Suitability of a large 5th wheeler in Oz

Submitted: Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 00:19
ThreadID: 84505 Views:3121 Replies:4 FollowUps:7
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I'm a newbie to this blog and would really appreciate some advice re caravan park facilities around Australia. We're Australian citizens currently travelling around the USA in our 40' 5th wheeler pulled by a Chev 3500. We've clocked up almost 25,000 kms so far and are half way through our trip.
We are definitley bringing the Chev back to Oz and understand all the associated changes required to import a 4500+ kg 5th wheeler.

However, could anyone please help with advice on such a large unit in campgrounds around Oz. What is the largest (amps) connection generally available? 15 amps or are there higher? All campgrounds here have 30 amps and most have 50.

Our rig's length is almost 19 metres long (58') as we have a crew cab Chev with a long wheelbase. I understand that will cause access problems in some parks, but I don't know whether or not that would extend to most? Would I need to book 2 sites? What restrictions are placed on running generators at night?

Heaps of questions above and many more to come I suppose before we can decide on whether or not to bring our current home back. Any feedback at all would be most welcome.

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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 01:23

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 01:23
Hi Alan

Not having such a long rig, I cannot comment on access and caravan park sites, but i do know some park charge for two sites for long rigs. We have an F250 and an 18' (internal) caravan, and need to check sites for room to manoeuvre into before committing. Some parks have drive through sites long enough for us to stay hitched, but most are only long enough for a standard caravan and we have to back the caravan in and unhitch.

I doubt you'd find higher than 15 amp connections in caravan parks; older ones may only have 10 amps. You will not be allowed to run your genny in a caravan park; even if can only fit your rig into the unpowered section.

Most National Parks do not allow generators, but a few have a generator section. Purnululu in the WA Kimberley have genny sections in both camp grounds, as do the Kimberley parks at Windjana Gorge and Silent Grove (Bells Falls). In Kakadu in NT, three of the campgrounds have generator sections, but in one (Merl - near Ubirr) the generator section only suits small rigs such as camper trailers. Generator hours are specified and are in some parks are 7 am to 7 pm or thereabouts. Even if you are in a "free campground" such as 24 hour roadside rest area, you will not be popular (to put it mildly) if you run a genny after 8 or 9 pm.

Such a big rig will certainly have limitations for you.


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Follow Up By: Alan L1 - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 01:53

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 01:53
Hi Motherhen,

Thanks very much for your post and info. You've highlighted some very good limitations re gensets and power.

Our fiver has its own 12 volt system and we only need to re-charge batteries if we are limited to a few days stay without connection to AC power. Other than that, we need power for the aircons and tv etc- all of which are only luxuries that we could do without - well, I can but I'm not sure about the balance of the family.

We purchased a large rig here because we travelling as a family (3 young daughters, my wife and me) and need "survival room" during this 12 month USA treck. Once we return, our daughters may choose not to journey with us through OZ and we could pull something a lot smaller!
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 15:26

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 15:26
Hi Alan

As we have solar power and are low power users, we are self sufficient. We haven't used the genny for the air conditioner for over six years, although we have used the air con a few times in caravan parks in the tropics, because we could, and because sitting outside in a crowded caravan park isn't the same experience as sitting under the trees watching birds and wildlife, feet up and reading a book. Most times, sitting outside in the shade or using our 12 v fan has been adequate and nicer than getting out the genny to disturb the peace then be confined to stting inside. If you do decide to bring your 5th wheeler in, when getting conversions done it would pay to have solar panels fitted. Our genny is really for emergencies only (such as power tools which more often has been to help others than for ourselves ), and in a five month big lap in 2009, we didn't use it at all.

As to size, it depending on what type of places you want to go. If you are like us and like getting out and seeing National Parks, we have found that most parks are not expecting caravans at all, and many are set up with fixed bollards defining small camp sites for tents and camper trailers. This has been a limiting factor for even us with a fairly average sized rig.


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Reply By: cycadcenter - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 03:43

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 03:43
Hi Alan,

We are currently living in the USA and asking if you have anyone lined up to do the conversion on your Chevy as we're thinking of bringing something back with us later this year and having it converted.

I've read through all the regulations and it's crazy some of the changes the ADR requires. One would think that windscreen regulations, lights, tyres and seatbelts acceptable through the rest of the would be acceptable to ADR.

Also on the 5th Wheeler, how are you going to overcome the air brakes issue?



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Childers Qld
AnswerID: 446127

Follow Up By: Alan L1 - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 07:19

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 07:19
Hi Bruce,

I've had a few emails back and forth with a company in Gympie called Performax International. I've also read and spoken to a couple of people who have had work done by them and they both said they were very good.

They have a website - a quick search in google would find them.

I'm afraid I don't have an answer on how to overcome the issue of air brakes and accept the fact that that would have to be done. The issue of width and rear overhang are also at the top of my tree for concerns.

