July 16, 2006 The possibilities of living a geographically unchained lifestyle have never been greater – if you earn your living on-line, the world is now your neighbourhood. Similarly, if you live within your means, it’s quite possible to wake up to a different view every morning. Indeed, we suspect that becoming a digital nomad is very appealing to Gizmag’s readership because every time we run a story about a clever mobile home concept, Concepts such as the Airstream Skydeck, this converted London double-decker bus, General Motors’ mobile home concept, or this ingenious relocatable home it rates like crazy. However none of them have rated as well as DRACO, an expedition class AWD motorhome and we suspect that’s because it offers a home anywhere required – all modern conveniences in a wilderness setting. Now there’s a similar vehicle for sale that will appeal to many people as their dream home – the aptly named Wothahellizat is attainable for just AUD$350,000 (US$263,000) with everything you need to go just about anywhere you want as long as you’re prepared to pick it up in Australia.
Built by Australian photographer Rob Gray, it was created with the aim of getting to nice places and staying there for long periods. Built to carry three months of supplies, it can and regularly does spend months at a time in the vast Australian outback and as a 6X6 turbo diesel AWD it gets to better, quieter, and more secluded campsites because it can handle rougher terrain than the average motorhome.
Wothahellizat began life as an ACCO in the Australian Army, then spent some time in Marulan Country Fire Brigade (near Australia’s Capital City of Canberra) before being purchased by Rob in November 1997. Rob’s construction diary for the vehicle can be read here, and the short story is that it now has a Perkins 6354 turbo diesel motor with just 20,000 miles on the clock and an Eaton 5sp synchro gearbox that was rebuilt 15,000 miles ago, so in terms of the type of work it was built for, it’s hardly even run in.
In Rob’s own words, the Wothahellizat motorhome “looks industrial on the outside, but it's luxurious inside” and
In terms of mod cons, the inventory can be seen here – it has everything you need from a fully operational 20,000lb PTO winch, air conditioning, a motorcycle for exploring where a bloody big truck can’t get to, an hydraulically operated roof, raises about 1m to provide full standing height and even a security camera system so you can see out when all the shutters are closed.
With a 3300-watt solar inverter, the vehicle only rarely needs the Honda 1kva generator started, as sun is quite plentiful in Australia. The generator is only used to top things up if it has been overcast for a long time. Rob reports that there’s enough power from the inverter for “just about anything.” “I even do light welding jobs from it,” he says.
Rob regards the two-metre-high deck on the back of the vehicle as the highlight of the design as it offers a comfortable and high vantage point to watch the wilderness.
More importantly again, the vehicle offers complete self sufficiency. “You can live anywhere,” says Rob. “Once you turn off the motor you're home. I used to find it quite stressful trying to get set up in a caravan park with 30 people standing around gawking. We solved the problem by not going into them. We haven't stayed in a caravan park for several years now.”
Rob’s diaries of living on the road for the last five years can be read here.
Finally, we reckon Rob’s selling the vehicle short at AUD$350,000 due to its low mileage and the ease with which it could be fixed very cost-effectively if anything went wrong. You could buy Wothahellizat, tour Australia for a few years and sell it for the same price you first paid.
Rob can be contacted here.