I’m still waiting for the promised driver’s side rear mudflap (hint, hint).
Bits and Pieces
42 | Project Polly
Polly on pick-up day. She looked quite good but closer inspection revealed the (expected) signs of five years as a rental vehicle. Good thing Ford build’s ‘em tough! No dates were listed in the Short Service History and the earliest service detailed was in Cairns at 214,924 km (told you it was short!). Next service was in Perth at 230,114 km, followed by Melbourne at 248,442 km. I picked her up with 258,266 km showing and she’d had her oil and fluid levels checked, but no oil change. The sheet says she’s next due for service at 268,000, which means Apollo runs 15-20,000 km service intervals. For a modern diesel engine using decent oils in a non-stressed environment that’s not too bad. I’ll probably go 15,000 km between changes in future, but using a good oil. I’ll also ensure the oil filter is changed every time. Between Cairns and Perth the fridge was replaced, although I don’t think it was new, and two new rear tyres fitted. In Melbourne new front brake rotors and pads, plus another new rear tyre (driver’s side), were required. For the pre-sale checks in Brisbane a new windscreen and front
right tyre were installed, while somewhere along the way the other front tyre had been replaced. I was also told the air-conditioner, dining table and kitchen mixer tap were new/replaced, but there’s no evidence in the list. The only real disappointment came when Graham was demonstrating the vehicle’s electrical system. Polly was plugged into mains power and the (single) house battery was showing 14 volts, but the moment he turned on any system it dropped to 12 volts or below. Away from the depot and mains power I turned on the interior lights and the gauge for the house battery dropped to less than 10 volts: The battery was stuffed and a quick read of fine print showed the battery was not covered by Apollo’s one month warranty. As I had to leave Polly at the Apollo yard for a few days before she went off to have her Reverse Alert braking system fitted I paid $300 to have them fit a new 100 AH AGM house
Project Polly | 43
The Adria Coral, reviewed in Issue 74, is a 6-berth C-class that Apollo Rentals imported to consider for its fleet. Innovative, well equipped and well priced it has a lot going for it, but I’m not sure it would survive a full 5 year rental stint. It’s a good option for a private buyer though. battery. While ahead financially on the registration changeover I found it disappointing that an obviously dying house battery wasn’t replaced in the course of the pre-sale checks. Had I been a ‘normal’ private buyer and found the battery close to death on my first night away I would have been less than impressed.
verall I’m pleased with my Apollo Rentals purchase experience. The process was simple and the vehicles well priced, while the registration cost recovery was a genuine surprise that added value and considerably reduced the expenses associated with a vehicle purchase.
What could be better? The house battery issue was disappointing, while a little more pre-delivery attention to detail would be good; like tightening all the cupboard door hinges and making sure
all mud flaps were fitted! Having said that, they didn’t have to do a wheel alignment or replace the wheel inserts so I’m not complaining, just making observations. Would I recommend an ex-Apollo Rentals motorhome to a friend? Yes, as long as my friend was realistic. The vehicles are basic but functional and Apollo makes the purchase process simple and painless, while the extra value of the registration transfer is a real sweetener. Of course it’s in Apollo’s interests to shift ex-rental vehicles as quickly as possible, so imbuing buyers with good will so they’ll spread the word is a wise move. I’m sure the vehicles owe them nothing after five years service and they can afford to be generous. Here’s hoping Project Polly proves as reliable and enjoyable as she’s started out!
