Our current caravan is our seventh! We have had an interest in caravans for some 35 years, in the 1970’s I spent 5 1/2 years working for one of the countries largest caravan manufacturers at the time. We feel that caravans are a little like cars in that they need to be upgraded from time to time, our policy has been to trade up whilst the ‘van still has value, it is this point that seperates cars from caravans, a ‘van in good appearance will fetch a good price, there is no odometer to worry about.
Our current caravan is a Jayco Starcraft Outback. It was built in November 2012. It is a tad under 17′ in length, it is equipped with a shower and toilet, a solar panel and twin water tanks, it is designed for ‘free camping’ (Camping away from caravan parks).
Since new we have now towed the van over 7000km and are pleased to say that we are pretty much happy with everything about it.
Our decision to purchase a caravan with an ability to ‘free camp’ is due to a sudden increase in the cost of caravan sites in Australia, particularly along the coastline.
In much the same way our decision to purchase an ‘Outback’ van is because of the added ability that this type of caravan has in negotiating ‘not so good’ roads when accessing some free and low cost campsites. Our van is best described as a ‘dirt road’ van rather than a ‘off road van’, it has increased ground clearence and a stronger chassis than that of a standard ‘black top’ van but is not built to true off roading level. Vans built to that standard are very expensive. Advances in chassis design allows our caravan to operate with a single axle despite its weight (2000+kg), A roof mounted air-conditioner keeps us cool and warm. A roof mounted 120w solar panel feeds into a single 100a/hr deep cycle battery. With this set-up we find that, providing we have access to water, we can spent about 4 days before we need to seek somewhere to catch up with the washing. The ‘van is equipped with LED lighting throughout, the freezer is a low power requirement compressor type and of course the fridge (150 litre) runs on gas.
In October 2014 we purchased a 120 watt portable solar panel. The panels consist of two sections which can be folded together to allow packing, they come with a 5 metre cable and this allows them to me moved to locations to take advantage of the suns position. We advise of their success at a later date….Update, more about the solar panels can be seen here.
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