Here's some of my
latest Q & As
(Remember these answers are
my personal opinion - I don't have technical qualifications)
Q We are
waiting to take delivery of our new Honda cr-v & have also
been looking at a Jayco Hawk camper trailer. Have you heard of
any experiences towing with a cr-v. The Hawk weights just come
in under the cr-v's specifications.
A I haven't heard any reports about
towing with the cr-v but providing the weights are ok as you
say then I can't see any problem. The manufacturer's ball load
max seems pretty low so you would need to check that with the
Jayco. I would have thought a ball weight of at least 10% of
the loaded trailer weight would have been better but I guess
Honda know best.
Q Hi Lionel,
my husband and I have done a couple of campervan trips in Australia
and we've spoken to other campers who said that there are big
camping expo shows held in various states at different times
of the year. I'm trying to find out when these shows are
held, do you know how I can find out this information????
A . Go to: http://www.welovethiscountry.net.au/
Q Hi Lionel,
could you please tell us what we could buy in Australia that
will help us move our Avan out of its parking position beside
the house. It has to be moved up a bit of a grassyslope
and is difficult to do without the Ford skidding. Putting
the van back down the slope is also difficult because of the
uneven grassy slope and the paved area is also not very level.
We are afraid if we manhandle it ourselves it may run away from
us if we let off the brake and it might end up at the bottom
of the garden!! Thank you so much
A There is a thing called a Maco Mule
that does a pretty good job of moving vans although the wheel
tends to spin on grassy slopes. There are other much more expensive
electric caravan movers like the Aussie Wheel but that might
be a bit of over-kill on a light van like yours.
A friend with a similar problem overcame
it with a boat winch fastened to a post and he just hooked on
the A-frame and wound the van up his driveway. Another
mechanically minded acquaintance built a mover that fitted in
the jockey wheel bracket and had a geared bicycle drive that
worked by winding a handle.
Q Can you
please advise us as to which vehicle (preferably not a 4X4) would
tow a 21 foot caravan of a 2 500 kg loaded weight?
A That's heavy! Falcons and Holdens
can't handle anything over 2,300kg loaded so you have to look
at 4x4s unless you can find a Dodge Ram or Chevvy Suburban.
can you help I been trying to get information on denning coatch
for windows and fly screams i am about to pull my hair out as
noone seems to be abule to help me can you please help me hope
to here from you soon we have a 40ft denning hopping to tour
australia in january 2006
A You could try the new company that
now manufacture Denning Coaches. They are: Denning Manufacturing
You could try emailing them.: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q Hi, I'm ordering the other two books and sending
a postal money order. However I can't seem to find an order form
for "The Big One"- Can you please supply me, Lionel.
A I'm sorry but 'The Big One' is out
of print. However much of the content is covered in 'Australia
Calling' and as a bonus it's in full colour.
Q Hi lionel
just wondering if you know anything about an olymic caravan club
any info would be good thanks
A Thanks for the email and question
but sorry, I haven't heard of that club. Maybe a call to Caravan
Court or another Olympic dealer could get you some info.
Q I have a standard Heron split system 2.2 air con fitted
to my van. What is the minimum sized generator I should use to
power it and lights etc?
There was another similar email - We are about to set off on
the big trip. We have a 20' van with a shower and toilet. As
we hope to save some money by staying off road I was wondering
if a generator would be a worthwhile investment or would an extra
battery be enough. If you recommend a generator what size would
A What you need to do is a power audit.
Work out the wattage of all the lights and other appliances you
will be running and for each one multiply the wattage by the
amount of time they will be running each day including the a/c.
When you have a total number of watt/hours you can calculate
what size generator will cope with the load. Many people use
their generators to charge batteries to supply power when the
genny is not running so that may be something you need to look
at as well.
Q My husband
and myself are planning a caravan trip around Australia with
limited funds available. Is there such a book
that shows or lists where the cheap or free Caravan overnight
stop overs are at that have toilets and water. Although we
have our own facilities in our Caravan and will have a generator
we just want to be in a safe environment. We travelled
around Tasmania and had a couple of stops at Showground parks
although it is a lot safer there.
A Go to http://www.campsaustraliawide.com/
It will give everything you want to know and more.
Q I'm just
getting back to caravanning after being away from it for 25 years
and have a small 2 birth pop-top on order. I notice that
over-ride brakes are out and electric brakes are now in.
A quick look around the market at controllers reveals 2 types,
the first actuated by proportional control driven by a
pendulum system and the second fully electronic sensing and control.
The latter type has the distict advantage that it can be mounted
in any position however, I wonder as to its "sensitivity"
to various degrees of braking. I would appreciate your thoughts
on this subject.
I have enjoyed reading through the various topics on your web-page
and have found them to be of great interest to me as I start
A Thanks for the email and kind remarks
about the website.
