For more Q & A 








Q We have a 2002 Camry and will be soon taking delivery of a small 3.7m x 2.1m
Coromal "Cygnet" caravan.

What in your opinion is the best (value for money) towing mirrors and TV antanna to buy?

A In my opinion and experience the Explorer antennas are good value and give excellent reception even in fringe areas. We use a C3 model and it has given very good results over many years and in all sorts of locations. There will still be areas where you can't get a signal at all but these are not frequent - particularly on the east coast.

For a smaller van like the Signet the mirrors that fasten to your normal car mirrors with straps would probably be all you need. They are available at all caravan accessory outlets.

Q Wonder if you can help us please - we have a very old little foxie who is half blind and very dependent on us.  In August we will be motoring from our home on the Bay Islands off Brisbane down to Mildura to collect a new van.  Obviously travel isn't a problem once we obtain same, but getting there is.  We intend going via the Newell Highway, stopping overnight at Dubbo and Hay, with the third day into Mildura.  We are having an awful problem trying to obtain accommodation in an overnight van where we would be allowed to take our little dog inside (she's much better behaved and cleaner than most kids as you can imagine)  Have you any tips on sites with overnight vans where the owners will be sympathetic  - the alternative is two nights in our overnight tent which at that time of the year and in those locations doesn't exactly ring our bells!   Great website. Many thanks,

A Your little dog sounds like a very integral part of the family and I wish I could help you more. I know dogs are a no-no in most on-site accommodation.

There is a book called Travelling with Dogs that might help and my website has a link to a dog friendly site and an email to them might help. Look at 'Links' in the menu to find it.

I hope you find somewhere and that your new van is everything you hope for.

Q We are just about to do "Australia round the Edge", (June 21st) we leave from Perth. I have added an LPG conversion to the Mitsubishi Challenger to (hopefully) save a little on fuel money, we are pulling a 20 ft. Jayco Heritage van. I find that I get about 230 kms on a 55 litre tank of LPG. (as compared to 350 kms on a tank of Gasoline).
Planing the trip for LPG Stations seems a little difficult. It does not appear that anyone lists "Rural" LPG stations on the Internet. 
Caltex have Rural towns listed, but "Open Highways" ......Not a mention.
Maybe I'm missing something, can you assist?
Thanking You.

A This was one I answered on PocketMail as we were travelling.

I mentioned that the motoring organisations like RACV, NRMA etc had booklets with LPG outlets and the oill companies had lists of their own outlets with gas. There's also a great interactive map on my main menu that gives the location of all lpg outlets on the route you want to travel.

Heavens, your response was certainly quick, for which I thank you.

I will follow your advice and call into the RACWA and check the service stations for a booklet.
I feel better now that you mention the LPG stations are fairly regular along the Highway, I was visualising running 50% on each (for lack of LPG Fill ups).
Thanks again for your quick answer.

Q Would you know the name of the manufacturer of a folding aluminium boat trailer whose ad I saw in a caravanning magazine but have since lost?
It weighs about 35 kg.
It would be much appreciated if you could help.

A I think the one you saw was probably Almac Trailers. Their address is PO Box 5508, BUNDABERG, Qld.

Their web site is at

The ad says they weigh 38kg.

There is another one called the Little Bulldog Folding Trailer and although I don't see a website they have a freecall phone number : 1800 060. 642

Q My wife and I are in the process of changing our life style. By this I mean selling up, buying a van and heading off for an extended trip around the block.
We have a 3.0L 1993 Pajero 3 speed auto with a Hayman Reese tow bar, capacity of 2500kg and a ball weight of 250kg. I had intended to fit another oil cooler.

As a "newbie" I am unsure of the vehicles ability to tow a van with a loaded weight of around 2000kg for any extended period or for that matter, any period at all.

I have asked a few people and read as much as I have been able to find, however, the results have not gotten me much closer to a clear answer. (If there is such a thing) Too many different answers to the same question. I would like to stick with a vehicle of this size, mainly for the fuel consumption.
In your opinion would the vehicle be capable of such a feat without killing it.
Australia Calling is an excellent reference book and has become part of our growing library. Well done and thanks


A Another one by PocketMail. I was able to reassure him that his van wouldn't kill the Pajero and told him we were 'up north' for four months!

He replied, "Thanks for the words of wisdom. I really appreciate them. Four months, you lucky buggers.
Hope you both have a great trip and all your memories are happy ones."

Q We are embarking on our "journey" end of July this year to travel from Central Coast NSW through to Broome - Perth - Adelaide and then home.
We have a 16' Viscount Pop Top and are not sure what Power supply to include for our journey.
We will have the usual appliances to power:
Waeco 50 ltr Fridge
Caravan 3 way Fridge
We intend to bush camp where available and are considering our power options
We have been looking at the Thumper Portable Power Unit which has an inverter attachment to convert to 240v as well as 12v operation.  The model we looked at provides 72 amp hours (1000 watts) and at $1499 seems like it could be the answer rather than solar power and additional batteries/inverter etc.
What has been your experience with these Portable Power Units.

