If you own a 4WD and call South East Queensland home, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Condamine Gorge Track. Starting at Boonah, it's a great drive that winds its way through the beautiful Scenic Rim, before tackling 14 river crossings along Condamine River Road to emerge at the quaint township of Killarney.
When I got the call to review a Condamine Camper, it seemed only fitting to take it out for a run through its namesake. Apart from the aforementioned river crossings with rough and rocky bottoms (there wasn't a lot of water due to the drought), we encountered high-speed gravel runs, sharp corners and a climb up the mountain with advisory signs saying, “No trucks, buses or caravans.” Luckily we had a hybrid camper!
Hybrid versatility really is what’s so great about the Condamine Camper: it's got all the amenities and spaciousness of a caravan, but with a Tare of only 1,600kg (ATM 2,500kg) and a width of 1.9m, you can confidently tow it behind a mid-sized 4WD wagon or a dual cab ute. And at just a tick over six metres long, it will fit in most standard carports.
STARTING FROM SCRATCH
John Huth started the business back in late 2014 with his then business partner. Before pen was even put to paper, they committed themselves to meeting a few design considerations. The first of these was that their campers had to be able to be towed by a mid-sized 4WD. The second was that they had to be able to accommodate four people inside. Thirdly, they needed a top quality kitchen, shower and toilet. Next, the build had to use proven Australian-made components that could be sourced locally, so if there ever was a problem, they could be fixed quickly and easily. Last but not least, all of this had to be functional and practical. Check, check, check, check and check.
These days, John runs the business by himself and looks after everything from the initial computer-aided design, all the way through to the final fit up. He just has to call on the help of a couple of mates when fitting the single-piece composite roof panel. With Condamine being a small volume manufacturer, the finished camper is a bespoke build, with everything that you want/need and nothing that you don't.
John also personally delivers the campers to his customers, taking them through the ins and outs of their new purchase and going through the full set-up procedure. Now that's the sort of customer service I like to see.
BUILT TO LAST
On our drive to the Gorge, it didn't take long to forget we were towing a camper. Partly due to the low Tare weight, but also due to the fantastic Cruisemaster XT airbag suspension (upgraded from the XT coils), with twin dampers on each wheel. The Condamine took highway speeds on the bitumen, long sweeping bends on loose gravel, and the bumps, ruts and wash-outs of the Gorge Road in its stride with very little fuss.
It's built tough for our harsh Aussie conditions. Whether it's for a weekend away, your month of annual leave or longer, you know that your suspension is one thing you won't have to worry about. Add in the ability to easily level the camper when you've pulled up for the day, and this is one upgrade I'd happily pay the extra for.
Standard wheel and tyre fitment on the Condamine is 265/70R17 Federal Couragia Mud Terrains on 17” Prado rims; however, our test unit was running upgraded 285/70R17 Couragia MTs on 17” LandCruiser rims to match the new owner's tow vehicle. Stopping power is provided by 12” electric brakes.
Elsewhere underneath, there's the one-piece drawbar and chassis, made from 150x50x4mm hot-dipped galvanised steel, and a pair of 125L water tanks (one tank is standard); all plumbing and wiring has been run neatly out of harm’s way. ARK adjustable swing down legs on each corner provide extra stability when you've unhitched and an ARK XO jockey wheel is up front on the drawbar. Apart from the jockey and trusty DO35 hitch, the drawbar has been kept free to allow tailgates and wagon doors to be opened without interference.
Sitting up on top of the chassis is a full aluminium body (except for the 35mm thick composite roof) which can be colour-coded to match your tow vehicle.
Each panel has been laser cut for greater accuracy, linked together like a big jigsaw and filled with 20mm of insulation before being riveted together for maximum strength. The rivets are even powder-coated to match the camper's colour. Talk about attention to detail.
There is so much storage that you could, if you weren’t careful, just about take this camper over its ATM of 2500kg.
For starters, the large hatch on the driver's side opens to reveal over two cubic metres of storage space.
There's even room for a second fridge for those longer trips. The front nose cone houses the Webasto diesel heater and tank, a pair of jerry cans and a 9kg gas bottle. It also doubles as a stoneguard and is finished in a protective polyurethane coating.
Inside the camper, storage for your clothes can be found under the bed. This is where you also find the lithium batteries, air compressor and storage tank for the air suspension.
LONG STOP, QUICK STOP
Versatile. Now, there are probably quite a few more adjectives that you could use to describe the Condamine Camper, but versatile is one of the first that sprung to my mind while out on this test. A quick check of the dictionary tells me that versatile means, “able to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities.” I think that pretty much nails this camper.
Whether it be for a quick stop for lunch, an overnight stay on the side of the road for two, or a full family set-up for a week or more on Fraser Island, the Condamine has got you covered, literally.
Doing a complete set-up reminded me of a toy I had when I was growing up. You might have heard of them. They were called Transformers! The roof gets raised on automatic actuators, the rear of the camper folds out in two sections creating a kids’ room big enough for two stretcher beds, before the pièce de résistance: the swing-out toilet and shower cubicle on the offside. From what starts life fifteen minutes previous as a pretty compact unit, it nearly doubles in size.
