Welcome to Manins motorohome project

Our Own Motorhome!

Some History

We first were exposed to 'motorhomes' in 1971 when in England we bought a late model 'Romany' Dormobile based on a Bedford CA van and did occasional tours around UK and the Continent. Its wonderfully versatile seats (front seats swivel around, all fold flat, rear fold up, fit to a double bed), concertina-up roof and roof bunks were a treat.

In Australia, several hires in Queensland and Tasmania heightened our interest. We resolved to buy our own, and slowly built a profile of what we required. As can be seen from our historical photos, the kind of motorhome we needed would be one that is capable of bush camping for several days at a time. Long stays in organised caravan parks are not our scene!

So now that we are in that stage of life when we have the time to do something about it, we have acted!

Our Specifications

Several months of indecision around whether to go for a motorhome or an off-road caravan were finally resolved when we decided that while bush camping is our love, this can mostly be done without resorting to a 4WD setup. Since the motorhome would need to double as a second car, and since we had to be able to park the thing somewhere off the street, a large vehicle was out of the question. We would need a fully self-contained Campervan or "MotorCamper" motorhome.

Some criteria that we decided on that differentiated the offerings:-

  • Short under 6 m long and rather less than 2.5 m wide so that it could fit in the driveway without blocking out the house kitchen window.
  • Diesel engine for fuel economy and ruggedness.
  • 4 belted seats, forward facing, to allow us to take passengers when needed as this would be a second car.
  • Shower/Toilet an absolute necessity - a real room and not a simple portapoti.
  • A permanent double bed (we have had enough of assembling jigsaw puzzles every night to get to bed). Any extras could use a tent.
  • Kitchen - a reasonably sized kitchen and fridge etc.
  • A quality build that could form a sound basis for modifications, enhancements and additions - we have no intention of trying to keep the vehicle 'in original condition'.

The A'van Applause

Reading reviews and visiting sale yards narrowed the choice down to one vehicle only: the Fiat Ducato-based A'van Applause 500. The decision then was whether to buy new or second hand. If new, whether (early 2007) to wait for the promised new model, or buy the current one.

In mid-2007 two (white) secondhand Applause 500's with less than 5000 km on the clock became available through The Trading Post. We bought the second of these, from Country Motor Co, Nowra. It is a 2006 build, had done 3700 km, had solar panels and a tow bar already fitted, along with 4 x reversing proximity sensors, and was substantially lower priced than the new model.

We are pleased we made this choice. While the new Ducato is undoubtedly better in several ways, it also had (still has) some new-model problems. And the 2007 layout of the Applause 500 was, in our view, not as practicable as the one we have.

A'van near Ballarat, Vic A'van near Jemmison, Vic

There are several pages detailing the Applause and some modifications we have made to it. Use the site map to navigate these.


Campervan Pics

Dormobile, 1971, on Rhine

1971 on the Rhine in Germany

Dormobile, 1972, in Swedish forest

1972 in Sweden

1982 motorhome in Queensland

1982 in Queensland

2004 4WD campervan in Tas

2004 in Tasmania at Cockle Creek

2005 campervan in Tas

2005 in Tasmania

2008 4WD Kea in Far North Queensland (107 kB)

2008 in Far North Queensland on north bank of the Jardine River


2009 in Western Australia, north of Mullewa on the banks of the Greenough River


2012 in Western Australia on the west bank of the Pentecost River, Gibb River Road