According to the organisers the first Victorian Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow at Melbourne Showgrounds was a fantastic success. Despite oppressive heat and a few showers, a new location and a new time, attendance was in excess of 51,000; just short of last year’s record, laying a foundation for even bigger supershows in the years ahead. The 61st Supershow featured more than 1200 individual recreational vehicles on display – more than any Australian show in history. RV Pages spent two days as a show visitor and below are the pick of the displays that caught our eye.
KNAUS SKY WAVE 650mf
A definite personal favourite exhibit at the show was the Knaus Sky Wave 650mf, marketed by Avan. I spent some time in the company of Mark Roche from Queensland RV – that retails the Knaus range – discussing the finer points of this well-appointed vehicle that’s powered by a Fiat Ducato 3.0-litre turbo-diesel. Before Mark arrived I was trying to figure out how the double bed above the forward dining area descended from the roof. I could see the remote control, but could not work out what happened to the cupboard fixtures in place beneath the bed base. In operation it’s a beautiful thing to watch as the bed, cupboards and all, smoothly slides into place above the front seats.
Curiosity satisfied we turned our attention to the rest of the Sky Wave. Fit and finish is exemplary – show vehicle standard in a production vehicle. There is a rear double bed, it’s a four-berth, an L-shaped kitchen with three-burner cooktop and rangehood opposite the 175 litre fridge/freezer all situated in the middle of the vehicle. Then there’s the ensuite bathroom behind a stylish curved entry door; it’s big and there’s a dividing door between shower and toilet reminiscent of a small household in execution. Double-glazed windows, dual air-conditioning, combination gas hot water and ducted heating take care of interior comfort along with an integrated GPS DVD surround sound system with built in reversing camera.
It isn’t just the features, however, that make the impression. Obviously, that’s what buyers possibly have on a ‘must have’ list but it’s the impression given by the interior that makes the difference. Material choice, cabinetry, workmanship (lack of evident tooling and use of adhesives and sealants) and lighting that all combine in the Sky Wave to apparently define first-class travel. The Fiat has a full five-year Australian warranty and the motorhome a two-year warranty.
The drive-away price from Queensland RV is $142,990. For more information visit www.queenslandrv.com.au/
IN FRONT, BEHIND YOU
There was a huge array of camper-trailers on display at the Victorian RV Supershow, demonstrating that this section of the RV market is flourishing. Camper-trailers are often seen as the entry level for families before biting the financial bullet, as it were, and making a larger commitment to a fully-optioned caravan or motorhome. Still, that’s not to sell them short, the camper-trailers on offer are varied in style, equipment levels (and accordingly, price) off-road suitability – and pretention to that – and also size. That’s what grabbed our attention about both these models, as they’re at opposing ends of the scale in terms of escape real-estate and, while both are very much aimed at off-road travel, the two models have differing roles.
FAMILY: JOHNNO’S X-SERIES X-C15
It’s large. Although it’s the height that focuses your attention. When deployed, the camper opens up and forward from an already elevated body height and then a huge swathe of tent arcs back toward the rear. This is to envelop the family-sized accommodation within – queen bed up top, two singles in the ‘downstairs’. Amid khaki and matt paint and chequerplate the camper is in keeping with a current trend of combat caravans and tough themes dominating the style charts. The trailer (5530mm x 1970mm) rolls on 15-inch steel wheels shod with 32-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tyres and there’s generous ground clearance for the Vehicle Components (VC) Cruisemaster 2T independent suspension to work in. The coupling is also from VC and is the well proven DO35 unit. (www.vehiclecomponents.com.au/)
Kerb-side the X-C15 weighs 900kg, so there’s 900kg available before you crack the 1800kg GVM. To allow you to load up to that level there’s a 100-litre underbody water tank, two 20L jerry cans, two 4.5kg gas bottles and whatever you load in the 85L Evakool fridge (www.evakool.com/) before you add your personal gear.
