Major Sir Thomas Mitchell stood a large part in the exploration of our great country. Commissioned in 1828 as the Australian Surveyor General, his legendary expeditions explored and mapped much of our eastern seaboard from Cape York in far north Queensland to Portland in Victoria’s south-west, including such extremes as the Menindee Lakes, the Barcoo River and Warrego Range.
This esteemed Scotsman was honoured firstly by knighthood in 1839, and again in an obituary published in the Sydney Morning Herald in October 1855 with the words, “For a period of 28 years, Sir Thomas Mitchell had served the Colony, much of that service having been exceedingly arduous and difficult. Among the early explorers of Australia, his name will occupy an honoured place in the estimation of posterity.”
Mitchell had much to be proud of. So, too, does our Australian camper trailer industry. It is a field of innovation, excitement and world-leading engineering and design skills. Melbourne’s Pioneer Campers is an industry stalwart with its very high standard of construction, commitment to quality and professional attitude towards product sales and ongoing service commitment.
I had a call from an associate who has been shopping for a camper. His wife has some special needs that will be more important over time and he has whittled his wishlist down to three manufacturers. He is leaning towards Pioneer not just for its design, strength and appealing price, but for the team’s commendable service and friendly attitude. He was impressed with the hi-tech production facility in Dandenong, Vic, and most of all with the company’s accommodating attitude towards modifications to help his wife’s mobility in the future. References like this are priceless.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
The overall unit has a very solid body shell of powder-coated zincanneal and marine-grade aluminium panels, insulated fibreglass/aluminium walls and a fibreglass pop-roof and floor. Pioneer uses the strongest, yet lightest, materials to produce the Mitchell, in order to provide the strength, towing weights and insulation necessary for extreme outback adventures. This tough rig will be a great companion for a lifetime of rough and tumble service on this country’s worst tracks. It sits on a heavy-duty, fully-welded, hot-dipped galvanised steel chassis that, like the suspension, comes with a five-year warranty.
Getting there and back is one thing but ease of set up is one of my primary prerequisites in a camper. Who wants to waste energy after a long day on the road? I’d rather sleep in a swag! However, the Mitchell is one of the fastest, easiest and most pleasing campers to set up. Simply open the large gas-assisted tailgate that hinges up to become the roof, fold out the solid floor with its plug-in adjustable feet for uneven ground, and secure the rear ‘H’ frame with two bars – that’s it, you’re set up for an overnight sleep in under three minutes – perfect! For extra play space, you can pop open the forward roof section which gives more than a metre in head room, however, in extreme weather you may wish to leave it closed as you can still sit comfortably on the bed.
The enclosed living space is quite large with an innerspring queen mattress up front on a very solid tilting frame with slatted base for aeration. The sides of the bed are leatherette-lined and the simple staircase is easily ascended and individually illuminated.
A large storage area under the bed can also be accessed via the tailgate when it travel mode. There’s individual LED reading lights either side of the bed, a step strip light, tonnes of ventilation with tinted opening side windows either side of the body and further flaps in the canvas all with fine mesh flyscreens.
The storage continues with internal access to the large 70L partitioned storage drawer which also slides out from the external kerb side, as well as a handy 20L lockable bedhead storage box.
The exterior of the Mitchell has plenty to admire and the black and white colour scheme looks great with its red accents. Up on top we find a Redarc 12V 80W polycrystalline solar panel hardwired to the BMS and its inbuilt charger to maintain power to the rear mounted 110Ah deep cycle battery. This is probably enough power for most applications however added batteries and lithium alternatives are available as options.
For a more extended stay the Mitchell comes with a full length, 2m wide awning with strong frame and spreader poles. The sky is the limit for further optional canvas with full annexe enclosures, ensuite, draft curtain and even a kids’ room readily available. The ensuite and kids’ room are excellent add-ons for a travelling family that won’t take forever to assemble.
Out back is a 50mm square hitch receiver solely for recovery, reflectors, submersible LED tail lights and boot access to the under bed storage. For those looking for fewer accessories, the unit also comes in a lower fit-out level called the Wilpena.
THE WRAP UP
The manufacturing quality and offroad ability really appeals to my senses. I’m not afraid to declare my pride for my Aussie heritage and neither is Pioneer Campers.
HITS AND MISSES
- Ease of use
- Great selection of features
- Raised, secure living area
- Top quality local manufacturing
- Relatively lightweight
- 1650mm track and 30° departure angle
- Only one battery as standard
Check out the full feature in issue #101 June 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.