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Is your new caravan roadworthy?

Buying a new caravan is probably the best way to guarantee you have all areas of roadworthiness covered.
Buying from a reputable second hand dealer is also a safe guard and recommended if pre-loved is your choice.
Buying from the bloke down the road or from an internet site is fine and it might save a buck, but is it safe?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought second hand and it’s worked for me.

Sweet old Bob and Vera surely wouldn’t rip me off … would they?
But (always a but), over the years they’ve added this and that and modified things to a point of unsafe driving (maybe a reason for sale). Weight issues are a whole new topic so I won’t go into them today, other than to say make sure the van is loaded correctly and weight is not over the manufacturer’s plated specifications.
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The Future – Petrol v Diesel

G’day, Chris here again.

Thought I’d throw a little fuel on the fire in the petrol versus diesel debate.

It’s an old campfire argument that’s been going on for years and will probably never let up. Everyone has their own opinions and reasons for choosing what they buy. Well for now they do.

That is unless the influential parties with reasons to gain from limited choice have their way.

One of the things we’ve notice over the last few years is the increasing demand for modern diesel engine rebuild kits. For a while one would wonder if the engine rebuilding industry would even be around, but now there has been a resurgence in demand as modern engines start to fail with less kilometres travelled than my pushbike. Continue reading

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Happy Hour – A camping ritual of some kind?

Happy Hour – how long does it last?

Day one of a ten day stay at a Swan Hill caravan park started quite nicely.

As we pull up, out comes our next door vanner Barry, soon to be joined by Kathy, then on the other side another new arrival, Dianne and Reg.

We setup camp then checked out the local shopping precinct and purchased supplies before making our way back to camp to sit back and relax.

Then as the clock ticks over to 4.30pm something happens, everyone seems to be holding a drink of some description either lazing around in a comfy camp chair or preparing the bbq for an evening cook up.

Now I don’t know if this a magical, mystical, camping hour ritual of some kind, but soon we had all gathered under the one awning enjoying each others company. Continue reading

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Recovery – Safety – Common Sense

G’day, Chris here again.

Recovery ‘experts’ need not read further.

But for those interested in recovery of your vehicle from a bad situation, I figured I’d run a few ideas past you. It probably should be regarded as a topic on safety because that is what its really all about.
Recovery of your 4WD or any other vehicle, camper, van etc, is about how to safely rescue such from a sticky situation, be it lack of forward mobility or otherwise.


I hammer this issue of safety home until people’s ears start to bleed.

There is no excuse for increasing the danger to people or unwarranted damage to vehicles. Continue reading

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Buying a new van at a caravan show?

Buying a new van or trailer at a caravan show? Have you got your list ready?

How many times have you gone to caravan shows and become totally confused by the great selection available?

Don’t get me wrong, I love caravan and lifestyle shows and have been to heaps.
There are so many great rigs out there, from slide-ons to 5th Wheelers.
I admit to being a bit of a tyre kicker (sorry sales guys), I’m happy with my rig, but I do like to see what is out there, keep up with the latest styles, technology, brake systems and all those terrific gadgets.

So, no need to get confused, if you are a serious buyer here’s a friendly tip make a list! Continue reading

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Get the maximum life out of your tyres.

G’day, Chris here again.

Getting tired of getting tyred? If you want to get the maximum life out of your tyres, here’s a few tips to consider.

Firstly, this isn’t about choice of tyre brand, size, construction or tread pattern. Just about longevity.

People choose tyres for all sorts of reasons, and it is ultimately a personal choice. There are ‘low-cost’ tyres for the budget conscious, highway terrain for the long distance tourers looking for less noise, the all-terrains for the occasional off-road work, and more aggressive patterns for that trip to the Cape and back. Each brand will look to impress you why theirs is the best option. Continue reading

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Racks

G’day, Chris here again.

I’d like to share my thoughts on Roof Racks, their placement, load and safety.

Oh by the way, I hope you have all had time to let your Christmas pudding digest and your New Year’s drinks dissipate. Best wishes to all for a great 2015 ahead.

Hopefully many of you have enjoyed some time away in whatever adventurous pursuits you prefer.

Common amongst each pursuit though is where to pack all the ‘necessities’ of travel and camping. I say necessities with a smirk, as for some taking the portable TV is a necessity, for some a waste of space. Each to their own.

