Home on the Range!
Issue 80: Sep 19 2015
because getting there is half the fun...
$50 for the! best letter
Camping with the locals at historic Joadja Creek…
Taste of Adventurer!
A first-timer samples North American motorhoming…
Only 19 Ks of Dirt…
It’s just a short drive to Farina, South Australia
Project Polly gets serious…
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
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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A Home for...
Designed and built with travelling and the great outdoors in mind. The storage space you’ll find in each Horizon motorhome is surprising. Our innovative design team have used 20 years of experience to utilise every inch of available space, allowing you to take almost everything you could possibly want on your travels. With a mass of drawers, overhead
cupboards, shelving, wardrobes and large boot space, you have room for everything, including the kitchen sink. That’s why satisfaction really is built into each and every Horizon Motorhome.
299 C A M O L D R PE EX 02 iver RVA CLU 66 Str N S I V 81 ee & M E L 1 55 t , B O Y B 5 | a l l TO Y bcm ina R H c.c NSW OME om 2 C E . a u 478 N T R
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On my mind | 5
Things! Apologies for the lack of promised Renaultbased motorhome in this issue (or probably next issue too). We frequently work on very short lead times and the advent of the Penrith RV show last weekend meant any available vehicles in Sydney were being prepared for it. Despite big RV shows the Australian motorhome market must be a real afterthought for international auto companies. Neither Malcolm or I hear from them when models are updated or new ones released, and just recently I sent a reminder to their PR and marketing people to please keep us informed. Only Volkswagen responded – they’ve promised to keep us in the loop for the T6 Transporter launch in November – but there’s not been so much as a peep from Fiat, Mercedes, Renault or Ford. Disappointing… Some local motorhome manufacturers are their own worst enemies too. It’s not unusual to read about a new model on a website or find it at a show, with nothing coming by way of a press release or – heaven forbid – an invitation to a prerelease preview and/or test drive. Anyone out there with a motorhome or related product, take this as a not-so-subtle invitation for some free publicity. ‘Nuf said…
Joadja! We had a genuinely terrific time last weekend at the inaugural iMotorhome get-together, which you can read about on page XX. Perfect spring weather played a big part, as did the tranquil valley setting and outstanding hospitality of our hosts. However, one of the most enjoyable aspects was just sitting around the campfire, swapping yarns and making new friends. It was a real pleasure for us to meet some of you firsthand and we could easily have stayed another night or two if time had allowed.
Not only was the consensus that we should do this on an annual basis, while limiting numbers to keep the group personal and manageable, but interest was expressed in adventures further afield. Following our rental relocations in America last year and the year before, a number of readers asked if I’d consider running some group tours across the USA. The topic was also raised around the campfire last weekend and it's something I'm giving serious consideration to, despite the perilous descent of our dollar. In this issue you’ll read part one of Malcolm's rental relocation adventure in Canada. While discussing the possibility with him he pointed out the Canadian dollar has also suffered against the Greenback and is only marginally more valuable than the Aussie. I have to admit it's a tantalising prospect and one I’ll be looking into just as soon as I find some spare time (Mrs iM keeps reminding me about the hour between three and four in the morning). Malcolm seems pretty keen too, so if you're interested an email ‘show of hands’ would be good to gauge response. One major thing I realised last weekend was the importance of the venue for future local get togethers. We've had requests to hold similar events in other parts of the country and logistics aside, finding the right venue would be paramount. The main criteria are natural beauty, exclusivity/ privacy, something to do and catering facilities (our own and/or provided). It's another hunt I need to begin, but if you know of any special locations that might be suitable please let me know. In fact here’s the deal: If you suggest a place and it comes to pass you’ll get free entry for two. What are you waiting for?
out more about the range visit horizonmotorhomes.com.au
6 | Content
On my Mind
On your Mind
Who we are, where and other legal stuff
Find back issues and more on our website
Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!
Touring Test: Fraserway Adventurer 23RB
Project Polly: D.I.Why?
Travel: Farina S.A.
Travel: iMotorhome Get-together
Mobile Tech: National Bushfires
What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond
The latest Marketplace offers
Malcolm’s first North American motorhome adventure!
When the going gets tough the tough get hand tools…
Only 19 Kays of dirt…
For a few days we were Up the Creek without a care…
A single app to track all Australian bushfires!
An A to Z of who’s in this issue!
Next Issue What’s coming up and which shows are on soon!
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Resources | 9
because getting there is half the fun...
Magazine Resources Ask a Question
because getting there is half the fun...
Esprit de Cor Blimey!
Dethleffs ‘baby’ A-class is something to ogle at… Review and images by Malcolm Street
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On your mind | 11
Win $50 for the best letter! It’s only fitting that since Ed has his say in On My Mind, you should be able to have yours too. If you have anything to say – or ask – just drop a line to email@example.com and we’ll share it with our readers. We’ll also reward
the most interesting, useful or thoughtful letter each issue with $50 to help you on your way.
Too Many Shades of Grey Hi Richard and Team. Love getting your mag each fortnight and absolutely no grizzles about the mag, but the advisory email makes it difficult to select the correct option for downloading. The blue on grey background might be fine if you have the eyesight of an 18 year old, but mine and I guess many of your readers are a decade or three older. The blue tends to blend into the grey. Enough rambling – I’ve got a new mag to read!
Thanks Grant and fair comment! Oddly enough it’s difficult to change settings in the email, which works through the website’s back end. In light of your comments I’ve played around with it some more and as you’ll see managed to banish the grey. Glad you enjoy the magazine otherwise and thanks for the feedback. Please accept this issue’s winning $50 for spurring me on to improve what we do!
Fiat NT Service Here’s the content of an email sent to the Darwin Commercial Centre regarding Fiat Ducato servicing: Thank you for the opportunity prior to my filling in the survey, which I have received but not yet read, to advise you of a couple of issues and hopefully have them clarified. I selected your firm to do my needed Fiat service on the internet prior to my visit to Darwin. I am not aware of any other accredited Fiat service provider in Darwin. I
used the automated booking form and found the corresponding emails helpful and easy, albeit a bit impersonal. I was asked to allow a week and a half to get the booking which I did. My service booking was assigned by you for 07:30 am on the day I had nominated. I was also advised that the shuttle bus would leave for the city at 08:15. After travelling to Darwin the previous day so we could be at the service centre at the allotted time we presented at the service
12 | On your mind desk, where I was met by Rob and duly booked in. During the booking in process I had asked Rob as to the approximate cost of my service, when he replied around $650. I said I hoped not, as I have never paid anymore than $401, which included additional inspection and checks I had requested when I had just purchased the vehicle at 30,000 km.
Selenia oil 8.6 litres: $258.00
service is a great initiative and is to be applauded, although it was late leaving as the driver didn't show up, but we were driven into town as planned.
It will be interesting to read the response you receive, but the bottom line is everything costs more in remote locations – even remote capital cities. Anyone travelling through such areas needs to be aware of that. While some costs might seem outrageous your options are limited and all you can really do is consider them part of ‘the cost of doing holiday business’.