Given its off-road aim there are a few included items to make sure you fare well out there, even if the terrain is against you: an axe, a shovel and a set of Maxtrax self-recovery tracks (www.maxtrax.com.au) and an external ensuite to make sure you can wash off the dust of the outback in time to sit down and enjoy a cold one. In case the weather’s filthy, too, as it can be, you should be protected by the Australian-made Wax Converters Dynaproofed canvas – which is very highly regarded material (www.waxcon.com.au/). All the doors and windows (six) are insect proof and your living area is 3.3m wide x 3.17m high with the awning included. Catering is on the near side and includes a hooded barbecue, wok burner, slide-out drawer and hot and cold tap sink. All power needs (120 AH battery) is marshalled by a Redarc BMS (www.redarc.com.au/).
Excluding on-road costs the X-C15 has a RRP of $54,950.
For more information and specifications visit www.campertrailer.com.au
COUPLE: COMPLETE CAMPSITE EXODUS 9
The last time I had anything to do with a Complete Campsite trailer it was many moons ago and the unit was a simple – but competent – soft-floor affair. A change of ownership and a major shift in product focus and execution has meant the Complete Campsite trailers now, award winners among them, are a fantastic proposition.
The Exodus 9 is the latest in the range of hard-top offerings.
It’s an off-road model, and follows in the nomenclature designation by being nine feet long (Exodus 11, 14, etc.) and is underpinned by a RHS hot-dip galvanised 75mm chassis. Like the X-C15 above the Exodus 9 is given off-road articulation by the use of Vehicle Components Cruisemaster 2T independent suspension (twin shock) and a DO35 V2-1 coupling with handbrake.
It was the no-nonsense compact design that drew me in, however: 4.75m long x 1.83 wide, sat on a striking set of alloy rims wrapped in 16-in Goodride radial muddies.
Accommodation is for two in the camper with the queen bed occupying all the space bar a small seating area just inside the entry door, with drawers just to the left. The body of the camper is fully insulated fibreglass – and the roof is home for the twin 120W solar panels that were part of the options fitted to this Exodus alongside diesel hot water/ducted heating system (and external water draw source); external ensuite; larger moulded fibreglass frontal storage box; two 105 AH AGM deep-cycle batteries (one is standard) with Redarc BMS and kitchenware that included 82-litre chest fridge freezer and external slide-out with stainless pantry. Standard catering inclusions are Smev three-burner s/s stove and sink with hot/cold tap and a stainless slide-out and swing around kitchen/drawers and benches. Water is stored in a 120-litre internal baffled tank and there are two 22L jerry cans. The external living area is covered by a Fiamma roll-out awning. Standard weights are tare 1100kg (1350kg as optioned here) with a GVM of 2000kg.
The options fitted to the show camper took the base price of $49,950 to $59,950. www.completecampsite.com.au
NEW AGE GLIDERS
There were three new models on the New Age stand under the name of Glider which were all variations on the expander theme. They are all four-berth units. Of the three, the GL15 offers two queen beds that extend from both ends of the caravan under a hard lid with canvas/mesh walls (a la the original Jayco) to take the caravan into a hybrid style. The GL16b offers an expanding queen fold out at the lead end, with twin bunks in the offside rear corner and the GL16be is the same berth but the bunks are parallel to the rear and fixed wall of the van.
The interiors are bright and modern with lots of black/white/grey finishes on fittings either side of a central through-way. For increased headroom all models have a push-up roof section that has windows but solid sides, not canvas. The equipment levels are similar but the GL15 loses out on an internal bathroom/toilet that the other two models have, just in locations in deference to the double bunks. Features include 100 AH AGM battery; air-con; 15-litre fridge and hot water system (gas/electric). Prices range from $64,990 (GL15; 15 ft) to $65,990 (GL16be; 16 ft) and $68,990 (GL16b; 16 ft) – and all had optional extras added to the show models. The Gliders offer family accommodation in compact packages on 15-inch wheels that as an entry tow package would not put off newcomers.
NEW SHAPE FOR SUCCESS?