Due to it being a seriously windy day, we made the decision not to put the awning up. Not because we didn't think it could handle it, but because the awning is massive (7.5m long x 2.5m wide) and we didn't want to get picked up and blown away! For a complete set-up, which is best done with a friend, allow yourself a good 30 minutes. Pack down time is similar.
For the couple who are touring and moving on to a new destination on the daily, a simple set-up is all that is needed. This can be achieved by having the rear kids’ room permanently removed, and instead fitted with a proprietary canvas panel complete with a midgee proof window. An added bonus is that the toilet can be left in place inside the camper. In the style of set-up the shower can still be accessed on the outside for a quick rinse; you might just have to make sure you haven't got any neighbours before stripping down to your birthday suit!
With all this talk of setting the camper up for overnight or longer stays, we've overlooked one of the most important bits in a camper: the bed. I can guarantee that you won't be disappointed by the queen sized offering. It is 225mm of pillow-topped innerspring luxury that will have you pushing out the Zs in no time. Big windows and an elevated position allow for maximum ventilation, or you can add a couple of Sirocco 12V fans for our far northern climes.
ORDER UP CHEF
When out on the road, I like breakfast, lunch and dinner to be hassle-free affairs. The U-shaped configuration on the Condamine would suit me just fine, with everything within arm’s reach. Add in the large lift-up door that provides shade from the midday sun for a roadside lunch stop and you're onto a winner.
Up front is the full width, pull-out stainless steel wash basin, with plumbed hot and cold water and a Dometic three-burner cooktop. Cleverly, John has replaced the glass panel from the cooktop with a custom powder-coated aluminium item, complete with slots for the custom, oversized windbreaks. A stainless steel prep bench folds into position behind the cooktop, and even though not really needed, support legs for the pull-out kitchen are provided. A pantry storage drawer is located above, with a cutlery drawer under the cooktop.
The central section contains a large drawer with a lift-up lid, adding more valuable prep space, as well as a fixed shelf for pots, plates and glasses, plus more pull-out pantry storage. Conveniently located in this section is the fire extinguisher just in case things get a little out of control.
In the third section, an MSA Drop-Slide gets the fridge down to a more manageable height. With the fridge in the out position, access to the master fuses, REDARC Battery Management System and 1000W REDARC inverter is made all the more easy. If more solar power is required (a 250W fixed panel is standard), a pre-wired solar input is also located beside the fridge slide.
A master control panel is located above the fridge and houses all your switches, the Topargee water flow meter, control for the Webasto diesel heater, REDARC's Manager30 battery monitor, and the Cruisemaster airbag switches and tyre inflation point. An array of 240V outlets, 12V sockets and USB points will keep everything charged and ready to go, while LED strip lighting makes sure you’re not left fumbling around in the dark. In a world where everything needs to be able to be controlled by an app, John has taken a slightly different route, configuring all eleven LED lights to a remote switching panel.
For those looking for a family-friendly camper that will look after you for weeks, if not months on the road, a Condamine Camper should definitely be on your radar. These campers are built with an attention to detail only found at the upper end of the market. I suppose that's the good thing about a company that only pushes eight trailers a year out their door: quality will never go out of style.
Ball weight 100-120kg (empty)
Payload 900kg (calculated)
Suspension Cruisemaster XT Coil 2800kg (as standard)
Brakes 12in electric brakes
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35 V3 coupling
Drawbar/chassis One-piece 150mm x 50mm x 4mm hot-dipped galvanised Australian steel
Body Powder-coated aluminium
Wheel/tyre Federal Couragia MT 265/70R17 on 17in Rims; Prado stud pattern (one spare)
Style Hybrid camper
Box size 3870 x 1900 x 2150mm
Length (hitch to spare wheel) 6030mm
Water 125L potable
Kitchen SMEV three-burner gas stove, s/s sink with hot/cold mixer
Battery 100Ah Lithium
Solar 250W fixed panel
H/W System Girard Instant Gas H/W System
Cruisemaster XT 2.6T Airbag Level 3 suspension with onboard air compressor; Federal Couragia MT 285/70R17 on 17in Rims & LandCruiser stud pattern; 1000W REDARC pure sine wave inverter; second 250W solar panel; second 100Ah Lithium battery; filter on kitchen cold water tap; second 125L water tank with taps to switch both fill and suction; mains pressure water filling point; Webasto diesel HWS with internal fan heater; three awning walls; two Sirocco 12V fans; TrackMyRide GPS tracking unit; second swing-away spare wheel carrier; powder-coated wind deflectors and replacement fold-up top for SMEV stove; two-berth canvas to replace rear room; handle at entry door
PRICE AS STANDARD
$68,750 Base Model (incl ORC)
PRICE AS TESTED
$79,750 (incl ORC)
- Can be towed by mid-sized 4WD
- Functional kitchen with good bench space
- Offroad capability
- Versatile configurations
- Full set-up takes a bit of time
CAMPER STAR RATINGS
Fit for intended purpose — 8.5
Innovation — 9
Self-sufficiency — 8.5
Quality of finish — 9
Build quality — 9
Offroadability — 9
Comforts — 8.5
Ease of use — 8.5
Value for money — 8
X-Factor — 9
Address 85 Sungold Road, Chambers Flat, QLD 4133
Phone 0418 761 161