A Kimberley Karavan?

Submitted: Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 10:30
ThreadID: 142717 Views:9033 Replies:7 FollowUps:15
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Time has come to leave tents behind & move into an offroad van.

Currently we're looking at a 2nd hand 2010 Kimberley Karavan. I've not been inside one, but from the photos it seems to have everything we're looking for. Inside cooking, no canvas, strong & reliable, proven design, inside toilet.

I've looked at AOR and their vans look great, but out of my price league.

I've looked at a gazillion hybrids. There seems to be about 3 layouts in the length of van I'm looking for (15'), and the layouts are the same across most brands, which has me thinking they're all the same, just with different decals on them.

I'm not sure on the robustness of these hybrids and would be interested to hear opinions from those who have them.

We're looking for something that can handle hours over corrugations and be able to resist gibbers thrown up at the underside, something that won't shake itself to pieces.

Any suggestions??


Also, does anyone know if the Kimberley Karavans have an alternate way to raise them should the winch fail?

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Reply By: Member - DW Lennox Head(NSW) - Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 13:45

Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 13:45
We had one for 8 years with no problems at all. The only reason we left it was that my wife has a spinal problem and the KK was not kind to her getting in and out of bed.
Our KK travel thousands of kms on all sorts of roads, from Cape York, to the Kimberely, all over SA and Victoria, NSW and Qld.
I suggest you go to the Kimberley Karavan Owners Group site and you will get great advice from owners and past owners. https://kkog.org.au
Regards Duncan
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Reply By: Member - Jim S1 - Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 13:53

Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 13:53
Hello S
The Kimberley people made/ make very strong campers, up there with the best of them. I would assume that the Karavan would also be very capable.
Can you contact Kimberley these days ?
There must be a Kimberley camper website somewhere to ask about the raising mechanics.
Top campers anyway.

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Follow Up By: Member - DW Lennox Head(NSW) - Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 15:24

Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 15:24
Kimberleys' website is https://kimberleykampers.com.au/
This will lead to the builders whereas, I mentioned the KKOG is https://kkog.org.au
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Reply By: Member - Warren H - Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 15:50

Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 15:50
I've been investigating them on and off as well. Some sellers specifically mention that the cable system has been serviced/cable replaced. If you search other forums eg Caravaners forum you'll find a few threads. The usual range of opinions, but at least it gives you a heads up on things to check. They have a massive payload and an atm of only 2000kg, if my memory serves me correctly. Good luck with your search.
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 17:42

Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 17:42

I wrote this for a similar query a while ago. I have not edited it but things won't have changed much:

We have a 2007 model Karavan, have had it almost from new. It's done over 100,000km of outback travel including GCR, GRR, abandoned section of the Gunbarrel from Giles to Carnegie and beyond, Rudall River NP (very rough, cut a tyre, bent a rim but the van was great), Gary Junction Hwy, numerous forestry roads, tracks and firetrails in the Snowies, Blue Mountains and Vic High Country. It's tough enough to do the rough work, but like a 4WD that goes to those sorts of places, needs maintenance.

When closed up for towing it is only as high and as wide a the average tow vehicle, so it will fit where the tug will fit. It's pretty nimble.

Your 2007 model will have a long hatch in the floor which allows easy access for maintenance to a major part of the lifting system. Later models do not have that, so you will be ahead in that regard. Ask the seller what has been done maintenance and modification wise to the lifting system. There are known problems, with fixes available through the Owners Group.

There is also an issue with improperly located bearings and seals in the hubs. It's a design issue. Again. the Owners Group has a fix for that, with parts available through our on-line shop.

There is an owners group, the Kimberley Karavan Owners Group (KKOG). We don't have a website as such, but an excellent forum at kkog.org.au, and as Macca said, you can get a temporary, restricted membership set up so that a possible purchaser can access the forum and ask questions of the members.

Weightwise, the 2007 model has a GTM of 2000 and an ATM of 2200. The plated and registered weights and tares of all models are all over the place when you look at compliance plates and rego certificates. There were some variations in the first few 2006 models, but from September 2007 onwards the weights are 2000/2200. Mine had an original tare of 1400. It was never realistic and I discovered how unrealistic when I had to get it weighed as part of a GTM/ATM upgrade. The actual tare is about 1800, a 400kg discrepancy.

Towball weight is in the range 150 to 250kg, depending on how you load the van and where the large water tank is. (Somewhere between 2007 and 2008 the 120 litre tank was moved from well in front of the axle to the rear.) Also if it has had a lithium battery conversion, which many owners have done, that makes a big (favourable) difference to ball weight.