A I haven't had any experience with the unit you describe but it sounds as if it would do the job if you are just intending overnight stops. If you intend to stay longer in one bush camp you could run out of power fairly quickly and would need to limit power usage.

Do a 'power audit'. Work out how long you will use things like the lights, etc. each day and then see how many amp/hours each item will take. Add them all up and you will find out how much current you will need each day.

Run the 3-way fridge on gas in the bush - they take a whopping amount of current on 12 volts. I'm not sure about your other fridge but it could take a fair amount during 24 hours of use.

The TV will draw about 5 amps plus the VCR if you use it. Computers don't take much but make sure it can't be harmed by running on the inverter. If it's a laptop use it on it's battery and then recharge it.

Have you considered a small generator for recharging? It sounds a long while to recharge through a cigarette lighter outlet - I think I read something like 8 hours.

We use solar recharging and two deep cycle sealed gel batteries ourselves but it's quite expensive to set up.

Q This was a query from the UK received on PocketMail and the lady wanted information on travel between Brisbane and Cairns.

A First of all my humble apologies for not answering earlier. We have been on a four months trip to Queensland and I used Pocketmail for email communication. Unfortunately I pressed delete at the wrong place and lost your email - I went to an internet cafe but couldn't get it back from the Pocketmail website!

We got home today and there was your email together with 438 others that I downloaded from my POP address.

You have probably already planned your ten days but if not look at my website under the menu heading of Route Notes and check the Brisbane - Rockhampton and Rockhampton - Cairns sections via the Bruce Highway.

If you have time, a day cruise around the Whitsunday islands from Shute Harbour would be great. Turn off the highway at Proserpine.

In Townsville drive up to the lookout on top of Castle Hill - it's a fantastic view.

A lot of people miss Bowen but the Eastern Beaches are great - particularly Horseshoe Bay.

The Big Pineapple near Nambour is a bit 'Touristy' but interesting with train rides through the tropical fruit plantation and if you like ginger, head for the Ginger Factory at Yandina.

Although it is a coastal highway you have to do sideways detours to see the ocean as you only get a few glimpses of the sea otherwise.

It will be hot in November so you need to have loose cotton clothes and definately shorts. There will be plenty of room in caravan parks as the people who go north for our southern winter are all safely back home by then.

Don't be afraid to email again if I can help further - I'll try not to lose your email again!

Q We are thinking of doing the Grey Nomad thing, giving up our jobs and touring Australia in a campervan for a year or more.
We're having a small trial run, to help us decide, by hiring a campervan and touring up the coast from Melbourne towards Sydney and back this Christmas.  We can only take 10 days but we think it will give us a bit of a "feel" for that kind of experience on a longer term. 
We aren't keen on being in amongst lots of holidaymakers and wonder if you can recommend any particular route, area or national parks where we might find some relatively peaceful places.   We'll be leaving Melbourne on the 21st December, returning 31st so hope to get a head start on other holidaymakers.   Your advice on some good, natural, places to visit - suitable for a small campervan - would be much appreciated.  We haven't done this kind of trip before and aren't sure how much freedom we have in parking our campervan outside the usual camping grounds.  (It sounds like we will have to book to camp, which would restrict our spontaneity somewhat!)
Thank you for your  advice and your website - it is a joy!

A Thanks for your email and kind words about the website.

Unfortunately you will be travelling at the very peak time when everywhere is crowded and expensive and you may get a bad impression of what really is a very relaxed and pleasant lifestyle.

A campervan is more suitable than bigger outfits for parking in little quiet corners although there are places - usually towns - where overnight parking is not allowed.

You will find a campervan very restrictive for long term touring as you have to make up the bed every night and the opposite in the morning before you can use the table. Lots of people do it and enjoy it however.

There are lots of quiet places around the South Coast where you may be able to find camping spots - National Parks for instance. Keep away from the more popular places like Lakes Entrance, Bateman's Bay, Nowra and similar resort areas.

We got home yesterday from a trip north and used the coast road all the way but this is the off season and there was plenty of room everywhere.

If you do decide to do the Big One and travel for a year you might find it helpful to join the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA). There is link to them on my 'Clubs' page. They have lots of advice to offer, lists of free or cheap camping spots, reasonable insurance rates and a monthly informative newsletter.

Q Could you please tell me if  any of the travellers that don't have a base to put their feet up do you think any of them would like to house sit on a regular basis. We would prefer retired persons

We have a shower and tiolet block like an ensuite at caravan parks. could you please email us if you can help or need more info. Thank you

A  I don't know anyone personally but there is service for home owners and sitters run commercially. It's called Holiday House Sitters and their url is <>

Caravan World magazine has a section called 'Notice Board' and a message on there could get you a result. Their email addy is:

Q My husband, 3 kids, and 2 dogs plan to caravan around Australia next year for at least 12 months. We have decided on a 92 Landrover Discovery for our towing vehicle but are unsure what caravan models which are around 10 years old are any good. We want a 25 foot caravan, with annexe and are willing to get it refurbished to put triple bunks, shower and toilet in it. Is it possible to get an older 80's caravan and chop the front of it to make it more aerodynamic like the more modern ones?

