Back from Australia

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by kijana, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. kijana

    kijana Read Only Funster

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    We've been back nearly 3 weeks now, & at last some bodily functions are starting to overcome the cold, at least enough for a post :Smile:.

    We left Blighty for Oz last October, and flew out to KL for a few days, then on to Perth. We stayed at my brother's, and visited his girlfriend's hobby farm, where she keeps her horses and a few cattle as a pastime. We began to realize that not all countries are alike when she told us her 'farmlet' is over 100 acres!

    We flew on to see our son & his partner in Sydney. They left UK in 2004 to go travelling after uni, and after seeing SE Asia, & working 9 months in NZ, they flew to Sydney en route to South America. They never made it to SA - been in Sydney ever since.

    We had researched the secondhand market for motorhomes in Oz from UK long before we departed, & got our son to go & buy one for us from our shortlist, so the van was all ready for us when we arrived.

    Motorhomes are eye-wateringly expensive in Oz, both to buy and to hire. We bought a 2004 Ford Transit panel van, this being the smallest van we could find which included a shower & toilet. It was in very good condition, but had covered 160,000 km - not unusual for 2/h vans in Oz, since they're nearly all ex hire vehicles, and Australia is a BIG country. Our van also had a good size solar panel, and a big awning - both extras fitted by the last owner. And both desirable, since we planned to wildcamp most of the time. Van cost about £28k.

    When buying, the van needs a 'rego' i.e. it is registered in the new name. This necessitates a brief MOT type inspection, tax, and compulsory 3rd party insurance - an excellent attempt to minimize uninsured vehicles on the road. Rego fee was about $140 (£77) in NSW, but different states have different procedures & costs. We also insured ours fully comp, but wish we hadn't, as this cost another £700, which presumably didn't even include 3rd party risk - potentially vastly more risk than metalwork damage.

    After a few days in Sydney we drove over the iconic Harbour Bridge to start our adventures - what fun!

    We'd decided to drive north inland, and return along the coast. We also wanted to be out of Queensland by early December, since our research warned us of The Wet starting at that time, with consequent risk of isolation due to floods. So we headed north on the western side of the Great Dividing Range, and soon got used to intervals of several minutes between oncoming cars/ giant American-type trucks.

    Scenery was nearly all dried gum trees and brown grassy fields, with few animals. Roads are straight for miles on end, with very little traffic between towns. Didn't see any wildlife, only roadkill kangaroos. It was pretty hot, in the low 30's, but the cab aircon was working well. Drove until late afternoon to get well out in the bush, before our first stop.

    Since beginning fulltiming in Dec 2006, we've wildcamped whenever possible, and planned to do the same in Oz. I'd googled camping guides in Sydney and found an excellent one - 'Camps Australia wide, 5th edition' (aka Camps 5 - the bible). This is a superb publication, highly recommended. It comprises 2 sections: comprehensive road maps for each state, and campspot lists for each state. The road maps are marked with the location of each campspot, which is listed in the 2nd section, giving details of location, facilities, phone signal if any, and so on. The publication lists over 3500 sites, most of which are free. They almost all provide toilets, most have water, and many have free gas barbequeues (to discourage campfires with the attendant risk of bushfire). Some of these sites are absolutely stunning, with wonderful views, superb facilities, friendly wildlife - the sort of place you'd pay top dollar for anywhere else - only they're free! In many ways this typifies the laissez faire attitude so typical of Australians. If you want to camp in the bush, why not: no worries, mate, and we'll give you water & a dunny too. By the end of our 4 months in Oz, I don't suppose we'd stayed in a paying campsite more than a dozen times. and on those occasions it was nearly always to get electricity to run the aircon overnight when it got excessively hot (38+). And we never once felt in the least threatened or at risk from losers or toerags. People just aren't like that in Australia, at least outside of cities.

    We stopped at a site from the said tome, and soon got chatting with some of the hundreds of 'Grey Nomads' to be found on the road. They told us of a good campspot in a National Park just over the border in Queensland, where we subsequently stayed, and met our first kangaroos. Loads of them - really close! And kookaburras, who never fail to make us laugh with their maniacal cackles. And giant lizards. And all manner of melodious birds. And amazing rock formations, and miles & miles of empty bush, and the pungent smell of eucalyptos from the thousands of varieties of gum trees. And the background drone of cicadas. And no sound of cars, or people, or aeroplanes, because there aren't any.