But without question the important element is storing and securing items safely. This should include minimising damage to the item, but I put more emphasis on avoiding damage to some poor bugger travelling behind me. To this end I only ever recommend using quality structures, especially with roof racks. I cringe when I see these silly poor quality racks that would hardly qualify as a securing device on a tricycle let alone a vehicle at 100kph with a Kayak atop.

Note that its not all about the ‘weight’ either. Continue reading

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Caravan & Camping 2015 – Be Prepared

Happy New Year to everyone and hopefully some top caravan and camping trips planned for 2015.

But are you prepared for an emergency?

Unfortunately the start of the new year hasn’t been that happy for some people with horrible fires in South Australia and Victoria.
Our thoughts are with everyone that has been affected by these fires and of-course the men and women that risk their own lives as they fight fires.
This disaster has made me think about caravan and camping set-ups and preparation or evacuation plan in an emergency. Continue reading

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Experiencing weight problems?

Who’s experiencing weight problems?

Your back end sways uncontrollably, your front end is on the heavy side and you have a few extra kilo’s that don’t need to be there.
Yes your caravan is overweight and probably needs to go on a diet. Continue reading

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Vehicle Servicing

G’day, Chris here again.

I get asked often about vehicle maintenance and servicing, a lot in fact. It is obviously an important topic, and has even been in the news of late regarding information dissemination. So I thought I’d just touch on a few elements without getting too deep.

First up, well of course servicing and maintain your vehicle is important. It keeps it in ideal condition, especially when travelling our vast outback. I think we can all agree with that.

New vehicles have a set service program attached to the warranty, but is it enough? Continue reading

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Towing in Overdrive – ON or OFF ?

I’ve noticed a lot of people on social media ask whether it’s better to keep in overdrive when towing or drop back a gear.  I drive an automatic and drive to conditions.
 I usually keep overdrive on when on the flat however I drop back on hills and turns and always when going down hill, letting the gears slow me down.

I raised this subject with Chris Blakemore … here’s his reply. Continue reading

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Compressors

Air Compressors
How much do you know about air compressors, do you own one?
Well, I’m a camper, caravanner and do a bit of 4WDing.
I’ve never respected correct tyre pressure as much as I did than when I went across the Simpson.
I was with a convoy of very well qualified, experienced drivers all doing the right thing, dropping pressure when necessary.
Not one puncture, and only one bog, but that was an inexperienced, over zealous driver towing a camper and taking a dune a bit fast on the wrong line (not me, yay … insert smiley face).
The condition of tyres and correct pressure shouldn’t be underestimated, they are the only contact between you and the road. Continue reading

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Air Filters

This is a blog from Chris Blakemore, normally I don’t filter his work (pardon the pun), but in this case I took a look and decided to add this pre-text. Yes Chris is a retailer, but more than that he believes in supplying quality products that work, that will last, that will protect your vehicle and ensure its longevity. As caravaners and 4WD enthusiasts we sometimes overlook, don’t understand or simply don’t care about what is under the hood … well Chris does!

G’day, Chris here again, still clearing the dust from my nose.

I sometimes get a weird look from customers when they comment their Unifilter looks dirty and near clogged up and I reply “Great!!” Our recent trip across the Simpson Desert found a few filters thick with red dust. Ironically one of the better known diesel experts in the country regard oiled filters as troublesome because they can choke up, but agree it is a service issue (owner) not a product issue. Continue reading

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Lake Boga – Drive Drive By – Think Again

Lake Boga

How many people just drive through a country town as they head to a ‘final’ destination when caravanning and camping?

Yes your honour … guilty.
We are not on the road full time, so generally our holidays are a trip away with a longer stay in one destination and stopovers somewhere in transit.
What if we had more time, I reckon we’d do a bit more investigating, surely that would be more economical for both fuel and accommodation right? … no back tracking.
We recently spent some time in Swan Hill, Victoria.
It’s a great part of the world and some nice surrounding ‘day trips’.
The reason for this blog however (like the title suggests) is that we went out for a drive to check out Lake Boga.
Only about 16km south of Swan Hill we found a huge circular lake covering just over 800 hectares. It has it’s own yacht club, confined areas for swimming, racing boats, yachts, skiing and the caravan park and camping areas extends to some (permits apply) areas around the lake.
It’s an amazing area and if we hadn’t taken the time to observe the signage and make that turn in, we wouldn’t have found an amazing feature. Continue reading

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Working on the road

Do you work on the road?
We still have a fair way to go before retirement and hitting the road long(er) term.
But I’ve already thought about what I can do when we do take off and dream about the day when we can actually do it.
There are some clever people out there already, we’ve seen hairdressers, jewellers, massage therapists, a lady sewing windcheaters to sell and of-course the knitters out there for a spare jumper or scarf.
Some follow markets others simply sell out the back of the van (all above board of-course Mr Taxman).

