Ken and Sylvia Pilkington, my next door neighbours at the Walkamin Central Van Park on the Atherton Tableland, Far North Queensland, are a long way from what used to be their home in Christies Beach, south of Adelaide.
Since they became full-time travellers in 2011 they have seen a lot of Australia in their lovely custom-built Traveller Obsession.
Sylvia was a laboratory assistant in an orchid tissue culture lab and Ken was a computer systems administrator before they retired in 2003.
They bought an old secondhand caravan in the 1980s to see if they liked caravanning. They must have liked the lifestyle as they kept that van for 20 years, using it for weekends and holidays with their two daughters.
Even though they are on the road all year now, they still manage to have family reunions for special events – a recent event was when one of their daughters flew up to spend some time with them at Fishery Falls near Cairns.
Now on their fourth van (this is their second Traveller caravan), they knew exactly what they wanted when they went to Northland Caravans in Adelaide to order their new Traveller. Even though it was quite a bit more expensive, they ordered an aluminium chassis to keep the Tare weight down and give them a greater payload.
In fact, they have an incredible 960kg of allowable payload and a lengthened A-frame to allow a toolbox to be mounted there. Ken has a towball scale to make sure they stay within the limit of 350kg, with a measured towball weight of 280kg.
The van measures 23ft 6in, and although this is quite long it is much lighter than most vans of that length.
JUST FOR TWO
The van is built for just two people but they share it with Poppet, a little cat that was abandoned by its owners in a caravan park at Ararat, Vic. Puss likes the van and seldom ventures outside. (There are lots of disused ‘poppets’ from mining days in Ararat in case you are wondering where puss got her name.)
What impressed me most when I first visited their van were the two swivelling recliner chairs – absolute comfort! To say I was envious would be an understatement.
Here are some of Ken and Sylvia’s modifications that make their van ideal for their full-time travelling…
- Vantec caravan protection;
- Swivelling recliner chairs;
- Corner shelf for Ken’s computer;
- Large toolbox on the A-frame;
- Longer A-frame to take the toolbox;
- Small toolbox at the back;
- Aluminium chassis for lightness and more payload – a staggering 960kg;
- Two feet of extra length were added to the basic van and the cabinetry was redesigned to provide larger cupboards, an extra wardrobe and a microwave under the kitchen bench;
- A drop-down table on the nearside;
- Many extra double powerpoints, with a total of 16 inside the van;
- Three 12V power points;
- Special wiring for TV, sound system and media player connections;
- Full annexe for the cooler weather with plastic clears able to be zipped onto the flyscreen windows to keep out the rain and let the sun shine in;
- Upgraded battery management system; and
- Many other extras that are standard for Traveller caravans.