With the onslaught of winter, much of Australia rightfully heads north for the warmer weather – but they are leaving behind many of our nation's gems in their prime.
Victoria’s Central Highlands are simply magnificent, particularly around the end of autumn when Jack Frost arrives. I love waking up next to a slowly trickling river with the smell of last night’s glowing campfire throughout your clothes and your hair. The morning slowly dawns with the faint glow of first light piercing the thick valley fog and the silhouette of the riverside trees standing like haunting dementors with a million twisted fingers.
The thermometer screams zero degrees with the chill stinging your lungs and freezing extremities as you unzip an internal awning to admire the scene. It’s warm and cozy in the big queen bed nestled in layers of feather down in the fold-over section of this Bluewater Lachlan camper. There’s the inevitable grunt and groan as your partner pulls the doona back over her head for a longer and well-deserved sleep. The kids in the extenda at the other end of the Bluewater are still comatosed from the previous day’s adventures and regenerating for yet another day of riverside excitement.
Now this is living, you smile to yourself as you rise to rekindle the fire and fire up the billy. A cold scrub worm barley squirms as it’s threaded on the hook and cast to the edge of the gravel bank where the trout forage for titbits in the early morning light. The sounds of cockatoos and corellas screech, crows wail and the distant cattle moo to welcome the dawn.
The fireside seats are wet with ice and dew, and so too is the thick canvass of the camper. Thankfully, you thought to leave a couple of seats under the cover of the full-length awning as you sit back with a warm cup of joe boiled quickly on the three-burner stove from the pull-out stainless steel kitchen as the Isuzu MU-X looks on.
This is living with your Bluewater Lachlan! Sound good? Then read on. (And if ya don’t like the cold, then take it north!)
A ROOMY NEW MODEL
The Bluewater Lachlan is the logical option to the Macquarie that wowed our judges at last year’s CTOTY Awards. It features an easily-extended pull-out at the rear that provides an added double bed to accommodate the family or visitors. This popular, family-friendly layout leaves the centre dinette for living – unless you have a whole tribe staying over, in which case it also converts to a further double bed making sleeping room for six people!
Of course, extra tent area often means that it takes even longer to assemble. However Bluewater has spent considerable time making setup as easy as possible. The foldover has winch assist if you feel the need, but it can be pivoted quite easily manually without a lot of effort. You simply pivot the gas-strut-assisted foldover and the tent pops open easily. The spare wheel/pole carrier at the rear tilts downward, then you pull out the extenda slide and the rear bow pulls the rest of the tent up easily. Clip in the canvas edges at the rear and Bob’s your Uncle!
The high roofed tent immediately tensions itself with Bluewater’s innovative non-adjustable, spring loaded, gas strutted pole system on the main bow and tropical roof. You can put a couple of spreader bars in if it looks like a windy night, otherwise she’s instantly ready for an overnighter.
The Lachlan package includes a full length 2.4m-wide annexe with side enclosures including a very large double ensuite tent combined into a side wall. This gives the camper a huge undercover footprint which is ideal for hosting the family and friends. The large double sided ensuite has a wet and dry area for comfort and convenience, plus it keeps the porta-potti dry. The ensuite can also be set up independently away from the main tent for a bit of added privacy.
All of the canvas is beautifully manufactured in Bluewater’s own factory where the team also makes a full range of well-known wet weather gear, swags and similar products. The Lachlan features inner and outer awnings on the large array of windows plus fine French stitching, YKK zips and midge mesh screens. The tropical roof provides added insulation from both the heat and cold even when the ice gathers in the Victorian winter chill, and yet there is adequate internal ventilation so there’s no condensation.
Incidentally, the deep tub body also allows the whole tent construction – including the annexe –to be packed up without detachment for even easier assembly. Bluewater’s packaging includes a privacy curtain up front for ma and pa, draft skirts, annexe walls and a PVC floor plus the ensuite. All the comforts of home! There’s plenty of room for bulky items such as folding chairs to be carried on the internal floor.
A LITTLE MUFFIN TOP
Of course, the Lachlan is slightly heavier than the Macquarie with its Tare at 1600kg and they aren’t trying to kid anyone with low-quoted ATM. The camper's realistic ATM is 2400kg incorporating Dexter 12in electric breakaway brakes for safe trailering even with the whole mob and their food, toys and camping gear, recovery equipment, plus a full fridge (optional). Yes, it is unashamedly a reasonably heavy unit but that attests to the quality of the manufacture plus a very deep tub, premium components and top-of-the-line Wax Converters 14oz canvas all around. Unexpextedly, the Isuzu MU-X was more than capable of handling the challenge. There’s also a huge water capacity allowing 160L in two tanks so you shouldn’t run out of precious water even with a large family of thirsty, and dirty, kids!
Speaking of water, Bluewater has made camping easy by including hot and cold water fittings plus a gas bayonet on the 125x50x4mm A-frame drawbar which feeds the Smartek 6 portable hot water system for the ensuite and sink. Hot water is simply a godsend in wintry conditions, and a mighty pleasant option even in warmer climates. There’s also the innovative two-way valve and pressure reducer on the rear tap that bypasses your water tanks altogether, allowing mains supply if you are in a caravan park or similar.
There’s also a crossover valve to choose which tank you can feed from, a great idea if you are faced with loading less than pure water in an extended outback tour. The secondary water can perhaps be utilised for showers etc. Bluewater has chosen a quality SeaFlo 42 series water pump and John Guest water lines and fittings throughout for longevity in service.
ON THE BOTTOM
Underneath is a full 75x50x3mm box section sub-frame with independent trailing arm suspension, locally supplied Lovell coil springs and dual Ridepro custom shock absorbers each side, plus custom made polyurethane bump stops. She rides on Primal 16x8” alloy wheels and your choice of mud or AT 265/75 R16s.