44 | Project Polly
Costs Purchase price and comprehensive insurance aside, the following costs were involved in transferring registration to NSW: Blue Slip inspection â€“ including four globes
NSW Green Slip
NSW Stamp Duty and 12 months Business Registration
Apollo refund of transfer costs and 6 months registration
Refund of balance of Victorian registration
Credit balance in our favour
Less new house battery
Out of pocket expenses
Project Polly | 45 Warranty Matters…
he warranty situation on used motorhomes and campervans is a complex one and seems to vary by State. For example, in Queensland there is no warranty required by law on a used motorhome because it is a used commercial vehicle. In NSW a 3 month statutory warranty is required on all used vehicles other than motorcycles, provided they are less than 10 years old and have travelled less than 160,000 km (so again, Polly would have missed out). To its credit Apollo pays for and provides a 12 month aftermarket mechanical warranty from a company called Australian Warranty Network Pty Ltd (AWN). While the policy covers certain items to a certain degree if certain conditions are met/adhered to, there are a lot of exclusions. For example, I discovered under Exclusions (section 6) point A: “This warranty does not cover…. motorhomes used for hire or commercial purposes”. From a private buyer’s perspective it’s good Apollo provides the warranty, but cover is dependent upon you maintaining a regular service schedule in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications, and through a qualified motor mechanic at intervals not exceeding 10,000 km or six months, whichever occurs first. Further more, because Polly and all her ex-Apollo Rentals siblings have more than 200,000 km on the clock a supplementary “Motor mechanics safety check and oil change at intervals not exceeding 5000 km or 3 month, whichever occurs first,” is also required. Coupons are provided for the service regime and you have to have them stamped and sent off to AWN, with receipts, within a certain time to ensure coverage.
For all that expense and effort AWN covers repairs to a list of specific engine, drivetrain and accessory items, but with $1000 limit per claim. Reading the policy document there are so many conditions and exclusions it seems likely AWN could escape honouring pretty much any claim. As a free warranty on a cheap used vehicle it’s about what I’d expect. However, many dealers make good money selling AWN warranties or similar to purchasers of used motorhomes who think they’re buying a factory-style, comprehensive warranty. My advice is if you’re considering buying one please think again. If the vehicle is mechanically sound and you have it regularly serviced by a good mechanic you’re likely to be fine. If not, consider the money saved on the warranty as payment in part or full for any repairs, and without all the hoops to jump through (like finding an Approved Repairer and getting approval before any repairs commence). The cost to Apollo of the 12 month warranty on Polly was $1185 – a not inconsiderable sum paid on my behalf. According to the policy document, 36 or 60 month warranties are available for $1335 or $1485, respectively. That’s not much of an increase for a lot longer period, but the compliance costs – especially if 3-month oil changes are required – would be substantial. Also consider this: The selling dealer receives commission, “Up to 66.67% of the gross written premium”. That’s right, pay $1485 for a 5 year warranty and the selling dealer could be pocketing up to two thirds of the preGST amount, or $900. I have nothing against businesses making money, but on balance such a warranty doesn’t seem worthwhile. If you’re buying used, caveat emptor springs to mind: Buyer beware!
46 | Longtermer Update: Horizon Motorhomes Casuarina
Snow Place Like Home!
Be it ever so humble, sometimes thereâ€™s no place like a mobile homeâ€Ś
Longtermer Update | 47
The snow came from the back of the house so Cassie and our ute faired better than they otherwise might have. Despite the cold the Ducato fired up immediately, showing -2.5ºC on the outside temperature gauge. How I wished for a diesel-fired heater!
fter 77 issues the iMotorhome production system runs like a well oiled machine. The main lubricant is electricity and much of the ‘machinery’ exists in the internet. Take one away and it’s bothersome; take both away and there’s trouble. Take both away on our main production day and it’s a recipe for disaster – which is exactly what happened last issue. Friday 18 July dawned quiet. Too quiet. There was no rush of ‘divine wind’ – our nickname for the central heating system – and no life on the face of the clock radio when I peeped over the doona. “Blackout” I muttered out loud, although as Mrs iMotorhome was in New York it was only for my own benefit. A cold front of semi-Biblical proportions had been forecast overnight, but so had one the week before and nothing much had happened. Living in rural Australia you become accustomed to the
vagaries of the power system when the winds are up/storms are thundering/God is acting. Turning on my mobile a text message chimed: “OMG hop up and look out the window.” It was my neighbour. I did. “OMG!” I replied. The world outside was white. Snow had been forecast on the Northern Ranges and the Snowy Mountain’s ski fields, but nothing had been forecast locally. Snow flurries fall here most winters, and almost 11 years ago to the day (when we first moved in) we had a fall of a couple of inches overnight. This morning we had four to five inches of snow, no electricity, and I had a magazine to get out… Although connected to the electricity grid we have a cooktop that runs on bottled LPG and a wood heater in our main living area. Running through my mental checklist I could cook and stay warm, and work as long as
48 | Longtermer Update
the laptop and iPhone/iPad batteries held out (the latter for mobile internet connection). It’s a sad indictment of Australian infrastructure that here on the edge of the ‘Bush’ we have significantly faster internet through a mobile phone via Vodafone than we do through the copper-wired broadband connection Telstra provides. Upload speeds are something like four to six times faster on average, and on rare occasions 4G wafts our way from Mittagong, which increases the difference by a factor of 10 it seems. I also have a Telstra mobile data sim card in my iPad, which is especially useful when travelling. Both my iPone and iPad hotspot to my laptop, so on this wintery morning I could eat, keep warm and work. So off I went and boiled the kettle, lit the fire and cooked an omelette.
