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Ronny’s Camping Essentials

A man in the bush needs his equipment – and with no further introduction we present to you Ronny’s camping essentials! 

Good knife 

One good quality, sharp large knife can be used in a multitude of ways: chopping vegies, cutting bread, making kindling, making a spear to go hunting…the possibilities are endless J 

Reusable stainless steel double layered water bottle  

For the cup of tea on long road trips the doesn’t get cold, and so you can have a drink of water anywhere, anytime. 

 Over sized (large and heavy) Maglite style torch  

Yes we know, big and heavy is not really campervan friendly BUT we feel secure when we need to go outside in the middle of the night to use the toilet when we have this 2kg aluminium ‘weapon’ with us.  Plus it’s lovely to have a powerful torch when you want to gush over/blind cheeky possums surrounding your van in the dark.  

Gaiters  

Because we love hiking, love camping in summer and love camping in the bush!   

ear plugs

Tania’s Top 5 Camping Essentials

Hand sanitizer 

My number one (any type of) travel essential, especially with baby/child in toe. 

Face wipes 

Because sometimes you are too tired/drunk/short on water/don’t want to make a mess in the kitchen sink to clean your face at the end of the day to wash your face properly.   

Tinted (minimum) SPF 30+ face moisturiser 

So quick and easy to apply first thing in the morning and I don’t have to worry about remembering to apply sunscreen again until lunchtime.  WIN! 

Happy Ears earplugs  

Ideally you don’t want to have to use these on a trip but they are more of a security measure and mean you can be a lot less picky when choosing a spot to camp for the night.  They are outrageously priced and can only be ordered online but in my extensive ear plug testing experience (I really have tried them all) these have come out as the clear winner. 

https://www.happyears.co 

Long sleeved thin button up style shirt 

Who wants to get sunburned?  I don’t even wear Tshirts in the sun anymore.  A cheap thin button up shirt from Cotton On is my GoTo camping top.  Doesn’t look too bad with jeans when you have to re-join civilization to re-stock on essentials either. 

HOT WATER – DO I NEED IT AND HOW DOES IT WORK? 

Hot water, what a luxury…do you need this in your campervan?  Absolutely not!   

Why would you want it? 

  • Because if you have to wash dishes in your van it’s much easier to do with hot water. 
  • Because if you want to shower comfortably in your van and not just when the weather’s hot outside, you’d want a hot shower!   

How does it work and how much power does it use? 

  • The hot water boiler holds 6 litres of water at 90 degrees.   
  • We had 3 hot showers, one after the other, no problem.  This took 10% of the water tank’s water supply (when full).  It then took 40 minutes for the water to re-heat and this used 7% of the leisure battery (as it automatically re-fills and re-heats as it empties).   
  • When washing and rinsing dinner dishes for 3 people we used 15% of the water tank’s capacity when full) and this used 10% of the leisure battery. (Also note I love rinsing dishes BEFORE AND AFTER washing them, not the best habit for camping but old habits die hard). 
  • When refilling your van completely with cold water and wanting to heat the water from scratch it takes about 22 minutes when plugged into 240 volt power, or about 2 hours if it’s heats from your leisure battery.  The water stays hot in the tank for at least a day so the best thing to do is heat it up while driving then leave it on. 

How much does it cost? 

  • $2000 

If you are only planning on staying in Caravan Parks then you definitely do not need this as you would use the park’s facilities to shower and wash your dishes. 

LOVE THY (CAMPING) NEIGHBOUR 

What’s the first thing you should do when you park your van for the night in your new camping location?   

Open your pop top roof. 

Check out your surroundings. 

Crack open a beer. 

WRONG! 

The correct answer is…go over and introduce yourself to your closest camping neighbours, here’s why: 

  1. Feedback 

Check wiki camp for up to date comments?  Read guidebooks?  Look up camping blogs?  You can’t get a more ‘real time’ review on your just-about-to-be camping spot than asking those who’ve been there the night before.  Introduce yourself, ask them if they had a quiet night’s sleep, how the spot is…people love to talk (ok maybe it’s just me!) and if there are any noise or security issues you’ll know about them pretty quickly.  Even better they’ll likely tell you of any great beaches/walking tracks/short cuts into town that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.  Worst case scenario you find out the 18 year old’s nearby start a party every night that goes until dawn.  Better to know now than at 1am!   

 

  1. Security 

Google campervan security or safety and you’ll read one thing over and over again.  Make friends with your neighbours.  They’ll look out for your van when you are swimming down the beach, drinking wine on the cliff at sunset, doing that 6 hour hike (oh yes you will!).   You’ll also feel a whole lot safer at night knowing who your neighbours are and that you can approach them if the need arises. 

