Apr 15, 2019

Hobie Kayaks and Thule Hullavator

We have owned two Hobie Kayaks for a few years now, our initial purchase was an inflatable demo Hobie that we bought at a very good price at a Perth Camping Show, I got it home and inflated it only to find it had a slow leak.

Vickie in the Hobie 12is Inflatable, the 2nd one
I contacted the seller Getaway Outdoor who contacted Hobie and a brand new Hull was sent to me. We liked it but of course there was the hassle in inflating it and carrying it in its rather large bag. We decided to buy a hard plastic version for Vickie and we chose the Outback for its stability. 

Spangled Emperor Ningaloo

Spangled Emperor Ningaloo

Mick in the Outback, Lake Kununnurra
On our travels we found ourselves in Qld and when we next used the inflatable it had a problem with the inner lining coming apart from the outer lining creating a large bubble. We were close to Sunstate Hobie so called in and was told it was not repairable but it could be replaced or a deal could be done another plastic version which we did. I chose the Revolution 13 this time being a bit lighter and easier to manage. 

Hobie Revolution 13 and Outback
Fast forward to a time at Ningaloo and I was puzzled why water was getting into the hull of the Outback finally I discovered a hair line crack in the area where the peddles fit. When we got back home I contacted Hobie again and even though it was out of its stated warranty period they offered me a brand new one for $300, considering they cost around $2500 at the time this was a great offer on Hobie’s behalf. Now because I chose another Revolution, this time the 11’ it was actually cheaper and from memory it only cost me less than $100! 

So there we were with two new Hobie Revolutions, we used them mainly at Ningaloo partly because of the work involved in getting them up onto the roof rack, securing them and getting them back down again, a routine that became harder with my back conditions. 

We live near the beautiful coastline of Safety Bay and have Shoalwater and it’s marine Reserve and islands around the corner, it seemed a shame to have such easy access to a wonderful stretch of water I started at looking at easier ways to transport the Kayaks. A good mate of ours near Newcastle who also has a crook back has a Hobie and I found out he had fitted the Thule Hullavator to his car, this ingenious lifting and carrying system was the answer. We only have to lift the kayak up to hip level to place the kayak in its two cradles, then it’s just a matter of strapping it down and very easily pull on a handle and up raises the kayak, it then lays down flat onto the rack and self locks itself into place.

200 series Landcruiser with two Hobie Kayaks and Hullavator lifting and carrying system

Well we had to have those and one for each kayak, fortunately our local Thule agent Adventure 4x4 had an open day with some very good discounts on products so we bought two Hullavators. Now I have them fitted I can only wish I had done this years ago because we would have carried the Kayaks with us on most of our trips. If there is any negatives at all with the Hullavators is they stick out from the roof rack / bars more than I’d like, looking down the side of the Landcruiser 200 series they are behind the snorkel and well in from the mirrors. Twisting through tracks with tree branches could be the only issue. 

I have been asked for some photos in the loading position, because of the width of our aero bars I used a strap to hold one handle in, I have read a tennis ball will do the same thing, I was then able to concentrate on the other handle and supporting the lowering and raising. Ideally in our case it’s a two person job simply because of the width, If I had orangutan arms it would be simple. But it can be done with one person.

Hobie Revolution 11 in the loading position

Front view

Hobie Revolution 13 in the locked upright position

Hobie Revolution 13 in loaded position

Though the locking system is secure i choose to use a strap also to tighten the rack for rough rods
One thing I have given thought to was the storing of the kayaks when they are off the car. So I have purchased two sets of Kayak storage lifters, basically they are brackets with pulleys which are fitted to the ceiling beams in the shed and then it will be a simple matter of either pulling on a rope to raise or lower the kayaks on to the cars Thule carriers. 

Of course none of this has been cheap but it was certainly made more affordable due to the excellent dealings we had with Sunstate Hobie, Getaway Outdoors and Hobie Australia. 


