Page 1

iMotorhome

magazine

Issue 89: Feb 20 2016

Down the

Trak

A-Frame Towing! Everything you need to know

Travel…

The Pines Campground

Project Polly Shakedown escape…

Win!

$50 for the! best letter

Roughing it style in Trakka’s Jabiru…


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

RGB / .ai

Facebook “f ” Logo

RGB / .ai

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Contributors Emily Barker, Sharon Hollamby 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 Sales & Marketing Business Development Manager This could be you! Interested? Contact us on richard@imotorhome.com.au

Richard Robertson T: 0414 604 368

Legal

E: richard@imotorhome.com.au

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.

Roadtest Editor Malcolm Street E: malcolm@imotorhome.com.au


DON'T MISS US AT THE FOLLOWING SHOWS! Newcastle 5-7 Feb Adelaide 17-21 Feb Melbourne 24-29 Feb Gold Coast 4-6 Mar

2015 MANUFACTURER

See website for more details

OF THE YEAR Motorhomes, Campervans & 5th Wheelers

For 20 years, Horizon Motorhomes have been crafting ‘built-in’ motorhomes using only the finest fixtures and fittings.

BA

LLI

NA

S

To find out more about our range of award winning motorhomes visit our website or call 02 6681 1555.

299 C A M O L D 02 R i v P E R E X C 66 er VA LUS 81 Str N 1 55 e e & I V E L 5 | t, B M O Y B i n f a l l TO R Y o@ ina H bcm NS O M c.c W 24 E CE o m 78 N T RE .au

Late last year we were recognised for our passion and enthusiasm invested into developing Horizon Motorhomes as the RV with ‘Satisfaction Built-In’ – by being named Best Manufacturer of 2015 by the Caravan & Camping Industry Association NSW.

horizonmotorhomes.com.au

SGG Pty Ltd. Lic No. MD11739, MVRL23910


On my mind | 5

RESOURCES FOR COURSES… You’re a remarkable resource. A lifetime’s experience travels with you as you tour and if you’re like most of us, you’re only too happy to share that experience, wisdom and knowledge if the opportunity arises. In this issue’s Solo Traveller feature, Sharon talks about meeting some of the volunteers from Blaze Aid in the wake of devastating pre-Christmas fires in South Australia; people who willingly give their time to help others rebuild lives torn apart by natural disasters. But volunteering isn’t a one-way street. In return those who helped received a renewed sense of purpose; made new and potentially lifelong friends and experienced a camaraderie unavailable through any other ‘normal’ activity. Volunteering is ingrained in the Australian psyche and if you have time, a desire to help and want to meet people and do things out of the ordinary it could be just the thing for you. It’s also ideal for solo travellers looking to meet new people. A good place to start is the Volunteering Australia website. It will try and match you up with opportunities according to your location, duration and interests, and has links to State organisations too. All this talk of untapped experience has given me an idea. iMotorhome is free because of our advertisers, but no advertising, no iMotorhome. In a perfect world I could easily manage researching and writing the magazine, website updates, social media engagement, answering your emails and phone calls, adverting sales, accounts and business planning. But neither the world nor I are perfect, so things just don’t get done. Especially advertising sales, because as advertising sales people go I’m a great magazine editor!

What we need is someone retired who loves and understands motorhomes and the RV scene and is looking to earn a modest extra income working when it suits as a commission sales person. While not volunteering it is taking advantage of a lifetime’s experience, and is the chance to be involved in something special. If interested please email me at richard@imotorhome.com.au and let’s see where it leads. As another Rick once said, “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Just don’t call me Rick…

On the Road The major RV show season is upon us. Adelaide Show is in full swing as I write, but too far away to get to in a publishing week. I’ll be in Melbourne next Thursday for that show’s opening day and it will be interesting to catch up with industry people and see what’s new. I’ll also be using Project Polly for transport, accommodation and office for the occasion. Someone recently asked where Polly’s name came from and I realised I’ve never explained it. Quite simply, Mrs iMotorhome named her that because she came from Apollo. Apollo – Polly – get it? There, now you can sleep easier…

Richard


6 | Contents

3

About Us

9

Resources

5

On my Mind

11

On your Mind

24

Marketplace

Who we are, where and other legal stuff

Find back issues and more on our website

17

News

28

Touring Test: Trakka Jabiru

48

Technical: A-Frame Towing

56

Project Polly: Shakedown!

62

Travel Snapshot: The Pines

66

Solo Traveller

75

Advertisers' Index

What’s happening in the wider RV world and beyond

Resources for Courses

Share your thoughts for the chance to win $50!

The latest Marketplace offers

Trakka’s takes its biggest van conversion motorhome to the next level

The lowdown on this increasingly popular pursuit

Time to put Project Polly to the test…

Here’s a great free camping spot well worth a detour

Happy New Year?

An A to Z of who’s in this issue!

72

Mobile Tech

76

Next Issue

Wildlife Rescue Apps

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


AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND

Accept no imitations.

The Most Recognised Name in Motorhomes

2015 motorhome range now available nationwide. Proudly Australian designed and built in our Brisbane factory.

Find a Winnebago dealership near you. Visit: www.gowinnebago.com.au Licensee and authorised distributor of Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City Iowa USA


resources

iMotorhome

Resources | 9

because getting there is half the fun...

Magazine Resources Ask a Question

Back Issues

magazine

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


Relax in Paradise

Australia’s Best Quality Motorhomes • Outstanding value for

money, competitively priced from $158,000.

• Unrivalled Safety including

rollover protection, auto-locking cabinetry and superior appliance mounting systems.

• Industry’s longest & most

comprehensive motorhome warranty.

• Built for Australian conditions. • Models available with or without slide-outs. • Superior finish with stylish new contoured exterior. • Patented moulded bins for maximum storage capacity. • Outstanding road handling & ride comfort. • Genuine island queen beds and huge wardrobes. • Spacious rear ensuites with separate toilet & shower. • Market leading layouts & lifestyle features. • Full living area slide-outs providing superior living space. • Proven reliability of Paradise’s patented slide-outs.

Enjoy the prestige of owning Australia’s best quality motorhome Paradise Motor Homes

www.paradisemotorhomes.com.au

245 Brisbane Road, Biggera Waters, Queensland, 4216

ph (07) 5597 4400 - email info@paradisemotorhomes.com.au Paradise Motor Homes products are protected by registered designs, patents and copyrights ™ © 2013


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.

Thanks to everyone who took the time and made the effort to share thoughts, experiences, tips and observations in 2015. Thanks also for the many good wishes for the festive season, which were most appreciated. Please keep writing in and feel free to share whatever’s on your mind. This is your forum and we know it’s also one of the most popular sections of the magazine, so keep those letters coming in 2016!

Full Timer Insights Hi Richard. I saw in the last mag you wanted to hear people's thoughts on their experience with either travelling full time or part time. Not sure where we fall, but we left our house nearly four years ago and have lived in four states. We’ve travelled a fair bit but are not old or rich enough to retire, so we decided to work our way around. We tend to stay put for periods and thoroughly check out an area, make friends, work and see how it goes. There are no time limits and we try to have lots of holidays just like anyone living in the same place.

this week, but we have had no issue with not having been here long or anything like that. We plan to go to Birdsville in July for the concert on Big Red for my birthday and also have a look around for a few weeks. I think we get the best out of our life and the only thing is missing the grandkids, but we try and see them as much as we can.

We duck up to the Barossa for festivals and such and my sister and her partner are here with us doing a similar thing, only they had a setback last year as the bus they made into We have now sold the house and are technically their dream home after selling-up burnt to homeless, but will buy again at some point the ground out the back of Burke. They are when we retire. We love what we’re doing as still looking at a replacement but I think it was travelling constantly would wear on us, I think. irreplaceable really. They have gone a different We take on different jobs, meet different people tack and are starting a camper hire business on and get an in depth look at the areas we live Kangaroo Island as you could not hire one here in. Last year we were in South West Western and it is expensive to bring one over. They’re Australia and loved it; now we’re on Kangaroo just getting started but it should be a hit here. Island. When we are working mostly we have had Husband Peter is having a hip replacement accommodation supplied or we live in our little continued...


12 | On your mind continued...

old motorhome, but this time we’ve rented a furnished house and are loving this place. Each time is different and each experience is different I could never have sat home and kept up the workload we had and waited for retirement to come along. What if we never got that chance? We sit on a beach for a few weeks when we need downtime, live like hippies and work hard when we have too. When we think it's time for a change, off we go.

for all of it. Our camper has the roof off at the moment and is getting a new Four Seasons hatch, new insulation and a spruce up. Peter is doing this himself and has learnt so much since we started this journey. Hope this gives an insight to one type of full time travel, even if it’s a very slow way. Regards, Narelle

Thanks for your email Narelle and taking I know people who have to stay home and mind the time to write. Far from rambling on it's grandkids and involve themselves totally in their interesting, insightful and inspiring. It’s also good to give readers another way to think about how children's lives, but that's not for us. We hope to go to Canada next year and more if we have to be a full time traveller. What kinds of work enough money! We try and earn what we need do you both do and what sort of camper do you have? Sounds like you really are living ‘the to have a good life and not worry too much dream’ so many people would like to emulate. about the rest. Good on you! Please accept this issue’s $50 Sorry this is so long but seems your enquiry prize to help with your dreams. I have to admit made me think about how much I really do I have a sneaking dream to travel in a bus enjoy our life. I follow your Polly adventures, the conversion for a couple of years and write the overseas trips and really enjoy the mag. Thanks magazine as we go. Maybe one day!

Questions, questions… G'day Richard, I have been reading your publication since the first issue and have to say that I admire your talented and informed work. I am almost ready to purchase my first motor home and was wondering if you could direct me to the appropriate forum to have a few niggly issues answered, namely: 1. Where can one have tyres inflated to 80 psi or more? Most servo air compressor (gauges) only go as far as 60. I haven't found any in and around the Sydney suburb where I reside. Unless I am overlooking something I consider this deficiency a major road safety issue and am surprised that it seems that nothing is being done to rectify this shortcoming.

2. Are there facilities around Australia where you can wash the vehicle? 3. What are the parking issues in and around shopping centres, popular beaches and tourist attractions, and how can they be dealt with? I am finding motorhome shopping most daunting and expect that over time I would have further questions and would appreciate your advice on what avenues are available as I consider it to be unreasonable to expect you to come to the rescue each time I have an issue. Many thanks for doing what you do. Kind regards to you and your crew. Robert. continued...


14 | On your mind continued...

Thanks for your email Robert and glad you (still!) enjoy what we do after all these issues. Let’s see if I can help you out, although your questions depend to a degree on what size vehicle you’re looking to buy. 1: Truck stops should have air pumps capable of reaching the pressures you're looking for. I'd suggest buying a good quality portable 12 V compressor, which will go well over 100 psi, from someone like ARB (or even Supercheap Auto if money’s a bit tight). 2: Most towns have DIY carwashes that can fit a motorhome in or close enough to one of the bays for you to use. There are also truck washes in some major regional and outer-city centres.