The Lachlan, like the Macquarie, has also been upgraded with strong Manutek stabiliser legs and out front is an ARK X-Series 750kg-rated jockey wheel plus Anderson plug, hand brake, forward winch post and the increasingly popular McHitch 3.5t Uni-glide trailer coupling. There’s a strong stoneguard with replaceable mesh plus a huge tool box that also secures the twin 4kg gas bottles plus numerous jerry cans if optioned.
Bluewater isn't shy in revealing its manufacturing process. It keeps the Australian content as high as possible but also realises that it must import componentry to maintain its competitive pricing. Let’s face it, you pay for what you get whether at home or abroad and the standards of manufacture on the Bluewater range are very high. The main shell, galvanised chassis and swing arm assemblies are manufactured internationally, however the canvas is premium Australian Wax Converters Dyna Proofed 14oz with YKK zips and fine mesh screens and most of the trailer's componentry and fittings are locally sourced and assembled.
Whilst she’s a bit weighty to tow, it is also very realistic for the level of facility the Lachlan delivers. There are twin rated recovery points at the rear in case you get in the poo and a fairly good recovery angle and ground clearance for the ruts, washouts and undulations. The water tanks are fully shrouded from underside damage and it’s great to see the Bluewater team accepted my advice and changed the tank outlets to solid fittings for added security.
FEEL THE POWER
The Lachlan package includes twin 100A AGM batteries securely mounted in a lockable compartment with the electrical control panel just in front of the wheel arch. This cabinet contains the isolator switch, individual analogue water tank indicators, voltage and rate of charge indicators as well as a five-gang fused switch panel for the fridge, pump, lights etc. There’s a Ctek 250SA DC-DC charger suitable for charging from late model vehicles with their smart alternators or via the 200W portable solar panels that are supplied as standard. Inverters and other electrical options are available on request, including 240V.
There’s any number of power outlets via 12V and USB, a great variety of indoor and outdoor LED lighting including in self-actuating switches in the compartments, plus the kitchen and fridge slide. The tough fridge slide is rated at 65kg to accept the largest portable units. That’s a lot of food and drinks – but you need it, especially with hungry kids and thirsty parents! The fridge compartment has pressurised ventilation and all of the compartments are neatly trimmed. Next door to the fridge, a pair of very deep pantry drawers provides vital storage for any offroad adventure.
As we progress along the 'living side' of the camper (passenger side), the central door flips down and a convenient set of steps pops out for access. Towards the rear is the pull-out stainless steel kitchen unit and she’s a ripper! Bluewater’s engineers have again utilised a 'snake track' convoluted flexible hose retainer that means there is no more assembly of the power and water fittings as you slide out the kitchen. It simplifies the process giving you more time to enjoy your holiday rather than fiddling with hoses and fittings.
This awesome kitchen has all the comforts of home including Dometic three-burner stove, three utility drawers for utensils and cutlery, tonnes of LED lighting, 12V and USB power outlets plus a slide-out preparation bench from one end and a full-length bar table that hinges from the top. Underneath is a stabiliser leg and there’s even a fold-out dish rack that comes in extraordinarily handy for all manner of jobs.
STORAGE TO BOOT!
The Bluewater Lachlan has an immense amount of storage starting with internal compartments under the dinette seats, the sliding two-door pantry, drawers in the kitchen, two huge compartments on the driver’s side plus a large front box, rear pole compartment and even a full-width shelf for longer items such as my fishing rods.
There are roof racks up on top for other items including kayaks or even a small tinny, porta boat or similar. The Lachlan has the facility for a folding boat loader as an option, which means you don’t have to unstrap the entire load for an overnighter.
The layout is quite conventional for a forward fold, but that is what makes them so popular. Up in front is a big queen bed with innerspring mattress enclosed by a sealed privacy screen. The internal floor is protected with a hard wearing faux-timber vinyl for easy cleaning. The convertible U-shaped dinette offers comfortable seating for a family meal or maybe a game of Monopoly on a wet day. The cushions are very comfortable and well upholstered.
The rear extenda features a double bed, yet the divider to the tub can be utilised as a double bed extension, or as the backrests to the dinette. It gives terrific versatility for accommodation up to six people, maybe more if travelling with a tribe of little 'uns!
The tent is really quite tall, which expands the sense of volume, but also provides a more comfortable environment in the heat. The kitchen side of the tent unzips for that al fresco touch when the clan gets together. There’s a soft-touch switch panel as well as an MP5 player with Bluetooth and mass storage to entertain the party.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this quality camper has a bright future with Aussie families that want to explore our great country. It has all of the comforts of home but retains the basics of comfortable touring. You can take the family plus the neighborhood kids, or simply escape for a secluded weekend with that special person. Whether it’s a cool climate Victorian adventure or a tropical sojourn, the Bluewater Lachlan offers incredibly easy living.
BLUEWATER CAMPERS – THE LACHLAN SLIDER
- Tare 1600kg including all canvas and poles
- ATM 2400kg
- Suspension Independent trailing arm with Lovell coil springs and dual Pro Ride custom shock absorbers each side
- Brakes 12” Dexter electric with breakaway
- Coupling Mc Hitch 3.5t Uniglide Off Road Coupling
- Chassis Full box section galvanised
- Drawbar 125x50x4mm galvanised A-frame
- Body 1.2mm zinc panels with oven-baked enamel with clear coat
- Wheel/tyre 16x8” alloy wheels and your choice of mud or AT 265/75 R16s
- Style Primal Alloy mag
PRICE AS SHOWN
Manufactured by Bluewater Campers
2 Embrey Court
1300 594 000 or 03 5945 5344