Carol & I were chuffed to say the least
being asked once again to be involved in judging Campertrailer Australia
magazine's Off Road Camper of the Year Awards for the third time which was
held in the Victorian High Country. We were also looking forward
to some 4wding & of course checking out that fantastic mountain scenery. With fifteen competitors camper trailers all up,
it was decided to break the convoy into two, three day trips as not to
inconvenience any oncoming vehicles along the narrow mountain trails. On top
of that there were the camera crew's vehicles, the judges, plus our camper.
We met at Porepunkah on the Great Alpine
Road, not far from Bright in the Victorian High Country. From there it was
an easy run along Selwyn Creek Road to our first overnight stop at
Beveridges Station. From there on the second day, it was a climb to Mount
Murray via the Twin Jeep Trail & then out onto a faster dirt run to Talbotville via the Dargo High Plains Road & the narrow & steep McMillian Road. By the end of
day three we had made our way to the final destination at the Dargo Pub.
Between the driving there was plenty of
judging going on as well as still photography for Campertrailer Australia
magazine's camper of the year edition & also video shooting. While
the convoy waited on the road side, the camera crews drove ahead to find a
suitable location to get those perfect shots. After they had set up they
would give us a call on the UHF so we could come through. There was a
program to follow so while one camper was having stills taken, another had
video taken setting up & we were videoed judging another. We didn't have
much time to relax over the six days, it was all go from morning till night.
The video guys just didn't stop. After the days shooting they reviewed
footage to make sure it was all good, then were lulled to sleep by the sound
of the generator recharging batteries for the next day.
There was a five criteria score card set
to judge all the campers by. These were off road performance, bushability, family friendliness, comforts & value. Each judge gave a score
out of ten for each criteria. We didn't know how each other had scored as
these were emailed to Carlisle Rogers editor of the magazine after we had
arrived home, however you can see in the camper awards issue the judges
points were close, as was the competition. The manufacturers set a
very high standard again this year. It was pleasing to see comments
made by the judging panel last year were taken onboard & modifications made to
improve an already incredible product.
The first convoy consisted of two price
categories, the $35K+ made up with Aussie Swag Ultra D, Australian Off Road Odyssey
Export Signature with the High Country Pack, Travelander Geo Convert 2 & the
Track Trailer Tvan Murranji while the Vista RV Crossover, Conqueror UEV 490
& the Complete Campsite Exodus 14 made up the Hybrids.
On the forth morning it was up at three for camera crew
& judges to drive from Dargo back to Porepunkah to start the trip all over
again with the next two price categories. The $15-25K were made up with the
Stockman Pod Kwik Kamper, Challenge Meridian Walk-in & Johnno's Evolution
while the Southern Cross Bush Boss, Follow Me Campers Fitzroy, Mountain
Trail Expedition, Trackabout Safari SV Dakar Series & the All Terrain 17ft
Full Offroad made up the $25-35K. The same course was followed ending
at the Dargo Pub once more.
We couldn't believe the number of perfect grassy
campsites we passed, however these were noted for a return visit at some
stage at our own leisure. The scenery was mind blowing, especially the white
tree skeletons above the new green growth, the result of the huge bushfires
that had ravaged the region. What a treat it was coming around a mountain
trail & catching a glimpse of Mount Selwyn in the distance with snow on its
peak. We both enjoyed the narrow steep mountain trails winding their way
through the magnificent high country scenery. We didn't enjoy the
pea-soup thick fog that was encountered driving back up the mountain to
Porepunkah at three in the morning to pick up the second convoy, that slowed
driving down to twenty kilometres an hour. We were glad it lifted as we
drove across Dargo High Plains, but then we had wombats to contend with.
Details of the campers & winners can be seen in
Campertrailer Australia magazine issue 49.
After a totally exhausting six days mentally &
physically, we spend a few days exploring the surrounds at Eden on the NSW
South Coast with early nights & sleep ins. We are both looking forward to
next years awards & can only guess to what the camper trailer manufacturers
will come up with to beat the competition.