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iMotorhome

Holiday on the

magazine

Issue 78: Aug 15 2015

because getting there is half the fun...

Horizon? Win!

$50 for the! best letter

Horizon’s Grevillea could turn your holiday dreams into reality…

Remote Control!

Tackling the Outback in your 2WD motorhome

The Long Goodbye… Saying farewell to our first longtermer

Home Sweet Home Project Polly’s home at last!


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

ABN: 34 142 547 719

Agnes Nielsen

T: +614 14 604 368

E: agnes@imotorhome.com.au

Design & Production Manager

E: info@imotorhome.com.au W: www.imotorhome.com.au Editorial Publisher/Managing Editor

Advertising Advertising Manager This could be you! E: advertising@imotorhome.com.au

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

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


On my mind | 5

RV Friendly?

On our way to Ballina last week we drove though Macksville, on the banks of the Nambucca River. Signs proclaimed it to be RV Friendly and I commented to Mrs iM it would be a good place to make our way back to the following evening for our first night in Project Polly. We were later leaving Ballina than I’d hoped and Coffs Harbour seemed the logical choice to overnight, but the lure of an RV Friendly Town beckoned. We made Macksville well after dark – around 7:30 pm – and headed straight to the Ex-Services Club. Thursday night was Steak Night and we enjoyed a sizeable slab of T-bone (she) and rump (me), plus a glass of wine, for about $15 each. The meal came with chips and salad or veggies and saved us about $10-$15 each, allowing for wine, had it not been Steak Night. Tuesday was Schnitzel Night, Wednesday Burger and Beer Night, and Sunday, Roast Night. Such is life in a small town – and there’s nothing wrong with it at all. After dinner we made our way to the Macksville Lions Park on Ferry St, over the bridge on the north side of town and pulled up behind the caravans and motorhomes already snuggled in for the night. We were all parked in the allotted caravan parking area, but I did wonder about the sign nearby that said no overnight parking. “No matter” I thought, “It must be for the other part of the parking area”. We spent a restful night and left before the others, but not before a sit-down breakfast of poached eggs on sourdough at Cafe Cha Cha and then buying coffee for the road

– we have cup holders you know – from the openair Beehive Coffee stand right beside the Pacific Highway. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write this and, doing some online research, discovered Macksville isn’t an RV Friendly Town. I quizzed Mrs iM, who would have sworn on a stack of religious texts that we’d seen the sign on the way into town – a point I agreed with entirely. So I turned to Google Maps and its Street View function to see if I could unravel the mystery. There, plain as day, on the southern entrance to the town is a big blue sign with symbols for toilets, picnic tables, caravan parking, a fireplace and boat ramp. But nothing about being RV Friendly. I can only think that in glancing at it as we passed by the symbols somehow morphed into RV Friendly! Fatigue might have played a part to, or just wishful thinking. The bottom line is we spent close to $70 on dinner, extra drinks, breakfast and extra coffee. The wouldn’t have happened in Macksville if it wasn’t RV Friendly – or we hadn’t thought it was. The value to communities across Australia of Grey Nomads like us cannot be underestimated, nor can the pull of RV Friendly status to those of us on the road. Let’s hope more towns sign up to this great scheme so we can go spread some more ‘economic fertiliser’. And let’s just hope no one noticed us camping by the no camping sign. Sorry Macksville, but we found you really quite friendly!

Richard


6 | Content

3

About Us

9

Resources

Who we are, where and other legal stuff

Find back issues and more on our website

5

On my Mind

11

On your Mind

22

Marketplace

RV Friendly?

Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!

14

News

24

Day Test: Horizon Motorhomes Grevillea

40

Project Polly

46

Longtermer: Horizon Casuarina

54

Travel – Remote Control

62

Mobile Tech: Wild About Whales!

65

Advertisers' Index

What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond

The latest Marketplace offers

Groovy Grevillea – Horizon’s flagship model has a groovy bedroom trick…

Home Sweet Home – Polly comes home and now it’s time to play!

The Long Farewell – After three months it was hard to say goodbye…

A reader shares tips on venturing into the real Outback in your motorhome

A great app for whale watching along the NSW coast…

An A to Z of who’s in this issue!

66

Next Issue What’s coming up and which shows are on soon!


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Visit trakka.com or call 1800 TRAKKA


resources

iMotorhome

Resources | 9

because getting there is half the fun...

Magazine Resources Ask a Question

Back Issues

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iMotorhome

because getting there is half the fun...

Esprit de Cor Blimey!

Road Tests

User Guide

Marketplace

Subscription

Dethleffs ‘baby’ A-class is something to ogle at… Review and images by Malcolm Street

Reader Survey

Reader Review


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 letters@imotorhome.com.au and we’ll share it with our readers. We’ll also reward

the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.

On a Roll! • Get a 2 L ice-cream container and put in about 150 mm of the cheapest cooking oil and then add ½ cup (approx) of citronella oil. We chopped the top off a 2 L milk container and it worked fine • Get a roll of toilet paper and remove the cardboard holder in the centre. Then place the dunny roll in the solution and let it soak up the liquid, you might have to turn it over Once it’s all fully saturated with the oil, place it on a metal or foil plate and light it, it will burn for approximately 2-plus hours and creates a good atmosphere, if you have a few of them around, Hi Richard, while on our travels around the that keeps away the mozzies and other flying Northern Territory we have seen some good ideas, pests! but there is one I would like to share with you and Regards, Jess your readers. When up here in the tropics we all love mud crabs, but the problem is the best place That sounds like a terrific idea Jess – thanks for for the mud crabs is in the mangroves and the sharing. I’m sure readers will find it useful too and mangroves not only give you mud crabs but also SANDFLIES and/or MIDGIES – and they love me! hope some will ‘roadtest’ it and send us their report. In the mean time please accept this issue’s We were in a caravan park in Litchfield where they $50 prize, which should keep you in toilet rolls and citronella for the remainder of your NT adventure! were burning full rolls of toilet paper. I asked the managers for the recipe and they told me:


12 | On your mind

A Britz Called Wanda Hello Richard, I have been reading with interest your reports on Project Polly. You and your readers may recall my previous, published letter about our retired Britz motorhome, a three-year old Jayco Maverick (aka Conquest) on a Fiat Ducato base, which we have named “Wanda". I tend to agree with your comments that selection is a bit of all things. The first consideration must be budget. Once that is established, the hunt is then on to find one that fits the requirements. I believe that consists of having a wish list, graded from essential down to "would like”, and the selection is made on what is available that is a best fit. There were a number of designs for sale in our price range, but the Jayco was the best fit. She is our second motorhome and we certainly learned from the first one, a 15 year old Winnebago on a Ford Transit. While that was smaller than what we now have, we were happy with the layout. The main thing that we learned is that the vehicle base is just as important as the rest. The Ford was underpowered and not up to the task.

Having owned the Jayco for eight months it is interesting to look back at what we now have. We spent time at the recent Camping and Caravan show in Adelaide, the third in 12 months, and happily looked through all the latest models from Jayco, Avida, Winnebago and Swift. As we left each display we agreed that none of the new designs could replace Wanda. Even with the drop-down beds and slide-outs, we have the best fit for us. Have we adapted to fit what we bought? Yes. Did we make the right choice? Having looked at all the current designs, definitely! Cheers, Eric. That sums it up nicely thanks Eric, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. The reality is you can live with any vehicle if you have to, but knowing what works best goes a long way towards a happy ownership experience.

Safe As I have been reading the recent issue and notice a letter regarding safe key storage. I thought this link to the Surf Lock might be useful. It’s what we use when surfing and mountain biking and is available at all surf shops and online. Darren via Facebook

Thanks Darren that’s a great tip. Looks like a beauty, if a tad expensive, but certainly secure.


magazine

iMotorhome

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 info@imotorhome.com.au 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

Bookings

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.


14 | News

Let’s Get together!

