Herald Sun - Motoring - - COVER STORY -

What’s more your style: camp­ing deep in the bush or by the ocean, with no neigh­bours — or site 35C in Row 8 in some car­a­van park on High­way One? Do you en­joy the com­pany of oth­ers, es­pe­cially “sun­down­ers” with your fel­low van­ners?

Most mid-size car­a­vans, which start at about $30,000, now pack all the com­forts of home, in­clud­ing air­con­di­tion­ing and en­suite bath­rooms. How­ever, if you leave the bitumen on a reg­u­lar ba­sis they will be­gin to dis­in­te­grate in front of your eyes.

Pur­pose-built off-road vans can take se­ri­ous pun­ish­ment, but the good ones — again, made in Aus­tralia — are ex­pen­sive, kick­ing off from $50,000 for a small model. Sev­eral man­u­fac­tur­ers fit a more ro­bust chas­sis/sus­pen­sion/wheel and tyre pack­age on stan­dard vans for a rel­a­tively mod­est ex­tra out­lay. For ex­am­ple, Jayco’s Out­back op­tion on its car­a­vans and cam­pers usu­ally car­ries a pre­mium of $3500-$4000.

It’s enough to get you off the black­top, away from the crowd and eas­ily and safely to into all but the most re­mote na­tional parks. Given the de­crepit state of many bitumen roads around the coun­try, it’s money well spent any­way.

Re­mem­ber too that, the big­ger and heav­ier your van, the more grunt up­front you need to pull it, and the more fuel you will use. Both cost big money.

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