Bushmaster Blue Gum Caravan Review
Terry Ryan heads up Country Life Caravans (CLC) in Heidelberg, Melbourne and brings a casual, relaxed approach to the caravan industry here. Terry is from Queensland and through various circumstances found himself moving to Melbourne with the family and bringing the Country Life Caravans and the Bushmaster name to our lovely green State.
People buying a CLC caravan will find themselves dealing with Terry pretty much from start to finish and with plenty of years of caravan building and touring experience he's certainly a valuable source of info on what works and what doesn't in a touring van.
Wandering around the yard in Heidelberg, I was amazed to find some very groovy interiors in colours and forms I wouldn't have expected to find in a caravan. From flashy white smooth walls to red leather, I like the way Terry thinks outside the box so to speak.
Terry offers a range of vans from the Aussie Tourer which is a family van to the Red Gum which is more an on-road large van to the Blue Gum which really is the off-road model. Possibly the best part is that the vans can be customised to really suit individual buyers and their families.
Our review Bushmaster Blue Gum offers a neat package that is based on a Supagal 6-inch chassis with a 6-inch draw bar and mesh floor in the A-frame. Other standard features on the extended A-frame include twin 9kg gas bottles, ALKO 50mm ball coupling and a jockey wheel. This package sports a tandem axle Control Ryder independent suspension system complete with coils and 12-inch electric brakes. It's a solid base to work from.
Underneath the body is a battery box which houses twin 105amp/hr batteries which are very easy to access. Three 95 litre water tanks with filler are also mounted under the body on a tap system that makes filling them very easy.
Sporting a Meranti timber frame, the body is Colourbond aluminium in a soft brown colour with chequer plate boot (inside and out) plus side skirts creating a very smart look. The contrast of a white window cover up front, the various hatches, tunnel boot, picnic table and the door might not appeal to some. Terry has blended things by adding chequer plate into the door panels where possible which helps create a different look to the van.
There are a raft of features fitted to the body such as a Dometic awning, 120w Electro Pro solar panel, roof hatches, Ibis air conditioning unit, tinted windows, reverse camera and a full LED lighting package which includes two high mounted brake lights. Terry has added side indicator lights, which is fantastic idea because sometimes a passing car sits back from the tow car towards the back of the van, in the right or left hand lanes, and can't really see the indicators at the back of the car or the van. These side indicators help other drivers see what the van driver is doing and it works!
On and off road this van sat really well on the back of the Merc. Terry recommends fitting anti-sway bars or stabilising bars of some sort to provide the best ride and weight distribution possible. Having been in-car over a variety of terrain during this review the van handled itself well and didn't cause a choppy or clunky ride.
I liked the exterior package as a whole although personally I didn't like the white contrasting bits however that's a purely personal view and others could love it.
Day Into Night
Flash and classy is a way to describe the Blue Gum's interior. From the leather trim to the light walls and contrasting light and dark timbers used throughout this van, the inside offers a smouldering stylish look.
Entry into the Blue Gum is via a door near the rear of the van. Stepping up into the van via a drop step, the ensuite runs across the back of the van. This ensuite features a good sized shower, separate Thetford toilet vanity and a Dometic front loading washing machine mounted off the floor for easy access which is handy for people who struggle to bend over.
To the left of the door is a cafe style dinette trimmed in leather and featuring a Tri-fold table. This is a comfy space for a cuppa or a full meal for two. A flat screen TV is mounted on the opposite side of the van in the bedroom and can be easily seen from the dining room seats.
Opposite the dining area is a kitchen running across the middle of the van. The kitchen features a large Thetford 184L two-door fridge, LG microwave, Swift cooker with grill and oven, a deep sink with water filter and stylish splash backs. A little more bench space here might be nice however the dining table could be utilised if need be. There is a full height slide-out pantry that's pretty cool and adds to the overall storage space around the van.
At the front of the van is an island style queen bed with wardrobes either side complete with mirrored doors. This room is light and bright with plenty of windows and a roof hatch for ventilation. There are also corner cupboards against the walls leading to the kitchen and dining room.
Throughout the van there is an amazing amount of storage space in overhead cupboards, under the bed and under the seats and benches. It could almost be a problem finding things once they are stored!
Apart from a few trim issues the inside of this van is very neat and very practical. I like the way Terry has adjusted the shower door to ensure it will never pop open on rough roads and while it looked odd sitting not so square in the frame it certainly works and I like the thought behind it.
Our review model comes in at $74,500 on road Ex Melbourne and represents a lot of caravan for the price. There is a list of standard features I haven't even mentioned in this yarn. The body is neat and the interior likewise. It's a practical van from one end to the other and designed with plenty of classy comfort to tour in. Aside from a few small trimming issues and a slightly warped cupboard door there was nothing that really stood out as a potential issue and with plenty of innovation this van is pretty smart.
Article published in February/March 2012 Australian Caravan+RV magazine.
|Country of manufacture||Australia|
Country Life Caravans
Address: 112 Bell St, Heidelberg Heights Vic 3081
T: (03) 9458 3000
F: (03) 9458 4000
|Price as tested||$74,500 inc GST and on-roads|
|Tare weight||2510 kg|
|Gross weight||2695 kg|
|Towball download||215 kg|