Okay, okay, so I can’t help it! Every time I’ve started to write the review on the Lumberjack Hopetoun softfloor camper, I’m reminded of that terrific old Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch of the Canadian Mounties singing, “I’m a lumberjack, and I’m okay, I sleep all night and I work all day”. If you don’t know it, then Google it now – it’ll put you in the right mood for the rest of the day!
But, seriously, Lumberjack Campers is a new contender on the Aussie market and has the potential to build a bold reputation rather quickly. Lumberjack is the brainchild of Arthur and Teresa Esteban and their enterprising store based in the west Victorian heartland of Geelong. We tested the Hopetoun softfloor in the beautiful hills, forests, trails and rugged coastline of the Otway Ranges on a couple of cold winters’ days and came back with smiles all-round.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
I must say, I was impressed with the outer presentation of the Lumberjack. She’s neat, compact and looks terrific on the road. Everything is fully encased in well-sealed containers and there are no loose or nagging rattles to annoy you. The paint scheme is a smart two-tone grey with aluminium checkerplate highlights and is topped off with a heavyweight PVC travel cover, secured with zips and hook and fastener edges acting together to keep out the dust and grime. We loaded up the old Disco and headed down the Great Ocean Road in search of adventure, singing that tune that kept rolling around in our heads – “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay!”
The trailer sat beautifully on the road and tracked even better along the slimy and corrugated roads as we left the bitumen. Offroad, the independent suspension cushioned all of the knocks, bumps and vibrations as we toddled up hill and down dale in search of an elusive campsite. The bad news is that many of the old hidden beauties I enjoyed many years ago are now closed to the public or encased in public camping areas, complete with all the signs of civilisation. I don’t think I will be planning the Otways for that out-of-the-way adventure again, however, we found some solace in the beautiful Cumberland River Holiday Park, yet another beautiful spot nowadays converted into a fully-managed and very well-presented camping ground. This is a beach and riverside location loaded with modern facilities but it still retains the timeless beauty of the small trickling stream with its steep cliff faces and beautiful grassy banks. I caught one of my first trout in these waters some 50-odd years ago.
I was pleased to find four wind-down stabilisers which helped level the trailer on the slightly uneven campsite. We opened every compartment to inspect the inner treasures and were rewarded by the large amount of storage options, all with independent compression or over centre locks and automotive rubber seals. All the compartments are carpet-lined which adds to the aesthetics, but also stops the bangs, scratches and rattles and makes a comfortable floor surface in the walk-through. The alloy stairwell folds out into place as you hinge down the side doorway, exposing a large area for transporting all of our bulky camping necessities like food boxes, camping seats and so on.
The driver’s side has a battery compartment up front encasing a 100Ah deep-cycle battery with isolator and independent fused switches for the three standard LED lighting strips and the cigarette lighter socket. Then there are a further two storage compartments for locking up all of your tools, valuables and accessories whilst on the road. The same is repeated on the driver’s side but with room for twin 4kg gas cylinders in the rear compartment.
The internal living space is quite huge with a large tent area of 2.7x5m including the bed and walk-through. She comes complete with plenty of windows with inner and outer awnings, strong zips all around as well as fine fly mesh and even a tropical roof. Remember, though, that the more volume and the more canvas means more assembly, poles and weight. There are twin doorways opposing each other on the outer edge, however, I personally prefer to have the doorways closer to the trailer, allowing room at the end for bunks and better crossflow ventilation in the tent. The Lumberjack has a strong PVC floor that extends all the way up the side of the trailer to fully enclose the internal living area and keep it bug proof.
There is a pair of storage drawers that slide out from the face of the bed into the walkway adding plenty more internal storage facility for clothes and personal items. Up top is a king-size mattress and privacy awning – yep, you heard me, a king-size (maybe it’s Mountie size)! Well, golly-gee, someone finally got it right for us big blokes who like some room to move at night! There is nothing worse than feeling confined in the tropical heat with no respite from another hot body next to you.
The full-length annexe zips on across the front face of the tent and comes complete with full detachable walls and a floor so you can enclose the entire area if so desired.
Unhinging the tailgate reveals a stainless steel kitchen with fold-out benchtop, four-burner gas stove with folding wind deflectors, sink with electric cold water pump and tap, a utility drawer and storage. The model we reviewed came with simple adjustable legs to stabilise the kitchen, but I am pleased to learn my idea for the convenient pivoting type has been adopted.
There is another sliding unit side-by-side with the kitchen that pulls out to reveal a large pantry at the rear and two large and lockable utility/pots and food drawers at the front.
The Lumberjack Hopetoun has lots going for it, particularly with its mid-teens price. Its inherent strength and quality components are topped off with a huge living area of heavyweight canvas.
With a Tare mass of 1360kg and 120L of water, you will still find plenty of load capacity for all your food and camping accessories with its 2000kg GVM. I expect the tough, independent suspension and fully welded box construction will stand the test of time and suffer Australia’s extremes of steep mountain ranges, dirt roads and maybe even a few red dust corrugations.
But watch out: “He’s a Lumberjack and he’s okay,” will be echoing out of every Australian valley topped off with, “always look on the bright side of life” from happy Lumberjack travellers.
HITS & MISSES
- Seems strong
- Independent suspension
- Plenty of storage
- Walk-through design
- King-size bed
- Stainless steel water tank
- Heavy tent to erect
- Swing down jockey wheel
- Closed access to my old campsites
Check out the full feature in issue #94 November 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.