A Home Buyers Guide – Caravans

One of the most common questions I read in forums and groups is: “caravan, motorhome, or camper trailer?“ The question leaves me perplexed. Not perplexed as to the answer, but perplexed as to why people keep asking questions that there’s nothing like a definitive answer to. You know, I honestly believe that the purpose of the internet for some people, is accumulating the highest possible number of responses to their posts and kicking off the biggest blues!

Our 1975 Franklin Arrow

Of course there are benefits to all modes of on the road living. Caravans give you the advantage of a separate vehicle to get around in. camper trailers have a weight and access advantage and motorhomes get you invites to a higher class of happy hour – 2L goon boxes instead of 4L. I’m kidding! Motorhomes give you the advantage of an all in one package. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. What might be an advantage for one person, might be a disadvantage for another.

For all intents and purposes, Campers Way is about low income living on the road , not just touring for a given period. I tend to look at topics from the point of view of living permanently on the road. Also, I might add, not everything I say is the bottom line. I merely proffer a personal opinion. There will always be exceptions to my personal rules and there will always be people who genuinely know more about the topics about which I proffer my knowledge and experience. It’s absolutely fantastic when such experts add value to a post by offering a little bit more. It’s also great when people offer their own experiences and tales of successful on the road living, that might be quite different to my own. What isn’t constructive as far as helping people to survive is concerned, are responses that contradict for the sake of contradiction and cast wild and vehement aspersions about being “wrong!” There’s no right and wrong. As John Lennon famously sang “Whatever get’s through the night. S’alright s’alright!”

So, caravans. As far as I see it, the best way to step away from the housing market and stay away from the edge, is by moving into a caravan. Just remember; this is all about living on the road not just touring for recreation. Here are my reasons.

  • Most people already own a car. Admittedly most aren’t perfect tow vehicles, but that will be addressed in a future post.
    Caravans provide a significantly more solid base for a home than camper trailers.
  • You get a hell of a lot of caravan for your buck, compared to motorhomes, which generally enjoy better re-sale values. You can pick up a good caravan very cheaply. Even if it requires work to get it to a roadworthy state, the cost will be relatively low.
  • Once parked, a tow vehicle becomes your everyday ride. Low income earners are generally unlikely to be able to afford to own, register, insure and maintain 2 vehicles and a T-bar / trailer to tow with. For some reason, some people have a sense of guilt about having a bit of dough and will swear that the motorhome towing a car combo, doesn’t cost any more money. It does. A lot. There’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you want and can afford, but this is about surviving on as little money as possible.
  • Caravans are cheap and easy to repair and maintain. Flash modern caravans, not so much, but solid older caravans yes! Many people would be surprised by how cheap trailer parts actually are.
  • If your home is a caravan, you don’t temporarily lose your home when it’s essential to carry out necessary mechanical repairs that involve your vehicle being in a mechanical repairs workshop.
  • It might be a little bit more expensive to register a caravan and vehicle than to register a motorhome, but that’s outweighed by the other savings. Caravan insurance is very inexpensive and some insurers offer attractive packages for car / caravan insurance. If you’re a pensioner, in some states (NSW for instance) pensioners get one free registration. That means that pensioners pay to register their caravan, but not their car. If a couple are both pensioners, the car can be registered in one name for free and the caravan in the other. That is totally legal.
  • Whilst in transit. It’s not difficult to unhitch a caravan temporarily in a discreet location and go off to the shops in the car. That means easier access to car parks and narrow streets.

So, what do you look for when buying a cheap. entry level caravan?

What you buy is down to your budget. However, it’s absolutely vital to consider your ongoing financial situation. Even if you have enough money to purchase a fairly flash, all singing all dancing caravan at a reasonable second hand price, will you have the money in the future to maintain it, should anything go wrong with it? The more basic the caravan, the less it will cost to maintain and repair. Even quite modern caravans are reasonably simple, but some can get into big money when you’re talking independent suspension and highly complex electric brake systems.

This guide is essentially aimed at those who wish to purchase a good dooer upper.

The first step in buying a low cost caravan for the purpose of travelling and living in, is to decide on a budget. Once you have decided on a firm figure, add up the following:

  • The cost of new rims and light truck tyres.
  • The cost of a new set of bearings.
  • The cost of a new set of brake backing plates with shoe assemblies.
  • The cost of a tilt tray to a repairer that can fit those items.
  • The cost of the work.

You’re not going to get much change out of $2,000, so start looking for a caravan that’s advertised at $2,000 under your budget. If you happen to find something that’s roadworthy and registered within your budget, you’re laughing. However, if a seller cannot easily demonstrate that those items are in full working order. Don’t take the risk.

