Almost every Christmas Shaun Noble, co-owner of Goldstream RV, and his family settle into a caravan park on the shores of Hume Weir. Days pass with waterskiing, boarding and zooming around the long reaches of the upper Murray. Nights see them all snuggled up in a campervan.
Noble has his pick of any of the vans from the Goldstream RV range but up until recently a camper has been his choice of holiday accommodation.
This year things are different. In a moment of reflection, Noble decided to mix things up and design a family retreat based on the company’s popular 15’ Remote pop-top.
Goldstream started operations as a camper trailer builder back in 1993, and their solid foundation was established on their Wing, Storm and Thunder campers. Gradually they added caravans to the mix as well, but their background with campers cemented an ongoing relationship with pop-top caravans that has set them apart over the years. Some of those early Great Southern Land 17- and 18-foot models are considered classics and are still well sought after on the secondhand market.
The Remote has been a real success story for the Pakenham builder, with many couples attracted to the compact size, low line roof and rugged offroad suspension. I’m told a lot of new Remote owners have converted from various campers to the little Remote because it's easy to use while still retaining the small footprint of a camper.
The task of erecting a camper at the end of a long drive can be enough to put families off camping altogether. This is particularly true with some of the complicated puzzles seen at the centre of a family blue at a campsite, as arguments over whether the blue pole goes into the white pole or the other way around break out.
The compact Remote 1500 solves all this in a hybrid camper/poptop that’s only 15’ (4.57m) long and still light enough to be towed by a smaller vehicle.
The van on test is the first Remote fitted with bunks and targeted at families. As we said, this one is destined for the Noble family holiday at Hume Weir on the back of their Toyota Kluger. With two adults, two teenagers, a speedboat towed by a separate vehicle and a full complement of camping gear, it’s the quintessential family Christmas vacation. You can feel the serenity from here.
Goldstream build their vans with the traditional local approach of a Meranti frame on a heavy-duty chassis to cope with the goat tracks we call country roads. Always innovators, they were among the first to clad the body’s exterior in composite aluminium sheets for a smarter look and better insulation and weather protection.
During 2019, styling across the range moved away from conservative rounded ends to a more angular style. The Remote wears this look, along with a new grey and black finish, for a crisper, more modern impression. In travelling mode with the pop-top down, it’s sleek, compact and well-proportioned.
You can option a Remote 1500 in three different levels of offroad ability. The Adventure pack is the starting point, with the Offroad and Panther sporting heavier chassis and suspensions.
Our test van comes with the Adventure pack, designed for bitumen and formed dirt road travel. The chassis is made from 100 x 50mm Duragal and the suspension is Al-Ko’s Enduro Cross Country, rated to 2200kg. The suspension has single trailing arms each side with a coil spring and optional twin shock absorbers for extended corrugated road travel. The hefty suspension allows a 600kg payload but despite the heavy duty springs, it travelled well, even when almost empty during our review. Loaded correctly the van should cope well with most conditions a touring family would encounter.
The body sits on a 12mm pre-coated plywood floor in a single sheet for better water protection. I noted all water pipes and electrical leads underneath are routed out of harm’s way and neatly finished.
Brakes are 12” offroad and the wheels are 15” alloys shod with 235x75 A/T radials with a single spare sitting on a bar at the rear.
Connection to the tow vehicle is through a 50mm ball hitch and the draw bar is 100 x 50mm with a 50 x 50mm support bar welded below for most of its length. The front window has an aluminium travel cover that lifts on struts when camped.
Two 9kg gas bottles sit in a cradle ahead of a full-width alloy storage box with a lid that’s accessed from both sides. As storage is limited in a van this size, the box and a neatly lined tunnel boot further back will need to hold most of your travelling equipment. Given the generous storage space, it’s important not to overload these forward compartments as this might upset the weight balance or exceed the maximum ball weights of lighter tow vehicles.
Exterior features include a picnic table with 12V and 240V power points, large LED lights and a roll out Dometic awning over the central section.
