Advice wanted for American couple --2nd post

Submitted: Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 09:35
ThreadID: 91107 Views:2466 Replies:10 FollowUps:7
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Thanks for all your replies

As most of the posts wanted all the questions posted here instead of PM, I'll start with background.

We are not experienced caravaners, but did live in one for a summer (school). I have travelled in 80+ countries. We have spent a total of almost three months on canal boats in England and France. This spring I retire. We will have our house rented out, and want to spend about 11 out of 12 months of the next year or three caravanning around Australia We understand that it is expensive relative to most places. We enjoy the outdoors more than the cities, and have camped extensively (w/o caravan) in the western USA.

Our first decision is to buy new or used. What % would we expect to lose in each case at the end of one year? at the end of three years? Expect that used is more cost effective, but how long will it take to find a rig after we get to AU?

Send, but coupled with the first is what caravan and what tow rig. So far we are leaning towards the Pajaro for economy and we like (on paper) the 20'6' Bushmaster Bluegum. Like the layout and the ability to travel off the bitumen.

Enough questions for now
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Reply By: Andrew & Jen - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 09:51

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 09:51
Hullo Earl
I am going through a similar process at the moment, albeit not for as large a van.
Rather than a Bushmaster, I am looking at the Kedron which also has a very good reputation as a rugged off-road rig and not quite as expensive.
There are quite a few on the second hand market - have a look under Kedron on They seem to keep their resale price well.
As to a tow vehicle, GCM is a crucial figure, as is the maximum towing capacity of the vehicle as the Bushmaster and Kedron are not light. The later Pajeros are reliable and capable: you might also want to check out used Toyota Land Cruiser 100 series. I am sure you will get many opinions
Good luck
AnswerID: 474447

Follow Up By: Earl F - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 10:46

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 10:46
I've looked at the Kedron and the Bushtracker. Both are expensive. However, what counts for me is not so much the initial cost but the difference in the price-I-pay-in-April-2012 and what I can sell it for in a year or three. Am interest to hear how people like these and what success they had in selling.

Yes, the Toyota Land Cruiser is on my list to look at. Has anyone a comparison between it and Pajaro?

FollowupID: 749385

Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 10:34

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 10:34
Hullo Earl,

the most common tow vehicle here is the Toyota Landcruiser. Diesel is preferred for torque and economy. The 100 series (up to 2006) and then the 200 series (2007 onwards) are probably the best choices.

You will find several van manufacturers call their product "off road" but only about 4 or 5 make a true off road van. Off road means heavy; no two ways about that. So you may have to think about a Cruiser instead of a Pajero.

Quite a few people have travel blogs. There are several at the top of the page on ExplorOz. Mine is here:

Gone Bush in a Bushtracker

There are links to others in mine.

The brand I have, a Bushtracker, has a Forum and several are listed for sale here:

Bushtrackers for Sale

Not cheap, but if you are going to be here for 2 or 3 years, then it's best to make the right decision first. The good thing about BTs, Kedrons, Spinifex etc, is that you will get back close to what you paid when it's time to sell.

By the way, the Personal Message system on EO is only available for paid up members. It's worth being a Member for several reasons, that is one of them.

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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 13:36

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 13:36
Hi Earl

I thoroughly recommend purchasing second hand rather than new. A good quality caravan will retain its value, you don't have the immediate write down of value between new and second hand, and any problems that may have occurred will have been fixed.

The next thing to consider is the weight you will be pulling - if you are going to the larger vans and one dirt road capable (capable ones are heavy), something like a Pajero may not be legally able to do the job. There is the loaded weight of the caravan (and for bush camping you will need to include water in that load), the weight it exerts on the tow bar (which can be limited by bar or car brand), and the overall weight of your car and caravan when fully loaded including yourselves, a maximum load which will be specified for that vehicle.

Check also the vans real capabilities if you want to do some of the long and corrugated inland roads that Australia features. Some brands make a badged off road model which is only suitable for off the bitumen for short distances when you read the find print.

You are welcome to read MyBlogs (click next to my signature) about the roads we have travelled on with our specialised brand, and on my website.


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Follow Up By: Member - Earl F - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 13:45

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 13:45
Found your web site. It will take a bit to get through it all. Thanks for
"Australia So Much to See"

FollowupID: 749500

Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 16:23

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 16:23
G'day Earl,

The Pajero's a fine vehicle but it has a funny restriction when it comes to towing bigger vans.

I think you guys use about the same rule that we do, that is the down force on the hitch should be about 10% of your van's loaded weight. So a 3 tonne (3000kg - we are metricated over here) should have about 300kg downforce on the hitch, according to the rule of thumb.

Current model Pajeros are rated to tow 3 tonne, BUT if the trailer is above 2500kg the downforce on the hitch is limited by Mitsubushi to 180kg. There is no sliding scale, it is a sharp cut-off. So your 3000kg van is only permitted to load the hitch with 180kg.

My mate has this issue with his late model Pajero and his Kedron - the van is above 2500kg loaded, so he has had to re-arrange his load and water tanks to get 160kg max on the hitch.

Just something to be aware of.




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Reply By: Member - Outback Gazz - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 17:36

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 17:36
G'day Earl

Some good advice - Remember that we drive on the LEFT hand side of the road here ! I have taken quite a few people from Europe away on camping / 4wdrive trips here in this big brown land and quite often they will vague out ( or have a seniors moment ) and head into the oncoming traffic - this mainly happens when they take off from a spot where they have spent a bit of time without driving. Good advice 2) if something goes wrong or your vehicle gives you trouble, don't stress about it - just laugh it off because you are on holidays and nothing is a problem !! Enjoy your trip ( and the flies ) and as Mick said become a member of ExplorOz - and maybe post a blog on your travels so everyone who gave you advice can see how you went !!