You will generally find that as far as a cheap older caravan goes, those items will not be in sufficient working order. The good news is, you can find reasonably good older vans for between $3,000 and $5,000, so by following this advice, you should be safely on the road for between $5K and $7K. That’s a cheap home, albeit a “renovator’s dream!”

A lot of ads state that the price is negotiable and others state that the price is non negotiable. If a price is listed as not neg. there are 3 likely scenarios: 1) The Caravan is in excellent condition and the price is extremely fair – “Oh look kiddies, there’s Peppa Pig in the ABC chopper.” 2) They aren’t that keen on selling it and are fishing for the best price. 3) They’re bullshitting!

You need to look at every seller as a Bangkok copy watch salesman. You have to act as if despite having to board a flight in 4 hours and thus your time being precious, you know that it looks fuck all like a real Rolex and it’ll stop working as soon as you’ve shown it to your mates in the pub back home, for laugh!

A lot of older caravans have been providing shade for weeds for many years. It’s often a case that they go on the market when the owner needs quick cash. That’s probably not so in the case of a van that’s been loved and maintained, but anything that’s a little shabby, tends to elicit a sense of being very negotiable. Despite the silly prices being put on “vintage” caravans (particularly Viscounts) these days, the reality is that a lot of people are fishing. Market values are finite. If it costs you more money to get it into a decent condition, than it’s actual market value after restoration, it’s simply not worth the asking price.

You also have to be aware of you limitations in regards to carrying out repairs and refurbishments. If you feel that your skills are very limited, start developing some. Otherwise there’s no point in buying a cheap older caravan. It will cost you more to get the work done by a professional than it would cost you to buy something in full working order. Another important consideration is that if your caravan is going to be your home, you probably want it to feel somewhat personalised in terms of it’s interior design. You won’t get that unless you do it yourself.

The finer points of establishing whether or not a caravan is a heap of shit!

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing a complete piece of shit, just as long as you’re aware that it is and you are prepared for a significant workload. In the meantime there are several things you can look for in order to greatly reduce that effort:

  • Ask for the caravan to be parked on a hard, dry, level surface for inspection.
  • Check that the caravan itself sits level. That’s your primary suspension check.
  • Inspect leaf type suspension for cracks in the leaves, deep corrosion, worn eye mounts on either end, worn bushes in the case of tandem axle or “rocker roller” systems. Carefully check the U-bolts that hold the axles to the suspension, for warping and corrosion. If it’s IRS (Independent Rubber Suspension) check the rubber for wear. They are easy to replace. I suggest learning a little more about suspension from the “web of all knowledge” prior to inspection. There’s not a great deal to it. Also bear in mind that suspension is not insanely expensive for simple caravans, so even if it does require work or replacement, it could be a good bargaining chip.
  • Check the chassis and draw bar thoroughly for cracks and deep corrosion. In my personal opinion, chassis are a game changer. Unless you or a mate are highly experienced at welding and fish plating to an automotive engineering standard or you have a lot of dough to spend, walk away from a cracked or corroded chassis or draw bar. It’s not worth your while.
  • Take a trolley jack with you. If you are intending towing it away, a quick check of the hubs drums and brakes is necessary. Jack up each wheel individually until it’s off the ground and see how well it spins freely. Hold each wheel firmly with you left and right hands respectively and shake them in a forward / backward motion. If there’s significant wobble, you’re up for new bearings. You’ll be up for new bearings regardless, but demonstrating as much to the seller won’t hurt your cause and it’ll let you know how likely it is that you’ll tow it away on the day.
  • With the braked wheels off the ground, spin each wheel and get some one else to push on the brake lever at the master cylinder on the draw bar. Being brakes, the wheel should stop spinning upon activation. Fairly simple with hydraulic or cabled override breaks. With electric brakes you would need to hook up to a car with an electric brake controller and get someone to depress the brake while you spin. Unless the brakes are fairly new, you’ll need to replace them anyway. It’s much safer. Also bear in mind that old shoes will not be asbestos free. Checking them at the time of inspection is more about whether you can save the cost of a tilt tray and be able to say “these brakes are fucked mate! You’ll have to drop the price.”
  • It’s a good idea to remove each wheel and check for damage to the axle stubs. It’s a little tricky without undoing the castle nuts and removing the hubs, but it might be worth your while. On the other hand, you could check for obvious bows and check the axle fully after purchasing the van. Chances are they’ll be OK, but I’m of the school of thought that replacing axles on an old caravan is a medium term default, especially if they’re the older hollow type. Again new axles are an investment in your safety. They sound like a major component, but in relative terms they really aren’t that expensive.
  • The actuator is a sprung mechanism that has the tow hitch attached at one end and moves backwards and forwards with the motion of the vehicle, allowing the lever that activates the brakes to have pressure applied to it and to be released accordingly. The actuator shaft should be checked for sufficient grease and significant surface corrosion that might lead to it being seized. It has to move for the brakes to work.
  • Signal and clearance lights obviously have to work if you intend towing a caravan away. It can take a very long time to isolate and fix a very simple problem. It’s probably a good to take a towing board with you. You can waste an awful lot of time attempting to make the lights work as required by law.
  • Tyres and rims aren’t worth keeping. If the caravan is fit to be towed, tow it straight to a tyre supplier. Tread means nothing. Tyres that have been in the one position for a long time with weight on them will be egged. They will also be prone to cracking and perishing. Don’t risk your life for the sake of a set of tyres. Make sure they’re in your budget. A lot of older rims are also a bit of a liability. Corrosion causes them to be uneven and incapable of forming a good bead with the tyre. You risk slow leaks and blowouts. You can get around the issue by putting tubes in tubeless tyres, but at as little as $50 per new rim, is it really worth it. Be prepared to get rid of existing rims and tyres.

