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23 Sep 2011
The below article is from CaravanCampingSales.com.au, and reflects the first experiences with the Opera of Tony and Monika Brennan of Australia.
words - Chris Fincham
First Opera camper arrives in Sydney, and like the iconic harbourside landmark that inspired it, it’s attracting plenty of attention
Imported RVs often get a bad rap in Australia, but here’s one you’d definitely want sitting in your garage
Sailing into Sydney in May, the European-built Opera camper trailer (pictured) is the first of its type in Australia, and features a canopy design inspired by the iconic ‘sails’ of the Sydney Opera House.
Sydney couple Tony and Monika Brennan privately imported the Design award-winning camper after spotting a photo of one in a fashion magazine.
After further research on the internet, they got an acquaintance in Germany to take a closer look at one, before placing an order in February.
"We went through the registration process once it got here, and it’s been on the road now for a month, and we’ve been away on two trips," Tony said.
He said the registration process was fairly simple. "It’s all built to European standards, and they’re readily accepted here in Australia by Department of Transport and RTA, so it was a pretty straightforward
While relatively compact, Tony said the Opera fulfils their needs while being sufficiently different from other RVs on the market.
"We were just getting back into camping and didn’t want a caravan as such; (Monika) didn’t want to be labeled as a grey nomad.
"What we were looking for was something that we could have ready to go at short notice… just hook up and go once the weather looked good. "We didn’t want a house on wheels. We wanted something that was a bit more comfortable than that, and this certainly does the job as it’s more a bedroom suite than it is a house on wheels."
The sleek, 1100kg camper with its low ride height and tandem axles glides along nicely behind the couple's Range Rover. "They built it this way so (when it's being towed) any sedan could actually see over the top of it with their rear view mirror," he said.
A Truma maneuvering system has been fitted to one of the axles to make light work of moving the camper around, and it has been further ‘specced-up’ with an inverter and satellite system so the busy couple can stay in touch while on the road.
"We’ve also got a fuel cell in there which will recharge the batteries if we don’t go to a powered site," Tony said.
Tony said he's impressed with the long list of standard features including LED lighting, ceramic toilet, Corian benchtops, hot water exterior shower, modular outdoor kitchen with fridge and bbq, and gas floor heating.
"It’s got everything you want to have a comfortable time wherever you might be," he said.
Trick features include single beds that convert via remote control to armchair recliners for reading or watching TV. "They’ll also pull together to make a double bed, if you want to set it up that way," he said.
An automatic, electro-hydraulic system controls much of the set-up, which takes around 15 minutes in total. Raising the sails is "the quickest and simplest part… there's no poles or pegs, it's all self contained in the one unit".
"A lot of thought has gone into the design, it's full head height right the way through," Tony said.
"The canopy is a marine-grade sail cloth-type canvas, and it's pretty much finished to the spec of a yacht. It’s stainless steel, teak and oak throughout."
Tony’s wife Monika is simarly impressed with the Opera's Euro comforts and look-at-me styling.
"As you can imagine, we get a lot of interest wherever we go, and interestingly, all the feedback has been extremely positive," she said.
"It’s an impressive unit, and having spent several nights in it, we can say it has met all of our expectations. We are very happy with it."
"It puts you right in the scene," Tony continued. "When you’re in it, you’re actually in that part of the world where you pull up and set up, whereas in a (conventional) camper trailer you’re still inside a house on wheels, and that’s not what we wanted.
"It’s a hybrid, but it works."
Tony said their Opera Marineline camper cost about $65,000 before adding delivery and import costs, registration, and some additional accessories.