Workshop supplies and waste disposal $35.00
Note that the recommended capacity of the oil sump and filter is 7 litres. On checking the dip stick the oil is over filled. I note that recommendations were made in regard to windscreen, tyre rotation and battery replacement. The service schedule suggests Rob advised that the service schedule we tyre pressures were checked and adjusted as were looking at was a service generated by the required. I asked Rob what pressures the tyres computer and the labour rate was somewhat in had been adjusted to, as it is important. He was excess of $200 per hour. He also said, “I did not not able to advise saying, "We are not told”. On have to get the service done here,” in response to checking the cold pressures next morning we my remark that while that is what it might cost, it found them all to be different and under inflated. would be scrutinised afterwards and responded I think from the above you will ascertain that while too. a service has been carried out it has not been Here’s the history from Fiat Service dealers for without issues. previous work: I welcome your reply prior to my filling in of the • Service time at each of the services has been survey as requested. charged at 1.5 hours Regards, Robert. • Selenia oil at each of the four previous services has been charged at $146.24 Sounds like a disappointing result Robert. Darwin is, of course, renowned for steep prices due to • Oil filter $48.50 the cost of transporting materials from southern • Environmental disposal of waste and rags import centres; the costs of attracting and $10.0 retaining qualified staff and the general high costs • All inspections as per service schedule carried of living. It appears the service was 30 minutes out. Note that at my last service at 67,000 km it shorter than previous ones and I note that while was noted that, "Rear sway bar connecting pin the oil filter was only 25c dearer the oil cost more on LS worn”. than $100 extra. Adjusting the cost of the oil to allow for the 1.6-litre overfill (it was charged at After filling in the booking in form, including $30 per litre) should reduce the oil bill to $210, VIN, etc, the wrong oil filter was supplied. Rob while workshop supplies and waste disposal are apologised that this was the cause of a delay in receiving our vehicle back (16:45hrs). The shuttle difficult to compare.
Comments in regard to your costs in comparison are as follows: Labour: $200.00 Oil Filter: $48.75
14 | News
Camp 4 Cancer
fundraising overnight event for the Peter Mac Cancer Foundation has been organised for Saturday 7 November near Wallan, less than an hour north of Melbourne’s CBD. Called Camp4Cancer the event is billed as a night under the stars where swags, tents, camper trailers and caravans – and presumably motorhomes – come together. It promises live music, celebrity campers and inspiring cancer survivors, plus the availability of food and drink, and entertainment for kids. Tickets are $40 for adults or $100 for 2 adults and unlimited children.
NZ’s Best Motorhome Recipes?
iwi celebrity Derek the Chef – aka Derek Robertson – has produced a 160 page book titled Motorhome Kitchen. It’s the sixth from the author and includes seventy five recipes. “Whether you're whipping up a plate to share at Happy Hour or cooking the day's catch for dinner, Motorhome Kitchen is your ultimate guide to campsite cuisine, regardless of a limited pantry and only the bare cooking essentials. With inspiration taken from Asia, the United Kingdom and America, Derek brings together all four corners of the globe for a tasty combination of Kiwi food that every motor caravanner will love,” the website claims. You can preview the finger food section online here at issue.com and/or buy the book
from the official website for NZ$19.95 plus postage.
16 | News
Map Your Travels
eeping a physical map of your travels is a good idea. Travel Australia With Kids (TWAK) has Australian maps in a range of sizes, including magnetic weatherproof ones for the side of your vehicle. Laminated maps range in from $6.95 (A4) to $44.95 (A1), while magnetic maps are $12.95 for the small size and $27.95 for the large. There’s also a downloadable A4 map you can print as many times as you like for $4.95, which is touted as ideal for kids to track their holiday travels or keep track of grand parents.
Caravanners ‘Cop’ Flack
aravanners were pulled over by police in Queensland for a pep talk on the importance of allowing vehicles to overtake. It came after it was revealed drivers towing caravans were the cause of many complaints from frustrated road users. Senior Sergeant Ewan Findlater, from Rockhampton Road Policing Unit, said other drivers were often unhappy with caravanners and their manner of driving. “We hear complaints on how they aren't allowing other vehicles to overtake and that sort of thing," he explained. This often led to other road users overtaking dangerously. "We can avoid that by having slower vehicles pull over regularly to let traffic through," Sen Sgt Findlater said. "That will reduce the likelihood of other drivers doing silly things." He said police had joined Ministry of Transport officials to pull over a few caravanners to "have a chat" about the problem. No word if motorhomers are in their sights too.
News | 17
espite to boom in caravan sales PerthBased Fleetwood Corporation's RV division, builders the Windsor and Coromal range of caravans, has suffered a dramatic downturn in revenue. Figures show income for the year ending June 30 plummeted to $112.2 million, down 18 per cent from the previous year. Operating earnings before interest and tax fell 229.7 per cent, while net profit was a just $176,000. Excluding impairments, underlying profit fell 29 per cent to $3.9 million. The RV division also includes Camec (caravan parts and accessories), Flexiglass (commercial vehicles canopies and trays) and Bocar (ute trays and accessories).
Fleetwood said new initiatives, including key senior management changes, had been implemented to address performance issues in its caravan manufacturing business. But the benefits had still to manifest themselves in improved profitability. A fresh approach to product design was expected to increase consumer appeal for its caravans while allowing for manufacturing economies to be achieved. It also revealed competition is strong in the component parts market and initiatives are underway to streamline Camec's distribution operations.
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18 | News
Baw Baw RV Friendly in the 2015/16 financial year. Council said it wanted free access to convenient dump points to encourage RV tourism in the Baw Baw Ranges and Walhalla region. It believed supplying these facilities would provide economic benefits to surrounding communities through an increase in tourism and reduction in illegal dumping. Mayor Debbie Brown said the work would encourage tourism in the shire and provide economic benefits to the area.
aw Baw Shire Council in Victoria is throwing down the welcome mat for recreational vehicles. It has already installed a dump point in the town of Rawson at the base of Mt Erica and there are plans to install others in the shire to help develop RVfriendly towns. A site identification and implementation study will be undertaken to determine potential sites
“Tourism is a major supplier of business, specifically in the Baw Baw Ranges area,” she said. “Investing in facilities for individuals wanting to travel the area in recreational vehicles supports economic growth. I am eager to see how these areas will be used for tourism in the future and how we can continue to support this industry.”
On The Run
fugitive with a liking for caravan parks is still being sought by police. Graham Potter, 58, fled Melbourne in 2010 while on bail and is wanted by Victorian police over his alleged involvement in conspiring to murder and drug trafficking offences. Police recently issued a fresh appeal for information on his whereabouts. Potter – among 20 of the Country's most wanted and with a $100,000 bounty on his head – is known to favour caravan parks and remote camping spots.
He spent six weeks at Green Way Caravan Park in Tully, Queensland, before giving police the slip and escaping into a forest during a routine traffic check four years ago. Camping equipment, make-up and other articles to help him disguise his appearance were later found at the park. Infamous for cutting off a woman's head and fingers, Potter is also believed to have been in the Riverina region of NSW and is known to use the alias of either Peter Anderson or Josh Lawson. If you have information on his whereabouts you can make an anonymous call to 1800 333 000 or you can make an online report via crimestoppers.com.au. Anyone who sees Potter is urged not to approach him.
News | 19
You Set The Price!
ustomers at the council-owned Kulin Caravan Park in WA now pay only what they think it's worth, in a unique two-year trial based on "trust, generosity and respect". The Council said bona fide visitors and tourists at the comparatively new park in the town centre need only hand over site fees, "According to
their own financial ability". People arriving in the Eastern Wheatbelt RV-friendly town can pay what they wish for up to five consecutive nights, with additional nights charged at the normal rate. The offer can only be used once within a 28 day period.
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20 | News
50 And Growing
ore budget-priced caravan parks are joining the Kui Parks chain. In little more than a year the company has grown its network to over 50 parks nationwide. To celebrate, managing director Bert van Spronsen said it would be offering 20 free year-long loyalty memberships to guests and new visitors.
and experience what Kui Parks have to offer," he said. “The chain offers a cost effective, quality alternative to travellers. Many nomads travel on limited budgets for extended periods and so cannot afford many of the holiday parks with their wide range of facilities. In fact, many seek a quiet and relaxing spot to park, chatting with like-minded travellers," he concluded.
"We want our travelling nomad guests to come
The Wirraway 260 SL
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22 | News
New WA Campground
new 126-site campground with upgraded facilities has been officially opened at Logue Brook, 130 km south of Perth. It will be managed by Lake Brockman Tourist Park under a two-year trial community partnership agreement with the Department of Parks and Wildlife. Performing the opening ceremony, WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the facility would offer more affordable, high-quality accommodation at the popular lakeside location. The new campground includes 5 camping loops and will accommodate about 540 campers.
