Mr and Mrs McMahon’s love for VW’s will never die; they love the freedom and simplicity that comes with van life.
It all started back in 2007, when David McMahon and his wife Bev kept passing Ballina Campervan & Motorhome Centre, specialised dealer of campervans and motorhomes, on their travels north and when coming back down the coast to their home in Taree.
They didn’t have a lot of money but were keen to purchase their first campervan, which would become the first of many. So, they went with the cheapest option, a Toyota Hiace Frontline Campervan, which they purchased from Clayton Kearney and his team at BCMC.
“We enjoyed the campervan lifestyle, more than tenting and caravanning. However, there was only one problem with this vehicle and that was the lack of space – we weren’t able to walk through the thoroughfare to get to the back of the vehicle, you had to go outside and if it was raining you’d get wet.”
As a family of four, with two kids (now aged 34 and 42), they no longer liked towing caravans and weren’t keen on tents, due to running into several issues including their tent catching on fire and a caravan leaking in the rain. As the kids were getting older they were becoming more interested in the campervan lifestyle for two.
During the time of owning the Toyota, they still held a keen eye for Volkswagen campervans, mainly because they wanted more space and the ability to walk from one end to the other. After two years it came time to upgrade their van.
“We’ve always had a fond love for VW. Ever since my father bought a VW back in 1954, when I was 5. Since then, I’ve always been fond of them and my very first car was a VW Kombi which I still own today, we even got married in it 44 years ago!”
“My wife and I were both teachers and met at teacher’s college Nyngan, in the centre of NSW. Back then, I taught kinder to year 6 and was lucky enough to take the kids on several school camping adventures where my love of camping grew even more.”
In 2009, when the couple were getting close to retirement, they purchased their first Frontline VW Transporter Campervan. What they loved most about the VW van was the space and it didn’t need much in the way of customisation, additional extras or features; we just needed a vehicle that would suit the two of us.
“When we looked at the VW’s at BCMC they were exactly how we imaged them – they are much wider vehicles, with a wider bed to sleep comfortably, with a walk-through cabin and storage down the sides. We are light and limited travellers, the kind of people who only take one pair of shoes.”
“We don’t need much to keep us happy – we don’t need to pull up at powered sites, as there are two big batteries in our vans. We are spontaneous people and never make any plans. We pull up at campsites with no booking and usually just ask if we can have a piece of grass for the night and they usually let us.”
South West Rocks 2009 Toyota Hiace
“I am really lucky, I married a lady who could live minimally, she came from a basic background and doesn’t need many comforts. Someone who, like myself could sacrifice the comforts of life. We really got to know each other on these trips, we learnt a lot about our childhoods, shared lots of moments and memories that we didn’t even know about.”
If they ever need their space from one another, they would go their separate ways – Bev would head to the movies, while Dave would catch a wave. Or if Bev wanted space to stay in the van, David would head off for a pushbike. However, majority of the time the couple live comfortably together in the comforts of their van.
Being active has also always helped David and his wife to continue enjoying their time on road and the outdoor lifestyle that comes with it.
“We love swimming together, completing up to 40-50 laps a day when we can and have always had a strong sense of adventure. I am a mad surfer and have even swum with whale sharks for fun. A while back, I went out on a boat, which takes you about 80km of the coast into the ocean. A group of ten of us got dropped in the water off the side of a boat with just a wetsuit and a snorkel. We had to tread water and a whale shark would swim underneath you, then once it passed the boat would pick you up. This happened about four times.”
On David and Bev’s travels in 2009, they travelled around Australia from Taree, to Port Headland in W.A and then on to Karijini National Park. Along the way they saw many sites on the road that otherwise they would never have experienced.
“We had dingoes circling our van, we drove along roads with so much road kill and watched a wedge tail eagle plunge at the food. We have been able to take amazing photographs along the way and have memories we will keep forever.”
“Unfortunately, on this trip they encountered a lot of bulldust within their vehicle. It went into their wheels, motor, clothes. After doing everything they could to remove it, it failed.”
“When we got to Ballina, we saw Clayton Kearney from BCMC and showed him what had happened, he allowed us to trade our vehicle in for a brand new 2010 Frontline VW Transporter Campervan. We had this beauty for about 5 years and in this time we travelled to Tasmania and Cape York.”
Illaroo 2011 Frontline VW Transporter
In 2010 Volkswagen enhanced the T5 with some great improvements, with changes to the steering wheel, stereo and air conditioning. One of the impressive features is the swivel seat and walk through cabin, which is transformed into a clever use of additional space.
This year, their mileage was getting up over the 100,000km mark and they wanted to trade this vehicle in for a newer model. Over the past 8 years with BCMC, they had built a very strong relationship and were so grateful for their support and help.
“They’ve always had a product we’ve wanted, we were after an affordable vehicle and with our wonderful experience with BCMC, we know if anything goes wrong they will be there, for spare parts, assistance, anything, they are willing to help.”
“We’ve known them for a long time now. We could head to Sydney but we have got to know Clayton very well, we can trade vehicles, they have friendly service and it’s only a three-hour drive for us. So we called back into the showroom in Ballina and found our new vehicle, the 2015 Frontline VW Transporter, Avalon in white.
The 2015 van was the very last one left in Australia and it was a T5 model with no mileage and an Freedom fit out. This vehicle had lots of space, we brought the back up for storage so we have the ability to sit inside the vehicle and read the paper and relax and we only need one port for our clothing. We also heard there’s a 2016 model coming out on the market, the new T6, but knowing the motor is no different just the cosmetic appearance.
“On our travels we used to take a lot on the road, like ropes, axes, bottles of methylated spirits for the stove and an awning. But now we just have them fitted out with knives, forks, pots and pans and no longer have an awning, we even removed the TV, as we didn’t want the fuss of putting the ariel out every morning.”
“We now limit ourselves to a radio, no mobile phone or computer. We generally stay in touch with our family from time to time, but because some areas in Australia need a satellite phone we don’t worry and just call when we get to a park. However, we always take a surfboard. The surfboard is placed within the vehicle or slipped underneath the van when we are travelling.”
“At the moment, our new vehicle is undergoing rust proofing and when that is done we will be headed on our next adventure to Cairns, Mt Surprise where my wife loves digging for Topaz, then to Norman where we head to the fossil area on our way to MT Isa. By Christmas we plan to come down back to Longreach, Winton (two of our favourite spots to travel). Then instead of heading to Brisbane, we are heading back via west lightening ridge, Bourke and through Dubbo Zoo and then back home.”
– David and Bev McMahon of Taree, August 2015.