Freestyle RVs have just opened the doors to their brand new undercover dealership in Melbourne’s north.
For their four-day Grand Opening event they’ll be offering up some exclusive event offers with immediate delivery on selected vans, but these vans in stock are strictly limited, so it’ll be first in best dressed.
The new Freestyle RVs dealership is fully undercover so Melbourne’s ‘four-seasons in one day’ wont bother you. The dealership has the largest range of both on & off-road Lotus Caravans and Universal Caravans anywhere in Australia, plus they also have Newlands Caravans and Concept Caravans on display too.
They will be taking fully custom orders as well, from colours to floor plans and accessories to go with your new pride and joy. As you would expect there is plenty of easy parking available, and the Grand Opening event is going to be huge! The event will be running from Wednesday 27 June, to Saturday 30 June, and the dealership will be open 9-5 Wednesday to Friday, and 9-4 on Saturday during the event.
As of 1 November 2018, the NSW Government will reduce the motor vehicle tax for privately owned light caravans and purpose-built camper trailers by 40 per cent.
This reduction is in response to community and caravan industry feedback, and pressure around the real-time use of caravans compared with the average car, plus far cheaper registrations in other states of Australia. This combined pressure has forced the NSW government to act.
Owners of private use caravans and purpose-built camper trailers with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) between 255kg and 4.5 tonnes whose registration is due from 1 November 2018 will be eligible for the reduction. NSW base their registration on vehicle weights and therefore road damage which means motorhomes and campervans are not included in this reduction.
According to NSW Transport Roads & Maritime Services, savings will range from $46 to $471 depending on the weight of the caravan or camper trailer. Registrations can be paid in 3 or 6 month blocks so that owners can take advantage of the new rate on offer sooner.
For more detailed information go to http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/roads/registration/fees/registration-costs.html
The Bushtracker reputation for off-road durability is one really built on solid ground… and sand, and mud
Over the years of caravan and camping shows I’ve attended, one display that I always remember is the aluminium caravan frame that people can use as a monkey bar or climbing gym. You may remember it as well. This is a Bushtracker. So confident in the strength of their frame, there is a photo of nine Aussie blokes standing on top of it in their brochure.
A big tick for strength and longevity. The level of detail that goes into their vans was the next thing I noticed as I toured the Bushtracker factory for this review. Bushtracker caravans have been around for 23 years and are manufactured on the Sunshine Coast. Each van is custom-built for the individual customer, focusing on their specific needs and requirements.
An infinite number of choices could sound like hell, but they will guide you through the layouts and refine it down with you so you get the layout that matches your requirements. Part of the decision process for prospective customers is to offer a factory tour, which I would highly recommend.
When was the last time you saw dovetailed joinery in home furniture, let alone in a caravan? The Bushtracker kitchen drawers are dovetailed, so don’t expect them to fall apart. Ever. Attention to detail and built to last is what I noticed when closely inspecting the interior of the Bushtracker.
Even the shower is custom-built and has two drain holes. The review caravan had a small hatch in the shower to store shampoo and the like when travelling, but easy to get to when stopped.
A separate shower and toilet in an 18 footer is a nice feature, with plenty of storage in the ensuite. If you are looking for the front loader washer, you’ll find it easy to access under the bed.
Another unique feature of the 18ft Bushtracker are the footlockers either side of the bed. These are a great place to put those extra pairs of shoes or boots that you might need on your travels. All the spaces are well utilised.
The café dining seating set-up has two table configurations. One is a small side table (with storage under, of course) and the other is the large table that travels under the bed and is only used when needed. Once in place, it is a good, solid tabletop.
The four-burner gas stove top includes a wok burner, with a grill and oven underneath. The 220-litre two-door fridge provides plenty of cold storage. Bushtracker hand make their own fridge door closure to keep the doors closed during travel. Another nice touch. There are three water tanks at 75 litres each plus a grey water tank of the same size. The configuration of the water tanks is one potable and two non-potable on completely separate systems. These two non-potable tanks can be filled with local water such as creeks using an onboard pump. This ability will extend your stay in remote locations.
The electrical system is an Enerdrive 300Ah lithium system providing plenty of power for off-grid travel. The 450W of solar panels on the roof easily top up the battery system which can take inputs from the vehicle and panels at the same time. Lithium also allows fast charging as it accepts full charge until 100% (unlike AGM systems). There are plenty of USB charge points throughout the van along with 240V outlets. Need power? Amply catered for here.
Options? You bet. Bushtracker offers either aluminium cladding or composite panel over the structural aluminium framework. Whichever you choose, there is one-inch cooler board insulation in the walls and a whopping three inches in the roof. If that is not enough to keep you cool, there is a Truma air conditioner mounted on the roof. For warmth, the diesel Webasto heater will make even the coolest days warm on the inside.