 

So, the leaves bushes and U-bolts look fine. I’m not so sure about that axle stub plate!

That takes care of basic road worthiness issues but there’s a whole lot more to consider inside:

  • Leaks – leaks are never impossible to fix. They can be tricky to isolate, but they can always be fixed with the right materials and some basic skills. What you are looking for is rot. Everything is replaceable, but some jobs are harder than others. Rot can be especially problematic around front and rear windows. Sills and structural timbers can end up being like sponge as a result of years of leaking. They’re usually quite easy to re-build after leaks have been dealt with. There’s usually only a small area of wall skin around large windows. Sometimes it can be saved, sometimes re-made. When buying a caravan check around sills for sponginess and look for significant staining on wall and roof skins, particularly around hatches. If roof and wall skins are just stained but still firm, they can be treated and painted. If they’re rotten, replacing them can be a major job.
  • Structural water damage. Structural water damage in a timber framed van can be pretty catastrophic. You can’t exactly pull wall skins off upon inspection, but you can sight the caravan along it’s length from outside and check for warping and outward bulging. If anything is noticeable, you’re in for trouble. If you want a full restoration project and you have the time and money to spend, go for it. If you want something to live in for fiscal reasons, walk away. Warped walls are like cracked chassis. There shouldn’t be much of a problem with aluminium framed caravans, that’s why even very old Viscounts are so popular. Whilst warping isn’t as common in composite caravan walls, problems can occur, particularly around kitchens. Timber kitchen units can get wet as a result of being insufficiently sealed. They can swell and cause the composite wall to bow outward. Keep a look out for that. Some composite vans have a structural timber frame along the bottom edge of the side walls. This can prove problematic around the water hose attachment. Hose fittings invariably leak and years of water spraying up onto that structural timber can cause it to rot. Especially around wheel arches.
  • Cupboards and drawers are generally pretty easy to fix up. The trickiest part is attempting to restore or replace original timber-look laminates. They have invariably been discontinued. Some of those laminates are indeed very decorative, particularly in 50’s and 60’s vans. To be brutally honest, most laminates post the early 70’s are as ugly as a hat full of arseholes. Originality is one thing, but what’s the point if it looks like shit! The same goes for cupboard doors and drawer fronts. There’s a lot of laminated chipboard out there. Vast chipboard and plastic wood forests were torn down in the 1970’s in order to make Australian caravans fucking ugly. The argument for chipboard was and sadly still is that it’s light. But seriously! Replacing doors and drawers with quality 10mm plywood is not going to add that much to the overall AGM. Doors can easily be re-made and there are very effective methods for painting laminates, which will be a separate post. I wouldn’t let dodgy cupboards put you off a cheap caravan.
  • Gas. It’s not going to cost a fortune to get some gas plumbing done if required. It’s not worth letting gas problems cloud your judgement too much. Check the gas regulations in the state in which you are registering the caravan and have fittings for fridges and stoves / cookers checked by a licensed gas fitter, even if they are working. Some states require a certificate anyway. The good thing about LPG is that if there is a problem that could cause you trouble inside the caravan, you’ll smell it. The most dangerous area is around gas fridge hatches, on the outer wall. There’s a live flame in the back of a gas fridge. There may be a leak around that area that you can’t necessarily smell whilst inside the van. It could still cause a dangerous ignition from the fridge. If a caravan has a gas fridge, it’s a good idea to fit a gas bottle (take a 4.5kg with you) to the van, open it up and check for a gas odour around the open fridge hatch.
  • 240v electricity on the other hand is a more serious issue. Test the lights and power points upon inspection. If they work, that’s great, but be prepared to replace the power points in due course. If supply is not reaching the lights or the power points, there’s the potential for some very expensive problems. In many vans, the sides have to be removed and replaced with new ones, in order to fix up wiring issues. There are ways of getting supply to a particular point and then running leads discretely via cupboards and trunking in order to avoid major work, but it’s all a little messy. You really do want a caravan with supply to all lights and power points. no matter what work is undertaken on 240v electricity in a caravan, it Must be undertaken by a licensed electrician.
  • 12v supply isn’t such a big problem. The worst case scenario is no supply to the ceiling lights, If that’s the case, it’s unlikely that it’s worth bothering to undergo major work to re-run supply to them. It’s easy to run a new 12v system from the house battery. It can run through cupboards in flexible conduit and even through the floor and under the caravan where necessary. If the ceiling lights remain dead, they can easily be replaced by wall or cupboard mounted lights with discreet wires.
Our first caravan refurbishment – 1969 Viscount C Royal
Inside the Viscount

