OLYMPIC JAVELIN XL CARAVAN REVIEW
BY: Malcolm Street, PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Malcolm Street
Olympic Caravans’ Javelin XL caravan is a rough-road tourer with a classy interior finish.
• Front bedroom, full-width rear bathroom
• Extensive kitchen
• Designed for rough-road travel
In my opinion, Melbourne-based Olympic Caravans has a slightly lower profile than it deserves but that wasn't the only reason I borrowed one of its latest Javelin XL models from Ipswich Lifestyle Centre in Queensland. It's always worth taking a closer look at vans that originate in Melbourne to check out the many features they offer.
A peek underneath the Javelin reveals a Preston SupaGal chassis. Built in the standard box-section style using 100x50mm RHS, the drawbar rails are the same dimensions and laminated to the main chassis running back to the front suspension mounts. A 50mm riser is used for the tandem-axle Al-Ko leafspring suspension. Both 90L water tanks, with galvanised sheet protection, are mounted forward of the axles, between the drawbar rails. Plastic ties are used to strap up some of the pipework but I thought something a little more permanent could have been used.
On the drawbar itself - in addition to the ball coupling, handbrake and centre-mounted jockey wheel - are two 9kg gas cylinders and a mesh rack between the rails. A looped-end rear bumper bar acts as the bracket for the spare wheel.
Like many vans, the Javelin is built using a timber frame that's insulated and covered in aluminium cladding. Camec fittings are used for the triple-locker security door and the tinted hopper acrylic windows. In the front boot, which is fairly standard with galvanised sheet lining, are the battery and charger - the 12V fuses are inside - which leaves space for all the travelling essentials such as hoses, power leads and wheel chocks. Along the nearside are all the essential outdoor living items such as a Dometic awning, wall light, door light and external speakers.
My review Javelin was a rear-door van with a front bedroom and full-width rear bathroom. A striking feature of the van is the rosewood cabinetry. It certainly looks elegant and is offset by the lighter colours of the walls and roof. Slimline blinds are fitted and these help control the light and shade very easily. Fore and aft Four Seasons hatches provide good ventilation.
The rear bathroom has everything you'd expect in a contemporary caravan, including a washing machine. Filling the nearside corner is a shower cubicle that comes with a variable-height shower and a fan-assisted hatch. Facing this is a Thetford cassette toilet, which fits in between the front wall of the bathroom and the cabinet that fills the rear wall. A small cupboard that sits in the offside corner could be used for the dirty laundry.
The washbasin sits centre stage with two cupboards underneath and two overhead lockers (slightly offset) above. Filling the space directly above the washbasin is a good-sized wall mirror. The bathroom is fairly user-friendly but it does take up a bit of space. There was only one roof exhaust fan but a small window above the loo gives the cross-flow effect.
DINE IN STYLE
Relaxation is clearly the theme with the mid-nearside café-style dinette. It might fit two-and-a-half people, but it is clearly designed for two with its wrap-around back cushions and foot rests. Between the seats, the tri-fold table would suit full meal dining or just a place to put drinks.
Storage around the dinette is quite generous with three overhead lockers, two under-seat drawers and a narrow cupboard under the table. There are two halogen reading lights but, strangely, no power sockets, either 240V or 12V.
Filling most of the central offside area of the Javelin is the lengthy kitchen bench in which storage and benchtop working space feature quite prominently. Five drawers, two cupboards, two floor lockers, a small wire basket slide-out pantry and three overhead lockers should be able to handle most kitchen storage needs without difficulty. All of this still leaves room for items such as a stainless steel sink and drainer, four-burner Swift cooktop with griller and oven and a microwave above the adjoining Dometic 186L fridge.
The forward section of the kitchen also doubles as the entertainment and/or electrical control section. Fitted into the overhead cabinetry are the radio/CD player with 3.5mm socket, hot water and water pump switches and water tank gauges. The adjoining corner shelf is quite handy for items like an iPod/MP3 player and CDs. Underneath, and mounted to the wall, is the swivelling flatscreen TV, which can be easily seen from either the bed or the dinette.
Measuring 1.91x1.52m (6ft 3in x 5ft), the innerspring mattress with posture-slat bed base can be lifted to provide access to the storage space underneath. The space is quite bare, except for the Suburban water heater tucked under the offside wardrobe.
Included in the bedhead cabinet are side wardrobes, overhead lockers and a shelf under the window at the back of the bed. Two diagonal cupboards fill the corners at the foot of the bed. The nearside cupboard is full height and the offside is half height and contains the 12V fuses - so at least they are reasonably accessible once you know where they are!
In the technical department, a 100Ah deep-cycle battery supplies the 12V load, including the LED lights that are fitted throughout. The battery is conventionally charged by a mains charger but the van is pre-wired to easily accept solar panels - something to consider if you're planning any long-term bush camping. A roof-mounted Dometic air-conditioning unit delivers cooling air when needed.
All this adds up to a van with a Tare of 2080kg and an ATM of 2480kg. Slightly lighter than usual is the empty ball weight of 165kg but that would certainly change if both water tanks were full.
On the road, my Mitsubishi Pajero 3L turbodiesel handled the Javelin in the manner I expected, with no major dramas - we even tried a bit of dirt road work just to see how the van would handle.
An item of interest were the Outback Vision towing mirrors on the tow vehicle. Replacing the standard Pajero external mirrors, they are quite effective and look neat.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There's no doubt the Olympic Javelin XL caravan has a touch of class about it.
From the outside it might look a bit like one of the herd but inside there are a number of features that will satisfy more than a few personal preferences. Although it's not technically a tough offroad caravan, the Javelin XL is built with rough road touring in mind and is therefore an eminent candidate for plenty of around-Australia trips.
• Good kitchen design with space for just about everything
• Comfortable dinette
• Pre-wired for solar
• 12V fusing inside van
• Bathroom cabinet
I WOULD HAVE LIKED
• Powerpoints at the dinette
• For the underbody pipework to be secured with something other than plastic ties
• An extra rub of sandpaper on some internal cupboards and lockers