Dirt Rd/Off Rd caravan

Submitted: Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 20:27
ThreadID: 58305 Views:4211 Replies:6 FollowUps:9
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I know this has been done a bit before (alright, maybe a lot) but bear with me....I have a Coromal Pioneer Silhouette which is perfect for us for the time being/next 2 years. I've been looking at all the Kedron vids and Bushtracker/Trakmaster/Boroma etc info and think that even if I had the readies for one of these monsters, there's no way in the world I'm prepared to lug any of these around this big island of ours. Although our Silhouette will take us around the Loop in the Red centre and along the Birdsville/Strzlecki tracks without much ado, I don't think it, or it's Coromal "stablemates" will take happily to years of l-o-n-g corrugated and potholed tracks. We have an eye on our greying years but have noticed a sharp jump from so-called off-roaders (Coromal etc) in the mid 40,000s and then a huge jump to 80,000s for the big jobbies. A couple I have noticed at a resonable cost50,000 ish are Billabong's Bush Basha (not keen on the name but...) and also the "Ranger" which doesn't seem to be that well known. Basically, I'm after a compromise between the price and weight at one end of the scale and the same at the other end. Suspensions and axles look capable enough but I wonder about the walls/draws/cupboards etc and how they're fixed to the frame. Any recommendations??

You knew I'd finish with that didn't you? ;-))

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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 20:44

Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 20:44
I don't think you can get a unit that will last, be highly capable on rough roads, have a good level of comfort and be remote area compliant without parting with the serious sheckels you describe - I'm stepping into that arena myself and will be paying too much I guess but they won't make and sell them for less. And if fuel prices stay high, the van may be worth bugger all when I'm done with it in 10 years :-o( ............. hmmmm.
AnswerID: 307379

Reply By: Doggy Tease - Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 20:44

Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 20:44
gday Steve, We just got hold of a new Goldstream Off-road Storm. Its a wind up the roof and pull the beds out style of camper/van. From all our research we did, these things seem to be the best off this crop of camper and are up to the task of handling the rough stuff allot better than Coromal/Jayco. They also make standard caravans in off-road configuration so they may be worth a look at as well.


AnswerID: 307380

Reply By: Steve - Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 21:35

Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 21:35
I think there are a few worthy of the name oof-roader but I suppose it is a case of how much off-roader is it?

As I said, for me a Bushtracker et al would be too big for my liking. The most suitable and capable at a price of just under $50,000 is the Billabong Van, built in Melbourne. Looks the genuine thing as opposed to the Jayco/Coromal and even Supreme offerings

I looked at the Goldstream but thought the Coromal Pioneer worth the extra $$$$. We're looking ahead to going back to a full van in a couple of years, having done the camper for 4 years.
AnswerID: 307393

Follow Up By: Steve - Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 21:37

Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 21:37
Doggy: just to qualify that, we thought they were of similarly decent build but the Coromal has better levels of comfort/room for us.
FollowupID: 573246

Reply By: Member - Kevin J (QLD) - Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 22:40

Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 22:40
The issue here is what do you consider to be "off road" If in fact you are meaning 'off blacktop' then there are vans which I believe will meet your expectations.

We looked at all the 'big boys' and quite frankly they were out of our bracket and certainly too big and heavy for what we wanted.

What we have suits us and although it is now three years since we bought I think they would still be in the $50000 bracket.

Firstly look at the suspension. Simplicity does a very good job.
Clearance. Entry and exit are important. The actual height or underclearance matters little as the van only needs to clear what the tow has already cleared.
General construction. Most chassis come from one or two manufacturers
Timber or aluminium. Personal preference only since both can create problems.

We settled on a Galaxy Southern Cross Off Road. Has what we wanted eg toilet/shower, queen bed, gas stove and hot water, three way fridge, Tv and A/c. We have done considerable mileage on station roads - both black soil and rough gravel - and to date no problems. We tend to drive very much to the conditions and we find that the top cupboards remain as packed. I would think long and hard before taking on the Gibb River or Old Mornington or even Cobold Gorge but with care I think it would do the job.