T

he inaugural iMotorhome get-together is four weeks away. There’s still time to join us for a fun, relaxing and informative two nights enjoying good food and good company at the historic and fascinating Joadja Creek heritage site. Nestled in a deep valley on the edge of the beautiful NSW Southern Highlands, Joadja Creek was a self-contained town and industrial centre in the late 19th century. Producing kerosene from shale oil, and using coal mined on site for power, it even included a private railway connecting it to market and built at the then astronomical sum of £250,000. After decades of indifferent ownership and management the 1000 acres site is now owned by enthusiastic Spaniards Valero and Elisa Jimenez. Fully appreciating its significance, they have embarked on a daunting but ambitious plan to bring Joadja Creek back to life as a true historical

experience. The couple has also built a whiskey distillery and already laid down the first batch of single malt, under the guidance of a master Tasmanian distiller! Our weekend – September 11-13 – includes two nights non-powered camping, welcome night sausage sizzle, guided tour by Valero of the site including detailed explanation of its workings, and a distillery tour with tasting (not of whisky yet!). The social highlight will be a genuine Spanish tapas dinner in the distillery on the Saturday night. Price is just $59 per person and if you wish to stay the Sunday night Valero will charge you the princely sum of $6 at the time. To book, email richard@ imotorhome.com.au and we’ll send you all the details. Space is limited but we hope to see you there!


News | 15

Next Generation VW Transporter Revealed engines meeting the latest Euro 6 emission standards, but the biggest advances are in the form of driver-assist technologies. City Emergency Braking, Front Assist Braking (autonomous emergency braking) and Post Collision Braking are all-new systems that introduce new stands of safety to light commercial vehicles.

I

t’s been long time coming, but the sixth generation of VW’s venerable Transporter line – generically known as the Kombi and the basis for so many popular camper conversions – has finally broken cover. Slated for release in November the T6 range replaces the current T5 range, which has been with us since 2002. The T6 not only builds on the T5’s design language – it’s evolutionary not revolutionary – but much of the T5’s underpinnings. It features

The standard engine appears to be a 2.0-litre 75 kW/250 Nm turbo-diesel mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, with a range-topping bi-turbo version pumping out 150 kW/450 Nm and driving through a 7-speed DSG auto gearbox. No doubt the T6 will assure Volkswagen of market segment dominance and iMotorhome will be keenly following developments and the new model’s local release.

NORTHCOACH EQUIPMENT PTY LTD


16 | News

RV Industry picking up Auto Industry Slack the sell-off of increasing numbers of holiday parks, which are on some of Australia's most prime real estate, as one of the industry's greatest threats. He has called on the State and Federal Governments to open up more national parks for camping, to ensure Australians can continue to holiday in the great outdoors, while boosting government coffers.

A

ccording to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, RV manufacturers Jayco is hitting record production levels. This is bucking a gloomy outlook for Australian manufacturing fuelled by the departure of car giants General Motors, Ford and Toyota, according to Founder and CEO Gerry Ryan. Jayco is producing a caravan about every 10 minutes at its factory in Melbourne's outer east, which equates to about 11,000 this year. In 2016, he is hoping to make 11,600 caravans. Such is the demand that in the past six years he has doubled his workforce at his factory at Dandenong to 1200. “We've employed another 300 people in the last year alone,” Mr Ryan said. Sales are up about 10 per cent, a record year for Jayco, as young families join Grey Nomads hitting the road. "The caravanning industry has been reliant on the baby boomers, but for the last couple of years we have seen the family market grow, families wanting to spend quality time before they grow up and leave the family nest. That's certainly where we have been seeing the growth," he said. But it is not all smooth sailing. Mr Ryan sees

“You are seeing some of the parks, some of the best real estate, being turned into residential housing that gives a better return,” said Mr Ryan, adding that hardly any new holiday parks were being built. “The industry is looking to Government to hopefully free up some of the national parks.” “Australians aren't the world's only avid campers. China has reportedly cottoned on to holidays on wheels, and have checked out Australian product. They certainly have been out here and looked and studied. They are starting to look at the type of product that suits their market. We are seeing a little bit of product come in from China but they are still a long way away from getting their product right. That's not to say they won't. The Chinese market is evolving." Mr Ryan says the cost of freight is too high for Jayco to capitalise on the Chinese trend, saying it was cheaper for it to import from the United States. He isn't complaining, though. Jayco is Australia's biggest caravan maker, controlling about 45 per cent of the market. It's popular across the Tasman too, where it has about a 35 per cent share of New Zealand's market. Motorhomes are particularly lucrative, with Mr Ryan forecasting about 50 per cent growth in the segment in the next 3 years.


News | 17

A Matter of Perspective? The folks from Freedom of Choice Camping went searching for the figures of the total number of businesses in NSW and found this: “NSW is home to the largest number of small businesses in Australia, making up 33.2 per cent of small businesses nationally. There were over 680,000 small businesses in 2010-2011, providing employment for approximately half of the NSW workforce".

I

n an article not directly connected with the free camping issue it was mentioned that the Caravan Camping Industry Association of NSW (CCIA NSW) represents “710 businesses drawn from owners and operators of caravan and holiday parks, manufactured home estates, manufacturers, dealers and retailers of manufactured homes, caravans, motorhomes, camper trailers, camping equipment and accessories and the service industries."

One that basis the CCIA NSW represents 0.1044117 per cent of small business in the State. We haven't researched figures for the other States but it does raise the question of how such a small sector of the business community seems to have such a large ability to lobby governments at all levels.

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18 | News

State of Tourism

R

oy Morgan Research CEO, Michele Levine, recently presented the latest State of the Nation Report in Melbourne, with a special Spotlight on Tourism: “An industry that has well and truly entered, and adapted to, this new era of globalisation and digital technology.” according to a press release. “Many different forces have shaped the Australian tourism industry’s 21st-century evolution, with the end of the ‘Commodities Boom’ being the latest. Shifting consumer leisure preferences and lifestyle choices; economic, societal and political change; and, above all, technological advances have all disrupted and fragmented the tourism and leisure world.” Key findings of this in-depth industry spotlight include: • The end of the ‘Commodities Boom’: an economic shock but also a golden opportunity for industries

such as Tourism if they play their cards right • Our increasingly progressive and multicultural society: how it is influencing our travel outlook and destination preference • The Digital Disruption: how the extraordinary extent of automation and variable pricing of everything from hotel room to airline seats to media is impacting the very essence of the industry • The international context: how in-bound and out-bound travel will continue to be affected by worldwide factors such as exchange rates, global unrest, engagement with Asia, Consumer Confidence, and the price of oil” According to Ms Levine, “Australia’s tourism industry is at a turning point and is currently the our fifth most valuable export industry. As the commodities boom fades Tourism stands to become our most valuable ‘New Age’ export industry.”

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20 | News

Caravan industry supports FoodShare The donation continues a CIA Vic tradition of donating to local charities on behalf of the Expo. CIA Vic president Nat Schiavello said the association was delighted to help FoodShare’s work of collecting food from local donors and distributing it to disadvantaged people. “It’s an honour for our Association to support such important work in a community which has made us so welcome over the past five years,” he said.

T

he Caravan Industry Association of Victoria (CIA Vic) has donated $5000 to Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare on behalf of the Border Caravan & Camping Expo, which is on this weekend.

Albury Wodonga Regional FoodShare rescues food on a mass scale – equivalent to 1.3 million meals each year – and distributes it to people in the region experiencing hardship.


News | 21

Grey Nomads Hijacked

I

t’s the ultimate grey nomad nightmare. A caravanning couple parked in a New South Wales rest stop had their rig violently commandeered by a man on the run from police. The alleged offender then drove off with the 66-year-old woman still trapped inside the caravan.

in an attempt to stop him. The Mazda owner was allegedly pushed from his vehicle; fell heavily onto the road and lost consciousness, suffering significant head, wrist and leg injuries. The man was later flown to Dubbo Base Hospital by helicopter where he remains in a stable condition.