Move a Motorhome?

Richard, not sure if you are aware of the Move a Motorhome operation? I have no connection nor even recommendation, but he had a stand at the Newcastle show and I picked up a brochure. Would it be suitable for you to investigate/bring to motorhomers’ attention? The website is moveamotorhome.com.au.

3: Parking can be an issue and only vehicles 6 m or shorter can park in normal car spaces. Beyond that you need to look for a spot in a side street. Many tourist attractions have bus/caravan/RV parking areas, as do some tourist offices. Open shopping centre carparks are usually fine and we often take up a couple of spaces, but park over the back somewhere away from the main entrances. Sometimes we straddle spaces to ensure we don’t get parked in. You always need to ensure you can get out, especially if there are tight turns. Of course, anything underground or height limited is and-no. You soon get used to what to look for and it quickly becomes a non-issue. Buying a motorhome is a big decision so please feel free to run any questions by me.

Cheers, Alan PS Keep up the great work with the eMag. Hi Alan. Thanks for the info and no, I’m not familiar with it. However, I’ll certainly look into it and report back if it’s worthwhile. If any readers have experience please let us know.

Charging Advice Hi, I have had conflicting advice about whether it is okay to leave the power connected to my motorhome full time when not in use, thus leaving the batteries under the care of the built in smart charger. Or should the batteries be allowed to self discharge and then be topped up periodically? Any opinion? Cheers, Paul

Thanks Paul, happy to offer my two cents worth. As far as I’m aware it’s certainly the best option to leave them plugged into mains power and charging via a smart charger when you’re at home. The fewer times they discharge for no good reason – like between trips – the more recharging cycles you’ll have for travelling. Being full and continuously monitored by a good charging unit will keep them in tip-top health.


On your mind | 15

Another Fiat Cupholder! Hello Richard. I know Fiat has looked to solve the Ducato cupholder problem in the latest model, but there are still many of us on the road with earlier Ducatos. I have read a number of ‘solutions’ but had yet to find one that suits me. Finally I have solved the problem, for me at least!

a drink, so next was where to put it. I discovered it would sit on the door, between the handle and window. This was a start, but still not stable. A couple of cable ties through the mesh of the holder and around the handle and the drink holder problem is now solved! Hopefully this can assist some other Ducato owners to solve this challenge. Regards, Eric.

Well that’s an innovative solution Eric, thanks for Sitting at my desk I looked at the pen holder I bought sharing. If it takes off I hope Officeworks pays you commission! Any other budding inventors like to from Officeworks. It looked the right size to hold share their solutions?

Because They Can I read with interest the letter from Jane in regards to the prices being charged at BIG4 Sunshine South West Rocks. The simple answer is because they can. As a matter of fact they could almost get away with charging twice that price in the Christmas school holidays – summer period. Most of the parks there are booked at least 12 months in advance for that time of year! If you think the caravan park prices are high you should see what they charge for holiday rental accommodation over that period! South West Rocks is a victim of its own success. What is a tranquil and beautiful seaside area during the year turns into a madhouse over Christmas. No one in their right mind – that is anyone who isn’t forced to holiday in school holidays – would go near it at that time of year. The town is at maximum capacity and to be honest it can’t cope! I have holidayed there for the past 24 years as it’s the only place my children wanted at Christmas and my association goes back to 1977 when I first visited. I at least have the advantage of having family there, but the Christmas/school holiday period is not a time to tour through there!

Pricing at all the caravan parks in South West Rocks would be half by now as they go from extreme capacity to looking for people to fill up a three quarter empty park. As you point out it is a case of supply and demand. South West Rock is a beautiful part of the world, but a lot less so over the Christmas/ summer period! There are 4 Caravan Parks there and I would rank them this way: •H  orseshoe Bay Holiday Park – overlooking the beach and centre of town •T  rial Bay Camp site – on the beach at Trial Bay, a campsite more than a caravan park •B  IG4 Sunshine – at Arakoon on the way to Trial Bay. It’s in the middle of nowhere but typical of BIG4 attractions to keep you in the park •S  outh West Rocks Tourist Park – a big park just as you come into town and which backs onto the creek, so sandflies and mosquitos! Regards, Michael.


16 | On your mind G’day Michael. Thanks for your insights and advice, and yes, I presumed it must be very popular. Sounds like a nightmare though, like so many popular holiday spots in peak times. Interestingly, I was looking at the Big 4 website and see they’re taking bookings for 2016 AND 2017 Christmases and offering “Easy monthly payment plans.” Yikes! Next thing they’ll be offering finance. While I’m not anti-caravan park – like

Socket To Me!

Hi Richard. I saw your question on Facebook re the socket size for the anode in your Suburban hot water service. I used a 27mm socket on a long 1/2" drive arm to loosen ours, but a 1 1/16" socket works just as well. Remember to let the water pressure off before you loosen the anode and make sure the water in the tank is cold. Use plumbers thread tape when putting the new anode in and removal will be easier next time. The long arm lives in the van with a 21 mm socket so I can loosen/ tighten wheel nuts after the Fiat service mechanics use rattle guns on them.

most RVers we regularly use them – or any business making a profit, I find it difficult to accept such seemingly exorbitant price hikes at peak times. But as you say, “Because they can”. As long as people are time poor and families love all the facilities, that’s just the way it is. The moral of all this is choose your travel times and plan wisely. The choice is still ours.

Hope this helps, Ray Great, thanks for that Ray. I actually measured it at 27 mm using a shifter and tape measure, so not bad for an amateur! While I don't have a 27 mm socket my neighbour is an engineer and has every toy under the sun. Not long after I posted that he phoned to say come over and we'll fix it. Gotta love neighbours in the country – and the power of social media! Good plan on the socket for the wheel nuts.

The Wirraway 260 SL

With it’s Full Length Slideout Room & Apartment Styled Layout !

From WIRRAWAY, “Australia’s Most Innovative Motorhomes” Wirraway is a dedicated family owned business striving for Motorhome excellence. Our Motorhomes are our passion! Every Wirraway Motorhome is handbuilt and designed by experienced motorhomers who know the importance of making life easier on the road. New to our Range is the brilliant ‘live like a movie star’ Wirraway 260 SL, the latest in our 260 series; our EuroStyle 260 with it’s European styled interior and “The Motorhome of the Year”, the Wirraway 260. Wirraway Motorhomes feature opulence, style and all the legendary design, electrical and construction innovations that are unique to all Wirraways.

Each Wirraway Model is unique! - All are a Must See!

View Our New Website to view All Models, Download Brochures &Virtual RealityTours For details contact: Rob Tonkin - Wirraway Motorhomes, 6 Hynes Court, Mildura Vic 3500

Phone / Fax: (03) 50 230 230 - New Email: info@wirraway.com.au & New Website: www.wirraway.com.au On The Road Wirraway 260SL Slideout Motorhome - 2012 © Rex Willmer


News | 17

SPARE PARTS AND MORE

B

allina Campervan & Motorhome Centre (BCMC) says it has spare parts for your Horizon Motorhome or Frontline Campervan plus a shop well stocked with commonly used RV items. Included are spare parts kits with common ‘wear and tear’ items, plus some are brand specific for Camec, Dometic or Fiamma products. Also, a custom order service is available for a wide range

of items. BCMC says it has created vehicle specific spare parts kits with key consumables and wear and tear replacements parts such as ‘O’ Rings for the toilets, filters for the drinking water or spare fuses for electrics. For more information call (02) 6681 1555 or visit their spare parts webpage by clicking HERE.

CAB WINDOW VENTS even when it’s lightly raining no water can get inside,” said Pia from Southern Spirit Campervans. Vents are available for Sprinters, Ducatos, Transits, Crafters, VW T4s and T5s, the Iveco Daily, Renault Trafic and Master, and VW’s Amarok. Other make and models are available on request. Priced from $149 plus Australiawide postage of $9.95, you can also pick them up at the company’s Geebung shop. For orders or further information call Pia on 0401 797179 or visit the website HERE.

G

etting more air flow inside your vehicle while staying safe and secure is a challenge, but now a range of innovate cab window vents designed and manufactured in Germany is available. Solid, durable and finished to a high standard, they come complete with internal insect screens and are powder coated. “This is a really easy way to secure your vehicle while still getting air flow inside. The vents are designed in a louvre style, so


18 | News

DALGETY SHOW REMINDERS – 6TH AND 19TH

T

he Dalgety Show is the only show in NSW to take place on the banks of the iconic Snowy River. Held every year on the first Sunday in March – the 6th this year – the first show was in 1945 to officially raise money to build a Memorial Hall to honour soldiers fighting in World War Two. A true country show, this year it will again be packed with local produce stalls, livestock and horses, locals and visitors, and is a great day out for all the family. To find out more click HERE.

The Festival of Small Halls is also on in Dalgety in March, on Saturday the 19th. The Festival is a series of tours that takes some of the best folk and contemporary acoustic artists and sends them on the road to tiny halls in communities all over Australia. Each night of the tour is hosted by volunteers from the local community and it’s an all-ages event at which all are welcome. The special guest artist in Dalgety will be Rob Longstaff, an accomplished singer/ songwriter of the acoustic blues and soul genre. Vishten, a touring French Canadian trio with a fiery international reputation will be the main act in what promises to be an unforgettable night. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $20 for concessions and you can book by clicking HERE.

Webasto – your gas free solution for independent travelling

  

Quiet powerful operation Low power & fuel consumption Use whilst parked & on the move

Dual Top – Combination Heaters   

Heat & hot water from one unit Easy to use multifunction controller Low power & fuel consumption

Thermo Top – Water Heaters

  

Compact and efficient Fast heat up times Can be combined with fan radiators to provide cabin heat

Diesel Cook Top

  

High cooking power up to 1800 W No naked flame and no fumes Robust high quality Ceran® cooking surface

Webasto Thermo & Comfort Australia Pty Ltd 423-427 The Boulevarde, Kirrawee NSW 2232 Freecall 1800 244 494 info@webasto.com.au www.webasto.com.au

RV Compressor Fridges   

Extensive range of Uprights and Drawers Available as DC Only or AC/DC Robust high quality with Danfoss Compressors

AU13252

Air Top – Air Heaters


EVENTS

iMotorhome FREE Motorhome 101 Day: 12 March – Brisbane Calling all Beginners and Future RV Owners! Southern Spirit Campervans, in conjunction with iMotorhome, is running a special event for anyone new to motorhomes and campervans who wants to learn about the basics. If you’re looking to buy your first vehicle; a new owner or just heading off on a rental holiday for the first time and want a head start on how things work, this is the day for you! This special event will start at 10:30 am on Saturday 12 March and include the following topics: You! • Information to help figure out what kind of traveller you are and which type of vehicle best suits you and your travel needs and desires. For example, are you a free camper, so needing solar, or a caravan park person who likes all mod cons? Pre Departure • Helpful tips to help get you into a travelling routine, plus a checklist for pre-departure packing and while on the road. What's What in My RV • Locating and understanding the house battery and battery charger, fuse box and fuses, water pump and filter, and so on. The Basics • Understanding and step-by-step operation of appliances and systems including the toilet and its cassette, hot water services, awnings, etc.