What we have here is nothing like a caravan buying bible. There are a few pointers based upon my experience of purchasing vintage caravans. I’ve never bought a caravan that was built any later than 1976, so my experience is fairly limited. In saying that, Australian caravan design never changed a great deal until the mid 80s, so this advice covers a broad period. In fact many of my points apply to some fairly late model caravans.

Our Kitchen
1975 Franklin Arrow interior

Australian caravans from the 1970’s, arguably represent the most bang for buck when it comes to structural sturdiness. Franklins, Viscounts, Millards, Chesneys and a number of others were built like tanks in terms of their chassis and suspension. There are many caravan experts who argue that rocker roller suspension systems from that era, were the best ever to be fitted to Australian caravans. Mine is 42 years old, has it’s original leaves and bushes and is as solid as a rock, so I’m inclined to believe it.

Time for bed

There’s a hell of a lot of caravan to be bought for well under $10k, when you’re talking about vintage vans. We bought ours for $7,000 in very good roadworthy condition. We’ve spent about another $12k on it in 3 years. That’s a fair bit of dough, but we could never get anything like what we have, for under $40k. It’s literally fitted out to our own specification.
Over the next week or so, I’ll put up a few posts with details and photographs of specific aspects of our own project.

Free Camping at Lake Argyle

The best free camp we’ve had on our whole trip when it comes to views 😍

Set on the river with a mountain backdrop the views were absolutely 💯%. After we started to to set up our camp a couple of girls arrived in their 2wd van and managed to get stuck in the softer sand. Axl and Gibbo jumped at the chance to help out the beautiful Swedish girls. #mazdabt50 #totherescue. We had the most peaceful sleep. I don’t think I heard any noise other than the flowing river. Each morning Gibbo braved going for a bit of a fish while keeping a keen out for crocs that can be found in the river. We left the van parked up and day tripped to the lake where we all had a great time stand up paddle boarding and had a quick dip in the infinity pool. The huge Dam Wall was also a fantastic sight to see.
We intended on staying just one night but 3 days later we packed up due to the bushfire across the river. We loved this free camp and absolutely recommend to ALL!!!
What a way to finish our WA adventure!!

#FANTASTIC #thatview #onedayweshould #travelaustraliawithkids #aussieoutback #thisiswa #justanotherdayinwa #wikicamps #freecamps #10/10 #thebest #camping #caravanning #lakeargyle #lakeargylecruises #standuppaddleboard #bushfire

***FOLLOW ONEDAYWESHOULD ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM FOR MORE FREECAMPS and travelling with kids info, tips, tricks, pics and more!!!***

 

Do our kids get along better since starting this trip?

Do our kids get along better since starting this trip?

In short YES. Do they fight like cats and dogs too? yes. But what siblings at this age (all under 5) don’t?? It’s moments like going to a new playground we really see the closeness in the kids. They grab each other’s hands and wonder off together -looking out for one another. They left all their friends behind when we started our journey and now they only have each other.

Follow: One Day We Should

They definitely get to a point where they’ve had enough of each other and we try to separate them and do something one on one… Gibbo and I also get to this point. #completelynormal #everybodyneeds5minsalone #travellingaustraliawithkids #caravanningwithkids #siblinglove #lovehate #team #bestfriends

 

Don’t forget to leave a comment below on travelling with kids!

8 must do’s on the Eyre Peninsula

1.Talia Caves tourist drive South Australia
(just a short drive from Venus Bay)


We drove straight past this place initially as we weren’t sure if the road was suitable for us towing our 3 tonne van! In short- Definitely YES the road is suitable for those towing large vans and Definitely YES you need to stop in there! 😱 HOLY WOW. this place was incredible!

2.Murphy’s Haystacks- Eyre Peninsula SA

After a quick 2km detour off the highway. No hay anywhere to be found BUT we did find some amazing Granite boulders 😜

I think these were the highlight of Axls trip so far. We read the book ‘Are we there yet’ (about a family travelling around Australia) and these boulders are in it. So we planned to stop in and check them out. The kids ran around like crazy! So hyper and excited, climbing all over them and just loving every second! These Huge boulders are just beautiful 😍 cost $5/family to visit and the option of $10 extra if you’d like to park up for the night!

