John Ford - Caravan World Editor-At-Large
Great Aussie Caravans is a brand that flies under the radar, and we are told that this event is the first time it has undertaken any significant promotion. Yet, it has been making vans for 10 years and produces up to 80 vans each month from its sprawling Melbourne factory.
The Gravity is the company’s latest model. It builds on the new 3T single-axle suspension from TuffRide to deliver a single-axle offroader with impressive offroad credentials. Great Aussie has joined a hallowed list of local builders embracing aluminium frame construction for hardy adventure vans. Along with the robust construction, the van features off-grid living capability and enough room for couples to enjoy in an easily towed single axle format.
There are two schools of thought in the offroad market. On the one hand, is the mob who wants to take all the comforts of home in a big heavy van, and the other is a crew who wants to keep it simple. The Gravity is in the second school, and it will suit many travellers seeking an authentic offroad experience. The single-axle van will traverse narrow winding tracks more efficiently and with less body damage than a monster van. You can also expect it will be easier to retrieve from a boghole or a beach than its larger, heavier alternative. And because it's rated to a maximum 3T ATM, a range of mid-size vehicles suit the Gravity, including the Prado.
The van is designed for couples and will suit both long-distance travel and short stays because the van has space to relax comfortably inside on an evening or when the weather turns foul. In addition, there is sufficient power and water for a couple of weeks off-grid and adequate storage space in the numerous drawers and cupboards.
In its quest to offer buyers a wide range of value options, the Great Aussie brand is unique among Australian caravan builders in providing a choice of timber, aluminium and composite frame options. The Gravity at our event had an aluminium frame, and while that may not be new technology, Great Aussie uses a mix of various-size box tube, instead of C-section for a robust build. It then completes the structure with a composite exterior and single-piece fibreglass interior panels for a timber-free frame construction.
Great Aussie is an early adopter of new technology. The Gravity is one of the first models in the market to take advantage of the latest upgrade to TuffRide's independent suspension system allowing for increased payload. It is among the first manufacturers to take up Projecta's latest IG3-BT7 battery charging and universal monitoring system. With the new Bluetooth connectivity, you can keep an eye on battery, water, gas and even tyre pressures on a display or your phone. It also lets you operate the CaraFan cabin pressuriser and link to a rear-view camera.
Tim van Duyl - Caravan World Creative Director
As seen at COTY 2023, the Great Aussie is smart buying. With the 720W of solar feeding the 400A battery, you are unlikely to run out of power even if you fire up the big 3000W inverter for a few runs of the kettle and microwave, and with 190L of fresh and 95L of grey water, a couple has enough capacity for five to seven days. Consider the Allytech frame which is well thought-out in the way it is built (varied sizes of box and C-section alloy); it should hold up to our harsh roads, and the appeal and its value continue to grow. It's a good size, has a decent payload and with the single axle, it is a breeze to tow. I really do think — with its contemporary build and technology fitted — for around $100,000, it's great value for money.
The X-factor in the Great Aussie is the way it balances its cost with its build quality and technology fitted. No, it doesn't have the most of anything and the frame and general build are also fairly common but combine it all and keep it at around $100,000 and it's the sort of van that has you look again. It really balances everything exceptionally well which is no doubt part of the appeal and reason I’m seeing more and more on the road.
Allison Watt - Caravan World Deputy Editor
The specs alone of a smaller, lighter single-axle van will tell you that it is going to be easy to tow before you even hook it up, and the Gravity 186 proved that theory.
With a tare weight of 2378kg and 3T TuffRide suspension, we tested it up a windy mountain road in the wet in John’s Mitsubishi Triton which handled the conditions with ease. The Gravity will be very comfortable behind a mainstream SUV or dual cab ute and overall, it’s not a monster of a rig, meaning you’ll be able to traverse down some tight dirt tracks or easily fit into a standard-size site at a caravan park.
I’m a real fan of the layout of the 18ft 6in single-axle Gravity from Great Aussie Caravans.
Entry is via a rear door with the bathroom — comprising a cassette toilet, generous vanity unit and separate shower cubicle — to the right. The kitchen is on the left on the awning side of the van and is well appointed with a Swift cooktop and full oven, gas and 240V hot water, soft close drawers and slightly higher than normal benchtops. The 224L compressor fridge is on the offside, next to the dinette with leather upholstery.