Tips for Safe Travel • How to safely secure your belongings so they don't kill you by becoming flying missiles inside your vehicle. Also, how to properly distribute weight and avoid overloading. Simple Troubleshooting • What to do if your cooker isn’t working, you have no power inside or you've spotted a water leak. Not every problem requires a professional repair. Q&A • Time to ask an expert any questions and learn from what others are asking. There will also be a free sausage sizzle and refreshments! Caravan park and motel accommodation is available near by and details will be supplied if requested upon booking. You’ll also be able to book a one-on-one session with Southern Spirit Campervans for a small fee after the event, if you’d like a personal rundown on your vehicle’s individual systems and features.

Book early as numbers are limited! Email your name and contact details to contact@sscampervans.com or call Pia on 0401 797 179.


20 | News

FIAT DUCATO RECALL

F

iat Chrysler Australia (FCA) is notifying owners of Fiat Ducatos manufactured between 9 October 2014 and 19 June 2015 that, “There is a risk that the ignition switch may move out of the run position, resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine which can disable the power steering, power brakes and stop the airbags from inflating during a crash.” If you own an affected vehicle and haven’t received notification from FCA, contact your nearest dealer immediately. More information can be found on the ACCC website HERE.

Thinking about a self-drive touring adventure? Find all the inspiration and information you need for an awesome journey with our ebooks for iPad. Touring Victoria’s Kelly Country: Learn about Australia’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly, on a wonderful tour through northeast Victoria. The Old Ghan Heritage Trail: Follow the legend of the Old Ghan railway from Quorn in South Australia, up the Oodnadatta Track and on to Alice Springs. The Googs Track: This remote 4WD adventure explores the southeastern extremity of the amazing Great Victoria Desert, SA. To The Inland Sea: Inspired by explorer Charles Sturt’s 1844-46 Central Expedition, To The Inland Sea takes travellers from Adelaide to the edge of the Simpson Desert at Birdsville.

Get your FREE eBOOK for iPad* www.ebooktraveller.com.au * Applies to Touring Victoria’s Kelly Country eBook for iPad


News | 21

JAYCO MOTORHOME RECALL

J

ayco motorhomes with selected chassis numbers between 605454 and T90180 have ben recalled as the seat belt bolt in the rear compartment section of the motorhome may work itself loose over time. Please don’t use the seating in the rear section of the motor home during travel until it’s been inspected and rectified, if required. Please call your closest Jayco dealer or service agent and book your vehicle in for inspection and possible rectification. To find out more click HERE.


22 | News

NEW PETROL PRICING APPS ON THE HORIZON

A

s global oil supply outstrips demand the price of crude oil has dropped to an 11-year low. The prices at the pumps, however, are not reflecting this and it’s not only motorists voicing their dissatisfaction. The Australian consumer watchdog, the ACCC, issued a 'please explain' letter to major petrol retailers in early February. It has proposed that high retail and refiner margins are responsible, a situation it deems unacceptable. Late last year a Federal Court action that started in August 2014 was finally resolved. The ACCC alleged that the price information exchange service in its current form allow retailers to communicate with each other about prices and the effect or likely effect is substantially lessening competition. These proceedings against Informed Sources and BP, Caltex, Woolworths, Coles and 7-Eleven resulted in a decision that petrol prices are to be made public with updates to be released every 15 to 30 minutes. This release of data will come into effect from 20 May 2016 and has many developers

working overtime to produce an app that will bring this information directly to consumers. The NRMA is tipping this landmark decision in pricing transparency to be a ‘game changer’ that’s expected to drastically alter the way consumers make purchasing decisions. Similar price systems for consumers already successfully operate in Germany, France and Spain. But it’s a costly exercise and won’t be funded by the government, which is the case in many countries. Instead, and surprisingly, oil companies are footing the bill. Watch for details as they become available, along with relevant app reviews.


News | 23

HIGH SECURITY HITCH LOCK

A

ccessory manufacturer Purple Line has launched a new high-security hitch lock that secures standard Australian 50 mm ball hitches both when hitched and unhitched. The Saracen Ultra anti-theft hitch lock is made from high strength composite metals and has an anti-pick seven-pin cylinder lock with tubular, anti-copy key. Recommended retail price for the Saracen Ultra is $149, but the company also manufactures a range of other locks for other style trailers and caravans. Purple Line anti-theft products are available at leading caravan accessory outlets nationally. Find out more by clicking HERE.

Expedition Vehicles

LEAVE THE OTHERS BEHIND GO WHERE THE OTHERS CAN’T GO, DO WHAT THE OTHERS CAN’T DO COMPACT, LIGHTWEIGHT FIFTH WHEELERS

EXPEDITION VEHICLES DEMOUNTABLE PODS

Luxurious interiors Flexible floorplans, On and off road models CUSTOM BUILT

BUY FACTORY DIRECT AND SAVE 222 Governor Road Braeside VIC 3195 Ph: 03 9588 0077

www.trailblazersrv.com

info@trailblazersrv.com


24 | News/ iMotorhome Marketplace

FRENCH STOPOVER GUIDE

T

he France Passion team says it’s delighted to present its 2016 Stopover Guide – the 24th edition. The Guide features more than 1900 farms, wineries, farmhouses, inns and more that offer safe and ‘convivial’ stopovers for motorhomers touring France. Sites are free of charge and provide a great base to explore the country’s rural heritage, learn about the hosts’ work and sample their produce. The only cost is 29 Euros to purchase the guide. For more information click HERE

Are you living that dream? Tax returns need lodging? Do you have income from working or investments? Use a tax agent who understands. We do, because our office has 4 wheels and a Luton peak. Whether you’re in FNQ, WA or Tas., email for info Grey Nomad Tax Advisers ABN 76 114 458 058 Eric Taylor, FIPA, CTA, Reg. Tax Agent Email: eric@greynomadtax.com.au www.greynomadtax.com.au

Southern Highlands Service Centre • • • • • •

More Versatile Than Any Other RV Camp Anywhere - It’s Self Contained Large Bathroom With Shower & Toilet Easy To Operate With Electric Jacks Models For Single, Extra & Dual Cabs Plus! Famous Ozcape Quality & Support

An Authorised Repco Service Centre just off the Hume Highway at Mittagong. Auto electrical and mechanical service specialists happy to look after your motorhome or campervan! Call Mark or Sharon and tell them iMotorhome sent you!

T: (02) 4872 2822 E: mwauto@hinet.net.au


iMotorhome Marketplace | 25 MOBILE

iMotorhome

NEW

Our new App is now available for Android & iPhone

iPhone

Android

Scan QR code or click below to download

Scan QR code or click below to download

iPhone

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!

bonymountainfolkfestival.com

The Duvalay Memory Foam Sleeping System – No lifting, no tucking, no fighting over the doona and bedding that stays put. Find out why it’s Europes bedding of choice for caravans & motorhomes. The premium grade memory foam ensures total comfort and the award winning design cover means your bed is made in seconds.

duvalay.com.au | (02) 6653 4640

Android


26 | iMotorhome Marketplace

POWER CHOICE

TM

Connect at home! Connect anywhere!

15Amp to 10Amp Adaptor with RCD and overload protection

www.ampfibian.com.au

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!

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

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 | 27

Southern Spirit Campervans FLEXIBLE STORAGE SYSTEMS FOR YOUR CAMPERVAN OR MOTORHOME Full & part fitouts Hitop, Poptop and Reimo roofs True custom­made conversions Repairs & improvements BYO van from Hiace to Sprinter

Store those additional items up and out of the way using our adjustable, transportable and modular storage system!

                                                                                         

www.skytracks.com.au

®

Our vehicle-specific insulation screens are Australian made from specially designed and tested material to keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. As featured in iMotorhome’s Project Polly!

T: (07) 3398 5500 W: solarscreen.com.au

Over 11  years  cover   manufacturing   experience  Australia   wide.Free  Measure  &  Quote  Call  in   Factory  1:354  Mons  Road    Forest  Glen  :   Sunshine  Coast  Queensland     PH-­‐1300  304  332/0754564818   www.caravancovers.com.au   info@caravancovers.com.au   Qld  Stockist  of  Duvalay.                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                    The E-Twow Electric scooter for adults LATEST TECHNOLOGY FOR RV OWNERS

The alternative to a bike!!

25km/h with a range of 40km in ideal conditions! Super light too at 10.8kg

Australian-built In-vehicle Dual Battery Chargers, Battery Management Systems and 52mm monitoring gauges that won’t let you down.

redarc.com.au

Folds away quite compact for small storage

To find out more call Mark on 0412027330 or email mje240@adam.com.au www.e-twow.com 1

Nomadic Solutions hitches fully ADR compliant no swaying increased towing safety easy reversing offroad vans available

5th wheeler specialist

Nomadic Solutions - the original, quality constructed ‘lifestyletable™’ that is easily attached to the side of your motorhome. Now available in ‘mill finish’ for custom painting.

T: (02) 9011 8144 W: nomadicsolutions.com.au

Tiffin Motorhomes

America’s favourite motorhome is now available in Australia! Tiffin Motorhomes Australia is proud to offer the Allegro Breeze 32 to the Australian market. Click through to find out why they’re fast becoming Australia’s favourite too!

T: 0411 616 617 W: tiffinmotorhomes.com.au


28 | Touring Test: Trakka Jabiru

Polished Performer

Trakka takes the Jabiru to the next level‌. by Richard Robertson


Touring Test | 29

Mercedes-Benz updated the Sprinter in the 2015 model year. Although you’d be hard pressed to pick the external changes unless you’re an Sprinter tragic – look for day running lights as the giveaway – there are many improvements. Refinement levels were a major focus and the ‘new’ Sprinter is again the best driving light commercial available. Trakka’s Jabiru conversion suits the Sprinter perfectly.

T

he Jabiru is the flagship of Trakka’s van conversion motorhome range. Built on the long wheelbase Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 319 or 419 (tested here) it’s an imposing vehicle at 7.1 metres (23’ 3”) and commands considerable presence. It’s a two seat, two-berth motorhome ideal for singles as well as couples looking to get away from it all. In Issue 70 on 18 April last year we bade farewell to the Jabiru built on the VW Crafter, which essentially was a twin-under-the-skin with the Sprinter. The lack of an automatic transmission was the real drawback and we can’t wait to see the all-new Crafter when Volkswagen reveals it at the 2016 Hanover Truck Show (don’t hold your breath for deliveries before 2017/18, though). Mercedes updated the Sprinter in 2014/15 and since then the Trakka team has been busy updating the Jabiru’s design as well.

The real drawcard now is the standard V6 turbo-diesel and 7-speed fully automatic transmission on 2-wheel drive models (the 4X4 makes do with a 5-speed auto).