 A thanks for you email and question.

It would be a major and expensive task to re-model an older van in the way you suggest.

The benefit from the new shape wouldn't outweigh the cost in my opinion.

Watch the weight on the tow ball - a van that big on an older disco could go over the Land Rover max limit. I'm not sure when they upgraded the allowable tow ball weight but you should check to make sure.

Q I hope this finds you well.  My wife and I are planning to travel from Adelaide to Perth, and spend a few weeks exploring the south west.  I've heard horror stories of the winds across the Nullarbor, and am aware of the fact that the prevailing wind will be from the west.  We will be towing a sixteen footer pop top with our VS 6 cyl Commode, and this will be our first longer trip, other than a couple of forays into central Victoria.  What would be the best time of year to travel to avoid the wind, or is it an overstated problem

A I believe the horror stories are tales of rare occurrences rather than the normal thing. We have been back and forth to Perth a number of times and have never struck bad winds.

Coming back from north Queensland this month we struck severe headwinds and the gusty side winds that are even worse.

You will enjoy the South West of WA. If you go at wildflower time it's an added treat.

Albany and the south coast can be pretty cold and miserable in winter - and I guess that would be the time to avoid.

Brand new to the caravan scene. Picked up the van and on my way home suddenly realised that the wing mirrors on my new Pajero are not good enough for rear view.
Took what I thought was the simple step to buy extended towing mirrors and made the mistake of researching. Everyone has a different opinion,what works for one seems to be disastrous for others.Vibrations,clipons swinging loose, too wide for tight entrances, doesn't suit all vehicles. The design of the Pajero is not helpful especially as regards the old bonnet type mirrors.The wing mirrors on the Pajero cause a blind spot as does the windscreen edges. Can you make a suggestion on what has worked for you.

A I've run the full gamut of towing mirrors and finally made what I still believe to be the best choice.

The mirrors I use are called, 'Vision Plus'. They are expensive but are simple to fit and give excellent rear vision. Being on the door there is a slight disadvantage that you have to turn your eyes a bit more than for wing mounted ones but at least the windscreen pillar doesn't get in the way.

I don't know where you are located but CarVan Supplies in Sydney <> have them - they are imported from the US by Camec.

I've seen a similar 'copy' at about 2/3 the price at accessory stockists.

I gave a set of Ora mirrors away for nothing!

Q We have the 2003 Traveller caravan and very pleased with it. However on our last couple of trips we have some problems with maintaining the temperature at a level that food etc get cold.   Observing the rules that may or may not cause the temperature to be lost ie overloading,heat etc.  We keep a thermometor in the fridge at all times.   We have to keep our control at 6 or 7 to try to keep things cool.
Could you or anyone please advise what the approximate operating thermometor temperature for the food compartment and the freezer should be kept at to maintain its efficiency. ?
I have been getting different figures causing confusion .

A  I have forwarded your query to Caravan Refrigeration who are better at answering technical fridge questions.

They should be able to help you with this.

Leo at Caravan Refrigeration sent this reply:

Temperatures readings can vary from day to day. It depends on the ambient temperature(that's why we need good ventilation), how much food and drink in the refrigerator, how often you open and close the door and where you have the thermostat set at. Your cabinet temperature should be around 2 - 4 degrees and the freezer section around the -20 degree mark.
Hope this helps, but if you have any questions , give me a call

Following that, this email arrived:

Thanks for your reply. I received an answer from Leo re my query and now I have some figures to work with I will see what happens with the temp we when hopefully get away next week.
 I visited your web site and found some good and helpful information considering  we are only new to the caravan world over the past 15 months.  It is certainly a good life and we have met a lot of friendly and helpful people

Q  (from the USA)

My wife and I plan to visit Aus/NZ in a year or so and would like suggestions please.

Our current plan is to tour NZ for a few months just after your summer (Mar/Apr??). Then, go N. to Australia for a few more months.

We've been told that, ideally, we might find a used motor caravan, buy it, and then sell it back with an overall cost lower than that which we'd incur had we rented. However, we're also told its costly to ship an RV from NZ to Aus--perhaps eating up any savings accrued.

Any suggestions as to the best/most affordable option?? As an aside, we have a 35 ft Winnebago which we might be willing to swap for a few months with NZ/Aus couples (insurance permitting).

Thanks in advance for any info you might want to provide.

The best people to help you would be the CMCA (Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia) and I have taken the liberty of forwarding your query to their webmistress who is a very helpful and knowledgeable lady - I'm sure she can give you some good advice.

My own thoughts are that you would be better off avoiding the freight costs of shipping an RV across the Tasman. Companies like Maui operate in both countries and may have some deals for long term hire.

The CMCA have an excellent website (it's on my 'Clubs' page) and there is a listing of rigs for sale that would give you an idea of prices currently being asked.

