EcoMate – GO RV Review By Anthony Kilner



Nathan and Martene Wallace and their kids bought a van and a tow vehicle a couple of years ago and headed off to live and work on the road.

After 18 months of travelling, they have a very good idea of what worked and what didn’t in their touring combo. With that knowledge they have customised

a new Royal Flair EcoMate Family with a load of goodies, taken possession, and hit the road – again! Meeting up with Martene and Nathan Wallace was an

absolute blast. Their original plan was to head outback and live life on the road. With three kids under five, living in the outback and working as a nurse was going

to be hard enough and they soon realised that their original plan of taking a camper trailer was not a good one.

As caravanning novices, they went to several RV shows and found their way to the Royal Flair stand, found the right van and purchased it. It was at this stage

the family’s website, Free to Explore, was really born. These beginners knew virtually nothing about vanning but were willing to learn!

The Wallace family hit the road just before covid hit in New South Wales, with a plan to head south. Border closures saw them change plans, head north and get

remote. What could possibly go wrong?



When chatting to Martene and Nathan about their adventures and dealing with covid outbreaks and natural weather issues, etc., their main advice to others

starting a journey was to remain as flexible as possible and keep up to date on travel conditions across states.

One of the more outstanding issues they had to deal with was a lengthy tale of separation. The family was at Uluru, and they planned to travel into South Australia

and stop at an AirBnB so that Martene could attend a course that was run during the night as it was overseas-based. They were then going on to Tassie.

The plan changed with border closures, so Martene flew back to Queensland with the two younger kids while Nathan and their eldest drove back to northern

New South Wales. The fourby got a busted rear window within the first hour of starting out on the Plenty Highway, which allowed half of the dust on the road

to enter the vehicle. It was annoying for them, to say the least!



When it came to schooling Zali, Maisie and Matai on the road, these switched-on parents explained, “We wanted to teach the kids history, geography and more,

not just through the internet – in real-time as we travelled. This meant schooling had to be factored into our travels. We set up a routine

so that Martene could do her work, the kids could do their work, and Nathan could do his work. Everyone around the big table and club lounge seating. It’s really

bought this family together.”

The main bed lowers electrically over the lounge. 42 \

The huge club lounge really suits the Wallace family.

The first two years for the kids was completed as distance education through New South Wales, where time limits apply. They are now home-schooling

through Euka (

Their advice for newbies: make schooling structured and routine. Choose the days and times to do it and stick to them. Their school days are Monday, Tuesday

and Thursday morning, and they all work those same hours. Their extensive driving is done on the other days.

Martene explained that they would sometimes barter with the kids. Do some extra work today to spend more time exploring tomorrow! It’s worked well so far

– the kids are full of life; they are funny and way ahead of the game when it comes to socialising.

Martene’s advice to other parents hitting the road between six and 12 months is “to talk with their school about an exemption for that period; get work for the kids

if need be. However, they will learn more on the road than in the classroom and enjoy that time together!”


After spending a couple of years in their Royal Flair Aussie Mate, the Wallaces knew what they wanted and didn’t want in a van. After a call to Royal Flair, a new 2021 EcoMate was designed, and the build process started on this flashy and very literal home on wheels.

My first question to the family: what did you learn from the first time that would make this van a whole lot better than the old one?

“The biggest thing we were looking for was to go offgrid and for longer,” Nathan said. “We wanted to be a bit lighter on weight. We also wanted to have more water and more solar.


“We are quite heavy on power, running a business and obviously school work. These were the priorities to work around, plus increasing the bunk space for the kids.”

So what worked on the old van, and what didn’t work in the overall scheme of things? For Martene what worked was the drop-down bed (which could be lowered electrically from the ceiling when needed and retracted again during the day), the huge club lounge and the overall spaciousness of the van.

Nathan said the amount of useable space in the new van was a big positive. “Every day is not a perfect day when you are caravanning and camping. Yes, you can have some bad days with weather conditions, flies, mosquitoes, and you just want to be inside with as much room as possible so everyone can sit in there and not be on top of each other.”

They loved the Control Rider air suspension on the old van and opted for the same system on the new van.

Thanks to the impressive 12V system, all cooking appliances are electric.

Note the smart angular shape of the kids’ beds.

“We absolutely love the air suspension,” Nathan said. “It means we can pull up on uneven campsites and set the van up perfectly within minutes.”

The air suspension controls are located in the entertainment box on the nearside of the van.


The new Royal Flair EcoMate was a ground-up custom build overseen by Royal Flair Caravans owner Bill Deralas. It features an aluminium chassis with Control Rider airbag suspension rated to 4000kg, disc brakes, AL-KO ESC and more.

A one-piece floor and fibreglass composite bodywork is used. The one-piece roof was fully wired before being lifted into place and the wrapped body finish with checkerplate skirts all round gives it a rugged look. NCE double- glazed windows, a new style of stoneguard, storage boxes, and so much more makes it a fantastic bit of kit weighing in at 3181kg Tare.

The timber furniture is fully customised, too. It includes a large club dinette, a bed that lowers down over the lounge (and retracts against the ceiling when not in use), large bunk space with storage, fans and lighting, an ensuite, and a large kitchen. There’s a composting toilet, fibreglass shower and a ceramic washbasin, with classy brushed copper fittings used throughout.

The van’s advanced electrical system replaces the need for gas as an energy source. The new DCX power system is certified Australian-owned and Australian- made. Designed by OzXcorp and distributed by NCE, it includes four 400W solar panels, a 5kW inverter, an impressive 14.3kWh chassis-mounted lithium battery and a comprehensive monitoring system which is utilised for everything in the van. It’s a very special piece of equipment.

The battery runs the electric heating and cooling system, as well as the electric induction hot plates, the electric external barbecue, all lighting, and even the fridge.

The underneath of the van features twin 95L water tanks as well as twin 65L tanks, in addition to a 65L grey water tank.


The Wallace family, now including Theodore the dog, have a lot of info to share and are happy to chat about their experiences, good, bad and otherwise. Their easy-going manner and fun sense of life really shine through in their approach to travelling this incredible country of ours.

Now the big question: how will it stack up off the beaten track?





Overall length: 9.04m External body length: 6.57m

External width: 2.33m (excluding awning)

Travel height: 3.12m Internal height: 1.99m


Tare: 3181kg
ATM: 4000kg
GTM: 3721kg
Axle group capacity: 4000kg Unladen ball weight: 279kg


Body structure: Composite fibreglass roof, floor and walls

Coupling: Cruisemaster DO45 Chassis: Aluminium 6in with

raiser; 6in drawbar

Suspension: 4000kg-rated Control Rider airbag

Brakes: Disc brakes

Wheels: 17in alloy

Fresh water: 2x95L; 1x65L

Grey water: 1x65L

Awning: Electric

Battery: Chassis-mounted DCX 14.3kWh with 5kW inverter

Solar: 4x400W
Air-conditioner: Houghton Belair

3400 roof-mounted reverse-cycle Gas: None (not necessary)
Sway control: AL-KO ESC


Cooking: Safiery 2000W induction hob; external Weber Electric Pulse with separate induction cooktop

Refrigeration: Thetford 174L compressor fridge-freezer

Microwave: Yes
Shower: Fibreglass separate

Toilet: Sun-Mar composting toilet

Washing machine: Daewoo 2kg wall-mounted

Lighting: 12V LED

Hot water: Swift (electric only)

Entertainment: Rockford Fosgate stereo system with four speakers

Australian Luxury Caravans



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