Around-Oz: Living the Dream!

Collyn Rivers - Broome WA

Collyn Rivers at home in Broome Western Australia

Eccentric? ................... Maybe!
Believes in minimalist and simplistic living? ............................Yes!
Knowledgeable? ..................................Absolutely!

It is hard to know where to start when describing the enigma that is Collyn Rivers although the Sydney Morning Herald probably came close in describing him some years ago as "one of few remaining Renaissance men".

Collyn now lives with his wife Maarit in Broome Western Australia, on a secluded 10 acre property, in an environmentally friendly house which they partly built themselves. Their home is open plan, with glass everywhere to take full advantage of the incredible views to the Indian Ocean. Maarit even went and got her Welding and Production Engineering Certificates, so she could participate in the building of their new home. It really threw contracting tradesmen when they wanted something cut and Maarit brought out her angle grinder and did it for them.

Collyn has enjoyed a life which has been incredibly varied. He started work as a research engineer with General Motors, later founded a worldwide chain of electronics and other magazines, and eventually became Technical Editor of The Bulletin and also of Australian Business magazines.

His major loves other than his home and wife are self-sufficient travel in the outback and yoga. He gained a full certification as an Iyengar Yoga teacher in the 1980s, and together with Maarit, teach this very physically demanding form of the art.

Could you do this at age 72?

In more recent time he has married his journalistic abilities to his love of the outback and travel. The first child is a book called 'The Campervan and Motorhome Book'. It is rapidly becoming the bible for any motorhomer or caravanner who wants to be as efficient, safe, and cost-conscious as possible while travelling. His second book, 'Motorhome Electrics - and Caravans too!' is also gaining similar status. A third, a totally down-to earth to making solar really work in caravans is due in a few months time. More on these two books later - for now let's explore the character of the man.

"Why self publish?" I asked when I first met Collyn and a very straightforward reply came back, "So I keep control and make sure everything is accurate. Also I can run off very small print runs and update them as Australian standards and other matters change". So all that makes very good sense, especially after you have spent some time just sitting in the back of Collyn's OKA with several stubbies for company over a couple of hours, as I did one afternoon at the CMCA Barcaldine Rally.

To say Collyn calls a spade a spade is an understatement - he calls it a bloody shovel in no uncertain terms! But it is this sort of directness and total lack of facade, that makes him an even more interesting personality. There is no misunderstanding his opinions on any subject. Ask any question and be prepared for a very definite well researched response.

Whether it is a fault or a strength, Collyn will tell you exactly what you want to know, like what any supplier or manufacturer is doing right or wrong -- and then back his statement with the facts. During his talk at the Rally. we learnt for example that 5 minutes of microwave operation will take 4 HOURS to recharge your battery due to the amount of current being drawn. The sales of his new Motorhomes Electric book spoke volumes for the desire of both men and women CMCA members to gain this in-depth knowledge.

Without prompting, many of those who attended all the technical talks voted Collyn's the most comprehensive. Most also nominated him as the most knowledgeable speaker, able to answer so many queries from the audience straight off the top of his head.

Bertha is Collyn and Maarit's trusty OKA four-wheel-drive all-terrain truck/motorhome. She safely rumbled from Broome to Barcaldine straight through the centre of Australia in just five days - and back in four and a half.

Bertha has taken Collyn all over the back roads of Australia
Bertha at Barcaldine

It was amusing to see people 30 or more years younger than Collyn have problems stretching to get up Bertha's two very high entrance steps. In comparison ask the 72-year old master to show you what his yoga flexibility allows him to do. He can virtually do the splits vertically with his foot up on the OKA's window sill from ground level. Try this at your own peril - watch out for that hamstring!

Collyn's books are currently available directly from our own book sales section and can be purchased online here on this site via our secure server.

This little story is meant to show people what happens when you attend a CMCA rally - the different people you can meet - I had to promise faithfully to come and stay when we get to Western Australia or he would put a spell on our travels to get us there. Nothing will keep us away Collyn!

Chrissy Eustace


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Last updated: March 30, 2006
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