Pat Callinan hooks up the luxurious Track Topaz
In about 10 years (when I hit 50), the Track Topaz is supposed to be my kind of caravan. Problem is, I want one now. This hybrid crossover between a caravan and a camper trailer sits in a no-man’s land of the market. It is neither full caravan (it’s a pop-top), nor is it a genuine camper trailer (hey, it has a loo inside). So I guess you could call it an extreme luxury hybrid, with its $80K-plus price tag.
The Topaz is manufactured by Track Trailer in Melbourne. With more awards than a kindergarten class, Track Trailer is one of the most highly regarded manufacturers of camper trailers in the world. Its MC2 suspension (derivatives of which are found on all of its campers) was born in military applications. Proof of its effectiveness is the fact that a number of other companies have attempted to copy the system. And this is just one example of the engineering that has gone into the Topaz. The completely stress-tested chassis is another. As are the compression locks on all doors and hatches (to keep the dust out).
In fact, to truly look at the Track Topaz, you’ll need to look much further than this article. I’m restricted to around 1,000 words here – but to explain this product adequately, I think I would need around 50,000 words. The pictures only tell you half the story. It’s the engineering and ideas that have been built into the product that are the real gems. The Topaz is essentially built for two, with its large bed able to be run in an east-west or north-south configuration. The pop-top is able to be set up in seconds, giving you plenty of height and plenty of ventilation. The windows in the van are unique to Track – being a sliding design that is dustproof.
But if the elements aren’t behaving, you can control the temperature with your option of reverse-cycle air-con or a highly efficient diesel heater. On the Savannah diesel model, you can even have a diesel cooktop. As you would expect, the kitchen is dressed with top-class finishes, from the Italian leather seating to the double-locked cabinetry (Track doesn’t trust just magnetic locks over rough roads). This high-end camper trailer is compact and comfortable, with the added benefit of being quite trendy. There is even a pull-out portaloo you can use if the weather is inclement.
But in my eyes, it’s the exterior features of the Topaz that really shine. The ensuite pod pops up with the help of gas struts in a matter of seconds, to reveal a large additional wet room. This ingenious design allows you to have a hot shower in privacy, and benefits from a padded self-draining floor. And that portaloo I mentioned earlier can be easily transferred to the ensuite, to bring your toilet outside. It’s a superb answer to a difficult question when caravanning. Do I want to steam up the caravan, and be restricted to a small pokey corner; or can I indeed have my comfortable ensuite in a package that sits a mere 15cm or so off the back of the van?
Another nod to outdoor living comes with the well-thought-out outdoor kitchen. It features a roll-out barbecue, with fold-out bench space on either side. Again, it’s those design details that turn the concept from good into great. The kitchen features an integrated bottle opener and paper towel rail – small things in their own right, but practical on the road. A slide-out fridge is also an option, and an awning and shade sail over the lot is also available.
There’s masses of storage underneath the living area as well as in the nose of the Topaz. You can even configure it to have bike racks fitted for those quick runs into town (in this case, town being Innamincka!). I’ve towed the Topaz into some pretty great places, like the Flinders Ranges and the Victorian High Country… and this is really where it comes into its own. As Track has an off-road heritage, the company has built this van from the ground up to be an off-road caravan.
The suspension features twin shock absorbers to control the springs and smooth out the rides, and the galvanised chassis will still be running around rust-free in 20 years. The plumbing and water tank are well tucked, and the back corner has a meaty protection bar should you run out of departure angle. A self-centering DO35 hitch connects the van to the 4X4. The Topaz sits at a shade under two tonnes out of the factory, and in my opinion it could be comfortably towed by dual-cab 4X4s or mid to large wagons. It is no doubt an expensive unit, but if you’re going to be living in it for extended periods and want the option to explore Australia’s many dirt tracks, it makes a superb choice.
Many buyers are lucky these days to have the option of redrawing on their home loans – such is the state of real estate prices in Melbourne and Sydney. Now, where was the number of my bank manager?