Jayco Swan

Room for the family

“It’s got bags of room for my son and me to spread out”.

Wilbur Wilde is a name familiar to most of us and he was listing the benefits of the Jayco Swan as part of his promotional role with Jayco. We were in the shadow of a big red sandhill, 30km west of Birdsville during a break in the Big Red Bash, where Wilbur was the MC.

And he is right; the Jayco Swan is a deceptively roomy camper. With the bed ends folded out the interior rivals the space in many full sized caravans, but it packs down easily into a compact trailer.

Our journey to Birdsville began as a convoy of On The Road staff in Melbourne and Deputy Editor, Sue Wyeth, towed the Swan for the 5000km return journey behind an Isuzu M-UX. It was her first major trip driving solo and her introduction to long expanses of dirt roads. Initially admitting some nervousness about hitting the corrugations, by the time we reached Birdsville Sue was settled right in and was looking forward to the trip home, which included more dirt along the Darling between Bourke and Wilcannia.

Conditions for our travels were made for the Swan. Jayco make no pretentions about their Outback range being all-conquering offroad campers. Indeed they specifically rule out four wheel drive only tracks and deep creek crossings. Quoting from Jayco’s brochure it is very clear;Our Outback RVs are not designed for hard impact, heavy landings, severely rutted roads, or tracks.”

Our Swan is the second largest from a range of seven campers all with an Outback option that adds strength and extra ground clearance. Improvements with the Outback include Jayco’s own JTECH independent suspension, a 100ah battery, AL-KO offroad brakes, checkerplate side protection, 15” alloy wheels, stronger 125mmx50mm chassis members and a jerry can holder.

Sue reported the camper was hardly noticeable behind the powerful Isuzu on the highway although, like for most people, she found towing through the busy Melbourne motorway traffic was at first a little nerve wracking. I can go along with that.

Because a camper was the first project of the fledgling Jayco company back in 1975, it stands to reason that the 40 intervening years have taught them a thing or two about how to build a successful product. With over 170,000 various RVs now sold into markets around the world, Jayco is one of Australia’s manufacturing triumphs and they hold the lion’s share of caravan and camper sales locally.

Part of the success is their very competitive pricing, but also includes a 29 strong dealership across the country, 3-year roadside assistance that reduces costs associated with breakdowns, comprehensive 12-month warranty and high resale value.

With a staff of over 1000 and a progressive research and development team, many of the components and manufacturing processes going into Jayco products have been established in-house. For example their Endurance camper chassis is a mix of 150x50mm hollow tube and C-section steel that has been engineered for strength while maintaining minimum weight. Once welded together the complete chassis is then hot dipped to ensure long service.

One of the benefits of the C-sections underneath is the way hoses and wiring can be tucked neatly out of the way. Adding to the well-presented nether section, the 82L water tank is also mounted so as to avoid damage.

The independent trailing arm suspension on the Outback version of the Swan combines Pedders heavy-duty coil springs and off-road shock absorbers with Aeon rubber springs inside the coils for improved compression damping.

It certainly works, because in all our travels the camper tracked perfectly and at no stage over any of the corrugated roads was there any sign of damage or evidence that drawers had sprung open – always a worrying prospect when the road turns rough.

In keeping with the more rugged theme the body of these campers is strongly built on what Jayco call their Quad Layer Maxiframe – a 42mm aluminium square tube frame with an exterior cladding of ply and dent resistant fibreglass. Inside walls have a ply sheet finished in a stain resistant covering.

It cuts a fine figure driving along and at around 5.5m long and less than 2m high it’s compact, while the glossy smooth fibreglass exterior completes a modern and neatly finished design.

The jerry can holder rests on the A-frame and the 9kg gas bottle is stored in a separate space in the front boot, which is also home to the 100ah battery charged through the vehicle and an optional 150w solar panel on the roof.

Setting up the Swan is simplicity itself and easily done by one person. Within 10 minutes of stopping to set up camp it was ready for occupation for the night. Set the corner steadies, unlatch the sides and wind away on the inbuilt winch until the roof is raised, pull out the bed ends, set the supports and fly ends and assemble the entry door, the top section of which folds and clips to the ceiling.

Inside there are loads of room and views all round when the clear windows or the fly screens are chosen. Block out curtains close things in for privacy though. Ventilation is also as much or as little as you desire, and even with the windows zippered closed roof hatches allow a flow of air. There’s a choice of colours when you order the van and with options for furniture, Laminex, seat covering, floor and curtains you can personalize things to your liking.

Placing the large double beds outside the body of the camper leaves the interior as an uncluttered living space and gives the camper a roomy open feel.

Entry is via a fold out step that is needed to allow for the Outback’s extra height. Turn left to the main bed, which is a few centimetres wider than the rear version. Even for couples the extra bed at the back makes sense as a useful storage area when camping.

The kitchen runs along the driver side with storage and dining options kerbside and a full-width lounge butting up to the front bed. A 93L three-way Thetford fridge sits under the long bench that has room for a decent size sink and draining board. Further towards the back there’s a Smev stove with 4-burner cooktop as well as a grill and oven and a compact microwave below.

For additional storage space a pantry folds up from the floor but has to be returned to its flat position when the roof is lowered for travelling. While not ideal as a permanent arrangement, it’s useful when set up for a few days to keep things neat.

The lid of the stove folds down when not in use so along with more bench space further back there is a good amount of preparation area and useful storage options in drawers and cupboards below.

A U-shaped dining table takes up most of the kerbside and with room for five adults it will be a popular venue for eating or relaxing inside. Fold it down and you have another double bed, so including the forward lounge up to 7 people could be accommodated overnight.

Despite what Jayco says about the Swan Outback being only suited to rougher roads, rather than full outback touring, there are examples of the camper that have crossed the Simpson and other notable tracks. That’s not to say we recommend this and if you have trouble you will probably void any warranty, but as we found on our Birdsville adventure the camper is solidly constructed and handled everything we threw at it without complaint.

One of the benefits of ownership is the 100 strong Jayco service network for any warranty issues and there’s also the added bonus of a good resale value for this sought after brand.

Selling from $28,723 the Swan Outback is good buying and with over 100 dealers across the country you won’t have trouble finding one. Our test camper came with options including a radio, solar panel and roof racks that boosted the price to a still reasonable $30,920 ex Melbourne.

Our two weeks on the road endeared us to the Swan for its ease of use and compact design when driving. It was easy to maneuver into tight camp sites and its airy open feel added to the experience of enjoying the outback.


Manufacturer: Jayco

Model: Swan Outback

Overall length: 5.58m

Body length: 4.34m

Open length: 6.50m

Width: 2.24m

Interior height: 2.07m

Travel height: 1.91m

Tare weight: 1275kg

ATM: 1666kg

Ball weight: 109kg

Price from: $28,723 (ex Melbourne)

Options fitted: Bag flys, Roof racks, Solar 150w, Ext TV socket, Control Panel, Fusion Stereo & external speakers

Price as reviewed: $30,920

Find Out More

Jayco Caravans

1 Jayco Dr. Dandenong Vic 3175

Ph: 03 8792 2000


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