My 'Links' page also has some sites with classified adverts. 


Thanks for the very rapid response and great info.
I'm forwarding this to my wife's email account to enable her to directly communicate with you.  Anne's our trip coordinator and will be in contact.  And, appreciate the handoff to your RV organization--look forward to hearing from them. 
Also, Anne will be contacting you to purchase your publication--look forward to maximizing our learning/RVing Down Under. 

Q (From the UK)
I am planning a trip to Australia in April 2004 and would like to travel from Perth up the coast, stopping at places like Kalbarri NP, Monkey Mia, Coral Bay, Exmouth and then to Tom Price to visit Karijini NP, then back to Perth. We would like to rent a motorhome, but I know there are often restrictions regarding taking a 2WD on unsealed roads, so I was wondering in your experience, whether the places I am intending to go are on sealed roads, or if I would be better renting a 4WD Motorhome. Also, do you know if there are many campgrounds on this route for hooking up to electricity?

A All the roads you mention are sealed except possibly the ones in the National Park. The last time we were in the Pilbara area - a long time ago - the unsealed roads to a number of spectacular gorges near Tom Price were fine and there would be no reason for using a 4x4 to access them unless the hire company specifically forbade it. There was a direct road to Tom Price that was unsealed but the alternate route via Parabadoo was slightly longer but sealed all the way.

The places you mention plus others on the route all have powered sites (pitches?) in their caravan parks (campgrounds?).

You may find my route notes for Broome to Geralton and Geralton to Perth interesting - they are on my web site.

Q My boyfriend and I live in the UK but arrive in Australia (Sydney) at the beginning of November 2003. We intend to travel and cover the whole of Australia and New Zealand in 1 year - 8 months Oz, 1 month Taz and 3 months NZ.
We have been searching the web for the past 4 months for various bits and pieces.  In that time we've changed our mind so many time with regards to what we will travel in!!  We started out definitely to buy a campervan (all-in-one) and now are thinking of a 4WD and a caravan.  Firstly, do you think this is best?  With regards to re-sale and general expense?  Our total budget is Aus $ 20k - vehicles, rego, insurance (not petrol, food, etc).
The second point is a huge bone of contention!  We decided we would travel around Oz in a anti-clockwise direction.  Then having thought again I suggested we travel clockwise.  My boyfriend doesn't cope well with change and thought my idea was terrible!!  Anyway, we both sat down and worked out (at my suggestion) where we would be at certain times of the year, etc, etc.  It turned out his idea (anti-clockwise) was to follow the cold weather and rainy season (up North) where mine (clockwise) was to be in full-on heat all the way round!!  And we would be in Perth when my parents decided to come over and see us at the correct time of the year for them - which of course had nothing to do with it!!!  Do you think, as cold weather Poms, we would be able to cope with the heat of the Australian summer for over 8 months??!
Sorry to be so inquisitive, but do you also think that Tasmania is worth a whole month's stay?  And do you recommend the ferry (with vehicles) or paying for a flight?
Yet another don't need rego on a caravan do you??
I have to say I found your website extremely informative and very useful - I only wish I found it earlier!!!

A Thanks for the email and kind remarks about the website.

At risk of being involved in a domestic I'll try to answer your questions.

First of all let me say that with that amount of time for travel you are going to have a fantastic time.

Now the budget and type of outfit. $20,000 won't buy you very much - certainly not a 4x4 and caravan. Have a look at some of the classified advert web sites on my 'Links' page to get an idea of s/h caravan and campervan prices. A web search for cars for sale in Australia will probably put you in the picture with vehicle costs. A campervan would fit your budget better but they do have their limitations for extended travel.

All major highways in Australia are sealed plus thousands of km of minor roads so a conventional vehicle will let you see an awful lot of the country.

The wet season up north is not what I would suggest. It's still hot but also very humid even when it's not raining. The waterfalls are spectacular then but getting around is difficult.

Aussies tend to travel the anticlock route because they leave the southern States around April/May spend the southern winter 'up north' when conditions are pleasant there and get back south around October when it's still cool but the summer is on its way.

Leaving Sydney in November I'd definitely be travelling clockwise. It won't be full on heat all the way as the weather is variable in the south and although there are heat waves at times like you had in the UK recently, you won't melt. Mostly it should be pleasant weather.

A month in Tassie would let you do the island in a very relaxed style. The sea trip is very reasonably priced these days and sailings are daily. Don't go there in winter though unless you like cold weather!

Yet another don't need rego on a caravan do you??

Wrong! You do need rego - plus an annual roadworthy in NSW.

I hope that answers some of your questions - have a great trip whatever you decide.

Q I have a 20+yr old camper and on our last trip in 2 deg nights we awoke very wet due to the damp being drawn through the bed from our body heat, as well as condensation dripping from the canvas beds
I have seen a new product out that claims to improve air flow beneath and around the matress to eliminate the cold air from coming through and wetting everything, but it is very expensive.
I'm trying 10mm styrene insulation between the timber base and the matress, which seems OK but the outside temp was 10+deg.
I have heard of things like newspapers under the matress, skirts below the timber bedout to create air pockets etc.
Is there something else that I can do to stop this very common problem in campers?

