Outback Travel

Submitted: Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 20:31
ThreadID: 134001 Views:4352 Replies:11 FollowUps:22
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Dilemma - off road hybrid camper compared to Off road full caravan.
Would a fully off road 20 ft 6 inch caravan be suitable for travel on such tracks as the Gibb River road, Tanami, Great Central, Anne Beadell and other similar tracks Would it be too large to pull around and would a 12 ft hybrid caravan be suitable We understand such tracks as the Simpson Desert and the Canning are most suited to vehicles only What advise can people give us as to the best set up for us to see most of this amazing country- or even combination of set ups Thanks
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Reply By: Member - Witi Repartee - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 20:50

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 20:50
I can only speak from a caravannners point of view. A full off road van would certainly handle most of your proposed trips. The GRR, Tanami, GCR etc. Not sure of the Annie Beadell...I've never done it but have heard its tough and rough. The usual provisos apply, your gear is only as good as your preparation and and driving skills with the appropriate speeds and tyre pressures etc. Just ruminating...what is a full off road van theese days....once there were only 3 or 4 recognised off road vans...now every manufacturer seems to have one...or are they on road vans with a 4" lift checkerplate and lots of bling?
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 21:35

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 21:35
Hi Nuts

Of the four roads mentioned above, the first three are major, wide outback roads, while the Anne Beadell on the other hand is just a two wheel , with the exception from Ilkurla Roadhouse to around Neale Junction.

If you value your full size caravan, then you would want to steer well clear of the Anne Beadell, or else you would come home with major damage to the exterior of the van and possible panel damage. It is quit tight in there for many sections for a car, and the full size van would get very damaged.

I am doing this reply from my iPad, so I will find some of examples of the Anne Beadell and post them soon from my computer .


Cheers



Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 22:43

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 22:43
Hi Nuts

As per my reply above, here are various images of the Anne Beadell Highway and as you can see, it is a Highway in name only, and a two wheel track in real life.

The images below will give you a cross section of what many sections are like, and as you can see, would you want to pull a full size van through the many tight, narrow and winding sections?

If on the other had you said yes, make sure that you book into a panel shop before you leave to repair the damage. Also towing any camper will not compare at all to a full size van.

So what you you think of these?



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Stephen



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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 23:19

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 23:19
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Hi Stephen,
You only showed Nuts some photos of the bad parts of the Anne Beadell Hwy.
Here is a photo of a good section. lol
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 00:10

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 00:10
Hi Allan

First of all Seasons Greetings to you and Roz.

The reason why I did not show him more images like you have shown, is because Nuts only wanted to see the bad sections......lol


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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 08:12

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 08:12
-

Oh, he wants to see bad sections? ....... I'll hunt some out! - lol.

And Stephen, Seasons Greetings to you and Fiona too mate.

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Follow Up By: splits - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 22:40

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 22:40
Len must have been wearing 1950s/60s ripple sole boots when he built that section.
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Reply By: Hewy54 - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 22:04

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 22:04
I believe that a full sized off road van will easily do most of the roads you have mentioned. The only problem is that many of the attractions in the outback are off these main roads and so if you have a full van the only option is to camp and leave your van there to visit some of these.
A 12 ft hybrid is better suited if you wish to camp in some of the more remote areas.
Many will tell you that they have taken vans to all sorts of places, but I wonder about the condition when they get back.
We have a small hybrid (Vista Crossover XL) and find it plenty large enough for extended trips (we normally go away for 8-9 weeks at a time), yet small enough to take anywhere we want.
A large van will handle most road conditions, but will not handle tight cornering or ramp angles.
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Follow Up By: Nuts 50 - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 19:45

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 19:45
Thanks so much for your thoughts. We have heard about a Hybrid from MDC- XT12. Do you know anything about these? Apparently fairly new to market, using Chinese imports but assembled in Australia to AUS standards. Aussie electrical and gas approved etc. Price and accessories seem reasonable. A bit heavier than some ( Tare ~ 2000kg) but no timber used with aluminium and composite panels, 6in gal chassis.
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Follow Up By: Hewy54 - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 08:32

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 08:32
I have looked at the XT12 and also the Lifestyle AT12. There will always be endless discussion on Chinese imports, but value for money, they seem to do the job up to a limit.
A well built Australian product will have a better finish and better backup. Many seem to have bought the imports, then spent some time and money to fix problems and still come out in front.
When we bought the Vista we went in with an open mind and no price limit (rather than a price we wanted value for our money).
We looked at Tvans, Topaz, Lifestyle AT10/12, XT various models, Eclipse,Exodus as well as some small off road caravans.
We found that the Vista gave us the best of what WE wanted (maybe not for others). ie we wanted an inside bed with hard wall around it, pop/lift lid for travel and to fit in the shed, outside cooking, light to tow, minimal set up and go anywhere.
The Vista ticked all the boxes.
We had the extra bonus that we ran into someone selling a Vista XL that was only 18 months old with all the options we wanted, and for $12k less than new price, and it turned out that we knew the people from many years ago.
For us some things were meant to be.
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Reply By: Member - Robert1660 - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 22:26