 

  1. Convenience 

Although this point doesn’t apply to Achtung Camper owners as they are of course all super organised and have read every single one of our other blogs on what to pack and what not to forget BUT for everyone else out there…when it starts getting cold and you’ve forgotten the fire lighters, when it’s wine o’clock and you don’t have a bottle opener (aren’t they all twist top now anyway?!) you’ll be thankful later if you are already on friendly terms with the campers next door. 

 

  1. Socialise! 

And as always, we leave the best to last.  Yes travelling is about the journey and about the destination.  It’s about freedom and nature.  But it’s just as importantly about the people you meet along the way. Lifelong friends were made in front of campfires and hey, you already know you have the most important values and interests in common (you’re both here aren’t you!).  After all, a bottle of wine shared is much better than a bottle of wine drunk alone (especially for you the next morning!) 

5 Tips for camping in hot weather!

Camping on scorching hot days is always a hassle and very uncomfortable for everyone but who doesn’t love traveling all year round! Summer can be fun and enjoyable if you prepare right. Here are 5 tips to make your trip more relaxing and pleasant on those hot 30o days. 

  1. Pack the right items – Pack wet towels as they are very handy to put around your neck to instantly feel refreshed. Freezing old juice bottles and containers is also a great item to pack and highly recommended as they can be used as ice-blocks and once melted used as water.  
  2. Carefully choose your clothes – The type of clothes is significant as some materials are thinner and better for hot weather. Packing loose clothing with breathable fabrics will reduce the temperature whilst traveling and make it more enjoyable. 
  3. Pick the right location – A spot under trees is perfect as it generates shade and reduces camper exposure to the sun. An ideal location is near a water source (lake, river, dam) as it decreases the temperature and creates a breeze.  
  4. Cover all windows – Keeping the inside of your van unheated can be difficult but simply using the curtains in the camper and putting towels/ reflective film up against windows will enhance shade and cooler air. It stops the sun from shining through and keeps the heat away. 
  5. Keep your Camper Cool – Unzip the roof and open the roof windows to allow airflow. Try not to open the doors as it allows some cool air to stay in. Also avoid activities that create extra heat therefore cook everything outside and relax with mates under a tree. 

That is our 5 tips for traveling in hot weather. Hopefully you find these helpful for your next trip in boiling 30o+ days. If all fails, you can always bring a fan! 

camping in summer

Badger's Creek campground

Top Camping Spot Review – Badgers Creek, Healesville, Victoria (Healesville camping!)

The Yarra Valley has always been a favourite for this Achtung Camping pair pre-baby.  Now with child, things have changed slightly.  Undoubtedly one of the best attractions of the Yarra Valley are the wineries – from which we were only able to visit one this time with toddler in toe and spend the rest of our time in Healesville camping.  But we chose well, TarraWarra Estate had the most beautiful grounds and architectural buildings we have ever seen.  It doesn’t matter if you are a beer drinker, the grounds here and amazing restaurant plus modern art gallery have more than something for everyone.

Healesville itself has become a bit of a foodies hotspot and we were impressed when walking into the Healesville Hotel or Giant Steps however the high price tags that accompanied the not so impressive meals left us with a bit of a bad taste in our mouth at the end.  All in all we think $7.50 as the going rate for a pot of beer in all places we visited to be a bit stiff.  Yes the amazing beer garden and décor at the Healesville Hotel made up for the stiff drink prices but we still couldn’t stomach a second night eating here after paying $35 for average mains the night before.

The campground – Big 4 Badgers Creek is about 5 minutes drive out of Healesville and unfortunately the 45 minute walk with no footpath along a busy dark road was too much for us to brave on foot.  As per the majority of Big 4 Campgrounds, the facilities were abundant and so was the price tag – we paid $55 a night in an off peak period, for a non powered site.  I do not want to know what a powered site costs over Christmas.  If you are going to make use of the tennis courts, games room, small pool, brand new showers and toilet block, kitchen with massive flat screen TV and playground then maybe it’s worth it.  We cook in our around our van and didn’t make sure of anything other than the toilets and playground so it wasn’t worth money for us.  Please note also that there was an outdoor WEDDING hosted IN the campground the Saturday night we stayed, complete with MC and 50 odd drunk guests.  When I complained about the noise the next day and the ridiculousness of hosting a wedding next to people with kids sleeping in tents the staff member said the owners were trialing it as it was something they wanted to do ongoing in future.  This was enough for us to say, never again Big 4 Badgers Creek!

Location – As most know, the Yarra Vally is amazingly close to Melbourne and even from Geelong the 2 hour drive was worth it.  We’ll be back, but next time we’ll be checking out some bush camping!