The queen-sized bed with innerspring mattress is located at the front with a wardrobe and drawer either side, two large overhead cupboards and two smaller cupboards. In fact, the storage in the Gravity defies its compact size with a total of 20 cupboards and 13 drawers, under-bed storage, under-seat storage, four external storage compartments and full-length tunnel boot.
The decor in the Gravity is tasteful, comprising white drawers and cupboards, oak timber-coloured waterfall benchtops and splashback and black sink and tapware.
Finishing off the interior features is a Dometic Ibis 4 reverse cycle air-conditioner, Fresca 3.2kg front loading washing machine, two Sirocco fans, Fusion stereo with two internal and two external speakers, two roof hatches and LED ambient lighting.
Malcolm Street - Caravan World Field Editor
For camping away from mains power, the Gravity comes with a lithium battery capacity of 400Ah, solar panels rated at 720W and a 3000W inverter. The mains charger is rated at 180A, the DC-to-DC charger at 60A and an Anderson Plug for a portable solar panel. The battery and battery management system, a Projecta IG3-BT7 ‘Intelli-Grid’ system, are under the dinette seats, something that takes up most of the under-seat areas. Connected to the Projecta BMS is a 7in display monitor and control board. This particular system also monitors water tank levels, gas cylinder capacity, tyre pressures and caravan levels. In addition, Bluetooth monitoring is available from a smartphone. Projecta offers a five-year warranty on its system which is quite a sophisticated setup to say the least.
The electrical setup is more than adequate for most people's bush camping needs. Indeed, the two 9kg gas cylinders will be more than sufficient for the cooktop/grill/oven and Swift 240V/LPG 28 litre water heater.
Great Aussie’s Gravity 186, a 5.7m (18ft 6in) van, is built with the manufacturer’s Allytech option, a fully welded aluminium frame. The manufacturer reckons that welded aluminium is well-suited for offroad travel. That all hides, of course, under the fibreglass composite walls and roof. The floor is a one-piece honeycomb composite designed for the trifecta of strength, lightweight and being impervious to water. Inside the Gravity 186, all the cabinetry is manufactured from lightweight ply and is screwed and interlocked, again for lightweight and strength. All the drawers are soft closing with ball-bearing runners. Handy at the judging was the small-scale example of a welded aluminium caravan body and a sample of the cabinetry work to see how it all fits together. Inside the van, everything was fitted together very neatly; indeed, all the doors and drawers opened and closed as they should.
A look under the van revealed everything essential to be as far out of harm’s way as possible. Cable grommets were all where they should be, and chassis welding looked to be neatly done for the most part. The Raptor coating on the SupaGal chassis provides a decent protective finish.
As a single-axle van with TuffRide 3000kg independent suspension, the Gravity is well-fitted for offroad tracks. In some ways, a single axle is better over heavy undulations and overall, there's a bit of weight saving having one less wheelset.
Great Aussie has dealers in all states and offers a warranty of five years on the structure and chassis/suspension, along with a two-year general warranty.
Great Aussie Caravans Gravity 186 Specs
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||8.2m (26ft 9in)|
|Overall length||5.7m (18ft 6in)|
|External body width||2.34m (7ft 7in)|
|Travel height||3.09m (10ft 1in)|
|Internal height||2m (6ft 6in)|
|Structure||Fully welded frame, box aluminium|
|Cladding||Allytech fibreglass internal wall sheeting, Allytech honeycomb composite floor; one-piece fibreglass roof over a 40mm x 20mm aluminium frame|
|Chassis||Raptor coated Australian steel SupaGal chassis|
|Suspension||3T TuffRide independent suspension|
|Wheels||265/75R16 Mickey Thompson Tyres|
|Water||2 x 95L freshwater, 1 x 95L grey water|
|Battery||180A AC charger, 3000W Inverter, 60A DC-DC charger, 40A MPPT solar regulator, 400Ah lithium battery|
|Solar||4 x 180W (720W total)|
|Air-conditioner||Dometic Ibis 4 reverse cycle|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Cooking||Swift full oven|
|Fridge||224L 12V/240V compressor fridge/freezer|
|Washing machine||Fresca 3.2kg front load washing machine|
|Hot water||Swift 28L gas/240V hot water system with stainless steel holding tank|
Great Aussie Caravans Gravity 186 price from $76,050
- Allytech upgrade
- LTD Pack
- Projecta ‘Intelli-Grid’ IG3-BT7
- 3T TuffRide upgrade
Great Aussie Caravans Gravity 186 price as shown $108,940
Great Aussie Caravans
P: (03) 9308 8511
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