Queensland Adventures Winter 2008

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 21:41

Member-Heather MG NSW

Queensland Adventures

In early April about 4 weeks before we were due to take off for our four month Winter adventure we traded our 16 ft Freedom Jayco pop-top for a new Jayco Sterling 18' 6" ' Outback' model van. This was an impulse buy because we had started organising our trip previously deciding that we would stick with the present one for one more trip. However....... when we walked into the local dealers we thought we had found the perfect vehicle for our needs. The Sterling had a tiny corner ensuite, 2 x 90 litre water tanks and 9 kg gas bottles, hot water (gas/electric) a full gas oven, 190 litre 2 door 12v/240v compressor fridge / freezer, small flat screen tv, radio/cd/dvd system as well as reverse cycle air conditioner, all items we were used to travelling without and regarded as luxuries. It also came with a single 100amp hour battery

We (wrongly as it turned out) assumed that the RPD 190 litre Waeco was the standard refrigerator fitted in the Outback model as it was the first one we had looked at and the only one in the dealers yard.

While doing the deal, we negotiated a 64watt solar panel included as part of the changeover price, and also asked some questions about the fridge as we were used to running the standard Dometic 3 - way on gas when in the bush, and were worried about being able to stay for extended periods without 240v power if the Waeco had to be run on 12v but were assured that with the battery and a solar panel 'should have no problems' and 'more than enough power' and that these fridges were quite economical to run on 12v! I investigated further on the net and began to question this so we had a second battery fitted before delivery and a second solar panel fitted after our first short trip - 3 days of wet weather -when the batteries dropped so low that the fridge laboured all night and kept us awake! We prefer to bush camp by ourselves, avoid major centres, and we wanted to be able to stay in National Parks and hated the thought of using generators anywhere. By this time we had already spent an extra $1500 having the battery and solar panel fitted but we were more confident that we would now be able to survive.
We also had concerns about the Pajero being able to tow the van as it was close to the two and a half tonne limit in weight, however in mid May after farewelling the family (including an adorable 4 month old first grandchild) we loaded our tinny on top of the car and set off North towards 'sunny' Queensland and the Northern Territory hoping the solar panels would do their work

This is our story...

Our first night was spent at a camp in Coopernook Forest Park to the north of Taree. According to our sources it was to have water and a toilet and was bookmarked as a 'favourite' . There were a few rigs of various sizes parked and we set up camp as far as possible from them so we could enjoy the ambience and sounds of nature. Instead we heard the hum of generators echoing around the camp!!
The tank was dry and the flushing toilet couldnt work, so we were glad we had our bathroom.

On dark, we discovered a couple of our light bulbs had blown as well as a 12v fuse which worked the radio/TV and as we didnt have spares for either we made a note to pick them up as we passed the Jayco dealers in Coffs Harbour. The 12v plug for the set top box we had bought turned out to be faulty and was the cause of the blown fuse so we had to replace it as well.

We spent a few nights in powered comfort at a caravan park in Coffs Harbour, visiting family but couldnt wait to get off on 'the big trip' and to stay unpowered! While here we bought straps and affixed them either side of the fridge and freezer doors to keep them closed while in transit, as it had already been impossible to keep them closed and we had arrived in a couple of places to find food on the floor. We visited Jayco, bought fuses and light bulbs and discovered that the Outback Sterling vans in the yard all had Dometic three way fridges fitted. Why didnt ours?