Still the Boss?

R

oad tests of the new-model Iveco Daily has had me questioning Mercedes’ continuing dominance as the motorhome base vehicle of choice. The new Daily out guns the Sprinter in terms of power – 152 kW/470 Nm v 140 kW/440 Nm – and gearbox ratios – 8 v 7. If that’s not enough, Iveco now offers optional factory rear air-bag suspension as well as higher gross vehicle mass (GVM) ratings for those happy to move beyond the 4500 kg limitation of a standard car driver’s licence. On paper it’s a compelling advantage, not to mention the Daily has an impressive 3500 kg braked towing capacity compared to the Sprinter’s 2000 kg and is basically a scaled down big truck, so it should


30 | Touring Test Right: Simple and uncluttered, the instruments are large and easily read. The central screens provide a myriad of display options for the trip computer and vehicle systems and require some serious study to get the best out of them. Below: Driving position is car-like and has a wide range of steering wheel and seat adjustment options. This is a comfortable, quiet and easy motorhome to drive and you quickly feel right at home.

easily endure motorhoming duties. But then I got behind the wheel of the latest model Sprinter…

Driving

L

et me unequivocally state that the Mercedes’ V6 turbo-diesel/7-speed automatic driveline is now the most refined and impressive in the motorhome market. Good as the Iveco Daily is – and it is good – Mercedes has taken refinement and (let me steal a line from BMW) “sheer driving pleasure” to a new level.

The first thing you notice when moving away is the engine doesn’t sound like a diesel. Apart from at idle (and then only just) there is no indication you’re driving a diesel. Put you foot down and it sounds like a car. At cruise speeds the engine is inaudible. It’s also turbine smooth – and I mean turbine smooth. The gearbox perfectly matches the engine in terms or ratios and shift quality. Most gear changes are genuinely imperceptible and the engine never seems to hunt for a ratio or have too many to choose from; something that troubles the new Iveco Daily on occasions.


Touring Test | 31

Externally the Jabiru is quite a clean design. The test vehicle was finished in easy-clean white with a large faux-carbon fibre accent panel on each side, encompassing the windows. Mercedes-Benz engineers have taken engine insulation and driveline refinement to an extraordinary level again and raised the bar for everyone. The Sprinter also rides and handles very well, with independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering providing sure footed

handling even over broken surfaces at speed. This is a rear-wheel drive machine, but even so the live rear axle with leaf springs provides a compliant ride devoid of harshness over even quite rough surfaces. In our week with the new Jabiru we ventured from

Sydney to Albury with an overnight in Holbrook on the way, then out to Blowering Reservoir for a night with our friends from Outback Travel Australia. Heading down the Hume Highway and using cruise to sit on 110 km/h there were a couple of long inclines


32 | Touring Test Below: Because the Sprinter was primarily designed as an urban delivery vehicle it has a tight turning circle that makes it easily manoeuvrable. It’s therefore ideal for exploring side roads and the many interesting roadside attractions you find when you travel. Bottom: Mercedes-Benz’s V6 turbo-diesel: No longer the most powerful engine but certainly the most refined.

were the gearbox dropped back 2 gears in quick succession. I only know that because I happened to glimpse the tachometer needle arcing around from 2200 rpm to 2500 and then 3000. There was no audible or physical indication of either down shift and only the vaguest, vaguest seat-of-the-pants inkling when the gearbox changed back up, though nothing audible (and probably because I was really watching for it). Over the hills of the Snowy Mountains Highway, through Adelong and Tumut, the V6 pulled strongly and while you could certainly hear it working it never intruded nor sounded distressed. Hundreds of kilometres a day were dispatched with contempt, while on the final fill our overall fuel figure of 12.6 L/100 km (22.4 mpg) was impressive considering the terrain and time constraints. I was also impressed by the trip computer, which showed an overall figure of 12.5 L/100km and was by far the most accurate I’ve come across.


An absolute must is the optional electric side door. It does away with the ‘whiz-bang’ people so dislike about sliding side doors – especially ones as big as this. Also, you can stop it at any point to provide just the opening you want.

Touring Test | 33


34 | Touring Test

Above: The cab seats swivel easily and the absence of overhead cupboards really opens the area up. Right: Hot water and room heating are diesel-fired using a new Truma Combi unit and operated from this simple LCD display.

The Office

T

he Trakka-specced Sprinter comes with MB’s Comfort Seats, front and side air bags and a full multi-media centre with sat-nav, Bluetooth and more. Complex and not particularly intuitive, the multi-media centre is something you’ll need to devote a fair bit of time to studying the manual for to get the most from. Ditto the trip computer, which integrates with the multi-media unit and includes things like engine coolant temperature as well as simplified sat-nav directions, telephone functions and much, much more. For all its sophistication one feature puzzled me: the single-speed intermittent wiper setting. Or maybe I missed something? Perhaps I should have read the manual!


Touring Test | 35

You sit high in a Sprinter, by which I mean the seats have tall bases and your legs go straight down to the floor. It’s a comfortable position that works well with the multifunction steering wheel, which is car-style (more upright) and has a wide range of height and reach adjustment. Trakka fits Remis blinds to the windscreen and cab side windows. It’s an excellent system but on the Sprinter I found the central vertical section of the frame on the driver’s door severely restricted my view of the side mirror. Interestingly, Mrs iMotorhome had no problem because being shorter she ran the seat further forward. While it is a problem for taller drivers you do quickly adapt and find yourself moving your head a little when you go to check the mirror. If you found it a real problem you could always remove the blind and use a Solarscreen on that window. Fortunately, rear/side vision is enhanced by the use of Waeco’s excellent dual lens reversing camera – the best in the business in my opinion – coupled with an extra

Top: An electric awning is now standard and certainly worth singing about! Above: This in-wardrobe drawer can be repositioned between the bed heads. Note the table top, which is the smaller of the two provided.


36 | Touring Test large colour display. When reversing it has the usual near-vertical view of the back of the vehicle, but when driving it becomes a rearview camera, like a greatly enhanced revision mirror. The result is much greater overall situational awareness that goes a long way to helping offset the compromised side mirror view.

But Wait…

D

rivetrain aside the Sprinter 419 Trakka specifies for the Jabiru has many other attributes. Most obvious are the ‘super single’ rear wheels. The 419 has a 4490 kg GVM and dual rear wheels are the norm in this weight category. The ‘oversize’ 285/65R16 Continentals are 80 mm (3.15 inches) wider than the front 205/75R16s and eliminate the need for two extra rear tyres, plus the hassle of checking air pressures of the inside tyres, and changing them if required. On the road the vehicle felt secure and body roll seemed less notable than previous Sprinters, but that’s a subjective observation. A downside would be finding a replacement in the Bush. Also, the spare tyre is the same size as the front, resulting in a speed limit of 85 km/h if fitted to the rear (using a supplied adapter plate). Surprisingly ‘super singles’ aren’t available on the 419 Sprinter 4X4, where single rear wheels would be most appreciated. It’s a shame all the tyres aren’t the same ‘biggies’ as it would make changing a flat a non-event, while making the Sprinter look particularly mean! It’s worth noting the entry-level Jabiru is a Sprinter 319, which saves $2000 but the trade-off is payload. The 319 has a 3880 kg GVM and tare weight of 3330 kg, leaving a maximum possible payload of 550 kg for you, food, water, fuel and all your lifestyle must-haves. As mentioned, the 419 has a GVM of 4490 kg, but a tare of 3600 kg, leaving a maximum potential payload of

Subtle concealed LED strip lighting works well. Note the pole that allows the TV to be relocated from the bedroom for viewing from the cab seats, while cooking or outside. The flip-up external table is handy, as are the switches above it for the dimmable external lights.


Touring Test | 37 900 kg. Both models have a 2000 kg towing capacity.

use of a Truma Combi for hot water and room heating. Previously, Trakka used a Webasto combination unit, although it has stuck with Webasto for the diesel-fired cooktop. The Outside new Truma Combi comes with an elegant and xternally the Jabiru is quite a clean intuitive digital control panel that’s mounted design. The test vehicle was finished in next to Trakka’s trademark multifunction easy-clean white with a large faux-carbon control panel in a cupboard above the fibre accent panel on each side, encompassing cooker. In operation it uses a rotary knob the windows. The only external lockers were to select between hot water, heating or fan for the toilet cassette and vehicle-mounted (for basic ventilation), which you then press electrical lead for plugging into mains power. to operate. And if you order a Truma Aventa airconditioner it can be controlled from there LPG for cooking and hot water is standard, too. I was pleased to see the Combi does requiring an additional external locker for the away with Truma’s usual external vent and its gas cylinders, but like most Jabirus leaving awfully difficult to remove cover. In its place is Trakka’s factory the test vehicle came up a smaller, slimline vent with no cover required. with the optional Remote pack. This does away with LPG by using diesel heat for the Another option fitted to the test Jabiru and hot water and cooker as well as the room one I think an absolute must was the electric heater. Other components of the Remote side door. Operated remotely from the key pack include additional thermal and sound fob or a switch inside the door frame, it does insulation and 2 x 80 W solar panels. The away with the ‘whiz-bang’ aspect people so Pack adds $7500 to the price tag but it’s well dislike about sliding side doors – especially worthwhile for those looking to travel in all ones as big as this. Also, you can stop it at climates and off the beaten track. any point to provide just the opening you want. At $1800 it might sound a little pricey, A departure from Remote packs of old is the

E

The diesel-fired Truma Combi has a small, neat exhaust vent that doesn’t require the cover so difficult to remove on Truma’s LPG hot water system vent. The other fittings are for mains water connection (right) and the fresh water tank.


38 | Touring Test Below: All electrical and system controls are neatly grouped in a cupboard above the cooker. Below: Under-bed storage is reasonable, while the small door on the right accesses the Truma Combi and associated plumbing.

but you’d appreciate its convenience many times every day. A major upgrade/improvement is now the standard inclusion of an electric awning. Operated from a switch inside the passenger’s door frame because you need to have the sliding side door closed while in use, it’s an excellent unit that deploys at a pace that enables you to extend the legs and ‘walk’ it into position (and vice versa). Can’t wait to have one on Project Polly! Well, maybe… At the back there’s quite decent storage under the bed, but it’s only accessible via the rear doors. Trakka’s signature outdoor table, which attaches to a runner on the side of the sliding door, tucks neatly away in this area and you can easily store an outdoor table, camping chairs and quite a few other bits and pieces. Access to the Truma Combi and associated plumbing is via a door under the bed head, too.

