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Free Range Camping by Free Range Camping - 1w ago

We all love happy hour but what most of us don’t like are the flies that can often come with it.

Trying to relax at your favorite time of day with a drink or nibbles can be ruined by constant annoyance by flies buzzing around landing on your food or in your drink. Even just trying to have lunch or dinner can be annoying with them buzzing around your food.

Nothing worse than flies on food or in your drink

A few weeks ago however we discovered the ShooAway and had to try it out.  This little gadget is amazing! Simple and easy to use, our fly shooing has reduced dramatically since we got it.

The ShooAway

The ShooAway has two gently moving soft stop blades that spin around distracting flies and preventing them landing on your food.  The secret is in the blades which have a dual purpose.

They are soft flexible blades and turn gently, simulating a waving hand that shoes the flies away for you. Also, at t the end of each blade there are a series of holographmatic discs. (Yes, I know, I found it hard to say also)  In simple terms a collection tiny shiny mirror like dots that reflect the light as the arms spin and repel the flies.

The dots refract the light

The unit is powered by a noise free motor that stops if something gets in the way of the blades, like your hand reaching for some food. Being soft and flexible the blades will not hurt if they come into contact with you which makes them ideal around children, or pets for that matter as you can see from Banjo in the image below.

Not sure if it is the cool breeze or lack of flies, but he looks happy.

Each unit is powered by two AA batteries and being only a small motor, they last for ages.

2 x AA Batteries are long lasting

Another great advantage of the ShooAway is that you don’t have to use fly spray or repellents, especially around your food, making it the perfect chemical free solution to getting rid of flies.  Of course you can use ShooAway in so many situations around the home for any food prepping or BBQ area, but we find it particular useful camping because we are outside so often.

1 x ShooAway will cover between 1 to 1.5 metres

Each ShooAway is high enough that it will clear most wine glasses, but effectively keep flies away from plates of food also. A single unit will successfully cover an area of about one to one and half meters, so depending on the size of your table or the area you need to cover you may need two units.

Video

You can see the ShooAway being used in the video below.

Shoo Away Fly Repellent - No Spray Pest Control For The Outdoors - YouTube

What we thought of them

We tried our Shooaway in a few different locations and were quite impressed. Whilst they will not stop each and every fly, they certainly reduced the amount that were hanging around. Our best test was one of our sessions where we had lots of Cheese and Salami which can be major fly attractants. We kept moving the ShooAway around the table and found that as soon as we did the flies would return, but located near the food, it was a definite deterrent. They were definitely better than the food nets we have used in the past as we didn’t have to keep moving them to get to the food and then forget to replace them.

Avoids the need for food nets

We are very proud to be able to add ShooAway into our range of camping products in the Free Range Camping Shop. They are available as a single or in pack of 2 and 4, with special pricing available for Premium Club Members

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If you have purchased a caravan, motorhome or any other type of RV, you will understand its value, not only in dollar terms, but also in the pleasure it can bring you as you embark on your camping trip or your first trip around Australia.

It doesn’t matter if your rig only cost a few thousand dollars or up to $200,000, the loss of it would bring a significant financial burden as well as the disappointment of not being able to continue your trip.

It is imperative therefore that when you purchase your RV, you get the right insurance cover.  Having spoken to many other RV owners over the last five years, we have found that the old Castrol adage, “Oils ain’t Oils”, can also be relevant when talking insurance cover:- “Insurance ain’t just Insurance.”

With a multitude of insurance companies out there to choose from, how do you go about choosing the right one?

Whilst preparing for our big trip, we spent quite a bit of time researching different types of RV insurance.  During the course of the research, we heard several horror stories about other travellers’ experiences after having chosen either the wrong type of policy, or a disreputable company misleading or misrepresenting their policy, or simply misunderstanding what they were and were not covered for, with the result being that they were left without valid, appropriate cover.

Do you have more than just accident cover?

Unlike car insurance, your RV is different.  It is not just traffic accidents or theft you need to consider.  You actually live in your RV, in some cases full time. Therefore if something were to happen, you need to make sure you are adequately covered for all relevant scenarios.

For e.g., if you did lose your RV in an accident, where would you stay and how would you get home?  What if your awning blows off?  Are you covered for floods?  Believe me, having been caught in this exact situation, it was a relief to know that we were in fact covered for this.

Our Motorhome trapped in rising flood waters. 

As you are living in the RV, covering your contents is another important factor you should consider in your selection process.  In some cases, where you have your own home and contents insurance, some cover for personal items may be included when you travel away from the home, but this is not always the case. If you are a full time traveller, which many of us are, and do not have a permanent place of residence, you may not be covered for this.

It is important therefore to make sure not only that the insurance policy you select will fully cover your needs, but also that the insurance company standing behind the product is reputable and will be there you when you need it most.

Unfortunately, most people find this out when it is too late.  It is not until they have an incident and need to make a claim that they find out what is in the fine print of an insurance policy.

Whilst there are many generalised insurance policies in the market, there are very few specialised insurance policies for RV’s.  Some have just the basic cover with none of the bells and whistles. I realise now that had I taken one of those policies, I would have been out of pocket by thousands.

RV insurance policies will vary in price from a few hundred dollars to over $1000, obviously reflecting what they include or, conversely, what they do not include in the policy.  While some will save you a few dollars at the time, you may find it will cost you more in the long run. For us personally, making sure we found the right policy has proved invaluable.

Do you have fusion cover? 

One such example for us was when we made a claim for the replacement of our fridge.   When I started looking at the basic policies, I noticed some did not cover fusion damage. I questioned myself as to whether we would need it.  In the end, I found a policy that included it.  Yes, I paid a bit more, but it paid for itself when, two years later, we lost our fridge due to the motor burning out. I was not only able to replace the fridge, but also the food that was spoilt along with it.

Another such incident for us was when we were trapped in rising flood water. We were airlifted out and left without our home for quite some time.  It was comforting to know that we were covered not only for the damage to be repaired, but also the recovery of the Motorhome, temporary accommodation and our contents were also replaced.

Do you have contents cover?

There are many stories such as ours and the point I am trying to make here is to make sure you research thoroughly before you purchase any RV Insurance policy and find out what cover is included in that policy. I would urge you to take the time and get your hands on as much information as you can.  Ask for the PDS in all cases and when you have it, make sure you actually read and understand it. If you are unsure about some part of it, contact the insurer and ask them. By law, the insurance company must disclose everything they do and do not over.

To assist you further, I have outlined below some very basic terms insurance companies use and that you may also like to consider when making your decision.

BASIC TERMS

Excess

What is it and why do they have it?

Excess is the term that is used for the amount of money you have to pay when you make a claim.  This may vary with different insurers and policies.  If an insurer offers varying levels of excess, this will usually affect the amount of the overall premium.  Usually a lower excess will increase the premium, whereas if you are prepared to pay a higher excess, it will often reduce the annual premium.

Excess is essentially put in place by insurance providers in order to manage the number of claims they receive.  It prevents constant small claims being made by policy holders which in theory should mean that because the insurance company receives less claims, the better for them, so technically premiums should be lower overall.