In Queensland, our first night was spent at the campground at Somerset dam, to the north west of Brisbane. We had driven through a fierce electrical storm accompanied by blinding rain before the village of Esk and it was close to dark when we pulled in. The main camping area was packed with bikies who were enjoying a weekend reunion - so much for a quiet place by ourselves!!! On closer inspection they were at least our age and any noise from their camp had ceased by 10pm! However there were plusses - no generators and only one other van some hundred metres from where we set up.
We woke to clouds and decided to move on due to the battery level beginning to drop - we were already worrying about our power on our second morning. On route to our next destination at Wuruma Dam, after a blown fuse in the Pajero and an attendance by RACQ mobile road service to replace it, we spent a night on the road freecamping. We stayed five nights at Wuruma where John launched the tinny and caught one big fat bass. We also learned a lot about what not to do when relying on our solar panels and batteries for power. We set our van up so as to take advantage of water views over the river (dam) however this meant that the fridge side of the van was in full hot sun for most of the day and caused the motor to work harder - therefore any solar power collected was barely enough to keep the fridge running and didnt get to recharge batteries! .

The batteries struggled to keep up the power despite sunny days and very cool nights, and the fridge worked all day without switching off. It also became very noisy as the battery level dropped and the motor cut in and out! We used as little of the other 12v appliances apart from lights and it was extremely annoying and frustrating for us! We worried constantly about the fridge and kept checking the battery level.
John managed to rig up a makeshift awning to shade the fridge however it did little to help..
After leaving the dam, we spent an uncomfortable night on the road in a freecamp rest area.The road trains didnt worry us but the noise of the fridge labouring all night did. We were both very disappointed and annoyed withour choice of van by this time.

Our next stop was in Emerald where we had the car booked for a service and while staying in a powered site in the caravan park there, I emailed both the fridge manufacturer and caravan customer service department and vented my anger about the performance of the fridge and its unsuitability for a vehicle built to stay off road!
I also 'googled' batteries and power, think I had my first experience with the ExplorOz site, learning much in the process and we gave in and purchased a 1kva honda generator and fuel. (another $1400).We talked to other van owners in the park who had off road and outback type vehicles and wished we had upgraged to any brand rather than a Jayco!(or a Jayco with the standard 3-way fridge!)
I received phone calls from head office of both Waeco and Jayco and we learned that the van was a special order. I was told to contact the dealer so emailed the salesman we had dealt with who replied to me promptly and courteously, telling me to contact him on our return to see what he could do.( To be fair, the fridge worked fantastically when it had an adequate power source and would be an excellent choice for a motor home, van or bus with multiple batteries/solar panels or for people who stay in parks.) I am sure I have a big black cross against my name as a 'complaining old bag' now.. however feel our complaints to Jayco were and still are justified.

Theresa Creek Dam was our next destination - we spent five nights in the friendly camping area and trapped an abundance of redclaw.

The generator had its first use when the weather turned cold and wet for days and the solar panels had no chance of charging batteries with the constant drain from the fridge. We learned so much more - discovering that it was better to run the generator every day for a few hours generally in the evenings when we were using more power, rather than letting the battery levels get too low.

From Clermont we took the Gregory Developmental Road north through Belyando Crossing to Charters Towers where we stayed in the friendly Top Tourist Caravan Park overnight and caught up on the laundry, filled our water fuel and tanks and stocked up on groceries.
We discovered a charming historic village named Ravenswood on the road into the Burdekin Dam and a value for money campsite in the local showground, complete with power and water. We stayed a couple of nights and used it as a base to explore the surrounding area before towing the van to the dam for one night.
On the way back out we just couldnt pass Ravenswood and returned to the campsite we had previously stayed in, for a further few nights.

I had obtained permission from Jayco to have the vans electrical wiring checked in Townsville at the local dealership so we headed towards the coast and booked into yet another noisy, busy caravan park for the long weekend in June and waited until Tuesday when the place re opened. When we spoke to the Service manager there and outlined our problems he advised us that it would all be because of the fridge drawing so much power so we decided to continue our trip and just put up with it until our return.
We found some great little places to stay north of Townsville - Toomulla Beach, Paluma Range national Park, Hull Heads and Babinda Boulders, and were able to do some interesting walks. In Eubenagee Swamp National Park to the south of Babinda we saw our first crocodile in the wild. He was huge and luckily not too close to us!