Not a recommendation. Just another to look at.

Kevin J

AnswerID: 307411

Follow Up By: Steve - Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 22:54

Monday, Jun 02, 2008 at 22:54
cheers Kevin.

I think there are a lot things to bear in mind ie: fixtures and the way the thing is glued to the frame etc + driving speed. At the moment we still have our little parasites, whoops, I mean "angels" with us, and are still mainly confined to school holidays which does mean we can't afford to dawdle along at a leisurely 70kph just yet. This is where the danger is with our current set-up. It will happilly go along corrugatiosn but we do need to skip along at maybe 90 providing conditions suit, but then there's always the danger of a sudden washout/pothole. This is where we'd come unstuck and therefore are looking for something a bit more solid. With slide-out kitchens etc there are too many moving parts for my liking. The odd 70 km stretch is a breeze, but repeated 700km stretches are a different matter and would undo us eventually. I'll have a look at those anyway, mate.

FollowupID: 573268

Reply By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 10:01

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 10:01
Steve, there are over 200 Kimberley Karavans on road now like the one we have and is on the back of our LC in the rig pic. You can visit the manufacturers website Owners and some dealers have a website that is secure to members - owners only, dealers only too where all sorts of things are discussed. One of the membersr has been in to Fraser Island just recently and his mate with an Ultimate got bogged but not him!

The Kimberley Karavan is the only caravan that is allowed by ministerial approval into the Bungle Bungles as it is on a c/t chassis and capable to get there.

One of the things in the price of fuel and towing equation now is the frontal area of the van. Ours is barely higher than the car and the same width and track. They aren't likght, but then they are the equivilent of a 16' van inside when opened up. Complete with shower and toilet and plenty of little things like diesel hot water as standard, diesel cooktop, and low power use LED lighting.

We love ours. We can arrive onsite in the dark, get food prepaeed and be eating a cooked meal within 20 minutes of arrival. We have done it several times in the last month. Yeh, they aren't cheap, but as I said above, they have to fit the fuel price equation now too!
AnswerID: 307475

Follow Up By: Steve - Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 17:07

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 17:07
now, that's got us thinking. I wouldn't mind but we were at the Maitland show the other week and walked right past one. Never even occured to us - although we did arrive a bit late and had a limited time to see what we had in mind.

I've seen one with a few further options included for $55,000 which would be ok, we're just not quite ready yet. The chef thinks they could be a bit cramped after what we've got, which, when fully extended is very roomy. Still, I keep telling her, nothing is perfect in every aspect.

Is it posibble to add walls to the Bedouin-style awning? Looks like you wouldn't get much protection from driving rain, but otherwise it lacks for nothing as far as I can see and the weight isn't too bad either.

Thanks for that.
FollowupID: 573379

Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 18:10

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 18:10
Steve, they do come up occasionally second hand but we bought ours new with the Bedouin awning. It is kept in the boot of the Karavan but we have a third party roll out annex there in that shot. I will put a photo of it in my album shortly. We really only put the full annex up if we are staying in one place for two or more days and without concrete floors in CVPs.

I like to cook outside on the wok burner but the food prep area is inside though some have extended the external table to do that.

The area inside is a bit cramped if two do the washing up or want to get to the stove while on the control seat. In order to read the dash board, the control seat is an easy place. The loo in other words.

The combination sower/toilet area is fine even for a big bloke like me. I prefer to shower in there than use the CVP showers where they are too cramped to keep feet dry and get them into trousers again. I even prefer the shower to some of the top hotels these days that have water saver heads.

Steve, I know some folk who saw it originally as an ugly duckling, but then went and bought it for the innovation. That was a reason for our spontaneity too I reckon./ We were only looking and then towards Bushtracker, Trackmaster or something similar
FollowupID: 573392

Follow Up By: Steve - Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 20:04

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 20:04
I like the fact that you can stop overnight and cook and sleep inside with minimum preparation.

