It was mid-winter when the infamous bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang ran out of luck and were captured or killed at the Glenrowan Hotel in northern Victoria in 1880. Fast forward 136 years later, to the day, and I took a look at a new camper trailer by Kelly Campers called the Glenrowan.
It’s not surprising the ghosts of Ned and gang weren’t whispering in the chilly winter breeze. That’s because we were at Neurum Creek Bush Retreat in the Somerset Dam catchment area north-west of Brisbane, 1500km away from the Victorian Alps and the dry plains around the Victorian town of Glenrowan.
We were there to see if the latest addition to the panoply of Australian-made campers carries the same sense of bravado and courage associated with its infamous bushranging namesake.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
It’s hard to classify this camper. In effect, it’s a hard shell, pop-top camper trailer suited to a weekend away or a short adventure escape. Looks-wise, it’s somewhat of a Plain Jane, a boxy affair. Although, being workman-like isn’t bad, because this camper has a certain honest style.
A look around reveals it’s clearly the product of a competent and skilful team of tradespeople. And there’s much about it that’s worth a second look.
Regarding the body walls and roof construction, it ticks three important boxes – those of strength, lightweight efficiency and insulation. That’s thanks to 25mm aluminium box section framework underpinning aluminium composite panelling around the walls and roof. A thin skin of aluminium sits below the 19mm plywood floor which, although looks great, is more susceptible to water damage compared to other alternatives.
Although the review camper was grey with orange trim, fashion-conscious buyers can request any colour they wish, including colour matching the chassis and sides.
Kelly Campers, in its wisdom, uses a grill to separate the shower-side bin from the kitchen-slide rear so you can poke objects like fishing rods through one space to the other and tie them in place. The way, the drop-down spare tyre cradle turns into the entrance step which seems like a good idea but, in practice, it makes the step too high for comfort.
Plenty of other small details add lustre to the design. Utility pockets by the rear door offer a home for incidental bits and bobs, and there’s a similar set of pockets able to be hung on the camper wall below the kitchen bench.
Aside from the fridge and the LED lighting, little else draws power from the 165Ah 12V battery that has two 200W roof-top solar panels and a Redarc battery management system supporting it.
I would’ve liked to have seen an inverter included as standard, as this superb electrical arrangement would easily tolerate its modest use for charging a laptop and other devices.
Tucker time is taken care of thanks to a slide-out kitchen that features storage drawers and ample space to prepare food via the flip-up benchtop. A twin-burner Smev stove and a stainless steel sink provide the finishing touches.
While many campers allow the grey water to flush on to the ground, this camper has a portable grey water tank sitting conveniently on the ground below the kitchen. The kitchen is plumbed to hot and cold water. The stove is conveniently plumbed to two 4.5kg gas cylinders.
A 129L modular water tank hidden above the chassis and forward of the living area provides sufficient water for drinking, the kitchen and the shower for two or three days in camp, providing you’re a little frugal.
Stainless steel pot and pan hooks on a rail at the end of the kitchen slide-out are convenient details likely to attract fastidious camp chefs.
To the rear of the kitchen is a good-sized pantry complete with a useful courtesy light to help you forage for your favourite tin of beans. Further to the rear is a 108L upright fridge-freezer secreted away in a rear storage box behind a removable, hinged door. It’s ventilated via a duct from the back of the fridge to the rear of the camper by the entrance door, which looks sufficient to do the job.
THE WRAP UP
Sitting in the sunshine on a cool mid-winter’s day by the D’Aguilar Range, it was easy to see that, despite having room for improvement, the review Glenrowan is a sturdy, no-frills camper ready for a great weekend adventure.
When it comes to camping, strength combined with adventure, it’s not a bad start.
HITS AND MISSES
- Airbags providing first class suspension
- Use of Australian-made materials
- Plumbed gas and water
- Tight interior space
- Back step is quite high
- The lack of a departure angle might make offroad adventures difficult
Check out the full feature in issue #104 September 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.