Under the van, Bushtracker runs the Simplicity Axles fully independent load-sharing dual axle suspension with 12-inch brakes to stop when required. Simplicity Axles have sold over 24,000 axles and have been in business since 1955, which says something about the component companies used by Bushtracker.
A watertight door is fitted so that no water intrudes during water crossings. This folds over the main door and also helps eliminate dust or damage in tight, dusty situations. The lower section of the van has aluminium checker plate to protect it from scratches on those narrow tracks. If you check out the hatches and where they join the body, you will notice that the checker plate pattern matches. Attention to detail right there, folks. The roof may look flat, but it has a slight camber to each side so the water runs off and doesn’t pool. The small things do count.
If badges are important, then you’ll no doubt look at the Mercedes X-Class. In this case, the three-pointed star has two faces and as a ute the opinions are good. As a tow vehicle? Cue fanfare: on a kazoo.
Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to the commercial vehicle market, having sold everything from vans to trucks for years. But the company is best known as a prestige car and SUV brand, and it’s one that has never sold a dual-cab one-tonne ute – until now.
The X-Class is a commercial vehicle but in the strange new world of today’s vehicle market, a large proportion of dual-cab utes are sold to private buyers because utes have become fashionable. It seemed inevitable that Mercedes-Benz would eventually front up with something like the X-Class, a ute that combines 4WD ute function with the cachet of the three-pointed star.
To save on development costs – and have something on the market relatively quickly – Benz had a quiet chat with Nissan. The result was that the X-Class was based on the D23 Navara. While X-Class and Navara share engine, transmission, driveline and many under-the-skin components, the X-Class has a wider track, unique suspension tune, NVH improvements and additional safety features such as trailer sway control. It also weighs a couple of hundred kilos more than the equivalent Navara.
The Mercedes-Benz X 250d Power we tested is the premium X-Class model – that is, until a V6 X-Class model (the X 350d) arrives later this year. This ute might be based on a Nissan, but when it comes to pricing, especially for options, its pure Mercedes-Benz. That is, it’s expensive.
The X 250d Power costs $61,600 (six-speed manual, plus on-road costs) but the test vehicle was fitted with optional seven-speed auto ($2900), metallic paint ($950), style bar ($1551), towbar ($836), seven-pin towbar wiring ($462) and electric brake controller ($765). It also has the $2490 Style Pack, which includes privacy glass on rear windows, electric rear window, side steps, roof rails and 19-inch six-twin-spoke alloy wheels. Tally this all up and you have $67,940 (plus on-road costs).
An option worth mentioning here is the electric brake controller (EBC). Mercedes-Benz is one of the few manufacturers to market an EBC as a genuine accessory. At $765 the remote-head EBC (which looks suspiciously like the Redarc unit) isn’t cheap, but at least you have peace of mind if you check this option, knowing that you’ve got warranty coverage for the whole vehicle including the EBC.
The Power has a fairly comprehensive standard features list that includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 360-degree camera, PARKTRONIC parking assist, leather/microfibre seats (electric adjustment at the front), a leather-look dash top and door caps, climate control, keyless entry/start and an 8.4-inch COMAND multimedia system with digital radio, navigation and touchpad.
The X-Class wins the safety features war with Navara by having autonomous braking and trailer sway control but isn’t the ute with the most safety/convenience gear on the market. That award goes to the Ford Ranger, with its unique offering of lane-keeping assist and active cruise control on the Wildtrak model.
It might be based on Navara but you wouldn’t know it on the outside: the X-Class exterior is unique to the Benz product and adopts a more aggressive, squared-off style than the Navara.
The interior is all Mercedes-Benz’s own too, and it all works without any ergonomic disasters. While front occupants have excellent supportive seats and plenty of room to move, the back isn’t so great; the seat could be more reclined and if you’re tall you’ll notice a lack of head and leg room.
You don’t get all warm and fuzzy about Benz quality inside the X-Class: sure, at first glance it looks great with stitched (vinyl) material on the dash and doors and cool-looking circular air vents, but look more closely and it starts to lose its shine. Brittle plastics adorn the lower part of the dash and some switchgear feels cheap, bringing a general low-rent feel to the interior.
Hopefully it gets better when it comes to towing. On paper, it’s looking good: trailer sway control – tick; 3500kg (braked) towing capacity – tick; towball download limit 350kg (which is 50kg up on the Navara) – tick.
Only a few utes allow you to tow the maximum 3500kg while also having the ute fully laden, and the X-Class isn’t one of them. The X 250d’s Gross Combined Mass is 6200kg, which means you’re going to have to reduce payload in the vehicle and/or trailer by 550kg. As tested, the X 250d has a 979kg payload limit (with a kerb weight of 2271kg and a Gross Vehicle Mass of 3250kg).
