Why I Love Caravan Parks…!

I just know there are going to be a great many caravaners and campers out there who are going to be mortified by this, but I have to admit it, I really do love Caravan Parks. To pinch a line from Forest Gump, they are just like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

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The caravan park at Cresent Head NSW is in an ideal location but like many parks, it can be a bit cramped at times.

Take the park we are at right know. It’s at a place called Cresent Head, NSW. It is right on banks of an estuary and beach and is an ideal location to get away from the city and enjoy a seaside getaway. It’s also a fairly big park and the layout ensures you have only just enough space for yourself. That said, some sites are quite cosy so you will have little choice but to say hi to your neighbors. I don’t really mind this as more often than not, fellow RVers tend to be kindred spirits and we generally really like the people we meet.  There are times when that’s not the case but you make the best of the situation. Right now, our current neighbors are lovely and we have shared a couple of happy hours and afternoon teas with them. We had a very windy night a couple of nights ago and I made sure they were OK in their roof top tent. They were appreciative of my concern. I really get a lot out of this sharing and caring attitude that seems to exist in caravan parks.

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When this is your view from your site, there’s little to complain about…!

Caravan parks are also a great opportunity for a sticky-beak at a plethora of other caravans and RVs of every size, shape and age.  Most RVers are only too happy to show off their rigs and share the modifications they’ve made and the accessories they have had success using. We have learnt so much from talking to other park residents over the years.

Theres so much you can learn just by introducing yourself to others at the caravan park.  Where to go to get a good meal, where the fish are biting, what are to better attractions around the area and, most importantly, where else they have been on their travels that might be included on your next itinerary…!

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The sheer variety of rigs at caravan parks is a great source of information if you’re prepared to go say hi to your neighbors.

Of course, there is always the regular entertainment of watching people packing up and leaving and, more importantly, the new arrivals as they attempt to park their massive rigs into the smallest of spots. Kylie and I just love Witching Hour…!

As I said at the beginning, there’s a lot of travellers out there who don’t like caravan parks. Yes they can be expensive, amenity blocks can vary greatly in quality and cleanliness, park rules can be a bit restrictive and, sometimes they can be occupied by undesirable tennents. But these days there is so much information available online to give you a good idea of what a caravan park is like and, using applications like WikiCamps, you can see what parks are available in a set location, compare prices and even read comments from past tennents. There really is no excuse to not find a great caravan park in any location these days.

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Some parks are just awesome like this one in Halls Gap near the Gramians National Park. Nice big grassy sites, plenty of shady trees, great amenities and wildlife all around.

With the trend in free camping growing exponentially, the days of viable caravan parks may be on the slide and I admit, we are making more of an effort to free camp these days, but I think for convenience and social interaction, caravan parks will always feature on our itineraries in one way or another.

Safe travels

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Make Better Use of your Webber Baby Q

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This image shows how to fit the silicon mat to your Webber. Leave a gap at the long edges to allow heat circulation as well as allowing fat to drain away.

Everywhere we have travelled we have seen many campers using a Webber BBQ, usually the Baby Q. It seems to be the perfect size for portability as well as being capable of cooking a sufficient quantity of food for two to four people.  So when we ordered the new van, we opted to fit a Baby Q on a slide out in the tunnel boot.

This has proved to be an excellent choice however I have struggled a bit with it to cook basic meals like bacon and eggs or potato chips and chopped onions. These are not really suitable for cooking on an open grill and the half hot plate made by Webber is too small to be very useful.

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We like chopped onion and potatoes cooked on the BBQ and the silicon mat allows us to do this to perfection. Couldn’t be easier…!

To solve this, we purchased a set of silicon bbq mats and these have proven to be the perfect solution. They have transformed the Webber into an every day cooking appliance.

So now, in addition to perfect roasts and char grilled steaks, we can now cook bacon and eggs with ease.

To start you off here’s my method for cooking perfect bacon and eggs. Click here.

The silicon matts can be purchased from eBay or any variety store that sells BBQ accessories.

Enjoy…!

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Is the SLR Camera Obselete?

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Has the smartphone killed the SLR camera…?