In deciding which level of excess best meets your needs, it is worth considering what level of loss you would intend to make a claim for.  In other words, are you planning on claiming only in the event of a total loss, e.g. your RV is stolen or totally destroyed in a major incident, or would you like to cover for minor incidents as well, such as minimal panel damage from a storm or accident, flood damage, or for loss of contents?

Knowing this in advance can assist you in determining the level of excess you wish to pay, and if it is worthwhile.

At Fault    

At fault or not at fault are also common terms you should be aware of and terms that are closely connected to your excess and when you will need to pay it.

At Fault, as it suggests, is for times where you are responsible for the damage sustained to your RV e.g. if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and it was as a result of your driving, then you may be deemed to be at fault and be asked to pay the excess at the time of making a claim.

If, however, it is evident that you were not the cause of the incident, and you are able to obtain name and contact details of the responsible party, you may be deemed to be not at fault.  An example of this may be where your RV is parked in a campground, and someone else’s caravan accidently rolls into it.

If you are deemed not at fault and the responsible party can be identified, your insurance company may not ask you to pay the excess, instead they will take this up with the other party or their insurance company.

You should also note that any No Claim Bonus you are eligible for may be affected should you have to make a claim.  With many variables to consider when it comes to who is at fault and who is not, the installation of a dash cam can provide valuable evidence for some situations.

Agreed Value or Market Value

It is important that you know in advance how much your insurance will cover you for, especially if you are in a total loss situation.  Some insurers will offer the choice of either Market Value or Agreed Value, whereas some will only offer one or the other.

Market Value – Means that in the event of a total loss, they will pay you the current value your RV would fetch on the market, not necessarily the amount you paid for the RV or what it would cost you to replace it.  To establish this value, often a combination of an assessor’s appraisal and valuation guides are used.  This form of cover may lead to a cheaper premium, but can sometimes lead to disappointment to the owners when they and the insurer may not agree on the market value at the time.

RV’s depreciate over time, so even if you paid $50,000 to purchase your van, you may find that in 18 months’ time your insurance company may think it is only worth $30,000, where in your eyes its value still holds much closer to the $50,000 you paid for it.

Agreed

Agreed Value – Means that you and your insurer will determine the value of your RV at the start date of the insurance policy and both will agree that this remains the maximum value that can be paid out in the event of a total loss during the period of the policy, usually 1 year.  The value may be worked out by a variety of methods, including the amount the RV was purchased for, and once again, assessor and valuation guide input. However, you have the peace of mind of knowing that if you were to suffer a total loss, you would know in advance the amount you were likely to get back.

Many insurers also offer a total replacement value within the first two years of your ownership of a new RV.  This means that no matter what the market value of the RV at the time of the claim, if it were deemed a total loss, the insurer would replace the RV with the same model, or as close as possible to it, regardless of the cost of the new one, allowing for any price increases that may have occurred.

Questions to Ask

In general, there are two essential questions you should definitely ask any prospective insurer:

  1. What am I covered for?
  2. What is NOT included in the policy?

Whilst many are happy to mention the inclusions, it is sometimes what is not included that can make the difference.

Other questions you may consider asking are:

*  If you are on a trip, become ill, and need to get back home urgently, how would you do so? How would you manage?  Is this covered?

*  If this cover is provided to get you back home, would it include everyone in your travelling party, or just the driver? Would it also include the RV?

*  If your solar panels or generator were, say, 10 metres away from your RV and not under your awning, would they still be covered?

*  How much automatic cover do you have on your contents, or are they covered at all?

*  Are you covered for towing in the event of a mechanical breakdown, as well as after accident or theft damage? What if your motorhome has engine problems or the axle falls off the caravan? Is any towing covered?

*  What if you lose your keys or the locks are damaged? Is this covered?

*  Does the policy include free windscreen replacement each year?

*  If your RV is stolen or in an accident, is a replacement vehicle provided, and if so for how long?

*  If you tow a trailer, is it covered?

*  Are you permitted to conduct emergency repairs to get your on your way and up to what value?

This list is not exhaustive and you should not only ask these questions but also, if the type of cover you require is provided, be sure to take into consideration any dollar value or time limits placed on that cover.

Note from the Author – Rob Catania
Please bear in mind that this article is written from my point of view.  I am not an insurance expert, nor do I profess to be. It is based on my own experiences and research. It is intended as a guide only and prior to purchasing any insurance policy, I would encourage you to make your own enquires, obtain a full PDS statement, and make sure you pick the best policy to suit your budget and your needs. 

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Free Range Camping by Free Range Camping - 1w ago

At Free Range Camping, we are always looking for ways to increase the benefits on offer to our Premium Club Members.  One such area that we could see to do this was by finding suitable providers of Specialised RV (Caravan & Motorhome) Insurance.

In doing so, we are proud to announce we have now entered into a strategic relationship with CARVAN INSURANCE which will see us being able to offer our members access to a quality insurance product that provides a wide variety of cover options and benefits that some other insurers may not provide, with the added benefit of a 10% Discount  off the Premium to our Premium Club Members.

Why CARVAN INSURANCE?

Our search for a specialised RV insurance policy and company originally began five years ago when we were looking for suitable RV Insurance for ourselves.  As we developed FRC, we realised insurance was something that most of our members needed, so we continued our research.

We contacted every insurance company imaginable that was offering Caravan and Motorhome insurance.  We asked as many questions as possible.  We obtained a PDS (Product Disclosure Statement) from as many as possible and started to compare them all.

What we found were surprising differences, not only in premiums, but also in what cover each policy had to offer.   Some had great prices, but limited cover.  Others had some great benefits, but came at excessive costs.

In the end, we kept coming back to a company called Insuret and, for a number of reasons, we aligned ourselves with them, namely:

► They had a specialised RV insurance policy that covered all the essentials.

► They were backed by Hollard’s, who participate in the Recreational Vehicle space.

► Their policy covered things that many other general insurance companies did not.

► Their premiums were competitive, especially considering what they offered.

► They were prepared to offer our Members an exclusive offer and a further 5% discount on premiums.

As a result, over the last 10 months we have been able to offer the Insuret specialised RV product to our Members at a discounted rate.  But now things have improved even further.  Insuret have recently formed a joint venture with several other key players in the marketplace to form a new force in RV Insurance.  CARVAN INSURANCE

This new relationship will now see the benefits of the original Insuret product enhanced.  Still backed by Hollard’s, they now have the added advantages of……

Online Quoting

With the CARVAN INSURANCE online quoting system you can obtain a quote and even purchase your policy easily and quickly online. (Subject to caRVan’s underwriting guidelines).  Simply login via your FRC Premium Member portal and you will be directed to the CARVAN INSURANCE site.  This will recognise your member details and allow for a 10% discount to be applied.

What you will see from the member portal

More Cover

The CARVAN INSURANCE policy will have fewer restrictions and more benefits than the Insuret Policy.  These include:

► Increased range of acceptable Recreational Vehicles, where their online system can quote on RV’s up to $100,000.  Anything over this amount will be referred to a representative of CARVAN INSURANCE who will review and if acceptable, will provide a quote.

► Off-road RV’s

► Camper Trailers, provided they are an approved make and model.