I'm a great advocate of pendulum controllers - you are right
when you say they have more sensitivity. I had the solid state
type once when I changed vehicles and the car people fitted the
sort they thought best. They were not 'tow-ers' though and I
made them change it after a few weeks trial. Mounting it fairly
level is not usually a problem as there's a control for setting
the pendulum once installed.
Q My wife
and myself will be setting off soon to travel this great country
of ours in a 24ft Caravan. My question to you is: I want to be
able to my laptop computer for my small business, which I run
on the side. Other words I want to be able to download and use
my email etc. I believe using Mobile phones can be quite expensive,
is there any other methods available (except the Internet Café's).
A You are right when you say using your
mobile can be expensive for email and accessing the internet.
However it is convenient and if you use a data plan and connection
you only pay when data is downloaded or uploaded. This is assuming
you are using the mobile as an external modem from your laptop.
There are mobile broadband plans that give a lower per kb cost
but are more costly in monthly charges. They would be better
if you use a lot of email or need access to your website a lot.
I think the Telstra data plan I use charges 2.5 cents a kb and
that adds up to a lot of money. It's far cheaper to use caravan
park internet kiosks, public libraries, etc. In some cases you
can even plug your laptop in.
The other problem is reception and there's a lot of Australia
where you can't get mobile reception once you get away from the
coast. A sat phone gets over that but at a
A low cost system for text only email is Pocketmail. A small handheld device that enables you to send and
receive email from any public phone for 40 cents anywhere in
Australia. (It's an 1800 number) You can use it on your mobile
as well but mobile charges apply. They cost about $149 plus an
ongoing charge that covers the operation of the service. You
can find out more at www.pocketmail.com.au You can connect
it to a laptop by a cable and transfer messages that way for
easier typing and record keeping. Its a good cheap system but
a bit fiddly. It downloads email from your own POP isp.
I ve since found that a device called a MiniMax is available
that plugs into a USB port and connects the laptop with the net
via cdma. It s available on Telstra plans c for $49.95/month
you get 20 hours of internet access and unlimited downloads.
The two year plan covers the cost of the device
Q My Wife
and I are going from Geelong to Mt Isa in July, via Narromine,
Bourke, Cloncurry, and I was wondering if you could suggest reasonable
overnight stops and Caravan parks on the way. I was thinking
approx 300 to 400 km a day.
Driving a Magna V6, towing a Viscount 14ft Pop Top.
I have R.A.C.V camping/caravan Guides, but they are a bit short
on details from Narramine to Cloncurry.
Any advice would be appreciated. Just bought our van and found
your very good site. Have had vans years ago.
A It's quite some time since we travelled
that particular road so my knowledge of the individual caravan
parks is a bit sketchy.
It would seem to me that your stops could be at the following
towns to fit in with your suggested daily travel. Bourke (326km),
Charleville (454km), Blackall (300km) and Winton (394km)
Q I am looking
for a motorhome based on a Holden Rodeo or Toyota Hi Lux, with
cab over roof, but can't find the manufacturer.
Sunliner Clancy has ceased to be made. Do you have any suggestions?
A I don't
know who make the type of motorhome you are looking for but a
good starting point would be www.rvpoint.com.au I notice
there are a couple of second hand Toyota Hi Lux motorhomes with
the cab over but they don't give the name of the manufacturer.
Q My parents
are intending to go on the NO.1 highway around Australia.
We have just brought them a Nissan Patrol GUII 4.5L 2001 model.
The car is duel fuel. So I am trying to find out for them
the availability of auto gas in Australia, preferably a map or
table detailing all the sites where autogas can be purchased.
I would like to know whether there is an internet site which
would provide these details or some organisation who I could
contact to send me the information.
Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
A If you
go to my maps page
and then click on the link you
can find lpg outlets very easily. It also has an excellent route
planner that will give lpg outlets plus road directions wherever
you want to travel. If I can help your parents with anything
else email me again.
Q I am looking
to rent a campervan , to travel from
perth to darwin , for a month or so .
i am looking to travel around australia with my friends-3 and
am looking for a cheap company to rent a campervan
off. i intend to travel from perth to sydney over 2 months. would
be gratefull if you could suggest any companies that you know
A If you go to my 'Hiring' page you
will find some hire companies and their websites.
Q My husband
& I have decided to take a trip around this beautiful country
of ours and we are looking for any information that will assist
us before we head off. We have three children aged 7, 2 1/2 &
13mths and so we are trying to get some help on choosing the
right caravan, the do's & dont's of travelling with kids
and any other tips that people may know that we may not have
thought about yet. We do plan on getting a copy of your book
but i was wondering if perhaps their maybe other websites or
literature that may help us, particularly because we are travelling
with children. I thank you for your time and look forward to
hearing from you.
are a couple of places you could look on my 'links' page. Of
course magazines like Caravan World, On the Road, and Caravan
and Motorhome are full of travel info. A so check out www.GoSeeAustralia.net.au/ and http://home.vicnet.net.au/~badger04/
thinking that a slide on camper would be great. its lightweght,
no towing, and u can use your ute for other things without the
camper. now all i have to do is sort out which camper to buy.
would probably buy new. any addresses or websites you know of
for slide ons?