Inside

I

nternally, the Jabiru uses a standard van conversion layout. That means swivelling cab seats that double as a dinette, a centre kitchen and bathroom, and rear bedroom. The beds are lengthways singles that can be made into a king and also provide space for an extra dining table location. An interesting alternative is the four-seat twoberth Jabiru Xtra. It offers a four seat dinette, the extra space being found by substituting an east-west bed across the back with moulded pods on both ends to extend length while still retaining fully opening windows. We’re keen to roadtest this layout as it might well be the ultimate van conversion floor plan. Stay tuned… Since we reviewed the Crafter-based Jabiru Trakka has redesigned the cab area in a small way that transforms it in terms of liveability. By


Touring Test | 39 Despite being ‘only’ two-wheel drive the Jabiru can still get you to out-of-the-way campsites…


40 | Touring Test Top: The big table top can be used on the pole mount between the cab seats or the bed ends, providing two dining location options. Bottom: The addition of a side window has transformed the Jabiru’s cab area, while the flip-up table and drawer top make a great casual table or even mobile office space.

inserting a window in the wall immediately behind the drive’s seat and removing the shelf and TV mounting pole it opens it up and adds a real feeling of spaciousness. With the driver’s seat swivelled 180° you can use the top of the drawer below the window as a small table for coffee or light meals. There’s also a small flip-up table off the side of the drawer and the whole area makes an excellent mobile office space that keeps you out of the way of your travelling companion, especially if they’re cooking. Trakka’s previous use of light toned timber trim throughout has been augmented with modern gloss white cabinetry, although its trademark silver-grey roller shutter cupboard doors remain. The Sprinter’s rear barn doors have also come in for an upgrade and although they still retain the fixed factory


Touring Test | 41

The small table top on the pole is useful for bedtime snacks, or swap it for the big one and use the bed ends as an alternative dinette. Note the LED strip lights in place of traditional reading lights. If only they could be dimmed…

glass, inside they are now soft panelled and come complete with privacy blinds. Lighting has also undergone a major revamp. Individual reading and saloon lights have been replaced by LED strips, while concealed and dimmable LED mood lighting is a great feature. We particularly liked the LED strip under the edge of the kitchen bench that shines directly into the drawers, when opened. Two sizes of tables are now provided for the pole mount and either can be used between the swivelled cab seats or at the bed ends, by the kitchen. Both store in or around the half-height wardrobe above the foot of the passenger side bed, although taller people will need to remove the big table when going to bed to avoid stubbing their toes on its base fitting.

Living

A

ll Trakka designs are eminently liveable and the Jabiru’s is no exception. The cab seats are as comfortable for after-hours relaxing as they are for long days driving; the kitchen has proper bench space and almost cavernous storage; the patented Switch Mode Bathroom, with its remote-controlled cassette toilet that tucks away under the vanity when not required, also provides a larger than usual shower cubicle; and the twin bed arrangement is generously proportioned and can easily be converted to king. Detail innovations abound too. For example there’s a concertina door for bedroom privacy that folds discreetly out of the way during the day. Another is the TV mounting system: a pair of poles and associated connections – one in the bedroom and one in the kitchen


42 | Touring Test

Right: Clever kitchen lighting shines into the drawers and is part of the dimmable saloon lighting circuit. Bottom: The remotely-operated toilet cassette tucks away beneath the hand basin when not required. – that allow you to reposition the television to either end of the vehicle. From its kitchen mount the TV can also be swivelled for outdoor viewing, even through the window of the side door if it’s closed. If the side door is open there’s a useful flip-up table on the back of the kitchen unit that’s great for casual outdoor use, too. Another clever item can be found in the half-height wardrobe: A single drawer that can be removed and positioned between the bedheads to provide valuable bedside storage and a handy table for coffee cups, glasses, books or whatever.

What I Think

I

t’s basically a given that a Trakka will be good and the 2016 Jabiru doesn’t disappoint. Design, innovation and quality-wise there are few manufacturers who can touch them, while the roomy Jabiru floorplan works well enough to make this a practical motorhome for short or longterm travel.


Touring Test | 43

Using single beds allows the drawer from the wardrobe to be relocated and used as a bedside table. To make up the kingsize bed just pull out the centre board, insert two cushions and you’re in business.

Trakka designs are eminently liveable and the Jabiru is no exception. I’ve concentrated more on the driving experience in this review because it’s what makes the new Jabiru exceptional. MercedesBenz has excelled with the latest generation Sprinter and its V6 turbo-diesel/7speed auto drivetrain. Once

again the competition will be playing catch-up. If there is one word to sum up the driving experience it would be ‘sublime’. The winner out of all this is the buyer. If you’re after a van conversion that provides a

superlative driving experience and outstanding design and quality, look no further. The Jabiru isn’t just a polished performer – it sparkles.


44 | Touring Test

Specs GENERAL Make

Trakka

Model

Jabiru

Type

Van conversion

Berths

2

Approved Seating

2

Licence

Car

VEHICLE Make/Model

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 419 LWB

Engine

3.0 L V6 turbo-diesel

Power

140 kW @ 3800 rpm

Torque

420 Nm @ 1400-2400 rpm

Gearbox

7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic

Safety

ABS, Stability Control, Traction Control, 4 airbags

Fuel

100 L

WEIGHTS Tare Weight

3600 kg

Gross Vehicle Mass

4490 kg

Max Payload

900 kg

Braked Towing Capacity

2000 kg

DIMENSIONS Overall Length

7.10 m (23’ 2”)

Overall Width

2.18 m (7’ 2”)

Overall Height

2.78 m (9’ 2”)

Internal Height

1.94 m (6’ 4’)

Main Bed/s

2.05 m x 0.65 m (6’ 9” x 2’ 2”)

Luton Bed

N/A

Dinette Bed

N/A


Pros

Specs EQUIPMENT Slide-Out

N/A

Awning

Dometic Electric

Entry Steps

1 x Electric

Cooker

Webasto diesel

Rangehood

Externally vented with LED lighting

Sink

Dometic round with fold-down flick mixer, glass lid

Fridge

Waeco 136 L compressor

Microwave

Sharp

Lighting

12 V LED

12 V Sockets/USB Outlets

1 x 12 V, 2 x USB

Air Conditioner

Optional

Space Heater

Truma Combi

Hot Water System

Truma Combi

Toilet

Thetford cassette

Shower

Flexible hose

CAPACITIES Batteries

2 x 100 AH AGM

Solar

2 x 80 W

LPG

N/A

Fresh Water

120 L

Grey Water

80 L

Hot Water

10 L

Toilet

19 L cassette

PRICE From

$146,500

As Tested

$155,800

Touring DayTest Test | 45

• Seamless driveline integration and refinement • Driving pleasure • Comfort • Economy • Conversion design and innovation • Quality • Resale value

Cons

• Driver’s side mirror obstruction • Speed limitation on spare wheel • Sourcing a Super Single in the Bush • Grey water drain difficult to reach

Contacts

Trakka 9 Beaumont Rd Mt Kuring-gai NSW T: 0800 872 455 E: trakka@trakka.com.au W: www.trakka.com.au

Trip Map

Click to view online

Click for Google Maps


46 | Touring Test

Around the Benz! Motor vehicle model designations can be mystifying and to the uninitiated Mercedes Benz Sprinter range is one of the most confusing. In practice, however, it’s quite simple. Here’s how it works:

In practice it means the 310 (3550 kg GVM/100 hp) is the baby of the range, the 519 (5000 kg GVM/190 hp) is the big brother and everything else fits somewhere in between.

• The first number represents the gross vehicle mass (GVM) rating. So 3 means it’s 3550 kg, 4 is 4490 kg and 5 is 5000 kg

Of course nothing is ever that straight forward and there are exceptions, like a GVM increase to 3880 kg for a ‘3’ series or a 5200 kg GVM option for a ‘5’. Anyway, now you’re an expert – happy Sprinter spotting!

• The last two numbers are the engine power rating in horse power. So 10 is 100 hp (70 kW), 13 is 130 hp (95 kW), 16 is 160 hp (120 kW) and 19 is 190 hp (140 kW).


48 | Technical: A-Frame Towing

In The Frame A-frame towing is increasingly popular. Here’s what you need to know‌ by Richard Robertson


Technical | 49 caravan or fifth-wheeler in the first place. What that overlooks, amongst other advantages, is the primary safety aspect. A big motorhome towing a small car is much safer than a small (or large) car towing a big caravan, should something go wrong. A secondary safety consideration is having two independent motor vehicles should one breakdown or need to go in for repairs or servicing while travelling.

American Made

B

risbane-based Northcoach RV Equipment is a specialist importer and fitter of the two most recognised American brands of A-frame towing systems: Ready Brute and Blue Ox. They also have distributors in all States (though not the ACT or Northern Territory) who supply and install their systems.

Previous Page: Excited owner Maria with partner Phil. Above: A-frames are highly specialised towing systems that are becoming increasingly popular.

A

-frame towing – also known as flat towing because the frame is ‘flat’ (parallel) to the road – is an American norm rapidly gaining popularity in Australia. In the United States many motorhomes seem to be used as mobile vacation homes and at a destination they can sit for weeks or months while the owners run about in their car. American motorhomes are often much larger than their Antipodean counterparts, hence the love affair with the ‘dinghy’ car towed behind (sometimes known as a Toad in Australia). However, ‘Toads’ are becoming an increasingly common sight on Australian roads as their advantages become better known and motorhome sizes and towing capacities increase. There’s a school of thought that says if you want to take a car you’re better off towing a

Just before Christmas I stopped by for a chat to get the low-down and watch a new installation taking place. “The Blue Ox and Ready Brute systems are very popular in Australia and their adjustable arms are a major attraction,” said Northcoach proprietor Mark Blyton. “The arms adjust in and out, left and right, and up and down. That means when you’re ready to connect to the A-frame your car doesn’t have to be perfectly square with the back of the motorhome and just the right distance behind it.” “The A-frame’s adjustable arms make hookup as simple as possible. Once connected the arms are fully extended by driving the motorhome forward and locked into position. Your car then ends up sitting straight behind it. We sell a lot of these to single women because it’s so simple to use and the whole thing only weighs a manageable 18 kg,” Mark explained. Hooking up to a non-adjustable A-frame requires perfect alignment behind, and spacing between, the towing and towed vehicles. It’s rather like connecting a car and caravan. Also,


50 | Technical

Both American brands, Blue-Ox and Ready Brute, have adjustable arms for ease of car attachment and make models with a built-in brake that operate the car’s brakes. the arms of the two American systems fold up when not in use and the frame can be left attached to the rear of the vehicle, although this is only recommended for short drives. With the non-adjustable system the A-frame assembly must be removed when driving with the car disconnected.

But Wait There’s More…

W

hile the A-frame is the most obvious feature of a flat towing system there’s a lot more to it. Connection to your car is via bolts that attach to a vehicle-specific baseplate mounted up under the front of the chassis. In most cases it doesn’t protrude out the front of the vehicle, although on the day of my visit it did due to the location of the intercooler on the diesel-powered Grand Vitara being set-up. A connection is also required to the towed vehicle’s electrics so all lights (except the headlights) work in unison with the motorhome, just like a trailer. This is via a removable lead that plugs into a normal trailer socket on the

back of the motorhome and a matching one on the grill of the car. While it’s not a legal requirement, Northcoach includes a separate break-away system that will quickly stop the car in the unlikely event it parts company with your motorhome. When towing it’s important for the A-frame and car to be as level as possible. Mark said there’s only about 50 mm (2 inches) leeway, beyond which troubles can develop. The biggest problem is if the attachment point at the front of the car is higher, because under braking the it will try to ride over the top of the A-frame, causing problems with the baseplate mounting bolts. Incorrect set-up usually only occurs after or due to a DIY installation. If a car is too high (or low) a drop receiver is fitted to the towbar of the motorhome to level things up. However, this cannot be identified until installation.

