Jayco Journey 19.61-3 Outback Review

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Australian caravan manufacturers have been building family caravans with bunk beds for decades. Although they are an established sector of their market, they are not so common here in New Zealand. But Jayco Auckland say that is changing. The Outback version of the Jayco Journey 19.61-3 reviewed here is a good example of a family caravan.

INTERIOR LAYOUT

At the front is a large east-west double bed; at the rear are two bunk beds kerbside, opposite the driver’s side washroom. The kitchen is centrally located alongside the entry, with the dinette opposite. Separating the sleeping areas provides some privacy and allows continued use of the lounge area once the bunk occupants have retired to bed. The decor throughout is an understated mix of light greys and dark browns.

jayco journey
The entry door (and a curtain) separate the main bed from the kitchen

SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS

The double bed has an innerspring mattress, and the bunks have foam mattresses. All bed bases have sprung wooden orthopaedic slats. Both floor level beds have good storage space below the mattress, and gas struts take away the pain of lifting the beds for access to this storage.

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For added comfort, the lower parts of the walls surrounding the double bed are covered with upholstered panels. Jayco include bed linen, duvet and pillows in the standard package. There are two reading lights at the head of the bed. A TV wall bracket is mounted at the foot, where it can also be viewed from both the kitchen and the dinette. A battery management charger and the house battery occupy a small corner of the storage space under the bed.

jayco journey layout
Plenty of headroom in both bunks with a ladder provided for top bunk access

For caravanners, bunks are a practical answer to the question, where are we all going to sleep? Tucked away in the rear corner of the Journey, they offer a snug retreat for all ages, especially the younger ones. In the two-bunk option reviewed here, each bunk has a privacy curtain and a window, and the lower one has a light of its own. The upper one shares the corridor light. A curtain screens off the corridor from the front of the caravan so it doubles as a changing room. A three-bunk option is also available.

DINING

jayco journey dinette
The dinette is the social centre of the Journey

The dinette provides the only seating in the caravan. It has the distinctive, very comfortable Jayco two-piece back rests. Covered with a soft, warm woven fabric, it makes the dinette an attractive spot for dining or relaxing. Alongside is a large opening window, and there is a ceiling hatch above, so it is a refreshingly light, bright place to be. The drawers below the seats offer more storage.

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Plenty of room for meal prep and food storage in the kitchen

At around 1800mm long, the kitchen bench includes a four-hob LPG cooktop and stainless-steel sink/dish drainer, with room for meal preparation and serving at the end. It’s a typical Jayco RV bench – you’ll find them in most of their caravans and motorhomes. Jayco fit them because they have met and continue to meet the needs of their RV buyers.

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jayco journey kitchen
The central corridor leading to the bunks and washroom at the rear of the caravan

STORAGE

If you like overhead lockers, you will love the array in the Journey: four over the bed, two over the dinette, two with shelves over the kitchen, one over the hob and another in the washroom.

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Masses of storage space in the bunk room cupboard

Along with the kitchen under-bench cupboard space, the two pantry cupboards, the drawers and cupboards beside the bunks as well as the 171-litre fridge/freezer, the storage is more than adequate for four people, their clothes, personal possessions and supermarket shopping.

BATHROOM/LAUNDRY

Behind a concertina curtain on the other side of the corridor is the bathroom/ laundry. It’s a four-function set-up with a handbasin to the left, alongside a Sphere washing machine. To the right, behind a three-piece sliding door, is the shower. Roomy enough for the big and tall, it has shelves for soap and shampoo, and a fan vent in the ceiling. The opening window behind the central placed toilet will be an asset. A large wall mirror behind the handbasin makes the washroom feel more spacious. There are cupboards below the basin and a locker over the toilet. A single centre light, two more over the basin and one in the shower provide plenty of lighting.