News | 23
Logan Welcomes Free Campers
ree campers are being urged to use a Council's rest area south of Brisbane. Logan City Council has erected new direction signs to Tully Memorial Park where self-contained RVs can stay for free for up to three nights. Councillor Trevina Schwarz said Council had been pushing
Logan's tourism attributes for some years. Signs explaining safe camping guidelines had also been placed within the park to ensure travellers enjoyed a comfortable stay.
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 Australiaâ€™s most accessible and beautiful destinations that offer travellers great touring and fantastic camping opportunities. Whether youâ€™re travelling by motorhome, towing a caravan or just packing a tent, there are destinations for everyone!
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24 | iMotorhome Marketplace
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
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T: (02) 6881 1400 W: taronga.org.au
Australia’s leading solar power and satellite TV manufacturers! We stock the revolutionary In Flex and Mini Flex panels, Plus our Complete Traveler Satellite TV package is perfect for motorhomes.
In the heart of Victoria’s Gippsland region. Come and enjoy our natural beauty, famous lakes, High Country and expansive beaches. Find ‘Experience 40 Great Things to Do’ on our website too!
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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!
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Bony Mountain Folk Festival This great Aussie festival in the bush is on again, featuring the legendary Murphy’s Pigs! Many other great artists, a Bush Poets breakfast, billy tea, damper, great tucker – don’t miss it!
iMotorhome Marketplace | 25
Nomadic Solutions hitches fully ADR compliant no swaying increased towing safety easy reversing offroad vans available
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26 | Touring Test: Fraserway Adventurer 23RB
Taste of Adventurer!
A first-timer tastes a US motorhome and North American travelâ€Ś by Malcolm Street
Touring Test | 27
Canadaâ€™s Eastern Provinces are tied intrinsically to the sea and share a rich maritime heritage. The Adventurer proved small enough to pop into out-of-the-way treasures like this but still had plenty of living room.
n the world of travel I reckon one of the bargains is motorhome relocation. Rental operators frequently have a problem with motorhomes not being available in the required depots and so have developed the arrangement of getting the likes of you and I to do the delivery for them. There's usually a nominal cost and sometimes the fuel is thrown in too, which can result in a relatively cheap motorhome holiday. There are caveats of course: Short term planning is often necessary and there's usually a time and kilometre limit. However, many companies will give extension days at a concessional or regular rate. Some rental companies like Apollo and Jucy advertise their own relocations but others use websites like imoova. Initially just for Australia and New Zealand, imoova also covers the USA, Canada and now Europe.
eâ€™ve been to Canada before, but mostly the West Coast. So an advertised relocation from Halifax in Nova Scotia, on the far Eastern Coastline, to Toronto, Ontario, on the Great Lakes, attracted our attention. The allowed relocation time was advertised as 5 days, but given the distance of 2000 km we opted to pay for a couple of extra days, thus allowing for a more relaxed trip. Although this article is really only about the motorhome part of our travels, I'll give a brief overall look at our entire trip to demonstrate how we put it all together. We flew to Toronto via Los Angeles and after a few days there took the train to Montreal. We'd figured our motorhome travel time did not allow for much time in Montreal, hence the rail choice. After Montreal, Prince Edward Island was the next destination, getting there by plane.
28 | Touring Test Right: The boot, under the corner bed, had plenty of room for our bags and much more, plus a handy shelf for stowing things like hoses and wheel chocks below. Below: Covered bridges like this weren’t just for decoration. They kept river crossings clear in heavy snows and even provided shelter for people and animals in extreme conditions.
For those not familiar with Prince Edward Island – known to Canadians simply as PEI – is where Anne of Green Gables (AoGG) author L.M. Montgomery lived and gained much inspiration, and Mrs Malcolm was keen to visit. Even if not a AoGG fan, PEI is full of charm, spectacular scenery and former railway lines that are now great bicycle tracks – which should be of interest to our Editor (noted - Ed!). Getting to Halifax from Charlottown, PEI’s Capital, requires driving across the island and the amazing Confederation Bridge, which is 13 km long and carries a toll of C$45.00!. From there it’s south through Nova Scotia to Halifax, after which it was simply a matter of driving the motorhome back to Toronto.
ur motorhome came from Fraserway RV, the depot of which was just a little way out of town. The company operates a shuttle service, however there was a problem of some sort on the day we were to be picked up but they happily paid our taxi fare. Many of you will know that collecting a rental motorhome involves paperwork, credit cards and the handover process; all of which takes time. Sometimes with Australian and NZ motorhomes with which I am familiar I'll take a short cut on the handover bit. Not so with this Canadian motorhome, however, which I was not familiar with, and I let the Fraserway RV
Touring Test | 29
Our motorhome came with patriotic Canadian-themed camp chairs and a good sized folding picnic table. representative run through the entire thing without revealing what I do for a living. I must have asked one question too many because I received one back, like "What did you say you did for an occupation?”.
ur motorhome turned out to be an Adventurer 23B. I mention that because usually when booking a relocation you aren’t advised of the model type, so travelling with softsided bags is a good idea for ease of storage. In this case the 23 referred to the
external length in feet – well more or less – it was actually slightly longer (usual with North American RVs – Ed). In many ways it was what I expected from a US-built motorhome, which is where many Canadian motorhomes are built. Although it had a tare weight of 4390 kg and a GVM of 5670 kg, a normal car licence was all I needed.
30 | Touring Test Below: Design is typically entry-level North American, from the Ford E450 cab-chassis to the boxy white body and small windows. Bottom: Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are springing up across Canada. How long before we see an electric motorhome, I wonder?
Like many North American motorhomes this one was based on a Ford E350 cab-chassis, with a 6.8-litre V10 petrol engine and a 5-speed automatic gearbox. Few motorhomes this size have diesel engines, which does cause the credit card to curl up a bit at the ‘gas station’! Diesel engines are not popular in North America and when I asked Fraserway RV about the petrol bit, one of the reasons is that a diesel engine costs about US$5000 more and I quote, “That will buy quite a bit of fuel”. Except of course if you’re just renting! Being a reasonably large motorhome the Adventurer 23B had capacious external storage: a large not-quite ‘garage’ at the rear and two smaller bins along the driver's side. In addition there were bins for the Onan 4 kVA generator and the 100 AH house battery. What there wasn't was a gas cylinder bin, because like all North American motorhomes this one
Touring Test | 31
Once used to the bulk of the vehicle it really wasn't a difficult drive at all.
32 | Touring Test
Above: Hooking-up is quite similar to Australia. The blue lead was a power extension cord, something quite illegal at home. Right: As electricity is only 110 V the amperage needs to be doubled to run everything. RV parks provide 20, 30 and 50-amp options (at increasing cost) and this size vehicle needed a 30 amp supply. The big yellow plug is a 50 amp socket adaptor. had a chassis-mounted LPG tank; in this instance of 87 L (97.5 kg!) capacity. Nor was there a toilet cassette bin, due to the 85 litre ‘black water’ tank. In North America mains electricity comes at 110V AC, not the 230V AC we’re used to. That might not seem too much to get excited about, but the effect is that for the same power input, roughly speaking, the current (amperage) is doubled, and so too is the conductor diameter. This requires surprisingly heavy-duty power connecting cables and our motorhome even came with an extension cable!