The drama began at about 5 pm on Tuesday when the 28-year old suspect pulled up at a rest stop about 40 kilometres south of Enngonia on the Mitchell Highway in a stolen car. He then allegedly jumped into a blue Mazda BT-50 utility which had a caravan attached, and started to drive it away. Police say the owner of the Mazda, a 68-yearold Victorian man, ran over to his vehicle and scuffled with the man through the driver’s door

Police gave chase and soon afterwards came across the Ute and caravan stopped by the side of the road with punctures. The 28-year-old man allegedly resisted arrest but was eventually taken into police custody. The 66-year-old woman and her dogs were then released from the caravan. The woman had suffered a chipped front tooth during the wild ride. The suspect is currently assisting police with their inquiries and several charges are expected. From the Grey Nomads

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

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22 | iMotorhome Marketplace

iTech World

Wellington Shire

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!

bonymountainfolkfestival.com

T: 1300 483 249 W: itechworld.com.au

T: (03) 5144 1108 W: tourismwellington.com.au

Parkland RV Centre

Roberts RV World

RV Specialists

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!

Airbag Man

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

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24 | Day Test: Horizon Motorhomes’ Grevillea

Groovy Grevillea!

Horizon’s flagship Grevillea has a groovy bedroom trick sure to please… by Richard Robertson.


Day Test | 25

Like all models in Horizon’s range the Grevillea uses Seitz-brand double glazed acrylic windows that push out from a hinge along the top (called single hoppers). The exception in the Grevillea’s case is this window, aft of the sliding door. It’s a new style sliding unit from Seitz that means you can open the door and window at the same time.

T

he Grevillea is the only model in Horizon’s range we haven't reviewed, and given it’s the flagship model, in size a least, I’m as surprised as you are. In case you don’t know Horizon Motorhomes specialises in van conversions – it’s all they do – and they do it very well. The brand is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ballina Campervan and Motorhome Centre, which is also the only place you can buy a new Horizon motorhome. This factory-direct business model helps keep prices down and ensures a strong bond between buyers, CEO Clayton Kearney and his tight-knit team. From what I can see they have a loyal and enthusiastic following. Horizons’ lineup spans various models of Fiat’s Ducato and Mercedes Benz’s Sprinter van ranges, from the 5.99 m Ducato-based Melaleuca to the 7.36 m Sprinter-based

Grevillea. Well priced and well equipped, all Horizon models reflect the company’s 20 years of manufacturing experience and a strong commitment to quality and design refinement. The Grevillea in this review features a floorplan with a permanent double bed with an electrically operated tilt mechanism that raises it to one side for easy under-bed storage access. But more on that later. It also had a number of options that added to the look and feel (and price!), comprising metallic paint, leather upholstery and an external gas bayonet.

Groundwork

B

uilt on a Sprinter 316CDI extra-long wheelbase (EXL) van, the Grevillea is a fair chunk of a motorhome size-wise and competes with Trakka’s Jabiru in the marketplace, despite being 260 mm longer.


26 | Day Test Right: The pair of 4.5 kg gas cylinders leaves just enough space to squeeze in a grey water hose, but otherwise there’s no external storage. Below: At 7.36 m the Grevillea is a big van, but the Sprinter’s easy driving nature and tight steering lock make it feel quite nimble on the road. Note rear overhang, which you need to watch on steep driveway entrances and exits.

Spec’s-wise a standard Grevillea has a 3380 kg tare weight, including water and fuel, and a 3880 kg gross vehicle mass (GVM). That leaves a generous payload of 500 kg for people, goods and chattels. Those are good figures for such a large vehicle, especially compared to our own Project Polly, which is only 6.5 m long but has a tare of 3180 kg with fuel and water, leaving a payload of just 370 kg. The Grevillea’s engine is a 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbo-diesel producing 120 kW and 360 Nm, and it drives the rear wheels through a 7-speed fully automatic transmission. Water capacities were 100 L fresh and 95 L grey, while fuel capacity on the test vehicle was 75 L, although 100 L is now the norm. LPG comprised 2 x 4 kg cylinders.

Roadwork

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t was strange jumping into a Sprinter after months in our longterm Fiat Ducato-based Horizon Casuarina. The Sprinter is narrower and you sit more deeply in it, like a car, with the sensation accentuated by a car-like nearvertical steering wheel. The seats are supportive and the visibility and driving position good, with the height-and-reach adjustable steering wheel a welcome change from Fiat’s height-only adjustable wheel. However, the Sprinter’s dash is rather grey and bland compared to the Fiat’s more flamboyant Italianesque offering, and its ventilation controls require some familiarisation.


Day Test | 27

You sit more deeply in (the Sprinter), like a car, with the sensation accentuated by a car-like near-vertical steering wheel. On the road there’s noticeably more body roll in the Sprinter, although in this case it’s possibly accentuated by the Grevillea’s extra length. It’s something you quickly adapt to, however, and there’s no disputing the superiority of the Sprinter’s ride quality and overall feeling of quality.

The 2.2-litre engine is smooth, proven and fuel efficient, but I did find the 7-speed auto hunted a bit at lower speeds; trying to find the right gear for the moment when negotiating things like roundabouts. Of course shifts are seamlessly smooth – as you’d except from a Mercedes’ gearbox – making this a very drivable and enjoyable motorhome.

The other standout is the Sprinter’s tight turning circle – another Mercedes’ trademark – which made light work of the Grevillea’s extra length. You just need to watch the extra rear overhang on steep driveways, especially when reversing, and when negotiating dips in the road, etc.


28 | Day Test

Below: The Horizon logo in the optional leather upholstery is a nice touch, while the dinette window affords great viewing whether travelling or camping. Bottom: Mercedes’ Sprinter is narrower but taller than the Fiat Ducato. Factory fixed rear windows will soon be replaced by the same openable windows as the rest of the vehicle, which will also eliminate the need for curtains.

Bodywork

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an conversions have many advantages over coachbuilt motorhomes, including superior structural strength and durability, with fewer water leakage points and no body seams requiring annual inspections/ resealing, to name a few. But they also have disadvantages, like reduced width leading to less living room and little, if any, external storage. The Grevillea is no different to other van conversions in these respects and apart from a tiny bit of room in with the gas cylinders (you can squeeze a waste water hose in if careful) relies on maximising interior space for essentials like chairs and an outdoor table. There are five openable windows; three on the kerb side and two on the driver’s side. All are double glazed single-hopper Seitz/ Dometic units with built-in privacy and insect


Day Test | 29

There’s no disputing the superiority of the Sprinter’s ride quality and overall feeling of quality.


30 | Day Test

Above: The automotive-style single dinette seat is seatbelt equipped and very comfortable for travel or relaxation. The table has slide adjustment and can quickly be removed to open up the lounge area. Right: Cab access is easy thanks to a wide-opening door. Note the cab curtain and rail, which should soon be replaced by integrated cab blinds. screens, except for the middle one on the kerb side. It’s a sliding version that allows you to open the big side door without damage. The rear door windows are fixed glass from the Mercedes’ factory (although that’s changing soon) and there are two main roof hatches; a thermostated fan hatch above the kitchen/ dinette and a clear one over the bed. Also standard is a 4.5 m Fiamma wind-out awning, twin LED awning lights, external 12


Day Test | 31 and 240-volts power outlets, an external shower, electric entry step and a mains water connection. The sliding side door is a biggie but operates easily. If you can afford it the $1500 electric door option is money well spent as it eliminates the dreaded ‘whizzbang’ people hate of vans, especially in caravan parks.

Inside

F

eaturing a combination front lounge/ dinette that utilises swivelling cab seats; a centre kitchen and bathroom, and a bedroom at the rear, the Grevillea’s layout is thoroughly conventional. LED lighting is used throughout and a Redarc 40 amp charger looks after the 200 AH deep-cycle AGM house battery. Aside from the expected 240 V outlets for when you’re connected to mains power there is a good selection of 12 V cigarette lighter-style sockets and 5V USB charging outlets with dual slots, in strategic places. Internal headroom is good even for someone 183 cm tall, like me, while cab access is easy as there’s no over-cab shelf built into the headliner. This is good and bad as extra storage is always welcome, but for anyone with bending difficulties, moving between the cab and living area is easy.

