It had just gone 6:30am as we checked the hitch a final time and rolled out the gates from Austrack HQ, Caboolture, bound for the sandy stretches of Bribie Island. With the rising sun due to peek out from below the horizon any minute, we would be airing down and hitting the beach just after daybreak.
The thirty minute drive to Woorim on the bitumen gave Robin (who’s been with Austrack for over 10 years) and myself an opportunity to chat about the new steed from the Austrack stable, and to get a feel for how the Tanami X13 behaved behind the Patrol.
Austrack started life in Hervey Bay, but decided to change scenery six years ago. When the space at Caboolture became available, they relocated, and since then, they’ve expanded to two other premises nearby, with a view to acquiring more floor space in the not too distant future.
Robin says, “We were late to the hybrid party. It took us a little while to get on to the hybrids, but now that we have, it is all systems go. Since launching our range at the Brisbane Caravan and Camping Show (Austrack also do Tanami 10, 12 and 15 models), sales have been going really well, with 18 of the Tanami X15s and 25 of the Tanami X13s being sold in the past month.
“Customers now are more and more looking for a camper that is quick and easy to set up, and more importantly, quick and easy to pack down. The less canvas the better. We’ve only sold three soft-floor campers in the last two years! Hard floor campers, and now hybrids, are the way to go. At the moment, our lead time is around eight weeks, with a view to get that down to around four.”
As is the case with several other brands on the market, the Austrack hybrids are manufactured offshore, arriving as a box, with final assembly required in Australia. This is also when all gas lines and fittings are plumbed, along with final QA and pre-delivery.
After a quick stop at Surfside News at Woorim Beach to get our beach permit (one week or less for $50.60 or a yearly permit for $158), and dropping the PSI of our tyres at the start of the Ocean Beach Access Track, it was time to engage the front hubs and shift the stubby lever into 4WD. The access track was in good condition, with the sand quite firm after recent rains, so it wasn't long before we had the windows down and were enjoying the salt air on our faces.
With the tide on its way out, we were afforded a great run north along the beach, looking for the best spot to set up the camper for the day. While driving, we commented on just how empty the beach was. When you consider that we were there smackbang in the middle of school holidays, you’re forced to conclude us Queenslanders don’t like the beach in winter. It must be too cold, or something like that, we figured, as we quickly removed our jumpers.
It wasn’t until we made our way off the hard packed sand close to the waterline to set up the trailer for our photo shoot, that the considerable bulk of the Tanami became apparent. With a Tare of 2090kg and fully loaded capacity of 2750kg (can be plated at 2500kg if required), the Tanami is no light weight. Like a big anchor, it halted our forward momentum as we hit the soft stuff. But with a little bit of digging and dropping a few more pounds out of the Nissan’s four and the camper’s two tyres, we managed to get the Tanami into position.
Once that ideal campsite location has been discovered, it’s just a matter of minutes before you’re kicking back in your favourite camp chair, enjoying a cuppa or reading your book. Drop a stabiliser leg from each corner and get the Tanami level before dropping the rear tyre carrier. For a heavy-duty bit of equipment, not to mention the added weight of two spare tyres, the wheel carrier is a breeze to both lower and raise, thanks to the perfectly matched gas struts.
Then, in a process that resembles origami in reverse, it’s simply a matter of unfolding the rear section to create the roof, side walls, base and new rear wall for the bed extension. Slide across a couple of stainless steel fasteners and then it’s time to move inside by way of the electric fold-out steps.
Once inside, first up is to pop open the gas strut assisted roof by way of front and rear mechanisms. Being fully manual removes any chance of an actuator failure and not being able to get the roof open. Fold the other half of the innerspring mattress over into the rear extension to create a king sized sleeping area, then fluff up the pillows and you’re nearly done!
Back outside, there’s only the electric awning to roll out (which is done with the press of a button) and the stainless steel kitchen to pull out, so you can get the water boiling for that cuppa. Knowing that a watched pot never boils, use your time wisely by opening the Tanami’s full width tunnel storage box above the fridge slide, grabbing your chairs and getting them set up.
Now it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy your home away from home for the next couple of hours. Well, that’s how long we were set up for. I did get a bit worried, however, when Robin asked me if I knew whether Bribie Island had a taxi service or not. I think he may have been planning on staying a little longer, and really, who could blame him? But therein lies the beauty of the Tanami X13: quick, simple and easy to set up, and just as quick, simple and easy to pack down. Stay for a night. Stay for a week.
OFFROAD AND OFF-GRID CRED
To live up to its name, the Tanami had to be built tough, and that starts with the suspension and chassis. Independent coil springs with twin shocks per wheel keep the 265/75R16 Mud Terrains in touch with terra firma, while a hot dipped galvanised chassis and drawbar (100mm x 50mm x 3mm chassis and 150mm x 50mm x 4mm drawbar) support the aluminium frame and aluminium composite body.