Top: All set up and ready to start work. The single bed layout works well with the table’s Lagun-brand mount, allowing the ‘desk’ to be swung out of the way without disturbing things. Above: Front-wheel drive, plus Continental Four Seasons tyres rated for mud and snow, proved their worth.
I figured power would soon come back on and there were tentative bleeps from a few devices on a couple of occasions that gave me confidence. Confidence waned, however, when an hour passed following the last bleep and there was no still sign of life. The fire was roaring and I was sharing photos on social media when the mobile phone network slowed
Longtermer Update | 49
Above: Heading out: The only danger was the chance of sliding off the driveway and getting bogged. Right: Heading straight back again to get my laptop and phone chargers! Despite being uphill and icy there were no traction issues, thankfully. and then went down. “No Service” my iPhone declared, so I turned on the iPad and cranked up that stalwart of bush communications: Telstra Mobile. One bar reception and no internet connection was the best it could offer. With a sudden feeling of total isolation and the implications it had for magazine production there was only one course of action. Well, two, actually, but I couldn’t get to a phone to call Superman…
hat’s where our longterm Horizon Motorhome’s Casuarina – Cassie – came in. She was sitting partially snowbound on the driveway, and, had she had a diesel heater, is where I would have been sitting all morning. She was also my Plan B for recharging the laptop and phone batteries.
50 | Longtermer Update
Left: Stopping to open the gate in a pond of semi-frozen slush. Thank goodness for gumboots. Right: A neighbour’s cattle lunching on a fallen branch. The snow brought down the limbs of many eucalypts, which lead to major power disruptions.
Now, Cassie loomed as the only thing between publishing doom or redemption (cue dramatic music)… The Friday before publishing is our production day, when the bulk of the magazine is laid out. Agnes downloads the stories and images I’ve previously uploaded to Dropbox and gets to work. While she could do that with me incommunicado, she’d need ‘Ricardo’ to answer the many questions that always arise. With no power and now no phone there was only one thing for it: Hit the road in Cassie. I packed not only the office, but clothes and supplies for a (cold) night away. Cassie fired up easily despite the -2.5ºC showing on the outside temperature gauge. While I scraped snow and ice from the windscreen, the demister did its best to clear condensation off the inside and started to warm the cabin. Preparing to head out I was grateful Cassie
was a Fiat Ducato. Firstly, in snow and ice, front-wheel drive is best because the driving wheels also steer. On a rear-wheel drive the driving wheels push straight ahead, often despite where the front wheels are pointing. Secondly, Cassie was fitted with Continentalbrand Vanco Four Seasons tyres that have a chunky tread pattern rated for mud and snow. They came in very handy. Our driveway is downhill and apart from splashing through the snow there were no problems. The Ducato was unfazed and once out on the road, picking our way through a veritable frozen soup of snow slush and downed vegetation, took it all in its stride. Imagine my annoyance when, just up the road I realised I’d left the laptop and phone chargers behind! Despite 250-odd metres of uphill snow covered driveway Cassie wasn’t bothered and having collected said chargers we were off again. But where to?
