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To Cape Otway by Dove

December 01, 2004

An easy going camper trailer

The Jayco Dove CamperIf good things come in small packages, then the Dove camper trailer is a good thing indeed.

But it is a surprise package from caravan industry leader Jayco and small it is not with the roof raised and the twin double beds extended.

The good looking camper trailer more than did the job with its wind cheating drop top and good suspension over more than 535 km of touring from Melbourne, through Victorias Otway Ranges and return along the spectacular Great Ocean Road.

This is an easy to know and tow concept. Everything is handy from the roomy, accessible camper boot through well placed connections for electrics and water to the cooking and dining layout. Buckets of practical thought shows in the design. Everything is in reach and it all does the job well.

We chose Bimbi Park, Cape Otway at $18 (off peak) a powered site a night as our destination. It is one of the Family Parks chain and it should be called Bird Song. Never have we heard so many happy feathered friends sing their hearts out.

We will take a good tape recorder next visit and add their stress busting chorus to our suburban home.

Shayne Neal from The Cape Otway Centre for Conservation Ecology with a wallaby friend called Forest.There are koalas too and it was mating season, so while those sounds were also natural the challenge grunts of the males gives a clear idea that the Bunyip is about to get you.

Add to that the mad cackle of a colony of Kookaburras at dawn and it is a wonder the early settlers stayed at all. The local wildlife at the nearby Cape Otway Centre for Conservation Ecology includes tiger quolls, gliders, possums, wallabies, kangaroos, pottoroos, wedge tailed eagles, king parrots, yellow tailed black cockatoos, blue winged parrots and a legion of small bush birds that include fantails, yellow robins and blue wrens.

Cape Otway Lighthouse is heritage listed. Built in 1848 on a wreck strewn coast, it is the oldest in mainland Australia. The surrounding pristine National Park includes interesting walks, a variety of beaches, waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife. We took the quick long way to Cape Otway on local advice. Yes, it was quicker by about an hour compared to the run home via Lorne and Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road.

From our Melbourne suburb of Ringwood East start point the trip planner says 273.32 km and 3 hrs. 33 min run time on the C155 outbound option to the Cape Otway Lighthouse Road turnoff.

We took 4 hrs 21 min, with a stop for fuel outside Geelong. This includes the narrow, winding 7 km of good bitumen road through the National Park and the short dirt section of Manna Gum Drive to Bimbi Park which is 27 km west of Apollo Bay.

Cape Otway Lighthouse Tourist Road winds through the National ParkThe return trip on B100, the Great Ocean Road, via Apollo Bay, Lorne, and the Anglesea Rd. through the Waurn Ponds roundabout is 262 km. Run time is trip planned at 3 hrs 32 min. We took 5 hrs 18 min with stops to see the sights on this spectacular drive which now has an 80 kmh maximum posted for the Apollo Bay to Aireys Inlet section.

In our opinion 80 kmh is definitely the upper limit for safe towing on this amazing switchback road with its many sudden climbs out of creek and river gullies.

Yes, the Great Ocean Road is a great engineering feat and one of the worlds great ocean drives, but by its nature it demands respect and too much speed will certainly get you into trouble.

Touring is about good times. If you and your van are leading a traffic parade help others to drive safely, stop when you can on one of the many pullovers and let others pass while you take in the view.

We headed for Cape Otway via the Eastern Freeway to Melbourne then chose the M1 via Westgate Bridge to Geelong. Just out of Geelong where the A1 and the Anglesea Road meet at Waurn Ponds roundabout we took the A1 to Colac.

This route was easy towing with our 3.5 Magna V6 station wagon comfortably in the pulling power curve at just under 2000 rpm on the flat going.

Plenty of room to cookMitsubishi says the maximum trailer mass for Magnas must not exceed 1500 kg. From 500 kg to 1500 kg the company says trailer brakes are essential. If you plan to travel at speeds greater than 80 kmh Mitsubishi says a weight distribution hitch is also essential.

Towbar load limitations also apply Mitsubishi says. If you want stability, safe braking and steering 10 per cent of the total towed mass must be towbar ball load.

In the case of the Dove camper trailer that is about 120 kg.

Be unAustralian; read your owners manual, particularly the bits about correct vehicle adjustment for towing. It could save your life. At very least it will make your touring happier.

  • Editors note: Please see the in the Information files on
Fuel averaged 12.7 litres a 100 km on the M1 from Melbourne and A1 (Princes Highway) from Waurn Ponds roundabout to the left turnoff onto C155 (the Lavers Hill Colac Road) in Colac.

At Colac finding the C155 option can be confusing. Ignore early signage as you enter the Western District farming centre. It is a sharp left turn onto C155 in the centre of Colac.

The run over the Otway Range via Ferguson is on good, wide bitumen through mostly magnificent hill country. But, sadly, in places timber gatherers have scarred many mountain slopes and the raw earth jars. Massive timber trucks use the road but there is room for all with care on C155.

Fuel consumption hit an average 15.3 litres a 100km high as we tackled the Otway climbs holding third in the auto box on the way up and down on some of the steeper descents to ease the stress on motor transmission and brakes.

The slide out beds make plenty of roomOur new Hayes Lemmerz Energize 111 electric braking system, and tow plug, ($305 the lot) fitted by ADP Caravan Services at Kilsyth, Victoria earned its keep.

It came through a serious test on the steep, long descent from Lavers Hill to the Aire River Valley when we repeatedly used the systems manual slide override to apply the trailer brakes independently to control our descent.

It is a nicely balanced arrangement, triggered through a pendulum magnet. In Otway going we trimmed the system to give slightly greater braking going down and slightly less going up. Not that the 870kg Dove is a challenge to tow. But the performance is a positive pointer for heavier vans.

We used about 87 litres for the round trip at a fuel cost of about $90. This includes towing and visits to nearby attractions without the camper.

Dove Camper Trailer
Maker: Jayco.
Recommended retail: $16,362 excluding freight, registration and dealer delivery costs.
Body length: 3.455m. 11ft. 4in.
Travel length: 4.610m. 15ft. 2in.
Open length: 5.790m. 19ft.
Width: 2.130m. 7ft.
Travel height: 1.600m. 5ft. 3in.
Interior height: 2.070m. 6ft. 9in.
Front bed width: 1.520m. 5ft.
Rear bed width: 1.200m. 4ft.
Berths: 5. (Four adults and a childs bed).
Tare weight about 870kg.
Towball weight about 120kg (Refer to the owners manual for your tow vehicle).

  • Editors note: See the feature in Information.