Know your Toad!

T

he biggest problem with A-frame towing is people need to ensure that what they want to tow they can tow before they go


Technical | 51 opposite direction to the way the tow vehicle is turning. Also, it doesn’t have a transfer case. Whatever you’re looking at buying it’s a good idea to check with Northcoach first. “While most people coming in only want to tow something small, we do have people wanting to tow things like Landcruisers, Jeeps and dualcab 4x4 utes, all of which are fine as long as they’re manual. If the tow vehicle has the rated capacity you can really tow anything you like. For example, in America the US Army tows six Hummers in a row using A-frames!” Mark said. “Of course they do,” I quipped.

Horse for Courses and buy it. The most commonly towed vehicle is this Suzuki Grand Vitara because it can be towed as either a manual or automatic. Since 2000 all Vitaras have been able to be towed, except one 3-door model from 2006 and the latest entry-level Vitara, as distinct from the latest Grand Vitara,” Mark explained. As a guide, most vehicles with manual transmissions can be towed and most with automatics can’t. There are exceptions to every rule of course (like the automatic Grand Vitara), but for example Suzuki’s Jimny Sierra is a nogo despite its manual transmission due to its tendency for the front wheels to turn in the

T

th Blue Ox and Ready Brute make systems of similar capacity with the commonly used built-in braking system additionally, but Blue Ox has a broader range that covers larger vehicles “Most of our sales use the built-in braking system due to its simplicity, ease of use and cost. This system pulls a cable that runs back through the firewall of the car to the foot brake lever, pulling the brakes on. We get a lot of people who say their towed vehicle has power brakes and if the engine’s not running you can’t press the brake pedal hard enough to stop. Trust me, this system is more than strong

Top: The Patriot electric brake works with Blue-Ox systems towing heavier vehicles. NSW registered motorhomes towing a vehicle with a GVM exceeding 2000 kg also require it. Below: Adjustable arms make storage easier and the A-frame can even be left in place for short journeys. .


52 | Technical

Above: Though it looks complex, once you know what you’re doing it only takes a few minutes to connect or remove the towed vehicle. Right: The shop is a good place to practice A-frame set-up!

enough and in fact if it’s not set up properly, which is part of what we do, it will lock up the brakes, it’s that efficient.” “For vehicles over a certain weight, which varies between states, a Blue Ox system combines with an electric brake – the Patriot unit – which sits in the footwell against the drivers seat and has an arm that applies the brakes in unison with the motorhome’s brakes. It also has a battery to power an emergency break-away system, plus a remote control so you can operate it from the motorhome should the car start to sway, say when going down a mountain or whatever,” Mark continued. “Unlike other States and Territories, in NSW any towed vehicle with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) exceeding 2000 kg must have electric brakes and a break-away emergency stopping system with battery back-up. In NSW, if you want a Grand Vitara below that limit you’ll need


Technical | 53

Good as gold! Shane from Custom Towbars and Trailers, next door, provides Northcoach’s fitting service. They also have dealers around the country to look after interstate customers. a 3-door. Buy a 5-door and you’ll need the Blue Ox system.

Reversing

A

topic I was interested to find out about was reversing and the short answer is you can’t – on any A-frame. Mark explained that all vehicles have a positive castor on the front wheels when you’re going forward, which makes them track straight. In reverse they have a negative castor and will go full-lock one way or the other. He also said the locking mechanisms of the adjustable arms are designed to have a load pulling on them, not pushing. If you need to reverse out of somewhere the idea is to disconnect the Toad and drive both vehicles to a suitable place to hook up again. The same applies in caravan parks. Mark said most couples have one person checking in and

the other disconnecting the Toad, which takes an experienced user just a few minutes. Both vehicles are then driven to the site and only reconnected after check-out.

Costs

T

he cost of a fully installed system varies depending on the A-frame used, which state you live in and its regulations.

Northcoach stocks a wide range of vehicle baseplates and each is quite model specific. If you want to tow a vehicle for which there is no off-the-shelf solution they can make one. There is additional cost, of course, as the unit has to be designed and engineered to suit, plus you need to leave your vehicle with them for a couple of days. However, if a vehicle has a steel (not alloy) bullbar the A-frame attachment points can be bolted to it. This does away with the need for a baseplate as the bullbar does the


54 | Technical

The optional Protect-A-Tow system stops road debris flinging up and damaging the towed car or A-frame and cables. same job via its chassis mounting points. This solution also reduces costs. Northcoach recommends adding a set of three locking pins, which are keyed alike and prevent anyone unhooking and stealing the car and/ or A-frame. You can also buy a cover for the A-frame when it’s not being used, plus many people buy the Protect-A-Tow system. This is basically a big, fine-mesh net that sits between the motorhome and car, beneath the A-frame, and not only stops debris being flung up into the front of the car, it also protects the A-frame, cables and wires. Ongoing maintenance is minimal, but an annual service is recommended to ensure the whole system is in good working order. Flat towing requires a considerable investment in terms of both a car and towing system, but

can add a degree of flexibility and safety when you travel that makes it all worthwhile. If you think it’s for you and you want to find out more, contact Mark and his team at Northcoach RV Equipment on (07) 32096654 or one of his authorised installers. Next issue we’ll look at the Blue Ox TruCentre steering control system, which aids stability in gusty crosswinds and is designed to provide significant assistance in case of a front tyre blowout. We’ll also look at Blue Ox heavy-duty rear sway bars for Mercedes-Benz Sprinters, designed to reduce body roll and improve handling.


Technical | 55 Northcoach RV Equipment is a parts and accessories business at Loganholme on Brisbane’s southern fringe. The business largely focuses on its specialty of A-frame towing equipment as the main Australian distributor of the Ready Brute and Blue Ox brands. The company has a number of other Australian distributorships including the popular Lagun table frame system as used in Project Polly, the innovative Rollaway Shower Screens, and powered Happijac Bedlift frames.

Contact: Northcoach RV Equipment 10 Chetwynd St, Loganholme QLD 4129 E: enquiries@northcoach.com.au T: 07 32096654 F: 07 32096729 W: northcoach.com.au

Specialties aside, Northcoach carries a wide range of RV parts and accessories, all of which can be bought online, via phone order or from the shop. Cleverly, the premises are divided in two, with Custom Towbars & Trailers in the other half. There, Jason and his small team work as on-site installers to look after Northcoach’s customers’ needs, as well as their own.

NORTHCOACH EQUIPMENT PTY LTD

Click for Google Maps


56 | Project Polly

Shakedown! Hitting the road to find out how Polly really works for us‌ by Richard Robertson


Project Polly | 57

Small towns like Bredo on the Monaro Highway are a good place to stop for coffee and investigate local produce. Snowy Mountains Gourmet Food makes good coffee and we picked up a smoked trout to take home. Much better than a postcard or souvenir teaspoon…

W

e’ve had our ex-Apollo Rentals Ford Transit Euro Tourer – Polly – for about eight months now and in that time managed just three nights away: one on the homeward delivery run and two at our inaugural iMotorhome get together at Joadja last September. In fact it’s been six months since we slept in her, despite using her for numerous day trips, and if you think that’s a sorry state of affairs you’re damn right! It’s one we plan to rectify in no uncertain terms in 2016. So we spotted a break in our combined work schedules, packed some things and headed away – for two nights. Well, it’s a start… Late last year we received an invitation from Sue and Colin to visit their Snowy River Holiday Park in Dalgety, not far from Jindabyne in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. The couple bought the park in mid 2014 and were looking to highlight the improvements they’ve made, but also to create interest in the upcoming Dalgety Show on 6 March and the unique Festival of Small Halls on 19 March (see News). So Dalgety it was and next issue we’ll take a

closer look at what the town and surrounding area have to offer. Suffice to say it was a great little trip and we’re already planning a return visit in April, enroute to Victoria for some rail trail cycling.

Preparations

L

ast issue I mentioned we’d lost one of our new hubcaps on the first run with them installed. At more around $50 a pop they’re too expensive to trust to the standard internal fitting hoop, so when a replacement flew in from the UK I reinstalled the set, but this time with two cable ties per wheel. It was a tight fit getting each one installed as the ties proved to be about 10 mm shorter than ideal, but after a bit if wrestling they were in place. I used white cable ties and thought they’d look a bit tacky, but truth is they’re quite difficult to spot unless you’re looking for them. Good news too: All hubcaps are still there! Pre-departure checks included running the hot water system, in which I still need to replace the anode, but that was easier said than done. Despite getting the gas cooktop to light I just


58 | Project Polly couldn’t get the old Suburban HWS to follow suit. It’s been a problem since buying Polly, but one seemingly rectified (amongst others) when we returned her to Apollo for some belated service work in October. It certainly worked after that, but I remembered when we stayed in her at Joadja that despite not working before we left home, once there it worked fine. So I put it down to lack of use and hoped some driving would dislodge any gas line airlocks. I also figured we we’re heading to a caravan park, so lack of hot water wouldn’t be the end of the world. Pre-departure I tried at least 10 seperate start-up sequences without success. Once onsite in Dalgety it started first go – and did so on each subsequent occasion. I guess it likes a good drive as much as we do… Mrs iMotorhome was keen to get away for a ‘proper’ trip to try and establish a system of some sort. Those of you with your own RVs will know it’s one thing to pack things away when you first get it; quite another to find a place for everything and make it work when travelling. As it turns out she only wants to swap items between our two slide-out pantry units, while a couple of new little plastic tubs will make some spare under-bed storage space more useful.

Good, Bad and Ugly…

T

he Good of our trip was just about everything. We had a great drive and the scenery down Dalgety way, especially across the wide open grasslands of the Monaro Plain south of Cooma, was breathtaking. Quite like the prairies of Wyoming, in fact. Polly ran perfectly, everything worked and we had an excellent time in Dalgety, but more on that next issue. This was the first time we’d used the airconditioner ‘in anger’ – it was about 32ºC both days in the caravan park – and our Solarscreens did a mighty job keeping late summer out and the little Heron’s cool air in. We borrowed some DVDs and watched

Top to bottom: A roadside snack on the way south and washing up after dinner in Dalgety. Finding out how a vehicle works for you is all part of the RV experience.