Living Room

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he front lounge/dinette works well and the swivelling cab seats marry nicely with the single seatbelt-equipped passenger seat and removable/extendable dining table. Horizon has embraced the European concept of a multi-leaf table, where the lower leaf is concealed in normal use but easily swivelled out when required. The automotive-style dinette seat is a beauty: comfortable and relaxing for travel and/or socialising. It’s base is boxed in and provides storage, accessed via a door by

Top to bottom: The table has a clever lower leaf that rotates out once you release a small black knob underneath. It makes the already generous table entirely suitable for three diners, yet stows without being noticeable. Nice…


32 | Day Test

The double bed has an electrically operated arm that lifts and tilts it, allowing access to under-bed storage from inside and even greater carrying capacity for bulky items from outside. your feet. There’s also a deep drawer at floor level between the seat and bathroom wall, with a open storage space above. Between the seat and window is a cup holder and lift-up door that accesses more storage space, plus serves as an armrest when closed. Clever! On the wall beneath the table is a double 240 V power point, a 12 V socket and a dual-outlet 5 V USB charging point. Also clever – and handy.

while the sink (with drainer) sits closer to the bedroom. Both are recessed into the benchtop and have glass lids, which provides valuable extra work space. Another Horizon signature is a filtered drinking water tap next to the sink, while a recessed rubbish bin/wine cooler closer to the door is another welcome inclusion.

Cooking Room

In total there are seven kitchen drawers, arranged in two stacks beneath the cooker and sink. There are also two shelved endcupboards. Across the aisle is more storage in the form of double cupboards beneath the elevated 136 L 12/240 V Waeco fridge, and above the microwave that sits over the fridge. If you run out of storage in this kitchen you’re doing something wrong.

he kitchen, which sits on the kerb side just aft of the entry door, is long and filled with drawers and cupboards. Chamfered at either end, for ease of vehicle entry and bedroom access, it does sacrifice a little benchtop space in the process. A three-burner gas cooktop sits closest to the entry door,

A Horizon design signature is the absence of overhead cupboards in the kitchen. This not only helps avoid the tunnel feeling so easily created in a van conversion, the wall space becomes home to the TV, electrical switches, battery monitor, tank gauges and hot water switch.

The dinette window provides a good view and plenty of light and fresh air, while two overhead cupboards maximise forward storage space. Both cab seats have reading lights, but strangely, the single seat doesn’t. Hmm…

T


Day Test | 33

Despite angled corners the main kitchen unit provides prodigious storage space. Note the tap for filtered drinking water at the far end and the rubbish container/wine bottle holder (take your pick!) by the cooker.


34 | Day Test

Left: Not easy to photograph, the bathroom has quality inclusions like this domestic-style height-adjustable hand shower and an LED light with three modes: bright/night/night-light. Right: The basin has its own tap, plus storage space below. Unfortunately the cabinet isn’t particularly waterproof (even when the doors are closed!).

Bathing Room

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he Grevillea’s bathroom is between the single dinette seat and the fridge/ microwave unit, directly opposite the kitchen work area. Horizon’s bathroom philosophy is to provide all the necessary items in as compact a space a realistically possible. That’s because you don’t spend much time in there and a bathroom can easily take up a lot of floor space in a van conversion. Equipment includes a height-adjustable chrome hand shower; corner hand basin with not-so-watertight cupboard below; wall mirror; light with white/blue/night functions;

fan hatch, and a Dometic swivel SOG cassette toilet. Externally, the use of a mirror-front door brightens the interior and adds an extra sense of space.

Sleeping Room

I

was prepared to dismiss the bed arrangement as a bit of a gimmick, however it’s anything but. Central to it is a feeling of spaciousness enhanced by the absence of overhead cupboards down the entire kerb-side wall of the motorhome. This is necessary as the bed is fixed and runs north-south, but isn’t full width. Bed access is via the aisle, which curves to the right, aft of the kitchen, and takes


Day Test | 35

The double bed passed our two-Duvalay test, meaning it really is wide enough for two people to sleep in. LED reading lights are a nice touch, but the curtains could be a bit more generous to block light in the corners (a bit of velcro would work wonders). you down the side before terminating in a halfheight wardrobe with a deep bedside shelf on top. The self is ideal for charging phones and iPads overnight, but oddly has a 240 V outlet and a 12 V socket, but no USB charing outlets. There are two over-bed cupboards on the driver’s side plus a wide cupboard right across rear. The bed’s innerspring mattress measures 2.04 m x 1.40 m (6’ 8” x 4’ 7”) and even though it has a cut-off corner the length helps compensate. It’s big enough to take two Duvalays side-by-side, with just a little drop off on the corner, and with windows on both sides plus a roof hatch there’s plenty or light and ventilation. Fairly lightweight curtains cover the back windows and I should mention the cab has conventional curtains as well, rather than cab blinds. The Grevillea’s bedroom really scores thanks to an electrically tiltable bed that provides easy access to storage space below. Just press a button on the bathroom wall and an arm raises the bed and tilts it towards the driver’s side. Once raised – and you can stop at any point – two compartments are revealed: a

smaller but still deep one up front that could easily compensate for the bedroom’s missing overhead cupboards, and a larger rear boot. The front compartment houses the house battery and charger, while the 14 L Truma gas hot water system occupies a cupboard in the driver’s-side rear corner of the rear boot. In the opposite corner of the rear boot the bedside wardrobe encroaches, but there’s still considerable storage space where a set of golf clubs or a folding bike or two could easily be carried. You could also drive with the bed raised if you needed to transport something bulky, adding to this motorhome’s versatility. There’s another switch for the bed motor on the back of the wardrobe unit, so you can operate the tilt mechanism from outside the vehicle.

Thinking Room

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he Grevillea surprised with its sense of spaciousness: an attribute not normally associated with van conversions. The Sprinter’s extra length is key, along with the unusual bed arrangement. You can have single beds and traditional overhead cupboards by choosing the other floor plan, but it wouldn’t feel as roomy.


36 | Day Test

Above: During the day the bedroom is bright and airy and the fixed bed can, of course, be left made up. Left: Bed access is via the aisle, which curves to the right aft of the kitchen. Note the deep bedside table, which has charging outlets above, and a half-height wardrobe below. Horizon Motorhomes’ conversions are amongst the best and while there might be more stylishly innovative interior designs out there, none are any better built. If you’re in the market for a spacious motorhome with a quality conversion that’ll provide years of happy touring be sure to check out the Grevillea. Its unique bedroom is not only practical it’s fun – and dare I say, groovy?


Day Test | 37

Specifications Manufacturer

Horizon Motorhomes

Model

Grevillea

Class

Van Conversion

Berths

2

Base Vehicle

Mercedes Benz Sprinter 316CDI

Engine

2.0 L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel

Power

120 kW @ 3500 rpm

Torque

360 Nm @ 1500 rpm

Gearbox

7-speed automatic

Brakes

ABS Disc

Tare Weight

3380 kg

Gross Vehicle Mass

3880 kg

Towing capacity

2000 kg

Licence

Car

Approved Seating

3

External Length

7.36 m (24’ 2”)

External Width

1.99 m (6’ 6”)

External Height

2.75 m (9’ 2”)

Internal Height

1.90 m (6’ 3”)

Rear Bed Size

2.04 m x 1.40 m (6’ 8” x 4’ 7”)

Luton Bed Size

N/A

Dinette Bed Size

N/A

Cooktop

Dometic 3 burner

Fridge

Waeco 136 L 12/240 V

Microwave

Panasonic

Lighting

12 V LED

Batteries

1 x 200 AH

Solar Panels

Optional

Air Conditioner

Optional

Space Heater

Optional

Hot Water

Truma 14 L – LPG-only

Toilet

Dometic 19 L cassette with SOG

Shower

Flex-hose, variable height

Gas Cylinders

2 x 4.5 kg

Water Tank

100 L (extra 105 L optional)

Grey Water Tank

95 L

Price from

$132,500 (on road in NSW)

Price as tested

$137,000 (on road in NSW)

Pros • • • • • • • • •

Spacious Conversion quality Comfortable, practical dinette Large under-bed storage Generous kitchen Mercedes quality Economical Good payload Optional electric side door

Cons

• No dinette seat reading light • No bedside USB charging outlet • Rear overhang

Contact

Ballina Campervan and Motorhome Centre

Click for Google Maps

299 River Street Ballina NSW 2478 T: (02) 6681 1555

E: info@horizonmotorhomes.com.au W: horizonmotorhomes.com.au


38 | Day Test

The Grevillea surprised with its sense of spaciousness: an attribute not normally associated with van conversions.


