Elite is trying to break new ground with design and aims for very high standards. At the moment you can get your Elite caravans from the Caravan Super Centre (CSC) in Melbourne, also at Down Under RVs in WA, and Lifestyle RVs in Queensland.
As well as selling RVs, The Caravan Super Centre in Melbourne sells boating and fishing equipment in addition to the usual caravan gear. The CSC team do their own extensive quality assurance on each van before it is sold.
I towed the Elite Goulburn, a sprightly 17ft 6in single-axle van. I used a brand-new LandCruiser for the job, which was massive overkill, (those things hammer! Not that I hammered yours, guys!) Still, one must soldier on.
The Elite Goulburn is small, cute and you almost want to cuddle it. It's a single-axle van on a svelte 4in chassis. The single gas cylinder up front creates an asymmetry like a baby's toothy grin.
The chassis is built by Nationwide, and the company's aim was to build something that's a step up on G&S.
The aluminium cladding is far from being as smooth as a baby's bottom. It's dimpled, which reportedly stands up to hail very well and will resist scratches and bumps more ably than the smooth sided equivalent. I wonder if the dimpled walls improve aerodynamics in the same way that dimples on a golf ball do?
The front boot is gone in favour of a tunnel boot, and this means there is more space for inside. A drop-down picnic table is provided to rest your drinks with umbrellas in them while you listen to the music over the external speakers. The speakers are set quite high, however, and I think would work better at your ear level when seated.
Peering underneath I could see that everything was in order.
This is a van built for the easygoing tourer who prefers to avoid unsealed roads. I wouldn't be at all worried about the occasional series of ruts, rocks and gravel, but with a 4in chassis, standard leaf suspension, vulnerable plastic pipes underneath and standard clearance, I wouldn't push my luck when off the tar.
With just an external 17ft to play with, you're going to have to miss out on something inside. Will it be the ensuite? Full-size dinette? Kitchen?
How about missing out on nothing? I want my cake, and dammit if I'm not going to eat it, then lick the plate, belch, and get me a second slice of cake. That's right, this tiny but mighty van has everything fitted, including a full ensuite with separate shower and toilet.
And it's pretty! The ensuite demonstrates this admirably with its floating sink, stainless steel splashback, huge mirror and LED strip lighting. There are also enough cupboards for your toiletries and linen. When you open the shower door, you do have to be careful not to bang it against the bench top (nothing a door stop couldn't fix). And is the shower cubicle a single piece of moulded fibreglass, as it should be? Yes it is.
The cabinetry and furniture is built in the traditional way with ply and timber veneer. I have to say that so far this is the best finish I've found on cabinets built this way (there are better finished cabinets out there, but they are built more like modern household furniture and are heavier).
For a van of this size, the amount of storage meets expectations. You'll fit in everything you need, but might encounter some Tetris-like challenges fitting in items such as toaster ovens and electric woks.
The kitchen is fantastic. It has everything: a four-burner stovetop, grill, full oven, microwave, big 164L fridge, and full height stainless steel splashbacks. However, when performing feats of cuisine, you will probably have to use the table as extra bench space. Also, I'd suggest swinging the TV into the bedroom if you're using the kitchen and making a mess.
Adding to the van's appeal is the LED lighting throughout and thoughtful reading lamps. I love the lamps in the bedroom, which are on flexible arms so you can position them just so (but mind the hot end). As befits a modern van, there are no pelmets or curtains, just tinted windows with built-in flyscreens and privacy screens.
Of course, a few concessions had to be made in order to provide a small van with the lot. The space around the bed had to be sacrificed and I imagine would be awkward for those with less mobility. The dinette is a little squeezier than in a bigger van, or one without a full ensuite, and the kitchen bench disappears if you cook and use the sink at the same time. But, hey, when you're having and eating your cake, you shouldn't really complain about the cutlery!
This van is a great concept, and if it matches your ideal concept then don't hesitate. It's perfect for cruising the highways of Australia with a small footprint but without having to do without. I think the Caravan Super Centre should start selling these with a big ol' cake – so you can have it and eat it too!
MAKE AND MODEL: Elite Goulburn
CHASSIS NUMBER: ECI0030
EXTERNAL BODY LENGTH: 17ft 6in
EXTERNAL WIDTH INCLUDING AWNING: 8ft
VIN TARE WEIGHT: 1700
VIN GTM: 1840
VIN ATM: 2000
BALL WEIGHT: 160 PRICE (AS TESTED): $54,990 (Correct at time of review)
CONTACT PERSON: Michael Smith
COMPANY NAME: Caravan Super Centre
ADDRESS: 1872-1874 Hume Hwy, Campbellfield VIC 3061
PHONE: 1300 104 090
FAX: (03) 9357 9841
THANKS TO: Apollo Gardens Caravan Park for providing the photo shoot location:
TOLL FREE: 1800 886 352
ADDRESS: 284–290 Hume Highway Craigieburn VIC 3064
PHONE: (03) 9305 5656
Please note that current prices may vary from this review. Please confirm with the manufacturer.
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY SEAN CUMMINS