Project Polly | 59

Finding a place for everything is part of the challenge, especially when you carry a Nespresso machine! Polly’s kitchen has more usable space than some big motorhomes and Mrs iM was quickly into the groove… movies on Friday and Saturday night, which was another first. Our two stick-on battery powered LED lights (one motion sensing) worked a treat in their intended rolls and we realised that small as Polly is, as long as we move slowly and deliberately she’s more than big enough for both of us. We also had time to stop and watch the platypus, smell the roses and watch the sun set over the Snowy River. Not bad at all…

rear side windows and small non-fan roof hatch afford. We’ve ordered insect screens for the side and rear door openings and they will make a huge difference. A 12 volt fan should be with us by the time you’re reading this, too. It’s not a fancy one to be wired in, just a Coleman rechargeable unit that at the very least will move air around inside on still nights when we don’t have the luxury of mains power to run the aircon.

The Bad of our trip, apart from having to go home when we were just getting into the swing of things, was the lack of phone coverage in Dalgety after storms took out the local Telstra 4G data tower in January. Vodafone promised blanket mobile phone coverage in town, though no data, but it seems someone left the blanket up on the surrounding hills. All this had a silver lining, however, as it meant I could switch off from work for a while, so no complaints really.

Finally

The Ugly of our trip? That was the discovery of just how little ventilation Polly’s tiny opening

T

here are still a myriad of little jobs to attend to, from swapping two old halogen reading lights for new LEDs to making some towel hanging space (and changing the hot water system anode!). There’s a big job looming – solar – but more on it soon, plus an exciting one that just today has had to be delayed a couple of weeks while we wait for a part we didn’t know we needed to arrive from Poland!


60 | Project Polly By next issue I’ll also have taken Polly to Melbourne to attend the opening day of the 2016 Victorian Caravan Camping & Touring Supershow. I’m planning it as a three day solo trip – Mrs iM will be in Asia – and it will be the first opportunity for Polly to ‘fly the flag’ at a major RV event. After next issue Polly and I will be in Brisbane on 12 March for the Motorhome 101 Day we’re hosting in conjunction with Southern Spirit Campervans for motorhoming newbies (see ad on P19). We’re also booked in to the CMCA’s 30th Anniversary Rally in Bathurst from 24 April to 1 May. Mrs iM will be on holidays then, so if you’d like to meet us all just look for Polly somewhere in the crowd. As you can see we’re starting to get out there. If you see Polly please wave, flash your lights or just come up and say g’day if you see us parked. Neither of us bite and it’s always good to make new friends!

Above: The Solarscreens worked well as did the aircon, which was just as well as ventilation is almost non existent. Rear and side-door insect screens are on order! Right: Hubcaps are now discreetly cable tied on.

Trip Map: click to view online


Project Polly | 61

We had time to stop and watch the platypus, smell the roses and watch the sun set over the Snowy River. Not bad at all‌


62 | Travel Snapshot

No

Reservoir Dog! The Pines campground at Blowing Reservoir is a top spot for free camping‌


Travel Snapshot | 63

Above: Stunning views across the water and plenty of room to get away from others. Left: Not a bad view from the kitchen window.

T

he massive Blowering Reservoir, which is more like a lake, lies between Tumut and Talbingo in the foothills of the NSW Snowy Mountains. Man made for power generation, flood mitigation and irrigation, its shores boast several free campgrounds. On our Trakka Jabiru touring test we spent a night at The Pines campground some 22 km south of Tumut. Operated by NSW National Parks, it’s on the fringes of the Snowy Mountains National Park and is a terrific spot well worth visiting. Situated beside the Snowy Mountains Highway on the sloping, eastern banks of the reservoir,


64 | Travel Snapshot

Blowering Reservoir is ringed by hills and the views are majestic, but The Pines campground is in the Kosciusko National Park, so pets aren’t allowed.

the campground is easily accessed and has a limited number of reasonably level and shady spots close to the road. There are also basic drop toilets and rubbish dumping facilities, although no water. From the top area a concrete ramp runs a couple of hundred metres down towards the water. In wetter times it would serve as a boat ramp and be considerably shorter than it is at present. The current water levels open up a wide range of free camping opportunities over literally kilometres of foreshore, although finding a level spot is more the challenge. The ground was firm with a patchy cover of grass, but if it rained you might find yourself in bother getting back to the concrete path


Travel Snapshot | 65 if you’ve gone too far afield. Fortunately the sky is wide and approaching storms are easily spotted. Even better, there is excellent mobile phone and data coverage and our Vodafone and Telstra connected devices showed 3 to 4 bars of 3G coverage. That means it’s easy to keep a weather radar eye on the surrounding countryside and brag to family and friends about what a great time you’re having! As there’s no shade once you leave the top camping area it can get quite hot in summer, especially as the shores are west-facing, but the upside is excellent solar panel exposure. Combined with the good mobile coverage, magnificent views, boating opportunities and apparently decent fishing, this is a top spot for short or longer-term stays. Just be aware that firewood is scarce close to the campsite. Weekends are reportedly busy with waterskiers and there could easily be a hoon element ‘letting their hair down’, but on weekdays the site only seems to host Grey Nomad-style travellers.

Fast Facts Price: Free Star Rating: 4 WikiCamps rating: 3.5 stars by 15 users Visited: January 2016 Tips: Take levelling blocks, firewood and extra water if planning to stay a while. Avoid on weekends, public and school holidays, especially during warmer weather. Can be hot and windy. Twowheel drive’s fine but rainfall could make getting out difficult. No pets allowed. More Info: www.nationalparks. nsw.gov.au/camping-andaccommodation/campgrounds/ThePines-campground Click for Google Maps

Google Maps:

Trip Map: click to view online

WikiCamps:

Star Ratings Explained… 1: Rubbish 2: Poor 4: Good

5: Excellent

3: Average


66 | Solo Traveller

H

appy New Year?

What a start to the new year, reports our fledgling solo traveller Sharon Hollamby‌


Solo Traveller | 67

Sharon’s play It’s Only a Dollar, about the social problems poker machines cause, debuted successfully just before Christmas.

I

hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year with their loved ones. Santa was not kind to me as I asked him very nicely for a new bus and awoke eagerly Christmas morning but alas there was nothing there for me. The lead up to Christmas was busy as my play, ‘It’s Only A dollar,’ was presented. We were delighted that the Hon. Tammy Franks MLC was able to attend as she has been a great support to us since 2012.The cast did a fabulous job and it was amazing to see something I had written come to life. It opened up unspoken conversations in some families and gave others a better understanding of how easy it is to become addicted to poker machine gambling. The day after the play the bushfires hit to the

north of us and we got the warning to stay put. As the smoke poured down the main street of Gawler people in surrounding areas were frantically trying to save homes and livestock. Wind gusts of up to 80 km/h made the fire unpredictable and difficult to contain. Sadly, two people perished in the blaze.

Christmas Cheer

I

n the days following the fire, the call went out for assistance with food, clothing, toiletries and other essentials, and the people of Adelaide gave generously. However, a post asking for Christmas lights to brighten up the town of Hamley Bridge for the kids caught my eye. With temperatures in the 40s, the town pool out of action due to ash and dirt, and everyone busy rebuilding, the kid’s school holidays were looking bleak.


68 | Solo Traveller

Toyota Coaster or Mazda T3500, which would you choose? I bought some lights and candy canes to give to one of the families and headed off to their Christmas pageant. The road was lined with burnt, broken trees and blackened paddocks. With the wind creating dust storms and even mini tornados, it was a depressing sight. Some of the roadside trees looked precarious, making it feel as if I were driving through a minefield. The pageant was held at the Hamley Bridge oval and I was pleasantly surprised to see about thirty big rigs, caravans, campers and even tents scattered around the oval. A sign on the way into town had proclaimed that they were RV friendly, but I thought they must be very friendly if they were this popular. Wading pools dotted the oval and the CFS had set up a slip-and-slide to keep the kids cool. It was lovely to watch the little ones as they splashed around laughing and having some much deserved fun. As I sat and waited for the parade to start a young mum and her son approached and asked if I would mind if they sat next to me.

The lady, Kylie, was very friendly and was soon recounting her close encounter with the fires. She told me of her desperation as she raced around trying to locate her kids while the flames roared all around her. Kylie and her family have lived in Hamley Bridge for about five years, having moved there to give her kids a better life. She said, “There have been fires before, but this was the scariest it has ever been”.

Blaze Aid to the Rescue…

K

ylie explained that all of the people camped there were volunteers from a group called Blaze Aid and they were helping the farmers rebuild. I was keen to find out more and decided to have a chat with some of the men after the parade. It was a small but colourful pageant with lots of lollies thrown, squeals of delight and of course the Great Man making an appearance at the end. Thanking Kylie for the company and friendly chat I gave her the lights and candy canes I had in my bag. Her little boy’s eyes lit up and I got a big hug from a grateful mum.


Solo Traveller | 69

As the smoke poured down the main street of Gawler people in surrounding areas were frantically trying to save homes and livestock. I managed to catch some of guys from Blaze Aid just as they were heading over for a beer but they were happy to stop and chat.

but volunteering can certainly help to give you a purpose in life,� they said.

Blaze Aid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with Terry and Ian had been in town families after natural disasters for about a week and Ron had such as fires or floods. The just arrived that day. When volunteers help to rebuild I asked what made them fences and anything else volunteer they all said that it that has been damaged or made them feel good to help. destroyed. It was was formed in 2009 after the Black “It’s easy to feel a little bit old Saturday bushfires, when and redundant after retirement, Kilmore East farmers Kevin

and Rhonda Butler found themselves affected by the fire. With around 1500 sheep that needed to be secured they sought help from family, friends and local volunteers to help rebuild the fences. Within a week, the fences were completed. Grateful for the assistance they received, Kevin and Rhonda decided to help others with their fencing. Thus Blaze Aid was born.


70 | Solo Traveller

Above: Bushfires are part and parcel of Australian life. None the less they take a terrible toll and can require years to get over, even with plenty of community support. Bottom: My bathroom tent basically fell apart, but thankfully was replaced with a better one by Ray’s Outdoors in Elizabeth. We all naturally think about the rebuilding of homes after a bushfire but I had never given much thought to the importance of fencing before. The people that they help become like family and Terry said he still gets Christmas cards from the very first family he helped. Temperatures were in the 40s here in Adelaide but these guys still went out to help those in need. Great work guys and thanks for the chat. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer check out Blaze Aid HERE

Home Aid!

T

he strong winds also wreaked havoc on the home front and my toilet/ shower tent took a bit of a beating. I had noticed previously that it seemed to develop a bad case of what I can only describe as cellulite! I wasn’t impressed, but I didn’t worry too much until it started to rip. I bought the Wild Country shower/toilet tent believing it to be of good quality, but the material had become like tissue

paper and the wind just shredded it. As I had only had it for six months I took it back to Rays Outdoors at Elizabeth. Feeling a little stressed about the whole thing as I hate returning items, I anxiously walked into the store. They could not have been more helpful and within 10 minutes I was walking out the door


Solo Traveller | 71

Volunteers from Blaze Aid poured into the fire affected areas north of Adelaide to help people rebuild fences and get their lives back on track. Good works aside, lifelong friendships are often forged in these trying conditions. with a new tent. I was reluctant to go with another Wild Country one, but the manager was happy to exchange it for a Boab brand tent. It was actually more expensive than the original, but he didn’t charge me any extra. I have always been impressed with the friendly service and advice from this store, but the staff went above and beyond which made this anxious lady feel extremely grateful. Great service guys!