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 22:26
There is unfortunately no such thing as the perfect caravan/camper trailer . Everything is a compromise. Nevertheless I have seen a Falcon pulling a caravan on the Gibb and a Holden Commodore on the Tanami. The GCR is very good in WA but can be quite variable in NT. With respect to the Anne Beadell friends towed Tvans across a few years ago with no real drama. However, slow and steady was the key.
To be absolutely confident you would probably be best with a specifically off road designed camper trailer. These you can take most places without putting too much strain on the vehicle.
We have a Tvan which we have taken to many outback locations with minimal drama. Of course being a camper trailer you don't get the internal toilet and shower nor the internal kitchen. However, what you get is accommodation you can take almost anywhere. P.S., The Mitchell Plateau road is not for the feint hearted, nor any caravan.
Robert
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 09:15

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 09:15
Hi Robert

One point that I would like to point out...."nor the internal kitchen" which is the case for nearly every camper made, but not so for Ultimates.

All Ultimate campers have a full internal galley kitchen, including a two burner gas stove and fridge. So when it freezing cold or bucketing down with rain, Ultimate owners can sit back on the internal lounge and do all the cooking they want without having to venture outside.



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Stephen

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 09:40

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 09:40
Ultimate would also be the only one that you can't leave the bed made up in. This was a major put off for us when we bought our Vista RV Crossover, which has the fridge & a sink inside, all you need in a weather emergency is a $20.00 gas stove. Although cooking inside is a major put off for me, cooking smells & spattered fat aren't very pleasant.
As has already been stated, everything is a compromise which is why we have an AORC Quantum & a Tvan.



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Follow Up By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 19:29

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 19:29
You must be a messy cook Shaker.
We have had an ultimate for over 13 years and cooking inside is a pleasure especially when the hords are about.
Living is a journey,it depends on where you go !
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 11:36

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 11:36
So you can stop cooking odours & fat splatter, you must be good!

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Reply By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 05:40

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 05:40
"Off road" covers a multitude of design possibilities and you're going to have to drill down to a list of specific ones, and then do your research on the build quality of brands of interest.

This in other words is a warning about marketing BS.

Eg one very large manufacturer has a range called 'Outback'. When you read all their guff you find it's OK for graded dirt roads.
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Follow Up By: Member - Robert1660 - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 09:30

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 09:30
Absolutely agree with these sentiments. You only have to have a look at the very inadequate suspension systems of some of these vans to recognise that 50 km of corrugations would destroy them. Also many come with a 50 mm tow ball arrangement which is not overly suited to off bitumen or good dirt situations.
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Follow Up By: Member - Blue M - Friday, Dec 30, 2016 at 02:21

Friday, Dec 30, 2016 at 02:21
Robert, could you please give me some more info as to why a 50mm tow ball arrangement is not overly suited for off bitumen or good dirt situations, as I am not sure I understand what you mean.


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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017 at 12:25

Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017 at 12:25
I can't answer for Robert. My position is that what's 'good dirt' one week can turn into ruts, washouts and diversions the next, so good articulation at the hitch means one less thing to act as a barrier. It also means if you're towing a genuinely offroad capable trailer as per the OP you can genuinely go offroad!
You can of course get a more articulated 50mm ball hitch in the form of the Hyland. Never used one so can't comment on practice.
HTH.
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Reply By: Anthony G1 - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 10:40

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 10:40
Depends a bit of what you want in a Off Road Van. Shower, separate toilet, inside cooking for inclement weather and nothing else to do but open the door. we have a 20.6 Lotus trooper Off road van and have taken it over most of those roads with the exception of the Anne Beadell, Connie Sue and Gary Highway, which we traveled in vehicle only.

We spend up to 6 - 7 months away at a time, and glad we have a full size van, with 300lts of water, plenty of solar and battery power so remote camping for up to 3-4 weeks at a time is no problems.
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Follow Up By: Nuts 50 - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 19:54

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 19:54
Thanks Anthony. What is the size of your Lotus? Looks good. We are tossing up as to whether we sell our current Road caravan- 19'6", and our Hard floor camper trailer and move up to a single fully off road caravan that might suit most of our needs. We realise that on some tracks it would be best to drop van off somewhere and tent it for a while, but are trying to get something which is cost effective and meets most of our plans. Do not intent to be bouncing over mountains, or extreme areas etc but need to meet the general off road features of corrugations, sand, dust with an occasional ( if we are lucky) water crossing (not too deep of course) that you may come across on your travels. Have looked at JB caravans which seem good.
The other option is to keep our current van and upgrade our camper to a small hybrid which has some extra comforts and more importantly has ease of set up.
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Reply By: vk1dx - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 12:31

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 12:31
I just saw that they had lots of rain on Eyres Rock. In about 2 to 3 weeks the deserts will be alive. What about booking into the camp ground at Eyres Rock for a few days and then spend some days camping around the West Macdonald Ranges and/or motel/cabins in Alice Springs with day trips to the ranges.

