Before hitting the road, Brett and Kathy Kempster – like most soon-to-be grey nomads – thought long and hard before buying the rig they thought would best suit them.
And then – like many newly experienced grey nomads – they had a change of heart after ‘living the dream’ for a few months! Actually, that’s not quite true.
The couple bought a 17’ 6 tandem Island Star poptop back in 2006 and it served them well for many a short trip. In fact, it served them so well that they had no qualms about heading off on the ‘big one’ with it in 2010 … and that’s when they started to miss their creature comforts.
Without solar or a 12v system, toilet or shower, or an oven, the couple found they had to spend most nights in van parks.
“Another downside for prolonged RV travel was limited living space,” said Brett. “Yes, the awning gave us brilliant outdoor space but it wasn’t the storage space we needed … the nightly chore was to transfer stuff on the bed to the L-shaped lounge and vice versa in the morning.”
That first eight-month adventure took the couple across Queensland and NSW and they found the country … and the weather … full of surprises.
Up north, there was the heat.
“The cross ventilation the vinyl roof gusset of the poptop provided was a welcome relief in places such as Normanton and Karumba in the gulf country,” said Brett.
And further south on the NSW Great Dividing Range, there was the cold.
“We encountered –6 at Glenn Innes!” said Brett. “And it was at this point it began to dawn on us the comfort of a full caravan might be the way of the future.”
After getting back home, the rig research began all over again, but this time with the benefit of big trip experience … and, in 2013, the couple took delivery of a brand new 21’6 Globetrotter caravan.
“Solar panels were becoming the ‘in’ thing by then, so I had 2×100 amp hour batteries installed at factory level while I fitted the two solar panels on the roof,” said Brett. “Other must-have items on our list were a full oven, full size fridge/freezer, ensuite with separate toilet & shower, and 12V TV & DVD package.”
And this time they got it right … and that same van is still serving the couple well today as they continue to criss-cross the country.
Brett and Kathy say they do miss the lower fuel bills the poptop gave them, but there is no way they could do without ‘the extra storage they now have, or the ‘facilities’.
“The full ensuite is so inviting when you need to visit the little boys’ room at 2am,” said Brett. “Trudging across the caravan park in 2C temperatures at that hour is not my idea of fun!”
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