A Sounds quite a problem. The steps you have taken with insulation seem a move in the right direction but I've no experience of this happening as we always use a caravan. My suggestion would be to keep a small heater going all night in the camper to try to keep the temperature up.

But then later:
I've been at the Leisurefest today and asked a few people about your problem. The universal answer was that you need more ventilation either by opening windows or roof hatches. My idea of heating could make the problem worse!

Q I have recently purchased a secondhand van with a tuomatic fridge . could you please advise where i could possibly get a user manual for said fridge. i am new to caravanning and i have visited your site for and got other useful info. i am hoping you could point me in the right direction. i look forward to receiving your comments

A I have passed your enquiry on to Mr Leo Cronin who is in the caravan refrigeration business. Leo will be able to answer your enquiry better than me.

Here's Leo's reply"
Unfortunately there are no service manuals available for the Tuomatic refrigerator, but if you go to our web site, , go to F.A.Q., you may get some help there. If you still have some questions contact me or phone on (03) 9574-1900

Q Just found your fabulous web site. Thanks!
My husband and I plan to tour oz starting next January
Leaving the Gold Coast and heading down to Adelaide to start with.
Going to give the fruit picking a go I think.
Do you know any clubs or people in the same area as us that would be willing to meet and discuss the whole adventure?

A Thanks for the email and kind remarks about the web site.

I don't know any one personally in your area but suggest you have a look at:

Q This is probably an old question but here goes anyway.
I am anew owner of a Jayco Flamingo and am concerned about security of the van. I hear horror stories about theft from homes and also when traveling.

Is there any kind of locking device available to (a) lock the van on the towing hitch and (b) lock the wheels when the van is to be at a site for a while or is at home. The obvious, of a chain and lock, for the latter would seem to be able to be cut fairly easily.

A There is usually a provision on the coupling for a padlock to be put through and prevent the van being taken off the ball - it effectively stops the handle being lifted to release the ball.

There are devices for preventing a ball going into the coupling when the van is unhitched - I don't know their name but caravan accessory shops would have them. I seem to remember it has a combination lock and a ball shaped piece that fits in place of the towball. (I've got one somewhere but have never bothered using it).

I don't know about locking the wheels but I believe there are wheels clamps used for cars that could probably be used. There's also a combined handrail/ lock that prevents a caravan door being opened but I don't suppose this could be used with a camper.

Thanks for the (very) prompt response.
I will try to pop in and see you when I get back to Melbourne. Currently in Irian Jaya. I gather from your e-mail that it is not a problem for you. My major problem will be leaving the van in my, open, back yard in Portland and hoping that it will be still be there when I get back from a business trip. I guess that a fence and a padlock and chain should do it.

Q Could you give us some starting points for wisdom and knowledge on caravanning or similar with man & wife & five children please.
We are planning to sell up and hit the road for however long it takes for us to want to be house bound again.
What type of setup do you believe most suits a family with five children ranging from 2y.o. to 14 y.o.? We are an established natural learning family, so schooling is not an issue for us.

A With a family your size there are obviously problems fitting everyone in and giving everyone their own space - something we all need if it's to be for an extended period.

One of the Jayco campers that extend to give eight berths might be a go although it would still be pretty crowded.

An annexe with bunks is a possibility as is the idea of a tent for the older children.

Best of luck finding something suitable,

Q Do you know where I can find info on TV broadcast frequencies?  I am looking for Barcaldine, Queensland in particular.  There are 4 channels available in Barcaldine

A A book called 'TV Across Australia' is a pretty good guide although my old edition (2nd) only shows two stations for Barcaldine - Ten on Channel 8 VHF Highband and 2 on Channel 11 VHF Highband. There are more and more UHF channels available every year.

The book also shows the location of transmitters, distance of coverage N,S,E & W and if the signal is horizontal or vertical.

The URL is :<>

Q I'm a Travel Agent in New Zealand and I have a client coming over to Melbourne. She wants to basically travel around the whole of Australia with a Caravan. Can you please put me in  touch with a Caravan hiring company that would be able to hiring out a caravan from melbourne and allow them to drop it off in Brisbane.

A If you open my website and go to 'Hiring' in the menu down the left side you will find a couple of companies. There are plenty more but I haven't got round to adding them yet. Eliza Travel are agents for just about all of them.

Bartrak have always seemed good to deal with.

I would recommend my book Australia Calling for your client - we sell a lot to NZers and they find the Route Notes very helpful.

Q I have emailed you in the past and was impressed with you prompt reply so here goes again. What do you suggest to prevent leaks at the joins of tap-hose and hose van for the water? I find at present I just have to turn the tap on and off for use which seems impractical. I have tried a variety of hose fittings with the exception of stop valves and brass fittings.

