More people are heading to remote areas of Australia every year, and with signature outback highways such as the Great Central and even the Gibb River Road earmarked for sealing within a decade, there is renewed urgency.
However, not everyone wants to do their exploration Burke and Wills style – hence the market growth of large, solidly-built caravans that can offer true remote area living comforts by night after taking a hammering by day.
Aura’s new Earth Series offroader is the latest to join this growing offering and, with the first two examples finished respectively in bright blue and red Aluwell aluminium cladding, the model is clearly designed to make its presence felt well off the beaten track!
Red may be a little conspicuous for some travellers but not, it seems, for Aura buyers. Three of the first four Earth Series vans ordered were finished in this hue. On the van we reviewed – the second one built – the arresting red is toned down by the extensive use of black checkerplate on the van’s A-frame-mounted toolbox, window-less front and rear panels and lower sides.
Meanwhile, the van’s front entry door, drop-down picnic table, window frames and awning are also black. The effect is capped off by black Primal 16in alloy wheels with red spoke highlights and the distinctive Aura Earth decals. I must admit, it looks impressive.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
Step inside and you’ll find a well laid-out luxury caravan with a refreshingly different layout. Despite its rugged exterior, Aura doesn’t expect you to rough it in the bush and other than a roof-mounted pressure hatch to keep dust at bay there are few concessions to the terrain that Earth vans can expect to traverse.
BEDROOM & STORAGE
In the tail of the Aura Earth is the island bed, nestled between a pair of three-quarter robes, with four top-hinged cupboards spanning the area above the upholstered bedhead. There is no rear window, and why would you want one except to let dust in from the area of the caravan where most of it collects after a long offroad run?
Personally, I favour the location of the bed in the rear of a caravan for various reasons. One is that in caravan parks, where most vans are reversed in, it places the bed as far away from passing traffic noise and dust as possible. Another is that, provided you don’t overload the space underneath with heavy objects, it allows the caravan manufacturer to maintain a sensible ball weight for stable towing at speed or offroad.
The kitchen is also stylish and almost as impressive in terms of bench space if you include the top of the Thetford Minigrill when lowered. And it’s all there, including the tall and stylish flick-mixer and separate filtered water taps feeding into the same deep, circular stainless steel bowl. Again, there’s a plethora of high gloss-finished overhead cupboards and lower drawers, with the only disappointment being the high mounting of the Camec microwave – a common victim of packing life’s modern luxury items into a caravan.
The 184L Thetford fridge-freezer towards the rear of the kitchen is an excellent size for long-distance travelling and its glossy black facade complements the finish on the cabinetry.
Opposite the kitchen there is an unexpectedly large U-shaped leather-upholstered lounge, with a central rectangular table that looks capable of seating a couple of guests for dinner. A row of partitioned cupboards above with sturdy hinges and stays supplies plenty of storage space for lighter objects.
Features here that I particularly liked were the huge vanity benchtop with its central china wash bowl, the full-width rectangular mirror above the splash-back, the Camec 2.5kg top-loading washing machine tucked away out of sight beneath a hinged section of the benchtop, and the generous knee and shoulder room around the Thetford ceramic cassette toilet.
Drawers and cupboards with smart positive latches line the upper walls and the area below the bench, providing room for whatever you’d like to take to make your remote life more comfortable. Also interesting is the tall wall cupboard to the left of the vanity that looks like the perfect place to store fresh towels or dirty laundry. All in all, this is a model caravan ensuite that shows the experience of the Aura team.
THE BOTTOM LINE
At first, I was unsure of what to make of this big and bold new offroader, but the further I got into the Aura Earth the more I appreciated how much thought and experience has gone into building this seriously luxurious remote area caravan.
It ticks all of the main offroad boxes and, as a bonus, its well-planned interior should ensure that owners can enjoy remote area travel in maximum comfort.
HITS & MISSES
- Ticks all the major remote travel boxes
- First-class interior layout
- Large, well-executed ensuite
- Well-equipped for the price
- No lithium power system option
- Low-hanging mounting for the spare wheel
- Could do with an extra tether for the rear ladder
- No wind-stays on the toolbox and barbecue hatch doors