By Greg Williams
Like all siblings, Roadstar’s Dreamtime and Daintree caravans can be very hard to tell apart – so the best way to know which is which is to dress them differently.
The livery on the Daintree is made from photos of the Daintree region of far Nth Qld, and the Dreamtime was named to commemorate the Year of the Outback, and comes with X-ray art motifs. If you don’t want those, then you can also opt for the different exterior look, and the name Dreamtime Cruiser.
While the vans look similar from the outside, the concepts behind them are very different, although some of the interior layouts are alike and can even be interchangeable.
If you look closely, you will notice some exterior differences – the rake of the Daintree’s roof is more gradual at the front, and the Daintree has a single arch for both wheels while the Dreamtime has two. There are other differences too, but these can vary according to the individual layouts.
According to Roadstar’s marketing manager Fernando Viapiana, the Dreamtime models “offer quality and style on a budget”, while the Daintree “is designed for people who want to customise the vans to their liking – people who may have already had a few vans and know what they want”.
The Dreamtime is more your family van, made obvious by the 23ft 6in (7.14m) model CW reviewed, which has a triple bunk at the front.
The 20ft (6m) Daintree we looked at, with an island bed and bathroom at the front, is primarily aimed at couples.
Both come in single or tandem axles and in a wide range of standard sizes to around 7.14m (23ft 6in), but you can go bigger by adding a third axle.
The chassis, A-frame and rear bumpers are made of boxed steel Supagal, and the 14in wheels are attached to the chassis via beam axles and leaf springs. The exterior walls are aluminium.
Testing the twins
Let’s look at the big family Dreamtime first. The door on this van is at the front, with the kitchen in the middle and the separate shower and toilet opposite the three bunk beds.
Having a separate shower and toilet is a good idea for a family van, and there is a cupboard and overhead locker between the bunks and the toilet. In the kitchen the fridge is a three-way 100L Dometic, and while the bench space around the sink and the four-burner Swift cooktop isn’t huge, the dinette table is right behind you if you need extra room.
What would be the children’s bedroom is located up front next to the kitchen, and the main bedroom, which is situated at the rear, has an island double bed. The kitchen is a beauty, with everything right where you need it and with a fridge, stove and oven big enough for family meals.
Where space could be tight is with the seating arrangements around the dinette – for a caravan with sleeping arrangements for five, seating everyone might be a squash.
The four-burner Swift cooktop has a glass flip-up cover that doubles as extra workspace when you’re not cooking, and, while the pull-out pantry is standard on front and rear kitchen models, the Dreamtime with its centre kitchen has more than enough storage space for pots, pans and provisions.
There was no TV set in either the Dreamtime or the Daintree CW looked at, but there is a coaxial plug above the benchtop in the kitchen next to the fridge, and this would be the obvious place to mount an LCD screen – it would be visible from most points in the van, even from the bunk beds.
Under the benchtop is a stainless steel NEC microwave. Above the kitchen is a rangehood and five overhead lockers, with doors in curved timber and held in place by metal spring struts.
There are another five of these overhead lockers on the opposite wall above the dinette, and four more above the double bed at the rear of the van. Their natural timber finish blends perfectly with the earth-toned fabrics used in the Dreamtime.
But apart from looking good and adding some elegant curves in what is a very modular layout, they provide heaps of storage space without getting in the way or making the interior feel crowded.
A nice touch here is that the overhead lockers are also compartmentalised, which means that there’s less chance of things moving around on the road, and the space is more user-friendly.
The island bed at the rear of the Dreamtime leaves plenty of space on either side for access and there is a wardrobe on both sides (one side gets full hanging length while the other has a concealed drawer) and storage underneath – just lift it up on the gas struts.
Adding to the feeling of space are the windows – large, almost square wind-out Galaxy windows on both sides and behind the bed, as well as around the rest of the van.
And if that’s not enough light, there’s a skylight above the bed. The door is a Camec tri-lock with security grille.
At the other end of the van where the bunk beds are located, the three beds share two narrow windows, however there is a skylight and plenty of light streams in through the toilet and shower (if you leave the door open), both of which also have skylights.
