During this year’s Easter break, my wife Meredyth and I, and my ‘middle’ sister Kerry, experienced the pleasure of motorhoming in a couple of fully self-contained ex-rentals supplied by Braybrook-based RV Sales Centre — a Victorian rental/sales division of global tourism operator THL.
The better half and I had a 7.67m (25ft 2in) Jayco Traveller 6-Berth at our disposal; call it indulgent overkill. And Kerry was pampered with a 6.4m (21ft) KEA Discovery 4-Berth. (I'd arranged this motorhome as a 50th birthday surprise for my 'skin and blister'.)
It was our annual Shepparton sojourn — along with a contingent of eight families — for a grass court tennis tournament. We camped, as usual, at the picturesque natural bush setting of Victoria Lake Holiday Park along the banks of the Goulburn River.
A love match
It was a ‘baptism of fire’ for Kerry, who not only was a first-time motorhomer but also had to fly solo as her husband, Peter (“Butts”), was sadly a late scratching.
However — and I’m not reverting to family nepotism — she helmed the Discovery with aplomb and, even more pleasingly, found the motorhome exceedingly user-friendly. (I don’t want her to receive all the kudos, so I’ll intervene with a little sibling rivalry and add that this lightweight RV’s 3645kg GVM did help her cause.)
And I did hear her say, on more than one occasion, that it was much easier than setting up a tent or camper trailer — and more comfortable to boot! Kerry took to all aspects of the Discovery, including the effortless deployment of the awning, like a duck takes to water. Consequently, she’s become a genuine RVing convert!
The 2016 Discovery (with approximately 36,000km on the odometer) is powered by a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter base vehicle with a 2.2L four-cylinder turbodiesel engine and five-speed automatic gearbox. And it’s got plenty of grunt, with maximum power of 110kW @ 3800rpm and maximum torque of 330Nm @1200-2400rpm. Kerry found it a dream to drive.
Being on a powered site, and with town water at the ready, capacities really didn’t come into play. But just for the record, the Discovery boasts 100L of fresh water and 100L of grey water, 140W of solar power, and a 100Ah deep cycle battery.
Serve and volley
Assigned the cooking duties (I’m told she had no choice), Kerry was impressed with the kitchen appliances which made meal preparation a piece of cake for whetting her hungry clan’s insatiable appetites — yes, all four daughters plus boyfriends! Fortunately, at her beck and call were galley mod cons including a Dometic CU402P cooktop and grill, and a Tiffany microwave.
She did say that a larger fridge would have been more convenient. A 60L Isotherm was the order of the day; hence, coming off the ‘interchange bench’ was her trusty Esky — well stocked with Vodka Cruisers!
One also needs plenty of internal storage for when the ‘great white sharks’ circle, and Kerry commented that her veritable mountain of food supplies (which rapidly dwindled during the week) were easily accommodated by a myriad of cupboards and slide-out drawers.
But the highlight for Kerry was the Discovery’s innovative bedding configuration. She opted for the generous electric drop-down bed (1.4m x 2m) above the U-shaped rear lounge, and got plenty of shut-eye sans her hubby. (Now listen here Butts, I’m not suggesting your snoring is an issue.) Additionally, the rear lounge (with wraparound scenic views provided by panoramic windows) converts to a double bed (1.5m x 2.1m). And for once, she didn’t have to rely solely on the park amenities, with a shower/toilet combo on board.
Points won at the net
Perhaps the only thing the Discovery didn’t have was a washing machine… And that was exacerbated by our slipshod camp rules stipulating ‘each to their own’ with sweaty tennis dresses, shorts, shirts and socks etc. Honestly, such a lax policy was never going to cut the mustard - or get the laundry done!
This model also came with a few fitted options including a Webasto diesel heater, nudge bar and light bar, and bike rack. Kerry welcomed the heating on a couple of colder than normal nights (well, she didn’t have hubby to snuggle up to; not that she was complaining), and being a keen cyclist, the bike rack was an added bonus.
Kerry also appreciated the convenience of an external hatch, which was ideal for stowing camping chairs and the like.
Built exclusively by Action Manufacturing in New Zealand, the tested KEA Discovery 4-Berth is $124,990 as shown, and without options starts from $98,990 driveaway.
Grass court king
Meanwhile, Meredyth (“Mez” as she’s affectionately known) and I were enraptured with the Jayco Traveller which, is somewhat a clone of the Jayco Conquest.
The Jayco Traveller is a real Adonis — an absolute charmer! It stood out to the madding crowd in the park, and my wife was arguably its greatest admirer.
Meredyth has accompanied me on several CW assignments and I feel she’s quite qualified to comment, at least from an enthusiast perspective, on the Traveller.
She loved its interior functionality — particularly the emphasis on cuisine. And that’s why she gravitated towards the kitchen (although the rear fixed bed came in a close second).
Mez is a self-confessed MasterChef aficionado and rates her culinary skills, so she was in seventh heaven with this RV’s galley setup. It has a requisite cooktop/grill and microwave, plus two pantries — a spacious cupboard arrangement above the 150L Dometic fridge (which also got her tick of approval) and a three-tier slide-out version adjacent to the cooktop.