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40 | Project Polly

Home Sweet Home Polly’s home and now the fun begins… by Richard Robertson

W

e bought our ex-Apollo Rentals’ Ford Transit Euro Tourer – Project Polly – in mid June, but it spent the first two months as a demonstrator for Reverse Alert’s unique emergency reverse braking system. Job done, it was time to bring Polly home. Fortunately the timing worked in perfectly with us returning our longterm Horizon Casuarina to Ballina and the swap was smooth and straight forward.

those comments still stand. However, jumping directly from the near-new Casuarina into our well used Polly was still a bit of a culture shock. Vehicle differences aside the fit-outs are worlds apart, which is no surprise given Polly’s rental origins. Whereas the Casuarina – Cassie – felt open and bright, Polly feels quite tunnel-like and dark upfront, but like a goldfish bowl at the rear due to the large side windows (most of which don’t open). She also has more than her fair share of rattles on rougher roads, but we have a plan in place to address that somewhat.

To refresh your memory, Polly is a 2010 model Ford Transit and now has nearly 266,000 km ‘experience’ behind her. Two issues ago I wrote of the good things I rediscovered about the Transit, It’s a testament to how well Ford built the Transit having not driven one for a couple of years, and that it’s still a pleasant vehicle to drive after so


Project Polly | 41

Above: We snuck in for the night behind these other free campers in Macksvillle. Middle: Our first night in Polly and we chose the monster king-bed option. Bottom: A curtain separates the cab from the living area. We’ll retain a curtain here, though not this one, for extra winter warmth and summer cab-aircon efficiency, but add cab window coverings too. much work in such a short time. However, there’s no mistaking how far vehicle design has come in terms of engine refinement and the overall driving experience since the fourth generation Transit was released in 2000 and face-lifted in 2006. As I’ve mentioned previously, Transits fell from favour with motorhome manufacturers a few years ago as Ford steadfastly refused to offer an automatic transmission option. Sadly, the recently introduced fifth generation Transit continues this short-sighted tradition. This is all the more puzzling as a six-speed auto is standard on all new Transits in America, where it has replaced Ford’s venerable E-series light commercials. Suffice to say you’re unlikely to see any new Transit-based motorhomes in Australia until Ford’s policy changes.

Home Coming

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e were out of Ballina in the late afternoon, making our way south to what we thought was the RV Friendly Town of Macksville (see Editorial), arriving around 7:30 pm. Because we only had bedding and a change of clothes, we dined at the local Services Club, then parked up behind a mix of caravans and motorhomes on the banks of the nearby Nambucca River. This was our first night in Polly and it turned out better than expected, despite a bit of an oops.


42 | Project Polly The oops was we had no water, because we had no hose (I was sure there was one down the back), so toilet flushing and hot water for a freshen up in the morning were off the agenda. Have you ever washed your face in cold sparkling mineral water on a winter’s morning? It’s refreshing! We also had no heating because we were free camping, which also made for a rather chilly start in the morning. On the positive side we made the bed up into its ‘double’ configuration, which uses the table and another board to bridge the gap across the aisle between what otherwise are two single beds. Polly’s foam mattresses have done a lot of work and are on the thin side, but fortunately we had our Duvalays, which we butted together to form a generous queen sized bed. When made up like this Polly’s sleeping area is close to king size and it’s good to have the option of singles or larger. Only in the very late morning hours did the old foam mattresses seem to compress fully and we’ll certainly be updating them, although at this stage we’re not sure if foam or proper innerspring mattresses will be our choice. Suggestions please! The final day of the journey passed uneventfully and we drove to the Southern Highlands with just a single fuel-cum-lunch stop at Raymond Terrace. That’s nearly 600 km with just one stop, but neither of us felt sore or achy at the end, testament again to the Transit’s cabin ergonomics. Fuelling up at Raymond Terrace, 613 km after topping up in Ballina, gave an average fuel figure of 10.44 L/100 km (27.1 mpg). By comparison, on the way up the Fiat Ducatobased Casuarina had averaged 9.86 L/100km (28.6 mpg), but given it’s newer technology and revs much lower at highway speeds I don’t think the 0.58 L/100 km (1.5 mpg) difference is too bad. Interestingly, filling up near home at the end of the trip produced an almost identical figure of 10.49 L/100 (26.93 mpg) km, showing Polly is nothing if not consistent. Top: Thick pleated woollen curtains with no backing will soon be replaced by something practical. What were they thinking? Above: Home to a heavy frost, swirling mist and a -2ºC morning.


Project Polly | 43

Filling up locally before a run over the weigh-bridge. On the Southern Highlands the only place to buy diesel is the general store in New Berrima, at 21 Argyle St. Significantly cheaper than the majors – 129.9 v 147.9 in this instance – it’s also good to support a business that keeps profits in the local economy.

Weighty Matters…

W

ith a full tank of fuel, no water and just me on board I took Polly across our local weigh bridge. Factoring me out and water in, Polly’s wet tare weight comes in at 3180 kg as near as I can figure. Given her 3550 kg gross vehicle mass (GVM) that leaves 370 kg for Mrs iM, me and all the worldly goods/food/ bedding/clothes/tools/bikes we choose to travel with. Adequate but nothing flash…

the switch made a bit of difference, but it always went back to dim. Remembering a new fridge was fitted a few months before our purchase, I wondered if the switch and not the old fridge had been the real problem?

Pulling the panel cover off revealed a run of 10 amp blade fuses and I noticed the fridge fuse was intact, but loose and partially melted. There is also partial melting of the actual switch panel around the fridge fuse holder. Not good. With a new fuse in place the fridge seems to work fine and A problem we discovered on the run home was the light doesn’t dim, although it’s nowhere near the fridge operating intermittently if at all. A bit of as securely in place as the neighbouring fuses detective worked showed the fridge switch on the are due to the panel melting. Suffice to say I’ll be electrical control panel to be dodgy: When turned keeping a sharp eye on it! on, the usually bright red light would soon dim, corresponding to the fridge turning off. Rocking


44 | Project Polly

After months of juggling cups of hot coffee in Cassie it’s difficult to convey how much we appreciate Polly’s cup and bottle holders, totalling six in all.

Bits, Pieces, Plans and Plates!

T

here’s a serious difference between having a motorhome parked on the drive – like our longterm Casuarina – and having one there we own. The urge to sneak out and fiddle with it is overwhelming! But of course, if you’re a motorhome owner you already know that… Because the lounge/bed units sit on open metal frames rather than wooden cabinetry fitted with drawers or cupboards, we bought some plastic storage containers to make the most of this unusual arrangement. I’ve tightened the hinges on all cupboards and we’ll be fitting some little pads to take up the slack by the latches when they’re closed. The kitchen’s under-bench cupboards are poorly designed and I’ve ordered a new slide-out pantry unit to make the most of one, and some wider wire baskets to make the most of an existing unit in the other cupboard. Mrs iM bought a mat for the entry door, a pair of

bamboo chopping boards and some non-slip matting in Singapore the other day, but we still need a cutlery tray for the single kitchen drawer. Also, we popped down to Lincraft and bought six metres of fabric for new curtains. Mrs iM will run them up in the coming weeks to replace the AWFUL pleated red woollen things Apollo fitted and which must weigh at least 100 kg (ish). Slimline curtains will make a big difference, as will some care in how and where they hang. Cab blinds and insulated side and rear window covers are also on the shortlist… I bought a gas safety switch from Supercheap Auto when I went fuse shopping. It fits into the LPG cylinder between the valve and regulator, and shows tank level (handy), but will also cut off the gas if it detects a sudden increase in flow rate, which suggests a leak (very handy). It was easy to fit and as we only have a single 5 kg cylinder the level gauge should prove invaluable.


