Bushmaster Bluegum Off Road: Review

By: Peter Quilty, Photography by: Aaron Flanagan


The Bushmaster Bluegum Off Road 17ft 10in is a pint-sized dynamo built to handle plenty of rough stuff.

Exterior -2Bushmaster -Blue -Gum -Off -Road

The ultra-tough Bushmaster Caravans fleet encapsulates the environment of the bush, outback, or back-blocks as the quintessential Australian experience. Like a bush ballad, they provide an authentic expression of the ‘real’ Australia.

And the 5.44m (17ft 10in) Bluegum Off Road is typical of the Bushmaster ‘convoy’.
This van would be ‘music to the ears’ of any bonafide offroad enthusiast. Which is quite ironic considering Bushmaster’s head honcho, Terry Ryan, is also a muso – and farmer – in his spare time.

It’s purpose-built for extreme adventure – simply born for traipsing around in remote environments. So, in the spirit of one iconic bush ballad’s lyrics: "Put another log on the fire. Cook me up some bacon and some beans… And boil me up another pot of tea."
Yes, with the Bushmaster Bluegum Off Road in tow, you can enjoy such simple off-grid camping pleasures – and much, much more!

We tested this agile little beast on Ryan’s scenic 59-acre property at Strath Creek, just over 100km north of Melbourne. Sitting alongside King Parrot Creek, surrounded by the picturesque ‘Valley of a Thousand Hills’, this bush hideaway is right out of the pages of Lawson and Paterson.

And, hitched to Ryan’s Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI AMG 4Matic, via an AL-KO 3.5T offroad coupling, the Bluegum towed behind us like poetry in motion.
Hardly surprising considering this pocket rocket rides on a well-built 6in G&S SupaGal chassis and hard-wearing G&S Control Rider independent coil suspension with heavy-duty shock absorbers. (And a 6in extended drawbar goes right back to the wheels.)
You can also throw in 16in alloy wheels, with 265x75 R16 General Grabber all-terrain tyres, for good measure. It boasts AL-KO ESC for additional peace of mind.

Solar Bushmaster Blue Gum Off Road

Obviously its capability to venture miles and miles off the beaten track is enhanced by its gargantuan battery, solar and water capacities. Try these stats for size – battery (4x110Ah); solar (2x130W); water 3x95L (fresh water) and 1x60L (grey water).
It’s pertinent to note that the fresh water tanks have a separate inline filling so you can fill just one, two, or all three if you need to. But the exterior attributes don’t end there, as also coming along for the ride are a full-length tunnel boot housing a 40A multi-stage battery charger; Breaksafe battery and chargers; a drop-down picnic table; two NCE marine-grade external speakers; pull-out aluminium step; Camec round-top triple-lock door with built-in security door; a generator hatch; Safety Dave reversing camera; SupaGal bumper bar with underslung spare wheel; wood carrier; 80mm mudflaps; gas bayonet; antenna for AM radio; and two external LED lights.

Let’s not forget the storage, centre on the extended A-frame, which I’ve previously labelled a "toolbox on steroids". It comprises the back section; side sections which are ideal for jerry can storage on both sides (also included in the price); a vented front section which holds two 9kg gas cylinders; and a top section which is a massive toolbox.

Like all Bushmasters, the Bluegum has a unique water tank filling system – a plug-in arrangement for the individual tanks operated by a manifold procedure.
And its 12V awning is a more efficient procedure than rolling out a manual equivalent. What’s more, it can also be tethered down and have annexe walls easily attached.
The Bluegum’s unique, if not quirky, decals really lift the van’s metallic silver cladding and provide a nice aesthetic.

They feature iconic Aussie landmarks such as Uluru, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Oodnadatta Track, Simpson Desert, Katherine Gorge and Twin Falls.
This Bushmaster also boats a massive 620kg payload – that’s around twice the norm for a single-axle van!