3. Pildappa Rock Camping Area (South Australia’s ‘#waverock’)

This was our first little venture inland as we’ve spent the rest of our time sticking to the coastal routes. I was worried about trekking us all inland 125kms from Port Kenny, South Australia just to see a rock that I hadn’t really heard that much about (Just seen some great reviews on WikiCamps). Well it didn’t disappoint. The kids had a ball playing on the rock with their #TonkaTrucks, walking and riding their bikes around the huge rock and climbing on top (that bit not so enjoyable for me.. freaking out having all 3 kids up there 😬😱 😰). A fantastic place to visit and a really peaceful night’s sleep there too👌#winning

4.Venus Bay – Eyre Peninsula SA

If you’re after a mix of stunning coast lines similar to GOR mixed with beautiful bays, a unique curved jetty and the most magnificent colourings in the water visit Venus Bay!

When driving into the town you get to Bay Road- if you turn left you’ll end up at a lookout overlooking stunning cliffs. If you turn right you’ll end up at a beautiful curving jetty. The jetty becomes even more magnificent when you take the time to walk along it. The colours in the water are absolutely magnificent. So many different shades of blues and greens 👌. A bonus for us was the great Playground at the start of the jetty. It’s always nice to find a fun playground to let the kids run around. There’s something for everyone in Venus Bay 😍👌

5.The #INTENSE Whistling rocks and the Blowholes (Cape Bauer Loop Drive  Streaky Bay, South Australia, Australia)

We went for a drive along the Cape Bauer Rd (loops around the coast and back to streaky) *the road is fine for those towing.

First we stopped at Cape Bauer a nice scenic lookout. Second stop was at whistling rocks and the Blowholes. We started walking along the boardwalk heading towards the sites. As soon as we climbed the brow of the hill we started hearing the intense sound of the whistling rocks. The waves force air and water through holes in the rocks, towards the cliff surface, giving us the sound of whistling rocks. I tried to capture a video of this happening but you really can’t get the same intense feeling from watching it on film. It was crazy, exciting and even a little bit frightening. This really is something you’ll have to go and experience first hand.

Unfortunately for us the tide was too far out to see the Blowholes blowing… Something to keep in mind if travelling out there to see it.

6.Coffin Bay National Park

An unexpected extended stay in the Port Lincoln area lead us to explore the National Park in Coffin Bay. For a National Park we never intended to look through. We ended up staying 4 nights and loved it! Cost $12/night to camp (plus National Park fees)

Fun filled days of driving around the coastline and through the rugged bush tracks. Playing on the sand dunes. Fishing and actually catching fish!!! Friendly roos coming to our door, emus and their babies wondering around the campgrounds. Great walking tracks and the highlight being were pretty much the only ones here except for another travelling family with kids the same age 😍.

Kids had the best of times playing together. I must admit we rather enjoyed our time spent with these guys too. Extra bonus as It’s always great having others to go 4WD exploring with.. just incase 👌

I would absolutely love to come back to this place when it’s warmer. The perfectly blue ocean water with stunning white sandy beaches was so worth the hour and half 4×4 drive! It almost made me want to dip my toes in… almost. The freezing icy winds made me think twice pretty quickly! Instead we lit a fire and watched the boys catch some fish. #onedayweshould come back! Would be amazing in summer 😍

7. Mikkira Station

Picture driving down the road and seeing stunning farmland and white sand dunes in the distance… A sheep or 2 a k-kangaroo. (Yep I went there). This very Aussie ‘Mikkira Station’ had nearly everything. Wild emus, tonnes of Kangaroos and a Koala 🐨 up nearly every tree in the campsite. After just a short walk you’ll find beautiful historic sites and buildings you can even enter . There’s a real toilet and a hot shower for those who need.

This place was well and truly worth the $25/night pricetag. A fantastic place for a true blue Aussie outback experience and only 25mins from Port Lincoln!

8. Point Lowly and Whyalla, South Australia, Australia

Point Lowly Camping Area $8/ night maximum stay 4 weeks.

We found a great little spot with stunning views to park up our van for a couple of nights and who else would pull up beside us? Another friendly Tasmanian! Small world! 🌏

We drove into Whyalla (my place of birth) to have a look around. Whyalla was much smaller and much more industrial than I had pictured but had some nice views and an interesting history.

Upon arriving back to our campsite we were surprised to find a dolphin 🐬 swimming in the water right near our campsite 😍

A couple of other quick stops on the Eyre Peninsula SA worth a mention-

*Camping at Perlubie Beach (near Streaky Bay)

*Sculptures on a cliff top tourist drive in Elliston  – (this drive is suitable for those towing)

*Seal colony at Point Labatt Conservation Park (very hard to see. They blend in with the rocks. take binoculars if you have them!)