If you read the specifications in the Goldstream brochure you will see the Remote 1500 has a combination shower and toilet. This first family van had a double bed and a set of bunks, but in a van of this size there isn’t enough real estate for a combo ensuite as well. Some may see this as an anachronism in a modern van, but it depends on your perspective. If you are coming from a camper trailer background then you probably won’t even notice. As mentioned back at the start, campers were Shaun Noble’s bread and butter for many years, and the basis of his regular family holidays.
Like the rest of the Remote range, the new family version is a crossover. If the aim is for a small and simple RV, then this is your answer. If you want to head bush, then deal with the lack of on-board toilet like you would with a camper. If you are heading to a caravan or national park then there’s no problem.
An obligatory fold out step, handle with light and three-way security door greet you at the entry and, once inside, there’s enough head height to move around with the roof down. It’s a pretty simple operation to lift the pop-top with the Easy Lift gas struts. That is, as long as you remember to first unclip the roof from the van body and release the awning lock. I own an offroad pop-top and I still forget sometimes.
Joinery is neat and modern. The colour choice is a sensible white over most cupboards and walls with a dark stone laminate for the bench and table. Dark grey upholstery at the lounge matches the bedspread at the front, while black and white covers for the bunks adds some contrast. Light grey side skirts and flooring complete a pleasant, homey interior. All the furniture is CNC cut in house and it’s well executed in 15mm lightweight ply.
Windows at the front and over the kitchen and dinette emit a good flow of air and light and let everyone take advantage of the views.
Twin bunks run across the rear and the lower one has a handy drawer and loads of storage below. A large wardrobe at the entry adds to storage and the built-in ladder to the top bunk is also made from 15mm ply, so it should be strong and durable.
The 160L compressor fridge in the test van is sensible for a family upgrade over the standard 93L version and I liked that the microwave is at a safer height than most vans. There’s a surprising amount of bench space and lids over the Dometic combination sink and cooktop give some more for food preparation and serving. Cooking is limited to a three-burner gas hob as well as the microwave when hooked up to power, but I think most cooking would be done outside on a Baby Q or similar. A rangehood takes care of any smoke or smells and the zippered windows of the pop-top offer great air circulation
The L-shaped lounge wraps around a rectangular table that has generous movement on a sturdy base. Don’t try it with bowls full of hot soup, but it slides easily backwards and forwards for easy access to the lounge and to the side, so it can be moved out of the way when not in use. It doesn’t drop for a bed though. There’s room for two adults and two youngsters at the table, and more seating on the bed if needed.
The east west queen bed has innerspring mattress and lifts for storage and accessories below. There’s a shelf and storage nook at the foot of the bed and a Sirocco fan is a cool addition for hot nights. Twin reading lights have USB points for phone charging, as do the ones at the bunks.
An air conditioner and the Projector charger take some space under the bed but, even so, there’s room for extra bedding and the like. If you get the chance to inspect it, the installation of the charger is a good example of how neatly Goldstream finish their wiring.
Goldstream’s warranty is for 12 months, which is at the lower end for similar vans and does not include ancillary items like chassis and appliances, which are covered by those suppliers. Service intervals are at three months and then every six months or 10,000km.
They have a dedicated service centre in Pakenham and a number of dealers and repair agents across the country.
The price for the van as tested with options including the bigger fridge, air conditioning, external shower and others is $54,990. The standard model starts at $50,200.
The family bunk design takes the number of Remote 1500 layouts to six and offers families a very usable alternative to a camper trailer without the hassles of long setup times and wet canvas. New entrants to vanning will love the simplicity and build quality, and anyone looking for a tougher remote travel rig only has to tick the options list to suit their needs.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 7.2m (23’6”)
External body length 4.65m (15’2”)
External body width 2.28m (7’5”)
Travel height 2.25m (7’4”)
Internal height 1.95m ( 6’3”)
Ball weight 144kg
Cladding Composite aluminium
Chassis 100x50 Duragal
Suspension AL-KO Enduro independent
Brakes 12” drums
Wheels 15” alloy
Water 2 x 82L
Battery 1 x 100ah
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control No
Cooking 3 burner cooktop
Hot water Gas
Air conditioner, fridge upgrade, external shower, gas bayonet, two awning lights, Finch TV, chassis mount battery, gloss furniture, picnic table.
PRICE AS SHOWN