Is it a Caravan? Is it a boat? No, it’s Plonk!
John Hogan fell in love with his compact 1994 Regal caravan four years ago, took it on two laps around Australia, then started making plans to build the ultimate “off road” vehicle.
The idea actually came to him on his travels, whenever he and his travelling companion Polly camped close to water.
“Being in the caravan gave us a similar feeling to a small yacht due to its limited space and the rear door. We would usually park each night facing the weather, which is just what a boat does at anchor. We started looking at rivers and dams with the idea of taking to the water.”
Returning to Sydney to catch up with family, John was soon in touch with a company making boats for oyster farmers.
“A visit to their workshop and an hour or so of discussion convinced me that I would have them build an aluminium punt to a very tight tolerance to allow me to insert my caravan inside the hull.
“I then began the task of cutting it off its rather rusty steel chassis and making a number of modifications. It proved to be a very major task as I discovered a vast amount of rot in the timber framework . The job was made even more difficult due to the fact that I continued living in the caravan throughout the conversion.”
And so Plonk was born, the name having nothing to do with wine, in case you were wondering.
“It’s mainly to do with the fact that we could plonk her in the water anywhere we chose.”
Despite being a land lubber for most of its life, John says Plonk performs surprisingly well on water.
“I have encountered reasonably adverse conditions and have never felt out of control.”
Throughout the conversion, John said he always aimed to keep his much-loved caravan as close to original as possible.
Necessary additions include an ensuite bathroom and grey water tank. The pop top has become a roof-top aluminium “moon deck” and John has rigged up his own steering system, allowing him to take in the view from up top while controlling and the five-horse power motor at the rear.
Also up top are two solar panels powering the electrics on board, including a 47 litre fridge/freezer and an entertainment system -for nights when weather doesn’t allow for roof-top star-gazing.
Plonk is fitted with navigation lights as well as travelling lights for on the road, not to mention life jackets, boat hook, ropes and paddles.
John says Plonk has taken to water like the proverbial duck, having already set a record for being the first caravan to complete a 14km circumnavigation of Admiralty Island in the Trinity Inlet at Cairns.
Another more recent trip has seen Plonk travel down the Hawkesbury in NSW from Windsor to the Brooklyn Bridge.
“Best of all is you can always easily choose your neighbours when you’re on the water. If you find yourself near someone too noisy, you just pull up anchor and find a nice quiet backwater.”
John looks forward to spending many more happy days and romantic nights on board Plonk.
“I’ve spent many delightful nights on the water. It’s such a treat to wake during the night or early in the morning and look at the reflections on the still water or to see the mist hanging mystically by, the moon glistening on the water or the sun rising!”
Capturing that magic, John devised and trademarked the name “aquadisiac” with the aim of possibly working with a caravan manufacturer to go into production at some stage.
“On the road and the water I am constantly stopped and quizzed by interested folk wanting to know more about Plonk. I could have sold her many times over!”
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