It’s time to live the good life. The age of retirement has finally arrived. You’ve worked a million-and-one hours and raised a couple of kids. Now, it’s time to explore Australia.
If you’re ready to visit our great and vast country but you’re worried about roughing it and leaving your luxuries at home, or perhaps like me, you want to take your pregnant girlfriend away for a weekend adventure, the Trakkaway 700 is the only way to go.
Trakka is a good old Aussie family business who cut their teeth with Volkswagen and Toyota Landcruiser pop-top conversions in the 1970s. Back then there weren’t too many companies doing conversions, so most of the work was done in-house; templates were made, designs experimented with and they were rewarded with excellent results. In my opinion, Trakka pioneered the conversion market in Australia.
Fast forward a few decades and the conversion market is on fire. However, the Trakkaway 700 keeps its competitors on their toes.
Its most popular coach built model, the Trakkaway 700, ticks all the boxes. It's not cheap at around $185,000 driveaway, but bear in mind, it's something you could feasible live in. Reasonably compact at seven metres, you can manoeuvre the Trakkaway 700 into most caravan parks, pulling up to prime camping spots all over the country. It is easy to drive on and off the freeway and with a little practice, parking is as easy as cake. Equipped with a compact 1.95-metre slide out bed, designed in-house, you’ll be glad to have a comfortable crash pad at the end of a long day exploring. The slide out design really opens up the internal space and is easily rolled out via a hand-held remote.
The version we tested on our weekend getaway to the Central Coast, north of Sydney, was the four-seater, large island bed version. If you prefer a two bed set-up, there is the option for a bed over the front cab as well. You can also elect for two singles in the rear instead of the island.
The Trakkaway 700 is built on the Fiat Ducato and galvanised AL-KO motorhome chassis which gets the rig moving nicely, if a little loudly at low speeds and on inclines. On the freeway, it is a dream and piles on the kilometres with ease. It’s also nice to see Fiat has finally added cup holders in the front centre console.
The Entrance is a coastal hamlet, just an hour north of Sydney, with lakeside caravan parks and plenty to see and do. The food is great and the fishing, even better. That was our dream destination for the weekend and just a mere hop from Sydney.
Getting there was easy, courtesy of the excellent 2.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel, hidden beneath the stout bonnet of the Ducato. It produces 130kW of power and 400Nm of torque. The vehicle is built on an AL-KO motorhome chassis and has a gross vehicle mass of 4490kg. Maximum payload is 900kg and maximum towing capacity is 1500kg.
Power is provided to the front wheels which sit on beefed up independent AL-KO outback comfort struts with coil springs. The rear sits on independent AL-KO torsion bar with level control. This gives the vehicle a solid feeling on the road, not that bouncy, wallowy feeling some vehicles like this tend to have. It is less ‘bus-like’ than you might expect. Steering is accurate with good feedback and is reasonably light. The driving position is also excellent with an upright position offering plenty of forward vision.
The gearbox is a six speed auto, which is reasonably adept at picking the right gear for the situation. I did find that switching to manual mode gave better results, particularly up steep hills, where power is quickly sapped due to the weight of the package. By switching across to manual mode, you can hold a gear and keep up momentum more effectively. Safety equipment includes dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability and traction control.
We stopped in at Long Jetty on our way to the Dunleith Tourist Park. I managed to find a relatively quiet street to park the Trakkaway 700, with an easy escape. One thing you do have to remember is to look out for street signs when parking parallel to the gutter. I say this because pulling out of a spot in a 7m vehicle means some of it will swing out as you turn and catching a street sign isn’t that uncommon. Thankfully, I didn’t.
Long Jetty is a small community on the banks of Tuggerah Lake. It has a mix of fashion stores and quaint cafes, with a hipster feel. In fact, the entire area was a surprise package and if you’ve been to Newtown in Sydney, you’ll recognise a little of it in Long Jetty. The breakfast options are excellent, but, the highlight for me was a large secondhand record store where I picked up a copy of The Doors', Morrison Hotel. A record player is about the only thing the Trakkaway 700 doesn’t come with, though.
Dunleith Tourist Park is situated on the northern side, near the entrance to Tuggerah Lake. From the park, you will look back across at the restaurants on the lake but don’t worry, they are only a 15-minute walk away. The sunsets here are spectacular and I recommend them highly. We cooked mostly, but a highlight on this side of the lake is the restaurant Cue and Crew, located a 30-second walk from the exit of the park. Here they do an excellent breakfast, but an even better dinner. Be sure to be quick though. There is a limited amount of food and they sell out in under an hour.