On reaching Cairns we decided to have our Pajero's electric brakes and wiring checked and discovered that the heavy duty wire we had asked to be put in when we bought the vehicle was not heavy duty after all and wasn't recharging the van batteries when we travelled so we paid out another few hundred dollars to have that rectified. From this point we found that whenever we travelled between sites, we at least recharged the batteries quite successfully.
We were able to stay overnight in rest areas without a problem however when camped for more than two nights we had to run the generator, even when the weather was sunny and we were situated correctly. We also had to avoid staying in shade which meant the vans interior became hot and therefore the fridge worked harder! We managed to stay for a week in one place and ran the generator every day or two for a few hours but we hated the sound of it and to have to use it. Also we still couldnt spend more than a day or two in a National Park..
Also while in Cairns, which we used as a base, we visited Mossman the Daintree and Mareeba and explored areas nearby. We also walked from the caravan park to Barren Gorge and toured the power station visitors centre which was interesting.

From Cairns, we backtracked to Gordonvale, turned west and climbed steeply to the tablelands near Atherton..We spent a few days staying in the free camp just to the north of Tolga near the War Memorial park, using this as a base to explore the many scenic attractions of this beautiful cooler part of the far north. While here we met some very entertaining characters at the 'happy hour' and also caught up with some friends from Victoria who stayed overnight near us.
I decided not to stock up on many grocery items before we left Atherton so as to avoid hauling them along as extra weight.
We headed out along the Savannah Way after spending a few days at Undara and the national Park and stopped for fuel in a small town ( Mount Surprise?) where we were amused to see a rather unusual and unique sign at the cafe attached to the service station advertising that their Bush Tucker menu tasted ' like bleep but you can live on it.

Georgetown further along the road looked to be quite a large from size of the print on the map and I thought maybe I would buy groceries there. (I cant believe now that I was so naive and gullible to think this!). It is the service centre and shire hub but was a very small town by coastal standards, and we had difficulty even locating a supermarket until I enquired at the Visitor information centre and discovered it was disguised as a service station, also selling fuel. The groceries were pretty much basics, (staples), and the vegetable selection consisted of potatoes, onions and pumpkins. Icecream was available in 10kg containers, rather too large to fit in the caravan freezer. My usual choice of low fat dairy products appeared not to exist in this part of the state so our 'heart friendly' diet would have to fall by the wayside until we could get to a bigger town!
Meat was cryovacked and frozen into indistinguishable contorted icy packages! I selected only those items we really needed and wandered next door to the 'greengrocer' to find a rather sad, limp and partially rotting assortment of (once) fresh fruit and vegies. To be fair, the shop also had a walk in refrigerated container which had quite a good selection, but this was not immediately obvious to the tourist and I discovered it more by accident after remembering a similar setup in Winton when we were there a couple of years ago. We bought only the foods we really needed to survive until we arrived in Normanton (surely a much bigger centre) within a couple of days.

Normanton was a slightly bigger town but the available groceries were similar and many shelves were partially empty. The variety, and prices (best ignored completely) depended on which supermarket we visited but there is a perfectly logical reason for this. Delivery road trains arrive weekly or fortnightly, and only so much storage space exists, especially for refrigerated and frozen goods so once they sell out it is a matter of waiting until the next load arrives. We were amused as well as a bit exasperated to find that the only newspapers were close to a week out of date and about double the price so we relied on radio and wireless internet for any news.

We stayed in an unpowered campground about 20 kms east of Normanton, at Leichhardt Lagoon, for a couple of nights and took a drive to Karumba (return trip of 200 plus kms) to have a look around, check out the shopping, and to investigate booking a van space into one of the parks for a night or two.Wwe had heard on the caravanners grapevine that it was 'tinny city' and impossible to get a site unless we had booked twelve months ahead. John was very keen to launch the boat and try the excellent fishing - obviously the same dream for the other hundreds of tourists who arrive from the southern and eastern states and stay most if not all of the winter!
The park nearest the boat ramp, at Karumba Point, was his choice and we felt fortunate to get a site for the following weekend for a few nights We checked out the boat launching facilities dubiously as there were literally hundreds of vehicles and boat trailers packed into the car park and lining the streets, and all to use the same ramp area! It was so busy. We were also dreading having to stay in a tiny site in a busy park however it was really the only option!

