On the way to Australia - a formative encounter

On the way to Australia - a formative encounter

We met Martina, Sven and Clara for the first time on the premises of the camping outfitter Zampetas in Thessaloniki, because of course the Dodge pick-up vehicle, which had been converted into a motorhome, immediately caught our eye, so powerful was the structure and the vehicle itself.

We quickly got to know the builder and owner Sven and his wife Martina, who come from Switzerland and who a few years ago made what was probably the most important decision of their lives: to travel to Australia by land and sea in a special motorhome.

Decision for the 5.9 liter engine Dodge RAM 3500

sven truck rino 01Both had been in the off-road scene for years with various previous vehicles, and had of course experienced a wide variety of vehicle types and their advantages and disadvantages, had also made a name for themselves in the scene and gained experience in off-road sports. Since both are fans of large-displacement engines, at some point the decision was made in favour of the 5.9 litre engine in the Dodge and thus in favour of a very specific vehicle. There is no substitute for displacement except with more displacement, says Diviese.

With the purchase of the Dodge, the first conversion and modernization work on the vehicle itself began. There had long been fixed plans as to how the living space, which was only available to a limited extent, was to be designed. As an inventor and do-it-yourselfer, Sven had long had very detailed ideas in his head that then had to be implemented. The sleeping area was to be accommodated in the "upper floor" of the living area, which could be raised using rotating supports, so that the kitchen and living area could continue to be used while one person was sleeping. Since the vehicle was to be used in summer and winter, good insulation was at least as important as the ability to heat the interior, which Sven planned for by installing a wood stove with a viewing window. According to his comment, wood as fuel is available almost everywhere. In short, the longer you looked at individual aspects of the vehicle, the more perfect the planning and implementation appeared.

Test trip that led to the North Cape

sven truck rino 02Sven initially planned and sketched, developed and rejected for several years until the rough concept was in place. Then each piece of furniture was painstakingly built and inserted as a durable component.

Sven only had the housing built. Of course, the vehicle itself was completely overhauled, which still became a problem, as we will report later. It took two years until the construction was finished enough to make the first test trips possible, which led to the North Cape.

Further details were adjusted and the process of removing the umbilicus slowly began.

sven truck rino 05In small steps, all property in Switzerland was sold, insurance, bank details and other life documents were adjusted or changed, which turned out to be a problem that should not be underestimated, from the registration address to the vehicle registration.

But with a lot of patience and the big goal in mind, these things also came about, so that the date of departure could slowly be set in sight. At the same time, route planning was always carried out and concepts were developed as to how the destination could be reached without time pressure. And so we got to know and appreciate Sven, Martina and their dog Clara as a very relaxed, calm and yet goal-oriented team.

sven truck rino 03Once asked about their current stay in Thessaloniki, the two said that they had already made it to Azerbaijan when some problems arose with the engine. Since Sven, as usual, also wanted to carry out the mechanic's work himself, both of them drove back to the Zampetas location in Thessaloniki, as they could rely on additional technology and know-how should this become necessary. The diesel injection was the problem, which could only be solved with a new component. In the time that followed, it became clear that there were no more spare parts available, in other words, the injection unit had to be rebuilt and then adapted. The waiting time for the component alone was 15 weeks, then Sven's working time for adjustments and assembly took another 4 weeks.

The diesel injection was the problem

sven truck rino 04Shortly before the work was finished, we left Thessaloniki and drove to Lake Ohrid, a stopover destination that our Swiss would also like, we were sure. In short, we described some of the options that we were exploring ourselves and pointed out the pleasant temperatures here at 700 meters above sea level when they decided to spend a few days at Lake Ohrid at Camping Rino.

They were wonderful days that ended in many activities together at Lake Ohrid and expanded our contacts. So, we explored Sveti Naum together, climbed the summit of Magaro, had a lot of fun cooking together and sharing our travel experiences, which will certainly lead to further meetings on the way to Australia, which will also lead through Turkey.

Please read as well:

Arrival in Struga on Lake Ohrid under a cloudless sky

Koman Lake and Dam - More impressions about the ferry trip

Directions for hiking in Galičica Mountains

Shortly before the border with Albania - Monastery of Sveti Naum


Life | Outdoors