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The Sphere clothes washer parked unobtrusively in a corner of the bathroom

EXTERIOR

The bodywork is finished in a light shade of grey, with a skirt of black checker-plate panels down each side, a black bumper across the back, and a black stone-chip resistant panel across the front. The Outback variant, riding on the latest version of Jayco’s JTECH suspension, has higher ground clearance than the standard Journey, adding to its sense of purpose.

Up front is a conventional cast-iron hitch, handbrake and safety chains. An electric breakaway cable system is also fitted to most Journey models. Jayco’s trademark freshwater tap is mounted on the side of the A-frame.

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Up front a very useful locker for poles and rods

The Journey’s chassis is hot-dip galvanised steel, which is both lightweight and strong. As well as offering increased ground clearance, this chassis/suspension combination is stable, smooth-riding and has excellent handling qualities.


At its core, the body has an aluminium frame. This is inset with high-density polystyrene foam panels for thermal and acoustic insulation, and externally clad with hail and dent resistant fibreglass panels. The rig runs on 15-inch black alloy wheels and higher rated 235/75R15 AT tyres. Altogether a very solid package.

jayco journey locker
A simple but highly effective twin 9kg LPG bottle locker

At the front on the kerbside, a tunnel locker that runs the width of the caravan replaces the conventional front boot. It can be awkward to retrieve items from the middle of the locker, but at least they stay clean and dry. There is good external access to storage under the double bed (front) and bunk bed (rear). A fold-out alloy step is fitted below the habitation door to make entry/exit easier. Up above is an electrically powered 5-metre awning, complete with a strip of LED edge lighting. Below is the wall-mounted outdoor entertainment centre, comprised of a fold-down table, 12-volt and 230-volt outlet plugs, a TV aerial plug and a pair of speakers, all under a wall-mounted light. Aussies are serious outdoor entertainers.

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Up top is a 160-watt solar panel, two roof hatches – one over the bed, the other over the kitchen – an aircon unit and a TV antenna.

There are two hatches on the driver’s side, one for the toilet cassette at the rear and one for the tunnel storage at the front. A service hatch for the hot-water boiler, a freshwater fill point and a radio aerial round out the equipment list. A well thought out package, well equipped with durable fixtures and fittings.

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Good ground clearance for rough country travel, but a degree of agility required by prospective owners

SAFETY FIRST

Nitrogen-filled tyres fitted to the Journey reduce tyre temperatures and provide more consistent tyre pressures, even on the hottest days, reducing the risk of tyre blowouts. Having the Lippert Sway Command Tow Control Technology aboard reduces the risk of losing control of the caravan in emergency manoeuvres. As mentioned, the electric breakaway system for caravans with electric brakes is fitted as standard to most Journey models. When a caravan accidentally separates from the tow vehicle, the cable connection is severed, activating the electric brakes and brake lights.

OUTBACK UPGRADE

Jayco Journeys are available in both standard and Outback versions. As the name and appearance suggest, the Outback is equipped to cope with more arduous off-road conditions. As well as the suspension/chassis upgrade, it has a larger 160-watt solar panel, Outback corner steadies, an external gas bayonet fitting for the BBQ, Jayco mudflats and an 8-inch jockey wheel.

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SUMMARY

The interior of the Jayco is pragmatic and unpretentious, quite in keeping with its exterior presentation. A caravan to live in comfortably while you enjoy the things the destination has to offer. Not for the bling-hearted. I find it very appealing.

PROS

  • Good volume of external and internal storage
  • Very practical interior layout
  • Efficient use of space in the washroom

CONS

  • Two slide-out pantries instead of the two pantry cupboards would be good
  • No dedicated cutlery drawer

Jayco Journey 19.61-3 Outback Specifications

Berths

4

Road wheels/suspension 

Alloy/Tech 2 suspension

Travel length (incl towbar) 

7655mm

Body height

3040mm

Body width

2470mm

Tanks (fresh)

2x 82L

LPG

2x 9kg

Tare

2292kg

Tow ball weight

185kg

Price as reviewed: $81,490

 

Find out more at jaycoauckland.co.nz

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