A I use nothing but brass fittings - they are so much better and that includes the bit that screws on to the tap. They are easy to forget when you move off but as they are more expensive you soon learn.

The collar thing that tightens on to the hose needs to be very tight - I use a pair of pipe pliers or mole grips.

The little o-rings on the push on are quite cheap and easy to replace if they leak.

I'd still turn the tap off if you are going to be away from the van for a considerable period - floods are not nice to come home to!

Once again, a good answer in quick time. I thought you might say that about brass fittings. Oh well those new gardena fittings will come in handy when I buy a home that isn't on wheels. I like the site very much and enjoyed your most recent column in CW.

Q My partner and I are planing to take a trip to drive from NSW to WA later next year and her father suggested to get a small caravan . What I would like to know is we only have a front wheel drive sedan and would there be any type of  van we should be looking at ? I have heard from some people that if I could find a small Classic van from the 50\60s that it should be fine. Any advice would be a great help

A Front wheel drive sedans range from Morris 850s to 2 litre plus Magnas etc so I'm in the dark as to what vehicle you actually have.

Some of the smaller vans that have been around for a while with rear entry and about 10' long would be OK and so would an A-van.

Finding 50/60s vans in good condition would be a needle in the haystack type search.

Sorry forgot to tell you that the car is a 1.6 Laser sedan (automatic) I have not seen an A-van are they common?
So an early type van would be ok if you could find one?

A-vans are getting to be pretty common. They fold flat for towing but have a reasonable amount of room on-site. You can check them at <>.

Yes - an early small van would be OK but a 1.6 auto Laser won't tow anything heavy. Check your owners manual for max towed weight and max allowable tow ball weight.

Q I am trying to find out where the nearest dealer in Golf Caravans is in NSW. Can you help me as I am enquiring for a friend

A There are two Golf dealers in NSW:

South Tweed Caravan Sales 24 Pacific Highway SOUTH TWEED HEADS
Ph (07) 5524 3745 Fax (07) 5524 9798
Betta Caravans 867 King Georges Road SOUTH HURSTVILLE
Ph (02) 9546 6500 Fax (02) 9546 7127

Golf have a website at <>

Q Your site is most enjoyable.
I now own a 17ft 6'' tandem Evernew with a tare weight of 1700 kg. The tow vehicle is an 84 Range Rover, and very adequate. I am about to purchase a 2001 Commodore V6 as a second vehicle, and will fit it with a tow pack so it can be used for towing when sticking to the main roads.
If I also fit all the right towing gear, (to be advised), do you think the Commodore would do the job as a second towing vehicle,? and if so, can you advise the necessary modifications to the Commodore,

A (The subject was: Big Enough?)

I nearly trashed your email thinking it was yet another spam - I've been getting lots of offers in case I am not 'Big Enough'!!!!! Nearly as many as the unsolicited Viagra ads. Fortunately your email address looked genuine.

The Commodore should cope with the Evernew OK with the right towing gear. GMH probably supply a towing package - I'm not sure if they still need to strengthen the boot but they certainly used to do that. It seems that you don't need a bigger radiator or a transmission oil cooler any more with late model Commodores and Falcons.

I suggest you get a Hayman Reese load sharing hitch - they are the best there is in my opinion. There shouldn't be any need to go for any anti-sway devices as the van should tow well if its set up correctly with the van level and the car with the same distance between the wheels and guards front and back.

Apart from that the Commodore shouldn't need any modifications.

Thanks for the kind remarks about the web site - one day I'll get it finished!

Thanks for your quick response to my question.
I can understand you initial concern about the big enough subject.
I will now go ahead with the Commodore purchase, keep up the good work, and I may just take you up on your offer to drop in one day. Although I now live in QLD, I grew up in Dromana, and still refer to the Peninsular as home, 

 Q We are going to buy our first caravan in the next couple of months and I would like to know a couple of things. We have a 4wd 2.8 diesel Hilux dual cab and we would be looking at getting a 15' - 16' family poptop or large wind up camper trailer. Would that be to heavy for our vehicle when fully laden? Also I would like an unbiased opinion on electric brake controllers. Which one is the best to get?

A You would need to look in you vehicle handbook for the allowable towing weight of the Hilux - I would think it would be OK but you would need to know the loaded weight of your proposed caravan/camper to be sure. You probably need to allow 200 - 300kg for the load including gas, water, etc.

I use a Tekonshu (not sure of the spelling without checking!) pendulum type controller but any pendulum controller would be fine. I personally don't like solid state units. The pendulum reacts to deceleration of the tow vehicle and applies the trailer brakes accordingly.

Q I am in the early stages of planning the big one.  I have three children and a wife and need a caravan that can comfortably accomodate all of us for a lengthy period of travel.  Any ideas on a suitable van.  Looking to spend up to $15000. 

A There are a few s/h vans about with three bunks in the 'childrens end' but these are not too plentiful unfortunately.

When you travel for an extended period it's important that everyone has a bit of individual space and that's hard to arrange in a caravan so go for one as big as you can - depending on your tow vehicle's towing capacity.

