The word 'quest' conjures up images of long expeditions through wild territories in search of ultimate fantasies, riches, or the Holy Grail. And, for many, the holy grail of offroad adventure lies in Victoria's rugged High Country, with its beautiful mountain streams flowing out of the steep ranges of the Alpine and Snowy River National Parks. One of those hidden beauties is the Timbarra River; its crisp and clear waters flow through pristine forests and steep gorges, with its bed of gravel and boulders lying beneath numerous alluring and secluded pools.
These treasures are the inspiration for the Quest RV Timbarra Spirit 5 camper, as supplied to CTA by one of the industry's longest-serving family dealerships, A.J Thomas from Caulfield, Vic.
For the purists, a pop-top camper sits somewhere between a serious offroad camper and a caravan. So be it. The Timbarra Spirit 5 is a unit that will appeal to a wide cross-section of the camping market, me included. Having travelled extensively in a very similar camper I can testify to the convenience and comfort of such a layout, and its offroad abilities shouldn't be underestimated either. Quest RV has combined plenty of outback-living experience in the internal design and trailer construction to provide a family-friendly unit that is well suited to extended touring.
FROM THE GROUND UP
The Timbarra Spirit 5 features a heavy box-section galvanised steel chassis with shock-absorbed, greaseable nine-leaf eye-to-eye suspension and a 50mm solid axle. This combines with 15in Sunraysia-style wheels and Dunlop Road Gripper tyres, 12in electric brakes with handbrake, and 130x50mm drawbar to give the Timbarra a strong foundation. It has a 50mm ball coupling as standard that could be changed to an offroad-style unit to meet individual preferences, but as it is the ball is adequate for the Timbarra's intended style of touring.
The 80L poly water tank is fully shrouded and mounted above and behind the axle for extra protection. The ends of the shroud are open which may allow sticks, stones and dust to lodge between the tank and the shroud, but if you were concerned you could easily enclose the ends. Many manufacturers actually testify to the strength of the poly tank by forgoing the shrouding altogether. The debate continues…
Quest RV fits four drop-down extendable jacks to steady the Timbarra at camp and a bolt-on rear bumper fitted with a spare wheel to protect the rear end. You could fit a jerry can holder or fishing rod racks to the bumper.
On the drawbar we find a 9kg gas bottle mounted in a lockable frame, a detachable wind-up jockey wheel and an Anderson plug for charging the battery on the move.
She's a well-rounded and good-looking rig whether popped up or down. A travelling height of just 1690mm affords minimal wind drag and a storage rack is available as an option. Overall, the Timbarra Spirit 5 is 5.65m long, 2.15m wide and weighs only 1240kg, making for easy towing behind family vehicles and mid-range RVs.
The front fibreglass moulded body shell incorporates a large, lockable boot at the front capable of holding plenty of luggage and travelling accessories. The battery isolating switch, wind-up handle and accessories kit are also stored securely in the boot.
The passenger side has a full-height doorway and a convenient access hatch to internal storage. The rear has LED trailer lighting and a pair of welcome grab handles for easy manoeuvring by hand. On the driver's side we find venting for the fridge, a 240V inlet and a lockable portable water filler.
I was impressed with the quality of materials in the Timbarra. The one-piece roof section is actually made from a very strong insulated sandwich construction (similar to refrigeration composite) to give enormous strength and keep the heat down or the warmth in depending on the prevailing conditions. The sides are not just alloy sheet, but again an aluminium/acrylic composite, and there are no issues with flexing.
TIME TO CAMP
When it's time to stop for the night, the week or the month you can fully assemble the Quest RV Timbarra in a very short period, even when you're dog tired from a long and dusty road and the kids are screaming. There are very few tricks involved and I genuinely assembled the whole outfit in less than 10 minutes first time round.
Simply wind up the roof to the stopping point controlled by a stainless wire stopper, assemble the two-piece doorway (probably the trickiest part of the whole adventure), pull out each bed end on the smooth roller bearing runners, clip down the canvas ends, secure two supports under the beds at each end, clip in the internal canvas support frame and wind down the stabiliser legs. It's really that easy. The ball-bearing bed slides are an absolute dream to use and will suit even the most frail travellers. If you want to make it even simpler a fully automatic electric worm-drive actuator is also available for the pop-top as an option.
Our demo unit was fitted with a slide-on style annexe, which we didn't bother with. I would prefer to spend a little extra and fit a bolt on, wind-out-style unit for greater convenience.
Once assembled, the Spirit 5 is big and comfortable with plenty of creature comforts. The layout is exceptional. It has everything you could possibly want in a pop-top camper and still gives function and room to move. The Timbarra has a rear nearside dinette as well as a very welcome U-shaped front lounge. You simply must have a comfortable place to sit after a long day and this layout gives room for a party and elbowroom for a family.
The rear offside kitchen features a stainless Thetford Spinflo cooktop/grill with three gas elements and one electric hotplate. There's a microwave, a single stainless sink with pressurised water pump and a three-way fridge, as well as plenty of that ever-desirable bench space for meal preparation.
If you're like me you'll want to take plenty of gear when holidaying and I just love the storage capacity in these campers. There are cavities under every seat as well as some large utensils drawers and cabinets for pots and pans. The Ctek battery management system lives under the front seat and the entire unit is individually fused for both the 240V and 12V lighting and appliances. It doesn't have an overly sophisticated solar charging unit or multiple batteries, but for my mind it doesn't need it for the intended market.
The canvas awnings are exceptionally good with internal curtains and PVC clear windows and flyscreens all round. It's open and airy, but at night you'll feel warm and secluded once the curtains to the twin double beds are closed. You can have some reasonable quiet time with the kids tucked snugly into the secluded bed compartments, and in the morning open the large windows to take in those terrific mountain, coastal or desert sunrises. How romantic!
Quest RV incorporates quality materials, components, trims and workmanship in its campers. The upholstery is warm and plush and uses practical and attractive fabrics that will stand the test of time. The cabinetry seems very well made with a light timber laminated finish, secure locks and hinges and a hard-wearing marble laminate bench top. There's suitable LED lighting and halogen downlights throughout including flexible cord lights for both bed enclosures.
Having gas on board means the unit must be vented at all times. Quest RV provides shrouded inlet vents on the doorway where air flows through the van and out from a roof vent. I can't say that no dust gets in, but it is certainly minimal due to the venturi effect channelling the flow. The only exposed point is around the bed slides where the moving component affords a slight gap where mossies will get in. We simply stuffed a rag into each corner - that's not hard, is it?
THE BOTTOM LINE
Would I own one? You betcha! Having lived out of a similar unit for five weeks and around 14,500km, I am pleased to say that I would own one in a heartbeat. Sure it's not the rough, tough, bang 'em up, macho offroad camper to tackle really serious 4WD adventures, but for the travelling family who wants to get a bit adventurous off the bitumen then the Quest RV Timbarra Spirit 5 may well fit the bill.
I certainly hope the Timbarra provides a satisfying conclusion to your personal quest to find your perfect camper. To me it's certainly a king's treasure - that's the Spirit!
> Quick and easy assembly
> Great layout, seating, kitchen and bench space
> High-quality Australian manufacturing and materials
> Full chassis
> Generous headroom
> Comfortable, secluded individual beds
I WOULD HAVE LIKED
> Basic slide-on awning
> More mozzie proofing
Originally published in Camper Trailer Australia magazine #62, February/March 2013.