Karumba was a bustling little town selling fresh gulf seafood including delicious king prawns for $15 a kg, with a hot bread shop (varieties available being rolls, loaves sliced or unsliced - all white), a butchers, and a well stocked supermarket cum newsagency cum hardware ...which had a range of refrigerated fresh fruits and vegetables and most of the products we had been searching for. We bought fresh (white) bread and prawns to enjoy but little did we realize we had also just paid almost $10 for a small bunch of rhubarb - with no prices displayed it was hard to tell. I am prepared to pay almost anything to enable us to eat quality meats, fresh fruit and vegetables however thought this was just a little too much!

I had also been searching for re recordable DVDs so I could do a hard disk backup copy of the laptop because it was overdue, so I enquired in every shop we entered. At one place I was met with blank stares from a young assistant who looked at me incredulously wondering what use a blank DVD could be! (No movie to watch so what was the point!!!) I decided it could wait until we reached Mt Isa - weeks away and if the laptop crashed I would just to lose the precious photos I downloaded every few days which recorded our travels.

We returned to the campground and decided to stay put until we could get into Karumba. It was an idyllic week - quiet, large bush campsites, evening campfires and camp oven meals, and very friendly like minded campers who were there either for the abundant birdlife or the fishing in the nearby weir. John was keen to catch his first barramundi so we drove the couple of kms along the dusty track to the river with traps, rods and assorted gear and mindful of the warnings about the big crocs (both salt and freshwater varieties) which call the Norman river home. We had to walk along the bank some kms before finding suitable places to drop in the redclaw /cherapin traps and disturbed a number of crocs along the way. We knew this as we heard the huge splash as they hit the water on hearing us approaching and we really only ever caught glimpses of them.

I was terrified that John would slip while dropping the traps over the bank and kept anxious watch and we were both conscious of being 'watched'. We checked the traps morning and evening over the next few days and were careful to vary the times, also moving the traps regularly. We occasionally saw the tops of crocodiles heads just breaking the water disguised as floating logs and never relaxed so long as we were close to the water, however this element of danger also heightened the experience for us as it is not something we ever have to consider at home. I was even more stressed when John decided to fish, choosing a very low bank to cast his line out, and I stayed well away from the waters edge all the time watching for shapes launching themselves from the brown water. He wasnt successful in hooking any legal sized barra despite repeated attempts during this week.

Our three nights in Karumba were every bit as horrible as we imagined and we couldnt wait to leave. The rear of our van was within a metre of another one, and all our neighbours seemed to be best mates who had already been there for months and resentful of people like us who only wanted to stay a few nights. They basically ignored us but were happy to use our site as a thoroughfare to walk to the amenities or visit one another to discuss their fishing prowess! The boat ramp was such a congested place we didnt even try to launch our tinny as there were no 'interesting' fish ( barramundi) being caught.
We tasted our first barramundi at dinner at the local pub while watching the sunset over the Gulf, a rather pleasant experience, and decided to return to the lagoon campground for a few days before heading south.
John did catch two good sized barramundi during these few days and survived without being attacked by crocs however we, along with our adult children, have recently been quite horrified to hear of the disappearance of a tourist near Cooktown in remarkably similar circumstances. We will continue to treat these creatures with great respect and not ignore the numerous warning signs along the waterways in the north.

