Halen Vans' proprietor Jason Francis is not only a devotee of American hard rock band Van Halen, but a touring car fanatic. So it makes sense that he monikers his bespoke offroad models on motor racing tracks.
And in that respect, one of his biggest sellers is the Bathurst range — a ‘King of the Mountain’ fleet, if you’ll pardon the analogy. Ironically, even high-profile V8 Supercar driver Rick Kelly has purchased a Bathurst.
Caravan World recently took a Bathurst 21 ‘for a spin’ within the picturesque confines of Silvan Reservoir, around 40km east of Melbourne in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges. Alright, it wasn’t the ultimate proving ground. Methinks it will relish a few laps of far more testing topography!
But the luxurious Bathurst 21 we tested, already sold to a couple from Yarrawonga who intend to travel the length and breadth of Australia, indisputably takes pole position in the proverbial off-grid race. So you don’t need me to tell you that they’re sure to have tons of fun with their new pride and joy!
TOUR DE FORCE
Based in Lilydale, Vic, Halen Vans’ hand-crafted offroad masterpieces are custom-built (meaning all have ‘individual DNA’) and reflect almost 40 years of quality workmanship. They’re built tough, real tough. And this Bathurst 21 is no different.
This van practically has the whole
off-grid kit and caboodle. I’ll concede it’s been heavily up-specced, but that’s the owners’ whim.
Structural integrity is at the heart of this Bathurst 21. Aluminium cladding (with a 4mm-thick PROBOND aluminium composite lower panel) envelops a meranti frame (27mm studs), while the one-piece roof is rolled aluminium. Additionally, a one-piece floor is screwed to the chassis, and also glued with an exclusive German adhesive.
High-grade polystyrene takes care of the insulation properties which, along with Halen’s own air system configuration for the suspension and incredible self-sufficiency, are major points of difference.
I hasten to add that its ventilated disc brakes with Dexter electro/hydraulic actuator (providing quicker braking) and detachable wiring looms (designed to stymie theft) are also high up in the differentiation department.
This Bathurst 21 also carries a raft of external features, franked by a FP SupaGal offroad chassis and Cruisemaster ATX trailing arm airbag suspension. This van can lean to counter uneven ground, and you can elevate one set of wheels.
These qualities alone indicate a capability for conquering distant and unforgiving terrain. It also rides on 16in alloys, with 265/75/R16 mud-terrain tyres.
And all that’s before you throw in a whopping 410L of water, 750W of solar and 440Ah of battery power. (The owners decided on lead crystal batteries rather than a lithium setup.)
Hence, it’s no surprise that this van has a hefty 1400kg payload. It also has a mammoth 4400kg ATM, so you’ll practically require a monster truck to pull it with.
Making life off the beaten track all the more enjoyable, pragmatic and secure from an external perspective are a slide-out Weber Q and two-burner stove housed in a ‘barbecue locker’, slide-out generator compartment for the Honda 3, rear storage hatch, exterior shower (hot and cold water), top-of-the-range Camec entry door, Dometic 8500 rollout awning, entertainment hatch (TV box and arm), two gas bayonets, drop-down picnic table, dual marine-grade speakers, reversing camera, twin LED annexe lights, rear LED worklight, five water fillers, two jerry can holders, and a spare wheel mounted on on four-stay bumper bar.
This van’s front is as busy as a bee with good protection via a stainless steel pebble guard and stone stomper, along with storage provided by a voluminous boot (housing Halen’s exclusive twin air tanks and twin compressors setup) and full-width pole carrier, plus Hitch-Ezy coupling (5t rated), Trail-A-Mate jockey wheel/jack, mesh carry tray on the A-frame, twin 9kg gas cylinders, Dexter brake actuator, custom-built diesel tank, LED light bar, and a tap sensibly located on the inside of the A-frame.
STRIKE A POSE
Meanwhile, this van’s interior de rigueur matches its exterior excellence and sensational self-sufficiency. Let’s start with the voguish front bedroom complete with a caravan-queen-sized bed (6ft 2inx4ft 6in), with innerspring pillow-top mattress. I’m impressed by the ‘domino effect’ storage in the boudoir: robes with shelved compartments, dressers, an overhead locker triumvirate, and corner cabinets including one that’s full-height on the nearside.
Excellent lighting and ventilation also avails courtesy of a 12V Maxx fan over the bed, an array of LED lighting including reading lamps, and good-sized windows.
The pelmets/curtain rails, with integrated blinds and flyscreens, are a nice touch. There are also double powerpoints and USB ports either side, and two Sirocco fans that can be faced towards the bed or living zone/kitchen.
And a diesel heater, beneath the gas-assisted lift-up bed, provides welcoming warmth when travelling in colder locales. There’s also built-in storage under-bed for the TV.
The kitchen, immediately left of entry, is resplendent and will delight the most discerning camping connoisseur. I’m taken by the spacious 12mm lightweight ply benchtop covered in ‘Washboard’ Laminex and a glass-effect splashback.
Modern culinary facilities include a Dometic three-burner stove/sink combo, with an Electrolux convection microwave underneath.
Above the stainless steel rangehood is an ePRO battery monitor, plus switches for the water heater, microwave and water pump. There are also double powerpoints and RV Electronics water tank monitors mounted on the splashback at each end of the kitchen.
Lighting above the overhead cupboards (kitchen and dinette) is an aesthetic configuration, while a Dometic ‘mini-bin’ recessed into the spacious benchtop offers convenient rubbish disposal.
Another good-sized window invites spectacular vistas, and once again the abundant storage theme prevails.
