We had been on the camper trailer hunt for a few years, visiting shows and checking out all the campers, reading reviews, talking to owners and checking out EBay and Gumtree. It was something we had always wanted to upgrade to ‘some day’. Having looked at so many different campers we learned what we did and didn’t like and what we did and didn’t need. We wanted something that suited us and our style of travelling. Sure there are plenty of trailers on the market that are really inexpensive compared to what we paid, and they are great for a lot of families, but they just wouldn’t cut it with the type of travel we do. There are plenty more expensive than ours too and some of the features are amazing, BUT we needed to keep in mind that we were upgrading from a tent so anything was a little bit of luxury for us, we didn’t need to go over the top!
So what did we want? We both agreed that we definitely wanted a hard floor camper. It had to be quick and easy to set up and pack down. We were upgrading from a Black Wolf tent which took us 30 min to have our campsite fully set up (including unpacking the car, putting up the tent, bedding, gazebo, kitchen etc.), so didn’t want to be fussing around with set up and erecting poles and ropes. It needed to be lightweight to help with ease of towing and fuel economy and lastly and most importantly, it needed to be a proper full off-road trailer that could follow us anywhere we went, it needed to be able to handle our extreme outback conditions.
Camping on the Tanami Track, NT/WA
Cub Campers have been around since 1968 and, in our opinion that says something. There’s no denying that Cub Campers are one of the most trusted names in the camper trailer world, they’ve been doing it for a long time and they seem to be getting it right! The one thing we really liked about Cub, compared to some of the other trailers on the market, was that they are fully made in Australia from start to finish, and made with all Australian canvas and BlueScope steel. The fact that they are an Australian owned company, using Australian made products means that we had more of a guarantee that the end product would survive our harsh outback conditions.
So earlier this year after looking around for years, we decided to go and visit the Cub Campers showroom at North Rocks. We had always seemed to come back to the Cub and decided to go and check them out and have a serious chat with them. This showroom is impressive, all their campers are on display for you to check out and right behind the showroom is their factory where everything is built. We spent quite a while there that day comparing the two models we were interested in, the Daintree and Brumby, and talking to the sales rep. We left the showroom that day very impressed with what we had seen.
Camping on the Oodnadatta Track, SA
We then had some big decisions to make, 1) did we want to buy one now to take on our 2 month trip to Western Australia and 2) could we afford it! After a week or so of thinking about it and checking the finances, we decided to bite the bullet and go for it! We paid our deposit and ordered our new Cub Kamparoo Brumby to be built.
As the weeks and months went by we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new camper, and at times wondered if we would even have it in time for our holiday, but the day finally arrived and we booked in for our handover. When you pick up your new Cub you have a full run through on how everything works. You are shown how to set up and pack away your camper, you are shown every little nook and cranny and how everything opens, closes, clips or zips together, you are handed a bunch of keys and instruction manuals (which yes, we did refer back to this the first few times!) and you leave the showroom totally overwhelmed with all your new information!
So that weekend was spent playing with the new camper, seasoning the canvas, packing it full of everything we’d need for our 2 month adventure and taking it for a drive to practice our trailer reverse parking! There was no time for anything else, we’d cut it very fine with time and this meant that we picked it up on the Friday and the next Friday we left for our 2 month adventure from Sydney to Western Australia.
There was no easing into things for the trailer, it was thrown straight into our style of touring! Within 4 days we had hit the Tanami Track, a remote off-road short cut between Alice Springs in the NT and Halls Creek in WA. It’s unbelievably corrugated with lots of bull dust and rocks, which makes for a fun time when you encounter the road trains! This is unfortunately where we encountered our first problem, we lost the trailer brakes, which made for an interesting few hours’ drive into Halls Creek. As soon as we arrived in town and got some phone reception we called Cub back in Sydney to see what could be wrong. They instructed us to look under the camper and see if these particular wires were still intact …. well no they weren’t, they had been cut in half by stray rocks! Cub were great though, as it was obviously still under warranty, they rang us back within 5 minutes with approval to get this fixed wherever we could, send them the bill and they’d reimburse us within 5 days. Couldn’t ask for better service than that. We found a great auto electrician in Halls Creek who dropped everything to fix it for us on the spot, they soldered the wires back together and we were on our way. We did end up having the same issue again during our last week, this time on the Oodnadatta Track! Luckily George was able to fix it this time to enable us to get home .
So here are our comments on the Cub Brumby
Towing – As mentioned earlier, a very important issue for us was weight, we’ve already added weight to the 4WD with a bullbar, side steps, roof basket, drawers, Kaymar rear bar, plus the full roll cage inside, add to this all of our luggage and us and we’ve significantly increased the weight of the vehicle from factory standard. Of course, this all has a significant effect on fuel economy, so we wanted a relatively lightweight camper trailer as well. Weighing only 955kg this camper suited us and our needs.
It happily sat behind the Prado and just followed along, it just loved the dirt tracks, corrugations, water crossings, you barely even knew it was there! Being a full off-road model it was built for our outback tracks and we certainly tested it!
Setup – The hassle free set-up is exactly what we wanted. The Brumby comes standard with the ‘silent winch’ (ha, when this gets dusty, it’s far from silent, I’d hate to see what a non silent one sounds like!). But in saying that, the winch system is very easy to use. Cub even mark the point to which you should unwind the winch to when setting up, so you don’t even have to think about it. Once you reach this point you simply start to lift up the hard floor and the gas struts will kick in to help you. From there it’s a very quick and simple process to complete the set up.