► A wider range of makes and models from reputable manufactures to ensure parts availability for your RV repairs.

Note:  caRVan’s underwriting guidelines apply and in some instances, caRVan will be unable to provide a quote. Their system will advise you of this, if that happens and a consultant will contact you.

More Savings

CARVAN INSURANCE are now offering Free Range Camping Premium Club Members an additional 5% Discount on premiums.  This offer is only available to Premium Club Members and will provide a total discount of 10% off the premium. 

Full List of Benefits

The list of benefits available to our members in this policy are outstanding, and whilst they are all explained in full detail in the PDS which you can download via the link here, I have outlined the major benefits below in simple terms.

Download full PDS

Please note however this is purely based on my our personal research of the CARVAN INSURANCE product. Please ensure your read caRVan’s disclaimer at the bottom of this post and ensure you have read and understood their PDS, before making any decision about this product.

Emergency Repatriation

This inclusion is huge.  It means that if you, or any member of your travelling party fall ill, or are injured and need to get home or to another location for medical treatment, the policy will allow for you and the entire party to be relocated, including the RV, up to the total amount of $5,000.  Eg. You and your spouse are camping at Dubbo with two of your grandkids, but normally live in Sydney. If one of the grandkids is injured and you have to go back home, the policy will cover the costs for all of you and the caravan to be repatriated back to Sydney, up to the specified limits.

Repatriation for everyone in your travel party

Agreed Value Cover

With this policy there is no guessing as to what your RV is worth.  All polices are provided on an agreed value basis. This is determined in consultation between you and CARVAN INSURANCE so you will know well in advance how much you are covered up to. This amount will be shown on your policy.

Agreed Valuation

Full Replacement Cover within first 24 Months

This means that if your brand new RV is totally written off within the first 2 years of its life, the policy provides for total replacement of the RV with the same model, or as close as possible to it, regardless of the cost of the new one, which can allow for any price increases in the meantime.

Replace your RV with a brand new one within 24 months

Emergency Accommodation & Travel Expenses   

This comes into its own should you be using the RV and you are unable to use it due to a claim for damage or loss, displaced and need to stay in alternative accommodation for a short period of time, while your RV is being repaired.  There are two levels of this cover, one for part time travellers allowing for $150 per day up to $2,500 worth of cover, and one for full time travellers, where the RV is your usual home.  This is also $150 per day but up to $4,500.  This ceases when your RV is returned to you in a liveable condition.

Automatic Contents Cover

When out camping you want to make sure your contents are covered as well.  This policy automatically has some cover for loss or damage to contents, up to the value of $2000, but in addition to this you can nominate extra cover on specific items, however an extra premium applies if this is the case.

Cover for nominated accessories used away from your RV

In what we believe to be a first for insurance policies, this one has an optional extra cover for items that are outside your undercover awning area.  As you know, when camping, some of your items may be outside this area, for instance portable solar panels, generators or satellite dishes.  This policy allows you to nominate these items and ensure they are covered for loss or damage by insured events when up to 10 metres around your RV.  An extra premium does apply, as well as a Portable Accessories excess in the event of a claim.

Cover for extra items away from the RV

Annex Cover       

This policy can include cover for your Annex, up to the value of $1000.  However not every RV has an Annex, so you can opt to exclude this cover and not be charged the extra premium.  If you do have an annex, it can be covered as long as it is nominated at the time of quoting.

Cover for damage to your awning

Excess free windscreen cover

Many insurance policies will include windscreen cover, but some will charge you the excess for this when making a claim.  With the CARVAN INSURANCE policy, you are entitled to one free windscreen replacement per year without being required to pay the excess.  With some windscreen replacements costing in excess of $500, this alone can be a considerable saving.

No excess to pay on windscreen claims

Hire of Vehicle following theft or accident  

In the event your RV is stolen, or you are unable to stay in it after an accident, the policy will provide for you to hire a replacement Caravan or Motorhome to continue your journey. Where the claim is accepted, cover is limited to a maximum of $100 per day, and a total of $1500 after theft or $500 after an accident.

Locks and Key Replacement

Situations we don’t often think about are losing your keys or if your locks are damaged by someone forcing their way into your van. These can become quite expensive events with the cost of replacement remotes and locks. This policy allows for up to $2000 to repair or replace keys and locks.

Replacement of Locks & Keys can be costly

Emergency Repairs

This section of the policy allows you to undertake emergency repairs to your vehicle after an accident up to the value of $1000 to get you back on the road, without first gaining authorization from the insurer.  An example of where you might use this is if a panel is damaged and you still need to drive back home.  You can undertake the repair up to the allocated value and then submit a claim as soon as practicable.

  • ducttape

Emergency repairs to keep you going

Mechanical Breakdown Cover

Another great benefit is cover for towing your RV after a mechanical breakdown, in addition to after an accident.  This may cover towing your RV to a repair workshop in the event of things such as bearings seizing.  Some polices will not cover you for towing in these circumstances, but this policy allows for cover up to $1000, subject to some conditions.

Breakdown Cover included

Removal of Debris

Following an accident, the last thing you would want is a clean-up bill from local authorities, but it can happen.  This policy allows for up to $5000 towards the cost of the clean-up.

  • debirs

Cleaning up debris after an accident is included

Towing Costs

You want to make sure you are covered for this no matter where you are.  With this policy, there is no limit to towing in the event that your RV is involved in an accident.  Whilst some general polices have limits on this, the CARVAN INSURANCE policy does not.  Note:  This is separate from the Mechanical Breakdown Cover (as explained above).

Towing Costs are covered

Fusion Cover    

This cover provides for repair or replacement of electrical equipment in the event of a motor burnout.  Predominately this will affect fridges, but may also include your air conditioner or other electrical appliances.  There are limits involved, one being that the motor should be less than 15 years old, but this is still a great benefit to have.

Food Spoilage

The advantage of this cover is that it will kick in not only when you lose food due to fusion of your fridge motor, but also if the vehicle is damaged in an accident. The cover will provide for up to $500 worth of replacement food items.

Cover against food spoilage

Personal Watercraft Cover

If you carry watercraft as part of your rig, included with this policy is cover for up to $4000 for the items in the event of an accident while they are being transported or towed.  This covers small boats, kayaks or canoes, or other  watercraft up to 3.5 metres in length and up to a 30hp motor .

  • KayakCarrier

Even your watercraft can be covered

Making  a Claim

Submitting a claim with CARVAN INSURANCE is easy, with three options available:-

1. Go to the CARVAN INSURANCE website and Click on the Claims Page.  Click on the ‘Notify us of a Claim’ button and complete a notification on line.

2. E-mail your claim details and any relevant documents to: claims@carvaninsurance.com.au

3. Call CARVAN INSURANCE direct on the number provided on their claims page.

Choice of Repairer

Another included benefit of the CARVAN INSURANCE policy is that you have the freedom to nominate your preferred repairer.   This means you are not forced into using a repairer you may not know.  CARVAN INSURANCE will be able to assist you in making arrangements to obtain quotes, but you can still nominate your own repairer should you wish to.  The repairer will need to provide a competitive quote and be approved by CARVAN INSURANCE before the repairs are undertaken to ensure the repairs are guaranteed.  If the quote is not competitive, CARVAN may ask you to obtain a second quote.