I love photography and I especially love taking photos of the beautiful places we visit on our travels. For years I’ve carried a digital SLR camera with me along with an assortment of lenses and filters. It has allowed me to take some truely spectacular photos. But this comes at a price. The camera and all its accessories need a bag big enough to carry all the gear and protect it from the elements. It can also be quite fiddly changing lenses and keeping the dust out in the process.  It’s not really suited for impromptu photos. Using an SLR camera is about taking time to be creative to capture the true essence of the subject.

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The filters and editing software on many smartphones can turn an average image into something quite unique and visually stunning.

For those random moments that happen every day, the camera on my smartphone is much more usable and available when the opportunity presents itself. The images cannot be compared to those from the SLR, but they are more than adequate for sharing on social media or even publishing on the web. Add to that the sofisicated image editing software that comes standard with iOS or Android and you really do need to ask if the smartphone camera is all that we need for capturing our holiday snaps.

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Aerial photos taken from a drone are absolutely spectacular.

Now, a new camera technology is becoming popular. Drones with digital cameras onboard allow us to take photos from an entirely different perspective. I’ve been experimenting with our Parrot drone and the results are nothing short of spectacular. The problem with the drone is its not really suitable for every occasion.  You can’t just launch the drone anywhere. Trees, weather and other obstacles can make flight difficult.

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This image would only be possible with a SLR camera fitted with a powerful telephoto lense.

So what camera or cameras should we chose to take with us on our travels. Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. For many, the smartphone can pretty much take any photo we would want. For others, the flexibility of interchangeable lenses and exposure control allow us to exercise our creativity more than a smartphone can. A drone might be an added level of complexity for only the real dedicated photographer chasing a truely unique perspective.

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The panorama mode on the smartphone camera can easily produce some dramatic images like this storm cloud.

If your thinking about extending your photography beyond your smartphone, we’ve take a deeper look at what can be achieved with all three types of cameras. You can read the article here.

So, to answer the original question, is the SLR camera dead? Well that’s up to the individual to decide what they want from their holiday photographs. For me, I would not be without my SLR camera.

Safe travels…

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The Value of Pre-drive Checklists

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Nothing like waking up to a rain soaked camp sight. We got out easily.

At the moment, Kylie and I are one week into our first big trip in the new van and you would be forgiven for thinking we are on our first caravan trip. We’ve made all the classic mistakes. Perhaps after all these years we’ve become a tad complacent or we’ve just been a bit unlucky. One thing is for sure; a pre drive checklist could have saved us a bit of frustration.

One thing hasn’t helped and that’s been the weather. For the first three days of this trip it has rained almost constantly. Mostly when its been time to set up or pack away and, because we’ve been in a hurry to get out of the rain, we’ve probably rushed things a bit.

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Having a good electrical toolkit and multimeter is essential.

Mostly it’s just the little things like forgetting to take the hose fitting off the tap at the caravan park or forgetting to turn off the tap before removing the hose. I copped a face full of cold water on that occasion. Probably the worst mistake we made was to leave the four seasons hatch open while driving in the torrential rain.  It was opened after we set off the smoke alarm cooking bacon for breakfast and nearly setting alight a tea towel in the process…!  Fortunately the only result was a bit of wed bedding and a fine spray of rain water in the living area. Nothing a wipe down with a couple of towels couldn’t fix. Considering the whole vent could have blown out, we got off lightly. Kylie discovered some new words in her vocabulary on that occasion..!

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That little button on the far right of the battery monitor switches off the whole 12v system. Didn’t know that before this trip.

There are some things that cannot be avoided even with a checklist. Plugging in the power cord into the inlet without lining up the plug properly was a simple mistake anyone can make. Fortunately, we carry enough tools to fix little problems like that. We also discovered all the 12v system inoperative at one stop. I checked every fuse and connection to no avail. I was completely stummped. Using the process of elimination and a good multimeter, I was able to trace the problem to the solar controller having a power isolation function that is activated at the power meter. One of us must have pushed a wrong button at some point and switched everything off. Good to know we can do that…!

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Make sure all the vents are closed before driving off.

At the end of the day, a checklist that you religiously go through before every drive will help avoid a lot of issues.  Knowing your van and being able to diagnose and fix minor problems is also essential.

After all, it wouldn’t be any fun if everything went according to plan. Where’s the challenge in that?

Safe travels everyone…!

 

 

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