*Streaky Bay Jetty (millions of small fish at the end of the jetty, a few jellyfish and a couple dolphins)

*Port Lincoln a fantastic place to chill out and the bonus for us being the 2 large supermarkets (to stock up ready for our journey across the Nullarbor)

Why families are selling everything to travel Australia

A topic quite often brought up- Why does there seem to be a massive increase in families who are packing up their lives and choosing to travel around Australia?

For us another huge reason why we did- The forever increasing age for retirement (currently 65 years old and increasing to 67 in 2023). There’s no wonder current generations are quickly realising if they ever want to travel this great country of ours (while healthy and able) we need to do it now. We see so many couples from the older generations retiring and setting up to travel only to end up selling the van and giving up on the dream due to bad health and unforeseen circumstances. It will only get worse for our generations. We will be working longer and not get any a kind of chance to properly enjoy all that we’ve worked hard for. It really is devastating. We were flat out working our bums off for years to get our house paid off until we realised- If we really want to travel Australia we shouldn’t put it off.

You’re never guaranteed tomorrow and even if you were there’s no guarantee you’ll be healthy. So we bought our rig and van, sold the house and haven’t looked back… Well it definitely hasn’t been ‘that easy’ but it HAS absolutely been worth it! #onedayweshould #travelaustraliawithkids What are your thoughts? Or if you’re travelling what’s your reason for packing up and travelling?

 

 

The Ultimate Caravan and Camping Packing Checklist

 

 

The Ultimate Caravan and Camping Packing Checklist:

We packed our whole lives into a 24ft caravan and the process of downsizing from a generously sized three-bedroom house was an overwhelming task. It required a lot of organisation as it wasn’t a straightforward move, not like taking things from A to B. Things were going from A to B, B to C, C to D and D to B. We had items to sell, piles to take to the Op Shop, boxes for the storage shed, items to pack into the caravan and of course the things we would need in the meantime.

We have compiled a list of 1,000 camping locations for you to enjoy! Click here to discover hidden campsites maps.Campersway.com

To make lives a little simpler, here is our list of items we packed into our caravan… 

KIDS ITEMS (For each child)
* Socks and Jocks                            
* 3 x Pants                                          

* 3 x Hoodies/Jackets                         
* 4 x Long Sleeves                              
* 6 x Shorts                                         
* 12 x T-shirts                                    
* 2 x Short PJ’s                                  
* 1 x Long PJ’s
* 1 x Pair of Thongs
* 1 x Pair of Runners
* 1 x Pair of Gumboots
* Hat
* Books and Craft Activities
* Toys (don’t forget outdoor toys such as frisbee, footballs etc.)
* DVD players for long car trips

It may seem like we have overpacked in clothing, however, we often don’t have the power to use the washing machine on a daily basis and we have got to the stage where we were on our last day’s worth of clothes. Kids are always outside playing in the dirt so our biggest TIP is to pack dark clothing – they can re-wear it, fewer items to keep in the soaker bucket and a lot less hassle!

 

OUR ITEMS                                    

* T-Shirts
* 2 x Jumpers
* Underwear and Socks
* 3 x Pants including jeans                                            
* Shorts
* Active gear
* Hat
* 1 x Pair of Thongs
* 1 x Pair of  Runners
* 1 x Pair of shoes for ‘going out’

KITCHEN
* 4 x Drinking cups                               * Utensils: Wooden spoon, Peeler, Whisk etc.

* 2 x Coffee mugs                                * 2 x Baking Trays
* 6 x Plates                                          * 1 x Muffin tray
* Slice tin                                             * 1 x Cake tin
* Cooling rack                                     * 2 x Fry pans
* 6 x Bowls                                          * 2 x Pots and Steamer attachment
* Cutlery                                              * Colander
* Knife set                                           * 3 x Mixing bowls
* 2 x Chopping boards                        * 1 x Baking Dish (for lasagne, scalloped potatoes etc.)
* Slow cooker                                      * Gas Kettle
* Measuring jug                                   * Toaster
* Sandwich press                                * Handheld mix master
* Magic bullet                                      * Varying sized containers for leftovers etc.
* Thermos                                           * Lunch box (mainly for day trips)
* Freezer blocks                                  * Cereal containers (makes travelling a lot easier)  
* A drink bottle each                         

 

BATHROOM

For this, we each have a carry bag (something you would find in Big W/Kmart for about $5) that contains our bathroom essentials – soaps, shampoo, conditioner, hair brush etc. By keeping it stored in the bag, it means we travel without spillages and it’s handy for when we stop at Caravan Parks – grab your bag and head to the showers.