I was going to buy a toy hauler from Keystone until I discovered they're 8'8" wide - blew that idea straight out the window. I have a Forest River Sierra and even that is just within the width limits, as long as I remove the awning and a few other small fittings. A third axle would have to be fitted and the entire lot would need to be shifted further to the rear to comply with the 3.7 metres - as yet I don't know the extent of the increase weight at the king pin.

Hope that helps a little, but as you can see, I've still got many loose ends to tie up before making my final decision about the 5th wheeler.

FollowupID: 718422

Follow Up By: Member - Tony (ACT) - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 09:13

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 09:13
And I think you will have to put a door on the left/curb siide.
FollowupID: 718441

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 09:44

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 09:44
A sensible solution would be to get rid of it and get a smaller one.

As an owner of a 25 ft van 31ft overall we have been refused entry because of size in the busy season as most camps have limited large sites.

I would think also you would have great difficulty getting it into some parks.

We have enough trouble sometimes.

Also with your high amps you are only allowed to connect one SINGLE length of 15 amp cable to a box in a park and as said some have only 10amps in older parks.

The regs on these rigs are being tightened and a fully functioning L/H door is now a requirement. The wiring has to redone as do the appliances.
Gas is another strict requirement. Also as you seem to know width is as well.

Have a read of thread 84325 and look at the model they are contemplating

Built in USA to Aussie specs and fitted out here. 32ft and maybe a cheaper and easier option that sorting your one.

Just a thought but when I was going to buy a 28ft van a guy in the van repair industry said Why do you want to tow a block of flats around.

Same comment made by a guy at Ayers Rock with a 33ft van I asked him what it was like in the wind Just like a block of flats he said.

We got the two rear tyres of the car scrubbed badly one day with a side wind for over 200km pulling the van out of line, scrubbed inside of one outside of the other

FollowupID: 718447

Reply By: _gmd_pps - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:27

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:27
Amps: The US has higher current limits because they run 110V. 30A standard in US is 15A in OZ. 15A is plenty you will not need more.

240V wiring: You can run the 110V wiring with a transformer. Friends have done that with a Jayco 32 footer. If you want 240V power points you have to rewire.
Either way you need an electrician to certify the installation otherwise you wont get registration.

There is no fixed length overhand rule. the overhand is a percentage of the total length and axle position. Read the registration rules they are available online.

Gas: Furnaces like in the US are not allowed in OZ. must be removed.
Ventholes have to be installed according to regulations for gas appliances.
Some hot water storage systems are only legal up to 6 gallons (could be 18 litres) google it.
Gas installation needs to be certified as well. No soldering allowed in piping. No plastic hoses, gas bottle enclosure must be metal lined and vented, etc etc.
None of the US vans are compliant unless built for OZ.

2.50 meter max width (overwidth travel is a nightmare)

You need import license first for both trailer and truck. For the truck import license has to be obtained by a certified RAWS workshop. Performax is one.

I can list the requirements for the truck conversion, but that is not really important because the RAWS workshop has to take care of this.

Gross weight of trailer over 4.5 t requires air brakes on trailer and truck. Performax can put an airsystem in the truck. If the trailer has hydraulic brakes and airsystem can be installed using the hydraulic brakes.

There is much much more. Like RORO shipping and cost, AQUIS, customs

I have imported a GMC 3500 Dually myself (converted in Gympie) and brought in a truck camper with it.

I am building a gooseneck trailer (35") now myself because none of the US vans are suitable for us. TOO much useless space to carry around and a 5th wheel coupling is no good; takes too much space in the bed and is not solid enough on rough roads. A ball coupling (gooseneck) is 10 times better.

We also wanted a garage and lots more details and better used space than the US vans provide. They are just big and high and not really practical when you use 4 computer screens, and ham gear and kayaks and motorbikes and kite surf gear and and ... In my opinion it is not worth bringin in a US van, but that maybe just me.

good luck

AnswerID: 446162

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 15:10

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 15:10
Hi gmd

In your research did you come across quarantine requirements? As Alan's outfit is used and not new, i expect it would also require fumigation on arrival - another cost.


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Follow Up By: _gmd_pps - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 21:18

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 21:18
I imported a US boat and had to fumigate it because it had some pine needles in it ..
It is not really a big expense but if not done right you have a lot of dirt and dents, which happened to me .. my boat was shrink wrapped but was opened up and I had a lot of black dirt form the fumigation yard.
The expense is not really big.
One has top make sure the unit is clean and the tyres will be washed. All not a deal braker. There are other things more important.

have fun
FollowupID: 718547

Reply By: Alan L1 - Tuesday, Feb 22, 2011 at 12:42

Tuesday, Feb 22, 2011 at 12:42
Thanks very much to all for your constructive comments, advice and ideas which I've read with great interest.

I'm forming a pretty solid view that it would not be a wise decision to bring the 5th wheeler to Oz.

AnswerID: 446265

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