Right: Heading out again on Friday night. Still no power but at least the snow looked pretty, bathed in Cassie’s side clearance lights! Bottom: Working away on issue 76 at the Pheasant’s Nest service area. Note my phone cable in the wall-mounted USB charger. I sat the phone in the magazine pouch for mobile internet reception. Very handy.
ydney seemed the obvious choice, being both warmer and sure to have mobile phone/ internet coverage. No sooner did I crest Catherine Hill on the Hume Highway than my phone sprang to life, but I continued north and made for the 7-Eleven service centre on the freeway at Pheasants Nest. There the outside temperature gauge was showing a balmy 8.5ºC and I had full Vodafone 4G coverage (though only 3 bars of Telstra 3G – go figure). Not only that, 7-Elevn does a great coffee for $1 and decent packaged sandwiches for $5. What more did I need? While travellers of all shapes and sizes came and went for reasons equally varied, over the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon the little blue Horizon motorhome parked innocuously out the back became iMotorhome Central. My OMG neighbour promised to call when power returned, but as shadows lengthened there was still no word. There were some things to do in Bowral before close of business, so with the magazine back on schedule I headed homeward, hoping against hope my neighbour had simply forgotten to call. She hadn’t. Night was falling and it was decision time. Deciding to head back to Pheasant’s Nest and continue working, I stopped by my neighbour’s to ask them to keep an eye on the bewildered horses (why is the grass cold and white?).
Longtermer Update | 51
52 | Longtermer Update
Working by candlelight at a neighbour’s dining table, pulled up close to their wood fire. It turned out they had a large generator running a hotchpotch array of lights, the water pump and heater, and TV for the kids. They were also on their way out to dinner. To cut a long story short, I baby sat while working at their dining table, which was drawn right up to a roaring wood fire. I also got to share the kids dinner: pizza and potato gems baked on the fire! By the time they returned around 10 we were still without power and just a few minutes later, as I headed for the door, the generator ran out of fuel. As they called it a night – extra fuel is for pessimists – I headed home with a cunning plan in mind. Once there I boiled the kettle in Cassie and filled a pair of hot water bottles, then raced into the house and jumped into bed!
ome first light there was still no power. Snow was still thick on the ground and with no power and a magazine to publish in just a few hours it was back into Cassie and straight into town. That was right after heating water in the kettle to wash my face, clean teeth and make myself half presentable. After breakfast under the Arches I parked in the sunshine near Mittagong town centre, set-up office and got back to business.
It was still just 5ºC outside and not a whole lot warmer inside despite the Sun’s best efforts when the most beautiful text message ever arrived: “Power!! Woooohoo.” It was 9:48 am and we’d been ‘powerless’ for nearly 31 hours. I packed up, drove home, cranked up the central heating and got to work. As it happened Issue 76 came out about an hour earlier than our target time of 3 pm. Despite the challenges of the preceding day-and-a-bit we made it, and while I could have done it without Cassie, having her there provided the flexibility and freedom to easily adapt to challenges not previously encountered. A motorhome like the Horizon Casuarina provides insurance in times of trouble, and in a world beset by climate change weather events that’s not an inconsiderable comfort. If everything goes to plan the next Longtermer report will be the last. Cassie has been with us for three months and sadly it’s time for her to head home. The good news is we’re bringing home Project Polly so we’ll still have a mobile office in case the Fickle Finger of Flakes points our way on future publishing days. Snow telling when that might be…
Longtermer Update | 53
Not everybody found the snow bothersome! Another neighbour spent the morning with her kids building this snowman and one or two others. School buses were cancelled and many local schools shut, so why not?
54 | Travel
Cracking Good Time!
Cracking Good Time! Put The Man From Snowy River Festival on your calendar… by Alan Price
re you interested in Australian bush heritage and appreciate seeing it kept alive? Then you should consider attending the Man from Snowy River Festival, held in March/April each year in Corryong, Victoria.
choreographed and presented 2 hour program where we witnessed the chase of the mountain horses and listened to a recital of this iconic poem. Note: It’s better to take the free shuttle buses rather than your motorhome to this event.