We hitched up a Nova Vita 216-9R from Sydney RV, with a Tare mass of 2800kg and a towball download of 185kg. The Benz drooped just 25mm at the rear and the front lifted a mere 4mm. No surprise really, given the sub-200kg towball mass. Hitching the van solo was actually easy too, thanks to the X 250d’s excellent rear-vision camera.
Getting off the mark with or without a van, the X-Class is responsive – its twin-turbo diesel engine doesn’t really have much lag. It’s from there on in that the Benz ute is not so happy to be lugging a heavy van around.
Driving on the freeway at 100km/h, it worked out best to keep it in fifth gear (in manual mode) with the engine spinning at about 2500rpm. Left to its own devices, the transmission would keep shifting gears, never happy to stay in seventh (top) gear for very long.
Not that the Mercedes would be towing at 100km/h for long where any hills were around; the slightest incline would see the rig slow to around 80km/h. On one particularly steep hill behind Lithgow, the X 250d slowed from an 80km/h cruise on the plains down to 38km/h towards the top of the incline.
Despite its competitive engine outputs (140kW and 450Nm), perhaps there is no substitute for cubic inches (engine displacement) when towing. Other utes with similar outputs (but larger engine displacements) don’t make it look easy when towing heavy vans but they don’t make such a meal of it up hills as the X-Class. Perhaps the 190kW/550Nm three-litre V6 X-Class (when it arrives in a few months) will be a much happier tow vehicle.
Whether it’s revving hard to haul a van up a steep hill or cruising on the freeway at 100km/h, one thing is for sure: the X-Class is very quiet inside for a ute. The engine clatter is only audible at idle and sounds distant, almost as if it’s coming from another vehicle.
It was travelling down the other side of the steep hill that we discovered that the X-Class’s transmission will not hold gears in manual mode; just before reaching redline (about 400rpm before it), the transmission would up-shift, losing the meagre engine braking the 2.3-litre engine had. This is a vehicle that you would drive very slowly down steep inclines with a heavy trailer to ensure it doesn’t overheat the brakes on vehicle or van.
Including the climb over the Blue Mountains, cruising around hilly terrain around Lithgow and then back to Sydney (with a total of 300km covered), the X-Class averaged 18.9L/100km. You’d expect that figure to improve with touring out in the plains of the outback, especially if you’re towing a lighter van. With the average we achieved, you’d still get to around the 400km mark before thinking about refuelling.
When you’re touring for hundreds or even thousands of kilometres, ride quality is important. The X-Class rides really well (for a ute, at least) when unladen, and also when towing on smoother, gently undulating roads. When on chopped up bitumen or some of the severely pot-holed Aussie goat tracks optimistically called highways, the X 250d was not very comfortable to ride in. The vehicle just never felt settled, stuttering its way over the bumps in a short, sharp up-and-down movement. The X-Class is not the only ute to ride like this, but it seems that it really could be better.
The X-Class could really do better as a heavy-duty tow vehicle when it comes to stability too. The rig never really felt settled when towing faster than 80km/h, with minor cross winds or anything more than a very gentle steering movement causing the trailer to sway. When towing just one van you can never be sure that trailer sway wasn’t just down to a poorly balanced van, or that the vehicle and van’s dimensions are somehow at odds with each other. Whatever the reason, the X-Class felt unsettled to a greater or lesser degree with three different heavy caravans we towed behind it. Towing one particular van saw trailer sway control kick in several times.
The X-Class’s rather less than secure stance on the road when towing could probably be fixed with an anti-sway coupling or a weight distribution hitch (WDH); these are often used to very good effect on many rigs. A WDH should not be necessary on paper (because the towball download with this caravan was relatively low) but in reality it might be just the ticket for the X-Class.
Goldstream RV, as a part of their 25th Anniversary celebrations, has launched an all-new off-road, pop-top caravan called the 1500 Remote.
This tough off-roader features a queen size bed, interior kitchen, an exterior full slide out kitchen, a combo ensuite, independent coil suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, off-road coupling on an extended A-frame plus loads more and the Remote weighs in under 2000kg.
Tourists coming to Melbourne have often expressed dismay about Melbourne’s famous Hook Turns throughout the city and now there’s another turn for caravanners and tourists – oh and Melbournites – on one of the busiest roads through Melbourne – the P-Turn!
This system being developed for Hoddle Street has its first P-turn intersection at Johnston Street coming on line on Monday 16th April. This is a small part of the bigger picture to move traffic through Melbourne.