Project Polly | 45

A little extravagance: Personalised plates that won’t break the bank. NSW charges a ridiculous additional annual fee for ‘proper’ personalised plates, but only a small amount for these ‘thinking man’s’ plates. We like them… Mrs iMotorhome is planning a working bee soon to give Polly a thorough clean. We keep finding bits of paper, pills (!), sugar sachets and other ‘delights’ appearing on the floor, having worked their way out of whatever crevice they dropped behind in Polly’s rental life. There’s grime and gunk in every corner when you look closely, so until cleanup day we try not to look too closely! I found a lens on the floor from one of the two old 10 W reading lights, which will soon be replaced by LED units to match the two Apollo has already replaced. Cleaning will be made easier and more interesting as we’ll be trialling the 303 range of specialised cleaners, which are distributed in Australia by Trico. They’ve also provided some HEET diesel fuel treatments and even a new set of wiper blades, and I’ll be reporting on all of them in coming issues. Finally, a set of personalised number plates seemed a good idea and after searching online the best I could come up with was

IMOTOR, given the six letter/digit limitation (in NSW at least). The $440 annual fee in addition to the normal registration cost was too big an ask, but with a bit of imagination I made up IM∙O7∙OR for $102 extra per year, which while still exorbitant – the extra fee used to be a one-off – is doable. Finished in white on bright red it’s a little extravagance that requires readers to exercise a bit of grey matter to unravel. There’s a chance Project Polly could lead to our financial demise if purchases and plans are not kept in check! The whole idea is to see what can be accomplished on a budget and how a basic vehicle can be modernised and made more comfortable through judicious spending and some imagination. Next issue I’ll be reporting on that budget and where it might be spent, plus tallying the costs so far. Don’t miss it!


46 | Longtermer Update: Horizon Motorhomes Casuarina

The Long Goodbye

An 850 km run to Ballina was a fitting farewell to our longterm Horizon Casuarina‌


Longtermer Update | 47

When Cassie met Polly. Back home after three full months in our care; we did a vehicle swap into our very own Project Polly and were ready to go. We’ll miss Cassie though, who proved very easy to live with and like…

A

fter three months on the iMotorhome driveway it was time to farewell our longterm Horizon Casuarina – Cassie. By sheer chance her return coincided with the opportunity to collect our very own Project Polly, and so a plan was hatched for a between-issues dash to Ballina to kill three birds with one stone. The ‘third bird’ was the Horizon Grevillea test; literally another story, which you can read on page 24. In her time with us Cassie served as a holiday escape machine taking us as far afield as Mansfield and Mt Buller in North Easter Victoria; a short break machine for a number of nearby overnights; a mobile waiting room when Mrs iMotorhome was on a short notice call-out roster; overnight accommodation near Sydney airport; a shopping trolly and – most importantly – a mobile office. In short, every use I expected a compact motorhome

would need to perform for us. All duties were performed without fuss or bother and in particular, the mobile office concept proved its worth by allowing the on-time production of Issue 76 despite weather-induced power disruptions at the home office.

The Long Drive North

C

assie’s long run home began in true iMotorhome style: Rushed. Between magazine issues and Mrs iM’s work roster we had a few days and needed to make the most of it. The plan was to drive up and return Cassie, collect Polly, test the Grevillea, catch up with the Horizon Motorhomes’ team over dinner and see an old journo mate who’s recently relocated to the district. Like an episode of Time Team we had just three days, so how difficult could it be?


48 | Longtermer Update

The first clue came when the plan to get up at 3 am and drive straight through to Ballina came undone at midnight, after lying awake for hours and trying to “Hurry up and sleep,” as Mrs iM puts it. On about 30 minutes sleep we departed at 12:45 am and drove until 4:00 am, refuelling along the way, skirting Sydney and Newcastle and finding a quiet cul-de-sac in an industrial area behind McDonald’s at Raymond Terrace. Setting the alarm for 8:00 am we settled down for some quality kip, which turned into about 90 fitful minutes due to a continuing brain shutdown malfunction…

Top: 12:45 am, 0.5ºC and ready to roll. What madness drives the sleepless long distance motoring journalist? Above: Only the moon was up to witness our departure…

Cassie was pared to the bone, equipment wise, so we breakfasted at Maccas and hit the Pacific Highway around 8:45. Feeling like I’d just flown in on the Red Eye from London, the remaining 575 km was looking like a loooong, ugly day at the office. Hundreds of kilometres of roadworks added to the fatigue level, but caffeine and the love of a good woman can do marvellous things and by midday I felt like I’d only flown in from Hong Kong! After lunch in Coffs Harbour, including the obligatory chic-coated frozen banana, we cruised on up, arriving at the Ballina Campervan and


Longtermer Update | 49

Above: Midmorning coffee at Taree Service Area, province of transiting tourists, cattle trucks and other highway vagabonds. Right: This much-loved metallic lilac and white T2 Volkswagen Kombi was making relaxed progress on the Pacific Highway in the morning sun. The young couple waved as we slowed to photograph and we envied their casual plans. In 1981 I travelled the same road in an orange and white T2 Kombi camper with my girlfriend. Memories! Motorhome Centre around 4:30ish to say g’day. We continued on to the North Coast Holiday Parks property at Lennox Head, as this glorious seaside town is home to Horizon Motorhomes’ CEO Clayton Kearney and some terrific restaurants. Thirty minutes pre-dinner sleep made a world of difference and we enjoyed a memorable meal at Quattro Italian restaurant, before returning for the BEST 10 hours sleep in recent memory. Must have been the five hour slow cooked lamb (or maybe the red)….

Thoughts

T

he drive up gave us time to reflect on what an easy motorhome to live with the Casuarina had proven to be. Fiat’s Ducato is a comfortable and capable long distance traveller and at no time on any of our


50 | Longtermer Update

I’m told by Mrs iMotorhome that driving through Coffs Harbour without stopping for a choc-coated frozen banana on a stick is a divorceable offence. Best not to argue with such authority…

long drives had we experienced back ache or a numb you-know-what. The 125 L fuel tank provides considerable range and our overall usage figure of 10.82 L/100km (26.1 mpg) was on the high side of what an owner in less of a hurry would achieve. That’s backed up by the final fill returning 9.86 L/100km (28.6 mpg) from Sydney to Ballina due to large sections of enforced roadwork speed limits. The Casuarina layout is just one of many Horizon offers. Truth be known we would have preferred a large front dinette as found in the Banksia, but the compromise of an east-west

double bed for a tall guy like me would have been too much. So in the end Cassie’s layout with its long, single beds proved a winner. The main dining area, which sees you sitting on the beds and has a removable swivel table, proved much more comfortable than expected and also made an excellent office. Up front, the swivel cab seats and small removable pole table were ideal for smaller meals, roadside coffees and even as a workstation for Mrs iM while awaiting work callout. The Casuarina also has a bathroom slightly larger than most other Horizon models.


Longtermer Update | 51 Top to bottom: Our last night in Cassie was at this caravan park in Lennox Head. Nice but the only one there, so choices were limited; Echoes of my youth; This trip I experienced the joy of the nut coated frozen banana on a stick. You might remember the reason we had Cassie was because she was flood-bound at a Gold Coast RV show early in 2014 and Horizon was awaiting word on a protracted insurance settlement. The claim drags on but the good news from a Horizon Motorhomes buyers’ point of view is that despite being immersed in murky waters for several hours, nothing on the conversion side seemed any the worse for wear. Apart from some red mud still appearing from under the bathroom cabinet there is no cabinetry swelling, no mis-fitting doors, musty odours or indeed any signs of trouble. All house electric worked fine and I’d have no hesitation recommending this particular vehicle to a friend. If a vehicle can come though an episode like that with no lasting after effects it says more about its quality than any glowing roadtest.

Picture Perfect?

