I always appreciate a visit to caravan dealer Parravans Caravan World at Windsor, NSW. One of the reasons is that Windsor is a pleasant area located on the magnificent Hawkesbury River. And it also holds significant status in early Australian history.
Parravans is also a Goldstream RV dealer and I collected one of the manufacturer’s 1800 EWST bunk vans for this review. Based in Pakenham, Vic, Goldstream offers a wide range of towed product, both on and offroad and everything from rising roof camper trailers to full caravans.
The 1800 test van is a single-axle pop-top with an external body length of 5.49m (18ft), which is a number to keep in mind because it’s a bunk van complete with a small ensuite. For the family who wants to get off the beaten track, the van also comes with what Goldstream describes as its ‘Adventure Pack’ which includes items like upgraded AL-KO Enduro Cross Country suspension, more battery capacity, more water storage and a host of smaller features.
For the family, this van has plenty to offer. Its ATM of 2500kg does not require a particularly heavy-duty tow vehicle; and its Tare weight of 1892kg means a very good load capacity, much more than many larger vans.
Fitting in a family layout, including bunks, requires some design trickery and compromise. So the end result is a forward entry door, a double bed across the front of the van and north-south bunks in the rear, opposite the nearside bathroom. That leaves the midriff for the nearside L-shaped lounge/dinette and offside kitchen bench.
Feeding a family is, undoubtedly, a bit of a challenge when caravanning and while the benchtop is a bit small, the 190L fridge certainly is not. Most important to keep all the drinks cool, especially in summer, I reckon. Four drawers and one cupboard are fitted under the kitchen benchtop. Also under the benchtop is the microwave oven, which sits directly under the four-burner cooker/grill.
Across the way, the table provides an invaluable meal preparation area. Three people should be able to sit around the table without too much trouble but the fourth might need an extra chair. An extendable table wouldn’t be a bad idea for family meal time.
The east-west double bed up front measures 1.83x1.47m (6ft x 4ft 10in) and the bunks are 1.83x0.68m (6ft x 2ft 3in). While the bunks will be okay for kids, the main bed is on the short side for taller people. But I understand that Goldstream might custom build a longer bed by removing the front nearside corner cupboard, which is logical if you need a longer bed for a comfortable night’s sleep.
Storage is something of a premium in this layout but there are overhead lockers above the main bed, and in the rear between the bunks and the bathroom is a good-size wardrobe.
In a van this size, the bathroom is usually going to be the compromise. But, taking that into account, it is a pretty good arrangement with a combo shower and bench-style cassette toilet. Built in behind the toilet is a moulded-in washbasin.
Above the hard wall of the shower cubicle and the door, a vinyl curtain keeps the water and steam at bay.
The 1800 is kitted out with a 100Ah deep-cycle battery, LED lighting and 240V mains powerpoint and battery charger, so anyone contemplating staying off the grid might consider solar panels for which the van is pre-wired. Otherwise, it’s careful power-conscious living. Surprisingly for a family van, there are no USB charger points for all those e-devices that junior members relish (yes, I admit that adults like to have them just as much!).
THE BOTTOM LINE
This pop-top van sits mid-range and mid-convenience in the Goldstream line-up. It certainly takes less time to set up than a rising roof camper trailer with extendable ends but offers a little less interior living space. On the other hand the pop-top is a much easier towing proposition than a larger full caravan but of course is slightly less convenient when setting up. There’s a good chance it is going to be a bit cheaper, too. The choice is all yours but the pop-top bunk van is certainly a happy compromise.
HITS AND MISSES
- Family van for rough-road use
- Bunk beds for kids
- Ensuite bathroom
- Good-sized fridge
- Suits mid-sized tow vehicles
- Small dining table for families
- Bunk bed ladder
- No USB charger outlets
- Main bed length
Weights and measures
- Overall length 7.59m (24ft 11in)
- External body length 5.49m (18ft)
- External body width 2.36m (7ft 9in)
- Travel height 2.5m (8ft 2in)
- Internal height 2.09m (6ft 10in)
- Tare 1892kg
- ATM 2500kg
- Payload 608kg
- Ball weight 212kg
Price as shown
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #564. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!