Arriving at any tourist park, in any vehicle, can cause plenty of stress. Reversing is often the catalyst in the unavoidable clashes that come with motorhome territory. On several occasions, I was colourfully notified the vehicle wasn’t straight, even though you would need a protractor to prove it. Thankfully, the Trakkaway 700 is equipped with a rear-view camera. The image is displayed on a little screen to the right of the dash. A great idea, once you get used it, showing you everything behind you, even when you are not in reverse.
Setting up can equally be a trying affair, but the ease of operation throughout this vehicle meant that I could go about opening it up while my trooper of a girlfriend relocated from the front seat to the large slide out bed in the rear.
Internally, light streams into the Trakka. Massive windows are positioned around the bed, next to the dinette and near the kitchen. These windows open right up so that you have uninterrupted outside views. It's an easy operation to unlatch the windows and pop them open as far as you would like. Each comes with an integrated flyscreen and privacy blind which can work in unison. You can have all flyscreen or all blind, or almost any combination of the two you prefer. Overhead at the front, over the bed and over the bathroom are hatches that aid airflow and add to the light airy feeling of the interior.
After the windows were deployed, I pressed the button on the front door step and another to open the electronically controlled awning that provides an excellent amount of overhead cover. I did not miss folding out poles and winding out the awning manually.
While ours was a short escape, anyone looking for something longer need not be concerned by storage. There are cupboard spaces, slide-out drawers, and little nooks to keep almost anything you desire out of the way and neatly stowed while underway. We simply placed our bags on the floor by the bed for the three days but any longer and I would still struggle to fill the storage spaces provided. In fact, even on the exterior of the vehicle is a cavernous storage compartment at the rear which held fold out chairs and the like.
Once you have settled on a secluded spot, all the conveniences are there. The Trakkaway 700 employs a convertible shower/toilet design, with the toilet sliding in under the bench to reveal a full length shower. The toilet is great with a reasonable holding tank, but you still have to engage the old thigh muscles when using it due to the angle. That aside, the shower is massive and room is freely available.
The kitchen bench top opposite the toilet is large for a vehicle of this size, offering an exceptional food prep area. The cooktop is a Webasto diesel powered unit which is easy to operate and does away with the need for a gas bottle. The internal hot water system is also diesel powered. We only used it once and aside from the 20 minutes warm up time, it provided an excellent wash. The 165-litre fresh water tank will last you a couple of days if you are frugal with water use.
We loved the outdoor area adjacent to the flyscreen-equipped front door. It consists of a 50-litre fridge, sink and storage drawer, which means that you could foreseeably spend the whole night outside. Courtesy of an external powerpoint, you can also cook on an electric hotplate placed on the detachable table alongside the motorhome. Outdoors is what it is all about, after all, and this well proven design would be a must have if I was to invest in a Trakkaway 700.
The on-board power is supplied by a bank of optional lithium batteries and 360W solar panels provide additional charge. Two solar panels are the standard offering, while ticking the Alfresco pack adds an extra plus the aforementioned outdoor area. The lithium batteries add $3900 to the price. They aren’t essential, so if you’re looking to save a few dollars, standard deep cycle batteries will do the job.
The decor throughout clearly has a light touch. There’s no in-your-face colours or materials here. It’s innocuous, but not in a boring way. We actually spent one night debating the colour scheme and decided there was almost nothing we would do differently. The single level floor is also a cinch to move around on and they have made getting from one area to another seamless.
The highlight for my girlfriend was undoubtedly the large island bed. Despite the rounded off edges, it was as comfortable (I am told) as our king bed at home. That’s a fair compliment from someone who has become a bit of a bed guru. We had recently toured Tasmania in a similar motorhome but the bed evaluation was not nearly as glowing. On that trip, she was demanding a hotel by the end, yet, on this trip, I am sure I heard her say at one point that she would be fine with a couple more days away.
And another few days would have been perfect. I have never enjoyed a motorhome as much as the Trakkaway 700. It is the perfect size, straightforward to drive and easy to park. With too many extras to mention, I didn’t even cover off the movable television and 12V fan near the bed.
At seven metres, the Trakkaway 700 is on the cusp of being a little long for some caravan parks. Dunleith Tourist Park, for example, is unable to accommodate anything larger than the Trakkaway 700 on premium sites. It is perfect for a couple looking at short getaways or long-term touring adventures, but wanting to keep some of the luxuries they have become accustomed to. Put simply, no one does this end of the market better than Trakka.