Because of unrealistic tares, etc, many members of KKOG have had weight issues and many of those have pursued a weight upgrade to keep legal. I'm in NSW. My local engineer required upgraded springs (which I did anyway as I had a broken one) and wheels to Australian Standards (ie stamped with load capacity. The originals were not to the standard.) Other states, notably Queensland, are not so fussy. The hoops you have to jump through for this upgrade depend on which state you live in and the engineer you choose. My GTM is now 2380 and the ATM is 2500.

The Karavan was first released in mid 2006. The original weights of 2000 and 2200 were designed to be towable behind the likes of Prado, Pathfinder, Pajero class vehicles of the day. Many owners still do that, but be aware that if your Karavan has had a weight upgrade that class of vehicle, particularly if it is older, may no longer be adequate. For 7 years I towed mine with a 2007 120 Series diesel Prado. It was an excellent combination. I tow now with a BT50. Same again.

Although it's called a Karavan, it's a hybrid. For a van it's small. For a camper it's, shall we say, not compact. But it's a very compact caravan! 5 people will be a squeeze. You can fit 5 people around the inside table, but it is tight. OK occasionally, say for visitors having a drink on a wet night, but not on a regular basis for meals. You will need to exercise the camper part of the hybrid deal and eat outside when possible.

Similarly, sleeping 5 inside will be a real squeeze. I've never investigated the bunk bed option. There were bunks in a vertical arrangement available in the early days, but whether the new management still makes them is unknown to me. You would still need a 5th bed and that would fill the central walkway, which makes it very difficult for mum or dad to get out of bed for a nocturnal call of nature.

If your kids are old enough there is a three man kids tent that hangs off the extended bed out the back. If the new factory cannot supply it, any canvas maker could knock one up. The Kimberley version is nice, though.

There is also an excellent full awning available which would give you an enclosed outside room. Your's might come with that. Being fully framed, it's very strong. It's a fair effort to set up, so not really designed for single overnights, in which case there are simple awning options, such as a Fiamma bag awning or Kimberley's own Kwik Awning. Again, yours might already have that option.

If you want to try the temporary membership of KKOG, and I recommend you do, contact the secretary at

If you want more info feel free to email me at

frankponetwonine( the one two nine in figures and no spaces before the at sign) at gmail.com


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Follow Up By: Member - Siringo - Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 17:48

Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 17:48
Thanks Frank, that's a great help.

One question.

How do you get into the bed? It looks like it's quite high. Is there a ladder or steps that can be used?? Or, do you have to stand on the seat then jump up and onto the bed?

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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 17:55

Friday, Oct 15, 2021 at 17:55

Step up onto a seat then onto the bed. Some people have made or carry a small step to make the step onto the seat easier. From there you put a knee on the bed and crawl in.


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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 at 17:57

Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 at 17:57
Frank "Rudall River NP (very rough, cut a tyre, bent a rim but the van was great)" ..... in August 2018?
I am the chap you or your travelling partner (also with a Karavan) helped out when I was repairing a water hose in the pull out kitchen of our Tvan at Desert Queen Baths. I had been sceptical of the Karavan's ability to traverse the many 'acute dips', but aside from a puncture it managed without difficulty. I was impressed. Should I ever decide to tow something a bit larger than our Tvan (instead of moving to a truck based camper), the Karavan would be at the top of our list of potentials. The enthusiasm of the owners group would play a significant part in that choice.
See 'My Profile' (below) for link to our Aussie travel blog, now in it's 5th year.

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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 07:47

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 07:47
Hey Cuppa,
Yes, that was us. I recall the cheeky to and fro between your party and ours on the UHF on the way in, LOL. It was a fabulous trip, but a bit time constrained - we were on our way to an owners' group AGM at Margaret River and had an en-route booking at Wolleen Station Stay - now there's a place you should document in your travels. We would have liked to stay longer in Rudall R NP and explore more but it wasn't to be.

Did you go south toward the Talawanna Track when leaving the Park? Enjoy the corries? LOL Worst I've ever endured. You could lie down in them and watch the traffic passing overhead.

The cut tyre and bent rim was mismanagement on my part. I had aired down for the rough road south from Telfa and should have aired up a bit for the rocky track into the campground to straighten the sidewalls, so it certainly wasn't the Karavan's fault. I made a fair effort at straightening that rim with a lump hammer and put six strings in the cut sidewall. It held air, so I had a spare of sorts but fortunately didn't have to test it. I got a used tyre at Newman to give me my spare back, but the rim eventually had to be replaced. That wasn't too much of a deal as when I got home I replaced all three as part of a certified weight upgrade - not so I could carry more, but to make what it weighed legal LOL. (Ref the weight comments in the reply to Siringo above.)

