Up until a couple of years ago, Avida only produced a range of on-road or semi offroad caravans. That changed last year with the introduction of a full offroad caravan in the form of a 6.4m (21ft) family van complete with bunks.
This year, at the Sydney Supershow to be precise, Avida introduced a slightly longer model, the 6.58m (21ft 7in) which is definitely aimed at couples.
Danny Brian, sales manager of Avida Shoalhaven, was kind enough to arrange a review caravan. When I arrived at the Bomaderry premises after a pleasant drive down the NSW south coast from Sydney, the CV6534 model, to give its technical name, was all hitched up. Despite gloomy rain clouds, I headed to Shoalhaven Heads, a favoured old family holiday location.
Under the silvery grey colour scheme, complete with rather striking red and black flash decals, the Rock doesn’t look much different to the rest of the Avida caravan range with its angled front wall and rather square-looking rear. That is diluted somewhat by fibreglass mouldings for the tail-lights and the rounded roof.
Looking rather boofy are the two spare wheels mounted on the rear bumper bar. Adding to the boofiness is the all round lower waistline of black alloy checkerplate. It's almost a compulsory fitting on offroad caravans these days. Also made of black alloy checkerplate is the storage bin fitted to the drawbar, which comes with top and side doors, along with slide-outs on both sides for items such as generators and chest fridges. In addition to the two jerry can holders and the two 9kg gas cylinders, comes a little warning about checking the towball mass when fully loaded!
For the overall van construction, the floor design is unique to Avida and has a one-piece 49mm sandwich panel floor with protective aluminium lining on the underside. Similar to the floor, both the walls (35mm) and roof (45mm) are one-piece and also made using sandwich panel construction. Dometic acrylic windows are fitted all round and the door is a full security type Dometic item.
Underpinning the Rock is a hot dipped galvanised chassis with 150mm x 50mm 6in x 2in RHS rails and matching drawbar rails. There are less than the usual number of cross members (when compared to a conventional box section design) which are all punched-hole C section, designed for strength and less weight.
Given the Rock’s offroad abilities, a Cruisemaster DO35 offroad towing hitch is fitted, as is Cruisemaster XT independent suspension. That comes complete with coil springs, trailing arms and two shock absorbers per wheel.
In any van built for offroad use, the self-containment features have to be quite good and the Rock does quite well in this department. Two 100Ah deep cycle batteries are charged up by two 150W solar panels. On the water side of the equation, there are two 125L fresh water tanks and, ‘ta dah’ — a 125L grey water tank.
STRIKE A LIGHT
Inside the Rock, it’s all white. Well, mostly. There’s a bit of black for the upholstery, fridge and bed cover with a bit of marbled white/grey laminate for the benchtop but generally speaking, the interior is very white and bright. That’s aided, even in daylight, by both the concealed and not-so-concealed LED lighting that is very effective.
The best place to view the interior of this van is from the black leather upholstered dinette. It sits mid nearside with the kitchen bench opposite. To the left, when facing the kitchen is the front bedroom area and to the right, across the rear, is a full bathroom.
When seated at the dinette, I was all set to pull out the hinged foot rests, which actually turned out to be drawers under each seat. I can live with that — it’s much better than fossicking around under cushions when accessing the under-seat storage areas.
Versatile is a great way to describe the multi-fold table. It’s good for just drinks and nibblies at Happy Hour or for a full meal when folded out. Fitted to the rear seat base are both a 240V and 12V/5V USB charger outlets. Handy? Yes, but would it have been better to fit nearer to the wall or on the wall, so that both legs and leads don’t get mixed up with each other?
A feature of the kitchen bench opposite is the larger set of drawers, all fitted with metal runners. Even the drawer under the stainless steel sink has been designed with an inset to fit around the plumbing fittings. In addition to the drawers there is an overhead locker and a cupboard but part of the cupboard space is taken up the hot water heater and other plumbing fittings.
Cooking items include both the four-burner cooktop/grill/oven and a microwave fitted into the overhead locker space above the sink. Refrigeration comes courtesy of a three-way, 188L Dometic fridge that butts up against the bathroom.
At the forward end, the 1.93m x 1.53m (6ft 4in x 5ft) mattress has an aluminium frame and timber slatted bed base. That, along with the gas struts, makes it very easy to lift up to access the storage area underneath. It is compartmented, the rear area containing the two house batteries and also the BMPRO battery management system.
Above the bed mattress, there is the usual array of side wardrobes and overhead lockers. Like those everywhere else in the van, the latter don’t have external handles. The bedside shelves are quite small and there are no bedside compartments at the wardrobe bases.
Down the back, the bathroom has a well sized shower cubicle, cassette toilet and enough space to fit a top-loading washing machine built into a generously sized vanity cupboard that offers both cupboard and shelf space without a hint of anything being squashed up. For ventilation, there’s a fan hatch above the shower and a window behind the toilet.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With its caravan range, Avida established quite a few construction techniques that have followed through into the manufacturer’s offroad caravan range. That is most obvious in the sub chassis area.
The Rock is not a budget van to be sure but it’s been designed to take a couple of travellers to any number of places throughout Australia in a style that would be very easy to get used to.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 8.92m (29ft 3in)
External body length 6.58m (21ft 7in)
External body width (incl awning)2.49m (8ft 2in)
Travel height (incl AC) 3.15m (10ft 4in)
Internal height 2.02m (6ft 8in)
Ball weight 150kg
Cladding Fibreglass sandwich panel, one-piece roof, foam insulated floor
Chassis Hot dipped galvanised
Suspension Cruisemaster XT independent coil
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Brakes 10in electric
Wheels 16in alloy
Water 2 x 125L
Grey water 125L
Battery 2 x 100Ah
Solar 2 x 150W
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control Optional
Kitchen external No
Cooking Dometic four-burner, grill and oven
Fridge Dometic RUA 6408X 188L
Bathroom Separate shower and Thetford cassette toilet
Hot water Truma 14L
Four-burner cooktop, grill and oven, dinette with tri-fold table, frosty silver fibreglass walls and roof, wireless battery management via an app, charcoal mist leather upholstery
Price as shown $92,450
To enquire about this caravan, please contact Avida Shoalhaven.
313 Princes Highway,
Bomaderry, NSW 2541
Ph: (02) 4424 4670