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Hints and Tips

Have you got a short-cut, a time-saver, a recipe, a travel tip or little known destination (that you're willing to share), maybe something thrifty that works better than the real one...... something to perk up the environment, or even somebody's mood.  Clever, curious, calculating, bringing camaraderie to the camp-site or caravan -  here is a few that we have gathered, please send us more to help others along the way.

Fuel Tips   Money Matters   Trailer Wiring    House Proud?    Fire Starters    Tea Plunger    Tent Packing    Washing Machine     Telemarketers!    Internet Hot Spots
     Way Points      Fuel Calculator    Car trip games    Heating and cooling   Camp Kitchen   Leaky Seals   Park Reports   Repeater Stations  Tax Suggestion
Treasure Hunting   Rig Selection   Hose questions    Forums   Book Crossing  Public Toilets   Insect screens   LPG Locations   Reversing Challenge   House Sitting 
Solar charger    Judging Distance    Gloves   Limair Washing Machine    Three way fridge   Pop-top TV mount

Fuel Tips - Only Buy or fill up your vehicle in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground, the denser the fuel, when it gets warmer petrol expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening.... your litre is not exactly a litre.  In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the petrol, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products play an important role. A 1degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TIPS IS TO FILL UP WHEN YOUR TANK IS HALF FULL. The reason for this is, the more fuel you have in your tank, the less air occupying its empty space. Petrol evaporates faster than you can imagine. Petroleum storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the petrol and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation.

ANOTHER REMINDER, IF THERE IS A FUEL TRUCK PUMPING INTO THE STORAGE TANKS, WHEN YOU STOP TO BUY, DO NOT FILL UP - most likely the petrol/diesel is being stirred up as the fuel is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.

Hope, this will help you get the maximum value for your money.

Money Matters - A quick tip from Noel Whittaker.  Noel is a joint managing director of Whittaker Macnaught P/L Australian Financial Services Licensee # 246519.  Also author of a number of books like "Making Money Made Simple" and "More Making Money Made Simple"  This tip is general advice only and is published with permission.  Thanks Noel.
Grey Nomad Trap - A couple retire with $200,000 in super and enjoy living on the aged pension.  Seduced by the glowing newspaper reports on the joys of travel, they sell their $500,000 home and buy a $100,000 caravan to spend the next two years travelling around Australia. 
Their home is an exempt asset regardless of its value of its value but now is gone.  The net proceeds of $400,000 after buying the caravan are assessed by Centrelink and they loose their entire pension and all the fringe benefits that go with it.
A smarter option would have been to keep the house and rent it out, as the asset value would have remained exempt provided they were absent for a year or less.  More tips from Noel.

Here is another money tip - By travelling anti-clockwise around Australia, you can save about a tank of fuel as opposed to travelling clockwise!!  On the same note, when planning a trip across the Nullarbor, check on the direction of the prevailing winds.  Head winds cost a hell of a lot more money than a tail wind.

Trailer wiring - The following is the Australian Standard for wiring 5 and 7 pin plugs for trailer and caravans.  This may save you going through the time consuming practice of test-light trial and error.  One very important fact to remember is that it is the WHITE wire that is the earth in trailer wiring not the green or black wires.  This applies to all types of trailer plugs used in Australia.

7 Pin Plug

5 Pin Plug



Colour Pin Connection Colour

Left indicator

Yellow 1 Left indicator Yellow
2 Auxiliary or reversing light Black 2 Right indicator Green
3 Earth White 3 Stop light Red
4 Right indicator Green 4 Tail and registration plate Brown
5 Electric brakes Blue 5 Earth White
6 Stop light Red Thanks to Steve and Martin
7 Tail and registration plate Brown

There is another plug!  We have it on very good authority, that we have missed a plug.  It appears there is a large round plug which is popular in Vic.  

Large 5 and 7 Pin Plug

7 Pin


5 Pin

Please note that it is very important to follow the colour code to the pin numbers.  These numbers can be found on the back of the plug next to the brass pins where the wires screw in.  The numbers are moulded in the plastic and can be very hard to read on some brands.  

Yellow Left indicator Yellow
Black Auxiliary or reversing light  
White Earth White
Green Right indicator Green
Blue Electric brakes  
Red Brake lights Red
Brown Tail lights Brown

Extra for Flat 12 Pin Plug

Battery Charger/Electric Winch



Auxiliaries, etc / battery feed



Earth Return



Rear Fog Lamps






                              Beat the voltage drop!!

