HOW MODERN TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED THE WAY WE TRAVEL
The 1970s. Most outback highways had yet to be sealed. To explore the Red Centre or Top End meant towing overloaded caravans along red, corrugated tracks with overloaded HQ Holdens and XY Falcons. Back then, tourers were a split radiator hose away from potential disaster. Back then, they either had the spare parts and tools to cover most scenarios, and knew how to use them, or faced serious problems. The outback and other remote areas, such as Far North Queensland, remain at the top of most touring wishlists, but they are no longer Australia’s unreachable final frontier.
THE TWO ‘Cs’
Ultimately, modern technology has given vanners two ‘Cs’: confidence and comfort.
When it comes to on-the-road confidence, mobile communication is the big one. Not only does it save lives, it has given countless caravanners the peace of mind to travel to places that would’ve otherwise remained a dream. A satellite phone in the glovebox will do wonders for the resting heart rate in the outback.
The caravans of today also play a role. Caravans that are purpose-built for long-term travel, with technical features that enhance off-grid touring, have significantly increased both the confidence and comfort factors. In fact, many people have been swayed to the RV lifestyle based on technology alone.
Running short of tank water? Just as well the van can draw water from a river so that you can still wash your dishes or have a shower.
Can’t do without your hair-dryer in the bush? That’s where lithium batteries come in. When it comes to comfortable free-camping, the advent of lithium batteries – which remain quite expensive – has been a game-changer. Not only do they weigh significantly less than their conventional deepcycle counterparts, they can be routinely discharged to 20 per cent and re-charged much faster, whether by solar panels, a generator or off the tow vehicle during transit. Fancy also using your 240V toaster or washing machine 100km away from the nearest mains outlet? Via an inverter, a lithium battery makes this a much more realistic option compared to a single 100Ah AGM battery, which should never be discharged further than 50 per cent.
A THIRD ‘C’?
Perhaps, however, there is a third ‘C’ factor: convenience. When was the last time you unfurled a paper map for directions? Why would you, when you can simply type your destination into a GPS and let a robotic voice tell you when to turn left, right or take the third exit at the next roundabout?
And how does controlling each electrical function of your caravan (even an electric jockey wheel!) by a single app on your tablet or smartphone sound? What some might call the ‘hard work’ of caravanning and camping can be reduced to the push of a button on a glass screen. This is the age we live in.
More than anything or anyone else, modern technology has opened remote Australia to the masses, and that includes the technology involved in creating stronger and more suitable RV components, from independent coil suspension, to offroad couplings, fridges, air-conditioners and more.
That failed radiator hose which decades ago might’ve had fatal consequences is now, for the most part, a mere nuisance. But it all comes with a warning. In their rush to adopt certain technologies, many RV owners have become reliant on them, taking comfort in microchips and telecommunication signals, unprepared to cope should they find themselves on the side of a remote track with a frazzled satellite phone and an overheated engine. That said, the 21st century remains an interesting time to be an RVer – what technology comes next, where it will lead us and how it will further enhance the RV lifestyle, is a journey almost as exciting as any trip to the outback.
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