As an added benefit in assisting our members, FRC is currently putting together a list of all available RV repairers around the country.  In time, and with feedback from our many members, a second list will be created containing the details of repairers who are found to be competent and able to complete repairs satisfactorily and in a timely manner. These repairers’ details will be added onto what will be our list of ‘preferred repairers.’

How to get your Quote

To obtain your CARVAN INSURANCE quote at the discounted rate, firstly you will have to be a Premium Club Member of Free Range Camping.

If you are not a member, click on the link below to find out the full list of benefits on offer and how to join.

Once you are a Premium Club Member, you can access the CARVAN INSURANCE online Quoting system via your member’s portal.

The online quoting system is easy to use and will present a series of questions about your RV.

Once the quote is supplied, you will have the choice to:

►  Purchase your policy immediately with your FRC discount applied. You will then receive a confirmation email with all documentation, including the PDS, ensuring you are fully covered from the nominated start date and time. A 30 Day cooling off period will apply.

►  Save your quote, which will be valid for 30 Days so you may review it and pay at a later date.

Should you require more information about your quote, there will be provision for you to contact CARVAN INSURANCE direct via email: contactus@carvaninsurance.com.au

In the event that you have not provided enough information for the quote to be completed, you will receive a message advising you that your Quote has been ‘referred for further review’ and a representative of CARVAN INSURANCE will contact you direct to discuss the details within two working days.

Please Note:  The above is general information only, which is based on personal research by the FRC team of  caRVan’s insurance product. It should not be relied on instead of reading their PDS. 

IMPORTANT – Please read caRVan’s Disclaimer below

Details outlined in the above are provided by FRC as part of the strategic alliance they have formed with CARVAN INSURANCE and are for the benefit of FRC Premium Club Members. The alliance provides for exclusive access to the CARVAN INSURANCE policy by FRC Premium Members.  FRC are not remunerated by CARVAN INSURANCE, with all benefits passed to members in..

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Free Range Camping by Free Range Camping - 1w ago
VINTAGE CARAVANS, CUSTOM CARS & ROCK N ROLL

For 25 years, the Wintersun Rock n roll Nostalgia festival thrived on the Gold and Tweed Coast, but unfortunately, it all came to an end in 2010.  Now with this new event, caravan Lovers are full steam ahead with the great news that you can camp on site.

The original Wintersun Festival was all about custom and classic cars combined with some good old fashioned Rock N Roll. The festival spilt thought the streets and attracted thousands of enthusiasts who were entertained by live bands, street performers, dancing and street parades.

  • wintersun2006

One of the original Wintersun Festivals in 2007

Since disbanding in 2010 several attempts have been made to revive Wintersun, with efforts in Port Macquarie and even Mildura in NSW considered as possible new venue.  Cooly Rocks On was then introduced in 2011.

In 2017 however, local business man and mad keen enthusiast Steve Bowman of Aces & Eights Speed Shop had an idea to revive the Wintersun 2.0 Festival as close as they could to the original concept.

We wanted it to have a similar theme and feel to the original Wintersun Festivals. 

So, with the help of Tayla Stephens, several close friends and other mad enthusiasts, they kicked off Wintersun 2.0 at the Murwillumbah Showground in NSW.

Wintersun 2.0 (2017 @ Murwillumbah)

And it was such a success that they are back again this year, but this time with the event spread over two weekends and at two different locations within the Tweed Shire.

Lots of Custom Cars on Display

The first weekend will focus on custom and classic cars including Hot Rods, Street Cars, Muscle Cars and Historic Cars.  It will also extend to a range of vintage caravans including some unique tear drops and some unique caravans with homemade improvements making you think that it’s the 50’s again when you’re inside along with great entertainment and dancefloor. The second weekend will focus on a greater range of entertainment with the largest dance floor in South-East Queensland.

Beautiful Vintage Caravans on Display

Entertainment will be plentiful with some great headline acts including Little Stevie and the Tailfins, Colt Seavers, Hi-Boys, Cherry Divine, West Texas Crude and The Haymakers and many more.

Loads of Entertainment

There will be plenty of other entertainment including Markets, Gourmet Street Food, Retro Stalls, Auto Memorabilia and competitions including one for the best dressed representing any era up to the 1970’s.

Last Years Best Dressed

The event will be held over two weekends in June.  The first at the Murwillumbah Showgrounds and the second at Seagulls Club in Tweed Heads, which runs as a compliment to Cooly Rocks On.  For a full list of events check out the Wintersun 2.0 website.

Caravan & Camping

To fully enjoy the event, it is recommended to bring along your own caravan or tent.  Being at the showgrounds, there are over 100 powered sites available

Campers will need to be in by Friday and not permitted out till after the event on Sunday.  Full weekend sites are available for $140 and include camping and full access to all events.

Full details are available on the Wintersun 2.0 website, or you can see our listings on Murwillumbah Showground.

Dates & Tickets

June 1st – 4th  Murwillumbah Showground – Queensland Road, Murwillumbah, NSW

June 6th – 10th – Seagulls Club – Gollan Drive, Tweed Heads, NSW

General admission tickets are available online via Eventbrite with all other bookings available through the Wintersun 2.0 website.

Pricing

FIRST WEEKEND 1st to 4th June 2018

General Admission: Adults – $10 per day at Murwillumbah Showgrounds or $15 per adult for two day available online ONLY| Children under 16 free

SECOND WEEKEND 7th to 10th June 2018

Seagulls Club Stardust shows with 3 acts each are $15 a night or $10 for Seagulls members. Please note members can only get their tickets from Seagulls Club reception.

Meet us there

Tickets are selling fast so if you want to attend and see some great vintage caravans and cars, we suggest getting your tickets now before they are sold out of camping spaces.  And, keep an eye out for Free Range Camping, we will be at the Murwillumbah event all day and hosting some live Facebook Feeds.

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INGREDIENTS

Bread Mix

1 pkt Laucke Crusty White Bread Mix
With Yeast provided
Water
2 tbsp milk (baste)

Filling

2 rashers bacon, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
110g “Always fresh” pitted kalamata olives & semi-dried tomatoes mix
2 tbsp basil paste
1 cup grated tasty cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup ricotta cheese
25g feta cheese
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 tbsp pesto
1 cup baby spinach leaves

METHOD

Damper

Follow instructions on the back of the bread mix. Ensure you make this using the ‘by hand’ instructions.

Prepare the filling via the method below.

Once mix has risen, place on a floured chopping board or flat, floured surface and roll with a floured rolling pin or floured bottle to form a flat dough, approximately 1-2cm thick. In the middle of the dough mixture, add the filling in a circle leaving approximately 5cm from the edges.

Stretch and fold the edges into the centre, combining in the middle with the aid of a fork, making a donut shape, to ensure all edges are sealed. Don’t worry what the raw damper looks like; it will form the shape of a damper as it cooks.

Using the back edge of a sharp knife, make indentations to form piece sizes as desired. Baste with milk.

Place damper on a baking tray lined with baking paper and sit on a trivet in camp oven for 50 minutes (low heat)

Filling

In a non-stick frypan on medium heat, cook bacon, onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl add cooked bacon mixture and remaining ingredients, finely chopped, and mix until combined.

