After a big day on the road shooting What’s Up Downunder; Tania, Macca and the crew were looking forward to pulling into the Big4 Bendigo Park Lane Holiday Park. Like most of us, they notice the little things that make life easier when pulling up in your caravan.
Clear signage and room to pull in off a busy highway is the first battle. This BIG 4 made that easy. First impressions are a very clean park plus lots of colour. Once we checked in and were directed to our sites that had a beautiful lush grass even after a long dry summer. The park and the sites had plenty of room to manoeuvre a large caravan.
Clean facilities with a huge Camp Kitchen, Swimming Pool plus heaps of activities for kids from pedal carts, playground and a jumping pillow everybody has something to do. Plus an indoor play centre. We are looking forward to using the Camp Kitchen for a big BBQ Dinner for all the crew. Hope Macca has some secret recipes to feed us.
Sites range from powered sites to ensuite sites plus a range of cabins including pet friendly cabins. They have great amenities available to guests such as the unction room, games room, giant jumping pillow, go karts (unpowered) and the guest spa.
Heading north to Echuca we took an opportunity to pull over, have a drink of water, eat some fruit and do a vehicle check. Giovanni and Sal from G&S Chassis and Macca took a walk around looking at all 34 tyres on the vans plus tow rigs.
It only takes a minute to have a look and check for heat out of tyres and especially hubs. If any of the tyres are hotter than others or you can notice more bulge, then pressures can be checked plus a more thorough check can be undertaken to see if there is a puncture. As always if you can get a puncture repaired or change a tyre for a spare, it is much better than destroying a tyre with the potential of a blowout. Something you wish to avoid.
We carry a range of tools on board including a Pressure Perfect Compressor combining a 12v compressor in a case, plus a separate module that works like the digital control that many petrol stations have to raise or lower pressure to what you set it to on a digital screen. This lets you plug in the compressor set the pressure and it automatically pumps the tyres up to the pressure you have set. Stops you having to continually check the pressure on a gauge and more accurately than an inline gauge often is. You can also leave it and go about other jobs like boiling the billy or continuing with other checks.
After we had checked all the rigs we were having a water and noticed over the fence on the other side of a drainage ditch over 50 meters from the bitumen a wheel and tyre. We walked over and saw it was a trailer wheel and tyre still with tight wheel nuts and a complete hub on the back of it. This was the result of a wheel bearing failure that could have been prevented with routine maintenance before the trip and checks along the road like we described above.
In the unfortunate event of this happening a wheel leaving the trailer at highway speeds, it can travel a long distance, we have helped people on the side of the road and found the detached wheel around a kilometre from it leaving the trailer. Roadside repairs after this are hard as the axle is also often damaged resulting in a tow truck and costly repair.
A caravan or trailer wheel bearing has a hard life. Holding large amounts of weight, harder than the car for servicing schedule as kilometres aren’t recorded so servicing is quite often overlooked. Taking the van in for a pre-trip service is a necessity. In the future, we will post an article as well as a video demonstrating this.
Later whilst fuelling up, we noticed a horse truck at the edge of the service station having trouble getting a wheel off. We headed over and had a chat. Turns out they had bought the 1980’s Truck the day before, then picked up a Clydesdale to bring home. Noticing the inner of the dual wheels was flat, they proceeded to get the spare out to continue their journey. Lucky the truck had a full tool kit but the wheel nuts were over tightened and we couldn’t budge them. After a bit of head scratching we used our Pressure Perfect to reinflate the tyre so they could limp down to the local tyre service to repair the tyre.
Macca, Tania and the boys from G&S Chassis pulled in off the Murray Valley Hwy to check in, first thing we noticed was a clean park with great signage giving clear directions on where to park and check in, as a bonus our convoy of 4 caravans all fitted off the road.
Linley & Dan Morgan have recently taken over the park and are already putting their own touches to this popular family friendly park.
The reception area has a range of necessities that you often need, plus a Nespresso machine that the crew had working overtime, local attractions are promoted plus many events within the park, whilst we were there, a street party was taking place with face painting, live entertainment, refreshments and many more activities. A pedal go-kart championship for the kids on the on-site off road track was also on offer, lucky for Macca, there were no buggies left.
A freshly expanded games room kept kids entertained plus a TV Room playing scheduled movies was popular, along with the mini golf and playgrounds. The park is also known as the Splash Park with a great water adventure area for the kids plus a great pool and jumping pillow.
Barbecues are situated amongst the park with a large number of cabins and villas. The caravan sites have great grass and shaded areas with lots of room to manoeuvre onto the site.
Continuing the family friendly theme there are 3 family bathrooms that make it easier at shower time with young kids in a private area with enough room.
When you book via email or phone tell them that Tania and Macca from What’s up Downunder sent you for an exclusive special offer.
Tania and Giovanni from G&S Chassis headed to the National Holden Museum in ECHUCA, whilst Macca headed to the Brew Shed. One of the differences about this museum is that they only display Holden’s and with Holden closing down manufacturing in Australia this year after 69 years it was great to reflect on the birth of Australia’s car and its evolution.