LAUNDRY

* Laundry powder
* Pegs
* Washing basket
* Soaker bucket (which also doubles as many other things!)
* Cleaning products
* Clothes airer (something we didn’t initially pack but has come in handy!)
* Dustpan and Shovel
* Handheld Makita Vacuum

LINEN
* 2 x Towels (each)                           

* 1 x Beach Towel (each)
* 2 x Hand Towels
* 4 x Tea Towels
* Extra blanket for each bed (which is vacuum stored)
* The only sheets, doonas and doona covers we have are the ones on our beds!!

OTHER

* Backpack (for day trips and hiking)
* Picnic Rug
* Medicine Container
* Expandable filing folder (handy for important documents and to keep track of receipts without taking up too much space)
* Sunscreen
* Mozzie Repellent
* Spare batteries
* 12V Oz Trail Fan

OUTSIDE

* Camping chair each
* Camping table
* Lifetime Kids camping table (MUST BUY if travelling with kids – we love it!)
* Drinking Hose
* Good quality water filter
* Power Leads
* Box with Annex walls stored under our bed
* Annex Mat
* Citronella candles/Mozzie coils
* Scooters, bikes and helmets for the kids
* Generator
* Toolbag
* Makita Drill
* Fishing rods
* Tennis racquets/balls (for when you pull into an awesome park with a tennis court!)
* Broom
* Shovel
* Portable Butane Gas Cooker
* Toilet Cassette Chemicals
* Jerry Can
* Water drums

It’s amazing how many things you think you will need when embarking on a trip for an indefinite period of time. It doesn’t take long for you to realise how little is actually used on a daily basis. Nine months into the trip, we are still throwing things out and rearranging.

We hope this helps someone out there in the planning and packing stage of their trip! 

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Top Things to do in Port Douglas

Do you only have time for a quick weekend away in PORT DOUGLAS and want to know what NOT to miss while here? Have a read of what we got up to while we were in the area….

Day One:

Check-in to the Big 4 Glengarry Holiday Park, situated approximately 7km from the town centre and a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy a family friendly atmosphere. A five slide water park, a jumping pillow and playground to keep the kids entertained and a heated salt water pool for the adults to enjoy while cooking up a feast in the BBQ area.

Once we were all set up at our accommodation, we drove into the town centre to check out what Port Douglas had to offer. There are plenty of café’s and pubs to grab a bite to eat, take a walk along Four Mile Beach and stop in at the Surf Life Saving Club along the Esplanade for a refreshment as the kids burn off some energy in their playground.

Drive or walk up to the Flagstaff Hill Lookout where you can view Four Mile Beach in all it’s beautiful glory and don’t forget to stop by the Marina on your way home.

Day Two:

Today is all about discovering The Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world at approximately 150 million years old. Within a 30-minute drive from your Big 4 accommodation, you will find the Daintree River Ferry. No bookings required and $26 return per vehicle (4WD not necessary), it only takes a few minutes to get across to the rainforest.

Once across, we drove to the Discovery Centre to experience the Aerial Walkway and 23m high Canopy Tower which is a fantastic way to view the beauty of the rainforest. For $35 per adult and $16 per child (5-17 years), your admission also includes a self-guided audio tour which is very kid friendly and provides an informative way to explore the environment at your own pace. Highly recommended!

          

By this stage, it was time for lunch so we drove on to Cape Tribulation, where rainforest meets the reef. On the way back from Cape Tribulation, visit the ice creamery for an afternoon treat and stop by Mount Alexandra Lookout for a stunning view of the Daintree River Mouth. If you have some more time to spend here, you may also consider jumping aboard a Croc cruise which takes you along the Daintree River. 

      

The Daintree Rainforest has everything to offer for the wilderness lover; plenty of hiking tracks, golden beaches, camping sites, swimming holes, jungle surfing and lots of wildlife to spot along the way – a croc, a python or maybe even a Cassowary roaming around.

Day Three:

Today was check-out day but that didn’t stop up from visiting Mossman Gorge so we hooked up and drove an easy 20-minutes to the Gorge Centre. You will find that there is a large section dedicated for RV Parking.

From the Gorge Centre, you can catch the shuttle bus return for $9.50 per adult or $4.50 per child (5-15 years), which takes you right into the heart of the Gorge.

This magical rainforest is something not to be missed. The boardwalk leads to a beautiful gorge with crystal clear water, a swinging suspension bridge and a 2.8km circuit where you can revel in untouched beauty.

                                    Port Douglas truly is a magnificent destination that delivers reef and rainforest.                            

        Eat, Explore and Enjoy!

IS THIS THE BEST LOW COST CAMPGROUND in South Australia?? We think so!!

IS THIS THE BEST LOW-COST CAMPGROUND in South Australia?? We think so!!