ENJOY

See more great recipes in OzWit’s Cooking Range 

Recipe by: Leanne @ Ozwit

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Joy and her husband Kim hail from Mt Barker in South Australia, and as it turns out Joy was the winner of last month’s prize of the Quokka Fire pit.

When I called Joy to tell her of her win, we got chatting and I found out more about her, so much so that I was inspired to write this story. You see, Joy was told only a few months ago, that she may never walk again, let alone go caravanning, but her resilience has seen her defy the odds and not give up, and still enjoy this wonderful lifestyle.

Joy has suffered from a long term spinal injury that she acquired some time ago, and although it has been debilitating over the years, she has not let it stop her doing the things she loves most. The priority of which is caravanning with her husband Kim.

Equipped with her trusty cane and walking frame Joy makes sure she still gets out and about, taking small trips around Australia and even recently, touring in the USA.

Joy fishing with Tracker (before the op)

However last Christmas she lost the use of both legs and was facing the prospect of being left wheelchair bound, with her only chance of walking again being a multi-level spinal fusion which would hopefully stabilise things. The operation was a risk, but one Joy was prepared to take so she could get back on the road.

The good news is, the operation was a success, and although Joy now has limited balance and still needs the aid of her walker, with constant rehab, she managed to undertake a camping trip in April this year and is currently planning her next trip.

We tell you her story, not for sympathy, but for inspiration, of what can be achieved with determination and a positive mind set.

Joys’ Story

During our call, Joy shared fond memories of being introduced to camping by her dad when she was a child. It inspired her to travel as much as possible, and she tells me that when she was younger (in her 50’s mind you) she backpacked all around the world.  It wasn’t until more recent times that Joy met Kim, another avid camping enthusiast. Their first date was a three day trip to Alice Springs, during which time they connected and decided that disability or not, they would one day travel together.

Joy, Kim & Tracker at the NT Border

Not long after they were off to Thailand, and even though Joy had a walking cane at that stage she still managed to get on a motor scooter and have fun.

“There’s no use saying poor me! There is always someone worse.”

The caravan came next, that was about four years ago, “It was New Years Day, the prefect time for a New Year’s resolution. I saw an ad for a caravan on Gumtree and decided we would live our dream.”

They promptly went out and purchased the van, a 1980 pop-top caravan, Joy recalls it being quite old, but the good thing was that it didn’t cost them a fortune either.

“We realised we didn’t need that much, so we kept it simple, Kim didn’t even discover it was a 1980 ‘Viscount Grand Tourer’ until he stripped off the old paint and spruced it up. We put in some new flooring replaced the microwave to make more space and then we were off.”

Joy & Kim’s Rig – Simple but effective

Dog in tow of course. That dog being Tracker, their beloved pooch who went everywhere with them, and had no trouble in winning the hearts of other travellers along the way. Unfortunately, Tracker passed away a few weeks ago and will be sadly missed by Joy &  Kim on future road trips.

In Memory of Tracker

I continued to ask Joy about her adventures…..

Q. How often do you and Kim get away in the caravan?

A. After Kim got it ready, we started off with some small winery trips around South Australia, mainly in between hospital appointments to see if I could manage.  Then our first big trip, when we got used to it was to Queensland, that took us about 4 months.  We went via South Australia right up to Cooktown. I handled it really well and felt alive again.

Kim  & Tracker @ New  Norcia, WA

In May last year we went up the middle, via Coober Pedy, Alice Springs and right up to Darwin, then over to WA and followed the coastline back around before crossing the Nullarbor. It took us about two months but it was amazing.  Then in September last year, we went over to the USA, we lashed out and hired an RV and did it in style. It was different to our little van, but in 10 weeks, we covered over 13,000 miles and 30 states, it was an absolute adventure.

The RV for the road trip in the USA

Q. Now that you have been spoilt with the RV in the USA, are you still happy with you little caravan?

A. Absolutely. Kim has made me a platform to help with getting in and out and added a few handrails which are very helpful. He even added an awning which is great to relax under.

Joy takes full advantage of relaxing under the awining

Q. What has been your most favourite place or experience?

A. There are so many, Australia is such a beautiful place, the West Australian coast was amazing, from Lake Argyle to Shark Bay there were so many beautiful locations.
But, we really love South Australia, after being around to many wineries around the country, we feel some of the best are probably here in SA.  Darwin was also a great experience for us also, we found the people there so friendly, and I particularly loved the rain forest at Mission Beach, the sand was so compact that I could use the walker and walked 2km along the beach every day.

Lake Argyle was amazing

Q. What are some of the best things you love about caravanning?

A. Exploring and seeing new palaces and experiencing new things, even the simple things like getting water by filling up the bucket with rainwater, it just takes me back to being a little girl with my dad. Also meeting friendly fellow travellers young and old, all wanting to share a yarn.

Q. So Joy, it looks like there is no stopping you, where to next?

A. We are planning another big trip in June, back up to Queensland to see a few of the places we missed last time, probably via outback NSW this time. As long as I got my walker and cane I will be right.”

She finished by saying,

“I want to live life to the fullest and not let my disability define me.”

And that sums up Joy perfectly. It appears there is no stopping her and we wish her and Kim all the best in their future travels and hope that this story inspires some of you who may feel restricted by health issues to give it a go if you can.

If you have a story to tell about your camping or caravanning adventures, or know someone that has, we would love to hear from you.  Just emails us direct at info@freerangecamping.com.au and we will be in touch.  

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Free Range Camping by Free Range Camping - 1w ago

For years, Honda have led the way in power generators, especially when it comes to the camping and caravan industry.

In the five years we have been travelling full time on the road, without doubt the most common generator we have seen pulled out of many a caravan is the Honda EU20i unit.  It’s small, powerful, quiet and very very reliable.

And now, after 15 years, Honda have improved on the EU20 model, with the brand new EU22i model.  As mentioned, they recently gave us one to try out so we could see firsthand the improvements and compare it to the EU20i.

  • Honda_2018_PE_EU22i_IntroTab_Outside

The new EU22i

Over the recent Easter weekend, we took it out to the Murwillumbah Showground and ran it through its paces and have to say we were quite impressed.  We filmed our first test run live so you can see it in action and how it performed in powering up a New Age caravan.

Since then we have been playing around with it even more and I have now prepared a review of the EU22i and what we thought of it.

Whats New

To compare the difference we pulled out an EU20i model and placed it beside the new EU22i.  Whilst most of the features remain the same, the EU22i has four distinct improvements.  Those being;-

Improved Oil Drainage Access

A huge part of keeping your Genny running at peak performance is servicing, you can get it done with an authorised dealer, or you can do it yourself.  In the EU20 model, changing the oil could be a trifle tricky at times, as the oil access was built deep into the unit, and quite narrow.  In the Eu22i model, you will see they have made the opening larger and added a small black rubber lip that protrudes further out of the body, which allows for easier access and drainage.  This means less mess and chance of oil going back into the unit.  Its just a matter of tipping the Genny over to empty the oil and letting it drain out.