A MIGHTY BEAUTY

It’s a travelling fact of life that brawn and resilience go hand-in-hand with extravagance and opulence when it comes to an offroader.

And in that respect the Bluegum ticks all the boxes. To say its interior decor is lavish is correct but it’s also somewhat of an understatement. Quite simply, it’s five-star motel living.
The piece de resistance of this unit is the palatial full-width rear ensuite complete with china bowl vanity and mirror, architectural tapware as well as abundant storage.
As you enter the ornate bathroom, there’s a Thetford ceramic bowl toilet, hatch with a 12V fan, window, and a Camec 4kg front-loading washing machine on the offside – indeed, all the requisite mod cons to keep you in complete comfort while journeying off the bitumen for extended periods.

Meanwhile, on the nearside, is a fully-moulded one-piece fibreglass shower with a flexible hose and mixer, soap holder, and hatch with a 12V fan. There’s also a sliding door for privacy (bolted top and bottom, plus also latched), plus a towel rail and toilet roll holder fastened to its back. This exquisite ensuite is also bigger than you’d expect in a van of these dimensions.

Appliances Bushmaster Blue Gum Off Road

The galley, practically midriff on the offside, boasts marble-look roll top benches (made with 25mm lightweight ply) and a splashback. This pragmatic kitchen, comprising copious storage, is a camping connoisseur’s delight complete with Swift four-burner/grill/oven, 190L Waeco two-door compressor fridge/freezer, and a bolt-locked Whirlpool Crisp N’ Grill microwave. Given its steam cooking and crisp function you can even cook pastry in this microwave at the speed of a microwave!

The Bluegum’s genuine leather cafe dinette, with footrests and a tri-fold table, is contemporary and modish. And the glossy cabinetry with ultra-modern, arthritis-friendly handles is equally eye-catching.And I simply adore its stately bedroom, with amazing storage capacity in the overhead lockers, wardrobes and slide-out drawers.

You’ll also be tucked away comfortably in the front island queen-size bed, which has a cleverly positioned 24in TV positioned on a bracing wall at the foot of the bed that can swivel in view of the bedroom or kitchen/dining areas.

And there is also a touchscreen radio/CD/DVD player with Bluetooth connectivity and USB connection. It has ports for music streaming from your phone so the DVD music is played through the roof and outside speakers.

A Swift Ecotherm gas heater also comes as a standard inclusion and works directly off the Suburban 23L hot water system, with no external fluing or vents required.
The unit is compact and installed inside the van, thus eliminating dust ingress and potential for damage.

The Bluegum also comes with a roof-mounted Aircommand Ibis 3 reverse-cycle air-conditioner, five-star LED lighting package, large number of internal powerpoints, an array of Swift double-glazed push-out windows.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Bushmaster Caravans are designed and built to convey a genuine declaration of the national spirit. And the Bluegum Off Road 17ft 10in depicts the life, character and scenery of the Australian bush.This bush retreat on wheels is an ultimate go-anywhere van and offers true-blue offroad travel at a highly competitive price.

It displays all the hallmarks of previous Bushmaster caravans that I’ve tested – it can definitely take some punishment, is loaded up with water and power, and is armoured to win any bush battle. 

Measuring up

Pros

  • Elegant interior decor
  • Bolt-locked microwave
  • Heating and air-con for year-round touring

Cons

  • No external kitchen
  • No exterior shower

Weights and measures

Overall length: 7.05m (23ft 2in)
External body length: 5.44m (17ft 10in)
External body width: 2.44m (8ft)
Travel height: 2.85m (9ft 4in)
Internal height: 1.98m (6ft 6in)
Tare: 2130kg
ATM: 2750kg
Payload: 620kg
Ball weight: 225kg

Price as shown

$75,500 (driveaway, Vic)

More information

To enquire about this caravan, please visit www.bushmasteroffroadcaravans.com or phone (03) 9357 5222 or 0408 194 481.

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #573. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!