Normally, when it comes time to write about one of the caravans we take on our journeys I watch the segment that appeared on the show, speak to the cast and crew who towed and/or stayed in the van and speak to the manufacturer about features, etc.
Well, this time I have first-hand experience because I was fortunate enough to be involved in getting the Lotus Off-Grid from Tasmania to Cairns for another shoot.
We collected the Off-Grid from Spirit of Tasmania and brought it to our suburban home to pack to get ready for the 3,552 kilometers (in 6 days!!!) trip to Cairns.
This van is impressive, it had what seemed like the entire neighborhood checking it out, taking photos and asking a million questions. Being a genuine off-roader, it sits high off the ground giving it the appearance of being a pretty big van even though it’s really pretty compact.
We were fortunate enough to have one of our What’s Up Downunder Ram trucks towing the Off-Grid so together – wow, a very impressive sight.
We took off Sunday to our first destination, Gundagai. Thankfully my partner-in-crime, who also happens to be my husband and Series Producer of What’s Up Downunder was pretty familiar with the hooking up and the checklists that one needs to run through before taking off. I left all that sort of stuff up to him.
I was more concerned with the comfort, convenience, and practicality of living in a van for close to a week.
It was freezing in Gundagai, 1 degree when we arrived but that was absolutely no problem for the Off-Grid as it is equipped with reverse cycle heating and cooling. And really, it only took 3 minutes to get the van to a comfortable temperature before we turned the heating off and that’s pretty much where the temp stayed for the rest of the evening. I can only imagine that means the insulation is excellent.
We did long days pulling this 3-tonne van, sometimes up to 10 hours but the consolation was knowing that every night we got to sleep in that comfortable bed, shower in that huge shower (the water pressure was better than at home I have to say), and on the odd night cook in that really practical, well-equipped kitchen with a four-burner stove-top, full oven and microwave – confession, I only ever used the microwave but I know I could have cooked up a storm if I wanted to.
I’m one who likes the comforts of home. Roughing it was never in my vocabulary and doesn’t need to be when living in the Lotus Off-Grid. The storage both inside and out is incredible. Our van (ok, not really ours but kind of, for a week at least) had triple bunks if we decided to take our daughter and she decided to bring a couple of friends (now wouldn’t that be fun).
Living in this van is easy. For the first 3 nights, we were in the colder climes, pretty much inside every evening taking advantage of the TV and the sound system. It was only when we hit north of Brisbane that we were able to appreciate the outdoor style of traveling in a caravan. Even then we could still take advantage of the TV and sound system as there is an external hatch for the TV and there are external speakers as well.
Let’s face it, when you travel in a caravan it’s usually because you love the outdoors so this van is designed for you to enjoy just that. There is a slide-out kitchen with a sink and BBQ and the awning is easy to set up and extends at least 3 meters from the van, giving plenty of shade in the late afternoon depending on the orientation of your van.
Once we hit the tropics the air-conditioner kicked in keeping us nice and cool on those balmy nights until we turned it off and opened up all – and there were plenty of them – windows and hatch to let the cool breeze in.
There’s no doubt you know you’re towing something when you have an Off-Grid behind you. As I mentioned, she’s a big van but we found (and by we, I mean Tom the driver) that it was stable on all sorts of roads – and trust me, our GPS took us off the beaten track on many an occasion.
For someone who was a little skeptical about doing this trip because a) I’d never traveled that far in such a short amount of time and b) because I’d never really traveled staying every night in a van, relying on that van for cooking, shelter, bathroom, laundry etc we couldn’t have done better.
I loved traveling in the Lotus Off-Grid. It was certainly a luxurious way to get from Melbourne to Cairns. And just quietly, we were the envy of several people we met on our journey. We left “our” Off-Grid in Cairns for the crew to take up to Cape York.
Oh and by the way, the Lotus Off-Grid performed perfectly in Tasmania too. I guess this is the genuine all-rounder.
Now you’ve heard what I have to say about the Off-Grid, take a look at what Macca thinks.