NOT FAR FROM the tourist destinations of Noosa Heads and Fraser Island on Qld's Sunshine Coast is the manufacturing premises of Outback RVs.
Outback RV vans are very much built for sandy beaches and outback tracks. That was certainly the case with this particular Overlander model I borrowed for a test.
It was built for a customer who was very keen on fishing and so wanted to get to some of those out-of-the-way fishing spots without sacrificing the comforts of home. Certainly the tow vehicle, a 70 Series LandCruiser trayback, had everything needed for the keen fisherman. It did, of course, have everything needed for towing the Overlander caravan, too, with its 4.5L, 151kW turbodiesel engine and 3500kg tow rating. With a Tare of 2620kg and ATM of 3500kg, the van has considerable load capacity without exceeding the Toyota's towing limits.
HOW IT'S BUILT
The Overlander comes with a hot-dipped galvanised 150x50mm-railed chassis. Naturally, there is also a fully independent trailing-arm suspension setup complete with shock absorbers. Stopping power for the 16in wheels is provided by 12in electric brakes on each wheel.
Bolted between the rails are four 85L polyethylene water tanks (keep in mind the van's load capacity) which are individually plumbed, one with drinking water only. All of the under-chassis fittings, I should point out, are strapped out of the way, giving a clean ground clearance.
In addition to the usual drawbar fittings - Hyland offroad hitch (all future models will have a Hitchmaster DO35), power jack with LED lights, hand brake and twin 9kg gas cylinders, are a mesh stoneguard, jerry can holder and a small alloy checkerplate toolbox atop a mesh grill. At the rear, a strong bumper bar supports two spare wheels.
Underneath the aluminum and alloy checkerplate bodywork sits a fully-insulated, welded aluminium frame. In addition to the front boot, which contains three batteries, are several storage bins along the nearside, one containing a slide-out barbecue for under-awning cooking. Also fitted are 240V/12V sockets and an antenna connection for a TV, as well as low-mounted external speakers.
With a Tasmanian oak finish to the cabinetry, the Overlander is a pleasure to look at. It doesn't dominate the interior but creates some beautiful lines. Although the layout could be described as a front bedroom/rear bathroom layout, it's done with a few differences to the norm. For a start, the front bed is east-west to the nearside, the dinette is much simpler than what you'll find in comparable vans, and the rear bathroom is large.
LED lighting is fitted throughout and, along with the large Seitz-style windows, two large hatches let in plenty of light and fresh air.
The kitchen comes with a 230L Vitrifrigo fridge with LG microwave above, on the offside between the bathroom and the sideways-facing lounge and table that make up the dinette. Although the dinette might sound a little too simplified, it doesn't take up much space and is quite a flexible arrangement. But, given the location of the flatscreen TV - forward of the overhead lockers above the lounge seats - it can really only be viewed from the bed.
On the opposite side, the kitchen bench comes with four drawers, one cupboard and three overhead lockers, and the splash panel at the bed end of the bench is a nice touch. Like all the other doors and drawers in the van, the kitchen's are fitted with positive-locking catches, the drawers on 30kg-capacity runners. Despite the generous amount of storage, there's still a four-burner cooktop, grill and oven alongside a stainless steel sink and drainer.
In the bedroom, the front wall is filled with cabinets. Four doors give access to multiple shelves. On either side of the queen-size bed are neat bedside cabinets, and lifting the contour slat bed base reveals more storage - an external bin door also gives access to this area.
The rear bathroom is fitted with a nearside shower cubicle, offside Dometic vacu-flush toilet, vanity, and an off-the-floor, front-loading washing machine that's squeezed into the offside corner.
Like any good offroad van, the Overlander comes with a well set-up electrical system. Given the fridge is a 12V compressor model and there is also a 1000W pure sine wave inverter, having three 120Ah batteries that can be charged from either the Electro 30A mains unit or the three 120W roof-mounted solar panels is certainly an asset.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There's no doubt that the Overlander is a well-built, fit-for-purpose offroad van. Custom-built by Outback RVs, it contains many owner-required specifications and has a price to match. That said, the owners couldn't wait to get away in their new mobile home and feel the first fish biting on the line. Who could argue with that?
Source: Caravan World Jun 2012.