Black powder coated aluminium checkerplate around the lower section completes the tough, offroad look while providing additional protection.
A McHitch 3500kg coupling looks after making sure your camper stays connected to your chariot, while twin rear recovery points may come in handy if going forward is no longer the best option.
Complementing the offroad muscle, the Tanami comes standard with two 120L food grade poly water tanks and a single 80L grey water tank. All are fitted with checkerplate shrouds, protecting them from errant rocks.
The electrical system is no slouch either, with 300Ah of AGM batteries tucked away inside the camper. There’s 300W of roof mounted solar panels, as well as a combined 2kW pure sine wave inverter/charger to look after the batteries. A drawbar-mounted Anderson plug takes care of charging while in transit.
Hidden inside the fully enclosed front storage box, which also doubles as a stone guard, are the mounts for up to a pair of 9kg gas bottles (complete with dual bottle change over valve), along with provision for two 20L jerry cans. The top of the box also doubles as a great place for your firewood.
LIVE LIKE A PRINCE OR PRINCESS
While we didn’t have the good fortune to spend a couple of days and nights camped on the beach, I saw enough features to know that if you were out on the road in the Tanami X13, your basic necessities wouldn’t go neglected. Even some of your not-so-basic necessities are amply catered to!
Whether it’s to wash the dust off after a long day on the track, or the salt after a swim at the beach, the Tanami has got you covered. There’s either an outdoor shower, or the onboard ensuite – which is seriously roomy. A Truma Rapid 14L gas/electric hot water system renders cold showers a thing of the past.
Sticky, sleepless nights in the tropics are also a thing of the past thanks to the number of windows (with mosquito-proof mesh) for cross ventilation. Topping it all off is a Dometic reverse cycle A/C unit.
The king sized bed down the back will take care of your weary bones at the end of the day, or while you’re kicking back watching reruns of M*A*S*H on the 22” LED TV. For convenience, the TV can also be mounted outside so you’ll never miss Hawkeye or “Hot Lips” Houlihan when you’re cooking up dinner.
Speaking of dinner, the slide-out kitchen houses all the usual suspects: a Smev three burner gas stove, hot/cold tap, cutlery drawers and an extra pull-out prep/servery bench. The three tier drainage rack is a nice touch, along with the oversized windbreaks which transform into even more preparation or serving space.
If the weather takes a turn for the worse – i.e. if you’re not camping in Queensland – then there’s always the option of nicking back inside and eating dinner in the two seater dinette with its adjustable and removable table.
THE LAST WORD
The Tanami X13 comes with all the fruit. There are no ‘extras’ you have to add. You pay your $39,990 (plus ORC), you head home, fill the water tanks, pack it up with your clothes and food, and then you hit the road.
Like Robin said, “It’s all about making camping as quick and easy as possible.” I think they’re on the right track. The Tanami Track.
ATM 2750kg (can be plated to 2500kg if required)
Payload 660kg (calculated)
Ball weight 120kg
Suspension Independent coil spring suspension with twin shocks per wheel
Brakes 12in electric brakes
Coupling McHitch 3500kg
Chassis 100mm x 50mm x 3mm hot-dipped galvanised steel
Drawbar 150mm x 50mm x 4mm hot-dipped galvanised steel
Body Fully welded aluminium frame construction with aluminium composite panel
Wheel/tyre 265/75R16 mud terrains on 16in six-stud black alloy rims (2 x spares)
Style Hybrid camper trailer
Box size 4050 x 2180 x 2420mm (not including A/C unit)
Length 6050mm (hitch to tail lights)
Water 240L potable/80L grey, Truma 14L gas/electric H/W system
Gas 2 x 9kg mounts
Kitchen External slide-out with three burner gas stove, s/s sink with hot/cold mixer
Battery 3 x 100Ah AGM
Solar 3 x 100W
Air-conditioning Dometic reverse cycle A/C
PRICE AS TESTED
$39,990 + ORC
- All ‘standard’ inclusions
- Ease of set-up
- Spacious ensuite
- It’s no lightweight
- Mattress a little firm
CAMPER STAR RATINGS
Fit for intended purpose — 9
Innovation — 7
Self-sufficiency — 8.5
Quality of finish — 8
Build quality — 8
Offroadability — 8.5
Comforts — 8.5
Ease of use — 9
Value for money — 9
X-Factor — 7
Austrack Campers Showroom
Address 73 Lear Jet Drive, Caboolture QLD 4510
Phone 07 5498 3888