Pointing the way
Acknowledged as one of our most innovative manufacturers, Goldstream RV in Melbourne’s east has grown into an industry leader and one of the bigger players in the local caravan market. Since they commenced building camper trailers 25 years ago, the three partners have strived to incorporate contemporary themes and well-engineered construction into their colossal range of campers, poptops and caravans.
This latest offering shows the depth of the range. The Compass 1500 remote series fills a gap in their poptop category covering single and twin-axle models between 12’ and 18’6”. Based on a standard Remote Package, the Compass is actually a top of the line 1500 Panther model upgraded with an outside kitchen. Confused yet? I was at first, but the thing is Goldstream RV will happily configure a package to your needs from the already huge standard offering. Add in unique options on our review rig including twin spare wheels, 164L fridge, monster toolbox, external shower and a grey water tank and this little Compass is a very special off-roader.
You could be forgiven for thinking we are stretching things by calling it an off-roader, but I hope to convince you otherwise. For my money, a compact poptop makes perfect sense for remote area travel because its low profile, light-weight and single-axle towability are hard to beat. I’ll probably get into plenty of arguments for saying so, but I reckon it’s also probably a safer option for long stretches on the blacktop, especially if you have a lead foot in a twincab. Do the maths. 2500kg is generally going to be easier to tow and stop than a 3500kg rig, provided you have sensible weight distribution and design. It’s a given that, for an offroader, the construction needs to be robust as well, so both the meranti frame and heavy-duty chassis are well-engineered to cope with rough treatment. Without getting too deep into the timber vs alloy frame argument, the build quality and weather sealing of the Goldstream product is high quality, and wood has the advantage of light weight and organic strength and flexibility to cope with rough conditions.
Of course, there are downsides to a smaller van. Carrying capacity is limited, interior comfort and movement are compromised, bathrooms are somewhat cramped, and you could feel like you should take up the cheap seats in the caravan park. Bling is the thing at the moment, and I can see the attraction of a huge shower and an oven big enough for a family feast, but stuck in half a metre of mud 150k from anywhere might convince you that lighter is righter. Enough preaching, let’s have a look at the Compass.
Goldstream was an early adaptor of the flat glossy composite exterior panel, and it looks great, especially against black checkerplate lower down, and the rugged look of brutish twin spares and a purposeful high-riding profile. Based on a sturdy 150x50mm chassis with 50mm risers, the poptop rides on 265×70 off-road tyres, on 16” black alloy wheels. Cruisemaster XT suspension and the same brand DO35 hitch strengthen the Compass off-road resume because the Australian made reliability of the Cruisemaster products are proven performers in the bush.
The suspension is rated to 2600kg and has a trailing arm with rising rate coil springs and twin shock absorbers each side. Because each coil works independently, and without a central beam axle, the ride over rough terrain is softened for a smoother ride, and ride height between wheel tracks is increased. The high capacity of the Cruisemaster gives a very handy 709kg of carrying capacity, so you can safely carry lots of food and water into the bush.
Under the chassis, metal guards protect twin 82L fresh water and 60L grey water tanks, and I noted all water and electrical lines are secured out of the way of flying stones.
A full-width alloy storage box sits flush against the caravan body on an extended A-frame and includes a slider for a generator on the passenger side and room for general storage opposite. Twin 9kg gas bottles further forward could do with some protection to the regulator even if it is rather high, as Sod’s law will always let a wayward rock do damage on a gibber road. An Anderson plug powers the fridge when driving and an electronic breakaway system connects to the tow vehicle.
Included along the passenger side are a stainless steel Dometic slide-out kitchen and a folding picnic table with power outlets, handy to the cooking area and large enough to be very useful. The kitchen has an overhead light, three gas burners, a sink, cutting board and storage drawers so it should cover most of the cooking options when travelling, even being easily accessible for a quick stop for a cuppa.
An awning covers the outside area to the front of the stove, allowing smoke and cooking smells to escape into the open air. Finishing off the external features are an NCE Bluetooth rear view camera, front and rear spotlights and an external shower with light.