Graduation and Beyond

I

t was with immense relief that my course finally finished and I received a credit and a distinction for my final semester. This gives me an Advanced Diploma in Professional Writing so I’m very pleased with myself. As Santa didn’t come to the party the hunt for a bus continues. I still need to leave Adelaide before another icy winter hits. The plan now is to do a business course through the Business Enterprise Centre (BECS) and apply for a

micro enterprise loan, to help set me up. My question is, should I get a Mazda T3500 or a Toyota Coaster? The Mazda buses are harder to find and more expensive and I’m wondering if that is because it is the better option. I am looking forward to getting out there, meeting everybody and experiencing the real Australia. The idea has always been to head to Alice Springs first, but I’m beginning to wonder if May is the right time of year for it. Having lived in South Australia since I was two years old any advice would be appreciated. Safe travels!


72 | Mobile Tech

Wildlife Rescue

Apps to help look after our wild friends‌ By Emily Barker


Mobile Tech | 73

E

ncountering injured or distressed wildlife as you travel is nothing new for the seasoned traveller. It can be difficult, however, especially if you’re unsure of how to assist. No-one wants to ignore an animal clearly in need of help, but in some cases it can be downright dangerous to intervene. Bats and flying foxes, for example, should never be touched and only people trained and vaccinated should handle bats as they can carry harmful diseases. If you are bitten or scratched by a bat, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for at least five minutes and inform the nearest doctor as soon as possible. Australia’s native fauna is wonderfully diverse and there are just about as many organisations dedicated to assisting and often rehabilitating sick, injured or orphaned creatures. For a comprehensive list of all Wildlife Carer & Rescue Groups in Australia click HERE. IFAW Wildlife Rescue Size: 2.9 MB Cost: Free iOS & Android Mobile technology is making knowing who to contact and what to do if you find an injured, sick, orphaned or distressed native animal a little easier. This application is currently only servicing NSW, but it can help travellers in other states too. Created jointly by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the NSW Wildlife Council, IFAW Wildlife Rescue is a free app that aims to provide instant information and the contact details of registered wildlife carers in your direct vicinity. With a step-by-step guide of what to do and what not to do, this app is a handy first point of action. Importantly it contains external links for those not in NSW, utilising your device’s internal GPS navigation to search and locate rescue organisations. It’s important to keep in mind that stress is the biggest threat to injured or abandoned native

animals. Some will be in a state of shock when found and all will be terrified and usually extremely stressed. It is said that more native animals die in care from stress than from any other single cause, which is why immediate direct contact with experienced rescuers is so important. WIRES Wildlife Rescue App Size: 16.2 MB Cost: Free iOS & Android WIRES is yet another NSW based application that focuses on directing people who come across injured or distressed wildlife. This app, however, contains a lot more information and is helpful for deciding just what, if anything, needs to be done. It also contains an easily accessible and comprehensive in-app list of interstate rescue contacts.


74 | Mobile Tech The additional details included in this app are what make it wonderful as it helps you to identify animals. Included are detailed descriptions and images of creatures at various ages and stages, plus other handy information such as the difference between a ringtail and a brushtail possum, and the reason this is important (ringtail’s commonly produce twins or triplets, so if you find one baby keep looking for more!). This app might be predominately for NSW but its features are functional no matter where you are.

Most animals must be first assessed by a vet before being accepted by a rescue organisation. Vets usually take in wildlife free of charge and you can search for your nearest wildlife-friendly vet throughout Australia via the app. You can also enquire about volunteering in your area, subscribe to their e-newsletter and register for regular rescue and care updates. No matter where you’re headed in Australia this app is bound to come in handy, and at 16.2 MB it won’t take up much room. In fact it might just help to save a life!

Have you found a baby bird? STOP - PLEASE DON’T KIDNAP ME!

Do not take me from my parents, as they teach me all the lessons and survival skills that I need to know as a bird; how to fly, what food to eat, how to find food and how to avoid predators. Please don’t rescue me unless I am in immediate danger or I am sick or injured.

Healthy baby birds have a much better chance of survival when left in their natural environment with their parents.

Precocial chicks

Altricial chicks

Ducks, masked lapwings (plovers), swamphens, moorhens, brush-turkey.

Honeyeaters, magpies, butcherbirds, magpie larks, kingfishers, parrots, pigeons, doves, raptors

I am born covered in down with my eyes open and can walk soon after hatching. I can feed myself but need the watchful protection of my parents until I am fully independent.

I am born with my eyes closed and have no or little feathers to keep me warm. My parents look after me completely until I am old enough to leave the nest.

Featherless altricial chicks If I have little or no feathers, I will become cold if my parents don’t return quickly. Please keep me warm by providing some gentle heat (like a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel) and take me to a wildlife hospital or a wildlife carer as soon as possible. Please don’t give me any food or water as I have specialised food requirements.

If I get separated from my parents, please help me by placing me safely under cover of a nearby dense bush or shrub and keep a watchful eye on me. My parents will return to protect me once they feel that it is safe to do so. Please don’t give me any food or water – my parents will feed me when they return.

Fledgling altricial chicks If I am starting to look like my parents and have most of my feathers, I have just left the nest and am learning to fly. Don’t worry, my mum and dad are probably out looking for more food; they’ll be back soon! If you are worried about me, place me on a branch in a nearby bush or shrub for safety until they return. Please don’t feed me – I much prefer the food my parents will bring back for me!

When should you intervene? I may need your help if: • I have no or little feathers and I can’t be returned to my original nest; • I am injured or have been in the mouth of a dog or cat; • I am cold and/or lethargic; • You noticed my parents dead nearby; or • You haven’t been able to re-unite me with my parents. Please place me gently into a ventilated small box with a soft towel on the bottom and put me somewhere warm, dark and quiet. Please don’t give me any food or water as I have a very specialised diet. Please contact your local wildlife care group for more information on how to help me. Birds that raise their young in tree hollows or closed nests (such as termite mounds), such as parrots, lorikeets, kookaburras and kingfishers, are difficult to re-nest. They have much more specialised nesting requirements and these birds should be referred to an experienced wildlife carer for advice.

Legislation Under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992, it is illegal to keep protected wildlife without an appropriate permit. Wildlife carers have been trained to provide the best possible care for our native birds and have the equipment and specialised foods that they require.

Baby Bird Poster developed by Wildcare Australia Inc www.wildcare.org.au

How to make a new home for an altricial chick I may need a helping hand if I have been adventurous and tried to fly a bit too early or bad weather has blown me to the ground. You can help me by building a makeshift nest. It’s very easy and don’t worry, my parents won’t reject me because you have helped me! A ‘baby bucket’ is a great nest alternative for birds that live in open nests such as magpies, crows, noisy miners, magpie larks, butcherbirds and tawny frogmouths. 4 easy steps to making a new home:-

1 Punch several holes in the bottom of a plastic bucket to provide drainage. If you don’t have a bucket, use an ice-cream container, a hanging plant basket or cane basket.

2 Place a layer of leaves or grass in the bottom. Place a stick in the bucket at an angle by securing it into one of the holes. This will allow the parents and baby bird to get in and out easily.

3 Place the baby in its new home and hang the bucket at head height in a leafy tree or bush away from direct sunlight and predators and close to where you found the baby.

4 Watch from a distance to make sure the parents return to feed the baby. If the parents do not return by dark, the baby will need to come into care.


Advertisers' Index | 75

Advertisers' Index AirBag Man 

26

Parkland RV Centre

26

Amphibian26

Redarc27

Australian Motor Homes

Robert’s RV World

26

Avida2

RV Specialists

26

Battery Traders Super Store

26

Solarscreen27

Bony Mountain Folk Festival

25

24

Caravan & Motorhome Covers

27

Southern Highlands  Service Centre Southern Spirit Campervans

27

8

Duvalay27 eBook Traveller e-Twow Electric Scooters Grey Nomad Tax Advisers Horizon Motorhomes iMotorhome App

20 27 24 5 24

iMotorhome Event - 101

19

iTech World

26

Nomadic Solutions

27

Northcoach Equipment Outback Travel Australia

55 21

OzCampers24 Paradise Motor Homes

10

Skytracks27 Sunliner13 Taronga Western Plains Zoo

26

Tiffin Motorhomes

27

Trakka47 Trailblazers RV

23

Webasto18 Wellington Shire

26

Winnebago7 Winjana RV

27

Wirraway Motor Homes

17


76 | Next Issue

TRANS-TASMAN TWO

N

ext issue we have a pair of tests that span the Tasman. From Australia we check out a Frontline Adventurer camper on the new and much anticipated T6 Volkswagen, while from New Zealand it’s a stylish Burstner Ixeo Time IT 726 B-class motorhome. Poles apart in every regard, the pair provide an interesting glimpse of where the new RV market is heading.

Feb 17-21

FEB

24-29

FEB

17-21

MAR

04-06Feb

As next issue signals the arrival of Autumn we’ll be detailing Project Polly’s Webasto diesel heater installation and it’s all-new digital control panel. Don’t miss it if you’re thinking of installing or upgrading a heater for the winter touring season. We’ll also be taking a look at the Blue Ox TrueCentre steering control system, which is ideal for bigger rigs and takes the ‘fight’ out of controlling your vehicle in strong winds, plus rear sway bars for Mercedes-Benz Sprinters.

Facebook “f ” Logo

Issue 90 will be out on Saturday 5 March, so until then please join our more than 31,000 Facebook Friends and followers on Twitter , and Instagram ? Pinterest RGB / .ai

Facebook “f ” Logo

24-29

RGB / .ai

FEB

24-29

FEB

17-21

MAR

Mar 04-06

FEB

FEB

04-06 24-29 17-21

Adelaide Let’s Go Caravan & Camping Lifestyle Show

Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow

Gold Coast Caravan, Camping Expo

Adelaide Showground Goodwood Rd, Wayville. SA. 5034.

Melbourne Showgrounds Epsom Rd, Ascot Vale. Vic. 3032.

Metricon Stadium Nerang-Broadbeach Rd, Carrara. Qld. 4211.

• • • • •

• Open 10:00-5:00 daily (4:00 final day) • Parking: TBA • Adults: $20 • Seniors: $16 • Kids: U 15 free

• • • • •

Open 10:00-5:00 daily Parking: Limited Adults: $13 Seniors: $10 Kids: U 15 free with adult

Visit Website Click for Google Maps

Visit Website Click for Google Maps

MAR

04-06

Open 09:30-5:00 daily Parking: $5 Adults: $10 Seniors: $8 Kids: Free for accompanied school age

Visit Website Click for Google Maps

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.

iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 89 – 20 February 2016  

Get a FREE subscription from our website now!

iMotorhome eMagazine Issue 89 – 20 February 2016  

Get a FREE subscription from our website now!