From Normanton, we took the road south towards Cloncurry, turning west at Burke and Wills Roadhouse and heading towards Lawn Hill Gorge and Boodjamulla N Pk which was on our 'must see' list. We had heard varying reports as to the condition of the road past Gregory Downs but decided we would take the van to the Caravan Park nearby because we really wanted to do all the walks and paddle a canoe up the gorge while we were there. Also, our van was 'Outback' model after all and we wanted to test it out on some dirt road. We met little traffic and decided to bush camp when we found a suitable place along the way so that we could experience the 'real' outback - the solitude, silence and remoteness. We spent the night some distance off the road down a dusty track near a river. It was perfect and we wondered why it had taken us so long to think of doing this. There was no traffic overnight and we enjoyed the feeling of being alone in the land. Sunse,t filtered through the trees, was magnificent, and we watched roos picking at the odd blade of something edible as the light faded.

We had booked a site at the caravan park near the Gorge which permitted generators but were a day or two early so I planned to phone ahead when we arrived at Gregory Downs. This proved impossible as the phones were out of service and my mobile had not had any signal since we left the roadhouse the previous day.
We decided to continue, experiencing blinding clouds of dust thrown up by passing road trains, big mining vehicles and fellow travellers intent on travelling as quickly as they could in both directions over the increasingly rough corrugated road surface. It was certainly a test as to the dust proofing on the van (not good) as well as my packing prowess! Amazingly we arrived to find that virtually nothing had shifted or broken in transit, however there was quite a lot of dust throughout the van, especially in the cupboards over the wheel arches!
We had a bit of trouble finding a van site as the one allocated had an occupant and there were none suitable for us to get the van into in in the generator section. We were invited to have a look around and we chose a quiet, private place in the 'dog' section which was perfect as long as the generator was placed as far as possible from the camping area in the grove. We had to use it here as we were partially shaded by trees which kept the van cooler but prevented the solar panels being able to do their job completely!

Paddling the gorge and completing the walks at the Gorge remain some of the highlights of our trip - it was worth every corrugation and dust cloud on the roadin and out to experience the the unexpected beauty of this place. The birds, animals, plants, and colour of the water in the gorge were unforgettable. From here we headed back towards the roadhouse, and spent the next couple of nights free camping along the road in a similar fashion to that on the way to the Gorge, deliberately choosing camps well hidden from the road and as far as we could from designated rest areas as we headed for Mt Isa.

Our stay in Mt Isa was chiefly to do a big shop to stock up on groceries, and to do much needed laundry and a thorough clean of the van as well as the usual refilling of water tanks etc.Until now we hadnt had too much of a problem being able to get reasonable water however had to use whatever was available. I found that the more I drank of the water the thirstier it made me feel. We added a water filter to our list of 'must haves' to buy on our return.
We also discovered a new use for a beer carton - to block off the vents at the bottom of the door which we did by sticking on using waterproof tape. It remained in place for the duration of the trip and worked very effectively to prevent at least some of the dust from entering the van. John bought a tube of selastic and spent some time sealing the areas around the wheel arches, inside cupboards and it has been fantastic. Why the caravan manufacturers cant spend a few extra dollars and hours doing this before it leaves the factory I will never understand!

In yet another example of our naivety, we left the Isa and headed toward Boulia on the Sunday following the Camel Races and in doing so, met all the oncoming traffic returning after sleeping off the Saturday night hangovers! We were showered with stones every time a vehicle passed us and resorted to attempting to contact the occupants via our CB radio to inform them to stay on the bitumen and we would get off completely, to prevent this happening! Occasionally this worked but more often than not it went unheard or was maybe ignored ! Our windscreen remained intact however the fibreglass front of the van is peppered with small indents and marks despite us having a rubber matt fitted behind the rear car wheels to stop stones hitting the van front or vehicle rear window. We also stuck cardboard over the rear window of the vehicle as added protection.
In defeat, we pulled off the road around lunchtime and found a bushcamp some 2 kms off the road alongside a dry creek, encountering a dust or sand storm blowing in with a strong wind from the desert further to the west. So much for the cleaning I had done in Mt Isa!