Off grid camping is extended by two solar panels on the roof for 230w of charging power to a pair of 80ah lead-crystal batteries under the van.
Access is at the rear through a three-way security door. Stepping inside is a real surprise because firstly, it feels much more significant than 15′ and also the north-south queen bed is a welcome find in such a small van. Lifting the roof was easy, and once in place, there is ample headroom to help give a relatively roomy presence to the interior. Big windows and two large roof hatches mean lots of light, and there’s even more available when you unzip the windows in the pop top skirt.
Side and overhead cupboards surround the bed, with the central overhead one converted to an open shelf to accommodate the roof lifter. Open nooks each side are sensible places for personal items, and the passenger side has a switch for the air conditioner. Moving rearward, there’s a small storage cupboard under the wall-mounted 24” television on one side, and a Sirocco 12v-rotating fan on the other.
Goldstream has been able to fit an internal kitchen, compact ensuite and a dining table into the small space by shifting elements around to suit without giving up too much practicality. It’s probably a given that bench space has suffered, but by using the dining table for food preparation, you will get by. Anyway, it’s likely most cooking will be done outside, so the internal kitchen is more for a quick breakfast before hitting the road.
The dinette is a plush two-seater along the passenger sidewall, and the smart four-way sliding table top easily accommodates settling in. The kitchen runs across the rear with a twin burner hob on the driver side and a small stainless steel sink with draining board nearer the door. Black granite splashbacks are a bit stark for my taste, but nobody ever called me the epitome of fashion, so it’s probably new age chic and most folk will all love it.
A 164L fridge is set into a cabinet on the driver side, with the combination ensuite tucked into the rear corner. Even though it is perfectly serviceable, it’s a tight fit and a bit of a compromise so if you don’t use it often, it can serve as an extra storage space. Let’s face it, the reality is that most travellers now insist on an ensuite, even if only for resale value, so here it is and I bet there will be times you are glad it’s there. Over the fridge is a sound system with inside and exterior speakers, switches for the Truma hot water heater and a BM PRO Trek display for battery condition and charging rate as well as water levels and a clock.
With a tare weight of 1907kg, the Compass is an easy towing proposition for many mid-range vehicles, but because of the high profile and rugged travel expectation, it’s most suited to high clearance 4wds. Behind a 100 Series Landcruiser it was unobtrusive and comfortable and even filled with a 700kg payload to its maximum 2600kg ATM, it wouldn’t be a challenge.
At highway speeds, it sat firmly on the road, without sway or lateral movement even round steep bends and over uneven surfaces. Like any van, pack with sensible weight distribution in mind, and it will be a dream. We played on some rougher ground in the bush around Noojee and I was impressed with the soft ride and ground clearance of the independent suspension.
This new Goldstream is a well-equipped and engineered option for a couple in the market for a compact offroader. As a crossover between a camper trailer and a large caravan, it meets the needs of those who don’t like the complexity and time-consuming setup of a camper, nor the stress of towing a heavy van. There are compromises in storage capacity and interior entertaining space, so you need to pare down the amount of gear you want to take on your trips and embrace the rustic vibe when visitors call.
Our test model is packed with extras that take the recommended retail to $79,990, which might sound a lot for a fifteen footer, but reasonable considering the build quality, high resale value and equipment level. Pricing for a standard on-road Remote 1500 starts at $47,990 so you can option up to a level that suits.
- Easy to tow
- Great looks
- Good resale
- Reputable builder
- Limited storage
Find Out More
Manufacturer: Goldstream RV
Model: Compass 1500
Overall length: 7.2m
Body length: 4.65m
Internal body length: 4.5m
Travel height: 2.3m
Tare weight: 1907kg
Ball weight: 204kg
Water tanks: 2 x 82L
Gas: 2 x 90kg
Payload remaining with full fluids: 595kg
Price from: $49,990 (on road version)
Options fitted: Panther off road pack, twin spares, tool box, external shower, external kitchen, more.
Price as reviewed: $83,435
Contact: Goldstream RV
75 Bald Hills Rd, Pakenham 3810
Ph. 03 9541 5572