There are a substantial number of caravan manufacturers in Australia. Some of them are very well known and have a strong dealer presence. Others, and there are quite a few of those, tend to fly under the radar. That does not mean the manufacturer produces a bad caravan and many have a firm owner following.
An excellent example of this is Silver Valley Caravans, a family-owned company based in Craigieburn, Victoria. The manufacturer has dealerships in most states but not all, my local one being 7th Street Caravans at Heatherbrae near Newcastle (NSW). Like quite a few manufacturers, Silver Valley has a full order book at the moment, but fortunately for me, there was a Buckland tandem axle model ready to tow away for at least a day or two. The Buckland is part of the Silver Valley line-up, a small range of vans that vary in length from 5.63m (18ft 5in) to 6.55m (21ft 5in) and includes at least one family layout.
One of the largest vans in the range, the Buckland, has an external length of 6.55m (21ft 5in). It’s a mid door van and one designed very much for on-road use. A look under the van reveals a traditional style of chassis construction. The FP-built SupaGal chassis has 100mm (4in) RHS rails laminated to a 50mm (2in) raiser and a 150mm (6in) RHS drawbar. Consequently, the box section structure has a very substantial look about it. With two freshwater tanks and an optional grey tank, plenty of plumbing work is in the sub-chassis area. It’s mostly neatly done and strapped up out of the way. In addition to the water tanks, the other utility items are the mains pressure water connection behind the offside wheels and the two battery boxes mounted on the front offside chassis rail. A benefit of this location is the easy accessibility of the batteries.
At the business end are the usual features: ball coupling, jockey wheel and a pair of 9kg gas cylinders. A mesh basket sits between the drawbar rails.
The Buckland isn’t an offroad van, but rides very well on the tandem axles fitted with AL-KO™ Rocker Roller suspension and there’s still good ground clearance. The 15in alloy wheels have 10in electric brakes.
White ribbed aluminium cladding is standard on the Buckland, and it looks good, in tandem with the lower waistline of black alloy checkerplate. An option for those who desire it is aluminium composite panelling. There are external storage compartments, the tunnel boot across the front and a smaller compartment at the rear offside which would suit a generator.
Electrically speaking, this Buckland is very well equipped with two 105Ah AGM batteries and two 170W solar panels. Along with the gas cylinder capacity, there’s plenty of capacity for off-grid travel.
ON THE ROAD
As a towing proposition, the Buckland stacks up quite well. Its ATM of 2960kg and tare mass of 2087kg give a significant payload. Yet a dual cab ute like the Ford Ranger I was using easily handled the van. Lightweight travellers can undoubtedly use the benefit of the 2087kg tare mass to keep well under a towed weight of 3000kg. The rear-view camera and car monitor are standard safety items.
On the first pass, the Buckland interior layout looks much like a host of other front island bed/rear bathroom layouts. However, there are a few subtle differences, including the rather refined look to the overall finish. One is the angled kitchen bench rather than fully parallel to the wall. The other is the bathroom layout, which is larger than usual and includes an angled shower cubicle. The designers likely liked a few different angles in their caravans. They also picked a black and white colour scheme with a few greys. The glossy laminate finish on the cupboard and locker doors certainly stands out, as does the mottled finish on the bench top. All the cupboard doors are piano-hinged, and metal struts are fitted to the overhead locker doors. Of note are the plentiful light fittings in all the appropriate locations.
Indeed, the notable item in the Buckland is the bathroom. As noted earlier, it’s pretty spacious. There’s enough space on the nearside to fit in the Thetford cassette toilet and the shower cubicle. The angled shower door reduces the space impact of the overall cubicle size but still gives elbow room when showering.
Unlike the typical bathroom layout with a vanity cabinet across the rear, this one sits along the offside wall. Well-kitted out, it has all the essentials, a pedestal wash basin, shelf area, drawers and enough space for a top-loading washing machine. That leaves the rear area for an enormous cupboard, with hanging space and shelves above and drawers below.