Touring Test | 33 We later discovered that at campgrounds – caravan park to you and me – there is usually a choice of 20 A, 30 A or 50 A outlets: the latter two depending on how many air conditioners are being used! Also available at many a campground site is a sewerage connection, so no need to look for a dump point. One rather odd thing found in the rear bin was a full-size axe! We did wonder about that until it became clear on our travels that Canadians seem to like wood fires and many campgrounds came with an old wheel or similar container on each site for a campfire. Evening times were often filled with the smell of wood smoke.
nside the Adventurer, being 7.21m (23 ft 8 in) long and 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide there was plenty of space, with the entry door directly behind the cab. Note the width, which would just be legal in Australia but without an awning! Because of the Ford E350 chassis a flat-floor layout (à la Sprinter/ Ducato/Daily) isn't possible, so there are no swivel seats up-front. However, there's still room for a four person dinette behind the driver's seat; a kitchen bench along the right hand side; a bed in the rear right hand side corner and a bathroom in the opposite corner. Filling the space between the bathroom and dinette was a generous cupboard and wardrobe area. This was actually a six-berth motorhome and in addition to the rear bed the dinette could be folded down, plus there was the Luton above the driver's cab. In our case, it made an excellent storage area. I did find the interior somewhat on the darkish side (typical - Ed), enhanced somewhat by the dark timber stain and smallish windows, but there was no shortage of space. There was certainly
Top to bottom: It didn’t take long to get used to the North American way of doing things. Even dumping the black tank proved trouble free and something I quickly adapted to.
34 | Touring Test
It’s unusual NOT to have an onboard, remote-start generator in an American motorhome, and Cummins-Onan has the lion’s share of the market. It’s no wonder a single 100 AH house battery is also common, when generator power is just a switch-flick away. more than enough for everything we had with us. Most of the ceiling lighting was LED, but the bed reading lights were halogen globes. Power points were of course the standard US/ Canadian parallel-pin fittings. Unlike their Australian counterparts, North Americans seem to make RV beds a decent length. Although it was tucked in the corner this one measured 2.01 m x 1.5 m (6 ft 7 in x 4 ft 11 in) and even the dinette bed, at 1.83 m x 1.09 m (6 ft x 3 ft 7 in), was reasonable. Adjacent to the bed, on the bathroom wall, were the heater and air conditioner controls. It might sound a slightly funny place but they were handy to the bed; especially the heater controls on a cold morning. Keep in mind that in Canada, like NZ, heaters get more use than air-conditioners. Alongside the bed, the bathroom came with all the essentials: separate shower cubicle, blacktank toilet and a vanity cabinet. Given the size of just about everything else the vanity was on the small side, with little bench space. A feature
of note was the large (non-opening) hatch area above the shower, which at least gave plenty of natural light. Outside the bathroom was a very generous cupboard, drawer and wardrobe area, with the cupboards nearest the bathroom being shallower to allow an easy walk-by. Just a caveat here – in later models this arrangement has changed because of an alteration to the kitchen layout.
peaking of the kitchen, whilst everything else was reasonably sized the kitchen bench was not. It came with a twoburner cooktop (curiously, about the same size as some four burner units I have seen!); a large round sink and a two-door, two-way, 200-litre fridge. In addition there were two cupboards, three good sized drawers and an overhead locker, along with a microwave oven. What was lacking was any sort of benchtop space. Indeed, there really wasn’t room for an electric
Touring Test | 35
Unlike their Australian counterparts, North Americans seem to make RV beds a decent length.
36 | Touring Test
Though well equipped the kitchen lacked any real bench space, although the dinette is just across the aisle. Powerpoint location made the toaster difficult/dangerous to use here and at the dinette. Not good. toaster, which also couldn’t be used at the dinette because the lead wasn’t long enough for the floor level power point (it appears Australian RV manufacturers aren't the only ones who like floor level power points!). Having said all that, in a later model of the same motorhome on the Fraserway RV website, the fridge has been moved to the other side of the motorhome, replacing the wardrobe. There's a bit of a compromise with losing the wardrobe but I reckon the kitchen needs to be more user friendly! Still on the fridge, it was a two-way unit: either 110 V mains supply or LPG, which meant driving along with the gas turned on. Being used to travelling in Australia and NZ with the LPG turned off for travel, I found that a bit disconcerting. However, when I asked Fraserway RV their reply was that users forgot to turn off the 12 V when stopped (with threeway fridges) and so flattened the house battery. I did wonder why auto-switchover three-way fridges or low energy 12 V compressor units
couldn't be used, but that’s the way it's done and apparently quite normal in Canada/USA (go figure – Ed). Opposite the kitchen, the dinette – even though it had non-contoured cushions – was comfortable and a reasonable size for eating or relaxing. A good-sized window gave a goodsized view of the outside world, however as noted earlier, the floor-level power point was awkward to use and leads were easy to kick out. For travel, two seat belts were fitted to each seat; the rear ones having a higher back as some sort of head restraint. Above the cab the Luton bed area was quite well set up. The cab roof had a cut out for ease of access and instead of a hinged bed base, the split mattress (2.01 m x 1.22 m/6 ft 7 in x 4 ft) had a ply timber base on one side, which filled the cut-out gap when folded out. Across the front wall a number of pockets have been sown in, making them ideal for stashing small items. I also liked the small bins along the driver’s-side wall: really well designed for
Touring Test | 37
Above: Cab access was easy thanks to the folding Luton bed and cutaway. Note the pockets for beds storage! Right: Despite a small vanity the bathroom was otherwise well equipped and reasonably roomy. bed occupants’ use, they were also ideal for securely stashing items like iPads, iPhones and the like.
Bye For Now…
ell all of that was a bit more detail on the motorhome than the quite helpful briefing we received before setting off. As you can tell there are some things in common with Aust/NZ motorhomes, but many things that are quite different. It was time to hit the road. Like the rest of the motorhome, the E350 had a spacious cab with a large centre console for keeping all items handy when travelling, including water bottles. The engine cover, which protrudes into the cab, is slightly offset to the right, reducing passenger footwell space, something that has caused difficulties in the past for left to righthand drive converters, and not only in Fords. Once used to the bulk of the vehicle it really wasn't a difficult drive at all. There's no doubt the V10 engine, despite lacking a diesel’s
38 | Touring 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.
The dinette had room for four and despite shapeless cushions â€“ it converts to a bed â€“ was quite comfortable. The big window was a welcome feature too. torquey power characteristics, delivered under all circumstances. It also ensured smooth driving via with the five-speed auto gearbox: something Americans do very well. Much appreciated were the excellent side mirrors, which in tandem with the rear view camera worked very well. So how did our trip go? You'll have to wait until next issue to find out, but the short answer is I'm looking forward to our next Canadian motorhome trip! I'll also give a cost breakdown and a few tips and hints as well.
Touring Test | 39
6.8-litre V10 Petrol
227 kW @ 4250 rpm
570 Nm @ 3250 rpm
Gross Vehicle Mass
7.21 m (23 ft 8 in)
2.50 m (8 ft 2 in)
3.40 m (11ft 2in)
2.03 m (6 ft 8 in)
Main Bed Size
2.01 m x 1.50 m (6ft 7 in x 4 ft 11 in)
Luton Bed Size
2.01 m x 1.22 m (6 ft 7 in x 4 ft)
Dinette Bed Size
1.83 m x 1.09 m (6 ft x 3 ft 7 in)
Suburban 2 burner
Dometic 2 way , 2 door, 200 L
High Point Convection
12 V LED & Halogen
1 x 100 AH
Coleman 11000 BTU
Suburban 20000 BTU
Suburban 23 L
Dometic with black water tank
Gas Propane Tank
87 L (97.5 kg!)
Grey Water Tank
Black Water Tank
Pros • • • • • • •
Spacious Good storage Comfortable Easy to drive Powerful Well equipped Compact for a US motorhome
• • • • •
Thirsty! Odd kitchen layout Small house battery Corner main bed LPG alway on
Branches Canada-wide T: +1 877 747 7947
40 | Project Polly
D. I. Why? Because sometimes you just have to… by Richard Robertson
rs iMotorhome is a powerhouse when it comes to getting things done. While I’m considering plans, researching products and/or checking my schedule, she’s in there doing stuff. Our ex-Apollo Rentals’ camper – Polly – is short of kitchen storage for things like crockery and utensils, with only a single-but-deepish cupboard above the Heron split-system aircon’s floor-mounted compressor unit. It was decided a shelf was needed there and before I could say “sausage sizzle” we were at Bunnings checking out shelving. A half-price length of Melamine with a chunk missing proved ideal and the Good Mr
Bunning cut it to size. With brackets and screws to suit we were soon home and before I could say “Good girl!” the shelf was installed. I later learned the hardest part had been balancing it on her head, inside the cupboard, whilst attaching the brackets: Very resourceful… Lest you think me a total DIY coward you must understand Mrs iMotorhome is never happier than when she has a power tool in her hands and every other piece of DIY kit strewn about the garage. Seriously. This is a woman who builds horse fences, watering systems, and has been known to garden by torchlight late on a summer’s evening just to finish a job.