Badger's Creek campground

Badger’s Creek campground

Badger's Creek campground

Badger’s Creek campground

Badger's Creek campground

Badger’s Creek campground

Badger's Creek campground

Badger’s Creek campground

TarraWarra Estate

TarraWarra Estate

TarraWarra Estate

TarraWarra Estate

TarraWarra Estate

TarraWarra Estate

Top Camping Spot Review – Cumberland River

This is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking spots to camp in Victoria, with shear cliffs framing a river upon which you can camp on it’s bank.  The perfect beach is only a minute walk away (although you need to cross the busy Great Ocean Road so take care with children!).

There are a number of walks starting from the campground, ranging from 30 minutes return to full day walks.  We loved the walk to Jebb’s pool which was close by and a great place for a cool, shady swim.

The campground – although the setting is world class, the campground leaves a little to be desired – showers are 20cents for 5 minutes, which we woudn’t mind, however without knowing this before arriving you have to be lucky to have enough 20 cent pieces with you for showers each night.  Worse still the reception was also ‘out’ of 20 cent pieces for the 3 days we camped here.   A problem as the closest place to change money is Lorne.

There is VERY limited power and running water at this campground, which didn’t bother us however it might if you are not ready for a self sufficient stay.  All in all, our biggest issue with the campground was the lack of shade/trees and that the camp spots were mostly just dirt and not grass covered – making it hard to keep things clean.

Location – Cumberland River is about 10 minutes drive past Lorne, and 2 hours and 10minutes from Melbourne.  The distance and amenities make it great for a long weekend.

Caravan Salon Exhibition Dusseldorf 2017

Achtung Camper reporting on the latest and greatest from the campervan world internationally.  We recently attended our second Caravan Saalon Exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany and got to see what the biggest and best companies from Europe and the UK are doing campervan and motorhome wise.

The first thing that hits you when you attend a caravan and camping exhibition overseas is the sheer size.  We are used to (what we feel are!) very large exhibitions with lots of sheds and km’s to cover in Australia.  Arrive at an exhibition in Europe and you’ll see just how small the market is here.  The vast array of (often extremely similar) campervans on offer is baffling.  How can any of these companies compete with each other when they all look so similar!  That question is answered by walking through the streets in any German town – where you will spot at least one new T6 campervan or old Westfalia parked on pretty much every street corner.  Campervanning is BIG here!  And with THEIR climate, you’d wonder how so many people find the cash to finance a camping mobile they probably won’t be using for 50% of the year due to the hard winters.

And the differences in travelling style that the climate and landscape bring are reflected in the features included in the campervans built for travel in the UK and Europe.  Densely populated areas and no long dry spells of unrelenting heat mean it is always easy to fill up water and food no matter where you are on your travels.  Unlike Australia where you might drive for days without a clean water source or food store, it is not necessary here to be as self-sufficient as it is during an Australian road trip.  We considered the harshness of the Australian when looking the features in 90% of the campervans on offer in Europe and the UK:

  • One small draw fridge as opposed to our ‘large’ 50, 65 or 80 litre upright fridges.
  • One 10 litre water tank as opposed to our 40-litre tank.
  • Minimal cabinetry/storage as opposed to our full cabinetry. The majority of trips here are taken over the weekend not months at a time.

We were disappointed and proud all at once, on one hand there was little to learn from companies who have LESS features and usability than an Achtung Camper.  Conversely, we were proud when it sunk in that these guys actually have it a lot easier than the folk building campervans for the Australian public.  Sure, it’s easy to build a van with minimal cabinetry, water and food storage.  But Achtung Camper (and the handful of other Australia suppliers) had managed to fit so much more into that small space, and still make it liveable.

Our disappointment continued when we finished our third enormous hall of campervans on show.  Westfalia (the original VW campervan converter and still the most prominent) and 90% of the other companies all had the same modern grey interior.  Yes, it looks slick and inoffensive, but to us? It’s just plain boring!   Where were the crazy fashionable boundary pushing interiors?   (In Geelong, apparently!)

Then we came to a very small setup with only two vans on show and two young men talking to the press.  The German company called Kampagnia was opened only 2 years earlier and offers about 20 different film faced formply colours to choose from for your cabinetry.  Colours we could only dream about were available here.  After chatting to our new friends for a while we found many similarities between their company and ours, two young people with a drive to do something different and let clients personalise the look of their vans, a drive to do something colourful and cutting edge.

Another company worth mentioning – Dogs Campers (crazy considering having a dog as a pet is not nearly as popular in Germany as it is in Australia).  That’s right, campervans designed specifically for the camping dog owner.  We loved some of their features such as the integrated dog cage but didn’t really like the brash dog-related branding on the outside of the vans.