AnswerID: 474496

Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 17:47

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 17:47
Don't have to be a senior to end up on the wrong side of the road.

I did it well before I was 40 years old, but in south western Kansas, my excuse was there was no traffiic and it looked a lot like Walgett, so I thought i was back in Australia.
FollowupID: 749434

Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 18:32

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 18:32
G'day Mark

Yes it's very easily done - a lot of Aussie motorcycle riders who go to the States and hire/buy a bike to ride around get cleaned up ! They go to a bar, have a few drinks and unlike a car that has the steering wheel on the wrong side to remind you, just take off and naturally head off to the left hand side of the road. As you say, if there's no traffic around that's when it normally happens. Picked up my hire car when I was there a few years ago and I must say it's quite daunting when you first get out into the traffic - nearly as scary as coming home to the wife 5 days late from a 3 day camping trip with mates !!


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Follow Up By: Member - Earl F - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 02:57

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 02:57

When in a rental car in England we found that it worked best if one drove and one watched. That saves several incidents. Found that after a time it got better, but was still something to be careful about.

FollowupID: 749476

Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 11:09

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 11:09
Young nephew and his friend came from Canada for a 12 month working holiday, bought a car and promptly got T-boned on a roundabout, looking for traffic from the left.

ON holiday in Canada I found roundabouts and left turns to divided roads to be the most difficult - ie going against your instincts. You really have to think things through when driving "on the wrong side" and as Earl said, a second pair of eyes is invaluable.


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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 06:40

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 06:40
Maybe consider a motorhome rather than a 4WD and caravan.
It is likely that the total investment would be lower and there are other advantages if living in it full time.

OKA196 Motorhome.
AnswerID: 474534

Reply By: RedCherokee - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 10:02

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 10:02
If you have a look at used prices for the sort of van you are interested in and compare them to the prices for a new one, you will pretty soon be able to get an idea of the price drop.

The biggest price drop is generally in the first year.

Google search for the model you are after and the various years, eg: caravanandcampingsales site has a reasonable selection of off road vans.
AnswerID: 474546

Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 11:05

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 11:05
True off road vans are heavy and expensive but certainly hold their value well. You need to decide how "remote" you actually want to travel. Australia is a big place and there is a lot to see. Even in a year or two you won't see everything! A sturdy "dirt road" van will get you to a lot of the "Outback", especially if you have a good 4 wheel drive vehicle for extended day trips. This approach will save you a lot and probably suit the Pajero if the van is not too large. Don't forget you add a lot of weight when you have to carry at least two tanks of water and solar power capability for bush camping. Once you decide the type of van you want it is probably best to get the van first then get a tow vehicle to suit it! Many unhappy people have done it the other way around and found that then their vehicle won't actually legally tow the van they have decided on! If you check prices from home and know you can afford to pay for the type of rig you want it should not take too long to purchase it once you are here. A lot can be achieved on line if that suits you.
Good luck with your plans. We have met many overseas tourists travelling around in all sorts of rigs and all having a great time! Lynne and John
AnswerID: 474551

Reply By: The Bantam - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 12:14

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 12:14
Remember in the US there are some huge mobile homes and tow vehicles to match...many of those would not be permitted on Australian roads nor would they be you may need moderate your expectations of size

Also don't forget our fuel prices.......remember fuel runs arround $6 -$7 a gallon over here.......thats probably the biggest price shock.

So keeping size and weight down can stretch your funds a hell of a lot.

There is a real problem in this country with people trying to push the limits of the towing capacity of their tow vehicles.

They go out and buy a big van, and often don't think about the consequences or at worst over optomistic

It must be understood that maximum towing capacities are just that, and both the vehicle manufacturers and the trailer manufacturers are pushing the envelope to sell vehicles.

As a result there is a big market for products that try to address these suspension upgrades....

If you want to tow happily, economicaly and safely, keep the size of the van down to as small as you can live with.....particularly if you are inexperienced with heavy towing.

As for this "at least 10%" drawbar weight thing....there are plenty that argue about that one......the only reason people try to put that much weight on the drawbar is that the rigs are inherantly unstable.

Many of the current tow vehicles do not have 10% of their rated towing capacity as their maximum drawbar weight.

Start running near your maximum towing capacity, running out of drawbar capacity is to be expected.

Realy there is such a variance in everything...where you want to go..the sort of terain and roads you want to travel...AND..your expectations of comfort.

I recon a real good idea is when you get here, rent a smallish mobile home for a month and do a quick rip up the east coast and back down the can do that all on good blacktop.....then you will have an idea of what is here, what others are using and what you want to do.

There is a world of difference between what you can do in a normal vehicle....and what you need an off road rig for.

There is also a world of expensive difference between someone who requires a fully finctioning indoor toilet and shower, and someone who is happy use shared facilities or perhaps use a portable toilet & shower or even wash in a bucket and carry a shovel.

AnswerID: 474555

Follow Up By: Member - Earl F - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 12:57

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 12:57
Indoor toilet and shower wanted. We've done our share of the "hang the water" from tree and use a shovel. Not practical everywhere, and a pain in bad weather.
FollowupID: 749497

Reply By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 12:54

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 at 12:54
I know a family who bought a 100 series Toyota Landcruiser Sahara, and a big Bushtracker - brand new. After 12 months travelling around Australia they sold the Bushtracker for the same as they paid for it. There was a long wait list at the time for Bushtrackers to be built I think.

David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
Always working not enough travelling!

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AnswerID: 474557

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