Project Polly | 41
Above: DIY in a confined space: Mrs iM balanced the shelf on her head when initially installing it. Bosch mini electric drill/screwdriver is nearly 10 years old but a real winner! Middle: The finished top shelf provides much-needed additional storage for bulky items. Bottom: The original slide-out pantry unit with new 200 mm baskets clears the cooker’s gas line nicely. Polly’s cabinetry appears to be made of Melamine of identical thickness and lugging the board back to our ute made me realise just how heavy the stuff is. Seriously heavy. It’s no wonder she weighs so much empty. But it’s cheap, tough and easily repair/replaceable, so no wonder a rental company would use it.
ith the shelf installed it was time to turn ‘our’ attention to the two cupboards in the main kitchen unit. These sit at the ends, separated by the underbench fridge. The rearmost cupboard, which is also the smallest, came with a slide-out pantry with two chrome wire baskets: I mentioned it last issue as having a significantly rusted bottom runner that required WD40 and a good shove to fully extend. It’s a standard after-market unit widely available and a bit of investigation showed the baskets to be 455 mm long,100 mm wide and 75 mm tall/ deep. The unit seemed easily capable of taking an extra basket and a bit more research showed I could buy 200 mm-wide baskets, which would dramatically increase storage. I also found 260 mm-wide baskets and while they would have fitted almost millimetre-perfect widthways, they would have fouled the cooktop’s gas pipe at the rear of the cupboard. Bugger. So I bought 3 x
42 | Project Polly 200 mm baskets online from Camec for $15.95 each and they arrived within about 2 days: Just as well, considering the $30.35 delivery charge! The only sweetener was an included gift pack of a Camec-branded water bottle (good for my bike), stubby holder (not another!) and playing cards (always handy on the road). Swapping baskets over was a 30 second job I managed on my own – I’m good – but the biggest job was still to come.
Pantry for breath…
he forward-most kitchen cupboard was – actually still is – a triumph of design. With no shelving to make the cavernous space more than vaguely usable, it also has the sink water supply and drainage pipes running almost down the centre, significantly reducing it’s already compromised usefulness. Brilliant! I had planned to relocate the slide-out pantry to this cupboard as the 100 mm shelves fit well despite the errant plumbing. But while looking online for the baskets I found a whole new pantry unit with 3 x 100 mm baskets on eBay for $55 (plus $15 postage), significantly cheaper than Camec’s $85 plus freight. It turned up a day after the baskets and was on hand when Mrs iM had the drill in hers. That’s when the serious DIY began. Still basking in the warm and fuzzy afterglow of her shelving success, Mrs iM quickly set about installing the new pantry. And that’s where I came in. Literally. Right through the side door… “You’re just in time to tighten these screws,” she said, looking up. “I’ve got the bottom runner in place but can’t reach properly into the cupboard to tighten then. It’s really difficult and needs a man’s strength”. With no reasonable excuse to make my escape I accepted my fate and swapped positions as the one on bended knees in the aisle. For the next hour or so I assumed multiple yoga positions; dropped the electric screwdriver
Top: Mrs iMotorhome in her element (though not sure about washing-up gloves for DIY). Above: The new pantry unit installed, with one of the 200 mm-wide baskets at the bottom and the small towel rail relocated.
Project Polly | 43 head and screws almost as many times, and generally sweated, pushed, pleaded and cajoled the screws in, the top runner into place, and the slide-out frame and baskets into both. But we did it – and all without a single swear word (uttered, at least)! Some playing about has mixed-and-matched the wire baskets between the two pantry units, plus there’s still a bit of room for some taller items down the sides. We mightn’t have made a 100% pure silk purse, but compared to the sow’s ear we started with Polly’s kitchen is much more user-friendly and practical now.
part from the drive home from Ballina we were yet to spend a night in Polly. The inaugural iMotorhome get-together was looming and so I filled the water tank and checked the hot water system, which had seemed temperamental when demonstrated on pick-up. True to form it took about half an hour to fire up, but would often cut out after anything up to 30 minutes operation. Not good.
Top: The new pantry extended. It’s a tight fit so no wonder Mrs iM is looking pleased with herself. Above: A water tank strap has parted company with the body. Not good…
Polly has a Suburban SW6DA 22.6-litre hot water service that operates on LPG-only via a remote-start switch. When turned on a red light illuminates next to the switch and after a few moments you can hear the igniter clicking. This continues for maybe 10 seconds, but if ignition is unsuccessful it cuts out, waits a bit and tries again. The system is programmed to run through three ignition sequences before calling it quits. All this time the red light remains on, only extinguishing when ignition is successful. In a perfect world that happens on the first attempt, and if for any reason it goes out the system will automatically run through the sequences again. If it fails to light after the third attempt it just sits there, waiting for you to turn it off momentarily, then try again. There was plenty of gas in the cylinder and so I went to remove the external cover to look for
44 | Project Polly
Proof I really did something! Told you it was a tight fit… any obvious issues, only to discover the quickrelease catch had been broken off at some stage. It had been replaced by a now-rusted nut and bolt, with the bolt end hacksawed off and the whole assembly turning inside the cover. Nice! Not wanting to hacksaw the thing off if I couldn’t readily fasten it back up, I decided to take my chance at our weekend get-together if I couldn’t get if fixed beforehand. I couldn’t, but Apollo is making arrangements to have the system rectified in the near future. Very near I hope. That rectification will include the water tank: After filling I noticed a support bracket dangling from one side! The tank has a main longitudinal mounting bracket, with two separate cross brackets attaching to it. The bracket between the main one and the side of the vehicle – the tank is on the passenger-side forward of the rear axle – has come adrift where it anchors to the body.
Another thing I noticed was the tank level gauge inside registering 1/3 full when the water was filled to overflowing. Oh well… The last teething annoyance is the safe. It’s very safe, because neither the suggested combination nor the supplied key will open it. I’m looking to unbolt it from below, which Apollo suggested, saying they buy them from Bunnings if I wanted to replace it. I’m not, but I’m hoping the last person to use it hasn’t locked their life savings inside…
But wait there’s more!
set of genuine Ford Transit rubber floor mats arrived following another eBay shopping venture. And our custom set of Solarscreens arrived just in time for the get-together. Despite our hieroglyphic template scribbles they fit very nicely and make a world
Project Polly | 45 of difference. As mentioned last issue we’re being used as Guinea pigs for a new 9-layer material, and as it turns out, new suction cups reportedly more UV resistant. I’ve always loved cab blinds like the systems used by Trakka and Horizon, but for serious insulation they pale by comparison. More on them in the Get-Together report elsewhere in this issue. A bottle of HEET-brand Diesel Complete Fuel System Treatment has just been emptied into the tank on the first fill-up since topping Polly up after coming home from Ballina. The 177 Ml bottle treats 75-litres and is said to be suitable for all diesel engines. It’s claimed to clean injectors, boost cetane rating (the diesel equivalent of petrol’s octane rating) and prevent gelling. It’s also claimed to lubricate the fuel and injector pumps to extend life and is suitable for year-round use, with repeated use at 10,000 km intervals recommended. The website page for the product says it increases torque by 6.7% and Top to bottom: One down and four to go. It will be interesting to see if the HEET diesel treatment makes any quantifiable difference; The tank gauge shows 1/3 full when the water tank is filled to overflowing; Custom Solarscreens for our side windows look good.
