Malcolm Street — 19 November 2015

There must be something in the air because this is the second issue in a row that I have looked at a caravan built in a ‘retro’ style. Jackaroo Caravans is based at Arundel on Queensland’s Gold Coast and has recently started to produce a small range of retro-looking caravans, albeit using modern materials and appliances.


Not unexpectedly, the Jackaroo profile bears a resemblance to that of Viscounts from the 70s and 80s, but the silver cladding is a very big difference – it certainly wasn’t available back in the day. Nor was the black-lined J-moulding, black Camec security door, black Aussie Traveller hopper windows, or the Dometic awning.


Given the length and weight of this Jackaroo, the internal layout is quite a surprise. It has a front entry door which leads straight into the bedroom with its island bed. There are pros and cons to this layout (see p128); however, it does leave room for a nearside dinette, rear nearside corner kitchen, rear offside corner shower and toilet cubicle, and cabinetry along the offside that leaves space for both a two-door 190L fridge and a half-height cupboard with a bench above.

Normally, at this point, I might note that the 1.88x1.45m (6ft 2in x 4ft 9in) island bed is surrounded by windows, which it is. But, in this case, a bit more ventilation is available, given security screen can be locked and the breeze allowed to flow through.

Being a contemporary van, the bedhead is surrounded by side wardrobes, bedside cabinets and overhead lockers. The bedside cabinets are quite narrow to allow (at least on the nearside) for the position of the adjacent doorway.

Older readers might well remember Viscounts in which the bed was merely a metal frame and nothing else, and the storage was within the top curved frame at one or both ends of the van.

In this layout, the L-shaped dinette looks a little on the small side but it and the table are large enough for two people. It’s a nice little compromise in a van this size, although there really is only enough room for one person to sit back and relax here. However, the nearby bed offers another lounging option.


The relatively large size of the kitchen is a bonus in this van. In the rear, the L-shaped bench comes with a four-burner cooktop and grill, along with a stainless steel sink and drainer. That allows for a good benchtop working area and a reasonable selection of cupboards and drawers. There are a couple of overhead lockers but part of that space is used by the microwave.

The aforementioned fridge is mounted off the floor on the mid-offside next to yet more cupboard and benchtop space, as well as a wire basket slide-out pantry.

Above the fridge is where a number of control functions – 12V switch, hot water switch, battery management, water tank gauge – and the radio/CD player are located. For those with multi-focal glasses, the radio, in particular, does require a bit of a neck stretch.


Another thing you won’t find on any old Viscounts is the rear corner bathroom which comes with a cassette toilet and a variable height shower hose. It’s a good fit in this van, with enough space to turn around easily.


I reckon there are two major points of interest about this van. One is the retro body shape and internal decor. That certainly makes the Jackaroo brand stand out from the crowd.

The other thing is that, even if you aren’t specifically looking for a retro-style caravan, this is a relatively lightweight and comparably short van. Yet it still comes with all the ‘essentials’ we have come to expect in a modern van. Perhaps the ‘past reflected in the present’ is a trend to watch?



  •  Relatively lightweight van
  •  Nicely-proportioned layout
  •  Good-sized kitchen
  •  Decent internal storage
  •  Timber benchtops


  •  No external storage bins
  •  Small dinette
  •  Control switches/radio set quite high


test_Jackaroo Retro


Malcolm Street