As technology moves forward there’s a need for computer boffins to fix wireless issues, mobile phone problems, laptops, basically anything that of-course couldn’t be human error. Continue reading

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Driving Lights

G’day, Chris here again.

I have the great privilege of writing to you from the middle of nowhere, or close to it.
We’re part way through an amazing trip across the Simpson Desert with a bunch of mates from around the world.
Sitting back staring at the stars, which are far more visible in the absence of background city lighting, it is a glorious place to be.

This is the life!!

It makes me wonder why we need to have so much background light. Be it in a country town or city blocks, there’s lights everywhere, in the streets, buildings, cars. I must admit it comes down to safety, and for drivers it helps with a safe drive home.

Driving lights in the Outback are an essential item really, given we are provided an endless stream of bouncing bonnet bling, ‘Roos.

On our adventure, we are trialling the new LED180’s from Lightforce, a popular brand in driving lights. Choosing what driving light suits you and your vehicle throws up lots of options. There’s always the cheap import lights which deliver what you paid for, then there’s the Searchlight performance style HID’s for the price of a small car, and everything in between.

Here’s a few lighting info-bytes to help when considering what light to choose for your off-roader or tourer. Continue reading

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Rest areas or are they?

Hi folks,
I can’t take credit for this article, but thought it was one of the best comments on parking bays, truck and rest stops on highways, particularly from the perspective of a road train driver. We need to share the road and be considerate to all users, day and night.

I found this on Exploreoz.com and it was written by a bloke (I assume) going by the name of  Twocrowsdown
http://www.exploroz.com/Forum/Topic/109410/Comment_P-Bays_and_Rest_Areas.aspx#.VBHuFwUymDY.facebook

Enjoy …

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Batteries & Systems

UK-OZG’day, Chris here again.

This month I am tapping out a few words between running around and prepping a number of vehicles in readiness for a crossing of the Simpson Desert with numerous guests from overseas. 

A considerable challenge has been the setting up of vehicles with sufficient fridge space and systems to keep them ticking along nicely so we don’t leave our dozen UK guests with warm beer or limp snags.

Crucial to reliability of a cold fridge is the essentially battery power to run it for days on end in the desert heat. And this is where for many people it now becomes quite confusing. Yet it needn’t be. The wonderful web has given us so much with regards to the quick access to volumes of information, but also means that flood of information and opinions can lead to confusion or simply being misled by ‘experts’ wishing to impress the less technically knowledgeable with lots of jargon.

So I figured with this opportunity at hand I’d try and simplify some of the dark art of battery systems.

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Camping Check Lists

Camping check lists, a waste of time or extremely useful … what do you think?
I always used to smile at our son’s habit of writing lists, through schools and then in business.
He’s still doing it and rarely forgets things.
I smiled until one day, early in our caravanning days, when we forgot to take the hand brake off our van and drove for a short distance wondering what was wrong with the car. Continue reading

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Social Media – On The Road

Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Google +, etc.
I’m 58, am I supposed to know about all this stuff?

SOCIAL-MEDIA“Bah, humbug” some might say,
“I don’t want to know what people had for lunch”,
“so what if he is at …… with ……. “,
“can they really post that photo?”.


You know what, I agree some people go over the top, but similar to TV self censorship, you don’t have to subscribe or look at anything you don’t want too, other than this blog of-course.

I joined Facebook to stay in touch with local and interstate relatives and acquaintances, sharing moments that we don’t normally, since then I’ve found lot’s of old friends and long lost cousins, made new friends and gained a lot of knowledge.
It is for this reason that I think ‘social media’ is perfect for people on the road, in fact for anyone contemplating a trip, perhaps a sole first time traveller wanting some help, or searching for reviews on places or particular items. Continue reading

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