The Alto provided one of those involuntary smile moments; its cute style reminiscent of a teardrop caravan that everyone seems to love. However, the retro element is only fleeting as closer inspection reveals wholly modern design execution. There’s an oversupply of brushed aluminium; some of it’s for effect and some of it is real – the frame and roof and floor, for instance – and all materials combine to give the R Series model in question a 766kg weigh-in. The curved roof with tinted side glass section again echoes the 50’s jet-age, a cue further enhanced with the push-button retractable roof. In practical terms the Alto R1713 is designed to fit in a standard household garage. With the roof closed the van stands at 2.12m – extended that increases to 2.57m. Overall length is 5.26m (17ft, 2in) and width 2.12m.
Accommodation is via a king-size bed that converts to two singles. A single is also available by converting the front dinette. Facilities are in tune with the simplicity of the caravan; the fridge, Smev two-burner cooker are usable with the roof down. There is an upright interior storage unit that is also home for the optional toilet. While plans are being made for the toilet area to be also optioned as a shower, currently the shower can only be optioned as an exterior fitting. In any event, water is sourced from an underslung streamlined 60L tank as standard and power from a 110 AH battery.
The basic Alto van has a RRP of $48,500 and the options include: Truma water heater and air-con; 90/120w solar panels; electric seating and an awning and cover.
A rear bumper storage box accommodates the awning.
Early indications are there will be buyer interest in the Alto’s refreshing design as five units were sold during the Melbourne show. The Alto is imported through a partnership between Canada’s Safari Condo and Roma Caravans in Australia. Visit www.safaricondo.com/en/ and www.romacaravans.com.au/
A hugely popular attraction was the Iveco- and Mitsubishi Canter-borne expedition camper bodies that were displayed on the Trailblazers RV stand. A well-equipped off-road vehicle usually draws a crowd for its rugged go-anywhere possibilities that many show-goers aspire to. For a large proportion it is the aspiration that excites for some it’s the reality of being prepared to invest in their dreams that brings them into the orbit of such stellar vehicles.
The Trailblazers Overland 3800 PT aboard its host Canter has been the mainstay of the Explorer Series for a few years. A dominant unit in its own right the 12.5 ft slide-on camper/truck combo features everything you would need for an extended or permanent foray around the country or indeed the globe. However, the big news, with emphasis on the big, is the Iveco Overland TC050 vehicle that stood very tall on 37-inch Hankook Dynapro muddies. While the display model was a twin-cab – delivered fresh from the Trailblazers Braeside, Vic, factory that morning and already sold to a buyer in Perth – a single-cab variant is also available.
The key to one of the practical aspects of the slide-on are the electric jacks that are deployed at the campsite. They support the camper while the vehicle is driven out from under the pod before the accommodation is lowered to the desired height. This leaves the vehicle free to be used separately.
The TC050 (5000 twin-cab pop-top) can sleep four. There is a queen bed at the front over the cab, and a double or bunk option to the rear where the dinette also lives.
Just to the left of the entry door is the shower toilet cubicle before steps lead up to the main bed. Opposite the entry door is the fridge/stove/sink and prep area. There are internal storage compartments along either side of the main bed, over the dinette and beside the cooker as well as under the bed. External storage is positioned around the camper body.
As well as the jacks, electric power is available for the pop-top and the awning with a 12V lithium battery and management system, 2500W inverter, two 130W solar panels and reverse-cycle ducted air-con. As you would expect the capacities for water and power are well provisioned and a full list of specs can be found at www.trailblazersrv.com
The big news for Trailblazers is that it is now an approved Iveco dealer so is readily able to supply the range of vehicles more affordably. The Daily 4X4 is a rugged choice. It is built on a solid steel chassis, with permanent all-wheel drive and can lock all three differentials. It has a fording depth of up to 700mm. Passenger comforts extend to optional suspension and heated front seats. While under the vehicle parabolic suspension with a live front axle helps to soak up rough terrain.
The Overland XP Iveco 5517W 4X4 and camper unit was priced at $230,000 inc options. For more information or to see the Trailblazers range of slide-ons, fifth-wheelers and Expedition rigs visit www.trailblazersrv.com