Landcruiser 200

April 2015 our Landcruiser 200 series arrived, it immediately went into the 4WD accessory shop to have a gvm upgrade and a hundred other things changed or added. Compared to the 79 the 200 was sheer luxury and tows the van effortlessly but it lacks the practical feel and toughness of the 79 for full time touring. Everything is a compromise and this is suiting us for our trips away and a town car when we are home. It has extensive modifications, not all have been plain sailing with more than our fair share of hassles, hopefully all that is behind us. Some things that have been done to the 200 are the suspension and GVM upgrade this enables us to carry a reasonable payload and really is very necessary when extras such as bull bar and winch, long range fuel tank and dual wheel carriers etc are fitted. The car has had an engine remap, the 3rd! The first two caused problems the worst having the engine go into limp mode when towing and overtaking, quite a dangerous situation and one time we were extremely lucky not to cause an accident. I learnt a lot about trusting ‘experts’ and who not to deal with. It also has a torque converter lock up kit fitted, mine is a Stocklock and can recommend the system, just have it fitted by someone who knows what they are doing.

We have now travelled 90,000klms with the 200, I’d say around 80,000 has been towing, we have been to Tasmania and return, Queensland and return, up through the Kimberley and across the Gulf and up and return from Cape York returning back to Perth through NSW and SA. Plus it’s taken us to Ningaloo twice, Esperance and trips out around the granite country of WA. 

Do I like it as much as the previous vehicles? That’s not an easy answer to say, each vehicle we have had to tow the Bushtracker have had good and bad points, had I not had so much trouble with the 200 from mechanics not knowing what they were doing I’d probably say the 200 ticks all the boxes. How long I keep it is up to Lotto because if money was no object I’d probably build up a dual cab 79 series with auto conversion.

Nullabor Black top

Coorong SA

Tasmania Lake Pedder


Kimba Silo's

Umagico Camp Ground Cape York

Roper Bar NT

Wheel travel on the Simplicity load sharing suspension


Seisa Cape York

Toyota 79 series & BT

In 2010 i saw the 2008 79 series for sale, this Ute did not lack for anything,it was the Hamburger with the works. The alloy canopy made by CSM was fitted out with draws, full separate 12v and 240v electrical system, fridge slide, lights etc. It had the dual fuel tanks, bull bar and winch, ARB air lockers front and rear, dual spare wheel carriers, chassis mounted 80lt water tank with electric pump, UHF radio, Driving lights, upgraded stereo system, the list went on and on. There was so much value in the accessories it was difficult to get some decent insurance.

It towed the Bushtracker easily, though some standing starts on steep hills took some clutch control until i started to use low range 2nd gear and once rolling a quick change of the transfer lever into high range and away we would go. For the two of us it was pretty much the perfect touring vehicle. We owned it four years and travelled another 100,000 klm's trouble free.

I sold it after having my second hip replacement and found the clutch and manual gearbox tiresome to use, i wasn't prepared to spend $20,000 on an automatic conversion so it was time for another change of vehicle, this time it was a 200 series Landcruiser.

Almost the perfect touring combination

Strezlecki Track

Oodnadatta Track

South Lefroy Bay Ningaloo

Gibb River Road


Some vehicle history with the BushTracker

Going through some old photos and thought I’d share a few from around Australia, these are all with our 1st tow vehicle a 7.3lt Ford F-250.  We found this to be trouble free, i fitted some roof bars for our 3.7 metre tinny and had intentions of getting a quad bike to go in the tray. But that never happened, it was a great tow truck but because of its length and huge 17mt turning circle it started to lose its attraction, especially after following the GPS navigator down tracks with dead ends. On one of our trips we were in Queensland and I saw a Landcruiser 79 series for sale at a price I couldn’t refuse so we bought that and Vickie drove the Toyota and i towed the van home and we sold the F250 when we got back to Perth. I lost $7k when we sold it, had it for three years and towed for 100,000klms. Can’t complain about that.

Penong to Town Beach Road 

Oodnadatta Track

Gleason's Landing SA

Sunset Outback

Penong SA

Victorian Bush

One That Didn't Make It

The Big F250 wasn't fazed by any corrugated roads

Another Murray River Camp

Teewah Beach also known as Double Island Beach Qld

Bush Camp

Murray River camp

Camp at Teewah Beach Qld

Caravans Not Recommended ... No issues with Tyre pressures down