At the 2016 NSW Caravan, Camping & Holiday Supershow, held in April, there was a surprising number of family caravans on display. I say surprising because family caravans can be a bit of a challenge for manufacturers. If they build them too big and, therefore, too expensive, they don’t sell. Build them too small and they don’t sell either, because families need a bit of space. So manufacturers need to find that elusive middle ground. When I saw the Goldstream 1760 Bunk on display at the Parravans Caravan World dealer stand at the show, it caught my eye as I thought it managed just that, and it ticked many of the boxes that family vanners have.
LAYOUT AND DESIGN
For starters, it’s a pop-top caravan, which is an attractive proposition for anyone who prefers a lower towing height or has storage height restrictions at home. It weighs in with a Tare weight of 1890kg and an ATM of 2500kg, so it has a generous and family-friendly load capacity of 610kg, yet it fits under the so-called ‘Prado towing limit’ of many popular tow vehicles. Although, I think reaching the full 610kg loading capacity of the van would be a challenge, given the storage restrictions in a mid-sized pop-top van such as this.
It behaved very well on the road and even off it. When I took it down some rough roads, it was certainly an easy tow due, in large part, to its size and towing profile.
Given the size and shape of the van, it’s not surprising that there’s only a tunnel boot for external storage. But it’s a reasonable size for a family that doesn’t travel with too much baggage. The gas cylinders are on the drawbar, and the spare wheel is mounted on the rear bumper bar.
So how do you get a family layout, including a shower and a toilet, into a van that is only 5.38m (17ft 8in) long? With a lot of ingenuity and a little bit of compromise, that’s how! The double bed sits across the front of the van, forward of the entry door, which creates space for the kitchen bench and the bunk beds on the offside wall, leaving room on the nearside for an L-shaped lounge and a rear corner combo bathroom.
There’s no doubt that an L-shaped dinette works best with this layout, as it’s pretty easy to get in and out of, and also allows for an extra (folding) chair to be added on the other side of the table.
On the power front, the 1760 Bunk is fitted out with all the necessary lights and mains power points but no 12V/5V USB sockets. Most of the electrics, including the 12V fuses and digital water tank gauges, are located in the locker above the kitchen bench.
There was a time when bathrooms in pop-top caravans weren’t even considered, but with a bit of ingenuity and some vinyl curtains, hey presto, we can now have an onboard bathroom. It’s certainly not big, in this case, but there’s enough room for a Thetford cassette toilet with a moulded wash basin behind, and a variable height, flexible hose shower. However, the maximum height of the shower is restricted by the solid wall height.
But to fit the bathroom in, something had to give, and that something is the kitchen. It has all the necessary items – four-burner cooktop with grill, stainless steel sink, a large family-sized fridge and a microwave under the grill – but there’s not much overhead locker space. One of the two lockers houses the electrical panel, but there are four large drawers and a shelved cupboard. There also isn’t any benchtop working space, but using the table is a reasonable compromise. Given the proximity of the bed to the cooktop and the lack of any side splash panel, I think a protective plastic sheet or something similar wouldn’t go astray. Or, alternatively, you could use the external gas bayonet to hook up a barbecue and cook outside.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Granted, the little Goldstream 1760 Bunk is not going to win any prizes for the most spacious van interior, however, it is more than capable of housing a family of four and, even better, it doesn’t feel cramped inside.
- Lightweight family van
- Interior does not feel cramped
- Ground clearance
- Well put together
- Multiple drawers in kitchen
- Size of front bed
- Limited internal storage capacity
- No charger points for electronic devices