That’s not to say we didn’t get some great new ideas from the exhibition  and European market offerings.  Quite the contrary, Achtung Camper are now working harder than ever to integrate some awesome new features to our range.  Here are some of the ideas we are currently working on for our vans:

  • Diesel heater with hot water.
  • LED exterior light as a feature for the Nature Lover conversion.
  • LED light strips for the interior.
  • Power control system/phone app to view water tank level, leisure battery power level, temperature inside and outside.
  • Better quality plug and play cold shower.

The real highlight of the exhibition (besides the free champagne and finger food at 10am on Trade Day!) – being able to step inside a 1.5-million-euro motorhome.  Yes, something this crazy and ridiculous exists.  Check out the pics below and dream away…!

HELP! I’M CAMPING AND THE WEATHER IS BAD FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE

We’ve been stuck more than a few times with only a week or two of cherished holiday time, a campervan and BAD WEATHER.

So what to do when your stuck camping and the weather is bad? Will you stay or will you go? As weather predictions are often wrong and I’m sure you chose your current destination for some great reasons, you might want to stick it out a few days before you make the decision to bail for good and head somewhere dryer/warmer.

Our advice for sticking it out:

  • Did you bring some boardgames and a deck of cards with you? If not, go and buy some pronto!
  • Do you have a good book with you? I hope so!
  • How many bottles of red wine did you bring? Go and buy some more!
  • Do you feel like an antipasto platter for dinner with your wine? It will go down very well…and doesn’t require any cooking or washing dishes. A few different types of cheeses, cold cuts, dips and nice bread are just what the doctor ordered in this weather.
  • If you have an ipad, tablet or laptop with you then you really do have entertainment on tap for at least a couple of days in the form of unwatched movies and TV shows.
  • (If it’s possible) drive out of the camp spot and get the paper plus go for a coffee or lunch somewhere in a café or pub close by each day (prevents cabin fever).
  • Check out a map and see if there are any interesting towns or cities within an hour or two’s drive and somewhere nearby to camp. Towns and cities offer LOTS more to do during wet weather than your free camping national park experience.
  • Similarly, have a look if there are any wineries in the region – always a lot of fun.
  • Make a nice bonfire if it’s not raining all the time and toast some marshmallows. Trust me this is almost better than campervanning in warm weather!

Our advice for bailing:

  • Our first instincts when you’re camping and the weather is bad are always to just drive as far North from where we are as possible to escape any COLD we are trying to get away from. But think again before you use this tactic as it often rains more the further north you go, and that ain’t no fun at all. You might also only have a few days and don’t want to waste too much time driving further away from home.

A last thought to leave you with, you’re still in Australia…the weather isn’t really THAT bad…

camping in bad weather

If you have any tips on camping in bad weather please comment below!

For more camping related blogs visit http://achtungcamper.com.au/blog/

 

How to buy a campervan in Australia

By the time people come to us for a conversion they’ve pretty much worked out how to buy a campervan in Australia but there are other options available that many might not be aware of.

The question of budget really determines what options are available to you when looking to buy a campervan in Australia, with the cheapest options as follows:

  • Check out caravancampingsales.com.au and Gumtree.com.au for a well priced used campervan homemade or professionally built.
  • Purchase a used van on carsales.com.au and DIY the prerequisite basics (check out pinterest, instagram, Vanlife and a plethora of other DIY information on the internet for ideas and information):
    • Curtains
    • You can get an additional window fitted if required by avadirect.com.au
    • Throw a mattress and bedding of some sort in the back
    • Visit justkampers.com.au (make sure it’s the Australian website) for VW campevan accessories
    • Check out Ikea for some awesome small space storage options

If you have a little more cash to spend, but not the time, then buying a pre-made campervan might be right for you. Again, check out caravancampingsales.com.au for newer campervans for sale.

If you have the cash AND the time, and want a more personlised camping machine then you can order your new VW T6 through Achtung Camper and sign up for a fully customized conversion.

A laste note – many people come to us keen on purchasing a campervan however have never really spent time camping in a tent, campervan or otherwise. Our suggestion? Before you go splashing all that cash spend some time in the great outdoors and see how you like it. Yes camping in a tent is a little rougher but it’s pretty much the same concept and if you don’t enjoy being outdoors all the time in nature then campevanning is probably also not for you.

Similarly, if you’ve had a caravan before or are tossing up between a caravan or campervan take out quiz here: http://achtungcamper.com.au/blog/campervan-or-caravan/ to ascertain whether a campervan really is the correct travel machine for you.

One last thought to leave you with…

how to buy a campervan