46 | Project Polly
power 2% and while there’s no practical way for me to verify that, a claimed 3-7% increase in fuel economy, depending in initial fuel quality, will be watched for. Speaking of fuel, the last tank returned 10.52 L/100 km (26.9 mpg) over 640 km of mainly local running. That’s within a gnat’s whisker of the 10.44 and 10.49 L/100 km recorded on the long run home from Ballina, which is remarkably consistent. Given Polly runs near her GVM of 3550 kg all the time, the engine spins 2750 rpm at freeway speeds and we live in hilly terrain, it’s even more impressive. Before next issue we’re heading away for a night or two to try and properly sort what goes where. Like moving into a new hose, setting up a motorhome takes time and you only really find out how it works by living with it. Despite the teething troubles we’re still very pleased with Polly overall and would recommend one of her siblings to anyone on a budget. The main thing is to do a thorough inspection on delivery and to take advantage of Apollo’s one-month warranty on the appliances, systems and conversion. See costings on next page. >>>
Clockwise from top: This rusted and sawn-off bolt on the hot water service cover should be a quick-release catch; Genuine Ford Transit rubber floor mats fit reasonably well; Solarscreen cab screens do a great job.
Project Polly | 47
Project Polly Costings to Date Previous Accessories/Modifications Plastic storage containers
Doormat, cutting boards, non-slip matting
10 Amp fuses & electrical tape
Bamboo cutlery drawer
LPG safety switch
Fuses and tape
Curtain fabric, hooks, thread & magnets
Carpet-backed foam mats
Accessories/Modifications this Issue Melamine sheet for shelf (half price)
Shelf brackets & screws
3 x 200 mm wire pantry baskets
Pantry unit with 3 baskets
Genuine Ford floor mats
Solarscreens â€“ cab ($350) and barn doors ($96) plus freight
Solarscreens â€“ custom side windows x 5
Total Accessory/Modification Spend to Date
Vehicle On-Road and Insurance costs in NSW
Total Cost to Date
48 | Travel: Farina SA
Only 19 Kays of
Rust, relics, rubble, ruins and restorations – that’s what Farina is all about… Story by Elizabeth Mueller, images by Helmut Mueller
Travel | 49
The pioneers of Farina are remembered.
n the middle of a gibber plain in the outback the Oodnadatta and the Birdsville to the north. of South Australia is a town with a bit of a For Farina, those hardy travellers proved to be difference. Access is pretty good – there’s good news. no hard-core dust-all-the-way, 4WD-or-bust type of terrain to traverse – and just 19 kays We’ll fix it of dirt leads north of Lyndhurst to a pioneering arina’s story took a bit of a twist in 2008 history in the heart of the real Outback. when Tom Harding, from Melbourne RV repair business Hardings Caravan Originally known as Government Gums, the town was ambitiously named ‘Farina’, meaning Services, called in while leading a tag-along tour. Tom and his crew caught up with the wheat or flour, after survey in the late 1870s. owners of the nearby Farina sheep and cattle Its first claim to fame was as a railway boom station, Kevin and Anne Dawes, who were town and for a time it served as the railhead seeking help to save the old town ruins. for the Great Northern Railway, better known A challenge was set, and soon the Farina these days as the Old Ghan. Times inevitably Restoration Group was formed. changed and once the railway was realigned far to the west, businesses started to close and the townsfolk moved on. By the 1980s, Farina was truly a ghost town on a gibber plain.
In 2009 the restoration group began what it describes as building a window to the past. For a few weeks each year these volunteers gathered to revive the town, a little at a time as The remaining piles of rubble were vaguely interesting to the few travellers who passed that funds and labour permit. It’s been slow going, way, most heading for famous Outback tracks: but ultimately rewarding as, stone by stone, the pioneering heritage is revealed.
50 | Travel
The Old Ghan crossing of Farina Creek.
A window to the pastâ€Ś
Sheep loading ramp and wagon display.
Over the years rubbish and rubble have been cleared from many of the significant buildings, and stonework restored or stabilised with the help of professionals. Using archived records of the railway and town, the group has identified the exact locations of much of the infrastructure; from hotels to the post office and the new police station.
ne of the most interesting restorations, especially for hungry travellers, is the underground bakery. Originally built around 1876, it had sat idle for 80-odd years until both the building and oven were overhauled to working condition. Now, for a few weeks each year the oven is literally fired up, and doughs and pastries prepared for a range of simple, old fashioned baked goods.
Travel | 51 Pioneering construction methods can be seen in some of the buildings, like the old post office.
Left: A couple of locals take a stroll through the campground. Above: Wrens are just one of the birds species at Farina.
Thanks once again to Farina’s volunteers, pies and rolls, high-top loaves and scrolls, and finger buns with a splash of coconut-topped icing are all served from a nearby purpose-built marquee. Munching on an oven-warm bun is quite an experience on a cold winter’s morning and worthwhile, too, as the proceeds are used to continue restoration works. The extent of what’s been achieved since 2009 is impressive, especially in the railway
precinct. It provides a wide snapshot of the Old Ghan railway, the buildings, structures and layout. Farina was one of the points on the Ghan where different gauges were used and, like around the town ruins, interpretive signs put a bit of understanding into how it all worked. The site’s not a pristine showcase, and the scattered debris – spikes, glass, metal fragments – adds its own intrigue.
52 | Travel
The old underground bakery’s quite a curio. The ovens are fired up for just a few weeks each year.
A gazillion stars
hile Farina is recognised as a historic site, it’s a place that’s also travellerfriendly. Within walking distance of the ruins is a bush camping ground, set up on Farina Station by the Dawes family. Here, for $5 per person per night, travellers have access to informal non-powered sites, flushing toilets (occasionally with resident frogs) and showers with hot water supplied by a woodfired donkey. The facilities are rounded out with rubbish and recycling drums plus a few fire pits, though travellers need to supply their own firewood. Like any campground, Farina can get busy and school holiday season is prime time for camper trailer families en route to a desert adventure. But there is plenty of room to spread out and away from holiday time there’s a good feeling of seclusion to be had. Patchy saltbush scrub offers a bit of privacy screening as well as perfect habitat for a variety of birds, especially cheeky wrens and honeyeaters.
Travel | 53 For anyone who’s vaguely interested in the Outback, Farina’s got all the elements for a quintessential experience – the dust, stark landscapes and the sense of nothingness – yet it’s so accessible with just those 19 kays of dirt. Add to that night skies studded with gazillion stars, a tangible heritage and the spirit that’s helping Farina rise from the gibbers, and it’s a special place to be.
Fast facts • Farina is in Outback South Australia, 24 km from Lyndhurst on the LyndhurstMarree road. There’s only 19 kays of dirt… • Campground facilities include toilets and showers, rubbish and recycling drums, some fire pits and tables. Rates are $5 per person per night. BYO firewood or purchase from Farina Station. • Visitors can get minimal mobile reception only from near Farina’s war memorial, situated on a rise overlooking the campground. • Travellers should be self-sufficient, though fuel and some supplies are available from Lyndhurst and Marree. Sitting back at the end of the day…
• Rain might close the road; check road conditions at www.dpti.sa.gov.au/ OutbackRoads • Farina Station also has shearers’ quarters accommodation and offers station tours, which must be booked in advance. • The town and railway precinct have some vehicle access as well as walking trails. There’s a marked walking trail from the campground as well, which is quite popular with bird watchers. • There’s no fee to explore the Farina ruins and restorations. • The underground bakery operates for a few weeks each year, usually June/July. Its products are delicious! • For info on the Farina restoration project see www.farinarestoration.com. • New volunteers are always welcome. • For info on Farina Station see www.farinastation.com.au
Click for Google Maps
54 | iMotorhome Get-Together
Up The Creek
No paddles were needed at the inaugural iMotorhome get-togetherâ€Ś by Malcolm Street.
