A Hybrid Caravan gives you access to so many places you’d never dream of taking a full sized van, but at the same time there’s a whole realm of difficulties associated with pushing one further and further off the beaten track, as we were recently reminded of, and I couldn’t help but feel that Hybrid Caravans can get you into trouble really quickly.
After leaving the beautiful Frys Flat Campground, we headed to Wangaratta to do the usual fill and replenish run, and then out towards a campground that we’d found that looked promising called Reedy Creek.
Our intention was to base ourselves here for 4 nights, whilst we checked out Beechworth, Myrtleford, Mt Buffalo and Bright.
This area has a whole heap of camp sites along the creek, and it didn’t take long to find a few, which I turned my nose up at, having come from some of the best camping in Australia the day before.
However, I found a fairly substantial 4WD track that I walked down which led to a beautiful part of the creek, and thought fairly quickly that we’d be OK getting our hybrid caravan down. Famous last words, eh?!
Going downhill is always easier, and we made it down the first section without too much of a hassle, although the camper did fall into a big wash out which I was trying to avoid, and I saw it scrape the side, and later found that it had broken the rear stabiliser plastic where you pull it out, so now it matches the other side that we knocked off on the way to Magic Pool in the Pilbara.
When I got to the section where I thought we’d turn around if we had any issues, I realised that it was going to be a major struggle to do the 90 degree turn to the right, and then a 90 degree turn straight after, to go down the easier part of track.
Not to perturbed, I pushed down the track to the right, which was much worse, with big holes tree roots and a couple of trees hanging out on either side.
Thankfully, we arrive at the bottom, next to the beautiful creek, and I’m relieved. Sarah hops out, and we chat about where to set up, and some of the confidence I’d built up wains away. She points out we’d be camping right underneath a gum tree, or blocking the track, and we decide to move on, after lunch.
I head off in search of a better way out, and with the 4WD only we’d have been OK, but I find a couple of big rocks that look sketchy as, and decide to go out the same way we came down.
That’s fine, except that going uphill is much harder, especially when you weigh over 5 tonnes fully loaded. I make a bit of a game plan, and we make it up the first step with relative ease.
At the corner though, I face the same issue; zero chance we’re making it around, so I try and push up a very off camber section, only to get the camper trailer roof within about 5 cm of a big tree, and I back out, feeling stressed.
After some discussions with Sarah, who does an awesome job considering her limited exposure with spotting, we manage to jiggle the camper back and forth and make it around the first corner. I even put it in 2WD a couple of times to try and turn sharper, which fails miserably with the rear tyres just spinning and making it worse.
We finally get around the corner, with another tree awfully close to our camper door, and me having to get out a few times to double check, and then we’ve got one last obstacle; the big, washed away section that the camper fell into on the way down, except this time the lower part of the camper where the door hangs down is much more likely to cop a big hit.
I briefly consider trying to straddle the rut, and whilst it would work for the 4WD I knew there was a good chance that the trailer would be 30cm across and would fall right into it, which would make it lean into a tree and cause other issues, so I decide to creep along the edge of it, like we did on the way out.
Surprisingly, this works fairly well, until the rear left of the Dmax goes into a hole, at the same time that the camper does, and I feel all 4 wheels scrabbling for traction as we slide towards the wash out.
I back out a small amount, and go for it, knowing momentum is the only thing going to work now. With a whole lot of rocking and bouncing, both the Dmax and camper pop out, and I catch a look of terror on my wife’s face as I drive past.
We’re out, but both exhausted, tired and still without a place to camp for the night!
So, just because you have a hugely increased amount of access, doesn’t mean it always comes easy, or that its worth pushing the friendship for. We got lucky with no real damage, but it could have easily been much worse.
As it turned out, this was just the beginning of a long afternoon, after moving to Nug Nug Reserve and our youngest getting stung by a wasp, or bitten by an ant, so we packed up and moved again to another camp site, finally arriving at just before 5PM, which is well past our normal arrival time, and after spending the better part of the day in the car.
Oh well, these things happen, and we look back and chuckle about it now. Have you pushed your Hybrid Caravans friendship a little too far as well?!
I said to Sarah if we had a full size van we’d never have attempted this, but a Hybrid certainly allows you more options, to get yourself into more trouble. Kind of like lockers on a 4WD, eh?!