Just like the bathroom, the kitchen is well-sized. Indeed, the angled sink and drainer is a good design technique, improving the general benchtop area and kitchen cupboard space. The four drawers are an asset, and I particularly like the narrow cupboard that is easily accessible from the doorway. There are the expected cooking appliances, a four burner cooktop/grill/oven and the microwave oven above the sink. Its location is a stretch for shorter people. The acrylic splashbacks enable easy kitchen cleaning and there are two double 240V power points for all mains power needs. Across the walkway, the Thetford 185L three-way fridge has an adjacent cabinet with wire basket pantries top and bottom.
The two-seater cafe dinette is very stylishly done, and the leather upholstery certainly looks the part. It’s comfortable to sit at as well. A benefit of the wall cushions is that both seat occupants can sit sideways to view the TV on the opposite wall. It’s undoubtedly a dinette with a high level of appointment that includes a multi-fold table, footrests, under-seat floor lockers and a small cupboard under the table. Above the table are power sockets for the full range — 240V, 12V and 5V USB.
Well-ventilated is an excellent way to describe the bedroom area. In addition to the large roof hatch and ceiling-mounted Sirocco fan, there are large windows on either side and the nearby entry door. The standard-sized mattress (1.88m x 1.53m) is surrounded by the usual cabinetry which is very functional and includes pillow cubbies and a shelf under the overhead lockers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s much to say about this van. It does have a fairly standard layout, yet there are enough variations to make a difference. The Buckland looks well put together for long-distance travel and doesn’t require a heavy-duty tow vehicle. On top of all that, the extra battery and solar panel capacity is suitable for camping without mains power but there isn’t the extra weight that accompanies a van built for offroad travel. Given that there are plenty of places in Australia to explore without going offroad, that’s a good idea.
HITS AND MISSES
- Good fit and finish
- Large bathroom
- Requires mid-sized tow vehicle
- Microwave oven is a stretch to get at
- Generous internal storage might be too much temptation
SILVER VALLEY BUCKLAND RATINGS
VALUE FOR MONEY
It’s not the cheapest van on the block but it offers plenty of value-packed features
Doesn’t require a large tow vehicle
SUITABILITY FOR INTENDED TOURING
On-road tourer with facilities for staying off-grid
Overall finish looks quite good
Room for two without a problem
Being fitted with a grey tank and good battery/solar capacity, its self-sufficiency is excellent
Factory offers a two-year warranty and the usual for OEM components
Several subtle layout design features which make a difference
Larger bathroom with a different arrangement
SILVER VALLEY BUCKLAND SPECS
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
|Body length||6.55m (21ft 5in)|
|Overall length||8.45m (27ft 7in)|
|Width (incl awn)||2.44m (8ft)|
|Height||2.86m (9ft 4in)|
|Cladding||Aluminium ribbed panel (option to upgrade to Composite Panel)|
|Chassis||150mm (6in) drawbar, 100mm (4in) rails, SupaGal|
|Suspension||AL-KO™ Rocker Roller|
|Brakes||AL-KO™ 10in electric|
|Water||2 x 95L|
|Battery||2 x 105Ah AGM|
|Solar||2 x 170W|
|Air-conditioner||Houghton Belaire 3400|
|Gas||2 x 9kg|
|Sway control||AL-KO™ ESC|
|Cooking||Swift 500 four-burner, grill and oven|
|Fridge||Thetford 614E.3E 185L three-way|
|Bathroom||Thetford cassette toilet and separate shower cubicle|
|Hot water||Swift 28L gas/electric|
Silver Valley Buckland price from $76,990.00
- Extra solar and battery
- Grey water tank
- Rear generator hatch
- Sirocco fan
- Robe cut-outs/USB points
- Water filter
Silver Valley Buckland price as shown $79,990.00
THE NEXT STEP
The sellers will be happy to help and answer any inquiries you may have about the products advertised for sale.