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Picture driving down the road and seeing stunning farm land and white sand dunes in the distance… A sheep or 2 a k-kangaroo. (Yep I went there). This very Aussie ‘Mikkira Station’ had nearly everything. Wild emus, tonnes of Kangaroos and a Koala 🐨 up nearly every tree in the campsite. After just a short walk you’ll find beautiful historic sites and buildings you can even enter. There’s a real toilet and a hot shower for those who need.

This place was well and truly worth the $25/night price tag. A fantastic place for a true blue Aussie outback experience and only 25mins from Port Lincoln!

*Please note- We definitely don’t recommend approaching the koalas. We were lucky enough to stumble across one tame enough for us to touch but these are wild animals.

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Take a look inside our home on wheels

Take a look inside our home

Here’s a look inside our New Age BigRed BR21BS2 (triple bunk with full ensuite) This video is from the day we brought it home. The only thing added at this stage was our carpet runner mat (just a bit of protection for the flooring and warmth as it was freezing in Tassie)

So far we really love our van and haven’t had any major issues. We’ve had a couple small ones but currently being dealt with.

I love the whole van but these things I love especially- The sound system. It’s great. It’s like having surround sound when watching movies and if your listening to music you can easily move the sound to the outside speakers. We have also been lazy lately when it comes to story time. I YouTube #storybooknanny and play the stories through the Bluetooth and move all the sound to the rear of the van! #parentingwin

I love having a bathroom and it all being seperate. The shower is great and has a large lip that acts like a bath for the kids too.

Washing machine- FANTASTIC I didn’t realise this little machine would be a must have for our van but it really is!

Small downfalls- Length of the bed for Gibbo is a little short so we slide the mattress out every night to get that extra room near our heads.

Couch- could have been a club lounge as we just need that one extra seat when stuck inside on rainy days. Our L-shaped lounge isn’t quite big enough for 5 people

Weight- From factory the van only had a 400kg payload so once our 3 water tanks were filled, full gas bottles, and carrying our annex. Most of the weight we are allowed to carry is gone! We’ve since upgraded but definitely something to keep in mind.

*A few additions-

*Solar- 400w and a 30amp controller which all up cost us $350

*We’ve made a couple small changes like moving the magazine holder out of the loungeroom and adding a giant map of Australia vinyl sticker in its place. (Magazine holder is now under our TV and I think it suits that spot much better anyway 😊)

*Small baskets inside cupboards and fridge to stop movement of food items while travelling

*Adding cube storage at the ends of the girls beds as they are only young there was heaps of wasted space at their feet.

*Removable wall bracket to hold our Bugg beefeater BBQ

*Spare wheel removed from back of the van to under our ute. Small box added in its place.

*Carbon Monoxide detector added just in case!

*a lockable ‘glovebox’ for medicine/ firstaid items

I’m sure there’s more but these are a few of the things we did in preparation for our trip!

Why we weighed our caravan before leaving onboard the Spirit of Tasmania?

Why we weighed our caravan before leaving onboard the Spirit of Tasmania?

We are always being asked why we weighed our van before we left to go on our trip around Australia. We found most people assumed it had everything to do with going on board the Spirit of Tasmania. When in fact, it didn’t.

It’s taken many, many times for Gibbo to explain all the caravan weights to me to get to a point of ‘basic understanding’ as it gets extremely technical with so many different weights to take into account so here’s my ‘simplified version’ of explaining caravan weights without getting ‘too technical’. All these weight specifications are a legal requirement set by manufacturers for everyone’s safety!

Tare Mass- When you buy a caravan empty (no water onboard, no kitchenware, no clothes, no equipment etc). Your empty weight is your tare mass (eg. 2400kg)

ATM (Aggregated Trailer Mass)- The most your van can ever weigh (eg. 3000kg)

Payload- the difference between those^ two weights is the amount of weight that can be added (clothes, food, equipment, water, gas etc) so in this case, it would be 600kg worth of ‘stuff’ allowed – a very generous payload in most cases. *Most new vans we looked at were a 400kg payload.

Tow Ball mass- When you hitch/connect your van to your car some of the weight is then transferred to your tow Ball which makes it part of you cars weight. Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) is the most load you can have on the wheels of the caravan when hitched to your car.

You then have to look at your car/utes Tare Mass and GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass- same as ATM but for a car/ute)

Your Car can’t be over its GVM –

Your Van can’t be over ATM –

and then it also can’t be over the Gross Combined Mass (GCM) – the overall weight of the car and the van together

This is why it was so important for us to weigh our car and van before we left. 😊

*There’s a bunch of other weights to take into account such as your vehicle maximum tow rating, aggregated trailer mass, tow ball weight, towbar capacity, maximum axle group ratings but that’s when it all starts going over the top of my head and I leave it up to Gibbo 😉

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