Travel | 55
Saturday 10 AM: Joadja Creek owner and host Valero Jimenez prepares the troops for the historic tour.
hat seemed like a good idea a few months back became one last weekend, when the inaugural iMotorhome get-together rolled into the historic property of Joadja Creek on the fringe of the NSW Southern Highlands. Always intended as a small get-together, nine reader’s vehicles – eight motorhomes and a fifth-wheeler – joined us in Polly, Malcolm in an Apollo HiAce camper and Allan & Kezzie Whiting from outbacktravelaustralia.com in their serious off-road slide-on. We lost a few bookings in the final weeks due to unforeseen circumstances, but as it turned out the numbers proved ideal and we’ll be ensuring any future events have no more than 20 vehicles. Less truly is more!
After a cold and extreme winter the second weekend of spring turned on the best weather in months. The arrival day – Friday the 11th – lived up to its 20ºC forecast, with Saturday and Sunday warmer still. Cloudless blue-sky days and clear, star-filled nights presided over a relaxed program that largely seemed to revolve around food. How surprising! Friday kicked off with a welcome afternoon tea on the verandah of the cafe. There the eight couples and our intrepid solo introduced themselves as they enjoyed homemade cakes and biscuits, plus a glorious view of kangaroos grazing at the far end of the old orchard in the late afternoon light. We put on a sausage sizzle that evening, again on the cafe verandah, which seemed to go down well. It followed sundowners by the campfire, to
56 | Travel
Top to bottom: Valero’s wife Elisa runs a mean expresso machine; some of the group on the grass behind the distillery; Valero explaining the history of the ruined School of Arts. which everyone later returned. Getting to know people as the fire danced and crackled and the drinks flowed was terrific, but it wasn’t a late night as many had travelled a fair distance that day.
aturday dawned – always good – and the fact it was bright and sunny, if cold, made it even better. Joadja Creek is the site of a late 19th Century oil-shale mining and refining town now privately owned by the Jimenez family. A rambling thousand acres of valley ringed by heavily timbered hills, the site is littered with the remains of what at the time was a major industrial town. Owners Valero and Elisa are Spanish Australians with a passion for local history, good food and fine spirits. Aside from running the property and doing their best to restore many of the buildings, they operate tours and the cafe on regular open days and, in a first for the area, distill Australian whisky. We’d booked Valero for his guided tour at 10 am
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It would have been a tough and at times brutal existence, but for the predominantly Scottish migrants probably still a step-up from life in a Glasgow slum or mining village. Saturday and were joined by fiends Jan and Andrew, who travelled across America with us last year, plus hard working iMotorhome eMagazine designer Agnes, husband Byron and son Jessie. Mrs iM’s Mum arrived just after nine o’clock, bearing a batch of homemade cupcakes with tiny iMotorhome flags, all beautifully wrapped in cellophane, for morning
tea. What a treasure! With impeccable timing Malcolm arrived three minutes before the tour departed. It seems he’d left his bag of clothes at home the previous day while juggling picking up the vehicle on one side of Sydney, attending the Penrith RV show on the other and dashing to join us way down south before the wombats and kangaroos took over the winding valley
road. He got a cupcake for his efforts! The tour operates by towed people trolley, with Valero stopping at strategic locations and providing interesting and informative commentary – much of which on this warm day referenced looking out for snakes! None were seen but there’s no doubt they’re out there.
58 | Travel Below: The historic tour takes you across the sprawling property by people trolley. Bottom: Valero is enthusiastic about Joadjaâ€™s distillery and its potential to become a leading Australian whisky producer.
The mining town of Joadja was split between the industrial area where the extraction, refining and production processes took place, and the residential sections where the workers, their wives and children lived out often-short lives. It would have been a tough and at times brutal existence, but for the predominantly Scottish migrants probably still a step-up from life in a Glasgow slum or mining village.
Spirits of Adventure
ollowing our 90-minute tour of Joadjaâ€™s heritage sites we returned to the Distillery, near our departure point, for the next adventure. When Valero and Elisa took over the property it came with a newly built distillery stripped of equipment. Initially they sought a tenant distiller, but Bill Lark, widely considered the father of Tasmania's world-class whisky industry and the
first person from the southern hemisphere to be inducted into the International Whisky Hall of Fame, convinced him otherwise. An engineer
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by trade, the passion with which Valero now speaks of Joadja Whisky – the brand – belies any initial disinterest! The first Joadja Whiskey is due for release in December 2016, but at around $150 bottle it's unlikely to find much local patronage. The high price is largely due to the $80 per litre excise levied by the Australian Federal Government on the production of ethanol (alcohol) in this situation, but Valero says interest from Singapore and China is high and it appears the first batch is largely sold. Joadja Whisky is matured in Spanish sherry barrels from the town of Valero's birth and we were able to sample some after the tour and before dinner that evening. With the family’s Spanish heritage we’d arranged a traditional Tapas dinner on the Saturday night as the highlight of the weekend. Elisa's sister-in-law Tina was ‘drafted in’ from out of town and worked tirelessly throughout the day, along with Elisa
Below: Whisky is aged in Spanish sherry barrels from Valero’s home town. Bottom: Saturday night’s Tapas dinner in the Distillery was the weekend’s highlight!
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There’s nothing like a campfire… and daughter Emily, to make it happen – and what a great job did!
pot-still as the backdrop, the family went above and beyond to make our night exceptional!
The Truly Great Hall!
After dinner it was back to the camp fire, which seemed slightly incongruous and surreal following such a dining experience. People drifted off to bed and finally only the somewhat muffled sound of an audiobook blaring from inside Malcolm’s camper rent the tranquillity, as he slumbered peaceful. Alan Whiting turned it off well after midnight. It was either that or axe murder I’m told, and it had been a close call…
nitially planned as a casual affair on the veranda by the cafe, dinner developed into something akin a banquet hall feast. We were seated around the campfire enjoying an early evening tipple when the doors to the distillery suddenly opened. Ushered inside, the remarkable sight of a very long table down the centre greeted us and set the tone for a truly memorable evening. Dinner commenced with antipasto and a choice of extra-dry or sweet Spanish sherries. There was no rush and no shortage of nibbles or sherries to sample as people milled around, chatting excitedly and marvelling at the setting. We then progressed to the long table for a series of courses, followed by a simple but decadent desert. Seated amongst barrels of ageing spirits and with Joadja’s mighty copper
Farewell For Now…
fter a leisurely breakfast the iMotorhome team were (sadly) the first to depart. Some of us were on a promise to make the most of the perfect weather to catch up on much needed property maintenance following our bleak winter! The Gang of Nine lingered longer, with some apparently opting for an extra night before heading off Monday morning.
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Joadja Creek is the site of a late 19th Century oilshale mining and refining town now privately owned by the Jimenez family.â€?
62 | Travel
I don't believe I'm exaggerating when I say the inaugural iMotorhome get-together was a resounding success. A campfire poll revealed a unanimous desire to make it an annual event and I think some genuine long-term friendships were forged. Valero and Elisa said they’d happily have us back and have plans to significantly develop facilities over the next 12 months. We‘re returning for the day on 16 October to attend the launch of the Joadja Food Trail; an exciting initiative by local producers to lift Joadja’s profile in these food-and-drink obsessed times. Watch for a report! Some readers have asked if we will consider holding iMotorhome get-togethers in other States and at this stage everything is on the table. One thing’s for sure though: We’ll be back to Joadja Creek next year, so if you want to join us and the ‘Originals’ be sure to act fast when we announce the date. It’s one time you’ll be glad to be ‘up the creek’ – no paddled required.
Travel | 63 Polly Debuts!
his was our first outing in Project Polly and she performed well. We loaded her with all the sausage sizzle supplies, salads, cakes, biscuits, milk, custards and other goodies Mrs iM had worked on for days beforehand, in addition to our own provisions, and she handled the steep descent and dirt roads with aplomb. There was no noticeable increase in interior rattles and shakes over the corrugations and wash-aways, and she handled securely no matter the surface, which also impressed. The 215/75R16 Firestone CV4000 light truck tyres Apollo Rentals fit look a bit ordinary at first glance, but have risen considerably in my estimation. Comfortable riding and with good wet grip, theyâ€™re good for around 70-80,000 km according to Apollo. This trip showed their dirt road ride and traction qualities to be much better than expected too. On arrival we parked facing into the afternoon sun, providing an excellent opportunity to put the Solarscreens to the test. I was genuinely The original Orchard Managerâ€™s house is now the Jimenez family home.
