Taking off across the Nullarbor to move back to the motherland of Western Australia was not without its challenges, but I was also keen to introduce some local talent to the Caravan World mix. Enter this newest member of the Adventure Series (Extreme Offroad), the Explorex Numbat 540XOR.
Explorex Caravans has been family owned since 2003. Previously, its primary breadwinner was building vans for mining companies — that is, until a steady decline in the mining industry meant reaching out to the domestic market, around 2009, was the way to go.
Principal Greg Ferguson has since spent a lot of time perfecting what goes into making a great caravan, particularly for those offroad adventurers. So these vans aren’t just coming off the mass-produced assembly line — only around 70 vans are built each year. Instead, everything from the chassis foundation, walls, furnishings, suspension, wiring and cabinetry are built in the factory from the ground up. This is probably a good reason why Explorex has flourished during such difficult times and, with the addition of a boom in the iron ore industry, it's even made it difficult to keep up with demand.
NEAT AND TIDY
The Explorex Numbat 540XOR is a small, albeit neat and unassuming, van with the naked eye — but that’s because the guts of the van are neatly tucked away and secured behind the scenes for the purpose of its intended offroad use.
Packing up and locking down for your offroad adventure is a quick and painless procedure. However, I imagine two people might find it a bit snug at 5.4m (17ft 7in), so it’s most definitely more about the offroad experience rather than its liveability.
The name is fitting, as this little Numbat is built for semi-arid offroad terrain, and with fully independent Cruisemaster coil suspension that will handle the bumps with ease.
DINE AND DASH
A little nook for dining does the job, with a fold-out table to secure away for more breathing space, but you won’t be spreading yourself out for extra company (the larger Explorex Ningaloo Offroad model would be a step up for roominess and inside entertaining). However, I suspect you’ll be dining al fresco most of the time, with the barbecue setup outside perfect for this.
Although the three-way fridge is still a popular option for vans these days, the Numbat uses a Dometic compressor fridge. With the inclusion of two 150W solar panels and 12V battery power on the van, it will last longer and stay cooler, without any dust getting in the back of it while on the road (which can be a problem with a three-way fridge).
Other standard features include the Redarc BMS1230 battery management system, that sits above the fridge, and the two 12V 100Ah batteries which are purposely placed under one of the dining chairs, away from the dust and damage that can be caused by external wear and tear offroad.
The kitchen isn’t a huge space, coming with a Thetford cooktop and grill and microwave, but the handy drop-down bench below the 24in TV will give the sous chef some extra space to prep while watching the news. After dinner, it clips back up on the wall to enable walk-around room to the boudoir.
THE LITTLE DETAILS
All the interior cabinetry uses lightweight plywood that is screwed and glued together and affixed to the steel frame of the van. Soft close hinges are then used. Watching the different stages of the build in the factory, I could see that the quality was there as well as the strength. High gloss, muted grey, white and black interiors make it one of the more visually appealing vans of its type, too.
There’s a decent amount of storage — including under the bed — with cupboard space to the sides of the queen size bed including nifty slide-and-store shelving that can convert into extra wardrobe hanging space.
There is, of course, an independent ensuite with full height shower, vanity and separate toilet. Though it is a compact area, it’s not at all uncomfortable for one person to move freely around.
The Explorex team pride themselves on building a caravan that is dust-proof, water tight, and will last a long time as opposed to merely the warranty period. This tandem axle has a heavy-duty hot-dipped galvanised chassis and fully welded galvanised steel frame that both have a 10-year structural warranty and will stand the test of time.
However, it’s important to note this does not include the same warranty on components within the van, such as kitchen and bathroom appliances, which offer lesser supplier warranties. It’s always important to do your research on warranties when purchasing a van.
Everything underneath the Numbat is tucked up and out of the way, with gas lines, electrical cables, hot and cold water lines run along the chassis as neat and as high off the ground as possible.
For outdoor entertaining wherever you are, it’s as easy as pulling out the awning, turning on the Blaupunkt stereo and LED lights, sliding out the external kitchen and you’re ready to go. I like a no-fuss setup like this one, plus there’s plenty of external storage space to include extra chairs, rods and toys.
Considering it weighs in at 2510kg with standard fittings, it has a significant payload of 990kg, which is enough to add an extra couple of 82L water tanks (two 82L tanks are standard), and solar to maximise its off-grid capabilities.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I am impressed with what Explorex has set out to achieve in such a competitive market and, as regional travel takes off, this compact, offroad adventurer is a safe and reliable option for those wanting to step up from a camper trailer but not needing all the length and fancy components that come with the larger offroad models.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Body length 5.4m (17ft 7in)
Overall length 7.8m (25ft 6in)
Width 2.2m (7ft 2in)
Height 3.05m (10ft)
Ball weight 220kg
Frame Galvanised steel, fully welded
Chassis Explorex hot dipped galvanised offroad
Cladding 3mm composite
Suspension Tandem axle Cruisemaster XT Freestyle coil fully independent system
Coupling Cruisemaster D035
Brakes 12in electric drum
Water 2 x 82L tanks in steel protection trays, 50L grey optional
Battery 2 x 100Ah gel
Solar 2 x 150W
Air conditioner Dometic Ibis4
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control optional
Cooking Thetford cooktop and grill with Panasonic microwave
Fridge Dometic 188L fridge and freezer
Bathroom Full ensuite separate shower and Thetford toilet
Hot water Swift 28L gas/240V
Explorex has a list of additional options available on top of the standard features including but not limited to 2 x 12V Sirocco fans, front toolbox, extra solar panels, satellite TV systems, extra water tanks, grey water tank and its most popular the CaraFan Dust pressure system which keeps the inside of your van dust-free when travelling.
PRICE AS SHOWN
$95,810 inc GST + on-road costs
66 Prestige Pde, Wangara, WA 6065
Ph: (08) 9302 2295