Lounging in the back of Horizon’s Melaleuca with the rear doors flung open, watching surfers cruise the waves from the lookout above the tiny north coast NSW town of Lennox Head, I realised this was my kind of motorhome: compact and cosy but fully equipped and self-contained. And after speaking to the team at Horizon, I don’t think I’m alone – the Melaleuca is just as popular with the Ballina-based manufacturer’s staff as it is among its clientele. I was told to get in line for the keys!
Built into a long wheelbase Fiat Ducato and coming in at just under 6m (20ft) long, the Melaleuca is the smallest model in Horizon’s range and fits snugly into most standard car spaces, making it an easy tourer for stopping and exploring whenever the fancy takes you – which it did, a lot, while touring the eclectic towns and ever-changing countryside of NSW’s beautiful Northern Rivers region.
The 2.3L 150hp turbodiesel engine served us well on the region’s narrow, winding hinterland roads, despite the occasional clunkiness of the six-speed automatic gears as they shifted to climb the steep hillsides. The Melaleuca is easy to drive though and handles much like a large car on the road.
It carries two passengers in the comfortable cab up front and sleeps two at the rear, where the lounge converts into a bed (or beds), depending on how you like to travel and who you’re travelling with. For solo travellers, there’s the option of a king single that can stay permanently set up while still leaving enough seating for two around the dinette table. Alternatively, couples can opt to lower the removable Lagun dinette table and make the entire lounge area into a massive double bed – perfect for sprawling on and watching the wall-mounted flatscreen TV on rainy days, or enjoying the view out the rear doorway (this I highly recommend!).
Up the front, the Fiat’s cab seats both swivel around to provide extra seating, with a small, single-pole-mounted table that can be set up in between. Although this table wouldn’t be ideal for eating a meal at, you could opt to leave the rear area set up as a bed and just use the front for lounging. Either way, the variety of sleeping and seating options available to you is a real bonus, particularly in what is by most standards, a pretty small motorhome.
The Melaleuca’s cosy interior has all the essentials for life on the road and given its size, still manages to feel quite spacious. Although, if your travelling companion is at the kitchen bench cooking and you want to use the bathroom, it requires a bit of shuffling about.
Kitchen facilities include a three-burner gas cooktop, fuelled by two 4kg gas cylinders, and a sink with a flick mixer tap and a separate filtered drinking water tap on the small nearside bench. Both have glass lids that create precious bench space, and for food preparation there’s an additional bench that lifts up next to the sink, out across the doorway. Next to this bench are the main light switches – nice and easy to get at before you even step inside.
Under the cooktop is an LG microwave and an array of variously sized drawers. Opposite the entry door is the 136L Waeco 12V/240V compressor fridge-freezer, with a cupboard above that houses the removable table for the swivelling cab seats as well as providing both shelving and hanging space.
Beside that is the mirrored door to the combination bathroom, which includes a cassette toilet and a small corner sink with a tap on an extendable hose, which doubles as the showerhead, clipping onto a height-adjustable arm for hands-free use. While the bathroom is inevitably small, having these facilities on board is a definite bonus and allows you to be fully self-contained, providing more flexibility on the road.
STORAGE & OTHER FEATURES
Despite its small stature, the Melaleuca excels with its well thought-out storage. The main compartment is under the lounge/bed area at the rear, and is accessed from outside via the rear double doors. There’s also a small hatch which allows this space to be accessed from inside, although clever packing is required to make sure you can easily get to what you need. Overhead lockers line the upper reaches of the lounge area and there’s even a narrow drawer underfoot where the floor is stepped – every available space has been utilised!
There are also a number of thoughtful touches throughout the Melaleuca that I really liked. Firstly, all the fuses, switches and monitoring panels are labelled neatly and tucked away in one of the overhead lockers. Then there are the LED reading lights, conveniently located at each corner of the lounge/bed area as well as over the front cab seats. And while there’s no air-conditioner fitted in the body of the motorhome, an adjustable Sirocco fan is mounted to the roof at the rear to keep you cool, along with a vented roof fan.
Things are kept simple outside, with the main features being the nearside wind-out Fiamma awning – the perfect spot for your morning coffee – as well as an external shower on the offside, which was very handy for cleaning sandy feet after a wander along the beach at Brunswick Heads.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I must admit I’m a bit of a fuss-free camper and I like things to be simple and convenient. In this sense, the Melaleuca holds a lot of appeal with its compact size, considered inclusions and neat aesthetic. Of course, size is a matter of opinion and how much space you require will depend on your style of travel and your preferences.
For anyone travelling solo, it’s a convenient and liveable design that allows you to pull up at camp and get yourself sorted for the night without ever having to step outside, which is sometimes exactly what you want.
The versatile layout and flexible sleeping arrangements make it well suited to singles, couples or even two friends, and having spent a couple of days travelling in the Melaleuca, I would be quite happy to continue to do so for longer periods!
HITS AND MISSES
- Easy to drive and park
- Versatile layout – suited to singles, couples or friends
- Large rear double bed
- Practical storage
- Minimal kitchen bench space
- Fiat gear changes
- Having to make up the bed each night
Weights and measures
- Base vehicle Fiat Ducato
- Tare weight 3150kg
- GVM 4250kg
- Licence Car
- Passengers Two
- Engine 2.3L 150hp Multi-Jet turbodiesel
- Power 110kW @ 3600rpm
- Torque 380NM @ 1500rpm
- Gearbox Comfort Matic
- Brakes Disc (front and rear)
Price as shown
$115,800; base price $112,500
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #565. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!