The linked diagram illustrates the circuit used to improve the performance a 3 way
fridge while operating on 12 volt.  Click here to view.  (Word Doc)
Our thanks to Phillip B. 

House-proud?    Use shade knit for flooring in or around your campsite, annexe, caravan etc.  It helps keep the dirt out.  The dirt falls through the knit, rather than collect on top and get carried with your feet into your home away from home. 

Fire starters    If you dry your used tea bags out next to your campfire overnight, they can be used as fire starters later.
Rudy from Wingello NSW uses this method but adds a little more He says "I have used them in a slightly different way by putting the dried tea bags in a sealable jar, pour in a fair bit of turps and allow to soak. Use the soaked tea bags to start your camp fire or even a slow-combustion stove at home. Works a treat."  Thanks Rudy.

Tea Plunger    Enjoy both the odd cuppa brewed tea and coffee? - use a glass coffee plunger for both jobs.  You don't need a tea strainer, the coffee plunger also brews wonderful tea from leaves (or herbals if you're into more natural brews).  By using a glass/Pyrex model, the coffee flavour isn't absorbed into your tea, nor vice versa. 

Packing your tent away    An easy way to protect your tent floor from the dirt and grass that clings to it when you pack up from the campsite - have a tarp similar in size to the floor and when you pitch the tent lay it on the tarp.  If the tarp is larger, tuck the overhang back under the tent floor allowing for pegging to the ground.  It is much easier to dry / clean the tarp than the tent, either at pack up time or later.

Washing Machine    Got a 20 litre plastic bucket with a lid that seals?  Yeah, good.  This simple item can double as a washing machine for your travels.  Throw in your soiled clothes, enough water to cover and a bit of soap powder.  Make sure the lid won't come off (duct tape is good), then securely attach your new washing machine to the table leg in your van.   Failure to seal the lid successfully will undoubtedly see the floor of the van and possibly some other 'delicates' washed as well.  The offending party (that is, he who covered the bucket) will not be able to attend "sundowners" until the mess is cleaned up!
The natural action of the van whilst being towed creates an agitating motion that will emulate the agitating motion of a more expensive electrical version.  If the washing is started for the morning run, the rinsing can be started after your first break in the same manner, adding softener/conditioner if desired and continue the days travel.  Timing is up to the supervising partner.  Or you could go to our store and check out this little beauty.

Alternatively.....not going anywhere for a while, no worries.....but be prepared before starting off on your adventure.  Duck into your local welding workshop with these instructions (or you can make your own).  "T Bar" made from 20mm X 3mm galv tube. Top of "T" to fit the wide hands of the user.  Approx 250mm.  Stem of "T" approx 600mm (so you sit while using).  A cone 150mm with a diameter (Must have a rolled edge or it will destroy your clothes)  of about 180mm length is welded to the bottom of the "T Bar", point of cone welded to the bar.  The cone must be perforated.  Suggest 10mm holes.  In the navy, we called it a "pogo stick".  Prepare your bucket, as above.  Position your seat in a comfortable spot under a tree, place the bucket of clothes, water and soap between your feet, use the pogo stick in the bucket with an up and down motion for about 10 minutes and repeat with fresh water for rinsing.  A word of warning though.  Supervision may be required if delicate items are in the bucket. Hang clothes as directed.
Ironing?  Up to you.

Sick of Telemarketers contacting you It does take a couple of months to take effect so please be patient.  There is a phone number that can give you relief.  1300 792 664 is the number for the telemarketing Authority.  Just ring and register.  Or you can register online  Takes about 6 weeks to notice a reduction in calls.  There is also a junk mail register at the same site.  Ensure you read carefully what the service will, can and won't do.

GPS way points  If you wish to program "way points" into your GPS here is a useful site to gain your Lat and Long data.  Just fill in the required info.
Any changes to the GPS system can be obtained from

Ye Olde Worlde Cardboard Fuel Consumption Calculator  Remember them?  Well here is a link to a site where you can print and make you own from an original.  Have fun.
Thanks to 'Dave' at 'Caravanners forum' for this info

Here is one for the kids.  Activities, games, etc.  Stress less!!!!!  Car trip games.  Grandpa Pencil (Robin) would also love to hear from you and receive any feedback.

Heating and cooling your van  Mrs Jean Porter writes - We have a Mazda E2000 campervan and we find that the air conditioner, as well as the heater, is not enough to cool  or heat the whole van as we are travelling.  We fitted a metal, plastic coated curtain rail (around 12mm diameter) with a spring loaded end on each end and a pair of curtains which we can close to isolate the van cab, thus making the area to cool or heat smaller.  Works a treat!  Also works in reverse at night when we are in the rear of the van - no cab to cool or heat.  Thanks Jean, sounds like an idea that is a bit cheaper than buying a commercial set up

Camp Kitchen Click here for a trip to our kitchen.  Email your recipe if you wish.  We try to keep it simple, basic and above all - fun.