O

ver dinner on the Wednesday night I suggested a couple of ideas relating to lights and switch positioning that would make the Casuarina (and other Horizon models) even more user friendly. Suffice to say it turns our work is already underway to not only address my points but to take the Horizon range to a new level of innovation and convenience. Of course I’m bound to secrecy, but let’s just say it should be good… Mrs iM and I are sorry to see Cassie gone and could happily have lived with her ever after. Project Polly is in her


52 | Longtermer Update

Above and right: I returned Cassie to the Ballina Campers’ office after CEO Clayton Kearney failed to wrestle her keys from my control at the caravan park. It was close though… place and, as you’ll no doubt notice, the layout is almost identical. Coincidence? Not really. The Casuarina layout works well and in time Polly might even become more Cassie-like. My question in last issue’s editorial was do we choose motorhomes that suit us or do we make what we buy fit? Truth is it’s a bit of both and Cassie fitted us very well despite not being our ‘ideal’ layout. If you’re in the market for a motorhome – new or used – price and availability will play big parts in your final decision. It seems you can probably live with almost any vehicle or floorplan, the secret is to be adaptable and make it work for you. Horizon's Casuarina certainly worked for us and the brand is one of a small handful I’d buy new or recommend to a friend. I can’t say better than that and it’s not because they advertise or the fact I’ve known Clayton a long time and think he’s a good bloke; it’s because Horizon’s products are good – very good – and that’s all that matters.


Longtermer Update | 53 Our last morning together, overlooking Lennox Head just north of Ballina

Fast Facts Manufacturer

Horizon Motorhomes

Model

Casuarina

Base Vehicle

Fiat Ducato XLWB van

Engine

3.0-litre turbo-diesel

Total Distance Travelled

5503 km

Av Fuel – overall

10.82 L/100 km (26.1 mpg)


54 | Travel

Remote Control

An expert’s tips on safe travels in remote areas… by Keith Hemburrow


Travel | 55

Standing on the shores of Lake Mungo. Outback Australia is more accessible than you think and some simple preparation and careful planning can get you in and out of places you didn’t think possible.

H

ave you ever looked at those pictures of Outback Australia, far away from the coast, where each location looks the same; the same shops, traffic lights and controlled caravan parks? Outback images feature colours, animals and remoteness, enticing you to visit. But then you stop and think, “I only have a motorhome so I can't do it”. Let me assure you it can be done, with care. It’s easy and safe, and would you believe, not too expensive? Most of Australia is covered by the black stuff: Manmade roads that can take you to the edge of incredibly remote locations. The gravel roads after that might have pot holes or corrugations which, if you travel too fast, can hurt your vehicle, but with due care – driving slowly and with caution – you can do it. Most Outback gravel roads are pretty good; smooth and easy to drive on as long as you remember to always drive with caution. You will get covered in dust, especially the rear of your vehicle, and you might even get some muddy dirt along the sides if it rains, but it this washes off. Of course you must remember you are not a four-wheel drive, so drive accordingly and choose where you park for the night. You are never so remote any more that you will be alone for long if you are on a connecting road. Remember, all of this great country was originally driven in vehicles that did not have four-wheel drive, and on roads that did not not even resemble the great roads and tracks of today! If it rains whilst in a remote area the local authorities will close the dirt roads and you might have to sit it out for a few days until they dry. But dry they do, in very quick time. Just make sure you have a few days food and water available to keep you going, especially if it rains again. Sometimes rain can catch you out and you must be aware that some of the ground where you


56 | Travel

Many country and Outback roads turn into a sticky mess when it rains. Never travel on one after rain, and stay put if it rains while on one: They dry out quickly but hefty fines apply for transgressors. choose to stay gets very sticky and slippery when wet. If you do drive on a closed road there are very big fines and besides, you don't want to have your vehicle recovered at great expense.

Planning and Preparation

S

o how do you handle this type of journey, making sure you are safe and won't get stuck by either mechanical problems, the weather or even health issues? Firstly, are you going to do the trip by yourself or in the company of others? I personally don't like to travel with a group as it always reminds me of ‘Mother Duck and her ducklings’. Especially when travelling so close to each

other that the road effectively is blocked to all those who might wish to pass. Besides, it can be quite hard to find a good remote location to stay at the end of the day when there are more than one or two motorhomes travelling together. We all have a budget, both in time and or money, so planning is essential. There are not too many outback trips that you can do in a week or two. As you get older you should be able to take it easy, stop and smell the flowers, and not rush around like a blue ass fly (that sounds familiar - Ed). To get into The Outback generally means a few days to get away from home as a starter and the same to get home afterwards. Travelling at night is not the smartest thing to do as there are too many animals out and about.


Travel | 57 About your Motorhome

P

retty well all modern motorhomes are set up for a few days remote camping, with plenty of power in the batteries if driving every day. Consider the reliability of your vehicle. Is it well serviced and are the tyres in good condition? Do you know how to, and can you change a wheel by yourself or with help from your travelling companion/s? Ensure you have a basic tool kit, including a little multi-meter tester, to see you through. Even if you can't use the tools, others might be able to assist. There are so many wonderful people you meet along the way that if you do have issues they will likely stop and help you out. There are many lists available of what you might like to include, but in my humble-andmostly-biassed opinion most are ‘over the top’. But then I don't have the space for most things mentioned in them anyway! Next, how far can you safely and reasonably travel on a tank of fuel? Please allow for things that can and do go wrong and make sure that

if you reckon you can get 700 km normally, allow only about 400 km between fuel stops for planning purposes. Consider, if going to stay more than one night at a single location, the effect this might have on what is left in your motorhome’s batteries. Do you need a generator in the event you’ve ‘miscalculated’ or have unplanned stops at a delightful location you were just told about. It might even be a consideration to obtain one of those little “OBD” (On Board Diagnostic) connection devices that plug into your vehicle to assist in detecting and even correcting problems that can occur. Software for your vehicle can also be quite cheaply loaded onto your iPad or fancy telephone. A little bit of instruction on this stuff can get you going, or assist others in getting you or them going in the event something goes wrong. These devices are not that complex, displaying codes or even a description of probable reasons why a light is on, on the dash, or even reset the vehicle’s computer to get you on your way. If nothing else, they might help others to assist

On-board diagnostic (OBD) hardware, and software for iPhones and the like, is surprisingly inexpensive and can get you or someone else out of trouble if electronic troubles strike.


58 | Travel

Tracks strewn with sharp stones can cut tyres like knives, causing damage as well as punctures. Having a good air compressor is essential, as is a good puncture repair kit and knowing how to use it. you. It is not a bad hobby either and you can find software for Mercedes, Fiat and most vehicles.

bits. Together with your ‘not-too-cheap air compressor you can be on your way without even having to change the tyre.

About your Tyres

About Water

ome roads can have kilometres of sharp stones, or perhaps you backed into a lovely clear location but failed to see the sharp bits of stick protruding out of the ground. The moral? Be sure to check your tyres!

ater is not plentiful when you get away from the usual crowded routes. You need to calculate how much of the stuff you use and how much you can carry. This is generally the deciding factor on the time you can take between locations where you know it’s available. Often that might be a caravan park for the night and the chance for a meal at the local pub. Spend a few dollars so that the businesses will still be there next time you decide to pass through.

S

Do you still have the lovely soft, road holding rubber tyres that were delivered on your vehicle when new? As they aren’t specific ‘all-terrain’ tyres they will suffer and wear out more quickly, but you can replace with more suitable items. If you run lower pressures to get a smoother ride the chances are one or more of those sharp stones or sticks is going to make a cut or puncture the tyre. This is the time to use some other little bits you have on board for insurance, like one of those puncture repair kits with rubber plugs and associated

W

About Communication

E

very man and his dog talks about the need to call someone on the telephone, or receive calls. I think the internet also comes into play here. This is a problem


Travel | 59

Satellite phones have come down dramatically in price, while prepaid plans are quite affordable. Knowing you’re in touch wherever you go gives tremendous peace of mind. that is slowly and maybe not so slowly, becoming smaller. My personal favourite is a satellite phone, of which there are now quite a few different systems and plans. Ours has an external antenna, which means we are connected all the time. We hardly ever use it but it’s good to know we are always in contact if required. It also gives us that extra bit of confidence to visit locations ‘off the beaten track’ without the worry of being stranded. Well we might get stranded, but we can get help if needed, even if it costs a fortune! After purchase a satellite phone is actually pretty cheap on a prepaid plan.

are available between and within either map set. Garmin has a City Navigator and Topo (topographical) series of maps, both of which are routeable, including driving on forest tracks and remote desert tracks. I have found them most accurate indeed, even making use of the topographical lines to guide me on whether I can drive into difficult hilly locations or not. Boy, I bet this starts a few conversations as my preference is not the heavily promoted system that most 4X4 people use (a Hema Navigator HN7* - Ed). Just remember, I have bought and used many systems over the years as mapping is another hobby.