The Karavan is a fabulous hybrid. The new owners of the business have addressed most of the design flaws that the owners' group members have identified and fixed for themselves, so despite its complexity the new models are now at least as reliable as the worked-up, modified older models, if not more so.

The factory has pretty much found its feet after the disastrous closure and re-birth followed by Covid but has a way to go to regain full production capacity. If you're thinking of purchase, plan ahead - the delivery time is close on 12 months AFAIK.


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Follow Up By: Briste - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 08:53

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 08:53
Longer than twelve months. Orders are now for 2023 I was told by an impeccable source.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 09:29

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 09:29
I think with Covid shutdowns/slowdowns in various industries, they are having materials and components supply issues combined with high demand. Hopefully things will speed up when we open up.

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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 at 11:40

Saturday, Oct 16, 2021 at 11:40
We were looking at something similar (2nd hand) last year to progress out of our Kimberley Kamper. Looked at the Karavan and consulted Frank (above) who was a great help. Despite my liking of the Kimberley group we wanted an outside kitchen, didn't like the fact you had to raise the van to boil the kettle and was wary of the raising mechanism failing somewhere remote. The advantages we saw with the Karavan was its lighter weight than most hybrids, impeccable factory service and lower tow height.
We went with a CompleteCampsite Exodus 14. It was 9 years old and has been with its previous owner to many of the places Frank's mentioned above. We towed with a Pajero, now a new Prado, gross weight across a weighbridge 2.2T loaded, ATM 2.5T. I'm very impressed with it. Liked the on screen look of AOR and its reputation, but at the time Anastasia wouldn't let us into Qld to look or buy one
We have yet to take it on any of the roads Frank has mentioned in the last 12 months but the previous owner has. As Frank mentioned, realistic ,honest gross weights should be an important consideration. Individual fit out like inside/outside kitchen or shower is a personal thing.
They are not all the same when you start looking at specs, weights and ability to repair. As Frank said, they all need preventative maintenance, nothing is bullet proof, just some more durable than others.
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Follow Up By: Briste - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 09:41

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 09:41
I hesitate to comment, as I am still waiting for my van order, and thus can't speak from experience. But I did spend some time considering in detail the same two options that Mark did, albeit for a new order.

The thing I really liked about the Exodus was that it's roomier inside than the KK, and the bed access is a bit easier. Neither is large inside, but I expect that the extra space of the Exodus would be an advantage on an inclement day.

However, cooking on the Exodus is only outside, and while that's an advantage for a quick boil, on a really bad day you can manage to cook inside (microwave, hotplate) on the KK.

The KK also has an internal shower and an external shower head, whereas the Genesis 14 only has an external shower. I gather that you could order a Genesis 16 with an internal shower as well as the internal toilet.

I've only seen one Genesis in the flesh, and that had the same Nature's Head composting toilet that recent KKs come with - I gather that wasn't a standard option, but can be specified. Not sure about a retro-fit - owners of older KKs have done this.

Both of these vans are appealing options if you're looking for a compact off-road hybrid, but what tipped me against the Exodus was its slightly greater tare and garage size. You can squeeze the KK into many garages, but the Exodus' slightly greater height rules that out for some people. Pity.

In terms of the lift mechanism for the KK, in the current new spec the winch has been replaced by actuators and there is a manual override (see this video). No override for older vans, just preventative maintenance.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 12:36

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 12:36
"In terms of the lift mechanism for the KK, in the current new spec the winch has been replaced by actuators and there is a manual override (see this video). No override for older vans, just preventative maintenance."

For those who don't know, the way it works is this:

There's a travelling head in a trench under the floor to which is attached four cables, one for each corner of the top that raises and lowers. The cables run through a series of 14 pulleys to make them do what they have to do.

Until recently the travelling head was attached to a small winch by a synthetic rope. Wind the winch rope in, the top would rise. Wind it out to lower the top. Two issues here:- One, if the winch failed electrically or mechanically, there is no backup. The top would be stuck up or down or somewhere else in the cycle.
Two, if the winch rope broke during a cycle the top would drop from wherever it was.

The old factory introduced a couple of modifications to reduce the risks, the main one being a large gas strut in the trench to assist the winch and rope. It did reduce the load on both but did not introduce any redundancy - there was no manual over-ride.