Easier to empty oil

Recoil Guard

The EU20 model had no protection around the recoil cord area, which meant that if the cord was pulled on an angle as it often can be, it would actually start cutting into the plastic housing over time.  To alleviate this,  the EU22i has a metal guard around the cord area which protects it from being damaged.

Metal guard to protect casing

Run Dry Switch

This one is a beauty, and something I learnt the hard way.  Years ago, I had a Honda whipper snipper which I didn’t’ use for over 6 months.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I stored it without running the fuel out of the carburettor.  When I went to start it again, there was no way it was going to happen.  Why?  When you leave fuel in the carbie it goes stale and sticky.  So sticky in fact that it can attach itself to the walls of the carbie and is very hard to clean.  Sometimes, to the point where you cannot clean it and have to replace the whole carbie.  A very expensive exercise,  trust me.

But with the EU22i they have built in a Run Dry switch. This is different to the OFF switch which will just turn the Genny off, the Run Dry switch will actually use all the fuel that is left in the fuel line and carbie until it runs out, therefore leaving the carbie clean, unblocked and ready to go again even if you have to leave it for quite some time.

New Run Dry switch to save your carbie

Extra 200 Watts

The final improvement of course is in the power it now delivers, the EU22i has 200 watts more power than its predecessor.  With the average camper now using more appliances, and with appliances increasing in power consumption, the extra 200 watts can make all the difference.

It means you can actually run more appliances over a shorter period of time, instead of in some cases having to run them one at a time.  So, instead of waiting for the washing machine to finish before charging the batteries, you can now do both.  200w may not seem like much extra, but it can certainly make a difference, for example in our live broadcast, we showed the new EU22i actually boiling a 2300 Watt kettle.

The extra 200 watts can make all the difference

Standard Inclusions & Features

Apart from the four improvements above, there are some things that Honda have already perfected and don’t need to change.  They were in the EU20 model and still in the EU22i

Honda 4 Stroke Engines

The engine in the EU22i is a 4 stroke engine, which basically means there are four strokes to a complete revolution instead of 2 strokes.  This allows it to deliver maximum power but still run very quietly and use less fuel, about 30% less than 2 stroke motors.  So when camping this is imperative, as we want to be as quite as possible so as not to piston off the neighbours.

Oil Alert

All Generators need oil to operate efficiently, and as you use them, they will undoubtedly use oil.  All the Honda Generators are fitted with an oil alert system.  Therefore, if for any reason you run low on oil, the engine will shut down to save permanent damage.

Low Oil Alert

Inverter

The EU22i model has a built in inverter.  An inverter is basically a device or apparatus which converts direct current into alternating current, or DC power to AC power so you can run 240 volt appliances.  There are two types of inverters, what they call modified sinewave or pure sinewave.  Of these, pure sinewave is the better, as it produces cleaner electricity which in turn helps protect your electrical items from electrical spikes.  The EU22i runs a pure sinewave inverter making it ideal and safe to charge things such as laptops, smartphones, iPad’s & TV’s.   Honda actually claim it delivers cleaner electricity than the commercial electricity you get in your home.

Noise Levels

Welcome to the world of Decibels. A technical term used to measure the level of sounds, but to put it in its simplest terms, the decibel reading of a normal speaking voice is  around 65 dBA (mother in-laws and irate wives are the exception)  and a rock concert can be about 120 dBA.  So where does this leave the EU22i?  Honda have tested the unit and found at is maximum it can get up to 89 dBA , but when running on Eco mode and without being overloaded, it is less than this.   The EU22i actually revs lower @10600w than the EU20i

In other words, for a generator, it is quite and one of the quietest on the market.  It means you can run it for a reasonable amount of time around the campsite and when it blends in with background noise during the day, it is possible your neighbour will not even notice it.

Overload Alarm

There is an overload alarm built into the unit for times where the unit is overloaded and tying to use more than its allocated 2200 watts.  To protect the engine the overload LED will light up red, and if the load continues after about 4 seconds, the current to the appliance will be cut off.  The engine of the generator will still continue to idle.  This will protect the generator from overload damage.

Red Overload Alarm LED


Run Time

The Eco Mode switch will allow the generator to automatically detect the load being placed on it depending on what appliances you have running. When appliances are turned on or off, the engine will adjust itself to the required load.  This setting will assist in minimizing fuel consumption and reduce noise levels when less than full loads are applied.  If you know in advance you will need the extra power you can leave this switch in the OFF position.  With the Eco switch ON,  it is possible the EU22i may achieve up to 8 hours of continuous operation time.

Parallel Operation

These outlets allow you to link two generators together, thus doubling up on the amount of output watts.  You will need specialised cables to do this.  The cables can be purchased separately through your Honda dealer.

Weight & Dimension

One of the great things about the EU22i is that although it packs more power, they have been able to do it without increasing the size of the unit.  At 21kg and  511mm x 290mm x 425mm the EU22i is the same dimensions as the old EU20i which means you can still store it in exactly the same compartments you may already have.

Output

With a maximum output of 2200w it puts out 240v AC, but also has a 8.3 amp DC outlet which will allow you to run smaller 12 & 24 volt appliances and also charge automotive batteries at the same time.

What we thought

Overall, we were very impressed with the EU22i.  During our initial test, we ran a Daewoo washing machine which runs at up to 1500w at its maximum. We left the air conditioner going as well as the battery charger and then also ran the stick blender which is 1000w.   We left the generator on Eco mode and it handled all the appliances at one time.  Granted the noise level went up a few notches but it certainly was able to cope with the load.

What you do have to be mindful of however with any generator and electrical appliance is the extra power it will use on start up.  I will cover this more in our  article.  Generators – Do you need one? And how to select the right one.

Since the live test, we have been using the EU22i around our campsite and testing it on our main electrical appliances.     For us, running the business from the Motorhome, charging all our computers phones and electrical equipment is a priority.   Our major appliances include a household split system air conditioner which spikes at 1000w, our 7kg front load washing machine which can get up to 2200w, and we also use it for the battery charger to top up the house batteries after log periods with no sun.

The wife’s hair dryer was interesting, as it runs at 2000w, but apart from excessive revving when she had it on the hot setting, the Genny coped well.  Thankfully, she doesn’t use it often.

You can see in the video review we ran all of these appliances and the EU22i handled them well. I have also shown how to access all the major service point for the generator. You can see Part 2 of the review here.

Honda EU22i Generator - The Full Review - YouTube

Anyway, that is our take on the EU22i.  For more info, you can go direct to the Honda Website  where you will find loads more technical information as well as the many dealers where you can get one from.

If you want to know a bit more about generators in general and how to select the best one for your setup, please feel free to read my article on “Generators – Do you need one? And how to select the right one.”

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Free Range Camping by Free Range Camping - 1w ago

There is a popular saying among caravanners,

“ In by Mothers Day, out by Fathers Day”

It refers to the annual migration of travellers heading north for the winter.  But, we think there is so much more to this region, so rather than rush through, we would encourage you to stop a little longer and take the time to explore.

Outback Queensland is a massive area that covers from Mt Isa in the North West down as far South to Cunnamulla, Far West to Birdsville and East to Biloela, with many iconic Queensland towns in between.

