Lorainne and Graham from Geraldton, Western Australia, know what it’s like to prepare oneself for life on the road. After 24 months of extensive research, Lorainne and Graham have decided on a Toyota Landcruiser GXL utility and an Aussie Wide 23 foot Bunderra caravan to suit their personal needs and requirements for hitting the road.
Setting up a caravan and vehicle that is serviceable to your needs requires a lot of planning prior to purchase, Lorainne explains.
If you are wishing to travel around and enjoy what our beautiful country really has to offer we decided we would need to cater for camping in remote locations and to be totally self-sufficient, which is what we are doing.
Our research involved attending two caravan shows and a lot of reading but mostly the advice received came straight from the horse’s mouth. Whenever we’d spot a caravan in our home town with number plates from another state we would approach them. We figured if they had plates that weren’t local they were quite likely seasoned travellers with plenty of information and advice. They were always more than happy to talk about their caravan, their likes and dislikes, what they would do differently and any problems they may have encountered on their travels, Lorainne continues.
It is not an easy exercise to choose the right set up with so many forms of recreational vehicles available boasting their individual features, layouts, optional extras and accessories. When we had made the final decision to purchase an Aussie Wide 23 foot Bunderra it was Graham that by now knew what he was looking for in the structure and I knew what I wanted regarding the layout. Even then we asked for some minor adjustments and paid the extra to get exactly what suited us best.
Graham says, We chose a simplicity suspension which is independent with springs running under each independent arm. Towing the Bunderra is a breeze. We haven’t noticed any difference towing a 23 foot van to an 18 foot van. The van has been very comfortable for us in our travels. Having the comforts of an ensuite and washing machine also makes a huge difference. The Bunderra’s maiden voyage was up the northwest coast to Broome, across to Katherine then 600kms of dirt road to and from Limmen Bight before arriving in Darwin. We extensively free camped along the way and all went to plan.
We found that three 130 watt solar panels on our caravan with three heavy duty deep cycle 110 amp batteries was a must to run the conveniences in the caravan. A 3000 watt inverter assists by transferring the power from 12 volt to 240 watt.
As a backup for power supply we also have a 3KVA (EU3Oi model) Honda generator which runs the air conditioner, washing machine and also charges the batteries at the same time with a 30 amp charger. We have found that the 3KVA has been more serviceable than the 2KVA because of its reliability and convenience. Ours is on wheels to save our backs! Travelling in the northern parts of the country we haven’t had to use the generator much as our solar panels have served all our needs. However if we used the washing machine (5kg) I would start the generator.
We had the tray on our Landcruiser extended just to give us that bit of extra space. We also put two 130 watt solar panels installed with two 45kg deep cycle heavy duty 130 amp batteries. There is a 1000 watt inverter which can run the computer, charge your torch batteries, mobile phone, cameras, etc when we are in transit.
We have enclosed the Landcruisers tray with an aluminium cabin that has three doors. Inside the cabin there is a power unit. This has 240 volt and 12 volt plugs. We run two National Luna 90 litre car fridges. We have found these car fridges very efficient to run. You can vary the way it operates within the two compartments. They have two thermostats so you can control to your needs, especially when you are catching fish and you want to freeze them.
There is an Anderson plug which connects from the batteries from vehicle to the Anderson plug in the caravan for back up or recharge. When in transit the alternator will charge the batteries.
The caravan has a Hyland hitch 3500kgs which has a universal pivot. This doesn’t pivot on the ball therefore doesn’t put any pressure on the hitch. Sway bars are essential but they are best removed when on gravel roads as they twist too much, especially if you encounter gutters and corrugations. We use Hayman Reese.
We have four 90 litre tanks of fresh water. These tanks have two filters. One of the 90 litre tanks is for drinking water. It is most important to filter your water that goes into your tanks as it varies greatly from source to source. The Toyota Landcruiser has 130 litre tanks of water which is also filtered.
Lorainne adds some tips; don’t forget a chainsaw as you are always looking for timber for a camp fire. But then again the list could go on and on. However we also recommend a tyre repair kit, a bread maker and we enjoy our own coffee machine. We are on our ‘practice run’ to test ourselves on what to expect on the road and are still looking at other peoples set ups. I am sure I am not the only one who thinks ‘I wish I had done this’ or ‘I should have done that’, but overall we are more than happy with our final decision and look forward to many more years on the road.