Re tyres. Once at Eyres Rock let all tyres down to about 25 and leave them at that pressure until you leave to come home and then put the at the right highway pressures. While not ideal it's a good compromise between easy dirt roads and tracks and the bitumen. But keep speed down on the bitumen. Stop regulary to feel the tyres to see if they are not overheating.

If you are going to do this then book asap.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Hewy54 - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 23:01

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 23:01
Sorry to be a spelling nazi, but Ayers Rock
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 07:21

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 07:21
Thanks. I knew something was wrong but do you think I could see it.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 11:38

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 11:38
..... & West MacDonnell Ranges. Sorry!

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Reply By: splits - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 22:57

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 22:57
If you are considering a van down to only 12 foot then a pop top camper on a single cab ute might suit you. I am thinking about one that bolts permanently onto the chassis, not a slide on. Slideons are usually too heavy when you load them and you are carrying the weight of the ute tray as well to make the situation even worse.

You could have it custom made as light as possible with only the things you need in it. The commercially available ones cater for everyone so they have every conceivable thing crammed into them along with all the weight that comes with these things.

To cater for things like heavy camp ovens, water, jerrys full of fuel, tools etc, you could tow a small custom built trailer designed for carrying only. This should make it easy to keep the car well under maximum carrying capacity and a very long way under its towing capacity. This will ensure maximum reliability.

You could now drive over the Anne Beadell with ease as well as just about anywhere else you want to go and never have to double back to pick up your van.



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Reply By: Member - Mark C (QLD) - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 08:47

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 08:47
We have a exodus 11 from complete campsite and am looking to upgrade to the 14 or 16. These have internal shower and toilet and are still only as wide as the car for all off-road travel and on road. Built to go any where and we have taken ours to Mitchell falls and all south west Queensland and only 1800 to 2200kg fully loaded. The AOR eclipse and quantum are also worth looking at.
Mark And Helen QLD
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 23:15

Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 23:15
Exodus are now promoting their external shower that flips up at the rear for models like the 16. That way they get more interior room.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark C (QLD) - Sunday, Jan 01, 2017 at 17:52

Sunday, Jan 01, 2017 at 17:52
Yes but my wife specifically wants an inside toilet now. I think the rear one is fine but she does not want to go out at night.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Jan 01, 2017 at 18:03

Sunday, Jan 01, 2017 at 18:03
Exodus toilet is inside - flip up one of the seats in the dinette. Just a small portapotti but no ensuite.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark C (QLD) - Monday, Jan 02, 2017 at 20:58

Monday, Jan 02, 2017 at 20:58
Flip up inside on the exodus 11 only. Outside on all three. You can get the ensuite in the 14 and 16 if you like or the double bunks.
Mark And Helen QLD
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 23:43

Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 23:43
Our solution has been to buy one of each!
We have swagged for 30 years, towed a Tvan for 7 years and had an offroad single axle caravan for 2 years. We have all 3 options available to us depending on the trip.
If you wantt an internal shower, toilet, kitchen and all the bells and whistles, then I recommend our caravan. But it is 2.5m wide and 3.2m high so i'd never use it for the Anne Beadell Highway or many other Beadell roads because it would get trashed by the overgrown tracks. Also a lot of the extras need 240v which is not readily available when offroading in the Kimberley. And we refuse to carry a noisy generator. It also weighs 2.5T laden so fuel consumption increases by about 50%.

If you want something that can do the Anne beadell Highway, the Tvan is ideal. Great suspension, and the perfect bed on wheels with a fibreglass shell over your head for when it gets windy or wet. Might use 25% more fuel and weigh 1.3T laden.

If you want a hybrid, it will cost you $30k more that either of the above options but you will get a poptop van which might be 2.1m wide and 2.2m high so it can do some of the overgrown tracks. Weight saving might be only say 10-15% less than an offroad caravan. Usually a combo shower or external shower with internal toilet.

My suggestion is that if you want a bed on wheels that can truly go remote, get the Tvan or Ultimate.
If you want to do the well graded dirt roads like the tanami or Gibb then buy a well constructed offroad caravan and enjoy the luxuries.
As for the hybrids .... yes everything is a compromise but if their resale value is good, then you can't go far wrong.
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Reply By: Grant L - Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017 at 09:40

Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017 at 09:40
Nuts
have you seen a off road van called "Rhino"friends from Qld have one to go fossicking in the north of that state for extended periods they are built in Brisbane area there probably is a waiting time and probably cost heaps the web site is "rhinocaravans.com.." hope this may be of assistance
Grant
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