The other option is for a camper. These have an extension at each end for sleeping quarters and certainly have a lot more room that a comparable caravan. The downside is that there is a fair amount of erecting and packing up each time you arrive and leave a site. Not too bad on a nice day but a fair cow on a wet and windy one.

Q Thank you for this opportunity to ask some general information type
We are just about to buy our first caravan for the Big Trip and are a bit
overwhelmed with information and opinion so we thought we would ask for
We are two sensible, dynamic, well travelled (planes, trains, automobiles)
nurses, so we can process most of the information we are given, but we don't
necessarily have the language of the advanced caravanner!!!
We have a Mitsubishi Challenger able to pull 2150kg approximately, so it is
a middle sized automatic 4WD. We will have automatic transmission cooling
installed, along with electric brakes and other essentials. What I really
want to ask is whether we need a Caravan with Outback (a la Jayco) or Off
the Road (a la Viscount) modifications. We don't plan to go 'Bushtracker'
rough but want to be able to leave sealed roads with some confidence.
We hope to get to Broome and Darwin not just Kiama Caravan Park. (We live in
I am trying to read your back issues of On the Wallaby in between patients
presenting in my Emergency Department in the middle of the Night.

A There's a caravanning nurse in the Frankston ER who poses exceptionally complicated questions to me from time to time like, "Where's the best spot to fish in WA?" I can just imagine a patient with severe chest pains being brought in by ambulance and being told, "Be with you in a minute when I finish Lionel's column!!!" Only joking.

You can travel right around Australia these days without ever leaving the bitumen. Side trips on made but unsealed roads are fine for a normal caravan and it's only if you want to do serious bush-bashing that you need a specialised van.

If you are ordering a new van then get them to install a little vent in the roof that can be opened to pressurise the interior of the van if you are going to travel on very dusty roads. It helps keep the dust out. You can fit them to existing vans but it's easier during manufacture.

I don't know where the outback starts! Certainly not at Kiama - they don't have many blowholes in the outback!

Q I have received your latest book and I'm thoroughly enjoying it! (So is my husband). Thanks so much for the autograph for my husband - he was tickled pink!
I'm wondering if it is still possible to obtain your earlier book - The ABC of Caravanning. I'd love to purchase this book also, so if you have one for sale, please let me know by return email or fax (07) 55736318.

A I'm so glad you are both enjoying the book. I've been on the Caravan World stand at the 4x4 and fishing show today and a couple I didn't know came to chat and didn't look at my name badge. They told me they had both of the books and I asked what they thought of them. "Bloody marvelous!" the lady enthused at which time I admitted they were mine.

My original 'ABC of caravanning' is out of print but I incorporated the main part of it in a revision of 'The BIG ONE' which is still available. It's $19 including post and packing.
Been scouring the net for answers to this question and came across your
I am planning to by a new BA XR6 (non-turbo) and although it can be fitted
with a genuine Ford tow pack rated to 2300kg (max ball weight 160kg) I would
like to know if you've heard any bad news about towing with this vehicle.
I have a Jayco Hawk camper trailer (2000 model) which, loaded up, is about
1200-1300kg and a ball weight of 120kg. My old ZL Fairlane with HR hitch and
level rides does the job fine.
My concern is that (despite Fords rating) the BA XR6 has a sports rear
suspension and 17X235X45 tyres. The salesman says that the rear suspension
is the same as the new fairlane so I guess that is OK but I've heard that
towing with low profile tyres is risky. Again the salesman says that Ford
wouldn't rate the car up to 2300kg if the tyres were no good. This is all
very well but the salesman could not produce any technical data to support
his claims and I suspect he would tell me anything to sell the car.
I really like the car and have always towed with fords but this is the first
time I've considered the XR range.
What do you think?

I'm afraid I'm not going to be much help as I haven't towed with an XR or heard of anyone who has. I'm still at the AU stage!

I can't see any reason why you shouldn't be able to tow safely with one though. With the right towing gear and staying within Ford's recommendations it should be fine.

As to the tyres, again if you are within their rating I can't see why they would be 'risky'.

Q We live in USA, Washington State and would like to consider
RVing in Australia for about four months next fall. The cost of renting a
motor home for 4 months would be prohibitive.

We own a 28 foot 1987 Class A motor home and would like to consider trading
motor homes with a reliable person or family for the same length of time.
Is there an organization that deals with this sort of thing. I know that
there are organizations that deal with trading your home with like-minded
people in other states or other countries.

Any advice you can give us?

A The best place to look would be the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA).

