Portsea is unquestionably the 'leafiest' suburb on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula... And to that extent, there's an oft-quoted – albeit flippant – reference to this upper-crust domain showcasing a veritable conga-line of imposing clifftop mansions that are home to the rich and famous. I quote verbatim: “See how the other half live”.
But I wasn't there for the “Millionaire's Walk”... mind you, a sumptuous lunch at iconic Portsea Hotel was tempting! But for this rapidly-approaching 60-year-old grey nomad, proudly raised in the “Pines” housing commission estate in Frankston North, I recently felt like a 'man about town' cruising around Portsea and neighbouring Sorrento in an ex-rental KEA River 6-Berth motorhome.
SCRUBS UP NICELY
It's difficult to imagine that this River is almost 10 years old, given it's in really good nick – inside and out! True, the odometer has clocked just over 300,000km.
As per usual, the motorhome was collected from RV Sales Centre in Braybrook before hitting the Monash Freeway en route to the picturesque Mornington Peninsula.
So, before I espouse its virtues, here's the take on the KEA River from RV Sales Centre's national marketing manager, Dave Boyte.
“A light and airy design with minimal clutter helps bring the outside in and ensures there’s plenty of room for the six people that can travel in this vehicle,” he says.
“Given it does have three double beds, it provides a lot of flexibility for prospective owners. A large family will have no problem on a long trip in the River. Alternatively, it provides for a large and spacious abode for a couple, with the option of bringing the grandchildren from time to time.”
Dave adds: “The toilet/shower combo gives it certified self-contained status, which combined with the awning, means you can truly pull up anywhere and relax in an instant.
“A KEA River, through RV Sales Centre, allows a buyer to purchase their way into a much larger vehicle for the money. Backed by a three-year mechanical warranty and built with the rigours of the rental market in mind, the River is a robust and affordable way to get out on the road and enjoy our beautiful country.”
Following a brief 'tour' of Portsea and its ocean beach environs within the confines of the Mornington Peninsula and Point Nepean national parks – along with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it drive through Sorrento's main drag – I settled for a setup photo shoot on the Blairgowrie foreshore, only 3km from the Sorrento-Queenscliff ferry.
I was in walking distance to the exclusive Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron boat harbour, and I couldn't help notice an irony that here I was 'plain sailing' in this fully self-contained 7.2m (23ft 7in) KEA River.
The River's base vehicle is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 515, with a 2.2L turbodiesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
With a 3560kg Tare and 4490kg GVM, the tested model delivered maximum power of 110kW @ 3800rpm and maximum torque of 330Nm @ 1200-2400rpm. And its fuel consumption came in around 13L/100km.
STORAGE AND FEATURES GALORE
Externally, the KEA River beamed with its durable fibreglass composite walls and moulded fibreglass luton peak.
A highlight is the gargantuan full-width rear storage hatch that's ideal for housing sullage hoses, power cords, camping chairs and the like. There’s also an LPG bin to safely conceal a 9kg gas cylinder, along with an 80W solar panel, 82L fresh water tank and 82 grey water tank.
The River also has a Cvana awning, 12V entry step, water filler – plus two hatches on the driver's side: gas shut-off (front) and grey water release (rear).
STEP INSIDE THE KEA RIVER
Internally, this spacious (gotta love the walk-through access) KEA River really comes into its own.
The sleeping configuration consists of three double beds: a luton bed (2.1m x 1.45m) above the driver’s cab, an east-west bed (2.1m x 1.45m) at the rear, and a cafe dinette that converts to yet another twin berth (1.84m x 1.1m).
The main boudoir also features a panoramic tinted glass rear window, good-sized side windows, two reading lights, a skylight over the bed, roller blinds to each window, and a multi-faceted full-length storage nook at the bedhead.
ESSENTIALS IN THE KITCHEN
Meanwhile, the 'never-ending' galley (mid-riff on the passenger's side) comprises more than sufficient mod cons to prepare scrumptious cuisine for life on the road – including a Smev four-burner cooktop and grill, 130L Isotherm fridge under the benchtop, and a Tiffany microwave under the sink drainer.
Blessed with ample storage, the kitchen also boasts a slide-out compartment for two plastic rubbish bins under the sink, a tap and water filter tap, window with roller blind, double powerpoint, along with a Camec rangehood and Axis entertainment system above the cooktop.
I also liked the cabinetry made of lightweight Poplar with Primo laminate.
Adjacent to the cooktop is a pull-out pantry, slide-out cutlery drawer and a little more benchtop space, with a dedicated cabinet for a Sphere TV above.
YOUR ENSUITE AWAITS
The bathroom (opposite the rear section of the galley) is a neat affair complete with a fibreglass shower/Thetford cassette toilet combo, towel rail, a space-saving fold-down sink above the toilet, mirrored cabinets, a moulded section under the cabinet for housing toiletries etc, and an opaque shower door.
And adjacent to the ensuite are a mirror and coat hooks, and a deep robe with oodles of hanging space and room for smaller clothing items above.
Aside from converting to a double bed, the cosy cafe dinette (opposite the front section of the galley) has three overhead cupboards, with two internal speakers underneath, and headrests either end.
Immediately left of entry are the battery monitor, water tank gauge, and a panel of switches for the water heater, media, step, stove ignition, water pump, fridge and lights.
Underneath is storage for the awning hook and dinette table leg, while behind there is also room to store a ladder for access to the luton peak (with a hatch above and a window on the driver's side) above the cabin.
ELECTRICS AND SAFETY FEATURES
I'm also impressed with this RV's electrical charging system including the intelligent use of low voltage lighting, a high capacity 40A smart charger, 110A engine charger, 220Ah hybrid gel cell battery (stowed underneath the dinette seating), and an 80W roof-mounted solar panel.
Likewise, the safety features including adaptive ESP, ABS, ASR, BAS, EBD, driver and passenger airbags, plus two seatbelts in the driver's cab and four seatbelts in the living area.
And for good measure this KEA River comes with an Ibis Aircommand air-conditioner located towards the front of the rear bedroom, gas-heated hot water, Linoleum floor covering, privacy curtains separating the cabin from the rest of the RV, along with an external grab handle, footwell and stainless steel grab rail for user-friendly entry.
Aside from the safety items, cabin features extend to swivel seats, central locking, an LCD screen, and an AM/FM radio/CD player.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Given its years, this KEA River is somewhat a state-of-the-art motorhome that’s been designed with an emphasis on storage space and comfort, and ultimate living in mind.
And the Mercedes-Benz automatic drive is an absolute dream while in transit.
I'm putting it down to the Portsea influence, but this humble old boy from the “Pines” felt like a 'slumdog millionaire' for the day!
KEA River 6-Berth
Base vehicle: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 515
Engine 2.2L four-cylinder turbodiesel
Cooking Smev four-burner gas stove (1 electric hob)
Fridge Isotherm 130L
Bathroom: Thetford cassette toilet and fibreglass shower