*Ed’s Note: Hema Australia offers dedicated 4WD Maps for downloading and offline dding to your array of modern use on the iPad and iPhone. At $99.99 technology is the GPS, another device it’s considerably cheaper than buying a that has people promoting the pros and standalone GPS unit and Allan Whiting cons of different brands. Having tried many of Outback Travel Australia has tested it units I keep coming back to a Garmin, in which extensively on both platforms and rates it a I run two sets of maps. You can interchange highly viable alternative to Hema’s dedicated maps on the go and all points of interest (POIs)

About Navigation

A


60 | Travel

Not all GPS units are the same. You need one more capable than a basic street directory, but not necessarily a dedicated 4X4 unit. However, always carry paper maps as a backup. but expensive ($699 rrp) Navigator HN7 GPS unit. Alternatively, the Hema Explorer app is now available for iOS and Android devices and provides a mix of on-and-offline capabilities. At $29.99 it’s well worth investigating.

About Getting Stuck

T

here always comes a time that we reckon we are better drivers than we actually are. Hence there is the need to extract ourselves from sand and mud that just seems to let the vehicle get deeper and deeper, or perhaps just slip and slide on the surface. The most important assistance here is from Max Trax recovery tracks or other similar systems to help you drive out. Of course, you need to prepare your exit from such situations with your shovel, having cleared some sand or mud away. A small to medium pointed shovel is good. The large ones carried by 4X4 people should not be necessary as you would not normally take a risk like this in an expensive motorhome! If this does not work you can pull out of your tool

locker a snatch strap or tow rope suitable for the weight of your vehicle (so a strong one). Then look around for some well prepared 4X4 drivers who you can entice to help you. It's okay to be the brunt of a few campfire jokes as you retire to the comfort of your motorhome, already heated by the diesel heater, for a shower, use of the toilet and a lovely comfortable bed! And here is another reason for the shovel: You can dispose of toilet effluent in the bush, if necessary, by digging a large hole away from all and sundry – and certainly away from any creeks or rivers – even if they are dry. Remember, dig a big hole and be sure to it fill in afterwards.

About Motorhoming to the Max

M

y wife and I have been very lucky to travel to many, many remote locations throughout this country. When younger we used to do it in a 4X4, sometimes with a camper trailer or a rooftop tent. We moved to an off-road caravan, but as I think back, there are not too many places that can't


Travel | 61

be seen with our current motorhomes and a little bit of care. Of course, we’re not talking extreme type 4X4 off-road activities. All the new motorhomes are well built, reliable, comfortable and secure. The key is not to be stupid. Talk to others who have been there, drive carefully, just take it easy and plan accordingly. You can do it! Above: Max Trax or similar can make the difference between getting unbogged easily or being stuck, perhaps for days. Below: A generator and/or solar power are required for prolonged free camping, as is good water capacity. Satellite TV can help lessen the feeling of isolation on extended trips, too.


62 | Mobile Tech

Wild About Whales! An app for whale lovers from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

By Emily Barker


Mobile Tech | 63

I

f you’re lucky enough to be including the spectacular NSW coastline in your travel plans over the next few months this little app might be just what you need. For those that have witnessed firsthand the majestic grace these incredible animals possess, there is little wonder why thousands of tourists flock to various areas of the coast for the annual whale migration season. For those who have yet to see these mammals in action, it’s certainly one for the bucket list! Wild About Whales aims to assist people plan their next coastal adventure by providing up-todate whale (and other creature) sightings along the entire NSW coastline. It’s yet another app utilising ‘crowdsourced data’ and, in this case, there appears to be no shortage of voluntary submissions. It’s “Australia’s first official whale watching guide to New South W(h)ales!” developed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and showcases yet another great wonder Australia has to offer.

Technically this app contains all the right features to make it enjoyable to use. The interface is pleasant and obviously well thought out, although the text is a little on the small side. It’s also deceptively simple in appearance; a little digging uncovers a great deal of information including an extensive species list of both whales and other animals including dolphins, sharks, penguins and seals. The tips and info tab is filled with handy details ranging from the best times of day to attempt whale spotting, were to go, how to identify a specific species, guidelines for water based whale watching and even information on how to become involved in volunteer or conservation work locally. In the social gallery, photos can be shared by either submitting them directly with the camera function within the app or by tagging images shared on social media. The result is an extensive collection of often beautiful images shared from people all over the world. Sorted by date, this also means you can get a direct feel for the type of whale sighting you may encounter in your area.


64 | Mobile Tech The primary feature of this app is, of course, the whale sighting map, with each recorded sighting marked by a small tail: blue for a whale sighted that day, grey for older sightings. Also, each tail icon has a two click feature. The first click identifies what species and when, while the second click provides you with exact details including direction of travel, the longitude and latitude, where the sighting occurred (land based or vessel) and often contextual details of the encounter such as the time of day and the behaviours observed. In addition to the sightings page, this map tab contains two subpages: vantage points and tours. The vantage points map offers details of the best places for land base whale watching. However, the information offered is quite extensive and this is where the deceptively simple part comes into play. First click gives you a name, e.g.Bondi Costal Walk; second click gives you a little more detail, maybe a paragraph, and the third click takes you to the NSW National parks and wildlife service page containing every relevant detail, from natural features, parking, entry fees, amenities, prime photo opportunities, local alerts and much more. This feature, however, requires data, so keep an eye on usage. The tours tab provides a wealth of current local business information and might even have a discount or two! Overall this app is a visually stimulating, functional tool that would inspire anyone to pay a little closer attention to the breathtaking views the New South Wales coastline has to offer. Annual whale migration in Australia is from May to November so there’s still plenty of time to get involved. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife service has done an exceptional job with this app and hopefully we’ll see an app released nationally soon as almost every State and Territory has its own spectacular cetacean display to offer.

Wild about Whales Cost: Free Size: 44.2MB Platforms: iOS and Android


Advertisers' Index | 65

Advertisers' Index AirBag Man 

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Paradise Motor Homes

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Australian Motor Homes

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Robert’s RV World

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Avida4

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Battery Traders Super Store

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Caravan & Motorhome Covers

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eBook Traveller

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Northcoach Equipment

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Ozcape Campers

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66 | Next Issue

Torino Updated!

Polly reports, looking at budgets, plans and any improvements we’ve managed to sneak in since this issue… On the travel front we’ve got an an inspiring story of a journey through life that’s had more than its fair share of ups and downs. This story will also introduce you to our newest regular contributor Sharon Hollamby, who as a solo traveller will bring a whole new perspective to our pages!

M

alcolm’s back and will taking a look at Trakka’s updated Torino Xtra van conversion. It will be interesting to hear his take on what is very close competition to Horizon’s Banksia +2. We’ll also be continuing our Project

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Issue 79 will be out on Saturday 5 September. Until then why not join our more than 27,000 Facebook Friends and Twitter followers, and share laughs, fun and more? RGB / .ai

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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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Central Coast 4WD, Caravan, Camping & Boat Show Mingara Recreation Club, Mingara Drive, Tumbi Umbi. NSW. 2261 • • • • •

Open 10:00-4:00 daily Parking: Free Adults: $10 Fri/$12 Sat Seniors: $8 Fri/$10 Sat Kids: 5-16 $5 Fri/$6 Sat

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Know of a local or regional show coming up that attracts and promotes motorhomes, campervans and the great RV lifestyle in general? Drop us a line at info@imotorhome.com.au and we’ll happily promote it in this calendar.

Profile for iMotorhome Magazine

iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 78 - 15 Aug 2015  

Get your FREE subscription from our website now!

iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 78 - 15 Aug 2015  

Get your FREE subscription from our website now!

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