They are the largest group of motorhome owners in Australia and I will forward your email to Laurie Smythe, the CMCA Webmistress as she is a most helpful and knowledgeable person. If you want to look at their website it's at <>

Q I've been waiting to start traveling again with my high ace and got fed up with the 2cnd battery dying on me .,so I sold my 3 way fridge,Ive always thought 3 ways a pain in the neck ,as evrytime one opens it all the cold drops out and they dont hold much anyhow,When I was travelling on my own I couldnt be bothered with the things ,using cans ,rice spaghetti etc.and saw all the bother my mates went to when setting up eg.flat batteries,changing cylinders etc .I used to have mr whippy vans and had the same problem .Open the fridge,sell 5 cans of coke and the rest were hot all day,so I installed deep freezers and turned em right down ,Some of the drinks froze overnight and the ice tubes but the milk and cans on the top were just above freezing But !!!!!!! my wife will be joining me for the first time,I aim to stay in powered sites most of the time and could use an auxillary battery if caught out one night ,Before I get my wifes opinion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! whats yours.Unlike alot of blokes I dont expect my wife to slave over the stove as its her holiday too

A We have always found a fridge essential and have had three way fridges for many years. Providing the door is not continually opened they stay pretty cold - even if you don't bother with the 12 volt option when travelling.

The other way to go is a compressor type fridge/freezer and if you intend to be on mains power most of the time this could be the answer.

Q We are a family of 5 planning to do the big trip over 12 months. We have a Toyota Troopy Turbo Diesel and are in process of buying a Caravan to suit our needs.
We would like some advice on what type of van would suit us best.  We are the type of people who like to get off the beaten track and explore but we also must have something to keep us comfortable over the 12 months.  We are looking at Kedron, Trakmaster, something like that.  Can you offer any advice.  We are worried about buying a caravan that will not get us where we want but at the same time we do not want to buy a van that will be overdone.  The main thing that we do not want to be faced with whilst travelling is having to back track hundreds of kms to pick up our van because we couldn't take it there.  We do understand that a family size van of any make will not take us everywhere we want to go but we want to avoid us much backtracking as possible.
Please advise us if you can

A With five in the family you will have some restrictions on the type and layout of the van you choose. Certainly Trakmaster and Kedron would do the job but there are others worth considering as well.

It will depend a bit on the age of the youngsters - they do need a bit of space to do their own thing and the older they are the more space they seem to need. That seems to suggest bunks to save floor space.

Most manufacturers these days will build a van to your specifications so you will need to work out the best layout. It seems to me to be a good idea if youngsters sleeping quarters are at one end and parents at the other.

Size will have to be a compromise as small means cramped and large makes it harder to go 'bush'.

Money also comes into the equation with some vans like Bushtracker and Boroma pretty expensive although excellent vans. Then you get other specialist off-road vans like Kedron, Trakmaster and Phoenix that aren't quite as dear and coming down a bit further are the Jaycos and Roadmaster and similar.

Of course if you don't mind the extra work of setting up and dismantling you gets lots of permutations of large campers built for off road work and one of these might fill the bill.

It's hard to advise on a particular make - it's horses for courses as the old saying goes.

It sounds like a great trip you are planning and a great learning expereience for the family.

Q We have recently purchased a secondhand van and were investigating
the best towing mirrors for our vehicle - a 95 Jeep Cherokee Limited.

If you could make any suggestions - we would prefer to pay extra for a
good set at the start than have to replace multiple times.

A In my opinion Vision Plus mirrors are the way to go. I've been using a pair of these for a number of years and they are without doubt the best I've used and over the years I've used many kinds including Ora.

They are expensive but good value. Camec import them from the US. There is also a similar mirror around built on the same principles and sold by most accessories outlets. I haven't used them but they look OK and are about two thirds the cost of Vision Plus.
I currently have a 16foot Coromal poptop with single axle weighing in at 1300-1400kg ready for the road and have been towing it for some 5years on and off with a Ford ED 6 cylinder automatic sedan. The sedan is stock standard and is not fitted with a towing pack other than the heavy duty H/R hitch and electric brakes. Van tyres are maintained at 40psi.
The car has more than sufficient power for towing this size van but my problem is overheating  which only seems to occur on days over 25degrees or on long climbs evan at speeds of 80k/hr or less. I have had the full cooling system flushed and checked over as well as a new thermostat installed but the problem only seems to be getting slightly worse each year.
Am I bound to get a new vehicle more suited, get a lighter van or is there anything else you can suggest in the waqy of vehicle modification to improve my problem. It takes a lot of the enjoyment from our caravanning when you are consistently worried about the vehicle,

A I had an ED and put a three row radiator in it to prevent overheating. It was the same type of radiator as some taxis use and I got it from Natrad. It never overheated after that.

Hope you can fix the problem as the ED is a good tow car. By the way I also fitted a transmission oil cooler.

A common cause of overheating with the ED was picking up junk between the air-conditioning condenser and the radiator - it gets sucked up from the bottom.

Q I always enjoy reading at your site.
I also read Adryan Ryans site, but recently i cannot get into it. Your link also tells me i am forbidden, or page error.
Can you tell me if the link to his page is correct, and can you get into it, please?
A I just went back and had another look - sadly he's scrapped the website and just has a page about his books. What a shame as it was a great site.

For more Q & A
Q & A2 Q & A3 Q & A4 Q & A5 Q & A6 Q & A7

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