GIBB RIVER ROAD THROWS UP ITS MIX OF ADVENTURES
Our intrepid tourers, John and Fran, have reached civilisation after several weeks out of communication range and boy what a few weeks it’s been. Here’s their summary of this section of the trip.
We have seen an amazing part of our country – the Kimberley. We’ve had a driving experience that is absolutely rattling – the car, our bones, the contents of the car and the van. There are corrugations, rocks, bulldust, dirt, more dust, ‘dead tyres’, caravans, campers and campervans, and people by the hundreds. Travellers come with whatever they have to experience the Gibb River Road and all it has to offer. It’s a hard but fantastic journey, and we would do it all again.
We drove to the conditions and managed to stay puncture-free. The caravan itself held up beautifully. There were no cracks; nothing broke –all the cupboards stayed intact, no hinges let go, it’s a credit to Retreat.
We did have a dust issue on the windows, but that was not a big concern considering it was a known item, as in we were to test the sealing without the use of any additional silicone sealants.
The only thing that let us down was underneath, with the trailing arm camber/caster bolts continually loosening and/or falling out completely. The driver’s side of the car and van receives a continual battering whereas the passenger side can often run through the softer dirt on the edge of the road. Otherwise, the suspension was amazing. We had the electric frypan and the slow cooker sitting on the bench, and the induction hotplate (on a rubber mat) for the whole trip and they stayed there. All the clothes on coat hangers also never moved, which is something that has happened to us before.
We were lucky that with his engineering background, John was able to patch up the suspension problem to get us through. However, we did have to leave the broken van on the side of the road while we got the parts needed to fix it. If it happened to someone who is not able to do the repair or find a replacement bolt, it would have meant a tow truck, which would have cost a fortune. So be prepared, check your caravan, car and the suspension regularly!
The Ford Ranger did an excellent job and never missed a beat, although it did undergo significant upgrades to bolster the off-road touring performance and reliability.
Most of all – we had no trouble with the power system, the capacity, solar recovery or using power for our everyday needs. It stood the test of cold mornings, hot afternoons, and driving through water and the system did not falter.
All our appliances worked superbly, and the Dometic compressor fridge/freezer stayed cold, the hot water and air conditioner worked like a charm. We cannot complain about anything, as there is nothing to complain about. At El Questro, the electric caravan used its power to charge a campervan, and it didn’t dent our ability to function as normal.
Certainly, now that we are exposed to more sunlight hours up north, our power has been totally fine, staying around 80 to 99% SoC and that’s also taking into account that we run the aircon for about four hours per day, every day, with no supplemental charging. All power is from the sun, and thus to date, we have operated the caravan with a Zero Carbon footprint.
It’s a job well done to the passionate crew who developed and designed the system and a credit to all concerned.
We’ll keep readers abreast as the electric caravan continues on its journey in RV Daily.