The 4-day Festival, which requires 350 volunteers to run smoothly, attracts some 18,000 annually and injects more than $8 million into the local community. Impressively, 2015 was the 21st anniversary – a major milestone for what started as a simple community-based get together.
Other program highlights include:
We particularly enjoyed the reenactment of Banjo Paterson’s Man from Snowy River ballad, an integral part of the Festival held at Khancoban Station just outside the town. More than 5000 people watched the brilliantly
• Bush poetry and music (The all-girl Mc Clymont's were this year’s headline act) • A wide range of equestrian events including the conclusion of the 4-day Riley’s Ride involving 50 horsemen who travel through rugged scenery from Tom Groggin Station to Corryong • A Rodeo and Campdraft
Travel | 55 • Working cattle dog championships, whip cracking competitions, packhorse events, bullock team and more • A Street parade and bush markets Corryong is a vibrant rural town with a population of 1500 in the Upper Murray region, at the foothills of the Australian Alps. It’s 130 km east of Albury/Wodonga, along the scenic Murray Valley Highway. Excellent unpowered camping is available on the fairways of the golf course, which adjoins the Festival site. It pays to arrive a few days early as by the Friday there were some 900 campsites set up. Camping costs a flat $100 for the week. Organisers bring in a number of semitrailers that are self-contained toilet and shower blocks and these work much better than the ‘Porta Loo’ style showers we have seen at many other festivals. Camping is also available at nearby caravan parks. However, by staying on the golf course it is only a short walk to the Festival site or to the town’s main street. We think it’s the best festival we’ve attended and really enjoyed the atmosphere. If you have a passion for Australian folklore, literature and music, plus a love of all-things bush, be sure to put it on your calendar for 2016.
Fast Facts: The Man From Snowy River Festival Corryong. Victoria. 3707.
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When: 31 March – 3 April 2016 T: (02) 60761992 E: email@example.com W: bushfestival.com.au F: www.facebook.com/pages/The-ManFrom-Snowy-River-Bush-Festival
56 | Feature
Global Adventurer Australian school salutes little known local global adventurerâ€Ś by Lorraine Horsley and Emma Wynne, ABC Perth.
Feature | 57
estern Australian adventurer Ben Carlin made headlines when he went on an eight-year journey, over both land and sea, in an amphibious army Jeep after World War II and now his old school is paying homage to his incredible story. His vehicle has battled hurricanes in the Atlantic, has crossed Asia and Africa and is now on permanent display at his old school Guildford Grammar in Perth, as a reminder of an extraordinary eccentric's solo voyage. "Ben Carlin was an adventurer," Richard Offen from Heritage Perth said. Carlin was born in Northam in 1912. After leaving school he became an articled law clerk before studying mining engineering at the Kalgoorlie School of Mines. "He emigrated to China in 1939 and worked in a British coal mine," Mr Offen said.
uring the war he served in the Royal Indian Engineers and rose to the rank of major.
It was shortly after the war in 1946 that he first saw an amphibious Jeep and decided to travel to United States to try to buy one for himself. In 1947 he was able to buy the Ford GPW Jeep from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland for $US901. He then spent a year remodelling the Jeep, installing a new hull to carry extra fuel, building a bunk behind the seats and putting in aircraft instruments and a radio transceiver. Carlin named his vehicle the Half Safe after an Arrid deodorant radio commercial at the time that used the slogan: "Don't be half safe - use Arrid to be sureâ€?. The deodorant company, Guildford Grammar School archivist Rosemary Waller explained, had no connection to Carlin and did not sponsor the journey. The adventurer just appeared to like the name.
Below: Ben Carlin and second wife Elinore in the early days of their marriage. Bottom: On tour in Japan for Standard Oil: Carlin need sponsorship for fuel to continue his travels.
58 | Feature
The marriage didn’t last, with Elinore ‘jumping ship’ in Melbourne and returning to England.