Lots of the displays are on loan or have been gifted from Holden to preserve the legacy of the brand. The rest of the collection is on loan from private owners and they rotate regularly so there is always something new to see. Tania was taken down memory lane with memories of her grand parents and parents cars she grew up with recalling many trips to gigs and Holidays. Giovanni who has had many modified Holden’s was all over the Monaros and Torana’s. An all original A9X Torana Sedan was checked out, values of these are now exceeding $250,000 which is mind blowing but showing the esteem we hold these classics.
An informative documentary is the first exhibit then rows of early Holden’s great you as they progress from the 40s 50s 60s and 70s. Many of the vehicles are fitted with genuine Nasco accessories and lots of the vehicles have information relating to their history and how the owners have found them plus restoration stories.
A stunning HZ Sandman Panel Van really highlighted the late 70s styling, next to it was a prototype Statesman with many US Cadillac sources parts that didn’t make it to production.
Holden have donated a large range of items from Engine Displays to styling models and prototype vehicles. One of the popular displays is an airbag display that is often used when school groups or tours attend.
Many women commented on how interesting the museum is and like Tania it brought back memories of their childhood. Definitely a must do in ECHUCA.
#Narva to the rescue. In Broken Hill driving Narva’s Ranger filming an episode of What’s Up Downunder we met a caravaner who had his trailer plug pulled out of the vehicle and subsequently dragged along the road. No lights and no Electric Brakes.
With the gear we had on board and a quick trip into 7 Day Spares in Broken Hill for a few more pieces of Narva Products we got down to carrying out a repair.
The most visited page on the Narva website is their Trailer Pin and Socket Wiring Diagrams. Narva Trailer Connector Diagrams Handy for a link. All Narva Trailer Plugs and Sockets include a diagram on the back. Additionally, inside the products have pin numbers and a description on them. We keep a copy of the wiring diagram inside our tool kit for reference.
Below are the steps we took to complete the repair. Make sure to disconnect the caravan battery if equipped to avoid sparks and damage. Make sure you test the lights and any other circuits such as brakes or other items connected by the plugs such as cameras etc. An Auto Electrician or Caravan Repairer can check the work if you require after you are mobile again.
We grabbed out our Camp Table and Chair to set up a work bench over the drawbar. A lot easier than on the ground.
Disconnect the Caravan Battery if equipped
Lay out all the tools and products required on the Table
Remove heat shrink, tape or cable covers to get back to undamaged wiring.
If long enough to reach the vehicle with sufficient slack to allow turning you can remove the damaged wiring. It was in this case. If not you will have to extend and join the wiring. We will cover this in another Blog article.
Cut the wiring back to before the damaged area.
This plug was damaged, but the same applies if just the wiring was damaged. Remove the cover of the old plug to check on wire connections. Sometimes the Van has been wired different to the diagrams for battery feed or accessories
Make sure to slide on the protective boot for the trailer plug prior to connecting wires
Connecte the heavier battery feed wires to the bottom row of the 12 pin plug first.
There is a bridging piece to lock the wires in place. Fit this then the lower cover.
Now for the light and brake connectors. We trim these to length then strip the insulated cover from each wire one at a time. This ensures a neater fit.
We kept the damaged plug on hand as reference. Plus the wiring diagram from the back of the pack.
Once all 6 wires in this case were connected, fit the bridge piece and outer cover.
We kept these lengths of wires and hardware for spare in our electrical tool box.
The vans Anderson plug was also damaged so we repaired that also. The Narva Crimpers have a non insulated crimp area to use on these.
We fitted Heat Shrink to the Wiring with the Narva Micro-Therm Tool
Some Electrical Tape and we were ready to test after reconnecting the vans battery.
Tested, all worked including the trailer brakes. As always
After months of preparation, a huge 4-episode trip was planned from Kilmore, just out of Melbourne, all the way to Broken Hill with lots of interesting stops along the way. Our trip commences out of the G&S Chassis Factory.
G&S was founded in 1975 by Paolo and Francesca Inturrisi, it is a family business that has grown into the largest independent chassis manufacturer in Australia. Sal, Rob, Nina and Giovanni Inturrisi have continued the business that their parents started over 40 years ago. The Inturrisi family are long-time friends of WUDU and their staff and their facility reflect the passion that they have for this industry. Many of the staff have been there for years and there is a strong focus on the family of the staff with BBQs and Picnic Days for the staff’s kids at their nearby farm.
Sal’s kids, Paolo and Lious, kept the crew hydrated whilst Giovanni flew his drone capturing some truly spectacular views! Macca, Tania and the crew met up for a factory tour and to pick up the 4 caravans for our G&S Chassis trip to Broken Hill. We were lucky enough to be lent their Ranger as a support vehicle and Oricom UHF made sure we had communications covered for the crew.
With the vans loaded up we headed to their farm for a delicious BBQ, what a spread. This was their late fathers; Paolo’s dream, he grew up in the Sicilian town where he earn’t money picking olives. He dreamed about having his own plantation and after migrating to Australia at the age of 21, through hard work with G&S Chassis he realised his dream. After his passing the family have continued his dream.
The Intrussi family turned on their famous hospitality with giant steaks and a fantastic spit. 3 Generations of the family and lots of staff camped with us plus a visit from Warren our Executive Producer to enjoy the hospitality.