I arrived at Bluewater Campers, in the outer Melbourne suburb of Pakenham, expecting to find a camper almost identical to many others I’d recently seen, and was pleased to learn I was wrong. The Bluewater Murray, as shown, is a refined unit, built on a durable base with a smart array of quality items for extended offroad tours.
Bluewater, which entered the market five years ago with imported campers, is the first to admit to manufacturing its components overseas but, in time, the company has fine-tuned its approach to better suit customer wants and needs.
The basic shell is sourced internationally, so is the strong galvanised chassis and swing arms for the independent suspension. The tent is cut and sewn in Fiji out of Bluewater’s own facility but it’s made from quality Australian Wax Converters Dynaproofed canvas with YKK zips and premium quality midge mesh screens.
The compact Murray is jam-packed with pleasant surprises. She’s a forward-fold with added height in the tub for an inviting interior. She’s simpler to erect than others I’ve reviewed, with a genuine overnight set up time of less than five minutes without the annexe.
The Tare weight is shy of 1500kg, on par with the quality and facility she provides, but fill the twin stainless steel tanks to their combined 170L capacity, add some camping and recovery gear, food and drinks and you’ll be running close to the 1990kg ATM.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
Underneath, we find a full offroad independent trailing arm suspension with Lovells coil springs and dual Ridepro custom shock absorbers each side. The shockers are matched to the trailer but are widely available and interchangeable with generic alternatives.
Bluewater uses only German Timken bearings, 12in electric axle tech brake and hub units, Primal 16x8in alloy wheels and your choice of mud or AT 265/75 R16s. Four wind-down supports stabilise a strong box section chassis, the welding looks good and the cabling and plumbing are well secured.
Out on the drawbar, I was delighted to find a strong, five-yoke X-Series 750kg-rated jockey wheel with a wind-up mechanism, ideal for those times you inevitably get stuck on undulating ground. Those who know me understand that poor jockey wheel selection is my pet hate, but this one’s a beaut.
Bluewater also fitted the ripper Al-Ko offroad 3.5t coupling, a handbrake, Anderson plug, strong checkerplate and replaceable mesh stoneshield, a winch to assist in folding over the floor, twin 4.5kg gas cylinder retainers and twin jerry can holders.
The high tent roof is solid 18oz grade canvas with 14oz side walls and add-ons. The canvas tropical roof automatically pops open and stays taut, and I like the way Bluewater does its external awning supports with easy poles and spreaders. Annexes can be awkward to set up on your own but Robert had it down-pat and fully assembled in 10-15 minutes for an extended stay. The full kit includes all three walls, ripstop PVC floor, draft shirts and an ensuite that assembles easily with only two supporting poles and a spreader bar. I’d feel secure to take cover in the high quality structure when the pea soup hits the fan.
The Bluewater Murray uses only high tensile quick clamp adjustable poles with easy C-clamp ends. The annexe roof can be packed up while still attached, provided you fold it carefully.
The big deep tub is a beauty and hosts plenty of features, accessories and storage. The access ladder cantilevers out easily and has adjustable legs inviting you to join the party inside.
Up front is a camper-queen bed with a high density foam eggshell mattress which is easy to climb in and out of via a folding step. The main body of the box is surrounded on three sides by a comfy convertible dinette with a portable table in the centre that can drop down with a bunk infill, making yet another very large bed.
The seating is at a comfortable height, making it a truly versatile and very functional area. I can see it becoming the central attraction when a group of friends get together, or in adverse weather. The tent has plenty of windows all with awnings and quality midge mesh and the large wall on the passenger side can fully open into what I laughingly referred to as ‘the donut stall’, but Bluewater actually calls the ‘brekkie bar’. It allows terrific flow between the inside and outside living areas, and in all new models of the Murray, privacy and midge-proof mesh screens will be fitted to close off the bed area while the rest of the tent is open. Very sensible indeed!
There is a tonne of storage under all of the seating units, a sound system with CD/DVD access plus 12V and USB outlets and flexible LED lighting strips. All of the flooring areas including containers and major drawers have a rich timber-look acrylic floor for easy cleaning and this lifts the basic greys of the standard colour scheme immensely. Even the upholstery presents well with hard wearing textures and lush padding.
THE WRAP UP
Bluewater combines a great selection of accessories with functional design and high quality engineering and workmanship into the terrific package that is its Murray.
It doesn’t claim to have reinvented the wheel – just perfected it to get you outback and comfortable!
- Terrific packaging
- Easy set up
- Offroad capable
- Aussie canvas
- Great layout
- No inverter or charger as standard
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.