Review by Malcolm Street 2019
Look behind the genteel façade of the Aura Explore, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at its ability to handle tough terrain.
In the best traditions of an Australian-built caravan, the Explorer has a DuraGal box section chassis with 150mm x 50mm (6in x 2in) main rails and drawbar. For extra strength in the front section, a smaller 100mm x 50mm (4in x 2in) section is laminated to the top rail between the end of the drawbar rails and the suspension mounts. Fitted between the main rails are two 95L freshwater tanks either side of the tandem axles and a 110L grey water tank at the rear. Additional chassis fittings include two checkerplate battery boxes fitted to either side of the offside wheels.
Aura clearly has offroad travel in mind with this caravan as it comes with the Cruisemaster DO35 hitch up front and AL-KO fully independent suspension complete with trailing arms, coil springs and two shock absorbers per wheel.
On the drawbar itself are two 9kg gas cylinders, the usual handbrake and jockey wheel fittings plus a decent-sized checkerplate toolbox. On the offside, the bin is fitted with a slide-out making it suitable for something like a generator.
Above the chassis, the body structure is a mixture of the traditional (Meranti timber) with something more contemporary — a mixture of aluminium composite walls and a full fibreglass roof. Staying with the contemporary look, there is a lower waistline of alloy checkerplate on all four walls. One of the more obvious features of the Explorer are the distinctive Eurovision windows which are quite large, particularly the front windows. Given the position of the security-fitted habitation door and the front window, there’s the frequent problem of not being able to have both open at once. In addition to the storage box on the front drawbar, there is the additional storage space of the front tunnel boot.
Black and white with a bit of grey for the cupboards is definitely the colour theme of the Explorer but don’t worry — it is not as stark as it sounds! Indeed, the overall impression is one of a very light interior.
Being a family van, there are a couple of bunk beds in the rear area, along with the obligatory bathroom. The rest of the van follows the fairly standard layout theme of an offside kitchen area, nearside L-shaped dinette and a front island bed.
A feature of the interior is plenty of internal storage space. All the drawers have metal sides and the door/drawer catches are the clam shell/push-button type which are quite easy to use.
TIME FOR BED
In the rear, the bunk beds measure a generous 1.78m x 0.71m (5ft 10in x 2ft 4in) and each comes with a window, reading light and powerpoint. There are two drawers under the lower bunk, so the occupants get one each. A standard industry-style ply sheet with cutouts ladder is supplied for the top bunk.
Up front, mum and dad get a 1.83m x 1.53m (6ft x 5ft) island bed with the usual bedhead arrangement of overhead lockers, side wardrobes and (very short) bedside cabinets. Very large windows are fitted on either side of the bed but, without wishing to be a prophet of doom, they would be very easy for someone with less than desirable intentions to clamber in and out of.
In a van that is 6.4m (21ft) long with a front island bed and bunks/bathroom in the rear there will be a bit of compromise in the mid area, which is why the kitchen bench isn’t overly long. It does come with the full kit in terms of appliances, that is stainless steel sink/drainer, four-burner cooker/grill/oven and a 177L Thetford fridge with NCE microwave oven above but there isn’t much benchtop area. Storage is fairly reasonable with three drawers, a cupboard and two overhead lockers.