64 | Travel
Right: Look what Mrs iM’s Mum made for us! Below: The Whitings from outbacktravelaustralia. com.au brought their tough expedition-grade Troopie and Tray-Tek slide-on camper combo. Watch for a review of this capable setup in a future issue.
impressed by how cool the windshield screen remained on the inside all afternoon despite the direct sunlight. All screens warmed up on the inside when parked in the sun for the day on Saturday, but there was still a substantial difference between what was hitting the glass and what was making it through. They also kept us noticeably warmer inside when the mercury dropped to around 2-3ºC on Saturday morning! As expected the hot water system proved a bugger to get going. I think it took between six and ten full start-up cycles to get it going, after which it ran perfectly for the rest of the weekend. However, it reverted to its old tricks once home
again. Being an American system I can genuinely say, “Go figure”. Although we only have a basic, if new, 100 AH house battery and no solar, the gauge was still showing 12.5 V on Sunday at departure time, having run the Waeco 80 L fridge since Friday midday, plus lights and the water pump as required. The water tank didn't fall out either, despite a dangling side bracket, which was also ‘comforting’. Our Duvalays fit the single mattresses perfectly and we kept the beds arranged like that, heads by the rear doors, with the dining table
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This was our first outing in Project Polly and she performed well. dropped down between them and serving as a large ‘bedside’ table. It fills half the aisle between the beds but still allows easy betweenbed access at the foot end, something more difficult if the full king bed is made up (the other bed board stows above the cab). Even the basic bathroom exceed expectations, with the hot water apparently temperature limited to provide a ‘just-right’ shower using the
hot water tap alone (although not so good for washing up). There’s still nowhere for the soap or flannel (we put a large plastic bowl on the loo), to hang a towel or store toiletries, and the floor has only one drain hole (and we were sloping the other way). But at least the toilet is close enough to the door so you can sit on it with your feet in the aisle – or lean in – when the floor’s wet! All-in-all it was a promising start and while there’s certainly
work to do we’re more than happy with her. We’re heading off for a night or two with Allan and Kezzie after this issue comes out, if I can fix the water tank bracket, to ’sort our systems’ and just enjoy the freedom of having our own motorhome. After all, isn’t that what this is all about?
66 | Mobile Tech
National Bushfires A single app to track bushfires Australia-wideâ€Ś By Emily Barker
s we head into the warmer months itâ€™s a good idea to keep in mind the very real dangers posed by bushfires. Australia, particularly South-Eastern Australia, is prone to some of the most severe and frequent fires in the world. Spring and summer months are a particularly volatile time as rising temperatures, lower humidity and reduced rainfall levels combine with electrical storms or intense winds
to create incredibly dangerous fire conditions. Bushfires can become catastrophic suddenly, which is why you should always be aware and prepared, should you encounter such a situation. Most bushfire-prone areas in Australia now have distinct signage and local broadcasts indicating the level of fire threat; generally known as the Fire Danger Rating. Every day
Mobile Tech | 67 during the Fire Danger Season, Fire Danger Ratings are issued for each district. They are not predictors of how likely a bushfire is to occur, but how dangerous it could be if it did occur. Once conditions reach Very High it is advised to avoid travelling in these areas and some National Parks are closed on fire danger days. It’s also important to be aware of these ratings as certain restrictions apply. Fire authorities often declare total fire bans in some districts or even across an entire State on days when conditions are extremely dangerous. A total fire ban restricts the use of any open flames or activities with the potential to cause ignition. This can extend to gas barbecues and generators, and it’s essential to understand the restrictions specific to your area of travel.
ational Bushfires is a free app created and distributed by a company that sells bushfire blankets: specially designed multilayered woollen blankets for use in emergency situations. There are many similar apps available, all designed to help warn and protect people from the threat of bushfires. Most, however, are State specific or if National include many types of other threats and public notifications. The appeal of this app is the fact it draws upon the many individual State and Territory resources to present the most up-todate and relevant bushfire information. In addition to assembling official releases and warnings, the app presents access to information from the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and Google Maps. Google’s National crisis maps were created and released in 2013 in response to the NSW Fire Service’s website crashing during peak demand. The service offers a map that displays the location of current bush fires and selected information about the fire, including whether it is under control, who is responding, the size of the area affected and the type of fire. Also included in each State’s list of resources
is a directory of local ABC emergency radio broadcast frequencies. You’re advised to monitor local radio stations regardless of what other resources, including apps, you might be utilising. This app is not particularly pretty, but it’s functional. The interface is clear though and easy to navigate. Often, if there are no warnings current in an area it might simply display a blank screen, which can be a little off-putting until you become familiar with the app and its extensions. It’s also essential to keep in mind that this app relies on connectivity to operate, so keep an eye on data usage, although it’s important to note that in the event of an emergency, radio broadcast frequencies and Bushfire-Safer Places information is stored on your phone for quick access without needing connectivity. Even with this data it’s only a small app, at 7.2 MB, and is certainly
68 | Mobile Tech a handy tool that could very well save a life. Maybe yours! It could possibly do with a little more general fire safety information, but overall it’s a functional, no-frills compact resource.
eaving a bushfire-prone area early, before a fire starts, is always the safest option for your survival. Bushfires can occur without warning and can quickly impact your travel route, while being caught in a vehicle or in the open during a bushfire can be deadly. Here’s a simple checklist to help keep you safe while travelling this bushfire season: • Know the risk of the area you’re travelling to or through: Know the Fire Ban District and the Fire Danger Rating • Regularly listen to local broadcasts • Identify where your nearest Bushfire Safer Place is. Find out if your area has a Bushfire Survival Plan or safe refuge area • Know what you can and can’t do during a total fire ban • Stay safe on fire danger days: Plan safer activities and know the nearest safer places you can access • Plan ahead and have the right gear in your vehicle: Create and maintain an emergency kit that can be quickly accessed and carried. Emergency kits should include water, woollen blankets, a battery-operated radio, a hard copy map of the area, first aid kit and protective long sleeved clothing • Let family, friends or even other campers know where you will be and your estimated travel plans • Stay alert and stay informed!
Cost: Free Size: 7.2 MB Platform: iOS and Android
Advertisers' Index | 69
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70 | Next Issue
Happy Birthday Avida!
Esperance on the new Iveco Daily that he borrowed for the afternoon and which he’ll review in-depth next issue. Watch out for it! The promised review of the Australian Bus and Coach Drivers’ Guide by John Duffy will certainly materialise, plus Malcolm concludes his Canadian adventure with a pictorial feast of holidaying gastronomy! We’ll also have an detailed product review of our Solarscreens, an update of Project Polly and our regular app review.
s we go to ‘press' Malcolm is in the Barossa Valley attending Avida’s 50th birthday celebrations. At the 11th hour he sent back this pic of a special 50th Anniversary Avida
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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2015 Melbourne Leisurefest Sandown Racecourse, Princess Hwy, Springvale. Vic. 3171 • Open 10:00-5:00 daily (4 pm Sunday) • Parking: Free • Adults: $16 or $14 online • Seniors: $12 or $10 online • Kids: Not listed
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SA Boat, Fishing & 4WD Adventure Show Adelaide Showground Goodwood Rd, Adelaide. SA. 5034 • Open 9:00-6:00 daily (5:00 pm Sunday) • Parking: Paid available • Adults: $16 • Seniors: $13 • Kids: Free with Adult
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Know of a local or regional show coming up that attracts and promotes motorhomes, campervans and the great RV lifestyle in general? Drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll happily promote it in this calendar.
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