In fact, Mez was tickled pink with all of the internal storage throughout which included additional cupboard space near the entry door and a wardrobe (adjacent to the fridge) perfect for storing towels, shirts, etc. There’s even more storage below for footwear.
She also liked the convenience of a separate shower and toilet, and the bathroom layout in general which also comprised a space-saving fold-down basin and mirrored cabinet.
So, what didn’t she like? Only that the microwave is mounted too high and the walk-through to the boudoir is a tad tight.
Now, if I can get a word in (also not usually the case at home), I’m basically impressed with the whole kit and caboodle.
Internally, the Traveller also has a tastefully appointed cafe dinette located behind the driver’s seat, with a battery/water tank monitor plus Fusion entertainment system mounted below the overhead cupboards in this area. And when the dinette is converted to another double bed (1.85m x 0.97m / 6ft 1in x 3ft 2in), it complements the rear fixed (1.98m x 1.3m / 6ft 6in x 4ft 3in) and luton peak (2.1m x 1.19m / 6ft 10in x 3ft 11in) double bed counterparts.
Externally, the Traveller has commodious dual rear hatches. I had everything but the kitchen sink in one, while the other reveals twin 9kg gas cylinders.
We also utilised the fold-down picnic table for watching the ‘idiot box’, and with plenty of AFL matches scheduled over Easter, our site was a hive of activity for the lounge lizards. (And it’s a miracle my treasured Collingwood scarf, draped proudly over an arm of the 12V awning, survived the week.)
Centre court action
So, what didn’t I like? Well, to state the bleeding obvious, reluctantly returning this polished motorhome to RV Sales Centre.
The 2017 Traveller (with approximately 62,000km on the odometer) is powered by a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 513CDI base vehicle with a 2.2L turbodiesel engine and seven-speed automatic gearbox. And it’s got sufficient oomph, with maximum power of 95kW @ 3800rpm and maximum torque of 360Nm @ 1200-2400rpm. I’m impressed with its get-up-and-go, and manoeuvrability.
We also were on a powered site, so the capacities were purely academic. But here we go: fresh water (75L), grey water (80L), solar (80W) and battery (100Ah).
Footnote: Along the way home, we called in to the charming and quaint Yea Riverside Caravan Park, located on the banks of the picturesque Yea River, before some additional touring through the Murrindindi Shire. It proved the perfect opportunity for our ever-diligent senior video director and photographer extraordinaire, Anna Shepherd, to add to the ‘Easter album’.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Our motley crew didn't enjoy much success on the hallowed turf of Shepparton Lawn Tennis Club - albeit Kerry and her partner Simone reached two women’s doubles finals.
But the real winners were the Jayco Traveller and KEA Discovery which piqued the curiosity of numerous holidaymakers in the park.
Needless to say, both served up an ace (if you’ll excuse the pun) in style, serviceability and solidity. And the latest news for the boys at RV Sales Centre is that Kerry keeps harassing yours truly to ‘place an order’ for Easter 2020.
I do love my sister (and the other two for that matter), so watch this space...
KEA DISCOVERY 4-BERTH
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 6.4m (21ft)
External width 2.2m (7ft 3in)
Travel height 3m (9ft 10in)
Internal height 2.06m (6ft 9in)
Bed size Drop-down bed 1.4 x 2m (4ft 7in x 6ft 7in); Lounge/rear bed 1.5m x 2.1m (4ft 11in x 6ft 9in)
Base vehicle Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Engine 2.2L four-cylinder turbodiesel
Gearbox Five-speed automatic
Max power 110kW @ 3800rpm Max torque 330Nm @ 1200-2400rpm
Brakes Vented disc with ABS
Fresh water 100L
Grey water 100L
Solar 1 x 140W
Air-conditioner Aircommand Sparrow
Gas 1 x 9kg
Cooking Dometic CU402P cooktop/grill
Fridge Isotherm 60L
Washing machine No
Batteries 1 x 100Ah deep cycle
Lighting LED 12V
Hot water Gas heated, pressurised
Webasto diesel heater; nudge bar and light bar; bike rack
PRICE AS SHOWN
NB. Without options - starting from $98,990 (driveaway)
RV Sales Centre
(03) 8398 8848
JAYCO TRAVELLER 6-BERTH
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 7.67m (25ft 2in)
External width 2.4m (7ft 10in)
Travel height 3.19m (10ft 6in)
Internal height 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Bed size Rear bed 1.98m x 1.3m (6ft 6in x 4ft 3in); Dinette bed 1.85m x 0.97m (6ft 1in x 3ft 2in); Luton bed 2.1m x 1.19m (6ft 10in x 3ft 11in)
Base vehicle Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 513CDI
Engine 2.2L turbodiesel
Gearbox Seven-speed automatic
Max power 95kW @ 3800rpm
Max torque 360Nm @ 1200-2400rpm
Fresh water 75L
Grey water 80L
Solar 1 x 80W
Gas 2 x 9kg
Cooking Dometic CU402PE cooktop/grill
Fridge Dometic RM2555 150L
Microwave Sphere 900W
Shower Fibreglass cubicle
Washing machine No
Hot water 23L Suburban gas/electric
Lighting LED 12V
Price as SHOWN
RV Sales Centre
2/9 Ashley St, Braybrook
Ph: (03) 8398 8848