Leaky van seals Try cleaning all the weather seams and painting the with undiluted "Bond Crete"  Many other theories have been around regarding leaks and how to find them.  This one seems to work a treat and at minimal cost and effort.  Not to put too finer point on the frustration.  Have not tried it out on tent seals but I cannot see any reason why it should not work.  Let us know how you go!

Australian Caravan Park Reports
Australian Caravan Park Reports  An ideal way to start your accommodation research.

Repeater Station locations  An interactive listing of all licensed Australian UHF CB repeaters, that can be searched by clicking on a location on a map, by town name or postcode, by call sign or by state. Site users can update the current operational status, and link to maps of the repeater locations are provided.  Thanks Nigel

Claiming your trip as a tax deduction Would you like to claim your WORKING HOLIDAY as a tax deduction?  You could!  But there are certain rules that you must follow without fail.  You can download a free booklet or go to Newsflash Booklets for other interesting articles produced by the accountancy firm BANTACS.  All items can be downloaded for printing later or printed straight from the site.  Keep an eye on the Seminars link as well.  There could be one in your area soon.  Thanks Julia.

Treasure Hunting  Are you a treasure hunter?  Not not gold digging or precious stone fossicking.  What about Geocaching?

Book Crossing   The charitable act of passing books onto others.  Register your book and release it into the "wild".  Or capture a book and record its capture.  Others will see that most books will travel more in their life than we do.

Some tips about rig selection  This link will take you to a very informative page from Australian Caravanning Forum.  If you are in the throes of trying to decide what to buy/use in the way of a tow vehicle, caravan, RV etc, this link could be a guide to set you on the right course to your decision.  Compiled by experience, these articles are a valuable food for thought.    Thanks to -5n00py- for publishing this information and for permission to create this link.

Hose questions?  Greg from Hose Suppliers Australia has kindly volunteered to answer questions regarding hose usage in your van or mobile home.  If you have any queries you can email Greg and he will answer within a day or so.  Greg is also a caravaner and has offered this service free, so please avail yourself to his kind offer.  Thanks Greg

Forum Information  There are a few forums out there where you can contribute to and/or gain knowledge.  Here are links to a couple of them.  Membership is required if you wish to post messages or information.  Please take the time to read membership requirements before applying to join any of the forums.  All are welcome to join

Caravanners Forum 
To those who have travelled the road as gypsies, grey nomads, or holidays makers this is a chance to share your experience and swap yarns and knowledge with others.  A chance to keep in touch with friends, families, and acquaintances both on the road and at home.

Public Toilet Map  Have you ever been in a situation where you are in need of a public toilet or a shower????  Well, if you have the time before the need is too great, this site is just what you are looking for.  The National Public Toilet Map

Insect screens  This one was passed onto us by Max at Bunnings Nerang on the Gold Coast.   Max says to buy a couple of magnets per window about the size of a 20 or 50 cent coin and some standard insect mesh.  Cut the mesh so it covers the window of your vehicle.  Allow some overlap.  Using a hot melt glue stick the magnets to each corner of the mesh so that the magnets attach to your vehicle and the mesh stretches over the window.  Now when you stop for a breather and leave your windows down, the flies will have a difficult time getting in to annoy you.  When you are on the move, these screens just screw up to a tiny pack to be placed anywhere they are handy but out of the way.  If you concerned about the magnets marking your car, you can still glue some felt on them.  Thanks Max

LPG Locations around the country.  Do you run on LPG?  Need to plan a trip and want to know where you can get fuel?  This link will take you to a trip planning site where you can do just that.  A Waypoints page can be found here.   Thanks Col

Reversing Challenge  Help Pépère reverse his caravan into the parking space between the coconut trees.  Read the instruction first!!  My first attempt was 1m 9sec.  Not as easy as it looks.  Go to game

House Sitters  A 100% Australian owned house sitting database dedicated exclusively for Australian & New Zealand house sitting jobs. If you're a homeowner looking for someone to care for your house please scroll the 'Sitters Available' in the Aussie House Sitters menu for FREE and contact them directly. 
Home owners! Are you planning on being away from your house for a period of time in the future? If you are, then there is no better way for you to gain peace of mind than by having a house sitter care for your home, garden, pets while you are away.
House sitters! Are you sick of paying rent? Want to save for that something special? Need a change of scenery? Want to open your heart by giving love to someone's pets and/or gardens? If so, then house sitting is definitely for you.

