With a long South African heritage, Bushwakka has hit the Australian camper market running, with expedition-type campers built to withstand the harshest conditions either country can provide. Winning a couple of awards at Camper Trailer of the Year 2021 was the icing on the cake for Johnny and Annelize and their Sundowner EVO.
Designed and built for two people who love exploring remote destinations, the Sundown EVO ticks all the boxes. There’s also plenty of room to roll out a couple of swags under the fold-out bed or attach an Oztent to the awning if you have kids. Having a South African pedigree, this camper will go wherever you want to take it with a high level of comfort. The offroad suspension, well-appointed kitchen, king size bed with great protection from the awning, detailed canvas work, compression seals and lightweight all work in the Sundowner EVO’s favour. Being able to escape inside when the weather turns or the bugs become annoying is a big benefit, and it also provides some privacy. I’ve been calling it the Goldilocks of the camper world — not too heavy, not too light, but just right.
The fold-down kitchen is unique to Bushwakka, with a place for everything, including high-density foam holding all the crockery securely. The stove is mounted to the kitchen door, so when it packs up, it fills the void preventing anything behind it moving on even the roughest tracks. Even better, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans are all included. With easy access to the fridge on one side and the kitchen sink with plumbed hot water on the other, it's one of the best galley kitchens I’ve ever seen.
TIM VAN DUYL
Self-sufficiency is still the hot topic around town. Buyers and we in the media are calling for more time off-grid and less reliance on infrastructure like holiday parks. Most people just look at water capacity, power creation and power storage but there is so much more like dealing with heat, pulling water from natural sources and choice of, and positioning of, the fridge/cool stores.
The Sundowner ticks the boxes for power creation with 300w of solar and good storage in 200 a/hr of lithium which, importantly, is controlled through a proper BMS but it falls a bit short on water capacity — that is until you find the lift pump that can connect to the Smarttek gas hot water system, allowing for the 135L of water to be dedicated to drinking. At 4L per person per day, that’s 33 days solo or more than a week for a family. This is why I love lift pumps. You can consume locally sourced water for showers and washing up while leaving the tanks for drinking. Gas storage is good with twin 4.5kg bottles, plenty for the hot water and a two-burner stove. So that leaves heat management and fridge positioning — check the images, if there was only one thing Bushwakka did better than most, it would be shade. There are so many layers of awning that they give shade on shade; excellent stuff. And the fridge? It is tucked away in the front box, which is alloy and again shaded. This is self-sufficiency done well and probably my favourite attribute of the Sundowner.
Compression seals on all hatches are a good sign for dust prevention while the stitching on the canvas is all top-notch. I’d like to see the team move to a finer midge mesh, however.
Other construction details are 3CR12 stainless steel chassis in a robust-looking ladder layout, which is then sealed with heavy-duty paint. The topsides are painted aluminium with really tidy finishes. Talking to the enigmatic Johnny Loots of Bushwakka I quizzed him on the choice of 3CR12 and over-the-top framing. Johnny laughed and replied, ‘we like things big and strong’ and I couldn’t argue, the Sundowner is a tough beast.
The Bushwakka Sundowner EVO, like its larger sibling, the Bhoma, presents a surprisingly full package for the price. It has everything from a basic toolkit of axe, mallet, shovel and wheel brace, through to a fully setup kitchen for four, including all crockery, cutlery, glasses, cookware and even three bottles of South African wine, all packed neatly into a notched foam cradle behind the expansive fold-down kitchen bench. Add the included gas bottles and you’re well on the way to your first camping trip with little more to spend.
Of course, that is small beer when you consider a durable chassis and suspension and a well set-out, functional camper. But all of that is included too, bringing you a mobile home in the bush with a comfortable bed, electricity, plenty of water, a shower, hot water when you need it, cavernous storage options and a huge area under shelter, all for $10,000 less than its big brother (or sister) and at 100kg less in tare weight.
The limited lifetime structural warranty means that you, as the original purchaser, are covered for as long as you own the camper, with the included appliances being covered by the manufacturers of those products for their published terms.
So, what really grabs you about the Sundowner? What sticks in your mind after you walk away? For me it’s the practical functionality of this camper. If the outside world is unfriendly — whether it be a swarm of flies, a gritty dust storm, pouring rain or some other natural disaster that makes life outside a problem — then you need do no more than step inside the rear door and you have a comfy bench to sit down and dry out, eat a meal or simply gather your mind before you plunge outside once more.
There is storage everywhere you look, in numerous small pockets — a very South African trait that really needs to be adopted by more Australian manufacturers — or cavernous cupboards. And when you lie down in your bed and take in the 270 degrees of panoramic views of your chosen camp site you can absorb the outside space which is the very reason we all go camping.
With its tapered nose cone, clean lines, compact size and tiny 90kg ball weight, the Bushwakka Sundowner Evo is an extremely straightforward tow.
The stainless-steel chassis supports a body combining stainless steel and aluminium panels clad with checkerplate, automotive paint and Raptor coating. The progressive rated bundle of 10 leaf springs, heavy duty Gabriel Safari shocks, 2200kg rated axle and R17 Monsta terrain tyres with steel rims complete the picture.
While conventional, this Tonka-tough suspension and steel rim combo is eminently sensible for remote travel where the nearest repair shop may be the ‘local bloke’ in a tiny town several hundred kilometres from a recognisable automotive repairer or parts distributor.
In terms of comforts and useability, the Sundowner is a really smart addition to Bushwakka’s fleet of campers. The Sundowner scales down several features of the family-friendly Bhoma, making it uber-attractive to a rugged outdoor couple looking for a nimble adventure camper that doesn’t compromise on amenity.
Outside, the 270-degree awning shades a fully equipped kitchen with the crockery tucked away in custom foam inserts protected against damage over rough terrain. Around the front, a handy drop-down shelf in the nose cone provides ready access to frequently used tools.
Indeed, there are enough storage pockets, cupboards and under-bed bins in and around the Sundowner to keep everyone happy. As the Bushwakka team say, ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’.
Opening the rear door while the camper is in touring mode, the cavity space inside is surprisingly free of clutter from the folded high density queen bed mattress. In transit this mattress generates a bench seat so the camper’s interior can be used even when the rig isn’t fully deployed.
And in the driveway, most storage bins and pockets are accessible for packing.
Once unfurled, the Sundowner offers all the airflow that you could wish for and a comfortable night’s sleep. For a rugged outdoor couple with a soft centre, the Bushwakka Sundowner Evo is a remarkable camper
Suspension Nine-leaf, Safari shocks, beam axle
Brakes 12in mechanical drum
Coupling Offroad 50mm ball
Chassis/Drawbar: 3CR12 stainless steel
Wheels Six-stud 16in alloy
Tyres 265/75R16 Monsta Terrain Gripper
Style Fold-out hybrid
Body size 2017 x 1873mm (H x W)
Awning size 4876 x 6000mm
Gas cylinders 2 x 3kg
Cooktop Two-burner gas
Kitchen Side fold-down aluminium
Battery 2 x 100Ah lithium
PRICE AS TESTED
Phone (07) 5515 7912