Queensland’s Sunshine Coast provides a beautiful array of caravanning and camping opportunities within a short drive of Brisbane. That’s why, when you find a hidden Sunshine Coast gem, it’s hard to resist it, especially when there’s also a chance to review a new caravan.
When I heard about Neurum Creek Bush Retreat, bordering the Mount Mee section of D’Aguilar National Park, minutes from the rural township of Woodford, I thought it was the ideal spot to visit with the new Spinifex EpiX.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
On first impressions, this custom-built Spinifex looks ready to provide a fine home-away-from-home. Getting off the blacktop successfully requires two important criterion to be met. Firstly, a van needs a strong, well-built chassis and, secondly, it needs suspension that can handle the rough and tumble of an outback track. The airbag suspension fitted to this van comes at a cost, but this EpiX has the ability to handle a rocky track or a corrugated road.
Our review EpiX had a chassis design unlike any previous Spinifex model. The strength of new, single-piece resin floor means Spinifex is able to make the chassis lighter by removing and rearranging some cross members. That’s worthwhile, as Spinifex insists the changes haven’t compromised strength. It’s a claim I’m inclined to believe, although our short run with the caravan didn’t give us the chance to see if it meant the chassis was less rigid or would handle the rigours of time on the road.
The chassis is made of 75mm dual beam, hot-dipped galvanised 350-grade Australian Bluescope steel so, on face value, it has enough strength.
Weight-wise, this Spinifex’s is a significant improvement. Previous models have come in with ATMs of more than 4t; this model saves around 500kg on that, coming in with an ATM of 3.5t, which makes it a more manageable towing proposition, albeit one which will require a large tow vehicle. When you add it all up, a Tare weight of almost 2.9t, two fresh water tanks, a smaller drinking water tank, plus grey water adding 545kg, you’re left with just 55kg for your goods and chattels. That’s within the tow capacity of a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series, however, your Toyota won’t have too much spare capacity to handle the difficult or steep sections along the way.
Spinifex’s response to this is that the larger water capacity means that the water tanks are baffled, so when they’re not full, water won’t slosh about, potentially impacting the towability of the caravan. What’s more, the two tanks are located one each side of the front axle to help distribute the weight evenly. And the chassis is actually engineered to 4.5t and can be registered for 4.4t ATM. While this does allow you to carry more bits and bobs, it also means selling the LandCruiser to buy an imported American pickup like a GMC Sierra with a 4.5t tow capacity. That potentially bumps up the bill considerably, though.
The EpiX’s white cladding with checkerplate protection is a fairly traditional look which exudes a reassuring sense of being steadfast and dependable.
What’s more, Spinifex remains loyal to full interlocking aluminium framing, together with aluminium cladding and that’s a reasonable, albeit old-school, combo for an offroad caravan.
Free camping also requires ample storage and the review van has that covered. There’s well thought out under-bed storage that is segregated to help keep your bulkier items organised. And there’s a beaut pantry sitting in a handy spot beside the door, abundant kitchen drawers including a large pot drawer and overhead lockers all round.
Beyond storage, the kitchen features moderate bench space – perhaps too little for a truly devoted gourmet traveller – but enough for the traveller keen on making a worthwhile evening meal. The kitchen also boasts a Swift combo four-burner cooktop, grill and fan-forced oven, so those that want to knock up a slap-bang meal won’t be frustrated. The Spinifex’s Vitifrigo 240L fridge/freezer is perfect for keeping the beer, chops and much more cold.
There is a definite sense of style about this custom-built Spinifex EpiX; obvious from the moment you step inside thanks to the black leather dinette, faux marble benchtops, dark floor covering, dimmable LED lights and blue mood lighting.
However, a quick look at the ensuite and you soon realise this van isn’t a victory of style over substance. The ensuite is nicely set out with first-class fixtures including a washing machine, toilet and useful storage. Unfortunately, the space that the kitchen pantry demands means that the shower space behind it is a little smaller than I’d like.
As for the pantry and other storage, quality construction means there’s little likelihood of jagging your fingers on a splinter while fishing around for the bottle opener in one of the many self-closing drawers.
The interior is kept cosy thanks to air-conditioning for those woefully hot days on a wallaby track somewhere and a diesel heater for any tooth-numbingly cold nights in the high country.
Of course, keeping cosy also requires getting a good sleep each night. Spinifex has that covered with a bedroom with a sizable innerspring mattress flanked by useful robes, drawers and handy bedside lamps.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This custom-built Spinifex EpiX is a comfortable, stylish, purpose-built caravan, capable of catering to the needs of any offroad camper. It demonstrates the benefits of working with a capable manufacturing team on your home away from home, and the end result is a capable, lighter-than-previous-models-but-still-weighty, traditional-looking offroad caravan that is among the best on the road today.
- Ample external storage
- Lighter weight than previous models
- Practical layout
- Storage boxes front and rear
- Needs slightly larger shower
- Needs exterior cooker or barbecue
The full test appears in Caravan World #556 October 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!