    We stuck with the inland route for a few days, but decided it was just too samey, so turned east and carried on up the coast road, even glimpsing the Pacific occasionally. As we neared the north of Queensland, the scenery became much greener out of cattle country. We passed through vast tracts of sugar cane, and later banana plantations, before eventually arriving at the Daintree rainforest. It was 38Cin a heatwave :Doh: and seriously sticky.

    * * * * * * * * * * *

    At this point, writer collapses with fatigue, & is dragged insensate from his keyboard. Maybe more later. . .
     
  2. DESCO

    DESCO Read Only Funster

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    Great story so far don't leave us in suspense too long.

    Please!!!!




    Dave :thumb:
     
  3. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    M o r e M o r e :thumb::thumb:
     
  4. dave jm

    dave jm Read Only Funster

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    What a great adventure..dont leave it their blue tell us about the sheilas:Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
  5. gogocrosby

    gogocrosby Read Only Funster

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    £28K, gulp!
    Any pictures coming?
     
  6. Red Sonja

    Red Sonja Funster

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    Nice to Have you back Bruce (and Marion of Course)

    Just reach for the red wine and refresh yourself and let us know the rest of the tail.


    Sonja
     
  7. algill

    algill Funster

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    What a great experience

    Looking forward to chapter 2. :thumb:

    Gill
     
  8. sedge

    sedge Funster

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    My sis and BIL live near Brissie (well it's flipping miles but it is the nearest big place LOL) and go walkabout for months on end with their double wheeler caravan and their Ute.

    Having been to visit just the once - I'd love to do it!

    Can't wait for the next episode!!
     
  9. Johns_Cross_Motorhomes

    Johns_Cross_Motorhomes Trader - Motorhome & Accessory Sales

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    Very interesting, well done.

    An old pal of mine from my motor trade days now lives in Oz and is back in the UK researching the possibilities of exporting UK caravans to Oz for resale.

    Any comments?

    Peter
     
  10. kijana

    kijana Read Only Funster

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    Hi Peter

    We began to take an interest in caravans in Oz, though we never have here. Mainly because of the huge variety of tuggees seen on the roads out there.

    Ozzies tend to be rugged outdoorsy types, at least they were in the places we went. And their vehicles reflect this. A typical rig encountered on the road miles from civilization is a mud-splattered Toyota or Nissan 4X4, with an aluminium fishing boat on its roof (aka 'tinnie'), towing an offroad caravan.

    These vans are physically fairly small, but with massive chassis rails; mansized leaf springs, and huge ground clearance. They are also built like brick dunnies. So no UK equivalent there, then.

    The next most popular variety incorporates extendable living space. The basic van (usually double axle) has either fore-&-aft slideouts, or a fold out bed attached to front, rear, or both ends. You fold the bed base in for tavelling, and out when you park; the canvas roof erects itself over the bed extension. Very clever, only suited to a hot climate, & again, not seen here.

    Of course there are a number of 'ordinary' UK type vans, though more often than not with double axles. This might be an area worth investigating, as I am guessing that UK topend vans are a fair bit cheaper than their Aussie equivalents.

    But a couple of words of caution here. To go almost anywhere worth going (if you like nature, the great outdoors, National Parks, etc, which is perhaps why you buy a van in the first place), entails using the dreaded gravel roads. These roads can go for many miles, and can be extremely rough & very juddery. I'll post on them more specifically in a later Ozblog, but suffice it to say that any van that isn't built for these sort of conditions, both chassis- & interior fit- wise, will not last long off tarmac. And even some of the interstate tarmac is rough by UK standards.

    The second area to examine is Aus import regulations. It may not be too severe for a towed van (though it's still used on the road, so who knows?), but I looked at importing a UK motorhome when I began to realize the price differential. Despite having personally imported an RV from the 'States, and a Dethleffs from Germany into UK, suffice to say the palava for shipping to Australia put me off. I detect the whiff of protectionism here. . .

    Big market for caravans in Oz, though - they love their ourdoors. So good luck to your mate.

    Bruce
     

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  11. plasma

    plasma Read Only Funster

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    What a good post .

    Plasma.:thumb:
     
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