Essentially people turning right will follow a specific lane past the intersection where they will do a U-turn, crossing the road into a specific left hand turn lane, to then turn left back at the intersection. This could be a problem for larger vehicles and caravanners. The jury is out on whether peak times will be a disaster! Check out the video from Vic Roads and be warned!
Opal Caravans is a name synonymous with quality and manufactured in Melbourne since 1975. That’s 43 years of a family business founded by Director, Tony Morihovitis, extoling family values and principles throughout their business dealings, which is a major reason Opal Caravans are still going strong.
The Opal Caravans Melbourne Showroom is moving from Sydney Road in Fawnkner to a bigger, brighter location at 852-854 Cooper Street, Somerton.
Jimmy Morihovitis, Sales and Marketing Manager, stated that, “This bold new move will provide easier access for our existing clients and new clients to visit our fully stocked yard.” He went on to explain, “We’re trying to move away from the current traditional showroom type environment allowing us to take on more stock offering a greater range of touring vans on-site.
“There are many different projects we are working on that will make touring people’s Opal finding experience here in Melbourne simply amazing. Stay tuned as we move into 2018 with a bigger, brighter plan!”
The move will take place around mid April and will be in full swing as of the 20th April. Details will be posted on the web at www.opalcaravansmelbourne.com.au. The contact numbers will remain the same.
Sydney’s longest running caravan and camping show will celebrate 50 years when the 2018 Caravan Camping Holiday Supershow kicks off this month at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse.
This is the Caravan & Camping Industry Association of NSW’s (CCIA) longest running event.
“Caravan and camping has been a favourite way for Aussies to holiday for decades and Australian businesses have been continually developing and innovating to meet the needs and desires of a growing market,” CCIA CEO, Lyndel Gray said today.
“As part of our celebrations, this year we will also be featuring a vintage caravan and motorhome display – taking people on a trip down memory lane and back to the early days of caravan and camping in Australia.”
The Supershow runs from Tuesday 24th to Sunday 29th April, bringing together over 300 exhibitors with thousands of products and expert advice and all the latest innovations.
2016 was a great year for the Supershow.
Family entertainment includes face painting, a jumping castle, reptile display, photo booth, as well as the Champagne Bar with live music, the Iron Jack Bar and The Smokehouse, the Tents-up Feet-up Pamper Lounge with mini massage or manicures, daily seminars and much more.
This year’s Passport Competition offers your chance to win more than $89,000 in prizes with the major prize winner taking home a Rangefinder Nebula Caravan valued at $73,990 proudly provided by Bailey Caravans.
The Supershow has a long history. This shot from 1999.
The Supershow is a great place to see a full range of caravans, motorhomes, campervans, slide-ons, camper trailers, tents, caravan and camping equipment, 4WD and touring accessories, tourism destinations and caravan and holiday parks and much more.
You can buy your tickets online now and save 10%. For more information or to buy tickets go to www.supershow.com.au
Over $37,000 was injected into the economy of the Victorian township of Elmore and its surrounds over 5 days of an Australian Caravan Club Chairman’s Muster last month.
ACC Chairman Craig Humphrey said that an interesting programme had seen 150 Club members travel to Elmore to attend the five day muster at Elmore Events Centre from 8 to 13 March 2018.
“The Elmore Chairman’s muster provided an atmosphere for Club members to chat informally with myself and three other board directors about Club matters,” Mr Humphrey said. “Five Happy Hours, a First Timer’s Afternoon Tea, a catered dinner, and morning teas throughout the muster provided ample opportunity for this.”
The Mayor of the City of Greater Bendigo, Councillor Margaret O’Rourke, officially opened the muster.
Over the course of the muster, there were a number of organised activities. These included a tour of the H.V. McKay Rural Discovery Centre and the Port of Echuca Discovery Centre. A Murray River cruise on the M.V. Mary Ann Cruising Restaurant, and a visit to a Beer Shed and Heritage Farm Museum. The members also supported a fundraising breakfast cooked by the local Lions Club, plus there were many speakers and presentations for the members.
ACC members are now turning their focus onto the Club’s 2018 National Muster to be held in Denmark, Western Australia in October this year. “This will be an historic event for our Club as it will be our very first National Muster in Western Australia,” Mr Humphrey said.
The event concluded with the announcement of Murray Bridge in South Australia as the venue for our 2019 Chairman’s Muster.
Planning a big adventure anytime soon and want to try out some cool new gear? Looking to upgrade your caravan, camper-trailer or tent before you embark on your next trip? Come and check out the latest on the market at WA’s biggest caravan and camping show. There’ll be plenty of entertainment for all ages, and free activities for the kids to enjoy while you hunt for the best bargains.
You can even score free transport to and from the show, go into the draw to win a 40L Engel Fridge Freezer and jump the queue when you arrive, simply by purchasing your tickets online before the show.