Over the years, grey nomad Phil Aynsley has travelled extensively to many parts of Australia but always by car and motorbike on the bitumen, or by air.
When he decided it was time to hit the ‘road’ full-time, he knew he wanted to get down and dirty … and he knew just the vehicle he needed.
“The Earthcruiser was the standout choice for extended ‘off grid’ living and extremely capable off road,” said Phil. “Far more so than I am!”
With serious off-roading in his agenda, Phil did a lot of research.
He was initially looking at converted Sprinter vans and the like, before deciding they were too small for comfortable 24/7 living.
“Earthcruiser do an amazing job with the design and everything is extremely well thought out and constructed,” he said. “I bought mine second hand and had it modified internally to remove one of the camper seats and install a bespoke work/computer desk arrangement, with extra power points etc … I am by myself so didn’t need a second seat.”
The original owner had ticked nearly all the option boxes so Phil’s vehicle 7x solar panels on the roof (945W), 800Ah of Lithium batteries, 3000W inverter, induction cooktop, and swing- out BBQ (no gas at all on board), 300L of water and a total of 290L of fuel. It has winches front and rear.
Of course, all of this doesn’t come cheap and Phil sold his house in Sydney in order to live his off-road dream. A brand new Earthcruiser can cost over $550,000, depending on options chosen.
“I cruise at 85km/h on the open road and average 14-15 litres per 100 kilometres,” he said. “I’ve done nearly 50,000 kilometres in it in just over 18 months, so far.”
Phil says he loved his time in Tassie, and in western Queensland and, although his trip to WA’s Kimberley was delayed by Covid, he eventually managed to get there via the NT back in June … and he’s been there ever since.
“WA has been amazing, there’s certainly lots to see,” he said. “I’m planning on travelling for the foreseeable future so will definitely be returning to check out the spots I’ve had to miss this time around.”
And there’ve already been quite a few adventures along the way.
Phil’s had to ‘rescue’ three vehicles so far, including a tour bus (pictured) from Le Grand Beach near Esperance in WA!
“It was pretty challenging given it weighed about twice the Earthcruiser’s 6T!” said Phil. “It took about eight tries but I eventually got him unstuck.
Phil says the sand was actually hard enough for 2WD but the tour bus driver was unlucky to drive over a section of foot deep sea grass with sand blown over the top.
“The incoming tide added a certain bit of spice!” he said. “Once he was clear of that he was fine … it was the first time I had used the Kinetic Energy Recovery System ropes I had bought when fitting the truck out!”
Phil’s two other rescues – so far – have involved using a winch to move a car ‘beached’ on a rock in New South Wales, and a drowned soft-roader in a creek on the way to the Bungle Bungles.
“For some reason when I arrive on the scene, I seem to be the ‘go-to’ vehicle for these things!” he said
Happily, Phil hasn’t need rescuing himself yet, although he’s been in some precarious-looking positions.
While driving down the Sandy Cape track in north-western Tassie, his left-hand rear wheel dropped off the ridge into a huge rut (pictured).
“It wasn’t too bad from the driver’s seat although I was later told that the right-hand front wheel was about 35cm in the air!” said Phil. “I had been driving with the rear diff lock in and it was only a matter of engaging the centre and front diffs and driving out quite easily.”
As for the future?
“I’ll be meeting up with a group of other Earthcruiser owners later in late March for several weeks of travelling around the Simpson Desert,” he said. “I am really looking forward to it.”