The new factory under the new proprietor has replaced the winch and rope with a long, motor driven screw jack. The shaft can be accessed from outside, as the video shows, to allow manual operation in case of motor failure. The best aspect is that it's fail safe - if it fails the top just stays where it is until you wind it up or down manually.

The 14 pulleys in the system had small ball races, like skateboard wheel bearings, in them. They are designed for light loads and high speed operation, not the 3 RPM and 90 to 180kg loads applied in the lifting system. A number of them have failed, causing damage to the the corner cables (see below). The new management has replaced the ball races with bronze bushes.

That leaves the four corner cables. Ironically, the most frequent failure in the lifting system has been rusted and thence broken wire cables, not the winch and not the winch rope which were addressed by both factories. There are inspection ports in the cable channels where you can inspect the cables as the system is cycled, which I consider to be essential maintenance. Stainless cables are a possibility but the engineers within the owners' group think that the operating radius of the pulleys is too small for the gauge of SS cable required, so gal cable and regular inspection remains the routine.

EDIT: You can minimise the chances of rusty cables by applying a little tension to the cables after the top is down. This keeps the cables off the floor of the cable channels where water might lie.

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Follow Up By: Briste - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 13:12

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 13:12
I'm glad that Frank wrote all that, because I'm not qualified to do so. It's certainly the case that the new actuator system doesn't solve all potential problems. There are still the lift cables etc.

One thing that Frank didn't mention is that owners in the KKOG have documented some easy-to-construct supports that you use to support the carapace when it's up. You raise it to the top, insert the four external supports, and then lower the carapace a few mm so that it rests on them and takes the weight off the cables. On the older KKs with the winch I assume they de-stress the entire lift system. On the newer ones they would still de-stress the cables.

Also worth mentioning is that for older KKs, there are other mods documented on the KKOG to improve the performance and reliability of the winch system. At one point in my research I wrote the KK off because of a small number reports I read about owners being stranded. IIRC one was a new KK, although it may have been new-s/h. It got back on the short list once I became aware of the new actuators. Knowing what I now know from the KKOG about the lift system and the mods, I'd be prepared to buy an older one and either do or have the mods done. But knowing what I now know, I still much prefer a KK built under the new ownership because the build quality is SO much better, and because I'm not a tinkerer (like Frank). Also the latest new spec has some appealing features. But it certainly ain't cheap and the wait is long and getting longer.
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Reply By: Member - Siringo - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 11:39

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 11:39
Thanks everyone for the help and advice.

What do people think of the the wide range of Hybrid caravans available these days?

I've never followed the caravan 'scene', but from what I understand, Tvans and Karavans came onto the scene before all these Hybrids.

This has me thinking that maybe these Hybrids are solid & robust and not just jumped up small caravans with big wheels as they will have copied the Tvans and Karavans of the world.

I really have no idea, and only a little bit of experience. All I'm looking for is something that won't rattle itself to pieces & is affordable.

Currently I'm looking at a 2nd hand Karavan and a Stoney Creek 14' Hybrid.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 16:14

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 16:14
Kimberley, Trak (T van) , CompleteCampsite and some others were all manufacturers of high end, innovative very robust CamperTrailers long before they made caravans or hybrids. They are not 'van manufacturers who strayed into hybrids. Do your research on various brands pedigrees.
In the case of the Exodus, the shell is actually made by an Ocean Racing yacht manufacturer, the suspension by a specialist Aussie Suspension company.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 18:58

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 18:58

The Stoney Creeks seem quite popular, but I’d be looking at either a Jawa Sirocco 16’, or a Vision(16’ too, I recall?) made by a division of Sunseeker. The latter has a composting toilet, as well as induction cook tops. Both these can be optioned with lithium batteries & “big” inverters, so you can get a little cheeky with power usage.

Speaking of induction cook tops, how does one make a slice or two of toast? Asking for a mate!


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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 20:57

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 20:57
For induction toast, you simply add iron filings to the dough Bob.

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 22:51

Sunday, Oct 17, 2021 at 22:51
Ha ha, thanks Allan. Got it sorted!


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Follow Up By: Member - Siringo - Monday, Oct 18, 2021 at 08:55

Monday, Oct 18, 2021 at 08:55
Thanks Bob I'll check those two brands out.

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Reply By: Member - Siringo - Monday, Oct 18, 2021 at 08:56

Monday, Oct 18, 2021 at 08:56
Thanks everyone for the help & advice it's greatly appreciated.

Special thanks to Frank for taking my calls and giving me some very useful advice.
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