We hired a six berth Euro Deluxe motorhome back in January and headed up the east coast of Oztraylia. For those not in the know, six berth means the vehicle sleeps up to six people. We wanted space so this seemed the right size for a family of four and it did turn out to be a good choice.
Aside from being a good old summer holiday trip, this journey was also to serve as a test case for our planned 2020 ‘True Nature’ overseas documentary trip. This will be a global trek to many corners of the planet including the USA and Europe where the mode of travel in those two destinations will be a motorhome. So this was a kind of practice run to see if we’d manage as a family in such a confined space or if we’d end up killing each other (metaphorically speaking of course).
Our final planned destination before turning around and heading back south was to be the area in and around the far south coastal corner of Queensland: Burleigh Heads, Palm Beach, Tallebudgera etc. Sadly we ran out of time and never made it quite that far north.
Our only criteria re where we’d stop and camp was that they had to be places we’d previously never been on any earlier east coast adventures. To help us select our stops we acquired an app called Motorhome Republic. This pointed us towards a vast choice of camping spots of three main types – of which we ended up sampling a few of each type.
Free Camping: these were essentially open plots of land, usually a car park with an adjoining toilet and shower block with the stipulation that you could only stay one night. On the whole not very picturesque locations but hey – you get what you pay for! Having said that, some were quite quaint and had a nice slice of nature nearby such as the Genoa Camp Park right on the Genoa River about 40km drive from Mallacoota.
Low Cost Camp Grounds: these are owned and operated by local councils or sometimes state governments especially as many of them are located in national parks. For about fifteen dollars we’d find ourselves at some beautiful bushy beach side camping grounds. Quite eco-conscious locations often with composting toilets.
Finally there were the more built up caravan parks with extra amenities. More costly but nice to placate our boys with a pool and playground every few days.
Our first exciting episode occurred on our second night. We’d selected a free camp ground in Golden Beach (a part of the much beloved Ninety Mile Beach) and as we approached the very hard-to-see turn off, I drove a bit too far so I needed to pull over to the left in order to do a full blown U-turn. Only trouble was that the ground to the left of the road was pure thick Aussie beach sand!! Now everyone sing along: THE WHEELS ON THE MOTORHOME GO ROUND AND ROUND, ROUND AND ROUND, ROUND AND ROUND etc ad infinitum! Ffffuuuuuuuucccckkkkkkkkkkk……
Bogged. Pure and simple. With the rear end of the Euro Deluxe literally poking out onto the road. Our two boys already fast asleep. The fact that they slept through the next hour of events is still unbelievable.
After some futile digging away of sand from the wheels using a plastic dust pan, we resigned ourselves to the reality that we’d need to just sleep the night with the motorhome’s bum poking out a little on the road. We had no phone signal, thanks Vodafone you inferior hunk of telco turd! So we flicked the hazard blinkers on and got ready for bed.
Then it happened. A car slowly drove up and we heard the words: “You need any help in there?” A father and son. Locals from the town of Seaspray heading home. For the next hour or more the son Nigel got hot, dirty and sweaty as he helped dig out sand and place shrub branches behind the tyres. He then tied some robust rope to the back of the motorhome and his dad began to tug with his ute. Unfortunately, the rope was quite short and as the motorhome was plucked out of the sand, it gently collided with the back of their ute dislodging our exhaust pipe, now loosely hanging from the chassis. So for nearly half an hour, the legendary determined generous Nigel meticulously made a harness out of some old jump leads and began to reinforce the exhaust into place. Rescued by two locals who I’m sure had much better things to get on with that night. We sent them a thank-you gift once we got back to Melbourne.
In Scotts Head, our sons boogie boarded with a shark at sun down. Several others were in the water too, surfing and swimming. People started crowding around as some sort of large fish was spotted. We thought it was a stingray but a surfer who was in there soon confirmed it was a shark. It cruised around the shallows for a minute and then was on its way. It swam only a few feet from our sons.
At Ben Boyd National Park’s North Long Beach we saw kangaroos just hanging out in the sand dunes. If that wasn’t a great enough treat, just as we were leaving I had a feeling to turn around and take one more look at the stunning beach when I spotted a pod of dolphins. Words really cannot do this moment justice. They were majestic and truly free in their habitat. Incredible animals.
The motorhome itself was great. It did however present various technical procedures which we had to get our heads around pretty quickly. Making sure the toilet cassette didn’t overflow (fail – details NOT to follow), releasing the grey water, filling the water tank, ensuring the door step was snapped in when driving, making sure the vehicle was charged every few days which meant we’d have to book in to powered sites sometimes. A steep learning curve but all pretty straight forward.
So did we get along or did we nearly kill each other in this moving confined space? I would imagine that had we booked a smaller vehicle, like a camper VAN rather than motor HOME, we would definitely have been tearing out some clumps of hair. There were certainly occasions when our boys drove us nuts, but thank the RV gods for a simple thing called a curtain. Simply pull it across the driver cabin and your children fade away into another dimension, kind of still there but not.
I declare that as a family we are officially road tested and battle hardened and ready for our 2020 motorhome travels. Amen.