He initially thought he could travel around the world in one year, but suffered a setback in 1947 when, during a test run between Annapolis in Maryland and New York City, he suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from the vehicle's fumes.
Around the world from Nova Scotia
n June 1948, Carlin married his second wife Elinore and, after several more trials, the couple finally began the round the world journey in the Half Safe on July 19, 1950. The couple departed from Halifax in Nova Scotia.
"After 32 days at sea they eventually made landfall at Flores, in the Azores (an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic). The next leg of the trip was the Azores to Madeira which should take only nine or 10 days, but took 23 days, because there was a hurricane in the Atlantic,” Mr Offen said. "The adventure then continued from Madeira to Cap Juby [in southern Morocco] and then [travelled] overland to Europe. Following this, the Jeep was totally rebuilt in England, between 1952 and 1954." Carlin used the time in England to write a book called Half Safe: Across the Atlantic by Jeep. The marriage between the adventurer and Elinore was, by then, reportedly very shaky.
Feature | 59 Half Safe was an ingenious craft but living conditions were spartan. Mechanical troubles dogged the adventure, too.
"The second part of the trip began in May 1954, when the couple drove overland through south-western Europe, Turkey, Iraq, Iran and through Pakistan to Calcutta," Mr Offen said. At that point the couple were out of money again, and their publisher suggested a side trip to Australia to promote the book, sending them money for expenses to get them there. The Half Safe was sent by ship to Fremantle and arrived in October 1955, but the book tour was a disaster. The reviews were poor and signed copies of the book never reached stores. "It was in Melbourne that Elinore decided to spit the dummy and said that she had had enough of the adventure and the marriage, and left Ben to do the rest of the trip with a series of different ship mates," Mr Offen said. The Half Safe was shipped back to Calcutta and continued east. The next journey from Calcutta was by sea. The journey then continued overland from
60 | Feature
Above: Half Safe on Waterloo Bridge, London, at the start of the adventure. Below: Sailing into New York, and on tour in Japan. Rangoon to Bangkok. Carlin reckoned there was one stretch of road in southern Burma that was the worst part of the whole trip. He then travelled to Japan, where he was again out of money and tried to raise funds for the next leg of the trip. He sued his publisher over poor sales of the book and eventually the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company agreed to fuel Half Safe for the North Pacific crossing in exchange for an 18-day promotional tour of Japan. Boye De Mente, an American magazine editor who had been living in Japan for several years, joined for the voyage as Carlin travelled to Alaska in June 1957. Ms Waller's records showed within five days there were problems with the fuel tank that was towed behind the Jeep and Carlin had started behaving erratically. He arrived in Alaska on September 2, 1957 and Boye De Mente left the trip. Carlin travelled alone across the US for eight months, stopping off in Hollywood to work on a film deal about his journey, which never eventuated.
Feature | 61
Half Safe dwarfed by a passenger liner in New York. Its diminutive size makes Carlinâ€™s achievements all the more remarkable. "Finally on May 13 1958, 7 years and 10 months after he set out across the Atlantic, Ben drove west towards Montreal. He had travelled 62,744 miles overland and 17,780 miles over water. He crossed four oceans and five continents and became the only person in history to circumnavigate the globe by both land and sea in the same vehicle. The Half Safe remained in the US while Ben returned to Australia," Mr Offen said. Elinore later married an airline pilot she and Carlin had met in Madeira. Carlin married again on June 1, 1963 to a woman named Cynthia who was just 21 years old at the time. They were separated less than six months later in December 1963 and divorced the following year. "Sadly Ben died in Perth in 1981," Mr Offen said. "Guildford Grammar School bought the Half Safe and brought it back from the US to the school where it is on permanent display."
62 | Mobile Tech
Fuel Map Australia By Emily Barker
Mobile Tech | 63
he developers of WikiCamps have come up with another handy app for travellers: Fuel Map. And just like WikiCamps it’s a crowdsourced wealth of information. Fuel is one of the most fundamental necessities and any traveller knows how important it is to stay on top of the entire situation. Price, location, facilities and even consumption are all important considerations. Whether you are planning your trip in detail or simply following the road, Fuel Map is a handy tool that can save you both time and money. It’s also free, which as always is even better.
has an active administration team that seems to act upon user feedback promptly. This not only ensures happy campers, it also encourages contributors and means they understand what works in an app.