There is an additional skylight above the kitchen/dinette, and the air-conditioner is in the ceiling just behind it.
Lighting is 12V fluorescent along with some halogen lamps – such as above the bed for reading – and there are powerpoints in the kitchen, bedroom and outside just above the wheels.
There aren’t that many true family caravans out there, and because the Dreamtime is a batch build, costs are kept low and within many family budgets.
Roadstar must have done a lot of head scratching about how to fit a family of five into a caravan this size, and they’ve come up with a brilliant design considering it has a separate shower and toilet.
Seating around the dinette could be a problem but with a full-length awning outside, most families would invariably dine al fresco anyway.
Now that we’ve seen the Dreamtime, let’s take a look at the Daintree and see what happens when you take the related exterior and design the interior for
Built for two
Like its twin, our test Daintree has an earthy feeling inside, thanks to the rich but subdued colours of the fabrics used.
But where the Dreamtime is outback themed, the Daintree is based on far Nth Qld. There are some similarities, such as the number of skylights and the positioning of the Dometic air-conditioner, but that’s about all.
For a start the Daintree has its door and kitchen at the back, with the lounge/dinette in the middle and the bedroom at the front.
In our Daintree the shower and toilet, which are also separate, are fitted in the front corners either side of a mirrored wardrobe. The east-west island bed is the same size as the one in the Dreamtime, and also lifts up to reveal a storage area.
The overhead lockers in the bedroom, as in the rest of the caravan, don’t have the curves of the Dreamtime. They are angled to complement the design of the shower, toilet and wardrobe doors.
The kitchen has similar appliances to the Dreamtime, but is positioned at the rear and has a little more space. The microwave is on a shelf above the benchtops, which are huge.
The top of the 100L Dometic fridge provides extra space when working in the kitchen, and there is a wastebasket built into the benchtop next to the sink.
Next to the stove is a slide-out stainless steel pantry. If this was a piece of real estate it would be called a gourmet kitchen.
Lighting here is the same as in the Dreamtime, a combination of fluorescent and halogen, with an extra halogen reading light above one of the lounge chairs.
Outside, both caravans have full-length awnings and boots across the front. The smaller vans have 9kg gas cylinders, but the ensuite models have two 9kg gas cylinders.
Similarly, the smaller vans have one 60L water tank, but the ensuite models have two 60L tanks.
They both have jacking points on both sides, quick release drop down stabiliser legs, an 8in jockey wheel and a spare wheel mounted on the rear bumper. Electric brakes are standard.
The Bottom Line
What really stands out in both of these caravans, essentially with the same base and body, is the quality and warmth of the interiors.
The upholstery and fabrics are plush, comfortable and perfectly suit the intended use of each caravan.
The Dreamtime is a triumph of interior design aimed at maximising space for a family, while the Daintree makes optimum use of the same space for a different purpose – the choice
really comes down to what your preferences are.
While the Dreamtime is a batch build, there are almost a dozen layout options available in different sizes and number of berths.
Beyond that Roadstar will customise one for you.
The Daintree is more open to custom alterations but both have many options, starting with the chassis, which can be raised or have a different suspension added – then take it from there.
Roadstar’s headquarters are at 260 Hume Highway, Somerton, Vic 3062,
(03) 9305 5633. Visit www.roadstar.com.au for dealer information.
• Tardis-like layout of the Dreamtime
• Light and space of the Daintree
• Cupboards on the Dreamtime
• Interior decor and colours of both
We would have liked:
• Time for a family holiday to enjoy
|External length: 23ft 6in (7.14m)/20ft (6m)|
|Width: 7ft 7in (2.35m)|
|Tare weight: 2271kg/2182kg|
|Wheels: 14in white alloys|
|Suspension: Tandem leaf springs|
|Lighting: 12V fluorescent/halogen|
|Stove: Swift four-burner oven/grill|
|Fridge: Dometic RM2553 100L|
|Toilet: Thetford cassette|
|Gas: 2 x 9kg|
|Water tanks: 2 x 60L|
|Water heater: Suburban 22.6L |