All the cabinetry is 15mm lightweight ply, and the cupboard doors boast an eye-catching metallic gloss finish. All the drawers are fitted with soft-closing ball bearing runners.
The trendy living zone (directly opposite the kitchen) is accentuated by a leather cafe dinette that is roomy and has good width.
Under one seat is a slide-out drawer while under the other are 4x110Ah lead crystal batteries and a 3000W Enerdrive inverter/120A charger combo, which complements this van’s off-grid cred. You’ll be able to free camp to your heart’s content!
There are also two reading lights, a two-door cupboard under a trifold table, as well as three overhead lockers (one housing the satellite and VAST box). In fact it’s a fully remote satellite setup, with dish included.
A double powerpoint and two USB ports sit below yet another panoramic window.
PUTTING ON THE RITZ
The ritzy rear ensuite oozes lateral thinking. It’s easy to gravitate to a bathroom that comprises amenities such as a concealed 4kg Camec front-loading washing machine and a cupboard for towels/linen etc. Below these is a compartment for the hot water service.
There’s a contemporary pedestal-style washbasin with flick mixer tap, and below the vanity is a slide-out laundry basket and adequate storage space.
A good-sized mirror and two storage compartments sit above the vanity, and there's a hand towel holder and double powerpoint nearby.
A spacious shower is right of the ensuite entry, and a Dometic cassette toilet is positioned opposite. Mounted on the back of the sliding door is a towel holder and toilet roll holder. There's a window above the toilet, and a centrally located 12V hatch.
I’m also gobsmacked by the copious storage for perishable and non-perishable food items.
Wedged neatly between the dinette and roomy ensuite on the offside wall is a 224L Dometic AES three-way fridge/freezer, with twin cooling fans, and a shelved cupboard.
Immediately to the right of the entry door is a shelved pantry in a four-cupboard configuration, while immediately to the left is supplementary storage space for more rations.
There’s a Dometic Harrier air-conditioner centrally located between the kitchen and dinette, and a Ranger skylight towards the front of the rear ensuite.
Entertainment is provided by a 24in LED CHiQ TV, Bluetooth compatible DVD player and two internal speakers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Yep, $128,000 is a fair whack of spondooly, but this van is capable of reaching uncharted territory. What’s more, you’ll be doing it in absolute self-sufficiency and consummate style. And it won’t ‘blow a gasket’ going tete-a-tete with Mount Panorama-like inclines and declines while traversing out-of-the-way destinations.
In true Halen Vans tradition, it’s a high quality offroader bred to tackle the outback. It’s sure to take you on amazing free- camping adventures.
Quite simply, it takes centre stage on the off-grid podium. Indeed, it’s ‘King of the Mountain’ in offroad caravanning parlance.
Gentlemen, start your engines - and don’t forget to hitch up the Bathurst 21!
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 8.9m (29ft 2in)
External body length 6.71m (22ft)
External body width 2.5m (8ft 2in)
Travel height 3.1m (10ft 2in)
Internal height 2m (6ft 7in)
Ball weight 290kg
Cladding Aluminium (plus composite)
Chassis FP SupaGal offroad chassis
Suspension Cruisemaster ATX trailing arm airbag
Coupling Hitch-Ezy (5t rated)
Brakes Ventilated disc
Wheels 16in alloys, with 265/75/R16 mud-terrain tyres
Battery 4x110Ah lead crystal
Air-conditioner Dometic Harrier
Sway control No
Kitchen Slide-out Weber Q and
Cooking Dometic three-burner stove/sink combo
Fridge Dometic AES three-way 224L
Microwave Electrolux convection
Bathroom Ensuite with separate shower/toilet/vanity
Washing machine Camec front-loader 4kg
Hot water Suburban gas/electric 22.6L
Cruisemaster ATX trailing arm airbag suspension; Smev three-burner stove/sink combo; Dometic Harrier air-conditioner; Electrolux convection microwave; glass-effect splashbacks; leather seating; Bluetooth compatible DVD player; diesel heater; 224L Dometic AES three-way fridge; additional Maxx hatch; 4kg Camec front-loading washing machine and cabinet; stainless steel pebble guard; generator locker; Honda 3 generator; drop-down picnic table; additional 3x150W solar panels; additional 2x110Ah lead crystal batteries; 3000W Enerdrive inverter with 120A charger combo; A-frame storage mesh; exterior shower (hot and cold water); reversing camera; slide-out Weber Q and two-burner stove; 2x external gas bayonets; external TV box and arm; fully remote satellite setup (dish included); additional 3x82L water tanks; 2x external speakers; 3x jerry can holders; stone stomper; front light bar; 2x Sirocco fans; external diesel tank
PRICE AS SHOWN
$128,000 (driveaway, Vic)
To enquire about this caravan, please visit www.halenvans.com.au or phone (03) 9738 7133.
“It's chock-full of options, at the owners' customisation request, but still comes in under $130K”
“Towed by a 2017 Nissan Patrol Ti-L Y62, you didn't feel like you're 'runnin'
with the devil'”
“In essence, it's fit for the most discerning off-grid camping kings and queens”
Suitability for intended TOURING
“Takes the cake for offroadability and self-sufficiency... Faultless!”
“Plenty of interior space – even allowing fo the big bedroom, commodious cafe dinette, and rambling rear ensuite”
Quality of finish
“I'm not overstating by saying it's a hand-crafted offroad masterpiece”
“The structural solidity runs rampant, and even extends to the 'glued and screwed' one-piece floor”
“Quite simply, it's got everything – and the 'kitchen sink'!”
“One has to admire Halen's own air system configuration for the suspension”
“The van's points of difference are quite amazing... Wow!’”