Fuel watch is clean and crisp; its function is straightforward and so is its use. The initial set up is as simple as choosing your fuel type from the drop-down list at the top of the screen and deciding if you wish to manually search for an area or utilise your device’s location services to identify nearby stations. Locations of stations are shown on the map as a branded pin. Similar to Petrol Spy, Fuel Map relies on users to Independent stations have a generic bowser icon input and update data, including station locations, while all the main players are easily identifiable. details and of course prices. It is important to Directly above the brand, in map view, the last keep in mind, however, that due to the nature known fuel price is displayed, making it quick and of user sourced information, details (especially simple to use when you’re on the go. prices) might not always be current, particularly in remote areas. You can, however, see when the This app might be simple but there are quite a few details that elevate it to a certain standard information was last edited, and justify WikiCamps’ top developer badge. The app itself is very professional and Wikicamps Once a station’s icon is selected you can view
64 | Mobile Tech the address, contact number, distance from where you are, directions and the services and amenities offered. A tap on the icons also reveals their meaning, but most are straightforward: ATM, car wash, high-flow diesel, gas bottles, 24 hr service, rigid vehicle access, etc. This is where you can edit the station’s details and, of course, update prices. You can also use the handy log to record purchases. This allows you to view usage and track consumption; handy when it comes to keeping a record of the distance you’ve travelled and the cost. One other interesting feature is the ability to view fuel price history, thereby possibly working out the price-cycle in major areas. Most people enjoy chasing a bargain and very few appreciate paying more than necessary for anything. Especially fuel. Weighing in at only 2.2 MB this app is a lightweight, convenient and
potentially very useful addition to any traveller's arsenal. Still relatively new, Fuel Map is getting some great user reviews. The general consensus seems to be ‘get on board’ as the more people post up-to-date prices the better the app will get. Part of the joy of travel is to discover new and exciting places. Part of the joy of this app is not having to pay top dollar to get there! Fast Facts Android/iPad/iPhone Cost: Free Size: 2.2MB
Advertisers' Index | 65
Advertisers' Index AirBag Man
Paradise Motor Homes
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Parkland RV Centre
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Battery Traders Super Store
Southern Spirit Campervans
Bony Mountain Folk Festival
Caravan & Motorhome Covers
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
e-Twow Electric Scooters
Wirraway Motor Homes
Outback Travel Australia
66 | Next Issue
features an interesting permanent double bed with a power-operated sideways lift for easy under-bed storage access. Watch out for it!
ur longterm Horizon Motorhomes’ Casuarina – Cassie – returns to her ancestral home of Ballina before next issue and while we’re up there Mrs iMotorhome and I will be checking our Horizon’s largest model, the Grevillea. Built on a Mercedes Benz Sprinter extralong wheelbase van, the floorplan we’re reviewing SEP
Aug 07-0911-13 14-16
Mid North Coast Caravan & Camping Show 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
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We’ll also make a final report on our long term Casuarina, plus start to look in earnest at the wish list of upgrades and modifications for our very own Project Polly. There’s an interesting reader article about travel in remote ares, plus Malcolm will be back and we should find space for some of his USA travel photos. Issue 78 will be out on Saturday 15 August. Until then why not join our more than 27,000 Friends and Twitter followers, Facebook and share laughs, fun and more? Facebook “f ” Logo
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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Penrith Caravan, Camping & Holiday Expo Penrith Panthers Mulgoa Road, Penrith. NSW. • Open 9:00-5:00 daily (4:00 Sunday) • Parking: Free • Adults: $15 • Seniors: $10 • Kids: U16 free with adult
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Know of a local or regional show coming up that attracts and promotes motorhomes, campervans and the great RV lifestyle in general? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll happily promote it in this calendar.
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