new home away
An outside view of the author and his wife’s new Vortex Black Edition caravan.

New home away from home

new home away
View from the kitchen through to the bed.
new home away
Fantastic ensuite area with a toilet, shower and hidden 3.5kg washing machine.
Check out the room for surfboards. The top hatch could make a nice rod locker.
A good look at the independent suspension.
The author just got this beast from SAW Surf Designs to take on the trip around Australia.

MUCH needed rain flushed out many of our local creeks and river systems, which means mud crabs, and a few monsters turned up in the Noosa River system – fantastic!

Yes, after decent rain the land responded with a carpet of greenery, and soon it will be time to break out the camping gear in the form of our new home away from home and take advantage of the fantastic scenery available around our southeast coastal region.

What makes things even more exciting is Tonia and I recently bought one of our most important investments: a brand-new On The Move Caravan, so we can’t wait for travel restrictions to ease. Years of research and travelling to camping and caravan shows throughout the southeast region have at times left us a little down-hearted with what was on the market.

One word that springs to mind with this whole experience is compromise. I’ve heard the words “If you want this, you can’t have this” so many times. It’s all about compromise.new home away

I suppose this story begins with Tonia and me enjoying a coffee at Coolum after an early morning surf. Our son Garrett called to see if we were interested in meeting him at Nambour for a caravan and camping show. We never pass up an opportunity to catch up, especially with the chance of seeing three of our grandchildren.

What we didn’t expect that day was to run into Kevin Pole’s business Caravan HQ, and it was here we viewed the debut of a new model from On The Move Caravans called the Vortex Black Edition 17’6” Off Road. I can still remember seeing this van for the first time. It felt as if someone had stolen our wish list of wants and manufactured a product customised to our personal requirements.new home away

As the manufacturer says, it is tough, compact, solid and sexy. There is no better way to describe this beast. Walking inside, you do a double take because the interior is so beautifully designed, with every inch of space skilfully used to create the feeling of a luxury van much bigger than its actual size.

The interior designing talents of Jennifer Mifsud have created what I would call the perfect living space. I still can’t get my head around the toughness and practicality of this van as an off-roader combined with the softness and style of the inside.new home away

Overall weight and manoeuvrability of any potential van has always been at the forefront of our considerations. A realistic working relationship between our tow vehicle and the caravan would need to assist us in overcoming any obstacles we encounter during our travels and allow us to access places a little farther off the beaten track. In today’s economic climate, fuel consumption also came into the equation, so scaling down made good sense.

Over the past four years Tonia and I have become very content with living in a quiet environment far away from the madding crowds, so having a van capable of being off the grid for extended windows was another major requirement. This brings me to another important person in the manufacturing process of the Vortex Black Edition: Jennifer’s husband and co-owner of On The Move Caravans Lennie Mifsud.new home away

Lennie’s background as an auto electrician supported creation of a van with outstanding and well-chosen electrical features. For example, the three 150W solar panels supply two 100A lithium deep-cycle batteries, which is only the starting point to supplying a range of LED lights and well-appointed appliances to make living off the grid easy.

An LCD display situated near the front entrance shows water and power levels at a glance and provides a constant reminder of where the rig’s level of sustainability is. A good-sized 188-litre fridge, oven, grill and cooker with rangehood, microwave and washing machine are all here to provide the comforts needed for extended periods of travel. 

The van has two 110-litre water tanks as well as a 110-litre grey water tank. The internal shower is the biggest I’ve seen and the van also has the standard feature of an outside handheld shower at the rear, which is perfect for washing down after an early morning surf or evening fishing session on the beach.new home away

While talking of comfortable travelling, this van is also fitted with a new Dometic Dust Reduction System to pressurise the inside of the van, keeping the red dust outside while we travel the stock routes around central Australia. It’s a pleasure I’m looking forward to after reminiscing on past adventures using our camper trailer over those very same routes. The fine dust finds its way into everything, including your bed. It soon becomes an unwelcome part of your everyday existence.new home away 

We’re so pleased with the storage options included in this van, with plenty of lockable spaces capable of carrying sizeable items and even surfboards. A large checker-plate toolbox sits on the A-frame, and two tunnel lockers are situated at the front of the van.new home away

One of these tunnels will contain a slide-out outside kitchen so we can take advantage of cooking under starry skies. The smaller locker above it will make a brilliant rod locker.

This adventure van offers so many options. I was interested to know what features had captured Tonia’s eye and why she was so excited to make this purchase. I had an idea it wouldn’t be the chassis build or 2.8-tonne independent TuffRide suspension and airbags.new home away 

She was simply overwhelmed by the way this van presented. She too has been looking at vans for years and continually commenting as we pass travellers on the highway. For her, the Vortex Black Edition just had an incredible ‘wow’ factor and the finish and detail inside and out were simply special. I can’t argue with those comments.new home away

Attention to detail makes all the difference to the end result of a product and On The Move has taken a fastidious attitude to every last component, including the hinges and locks on cupboards. Everything has been taken into consideration when it comes to durability and longevity.

It’s a philosophy that brings peace of mind, especially when buying an off-road caravan. I mentioned the lock-up spaces for storage and room for carrying a few surfboards. I’d like to say a big thanks to Steve Walkinshaw from SAW Surf Designs in Maroochydore for creating another board for me to use while we visit the many legendary breaks along our Australian coastline.

It seems a pattern is emerging of travelling with quality, especially with the purchase of the Vortex Black Edition caravan. A big thanks to Kevin Pole from Caravan HQ for assisting us in achieving our dreams. Kevin is a Queensland dealer for On The Move Caravans and based in Yatala. Give Kevin a call on 0450 690 166 if you’re looking for a serious off-road caravan and let him know you read about the Vortex Black Edition in my column in Bush ‘n Beach Fishing magazine. new home away

I’m looking forward to putting this van to the test as soon as we’re able. The plan is to travel around for 12 months, or who knows, maybe even longer as we explore and cover Australia. Either way we’ll continue to share our new home away from home adventures along the way.

Cheers, Chief.

About Paul 'Chief' Graveson

Paul 'Chief' Graveson

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