Review: Trakmaster Nullarbor
The offroad Nullarbor from Trakmaster is a custom caravan that'll get you well and truly off the beaten track.
THERE ARE CUSTOM vans and there are custom vans. And when a caravanning couple walks into Melbourne's Trakmaster Caravans with a list of specific requirements, they know they will get the exact van they're after.
Some manufacturers build vans from a limited range, with an equally limited number of options. But according to Trakmaster's Russell Seebach, his company's clients have no such restrictions.
"We have several hundred different floorplans, but even then the customer decides exactly what goes where," he said. "These vans are completely custom."
One look at the 5.5m (18ft) Nullarbor offroad van we tested told us that Russell was telling the truth. Its wholly unique, and rather striking, silver cladding was the brainchild of the van's owners, Lindsay and Anne Morris.
"We just wanted something different," Lindsay succinctly explained. But he maintains the fact that his 200 Series Toyota LandCruiser is also silver is just a coincidence. We're not so sure, but it certainly makes for a good looking rig.
In addition to the striking silver, the van features some colourful splashes with wrap-around green and orange decals. But the other attention grabber is the black vinyl padding at the front which, combined with black trim and chunky 17in black steel wheels, gives this van a tough appearance. It looks like it could go just about anywhere.
With a Tare of 2343kg and an ATM of 3200kg, this Nullarbor is not a lightweight, but its relatively short length - combined with a solid tow vehicle like the LandCruiser - means it is very agile and, according to Lindsay, "will go just about anywhere".
The van's double-insulated sandwich walls sits on a full-length 6in painted chassis, with independent trailing arm coil suspension. This Nullarbor also comes with disc brakes on 2000kg stub axles, although they are not standard.
At the front, the drawbar is a very impressive-looking unit. It carries two 9kg gas cylinders and a jerry can, plus a Sens-A-Brake system. All of these items are very well protected by a steel stoneguard. A tap is located on the nearside. The van's spare tyre and two more jerry can holders sit on the rear bumper.
Because there isn't a front window, the front boot is especially generous, comfortably housing the jockey wheel and a number of other items. Additional exterior storage is handled by a front nearside bin and a tunnel boot that travels all the way through - perfect for fishing rods and/or tent poles.
The offside rear houses all three of the van's 100Ah batteries connected to three 135W solar panels. Just behind the solar panels sits a scupper vent designed to pressurise the van and minimise internal dust.
In terms of outside living, there are no exterior dining features, like a barbecue or picnic table, but they could easily be added to this custom unit.
The exterior does, however, have an awning, featuring some very nifty new anti-flap catches.
The obvious custom design of this van extends to its interior. This layout is not like many others you are likely to see: rear lounge/kitchen; bed in the middle; and shower/toilet combo and vanity up front. What also sets this van apart is the fact these living spaces are not clearly defined by walls or partitions. The effect is an interior that feels more like a studio apartment.
Large windows all-round add to the feeling of space, as do the white bench surfaces and the light ply finish throughout.
The L-shaped lounge greets you as you step in through the rear entry, and the deliberately small dinette table stays well out of the way for plenty of space. Despite the small table, however, the lounge itself is quite large and could easily seat four adults - two of them just wouldn't have anywhere to put their plate. A definite custom feature.
This van does have a 19in flatscreen TV above the offside fridge, but that is an option. The designers at Trakmaster don't see much point in putting a TV in a van designed for longer-term offroad travel. Russell estimates only around one out of 50 Trakmaster vans sold has one fitted.
On the left as you enter, the kitchen is a little wonder. What initially looks like a very small work space is increased by a fold-up extension and, in a particularly clever move, by a slide-out drawer that is actually another bench. It all quickly turns into a space fit for a gourmet chef.
Storage here is very impressive, with three good-size drawers and two cupboards, one of which is very large. There is also a large pantry to the right of the entry with another four drawers and two large shelves.
The kitchen has a Thetford centre sink, Spinflo Triplex three-burner/oven with 12V rangehood and a 160L Waeco two-door fridge. There is no microwave in this van, but that is something you could specify at the design stage. It is all lit by an LED strip above the bench.
With no partitions, the not-quite-queen-size bed does seem somewhat exposed in the middle of the van, but it works in the context of this interior. The compromised space means there are no bedside cabinets, but some built-in shelves on one side and the end of the kitchen bench on the other mean both sleepers have somewhere to put their reading glasses. A large two-door wardrobe sits at the front of the van. Bed walkaround space is somewhat limited, and the wheel arch does intrude a bit.
The shower/toilet combo is intentionally on the small side: Lindsay and Anne wanted to keep the van at 5.5m (18ft). Nonetheless, the bathroom is adequate and fits a flex-hose shower and cassette toilet. A fan and window help with ventilation.
The vanity is simple but effective, with a large-ish mirror and sink. Bench space is limited, but storage is solid, with two small cupboards and two drawers underneath. Another slick LED strip above the mirror keeps things bright.
A Truma gas heater works to keep the water hot, and according to Lindsay and Anne, it does a great job.
There are LED lights located in all the right places throughout the van (inside and out), and there are double powerpoints in the kitchen, dinette, and at the vanity. Overhead lockers all-round provide great storage, and are well finished.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Trakmaster Nullarbor is an impressive custom van built for some tough travelling by a company that knows what it's doing, not to mention a couple who knew what they wanted.
There are, no doubt, some features that some people would change, but that is the beauty of the bespoke van - these customers could make any specifications they desired at the design stage.
For those who want to get right off the beaten track in whatever style they are accustomed to, a Trakmaster Nullarbor would be a good choice.