Outback Qld Regions Map

Whilst there are some well-known attractions along the way including the Stockman’s Hall of Fame @ Longreach, and the recently rebuilt Waltzing Matilda Center @ Winton there is so much more to offer which is what we want to showcase over the coming months.

Stockman’s Hall of Fame  & The Waltzing Matilda Centre

With the help of OQTA we will be publishing articles about all the places of interest along the way, including many of the smaller towns you may not have heard of.  We will link in with Outback Queensland and look closer at many of their experiences such as;

Discovering Dinosaurs in the Outback

Dinosaur Museums

First Time Travelling in the Outback

Information Centres

The Heritage & Culture of the Outback Attractions in the Outback

Alpha Murals

Itineraries

The Birdsville Hotel

More to Come

Over the coming weeks we will also be adding more accommodation options including Campgrounds, Caravan Parks & Free Camps to the FRC Directory and App, along with many local business that are supporting us by offering our Premium Club Members exclusive Offers & Discounts.

These include discounts at many Caravan Parks as well as tourist attractions including Tambo Teddies, The Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Eulo Artesian Mud Baths.  With many more business jumping on board, there is no excuse to bypass outback Queensland.  So if you are not already a Premium Club Member find out more about how to join us here and take advantage of your Member Benefits in the Outback.

To start us off we revisit Windorah, located in the heart of it all.  Possibly a less know destination it has so much to offer if you want to experience a unique Queensland outback town.

Windorah

Other locations in the outback you may want to have a closer look at include;-

Winton – Home of the iconic Waltzing Matilda Centre, The Birth place of QANTAS and the heart of Dinosaur Country.

The main street of Winton

Hughenden – Home of Hughie the giant Muttaburrasaurus, the iconic Mount Walker with stunning views of the District and the historic Coolabah Tree.

Plenty to see & do @ Hughenden

Surat – A smaller country town steeped in history including the Cobb & Co Museum, A freshwater aquarium and The Balonne River

RV’s Welcome @ Surat

Win a $500 Puma Fuel Voucher

So please keep an eye out for loads more information in the coming months about Outback Queensland and don’t forget to enter your detail to be in the running for a $500 Puma Fuel Voucher on offer from OQTA. To celebrate the partnership between Outback Tourism Queensland and Free Range Camping, OQTA are giving one of our Premium Club Members the opportunity to win the voucher to power an adventure through the Outback.

To find out how to be in the running click on the link below and enter your details.

Photos Couresty:  OQTA & FRC

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No 1 Alkoomi Adventure Farm, Marmor

Alkoomi Adventure Farm offers a spacious campgrounds and en-suite rooms on a working  family operated cattle farm. A very family friendly campground, they also provide activity packages for guests to experience horse riding and motorbike riding over the hills, taking in the stunning scenery and the 360 degree views upon reaching the top hills.

Spacious campgrounds near the camp kitchen

No 2 Kilcowera Station, Thargomindah

Kilcowera Station is a 49,000 ha working cattle station that offers accommodation and camping options for travellers and caravanners allowing you to experience the vastness and natural beauty of the Outback. Activities include guided or self guided tours to scenic areas, four wheel driving, bird and wildlife watching, yabbying, bushwalking, camp oven cooking and superb photographic opportunities.

Campsite right on the water’s edge

No 3 Rocky Point Retreat, Winfield

A waterfront camp ground perfectly suited to campers with either self-sufficient caravans, RVs, camping trailers and tents who are looking for an affordable, peaceful and safe relaxing holiday experience or for a rest stop while doing the “big lap”.  Native bush land along the esplanade provides a shaded area for socialising, great little walks along the creek or for bird-watching as the area offers an abundance of wildlife.

Baffle Creek serene view

No 4 Cylinder Beach Campground, Point Lookout

Located on the iconic Stradbroke Island, this site offers shady campsites located on one of the island’s famous surf beaches, where you can enjoy the waves and the nearby attractions, as it is situated close to cafes, boutiques, and restaurants of Point Lookout, and the renowned Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel, making it extremely popular during peak holiday periods.

Picnic Area facing the beach

No 5 Bigriggen Park, Rathdowney

Close to many Scenic Rim drives including the Border Ranges, Lions Road, Lamington National Park and Main Range National Park with numerous water activities to choose from, and all the facilities you may need, it is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the natural wonders of the area.

Spacious shady campsites

No 6 Sandstone Park, Carnarvon Park

Offering spacious drive through sites and exquisite 360 degree views of the surrounding ranges for self sufficient travellers. All sites are drive through and spacious to ensure maximum enjoyment and comfort during your stay. Take pleasure in the spectacular ancient displays of aboriginal artwork with a guided tour, or explore the hidden ranges untouched by civilisation from the air.

Panoramic view of the campground

No 7 M.V. Sarawak Camping Area, Rainbow Beach

This is just one of several campgrounds on the Inskip Peninsular which is the southern gateway to Fraser Island.  It offers camping  behind the fore-dunes that is suited for larger caravans and big rigs with a short walk to the surf beach and a view across the ocean towards the island.  Ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, 4WD’ing on the beach, walking in the Great Sandy National Parks, and great views and steep sand dunes for sliding down at Carlo Sand Blow.

Peaceful and shady campsite

No 8 Bloomfield Beach Camp, Ayton

10 acres of beach campimg including 5 acres of spectacular rain forest, a paradise for birds both large and small and home to a variety of local wildlife. The campground adjoins the beautiful Weary Bay, and is a stones throw from the Bloomfield River, a superb place to spend a few peaceful days, or weeks.

Tropical paradise campground

No 9 Cape Tribulation Camping, Cape Tribulation

“Where the Daintree Rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef” Explore and discover one of the world’s oldest surviving rainforests with a huge range of activities and adventures on offer. The campground has a range of beachfront camping options ideal for couples, families and groups to relax, unwind and recharge.  There is also the Sand Bar offering Espressos & Wood fire pizza in the middle of the rain forest.

The Sandbar – serving espresso & wood fired pizzas

No 10 Adels Grove, Lawn Hill

A popular oasis for travelers along the Overlander’s Way and Savannah Way, Adels Grove is a remote tourist mecca attracting visitors from around the world for its unexpected beauty and idyllic natural surrounds. It sits alongside of Lawn Hill Creek, a pristine spring-fed waterway ideal for cooling off on a warm outback day.

Stunning Lawn Hill Creek

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Love them or loath them, they have their place.  Granted, some tent based or short term campers may not need them, but there are many fulltime or long term travellers out there that have a genuine need for them.

The first thing you should do is work out if you need one for your style of camping and then find the right one for the job.  Many travellers these days love to get away for as long as possible, especially in the outback, and whilst solar is gaining popularity and in most cases the preferred option, the sun don’t always shine. So there are a few things that a generator can come in very handy for.

When we built our motorhome and set out 5 years ago, we thought we were well prepared with an extensive solar setup, but I was encourage to make sure I had a backup generator, and I am glad I did. As much as we tried to follow the seasons we could not always guarantee the sun would shine. And, when we found some ideal spots out the middle of nowhere, it was great to know we could stay there longer because we had all the power we needed with the Genny as back up.  It also meant we could set ourselves up in un-powered sites, which often meant a better location at some campgrounds.

