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Summary - 2008 (Jan & Feb)
This trip began on 28 January 2008 and ended on 23 February 2008 when we returned to Casino. Duration was 27 days. The purpose of the trip was to visit relatives in Melbourne and to try our new A-van EuroStar 609 caravan as a touring caravan. During 2007 we had concentrated on moving house from Penrith to Casino; the EuroStar had been used for trips between Sydney and Casino but we had not done any touring.
From Casino we headed south along the Pacific Highway to just north of Newcastle then turned briefly along the New England Highway to the beginning of the Golden Highway near Singleton. The Golden Highway took us up onto the Tableland then we made our way to Narrandera where we stayed for several days before continuing on to Melbourne where we set up in the Dandenong caravan park using that as our base for daily trips into Melbourne. Leaving Melbourne on the Hume Freeway we turned off in the Great Dividing Range making our way into the Riverina then to Dubbo and down the Golden Highway to the Pacific Highway and back to Casino
Weather throughout was good.
The EuroStar proved to be well laid-out for touring. The inbuilt television and Winegard aerial are particularly useful completely eliminating the need to assemble an external aerial then set it up. The television still needs to be tuned to the local channels and the aerial pointed in the right direction but the Wineguard aerial can be easily turned from within the caravan so it is practical to turn the aerial when changing the channel selection if the transmitters are in different directions. The cassette toilet proved to be another major improvement; we can travel for at least three days before the cassette needs to be emptied. Free-camping with the EuroStar is comfortable and we free-camped for eight nights on this trip (26 nights total).
The EuroStar towed very well. The Hayman-Reese towing hitch had been set up so the van sat and towed level. On some of our travels in 2007 between Casino and Penrith I noticed that the EuroStar did not tow as well if the ball-weight was reduced; the van then felt as if it was about to head off in its own direction, especially on long, sweeping, flat curves in the highway. Attention will be needed to ball-weight to make sure it doesn't get too light. Weight of water carried will be important; one 90-litre tank is between the axles and the other 90-litre tank is in front of the front axle. These tanks have a levelling pipe between them. The grey water tank (80 litres) is behind the rear axle and could lead to a reduced ball-weight if we need to travel with stored grey water. The toilet (holding 16 litres when full) and placed at the back of the van may also need to be taken into account.
During this short trip of 26 nights the EuroStar was towed for 4,526 kilometres and the towing vehicle travelled 5,646 kilometres. We used 1,004 litres of unleaded petrol for $1,353; this is an average of 139.0 cents per litre and 24.0 cents per kilometre for the towing vehicle. Accommodation cost $401 for 18 nights in caravan parks giving us an average of $15.82 for each of the 26 nights of the trip.
Average fuel consumption (towing and not-towing) overall was 17.8 litres per 100 kilometres. Consumption when towing the EuroStar was 19.5 litres per 100 kilometres (including Performance mode and Normal setting on the gearbox), consumption when not towing was 13.2 litres per 100 kilometres. The Ford Territory is limited to 80 kph maximum when towing a van as heavy as the EuroStar; average on most legs was between 65 and 70 kph. Highest permissable speed of 80 kph, combined with the fairly high fuel consumption and towing vehicle fuel tank size (about 65 litres effective capacity allowing for unusable space) makes the Territory adequate as towing vehicle but less than ideal.
Awning. The awning was not used on this trip. I had broken the slider while trying to retract the awning last year and had not had it replaced yet.
Interior Lights. Three interior quartz halogen light in the toilet/shower had been replaced with light emitting diodes before this trip on a trial basis. The aim was to confirm that the leds were suitable for internal lighting under touring conditions with varying voltages in the system under different circumstances. They performed well and interior lighting will be changed over to leds.
Solar Panels. The solar panels do not charge the battery at all. I had noticed a problem last year and contacted the installer who didn't make sense with his supposed explanation why the controller had been set to begin charging at less than 10 volts; when free camping on this trip we had to be careful with lighting until I could get the solar installation set up properly.
This had been a useful shake-down for the EuroStar 609 as a touring caravan. The van is well laid out, very well-equipped and emminently suitable for touring either using caravan parks or free-camping sites. The Territory towing vehicle is comfortable and tows the EuroStar well but is fairly close to its limits when doing so.