Snowy River SRC17 Review

By: Malcolm Street, Photography by: Malcolm Street


This caravan from Australia is compact but loaded with everything needed for touring New Zealand. Malcolm Street checks out the van from Snowy River.

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In Australia, the Snowy River is a major river that originates on the slopes of Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains. It drains across the eastern slopes before flowing through the Alpine and Snowy River National Parks in Victoria, finishing at Orbost on the Bass Strait.

The Snowy River’s claims to fame are many. It’s a central part of the giant Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme and has folklore presence in the Banjo Paterson poem, ‘The Man from Snowy River’ – later immortalised in film and TV shows of the same name.

In case you’re wondering why a bit of Aussie culture slips into a caravan review, it’s because I reckon the manufacturer was quite clever in naming this brand of caravans. It’s a name that evokes the spirit of adventure and travel.

Snowy River caravans are mostly in what you might call the Australian style, but slightly lighter in weight and not in the oft-used construction method, that is, separate frame and external cladding. For this review the choice of van was the SRC-17, a reference to the external length of 17 feet (5180mm). Snowy River isn’t alone in that nomenclature. Quite a number of Australian manufacturers still use feet and inches for length measurements.

LAYOUT

Overall, the layout is a variation of one that has become popular in Australia: a front island bed, full-width rear bathroom, with a dinette and kitchen in between. Given the external length of 5180mm, it’s a slightly smaller version than usual but still with all the essentials. The van has a very contemporary colour scheme that is mostly whites and greys, all with a glossy finish.

An island bed dominates up front and the L-shaped lounge works well in this layout
An island bed dominates up front and the L-shaped lounge works well in this layout

SLEEPING

Up front, the island bed measures 1850mm x 1530mm. It comes with the expected bedhead of side wardrobes, overhead lockers and a decent-sized bedside shelf. 230V power points are fitted on both sides, each with inbuilt USB charger points – very handy and quite neat. Windows are fitted on either side, and in the front wall. Both the side windows are smaller than usual, but with the big roof hatch above the bed, there’s a good cross-flow of fresh air. Each bed occupant gets a wand reading light, and the roof hatch comes with inbuilt lights for good illumination.

The kitchen bench is a reasonable length
The kitchen bench is a reasonable length

KITCHEN

Many a caravan these days has a fridge with more than 110L of capacity, which is good for cold food and drink storage but does take up space. Here, the 90L fridge sits under the bench, which creates more benchtop in what would otherwise be a fairly small kitchen. Fitted into the benchtop is a four-burner (three gas, one electric) hob/grill alongside a stainless-steel sink and drainer. The hob has a flush lid, which extends the benchtop working area.

An underbench fridge means more benchtop space
An underbench fridge means more benchtop space

A microwave oven is fitted in the overhead locker space above the fridge. Cupboard (including a wire basket pantry) and overhead locker space isn’t too bad, but there’s only one drawer. There’s a rangehood and radio/CD player above the hob, and power points are tted at either end of the bench.

SEATING

Opposite the kitchen bench, the L-shaped lounge seats two people without much trouble. The pole-mounted table is similarly sized. There is a 230V power point and 12V socket below seat level, with lighting from ceiling downlights. Under-seat storage is accessed by lifting the seat cushions.

The side windows are smaller than usual but still supply a good crossflow of air
The side windows are smaller than usual but still supply a good crossflow of air

BATHROOM

The SRC-17 is a relatively small caravan for a front bed/rear bathroom layout, so everything, except the bed size, has been compressed a bit. That includes the bathroom, which still has all the essentials including a nearside shower cubicle, offside Dometic cassette toilet and a vanity cabinet across the rear wall. The latter is large enough for a couple of cupboards and shelves, plus the expected pedestal wash basin and decent-sized wall mirror.

The bathroom is compact but practical
The bathroom is compact but practical

EXTERIOR

Construction-wise, the walls and roof have an aluminium box section framework that is welded together with XPS foam insulation core, installed between all the frame sections. This is all sandwiched between 2mm-thick fibreglass sheets, and vacuum-pressed together. The walls and roof are bonded and fixed to a single-piece 40mm floor and 32mm roof, to form a strong body structure that’s bolted to the chassis. Fibreglass sheeting, which actually looks like alloy chequer plate, protects the underfloor area.

Supporting the bodywork is a DuraGal® chassis that uses 150mm x 50mm (6in x 2in) RHS for the drawbar rails, and smaller section, 100mm x 50mm (4in x 2in), for the main rails. Fitted above the AL-KO™ Independent Rubber Suspension (IRS) mounts are 50mm x 50mm (2in x 2in) raisers. The 15in alloy wheels have 12in electric brakes. Two 95L freshwater tanks are fitted fore and aft of the axle and the optional grey tank is fitted towards the rear.

Two battery boxes are fitted to the offside chassis rail, but only one 120Ah AGM is supplied as standard; a second battery is an option. For charging the battery, a 200W solar panel is a standard feature.

A stylish-looking van with all the essentials
A stylish-looking van with all the essentials

ON THE ROAD

Towing the SRC-17 is not a difficult prospect. With a tare mass of 1902kg and a GVM of 2500kg, not only is the payload very generous but the van is well suited to a wide range of vehicles that are usually found in the household garage.

The gas cylinders are easily accessible
The gas cylinders are easily accessible

ORIGINS

An initial glance over a Snowy River caravan might give the impression that it’s not unlike many others produced in Australia. However, that is slightly misleading because the body and chassis are actually built in China. They are then imported into Australia for fitting all the appliances and other components, as well as the gas and electrical essentials. Another Australian manufacturer, Regent, is owned by the same company that owns Snowy River, and both come out of the same factory door. The warranty on Snowy River caravans is five years for the structure and two for the manufacturing.

The caravans are imported into New Zealand by Vanari Caravans, owned by Mike and Samantha Bratty. The New Zealand vans come with a few additional features, such as a New Zealand automatic satellite, 100L greywater tank, self-containment certificate, full gas cylinders, New Zealand electrical certification, and a start-up kit that includes ramps, jack, hoses and a heavy-duty power lead. In other words, drive away, ready to go.

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Snowy River SRC17 Floorplan

SUMMARY

A look through the SRC-17 would suggest it has much to offer Kiwi RV travellers. It’s not oversized nor over-heavy, yet is fully kitted for hitting the road in style. Certainly, the layout is compact, yet lacks nothing in terms of facilities and features. Well suited to NZ travel I reckon.

PROS

  • Good construction
  • Ideal for a number of tow vehicles
  • Island bed layout
  • Good kitchen size

CONS

  • Small dinette
  • Under-seat power point location

Explorer Navigator Specifications

Axles

Single

Berths

2

Length

5180mm

Width

2380mm

Height

3070mm

Fresh/grey water

2x 95L/100L

Power 

1 x 100Ah AGM battery, 1 x 120W solar

Tare 

1902kg

Tow ball

192kg

GVM

2500kg

Price as reviewed: $67,000

 

Find out more at vanaricaravans.co.nz

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