I experienced mixed emotions as we pulled into the Discovery Parks Woodman Point Caravan Park, just south of Fremantle, WA. It was the end of an epic cross-country adventure and, while I was a little relieved we weren’t facing another 600km drive the next day, I was also sad to be handing back the keys to the Avida Birdsville that had been our home-away-from-home throughout the journey.
After travelling 3900km and spending seven days in the long-standing manufacturer’s latest Birdsville C7436, we had our touring routine down pat. The four of us – Caravan World editor Laura Gray, videographer Steve Dwight, photographer Matt Fehlberg and myself – had set out from Melbourne one sunny morning, ready to put the Birdsville to the test on our Cross-Country Epic, all the way to Perth, via one of Australia’s iconic touring routes, the Nullarbor.
We carefully negotiated our exit route out of Melbourne in the 3.13m (10ft 3in) high moulded fibreglass Birdsville and cruised on to the freeway. The 3L turbodiesel engine proved excellent for highway touring and the six-speed automated manual gears switched smoothly in automatic mode. The only time we used the manual feature was when tackling steep declines, such as the winding road into Alligator Gorge in the southern Flinders Ranges, where we found the automatic mode required heavy braking to stay at low speed.
I was surprised at how easy the 4250kg GVM Birdsville was to manoeuvre and handle around corners, and at the power the engine was able to maintain, even up hills. The long rear overhang does mean you need to be pretty careful coming out of any dips, though.
It may be partly a reflection of how well many of the towns along our route have been set up to accommodate RVs – in fact, we visited a number of designated RV Friendly Towns along the way – but despite its 7.39m (24ft 3in) length, we found the Birdsville a pretty easy vehicle to park. We even managed to reverse it into a spot in a downtown Fremantle carpark!
Our C-class Birdsville was set up to sleep six; however, there are also two and four berth layouts available. The main double bed lowers from the roof above the rear lounges at the touch of a button and when it’s in its raised position you don’t really notice it’s there.
The bed can conveniently stay made up when raised, but you need to remove the backrests from the lounge in order to lower it fully into its nighttime position. If you are using the two lounges below as single beds, the drop-down bed can be lowered just halfway. Although not fitted in our review model, you can opt for memory foam mattresses on the single beds/lounges.
The second double bed is in the Luton peak over the cab. Access is via a clip-on ladder and two small windows keep things breezy up top. It’s ideal for one person, although perhaps a little cramped for two, as the curved front of the motorhome’s peak cuts into the space. There’s a curtain you can pull across for privacy and a mesh cargo net that clips up to keep you or anything else stored up there safe and in place.
Inside, the Birdsville is bright and fresh, and the light-coloured timber and white interior, combined with the neutral tones of the upholstery, is really easy to live with. There’s plenty of big windows that provide a good flow-through breeze when opened up, something we appreciated on the hot summer evenings.
Aside from a small incident on our first night, when we neglected to keep the mesh-screened door closed while preparing our dinner on the campfire (resulting in a gathering of insects of plague proportions inside the Birdsville), the screened door and the split-screen mesh and block-out blinds on the windows were effective in keeping out insects and the ever-so-friendly flies, ubiquitous in inland Australia.
We started each morning with coffee, toast and a debrief around the adjustable, single pole-mounted dinette table. The lounges comfortably seat four and probably six, although you’d be hard pressed to get six meals around the table at one time.
Our long days of driving meant we weren’t too keen to do much cooking – to be honest, I’ve never eaten so many pub meals and roadhouse pies in all my life! That said, we did put the kitchen to good use preparing numerous breakfast cook ups. The combination of a bit of bench space, the glass cooktop lid and the stainless-steel sink’s drainer means food prep is easy.
As a bonus, there’s a drop-down bench that hinges down across the entry door, behind the kitchen, so if you have a lot of veggies to chop, you can chat with your travel companions outside while you do it. Just keep in mind that once you set up you’ll probably be appointed bartender too, as you’ll be blocking the entry door.
Cooking is handled by a combo four-burner electric burner cooktop and a gas grill, plumbed into the two 4kg gas cylinders stored in an external locker on the offside. There’s also a Samsung microwave located above the 190L Dometic three-way fridge-freezer. We managed to set the fire alarm off on a daily basis cooking our toast, so can confirm it was present and in good working order!
THE BOTTOM LINE
You could be somewhat concerned about the prospect of spending that many hours (approximately 168, but who’s counting?) in a small, enclosed space with three of your colleagues, but the Birdsville never felt cramped.
The layout is practical and comfortable, and I particularly liked the rear lounge setup – for travelling, as well as at camp. I’d say this layout is well suited to a couple who occasionally have visitors along, a family, or even a bunch of work mates!
The drop-down bed does require a bit of compromise, but I think it’s worth it for the excellent space it allows for daytime lounging.
Sitting under the awning with beer in hand on our last night in the Birdsville, we all agreed the C7436 was a great motorhome to travel and live in, even for four people and all their gear. In fact, we would have been more than happy to hold on to the keys and just keep on driving!
HITS AND MISSES
- Sideways-facing lounges
- Room to sleep six
- Extra drop-down bench space
- Cut-outs for storing and charging
- Noisy up the back when travelling
- Limited external storage space
- Difficult to access the bathroom when rear bed is down
Weights and measures
- Overall length 7.39m (24ft 3in)
- External width 2.32m (7ft 7in)
- Internal height 1.97m (6ft 6in)
- Travel height 3.13m (10ft 3in)
- Tare 3468kg
- GVM 4250kg
Price as shown
$144,470 (on-road, Vic)
Check out the Avida Cross Country trip overview!
If you feel inspired by the Avida Cross-Country Epic, please consider donating to help the NBCF achieve its goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030. You can donate here:
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #564. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!