A Some of the sites listed on my 'Links'
page might give you a lead and also the new RVPoint site www.rvpoint.com.au could be useful. I don't know any
dealers off hand but a Google search might find some.
Q My family
and I have planned a trip to Australia during the month of June.
We will be arriving in Sydney and flying out of Melbourne 10
days later. We intend to take the scenic drive down the
coast to Melbourne. We will spend two days in Sydney, and
spend about 4 days to drive down to Melbourne. We are trying
to determine if we wanted to rent a car and find hotels on the
way down, but then we came across the idea of renting a campervan.
This sounds really fun, but we are worried about the weather.
Will it be too cold (nights down to lower 30's) during the month
of June to stay three nights in a campervan? Thank you
A I just got in touch with Kea campers
as I had friends from the UK who used their services and were
very happy. Kea tell me that their campervans are supplied with
either reverse cycle air-conditioning or an electric fan heater.
They also said they were fully booked until the end of May and
June was filling fast - the lady advised booking asap if you
intend hiring a campervan. They are at www.keacampers.com/australia/
Q We've been
looking at your website with great interest. we are an english
couple, planning to tour Oz in the new year. we're planning to
purchase a falcon wagon to tow a 16-18 ft van.
During our research of the used caravan market (budget $15,000)
we've found that very few have shower and toilet facilities.
As we hope not to rely on caravan sites for all of aur tour,
a shower and toilet would be of great advantage. Is it possible
to install these in a used van, and if so do you know how much
it might cost and what's involved. Otherwise, what arrangements
would you suggest to make us 'self-contained'.
Also, a final quick question, as we're working on our way round,
is there a maximum time stay at most caravan parks?
We'd realy appreciate your help and keep up the good work on
your fab website.
A Thanks for the email and kind words about the website.
It would be quite difficult and expensive to convert an existing
van although there would be nothing to stop it being done.
An alternative would be a
shower tent. These are free standing tents and you can use a
solar shower in them or get a 12volt operated shower that pumps
water from a bucket to a shower rose. Solar showers are black
bags that you leave in the sun full of water and old sol warms
it for you.
There are a few s/h vans about
with a shower and toilet but like you mention they are a bit
hard to find. Our 10yr old van has a shower and toilet and lpg
water heater. I guess you have looked at rvpoint during your
research. It's on my links page along with other classified sites
I don't believe there are any
time limits for stays in caravan parks although National Parks
usually have a limit of about six weeks. Most caravan parks have
a cheaper rate for extended stays.
Q Myself and my hubby and 2 kids arrive in brisbane
from the uk on the 4th march 2006 and pick up a motorhome from
brisbane airport we are going to travel up the sunshine coast
but want to spend a little time in noosa i have looked on the
internet but cannot seem to find caravan parks that allow us
to take our motorhome on thanks for your time (fab website by
A All our caravan parks cater for motorhomes although
they don't list them separately. If it's a particularly big rig
there might be a problem but it's unlikely. Don't be afraid to
come back here if you have any other questions.
QWe have just returned home to Hobart after buying
our first caravan in Brisbane and touring through Queensland
and New South Wales for 8 weeks.
Our caravan is a full size 17ft single axle van with a tare weight
of 1290kgs and a loaded weight of 1590kgs and our tow vehicle
is a 94 Commodore with heavy duty Hayman Reese hitch with elect.
brakes, giving a tow capacity of 2100kgs. As we want to keep
the van at home, can you tell me, if it would be safe to back
the van down our concrete drive way which has a fall of
3 metres in 20 metres? My concern is if I get off course
half way down I may not be able to go forward to straighten up!!
I would appreciate your thoughts.
A I would have thought that your Holden would be quite
capable of making a restart on a 1 in 7 hill which is approx
what your driveway gradient is. After all you have to go back
up next trip once you are safely down. Maybe you can find a similar
hill somewhere with more room and give it a try before tackling
Q My husband and I are thinking of buying a 1979 12ft
Millard York Caravan and would like to know the tare weight and
ball weight, as we have 4 cyl Toyota Camry front wheel
drive and want to know if our car is suitable for towing
A That's a very strange coincidence. I've had a very
similar email from someone else today - also with a Camry!
Here's the answer I gave them:
The only way you could get
these figures would be to take the van to a weighbridge. You
need to weigh the van on the bridge without the car. In other
words with the van wheels and jockey wheel on the bridge and
then weigh it again with just the van wheels on the bridge. Doesn't
matter if the van is on the car or jockey at that stage as long
as only the van wheels are on the bridge.
