Allison Watt - Caravan World Deputy Editor
This small, single-axle, fully offroad caravan is new to the Highline range, and has all the creature comforts you’ll need to go off-grid in a light, manoeuvrable package that is easy to tow with a mainstream SUV or dual cab ute and will easily get into the tightest spots whether in a caravan park or down a bush track.
The Wombat may be tiny but it's packed with features, so $80,000 is good value for money — particularly for those looking to make the step up from a camper trailer to a full caravan and a few more creature comforts.
At 13ft 6in, this single-axle, fully offroad twins singles van has everything you need to stay off-grid for a few days at a time, including gas, solar panels, lithium batteries and a generous amount of water-carrying capacity for its size. It’s not lacking anything inside either — combination bathroom, full oven, air-conditioning and heating, compressor fridge and microwave.
The icing on the cake for the Wombat is that you won’t need a big tug to pull it around so if you already own a family SUV or dual cab ute, you’re right to go.
Among the behemoths competing at this year’s awards, the cute, compact size of the Wombat with its eye-catching decals really stood out. It’s a functional and fun little package that will appeal to a lot of caravanners because of its manageable size and easy towability, without requiring a huge vehicle.
It is reminiscent of the simpler little Bondwood vans of the 1950s and '60s but with a whole lot of 21st century technology. The Wombat is new to Highline’s range — and I suspect it will be a popular one.
Tim van Duyl - Caravan World Creative Director
I am a big fan of doing a lot with less. Sometimes that means repurposing things around our home or using a packing crate as a seat when car-boot camping. I also like it when designers manage to do more with less space and that's exactly what stood out about the Wombat for me. It's a 13ft van that has the build to go outback and the specs to stay there. It is a van that will embarrass a lot of larger vans on specs and capability. Plus, how fitting is the name for such a cute brute of a caravan!
One look inside and it's clear who this van is for — couples who want separate beds. Looking beyond what will be a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘not for me’ layout and the Wombat has a lot going for it that no doubt translates into the east-west alternative layout if you still fancy a cuddle.
The Wombat’s good ground clearance, decent water for two and enough power production and storage should have people that want a week in the bush without the burden of a big van in tow looking. With 190L of freshwater, a couple should see five days of considered use and with 420W of solar fed into 220Ah of lithium, unless you're in a truly shady spot, it should run the 174L Thetford fridge and LED lights indefinitely.
Couple that with the single axle and light-by-modern-standards 2800kg ATM and this is a van to take remote.
Highline recently included options to have your van built with a CNC, notched ply wall system that I rate. It's used by other top-quality brands as it allows for some needed flex in the body while also offering good insulation from sound, cold and heat.
It's easy to forget it's also only 13 feet long. It's tiny compared to a lot of what we see coming out these days yet packs a lot of off-grid capacity, a great — really great — chassis and suspension set up into what is about as small of a caravan as you can fit a shower-over-toilet, small kitchen and decent bed into.
John Ford - Caravan World Editor-At-Large
With only 13ft 6in to play with, the Wombat is limited in surface area on the roof, but Highline manages twin 210W of solar up top and 220Ah of power in two chassis-mounted lithium batteries. An Anderson plug is ready for a mobile solar panel to help top up the system. While this isn't a vast amount of electrical supply, it's decent for a couple in this style of van, and the gas supply will take care of cooking and heating needs. So, too, while the water isn’t capacious with twin 95L fresh tanks, it’s as big as you could expect and it’s enough with careful use to stay off-grid for a week or so. The 174L of cool storage is generous in a van this size, so you won’t lack for fresh food or a cold drink. The 110L grey tank means national parks aren’t off the agenda, so the little Wombat will be perfect by a creek somewhere, spending a week or so without having to worry too much about saving water for showers.
Highline has been on an upward curve of build quality since its beginning 10 years ago. It recently switched to the marine ply CNC cut jigsaw wall construction employed by some high-end caravan builders. The construction method offers a more robust build and separates Highline from the Melbourne pack of traditionally built vans. The Wombat is clad with composite aluminium for improved weather protection and durability over the old-style ribbed panels. Appliances are all quality items, doors and windows are upmarket additions from Aussie Traveller and the furniture looks strong and well-finished with quality runners and hinges.
The chassis, body and furniture are all covered for three years, and the standard warranty applies to appliances. There are five dealers across the country and a dedicated staff member handling any problems at the factory. The Highline website has some handy customer care advice and lists the items that should be addressed at a regular service.
Malcolm Street - Caravan World Field Editor
Highline Caravans is like many caravan manufacturers based in Campbellfield, Victoria — a company that produces a range of caravans to suit every need and budget. For this year's COTY, Highline can make the claim that it brought the smallest caravan to the event. The single-axle Wombat has an external length of just 4.15m (13ft 6in) and it certainly looked like a baby among some of the other contenders. Size isn’t everything, though, and the Wombat has a tare mass of 1980kg and an ATM of 2800kg. While that means a payload of 820kg, a maximum loaded weight under 2500kg is possible with a bit of careful loading.
Consequently, a Toyota Fortuner, with its maximum tow rating of 3200kg, is a good match for towing the Wombat. In addition, it has a combined length of 10.5m (34ft), which is very handy for drivers who either don't like large rigs or have limited parking. On the road, the Wombat was very docile behind the Fortuner with very little snatching and jerking. It was a pleasure to tow.
There's only minimal space inside the Wombat, being a small van, but what there is has been used quite effectively. Our COTY rear door entry van came with single beds up front. The alternative is an east-west bed, but single beds are more practical in a caravan this size, especially as it means an extra cupboard can be fitted between the beds. The rear half of the van is taken up by a shower/toilet in the offside corner and a kitchen bench that fills the rest of the wall. That leaves the remaining space for an offside Thetford 174L fridge and a nearside wardrobe. Everything — kitchen, bathroom and bedroom area — is very compact.
That's the beauty of this van. It might look small, but for a couple who mainly desire a simple interior and don't have the budget for a large tow vehicle, then it's a winner. I liked the rather unique feature of the retro-looking armrests at the base of both beds; they are a neat touch. Another eye-catcher was the wardrobe. Not just a space to hang some clothes but three different cupboards with two doors facing the rear and a third facing into the van. All with shelves of various sizes. Very space efficient. Similar to the drawers under the beds. Given the size of the internal kitchen, the slide-out exterior barbecue is a welcome addition and one that keeps cooking smells outside. While that takes some of the tunnel storage, there's also a checkerplate storage box outside.
In keeping with the Wombat's length, everything is downsized one way or another but it's an example of great things coming in small packages.
Highline Wombat Specs
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||4.15m (13ft 6in)|
|Overall length||6m (19ft 8in)|
|External body width||2.3m (7ft 6in)|
|Travel height||3.2m (10ft 5in)|
|Internal height||1.94m (6ft 4in)|
|Structure||CNC lightweight timber walls|
|Cladding||PROBOND composite panels|
|Suspension||2.8T TuffRide independent suspension|
|Water||2 x 95L freshwater, 1 x 110L grey water|
|Battery||2 x 110Ah lithium|
|Solar||2 x 210W|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Cooking||3 gas/1 electric full oven and grill cooktop|
|Fridge||Thetford compressor 174L|
|Microwave||NCE 23L flatbed|
|Hot water||Fogatti hot water|
Highline Wombat price from $79,990.00
P: (03) 9357 9092
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