Call to keep icons affordable and dire tales of tyres

Halllooo Mailbbbagggerrs!

Welcome to another weekly dose of absolute email mayhem. The correspondence has been positively flooding into the in-box here at Grey Nomad Central and so, it’s straight down to business this week.

Our recent story about the major investments being made to improve infrastructure at a couple of caravan parks on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road got many of you thinking.

Trevor acknowledged that it sounded like a good idea on the surface … but was wary of what might happen down the track.

“Will the end result be exorbitant park fees which will end up keeping the travellers away?” he asked. “Kakadu and Uluru have lost patronage and income despite huge investment dollars … people are staying away in droves and going elsewhere where the cost is not so expensive.”

And he wonders if the investment in the parks will address the future needs of the caravan/motorhome/5th wheeler fraternity who are mostly self contained.

“The companies supplying the travelling public have done their homework and spent the dollars to accommodate the latest trends and wishes of their customers,” says Trevor. “Maybe the park owners should look at these trends and adapt their own plans.”

It would certainly be nice if they would, Trevor!

One place that might be listening to the views of the travelling public is Mount Augustus in remote WA. We recently reported on plans to make more grey nomads aware of the wonders to be seen there … and Wendy already needs no convincing.

“We have been there twice … it is a superb feature,” she writes. “The walk to the top is a demanding one, but is excellent.”

She says that because the base is about 60km around, even the drive around it is interesting.

“The greatest drawback for attraction of large numbers of grey nomads is the fact that one must drive at least 250km of unsealed roads to reach it,” she writes. “There are three alternative routes there: via Dairy Creek, via Kennedy Ranges National Park, via Meekatharra – and so one does not have to backtrack, but all involve the unsealed roads.”

Uh oh! You’d probably better be prepared to suffer the odd flat on the way around. It sounds like this is the sort of trip that might appeal to Pete and Jo who drive a 4WD with a slide-on camper.

“Although we had nearly new, good quality, AT tyres along the Gibb River Road, we blew one out with a sharp stone going into the side wall,” they write. “We changed the wheel, (we were about six hours drive from anywhere), and travelled a bit further to the campsite, where we promptly speared the next tyre with a sharp stick through the tread.”

Please let this have a happy ending!

“We had another spare tyre without the rim but to put that on would be an awful big job for us,” they worte. “Luckily we carried a kit for filling and repairing holes which worked.”


The couple said they drove the next several hours very slowly and carefully until they reached somewhere where they could get the spare tyre put onto the rim.

“Then, at the next big town we bought another new wheel,” they wrote. “We now always make sure we carry TWO spare wheels, plus a puncture repair kit.”

Hmmmm. Could be worth it … but where do you stop? By that logic, our next correspondent, poor old Alex, would need to carry nearly a dozen spares. He wrote to let us know that during his Big Lap in 2006 he staked no less than nine tyres irreparably Flat tyre

“What an expensive exercise that was,” he recalls less than fondly. “Some had less than 1000kms on them and I tried all different pressures (I completed the Toyota LC Club 4WD training) and staked in Flinders, Pilbara, Oodnadatta, Hammersley Ranges, twice on the Gibb River Road, Lawn Hill etc etc etc.”

Wow! Can anyone top that for a run of bad luck on the puncture front?

“Nine tyres in 5,000 km was far too much,” says Alex mournfully. “Although some can be expected in these areas the load was appropriate etc.”

Holy Gommoley, Alex. Don’t bother buying Lottery tickets will you?

On the subject of weight, Jim (aka Jaycee) has got some very sound advice for grey nomads hitching up the van for the Big Lap. One of Jim’s mates put his empty van over a public weighbridge, only to find that the Tare weight (ie. when unloaded ) shown on the manufacturer’s compliance plate was way under the actual weight! Sounds, bad …. but what does it mean?

“This means that the difference between the Tare and the Gross Trailer Mass (GTM) left him only 120kg before he reached the maximum allowable weight (GTM),” explains Jim. “Meaning the weight of water, gas, fuel in jerry cans, cooking utensils, clothes, food and drinks in the van’s fridge and cupboards etc, could only total 120 kg – impossible!”

Jeepers! That is scary.

Jim then got to thinking about his own van which has a GTM of 2750 kg. After speaking to the manufacturer, it seems the only way out was to replace all axles and bearings with higher weight-bearing ones.

“In my case I could increase the GTM to 3000kg (or higher) with 4 new axles plus what he called new ‘parallel’ bearings,” said Jim. “As you can imagine, this is an expensive exercise but if you want to ensure you are not overweight when you take off, get your van weighed at a public weighbridge when FULLY loaded (including watertanks etc).”

Jim reckons the $17.50 he spent on the inspection was well worth it for the great peace of mind it gave him.

“Remember, if your rig is overweight you can be fined if stopped by Transport Inspectors, and if you are unlucky enough to have an accident, it will void your insurance cover as well,” he says. “Replacing the axles and bearings may be expensive but not as much as replacing your rig if you wipe it out in an accident.”

All very, very interesting stuff. See you at the weighbridge, folks!

Continuing with the technical theme, Jack has got a few pointers for all generator lovers.

“The trouble with generators is the rated output required to function correctly is over 2.0kva,” he writes. “To run an air conditioner in a caravan in really hot weather a generator needs to be 2.4 kva or more.”

According to Jack, this means that the Honda 2.0i, although it is a great generator, will not run a/c continually when the temperature rises.

“I would gladly purchase a Honda if they manufactured a 2.4 kva unit,” he writes.

Okay, let’s move away from motors, tare weights and tyres and return to the subject of wildlife. I’m happy to report that after last week’s deluge of dialogue about the dangers of dingoes, crocs and other creatures … more friendly furry folk are moving centre-stage this week.

“Last year we visited Kalbari but not the national park, and this was due to the draconian law that dogs are not allowed,” writes Denny. “I understand why but there are a lot of us that are responsible pet owners and have them on a leash and under control … cats do more damage and goats, so why not allow dogs on leads , or even allow us to leave them in the car in car park.”

Denny reports that his beloved ‘Macca’ loves just being in the car, with maximum ventilation and water, of course.

“We would have loved to have gone into this national park,” says Denny. “At the time we didn’t have the money for a kennel for the day and they are few and far between.”

Shame to have missed it Denny, and I know this is a topic that gets a lot of you hot under the preverbal collar.

Almost time to close but, first, a quick return to last week’s wildlife special. In the face of a sea of dingo and croc correspondence, we asked what it was about the scary creatures that persuaded you to put finger to keyboards.

“You asked why doesn’t anyone ever write saying how cuddly koalas are, or how wonderful it is to hear the kookaburra laugh?” wrote Ron (aka Wombat). “Well, I’m a cuddly wombat!”

Ahhhhhhh! Isn’t he cute!

See you next week Mighty Mailbagggers! And keep those emails coming!



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