by Scott Heiman
The generation raised on 1970s television will remember the hit show The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. A 19th-century hunter and animal trainer, James Capen ‘Grizzly’ Adams was accused of a murder he didn’t commit. Adams had no choice but to escape into the wilderness, leaving his daughter behind. While the actor Dan Haggerty who played Grizzly Adams died early last year, many of us still hold a flame for the lifestyle his character represented.
When it came to Grizzly’s lodgings, his home in the woods was presented as rustic and attainable. But not all of us have the capacity to - or the location - where we can source timber and can then get on-the-tools to build an idyllic log cabin. And if we’re looking at commercial options, they do exist, but you probably won’t have much change from $120,000. So, for those of us on a caravan budget, are we destined to suffer cabin fever?
Not necessarily. Many of us have probably seen the free-to-air TV programs from the United States that pitch the ‘tiny home’ lifestyle. In effect, tiny homes are fully functional homes downsized to meet the design parameters of a (big) caravan. And, while you may have thought that tiny homes are exclusive to the US market, that’s not the case. Enter Designer Eco Tiny Homes and its director, Grant Emans.
Grant is an Aussie builder who ventured into tiny homes as a way to meet the market’s need for long-term accommodation solutions for caravaners, bed-and-breakfasts, farm stays and backyard granny flats. Much like the US manufacturers, Grant has been building customised, purpose-made, stronger-than-a-house, home on wheels for a couple of years now. And as we found out recently, he is now on the prowl with a product custom made for the hunting market.
The first we heard of this development was when Grant gave the SSAA a call to ask whether we would like to come and see his latest Designer Eco Tiny Home. It turns out that he has recently completed a custom build for a huntress in the US, who wants a mobile hunting lodge. We didn’t need to be asked twice so we headed down to Grant’s place at Ulladulla on the south coast of New South Wales to have a closer look.
Now, when we arrived we found that Grant was storing this rig on a local property pending shipment to the US. So the location didn’t quite achieve the ‘man of the mountain’ secluded feel that makes a person channel Grizzly Adams. But the potential of this home on wheels spoke for itself. This was no normal caravan or mobile home. Clad in cedar and wrapped in Realtree camo, this was a set-up that had obviously engaged the creative juices of someone who was ‘at one’ with the wild. At 6m long, with 32sqm of potential floor space and being double-storey, we knew we were looking at something that could accommodate both a couple of hunters and a fair bit of kit as well. The next feature that caught our eye was a chimney poking out of the roof next to one of two skylight hatches. Hmm… the sign of a wood-fired stove? Looking further, we saw the Atlas AT50 clay target trap affixed to the trailer’s drawbar. Time to step inside and take a closer look.
The Texan huntress’s lodge was based on Grant’s Graduate Series of Designer Eco Tiny Homes, which provides 2.5x6m of potential internal living space downstairs. Fitted with a toilet, shower, gas stove and full-sized fridge, the first floor alone was bigger than our university dorm room and a donger on the mines. The feature that most clearly distinguishes these Designer Eco Tiny Homes from a standard caravan (regardless of size) is the relative spaciousness and headroom. With no pretence towards aerodynamics, a Tiny Home’s shape and layout offer the flexibility that is inherent in a slab-sided building with a ceiling height of more than 14ft. So there’s no risk of claustrophobia in this trailer. There is room to swing a cat - and reload a stash of shotgun shells while you’re at it. Even more unique, this rig had louvered windows and skylights - designed to operate as shooting portals. And with the windows wrapped in the Realtree perforated film, there would be little chance that your careful movement in the trailer would attract the attention of a target that had ventured too close.
So, imagine yourself now, pulling-up to your favourite hunting property with a mobile hunting lodge trailing behind, or prepositioned. We can. We reckon it would look really nice in the middle of a field next to a river and surrounded by forest-covered mountains, just waiting for the game to poke their heads out looking for green pick. Maybe we’d pull the rig to one of our favourite hunting spots for a couple of nights and then move it across the property to another likely lair. With pack-up taking just a few minutes, all it needs is a trailer-worthy track and you’ve got it made. No more having to rely on the shearing shed as a base camp.
While Grant does have a starting plan, most of his Tiny Home builds are custom-made to the client’s requirements with one or two mezzanines to accommodate a main sleeping space including a queen-sized bed with the option of a second space for a second (up to queen) bed or for storage. At the time of writing, the rig we reviewed was due to be shipped from NSW to the US in late September.
So who among us is ready to create our own little piece of mobile hunting-heaven somewhere closer to home? For a modern Grizzly Adams with a flair for the non-conventional, Grant will be happy to turn your dreams of an affordable and versatile hunting lodge into a reality.
For more information, contact Designer Eco Homes on freecall 1300 334 153 or visit designerecohomes.com.au
|Manufacturer:||Designer Eco Tiny Homes|
|Model:||Studio Series||Independent Series||Graduate Series||Lifestyle Series|
|Axle:||1 axle standard||2 axle standard||2-3 axle standard||3 axle|
|Gross Trailer Mass (GTM):||2000-3500kg||3500kg||3500-4500kg||4500kg|
|Towball Weight Max:||105kg||260kg||270-340kg||320-370kg|
|Body Construction:||70mm treated pine frame, hardwood ply-bracing, cedar lining|
|Body Width:||2.5m external, 2.23m internal|
|Length Tray and Overall:||3.6m, 5.4m||4.8m, 6.6m||6m, 7.8m||7.2m, 9m|
|Height:||Optional up to 4.250m for double storey|
|Chassis Type:||100x50x3mm RHS, drawer bar 150x50x5mm RHS galvanised|
|Tyre/rim Size:||14x7” black steel, 185R 14 LT (light truck)|
|Suspension:||7 Leaf Rocker Roller|
|Breaks:||Dual axle 12” Electric Drum Manual Handbrake, Tri axle 10” Electric Drum Manual Handbrake|
|Levelling Jacks:||Electric/manual size|
Insulation: Sisalation and Ecowool combined R-rating of up to R3.0
Window: Double-glazed house windows
Awning: 300mm eave at either end, side awnings optional extra
Gas cylinders: 9-litre
Shower: Optional built-in and external
Toilet: Optional built-in or portable/cassette
Cooktop: 2-4 burner
Fridge: 223-litre LG (other models on demand)
Battery: 80-130AH AGM, second battery optional
Water: Optional 60-litre tank
Heating: Wood burning stove or gas air room heater
Outside table: Portable, or bolt-on portable, or bolt-on