If you subtract the weight
on just the wheels of the van from the total weight including
that on the jockey wheel you will then have the ball load. The
Camry is able to tow 1200kg and is allowed a ball load up to
120kg. This refers to the weight of the van when it's loaded
so it would be a good idea to weigh the van ready for the road.
Q I have a 21 Foot Jayco caravan with a rollout awning
and full annexe attached. If I want to change a wheel do I have
to take the annexe down or not?
A I would think that you could change a wheel with
the annexe in place if you loosen the pegs at the bottom and
drop the corner rafters a few notches so there is some slack
in the walls when you jack up the van.
Q Question, it is possible to have a normal towbar
and a Hayman Reese Distribution system?
On another topic, I have a battery on the Caravan, I am told
by the salesman, not a technician, that this does not power
the fridge. They said it would flatten the battery in a short
time. When I was talking to others about this, they disagreed.
I could not see why I could not get the temperature down on mains
power, put the system on 12 volts while driving and then get
the Caravan battery to take over when I stopped on the journey,
before I set up camp and switched over to gas or 240 volts.
Question : Assuming I do not open the fridge and I am not in
42 degree heat, so the fridge should not be working too hard,
how long would a fully charged battery run for? I am scared of
stopping for a look around a town, then getting back to the caravan
to find I had forgotten to switch the fridge off 12 volts and
it had flattened my car battery. I am thinking of investing in
a battery protector, but it is another expense and it does not
allow my fridge to work while we are wandering. If the salesman
had mentioned the "Feature" of the fridge before I
fitted the towbar, I could have done other things, but that time
A The Hayman Reese hitch fits into a square hole in
the hitch receiver - not a feature of a normal towbar so you
can't mix the two systems.
I have a simple ignition relay
- quite inexpensive - fitted to the car so that power only goes
to the caravan when the engine is running and there's no chance
of the fridge flattening the car battery while you are away shopping.
With the door shut there's little loss of cooling in the fridge
and no need to run the fridge from the battery in the van. The
load is far too high and would quickly flatten the van battery/ies.
There are quite complicated and expensive systems for charging
the van batteries from the vehicle alternator and isolating the
van when the engine is not running but these are not essential
in my opinion.
We used to have a 2-way 240volt/gas
fridge and it stayed cold when we travelled providing we didn't
open and shut the door too many times at lunch time.If it's really
hot then there's nothing stopping you lighting the gas during
the lunch break if you are going to be stationary for a while.
Q In all your travels you might have spoken with some
folks who have toted their bikes between their car and caravan
and if so have they experienced any dramas...do you know of any
other caravan associations that I may speak with to find out
recommendations on this idea...thanks too for the site great
A Carrying a bike/s on the a-frame seems much safer
than at the back of the van on an attachment to the bumper bar.
I know as I lost a brand new bike plus the carrier off the back
a few years ago.
The only problem in carrying
them on the front would be lack of space. There is certainly
much less pitching at the front and that would be a plus as I
think the pitching at the back was what weakened our mounting
bracket. I do still carry a bike at the back but on a far more
substantian bracket and have had no further worries.
I did look at a Fiamma bike
rack for the front of a van at Rockhampton this year and the
owners were very pleased with it.
You could try one of the caravanning
forums like 'Touring Oz' for more feedback. http://groups.msn.com/TouringOz/home
I am thinking about
doing the around Australia thing. I am a single dad with 3 children
6,8,11.We were planned to go 2 years ago but my wife was dignosed
with cancer and we lost her 12 mths ago. Now is the time while
kids are in primary school. Iam looking at caravans (with shower
toilet) I have looked at the big expanda and the windsor
rapid. what are your thouights on these? I guess I am after any
info at all about doing a trip with small kids etc. Found your
web site by accident looks like you have lots of experience.
A Mate I salute you for doing what you originally planned
when your wife was with you and I'm sure she would have been
pleased. It will be the greatest experience the children will
ever have and I wish you well.
I guess you will be doing
correspondence learning with them but actually getting out there
and seeing our wonderful country will be good for them. I expect
they will still want their share of electronic entertainment
but hopefully they will get enjoyment from the outdoorsy things
They will need a bit of space
for themselves so something like the Expanda or Rapid would probably
be a good idea. I guess a roster of chores will be a way to see
that they all share the work of setting up and striking camp.
If you use some National Parks besides caravan parks they will
get a far better feel for the country. Let them share in the
planning too as that's always half the fun in my opinion.
Don't try to cover too much
distance in a day - kids get bored, tired and cranky if you do!
The shower and especially
the toilet are a really good idea and saves that annoying trip
to the amenities in the middle of the night. You would have to
be strict about time under the shower as on-board water storage
doesn't allow for long showers - nice as they are.