Digital camera battery charger
The next two tips sent by John (Redgum).  This first tip gives a new use to the solar garden light.  John and his wife found that these lights charge AA batteries similar to those used in their camera. Now when they go camping, John places three of the small solar panels on the dash of his car and they charge while travelling.  John does warn though if you are not using them, make sure you take the batteries out as they will light up at night and you'll have flat batteries in the morning!  To stay safe, when you get home, put the light back together, place it back in the garden where it came from and leave well alone - until next time.  Thanks John.  That is a good idea.

Judging Distance

I know this is known by most people but this idea is so good it needs to be repeated.
Tailgating is an ever growing problem and this idea solves it and you can keep yourself active at the same time, especially on a long trip.
When you are travelling on any road and you have a car in front of you the correct distance is worked out by this method. 
As the car in front of you passes a sign, tree, tin can on side of road (anything will do) you start to say "thousand and one,  thousand and two, thousand and three, and if  you pass that object as you say "thousand and three"  you will be the correct distance from the other car.  If you want to be certain you could say "thousand and four"  to  be on the safe side.  This idea works at any speed. 

Uses for gloves
Always take gardening gloves to use when collecting fire wood and you wont have to worry about spider- insect bites, when you pick up a piece of wood that is home to something.  Use welding gloves for removing camp ovens off the camp fire.  Thanks to Robyn and John, Park Managers Eastern Beach Tourist Park Lakes Entrance Vic

Limair Washing Machine
Have you had problems with the washer draining itself?, try this idea it works for me.
Attach a length of 40 mm PVC pipe to the back of machine, [ cut pipe about the same length a the height of the machine, attach to one end a 90 degree bend, then attach a 25mm  reducer to the bend add a very small length of 25mm pipe [50mm's]  to the reducer finally ad to the small length of 25mm pipe, a 25mm joiner. You are now able to insert your existing 25mm  flexible waste hose to it.
Insert the machine hose into the top of the 40mm and away you go.
Guaranteed not to siphon the water out of your washing machine.
Material required:-
530mm  40mmPVC pipe
50mm    25mmPVC pipe
1  x  90o bend PVC
1  x  25mm reducer
2  x  brackets 
We have been travelling for eight years, we have worn out 2 4WD, one caravan and one Lemair washing machine but we have only seen a very small part of this great land of ours.     I hope this idea works for you.  Bob Shepherd  Thanks Bob

Cooling Three Way Fridges
From my own experience and from listening to other grey nomads (or free radicals, as my beloved prefers to call us) I find many travellers have trouble getting their three way 'fridges to cool properly.
When investigating my own and most others it is apparent why.  Most van and motor home builders just put the 'fridge into a box built into the van. It looks OK from inside but the poor 'fridge is circulating its own heat from the absorber around itself.

My answer was to make up a sort of barrier between the 'fridge itself and the inside of the box using cardboard at a depth of about 30mm from the back of the 'fridge. This space was then filled with expanding foam. This seals off the back of the fridge, where all the hot bits are, from the cold bit in front. This alone made a big difference to the efficiency of the fridge. Adding a thermostatically controlled fan (available from most caravan/RV stores and fitting it to the upper louver vent to suck out the hot air really put the cream on the cake.It works like it should now. In fact I had to turn it to a much lower setting to prevent it freezing everything in the 'Fridge.

Thanks for that info Tony

Fixing your TV in a Pop-top 
Guest, John K sent this tip in

I have come across several caravanners who have difficulty in positioning their LCD televisions. With a pop-top it is not convenient to fix it to the wall in such a place that the roof can be lowered. However, all is not lost.

I purchased a LCD Wall Support TV mounting bracket from Jaycar for $ 39.99.
The item number is CW 2814.
The feature of this is that the base is fastened to the wall and the TV is attached by a removeable bracket to the four mounting screws at the rear of the TV at 75 mm centres [ which most LCD tv's have] When travelling the TV can be removed quite easily for stowing. Also the bracket can be adjusted to angle down which most LCD's require to obtain straight on viewing.
Saves valuable space on bench top etc

The 'fixed' screw undoes and allows the tv to be removed for safe travel also to allow the roof to be lowered. The base remains attached to the tv.

The 'rotate base' is spherical and so allows the tv to be angled down. This necessary in our case as the tv is on the top of the raised refrigerator and needs to be angled down for clear viewing.

Thanks John K




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