It was another quiet, glorious night spent by ourselves however too windy and unlreasant to consider having a campfire.

The following day as we continued toward Boulia we were in awe of the landscape - the increasing flatness, lack of signs of human habitation and much of the land gibber covered and devoid of soil.
Boulia is an isolated little town with many attractions to interest tourists and we enjoyed a good look around the museum and a visit to the impressive Visitor Information centre and 'Min Min Encounter' tour.It is a memorable place for us as it was here that we watched a pair of brolga calmly feeding on the green grass of the median strip in the main street - our first close encounter with these impressive birds.

Another sight which surprised us was a small truck with three camels sitting in the back along with camping gear parked outside the Fuel stop - understandable given the race weekend I guess.
As well, the tiny PO was closed being the day after the camel races and because the mail plane wasnt due in, so I was disappointed not to be able to post any cards from this historic town.

Our next campsite was east of Boulia on the Boulia-Winton Road, near the ruins of the famous 'Min Min" hotel, now a pile of smashed beer bottles, broken cement slabs and a few rusting remains of graves. It was such a flat and eerie place to camp and I hoped we would witness the mysterious lights which had frightened various locals and travellers over the years, however it was not to be. We spent an uneventful night in silence in the flat landscape. While walking close to the site, I found what may be the only remaining unbroken beer bottle from times long gone which I took to add to my bottle collection. I would not normally think of taking anything from such a historic place however figured it would be an offence not to remove it as it was sure to end up as fragments of broken glass if I left it. It sits in pride of place amongst my other bottles however is a very unremarkable bottle, apart from the history I am able to attach to it.

Between Boulia and Winton we were amazed by some of the most outstanding and beautiful landforms we have seenin Queensland - rocky mesa outcrops of warm earthy hues, partially covered in stunted trees and spinifex. They loomed up out of the flatness and we were between them in a matter of kilometers. We pulled off the road often so I could take photographs, and stopped at Cawnpore lookout taking the time to climb as high as possible to take in the 360 degree vistas.

Continuing along the road we kept an eye out for a suitable place to bushcamp for the night, and pulled off the road beside a fence up a dirt track finding a flat site with a stunning view of more rocky, spinifex covered mesas and conveniently hidden by trees. It was the perfect place - our best yet we decided as we lit the campfire and prepared a delicious meal of lambshanks topped with damper, cooked in our camp oven.
As the sun dropped lower in the sky clouds rolled in and John decided to put the outdoor furniture away and drop the awning just in case we happened to have a few drops of rain during the night. We thought this would be unusual but didn't want to have to pack up wet items to travel the following day!
During the night it began to rain and didn't let up for almost twenty four hours. We were obviously not leaving our camp in a hurry as every footstep quickly filled with water and our campsite became a bog! The famous black soil country was displaying one of its less popular qualities! We were fortunate that we had the generator, plently of fuel, water, food and books to read as the radio reception was close to non existent and there was no chance of having any tv phone or wireless internet signal. We settled in for a quiet day or two, unable to leave the van except for essentials and with no hope of a walk!

