Caravan Special: Aussie Rules Creative Designs From Down Under

Words Godfrey Castle

Why are most South African caravans coloured white or cream? White exteriors may be cool in our hot African summers, and the shade of khaki blends in well in the bush; but does it make you stand out from the crowd?

We don’t all drive white cars. Some of us like colours to make a statement, to show others that we are different, interesting and unique – and having a damn fine time doing so! While taking a look at Down Under, we discovered that the Australian caravan market is doing exceptionally well. Could it be that it’s because their caravans are looking fresh and exciting? Would colourful exteriors work in South Africa, or are we too reserved? Or do you think the Aussies have no class? Okay, we probably think we already know the answer to that …

Having visited Australia a long time ago, I was under the impression Ozzie caravans were designed for blue-collar workers, and so were less sophisticated and more durable than ours. However, we recently looked at a few Australian makes of caravan, and the more we discovered, the more we raised our eyebrows. Especially when we saw one of our own, Jurgens Australia, who seems to be doing a stunning job and even offering a bigger range of models than we have here! Now, that’s not right!

The Ozzies are obviously not afraid to express themselves in dominant caravan colours like bright green and orange; and they also have interesting model names like ‘Dirty Harry’, ‘ManCave’, ‘Big Red’, ‘Outlaw’ and, of course, ‘Matilda’! Some features that I noticed are that most of their caravans have high ground clearance, they ride on bigger wheels, have square, box-shaped corners, have fully independent suspension, and (contrary to what we’d heard) they seem to like their luxury. Some models have a washing machine as standard.

Where they are way more advanced than we are is that their caravans are equipped with electric brakes which allow them to tow heavier loads legally, as they do in the US of A. Take a look at some of their amazing models…

A R1.5-million-plus model

Launched in early June, the new, fully moulded-fibreglass Soul caravan claims to have drawn wide interest. Perhaps the price tag has something to do with it – A$139 800 (about R1,5 million) but it could also be its massive ‘slide-out’.

South Africa only recently got its first real slide-out model – the Mobi Lodge – and, for those new to this concept who don’t know what it is, a slide out is an extra compartment or living space that expands out of a wall of the caravan and adds a considerable amount of living space. On the Soul 22, nearly two-thirds of its length is covered with an electrically-actuated slide-out, adding about 20 percent more floor space to a standard interior. All at the touch of a button!

Another feature of this caravan is its large awning windows which stretch across more than half of one side.

‘We have equipped the Soul 22 with a range of luxuries that will appeal to experienced caravanners. The electrical systems throughout the caravan have digital control so that consumption can be monitored on a tablet computer and lighting can be controlled in the same way,’ said a Riviera spokesman.

Making a splash

When there’s no water, you have a caravan… and when there is, you just reverse it into the water and you have a boat!

We spoke to Rob from CaraBoat, who says that Australia has a very high standard of living, probably because of its wage system. Basic pay for an adult is a minimum of A$20 (R218.34) per hour, while a trades-person earns over A$30 − R327.52 an hour, or R54 994.58 a month.

The CaraBoat is a trailerable houseboat and would surely be an absolute hit for cruising the Vaal or Gariep Dam. Or, imagine going tiger fishing on Kariba − if you can cruise it, you can CaraBoat it!

What a fantastic caravan… er, boat, to have! And it boasts some amazing fixtures and features, many of which are standard equipment; such as a “hidden helm” which (when in caravan mode) has the boat’s steering and engine controls conveniently disappearing into a cupboard.

Standard equipment is for two 30hp fuel injected four stroke outboards, which have a combined input of around 30 amps back into the batteries and are easily pull-started if required. Top speed is around 17 knots.

Jurgens and Conqueror

Impressed with what you’ve seen so far? Then, how about closing off with a warm fuzzy feeling of South African pride? Yes, we have two South African manufacturers competing in this hotly-contested Australian market – both Jurgens CI and Conqueror are active there; and, while the latter exports fully-built off-road caravans and trailers, Jurgens have their own factory Down Under.

They even have some models we don’t have here, like the Tooradin. It has luxurious, leather-covered furniture, a full en-suite, and a well-appointed kitchen with every convenience – from a handy washing machine to a wine cooler. There are also the Narooma and the Travado models; the latter is a double-axle “outback” caravan which has a CRS suspension. CRS stands for Country Road Suspension, and is an independent coil suspension system designed to give low unsprung weight and a premium ride with excellent handling on uneven country dirt-roads. Hey, guys – bring some of these models back home to South Africa!



Post your comment

To read more articles from this issue please click here. To buy a copy of our magazine, please click here.