Camping on the Great Central Road, NT
Now when it comes to the awning, we can’t really comment. When it was set up during our handover process it didn’t look too hard, but it would definitely add a bit of time onto the set up process. We decided that we didn’t need it and didn’t even take it away on our trip so can’t really comment. We will say though that it’s great that you can leave it zipped onto the camper and just throw it over the roof even if you aren’t using it. The camper still packs up fine with it on. Although we didn’t take it with us or use it, that seems like a great idea and so much easier than having to zip it on and off each time.
Inside – OK, so this is where we had some of those luxury items we’d never had before! Inside the camper is a deep-cycle battery which gives power to two internal 12V outlets (and also 3 external 12V outlets) and 2 x USB chargers (great for the phones and IPads etc). There are also 2 double power points inside the camper, which work when you are plugged into 240V mains power. Another thing we loved was the LED light that velcros onto the overhead bar.
The blinds that protect the fly screen windows are a great idea as they all zip open from the inside, meaning that it’s so easy to open and close as you feel fit and so much easier than running outside to close windows in the rain! As they all open via zipper it’s easy to open up fully or just a little as an air vent. Make sure you keep a window open a bit at night to avoid condensation.
The room on the floor is quite large considering it’s a fairly small trailer. It would certainly fit a stretcher bed or two for the kids or a small table and chairs if you need to get in out from the weather – or a dogs bed or two when we take the pups away!
Bedding – The double bed has a pocket spring mattress and the base lifts with the assistance of gas struts. We did buy a memory foam mattress from Clark Rubber to put over the top of the standard mattress to give a little more comfort. The camper still closes fine with this extra topper, plus the linen and doona and pillows.
Kitchen – Cooking for us while we are camping is no different to cooking at home, we certainly don’t live on baked beans and tin spaghetti! So room to cook and keep all our utensils was important. The kitchen is a full stainless steel slide-out unit with lots of storage compartments. Three pull out drawers to keep cutlery and utensils and plates/frypans/chopping boards etc. You then have two other areas where we keep pantry items, herbs and spices, cling wrap, matches, candles, washing up equipment etc. The bench space is adequate for us, but there is a handy little shelf you can clip on as well, which we haven’t needed to use yet. This comes standard and just slides in under the kitchen to store it out of the way when not in use.
Then there is the stainless steel sink, nice and big and with running cold (hot is an option) water which is plumbed into an electric pump that draws water directly from the 80 litre water tank, something we’ve never had before! There is also a two-burner gas cooktop with wind shield if needed. But one of my favourite things is the LED adjustable light that comes standard and just clips into the socket on the benchtop, how handy is that!
The kitchen is easily accessible at all times, so great for roadside stops if you just want some lunch or a coffee.
Storage – Of course storage is important, but to us it was another luxury as generally everything had to be squeezed into the car. Does this mean that this time we just took double the amount as normal? No, we were good and Shelly did cut down on what we took, even though it was exciting having all this spare room! More room for presents and souvenirs to bring home!
There is a storage pipe that comes standard to keep all the tent poles in – or fishing rods. Storage up front for two jerry cans and two gas bottles and behind that a big checker plate storage box with cupboards on both sides, one with a fridge slide.
The under bed storage is great, plenty of room under there for anything you don’t need to often or things you only require at night or when the camper is open. The only bad thing is that you can only access this storage area when the camper is fully open, so keep that in mind when you start storing things under there!
The Other Stuff – The BlueScope Steel galvanised chassis is tough and more than capable of carrying the trailer over rough terrain. Combine this with the independent suspension and you have a trailer that will happily follow you anywhere.
George’s favourite thing about the camper was the Redarc Battery Management System which charges and maintains our battery by taking in all the power received via AC, DC or Solar and working out the best way to charge the battery to its optimal level. It also allows us to monitor our power usage and see how much longer the battery will power us for and how much is being drawn in or out of the camper.
The roof rack comes standard and this is handy, we used it to carry our camping chairs and could even open the camper up with these still connected if we only had a brief stopover.
The Brumby comes standard with electric brakes. Our only complaint in relation to this would be that there should be some sort of bash plate or stone guard over the wires to stop the issues like what we had. It’s an off-road model so this extra precaution would help.
We provided our own wheels and tyres to Cub so that they matched our Prado, making it easier when carrying spares.
As for dust, we only had a little getting into one of the openings and Cub replaced the seal for us under warranty while it was in for it’s first service. Other than that we were happy with how everything sealed up. We did encouter some strong winds and rain and the camper was fine with no leaks. When we pack up we always cover the bed with a tarp just to make sure our bedding doesn’t get wet if we need to pack up without letting the tent fully dry – also stops any dust/dirt/sand from the floor ending up on your bed!
We took our 1 week old Brumby on the ultimate test, travelling 17,290 km from Sydney to Western Australia and back, travelling through some very remote areas. Over a total of 8 weeks we travelled the Tanami Track, Gibb River Road, Great Central Road, Oodnadatta Track, through national parks and down the coast of Western Australia. We dragged the little Brumby through water crossings, over thousands of corrugations, through sand and mud and up and down mountains and you know what, it just followed behind and barely moved! It absolutely loved it and was clearly made to do this. For our first time owning or towing a camper trailer we couldn’t have been happier, there was not a single place that it struggled. We love our new member of the family and can’t wait to get back out there and start exploring more.