As the light faded the rain eased up and we woke the following morning to bright sunshine and clear blue sky. The ground began to dry out and we filled the morning by going for a walk to explore the landscape nearby and the possibility of pulling out and continuing toward Winton later in the day without sinking into the ground.
About lunchtime we packed up, connected the van and turned on the ignition only to find that our battery had become flat .Once again we were very thankful for our generator as we used it for an hour or so to charge up the car battery enough to get it started.
We pulled out along the road noting the boggy deep wheel tracks wherever vehicles had had to pull off the narrow bitumen road when meeting oncoming traffic, and hoped we would not have to do this very often before Winton.We had heard no traffic during the night so didnt think there was much possibility of this happening.
Some thirty kms along the road, we arrived at a barrier across the road with a 'ROAD CLOSED' sign attached, and a myriad of very deep, boggy tyre tracks each side where vehicles had clearly ignored it. We sat with engine running, afraid to turn off the ignition in case it wouldnt start again, and contemplated our choices. Would it be possible to reverse some thirty kms back down the bitumen to return to our campsite? Not without a divorce!!!! Should we ignore the sign, remove it and risk getting caught and pay the hefty fine we would incur if we travelled on a closed road? (At least this explained why we hadnt heard any traffic overnight!!!)
We decided not to do either and watched two vehicles towing camper trailers arrive from Winton, blatantly remove the barrier and proceed along the road we had just driven on. We were about to call up the CB channel for assistance when an adventure tour bus from Alice springs with a dozen or so overseas tourists arrived behind us, the driver already on his radio contacting the local council workers to arrange to come out and open the road for him to proceed through to Winton. After a short wait we were able to follow him through without mishap however decided we had learnt much from this experience, even though we thought we were prepared for unforseen circumstances.
We promptly bought a new battery for the car and made a note to be more aware of weather conditions in future when we were contemplating bush camping.

The remainder of the trip was without mishap despite us choosing to travel in even more remote places in the south western corner of Queensland visiting Windorah,

Noccundra, Thargomindah and more. We enjoyed night after night alone in bush camps complete with fires, relishing the unique peculiarities of the landscape. We stayed on a gibber plain, behind a red sand dune, along a dry creek bed to mention just a few.

Some days we barely saw another vehicle and few signs of human activity, although there were frequent emu some with small chicks, and it remains probably my favourite part of the trip. The fridge worked well when we moved on on every day and we became more relaxed about using the generator when we didn't.
Our last stay in Queensland was in Cunnamulla before turning south and into NSW. From hereonin it became very cold at night and after staying a night in Gundabooka National Park, between Bourke and Cobar and another on the Barrier Highway between Cobar and Broken Hill we made the decision to stay powered in Caravan parks. As it turned out it was a wise move with part of the state experiencing record cold temperatures, and snow in unusual places.
We took this as a sign that it was time to head back to the coast and catch up with the family - some four months since leaving.
I found my laptop and mobile wireless broadband modem to be essential to keeping in touch and receiving regular photos and news of our grandsons growth and development, also to book sites and appointments along the way, and for news. Now that I am a member of ExplorOz I will be able to also check road conditions, maps and so much more on our next trip.

We certainly gave the van a good test and it is otherwise very comfortable. It has had few problems apart from minor roof leaks and the usual teething problems all of which appear to have been repaired promptly by service department where we bought the van. We have never had any complaints about the after sales service from Jayco and have found the service manager there to be most helpful.

I havent contacted the salesman who sold us the van as I am quite frankly sick of the whole subject however feel that both he and Jayco should be aware of the the unsuitability of having one of these fridges fitted to this model of van so will send them both a copy of this story.

We replaced the fridge when we returned and have since had a 184 litre 3 - way Dometic fridge/freezer installed at considerable cost to us As of this time we havent sold the compressor fridge but a deposit has been taken from prospective purchasers so we shouldnt be too out of pocket soon.

Since having the fridge fitted we have had two trips of a fortnights duration each, to test the rig. We have also upgraded to an almost new Nissan Navara dual cab ute with canopy and increased towing ability of 3 tonne. We reckon it will be perfect for carrying the boat motor, spare diesel for the car, and fuel for the boat motor and generator (which we are carrying as an emergency backup power supply) as well a many other items when we do our next big trip.
I have bought a 12v charger to keep my laptop powered and it is proving invaluable. The batteries and solar panels appear to be adequate to keep us powered for extended periods in sunny weather however we havent yet really experienced more than a day or two of wet weather. We have been able to use our lights, have hot showers, use the TV and set top box and any other 12v appiances when necessary with very little drop in battery level. Even in cloudy weather the solar panels bring in some charge but we will carry the generator as an emergency back up source of power, just in case.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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