Make Tracks in the Outback

Story by Elizabeth Mueller

Copyright © On The Road Magazine 2001. Any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.

When the dirt roads beckon, you won’t be stranded on the bitumen with Supreme’s Outback caravan

There is a lot to be gained in the way of scenery and solitude by venturing off the black-top – way down that track where dust will billow behind and the odd pot hole and set of corrugations will have your rig yelping and clattering that “this isn’t quite normal, y’know”.

Sometimes it can be the thought of those stresses put on the caravan that can keep travellers to the confines of bitumen touring. Yet, those wilds do call

 

It was that call that got the designers at Supreme Caravans to build a van to suit travellers who want to go just that little bit further, and the result is the Supreme Outback.
Hit the (dirt) road - in style

The main differences between the Outback and an on-road Supreme model is in the running gear – it’s been beefed up to take the few hard knocks to be expected on back roads.

It sits on a Duragal chassis with 150mm-deep main rails that run right back to the spring hangers. On the review model suspension was heavy-duty straight axle, though there is an independent option available.

Fifteen-inch wheels and 12-inch brake drums complete the running gear, and there is also aluminium chequer plate up front for stone protection.

 
Mind you, the Outback was not planned to be a van to attempt a crossing of the Simpson Desert or to meander up the Cape, particularly as there has been no attempt made to improve approach and departure angles of the van. More sensibly, the strengthened dynamics will give tourers the confidence to take a trip out to Cameron Corner or to cruise the beauty of the Flinders Ranges – weather conditions permitting, or course.

Cruise on in confidence 

 

Other outside appointments to aid the back-road lifestyle include twin jerry can holders rear-mounted on a heavy-duty bumper, twin gas bottles mounted on the A-frame and a good sized front boot that houses two batteries and a 240-volt charger. The battery control system, that really lets you stay away from civilisation, is housed internally.

But, when you’re living life on the road, it’s what happens when you open the door that provides the ultimate welcome.

And at first glance, it’s all there – front kitchen, mid-dinette and rear bedroom. But wait – blending into the front set-up is a bathroom. It’s a nice touch, and its location isn’t readily picked but makes good use of a kitchen corner.

Inside the “rest room” is a vanity unit, with hot and cold taps, and a Thetford C-200 self-contained toilet system along with a shower head and ventilation system. Quite simply, it’s an easy set-up when you want to cope with no (or limited) amenities at a bush camp. As a nice aside, for fresh mornings there is also an internal switch to start up the gas hot water system (26-litre).

Eating and relaxing out of the elements is also going to be an easy event.

Appliance-wise, the Outback has just about all of it covered: an Electrolux Caprice four-burner and full-oven for cuppas, dampers and grills when the firewood’s too wet, and a snazzy-looking Electrolux sink that is flush-mounted with a glass cover. Located directly to the left of the stove top, the glass cover adds to the left-hand bench space for a food-prep area television cooking shows would be envious of. But, this is a caravan, so to rinse your hands or the carrots this prep area must be moved to access the sink.

The Outback’s refrigeration has an edge to appeal to bush campers. The Waeco Coolmatic is a two-door, 142-litre compressor model (with a 16-litre separate freezer) that runs on 12-volt as well as 240-volt – and that will keep the peas frozen while you’re waltzing the waterfall in your favorite national park.

There’s also an NEC microwave but that, along with the Electrolux Blizzard reverse-cycle air conditioner mounted over the bedhead, will have to wait for a camp that has 240-volt power.

While folding chairs, that could be stored in the front boot, will probably do you for some fantastic million-star meals, for those cool, wet, windy or non-private meals and snacks, the dinette will be just fine. It will also allow entertaining, though if the occasion is a bit beyond morning tea you may be better off calling the crew in once the meal is dished up.

One of the interesting features of the Outback – that could be an excellent aid for entertaining or spending extended bad weather in – is the clear bench space opposite the dining area. Granted, if you were to opt for a television set this is where it would live (an aerial outlet is located here) but it also could be a clear area to spread the jig-saw pieces out or to present the multi-course meal or for a multitude of other uses.

 

To the end of the day, and a good night’s sleep is at the rear of the van – with a queen-size bed with inner-spring mattress. Naturally, walking around room is shuffle-material, but Supreme states that there is six-inches more space than other Supreme models allowed to manoeuvre. (This feature will become standard on all Supreme models.)
Queen-size luxury and still room to move.

His and hers bedside tables are the start of some practical Outback storage. Mirror-fronted wardrobes stand behind each of the bedside tables and both provide useful and deep clothes hanging space. Then, there’s more storage under the bed.

The utilisation of nook and cranny space for storage will put the majority of your gear into safe keeping for travel – even the wheel arches have been hidden behind ceiling-to-floor cupboards that are shelved so there is a place for just about everything.

It would take some serious packing to fill all the storage space – there are nine cupboards and drawers of varying sizes around the kitchen as well as overhead cupboards, more overhead cupboards in the bedroom, three drawers and three cupboards in the “entertainment” area opposite the dinette as well as overheads, more cupboards over the dinette and storage under the seat. And a shelf in both the dining and bed rooms…

Lighting is both 12- and 240-volt, with discreet downlights in the bedroom and dining room just right for reading. Fluoros light the kitchen and “entertainment” bench spaces, and there’s a 12-volt power point inside the van and outside the van.

The review Outback was optioned up with an Electrolux A&E awning and air conditioning for a price of $42,900. Other options are available (slide-out barbecue, generator, invertor and so on) including internal appointments right up to the ceiling height.

Supreme’s Outback is a comfortable and practical van that would take a couple to some easy bush camps with confidence – and allow a little entertaining should friends drop in

 

Supreme Caravans - Information

 

For more information contact Supreme Caravans, 1289 Sydney Road, Fawkner Victoria 3060, (03) 9357 3555.

 

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Copyright © On The Road Magazine 2001. Any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.