I know the KCampers have the Bedouin awning, which has always struck me as ok as an awning but wasn't sure if it had compatible walls - we don't use them that often but there are times when they really are worth having.

Ugly duckling? Maybe a bit of an odd shape - there are a few vans/campers around like that but it's not the utmost consideration is it?
FollowupID: 573419

Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Kath - Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 20:43

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 20:43
Yes, we like it like that too. We stopped on an overnight trip home last year from the extended EO Warraweena trip for an hour and a half break. Didn't take more than a couple of minutes to be up when you establish your routines.

The Bedouin awning can be purchased with and without walls, or the walls purchased afterwards as they are velcroed into place. There is an annex photo in the members gallery

The ugly duckling was the friends reference. It wasn't their consideration as they went back and ordered one.

With the profile gallery shot with an old bloke standing by the Karavan with the Fiamma lightweight awning. Have it on much of the time now but it slides out easily. Seems to not want to be shown here.
FollowupID: 573429

Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 17:03

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 17:03
Steve, friends on the road full time ended up with a 16' Phoenix (dual axle). Having towed a very large custom built OR van, they were downsizing, and wanted a Bushtracker, or next choice Kedron, but neither company seemed willing to accommodate their precise needs. Phoenix did, and they are still wrapped in the van and the cooperative company. I think it is still a heavy van, especially with all they carry, but they tow it with a Landcruiser, and do all the out of the way tracks they can. I don't know about price.

I have met two people with the tiniest and toughest of the Supreme range, and both were happy with the product. It was way too small for our needs, and my husband would need to curl up like a paper clip to fit in the bed.

When we went looking, i was willing to try a so called 'off roader', but my husband wouldn't risk it, and having seen the chassis on the Bushtracker, it was BT or nothing. We bought a pre-loved 1998 van in 2004 when second hand was hard to find, and 18' was the smallest we found on the market. It has a tare of 2.2 t on the licence. Solidly built to take the rough stuff, and more than enough cupboard space for all our needs. Bathroom was a bonus and now we wouldn't like to be without that luxury.



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Follow Up By: Steve - Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 17:23

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 17:23
Thanks Ma. They really do look the duck's nuts but, gee, a bit of a weight and price. I've seen your photos with the impressive rig but.....you never know. Maybe we'll be making a compromise and eventually realise that before going for a big rig, but that seems a way off yet. I think the Pheonix are pretty much up there price and weight-wise with BT and Kedron. Had a look at Supremes (not Diana Ross) recently and wasn't at all impressed. I believe the older ones were better - well, that's what somebody told me anyway.

Do you find yourselves tenting it at all for places like Mitchell Plateau or the Cape? That's the other conundrum.
FollowupID: 573381

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 19:15

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 19:15
Hi Steve - Now we have the F250, we have set it up to sleep in the back of that extraaa long tray - no more tents. We plan to take it across the King Edward river to the campsite and drive the rest of the way to Mitchell Falls without the van. My recent research leads me to understand that we will get into most places with our rig, except Lennard River Gorge which we will miss - sounds like a pretty rough 8 km 4wd track in before a rough walk - reluctant to do these in F250 without knowledge because of the extra length and width. Off course Purnululu is no caravans anyway, so will sleep in the back again there. Last year we spent two weeks touring around Kalgoorlie without the van to try it out. Fine, except the day night it rained - tea was early and quick!

Others have taken their Bushtrackers (mostly longer than ours too) with F250s all the way to the Cape, and a number of other off the beaten track places. One also had quite an adventure going through narrow sections on Cattlewater Pass.


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Follow Up By: Steve - Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 20:10

Tuesday, Jun 03, 2008 at 20:10
MH: actually, that's a feasible option for us. Not quite as long as the F250 but the Defender 130 dual cab that we have is fitted out for sleeping quarters in the back. I've been away with the boys and used it but not sure about SWMBO. We're planning on keeping the Defender for the forseeable (or even longer) and there are options with that too, I suppose, with rooftop tent or upgrade from the current canopy.
FollowupID: 573420

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