Sometimes it might appear from reading the pages of this fine magazine that just about all caravans are fitted with a shower and toilet. That’s not correct by any means and for the RV traveller who prefers to stay in caravan parks and doesn’t need an on-board bathroom, there is still plenty of choice. A case in point is the subject of this review, a Rambler caravan built by Golden Eagle.
I motored up the F3 freeway out of Sydney to pay a visit to The Caravan Company. It’s handy Hexham location not far from Newcastle is convenient for customers coming from Sydney or the north coast. The proprietors, Bob Surdonic and his wife Jenny, soon had my Rambler washed and ready to roll.
The Rambler does not have a bathroom but it does have just about everything else in a variety of layouts. Stepping into this rear-door-entry one, I saw a largish, L-shaped lounge fitted around the rear offside corner. To the immediate left of the doorway, i.e., along the nearside, were most of the kitchen facilities and at the front of the van, the bedroom.
Having comfortable-looking seating opposite the doorway is almost an instant invitation to sit down, relax and have a look around, which is precisely what I did. I noted the maple hue of the timber cabinetry work, the timber pelmets with full and net curtains on all the windows and the mixture of fluorescent and halogen light fittings throughout. Four Seasons hatches at either end and a roof-mounted Aircommand air-conditioner deliver the ventilation and cooling.
In the lounge there’s even enough room to put your feet up, given one side of the lounge seat occupies most of the rear wall. At either end of the lounge are waist-high cabinets. In addition to providing cupboard, wire-basket and drawer storage space they give shelf area for drinks and nibblies, if you wish to lift the single-pole-mounted table out of the way.
There is the usual underseat storage area and a floor locker to gain access but conveniently there is also an external bin door. In many ways it is an easier way to utilise the underseat area than fiddle with cushion-base ply hatches.
Some travellers don’t like them but I find a kitchen bench with a built-in angle quite an asset. It gives a bit more benchtop area and more storage area without being too intrusive. The stainless steel sink and drainer are set at an angle alongside the cooktop right by the door. A nice touch is the raised panel at the sink end which acts as a splash panel for the adjoining bedroom. Working benchtop area isn’t overly generous, however.
For kitchen storage there are a pots and pans-sized drawer and floor locker under the griller plus three cupboards and a cutlery drawer under the sink. There’s one overhead locker with the adjacent space being taken by the microwave.
An off-the-floor, 128L Thetford three-way fridge fills the wall area between the end of the lounge and the bedroom. Above the fridge, the shelf offers a fair bit of space
and will accommodate a flatscreen TV without difficulty. The TV antenna connection along with a 240V powerpoint and 12V socket are neatly hidden in the locker above the AM/FM radio/DVD player. There’s a large plastic ‘grommet’ for cable access.
In the somewhat standard-looking bedroom, the generous window area and the wider than usual rear bed shelf and the bedside cabinet shelves stand out. Measuring 1.85x1.55m (6ft 1in x 5ft 1in), the innerspring mattress sits on a metal-framed, slatted-timber bed base. It lifts easily to get to the compartmented storage area underneath. Half-height diagonal cupboards are built into each corner at the foot of the bed.
The Rambler comes out of Melbourne and is built very much along conventional lines. Underpinning everything is the 100x50mm (4x2in) SupaGal chassis. It rides on 2in, riser-fitted, leaf-spring suspension and 15in alloy wheels. Between the chassis rails is a 90L water tank. At the front, the drawbar rails sport a pair of 4.5kg gas cylinders, as well as a few other essentials like ball coupling, handbrake, centrally mounted jockey wheel and mains pressure tap. At the rear is the spare wheel, which is mounted on a 2x2in bumper bar.
Above the chassis, the aluminium cladding with lower checkerplate, tinted acrylic windows and triple-locker security door are all built around the timber frame. In addition to the front boot, there is the aforementioned external storage compartment at the offside rear. A Dometic awning provides cover for alfresco living, aided by the external speaker and mid-wall ‘entertainment locker’ with 240V powerpoint, 12V socket and TV antenna connections. Mid-wall and grab handle incandescent light units are also fitted.
With an ATM of 1850kg and a Tare of just 1550kg, it made a very easy towing proposition for the Ford Falcon ute that I was using. Even the towball weight (130kg unladen) wasn’t much of an issue.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Undoubtedly one of the attractive features of this 5.5m (18ft) Rambler is its weight or, rather, the lack thereof. It all certainly proved to be a practical towing package on my test tow.
Despite the fact that it’s a relatively lightweight van, it doesn’t lack any of the vital appointments and on that basis, the Rambler should make a practical rig for any couple planning mostly caravan park-based touring.
For more information about Golden Eagle, or to find your nearest dealer, visit www.eaglecaravans.com.au.