Solar & Genny = Great camping spots

But, even with the great solar system we had, there were things it could just not run, like our washing machine or aircon.   So, in our case, because we were planning on being fulltime, we felt a generator was a necessity, as do many other fulltime travellers. There are also many shorter term travellers who find them useful for times when they want to stay in the outback away from power for longer periods of time. Or, for those that are combining travelling and working on the road.

Selecting the Right One For You

So, if you have come to the conclusion that you need a generator, how do you go about finding the right one?  Especially with so many on the market. It is no secret I am a Honda fan, and recently as you will see from our previous post, they, Honda asked us to try out their brand new EU22i.  (See our Honda Review)  But, there are many other brands and sizes on the market, and some do a better job than others.  Below I have gone over a few important things to consider when making your decision.

Power Usage

The first thing you should do in my opinion is to work out how many appliances you will need to run with your Generator.   To do this, the best way is to make a list of all the items you will need it for. When I prepared my list I broke it up into 12 volt only items, and then 240 volt items. I found that if I could run as much as possible direct from 12 volts it was more efficient. Once you have your list, from either the appliance direct or its manual, you should be able to see the consumption in watts of that appliance. Some will give you a range, i.e. minimum to maximum. This can be the start up allowance factor, which I will describe down further.

As a guideline, I have included some indications here for you of the most common appliances used in a caravan. Of course, these are just averages and each appliance will vary on make, model and brand.

After you have your list, you can add up your total wattage consumption. You then need to establish if you really need to run or charge all these appliances at once, or if you can do a few at a time.  Once you have the total, you can work out the size of your generator. If you don’t have many electrical appliances and just need a unit for charging your house batteries, you may find you will get away with a smaller 1000w unit. But, on average, you should find that in the majority of cases a 2000 watt generator will suffice with a 2200w unit being even better. Extremely heavy users may need to go to a 3000 watt unit but this should pull most users up.

Start Up

With any generator and electrical appliance, you should take into consideration the extra power some appliances will use on starting-up. When your first start up some electrical appliances they will use more electricity just to get the motor going. Air Conditioners without a soft start are notorious for this, and some power tools.

  • acdrill

Some Aircons & Power Tools will use extra power on start-up

Using very rough figures to explain it, this means that while they may run at say 600 watts once they get going, they may actually require about 1200 watts for the initial few seconds or so to get the motor going. Not all products will do this, but it is good to be aware of in the event you notice the generator reviving louder. Obviously, a generator with a bit more grunt can overcome this.

For example, during the tests we recently did with the Honda EU22i we ran a washing machine which runs at up to 1500w at its maximum. We left the Air conditioner going as well as the battery charger and then also ran the stick blender which is 1000w. We left the Generator on Eco mode and it handled all the appliances at one time.  Granted the noise level went up a few notches but it certainly was able to cope with the load and start up spike.

Other things to consider Budget

When we were building our motorhome we were on a tight budget, and I thought I could save on a cheaper imported Generator. Big Mistake! 3 months in, it wouldn’t start, and then when it did, after much cursing, it was so noisy I was embarrassed to use it. I also found it was very heavy on fuel. As it became an issue, we spoke to more and more other campers and they all had similar stories, many had tried the no name cheaper brands, but many kept coming back to the Honda.   In particular, the Honda EU20i seemed to be the one we were seeing everywhere, with the most common comments being “it is the quietest” and “its reliable”

My end conclusion was that I could have saved $500 on my cheap generator and should have put it towards a better generator in the first place, as I had to end up replacing mine after a few months.

Maintenance

Like any piece of machinery, a generator is no different. They require regular services to keep them running efficiently. If you are mechanically minded, the services are quite easy to do yourself and consists mainly of changing the oil and replacing the spark plug, fuel filters and ensuring the air filter is cleaned or replaced. I am not going to go into full service details here, other than to mention how important it is to service any generator regularly.

Service regularly

Each make and model will vary, but a good guideline is to service your generator every 50 to 60 hours, but some will allow you to extend this to 100 hours.  You should consult your owner’s manual for specific details. If you are not up to doing it yourself, you can take it into a service agent and have them do it for you. The cost of a service is well worth it and may save you unnecessary repair bills in the future.

Storage

Where to put it?  Now that you have your generator, where do you put it when you are not using it? This will really depend on your set up. Most new caravans are now allowing for generators and incorporating generator boxes into the build. You can see in our video we had a New Age caravan which came with its own box. You can of course get them custom made to suit your set up. Bear in mind, it is best not to run your generator in fully enclosed boxes, unless they are specially built with adequate ventilation. If you don’t have a dedicated storage box, many caravans and motorhomes use their existing storage compartments, or we have seen many carried around in the back of the tow vehicle. They should always be stored and transported upright and it is best if you can secure them in the vehicle or RV with some form of tie down method to avoid tipping.

Custom made storage boxes are ideal

Security 

Unfortunately, one of the more frequently stolen items is the Generator.  We would highly recommend not leaving them out if you are out exploring for the day, and even when you are locked inside your van. We have heard of the odd Genny being either stolen or swapped over for a different model while the owners were inside watching TV. Ideally, a very strong chain with padlocks can help stop them walking away. If you have dedicated storage compartments, and depending on the model, it may be a good idea to tie it down with security cables or you can purchase special made custom theft brackets to secure it to your van or its compartment.

Use a good strong chain or anti-theft brackets

Run them often

It is a good idea to run your Generator from time to time rather than letting it sit idle. We tend to run ours every two or three weeks just to keep the fuel flowing and make sure it is still in good working order. There is nothing worse than going to use it when you need it most and finding out it won’t start. There is no set rule on how long to run it, but a good 10 – 15 minutes should be enough to heat it up.

Noise Levels

One of the biggest complaints about generators is the noise. With some camper’s arguing, ‘if you need a generator you should not be camping.’ However, as I have outlined above, there are quite a few full time and long term campers out there that do need them from time to time.   The obvious answer is to find a generator that is as quiet as possible, but there are also some unspoken general generator etiquette rules we can all employ to ensure we are not overly disturbing the neighbours. It all comes down to respecting each other.

From our years of camping, here are some guidelines we set down for ourselves,

• Be mindful of where you place it, try to move it as far away as possible from other campers
• It is polite to let your neighbours know that you plan on running your Genny and how long for. I usually tell our neighbours we are planning to do a few load of washing and charge the batteries, so we will have it running for about 2 hours.
• Try to run it during the middle of the day or when your neighbours are out.
• Pay attention to any rules where you are staying. Many places will let you use them but only during certain hours, be respectful of this and it will make it easier for everyone.
• Try to avoid using them all day. Whilst most people can accept they will be used for say 4 to 5 hours at a time, we have been beside someone who has used it in excess of 12 hours at a time.

Note from the Author – Rob Catania
Please bear in mind, this article is written from my point of view. I am not a qualified electrician or generator expert, nor do I profess to be. It merely based on my own experience and research. It is intended as a guide only and prior to purchasing your own generator I would encourage you to make your own inquires and make sure you pick the best one to suit your budgets and your needs. 

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