River Eliminator Off Road Caravan – ‘Mick’

After our last trip to Northern Australia in the camper, Kylie put her foot down and said she was sick of canvass. We were travelling with her parents who had a Coromal 505 Seeka off road pop top which went pretty much everywhere we went without any issues. I figured happy wife happy life.

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Everything about the Eliminator is engineered to last. The high checkerplate all round, the rubber matting on the front, even the gas bottle holders were more robust that what most owners would need. This is one tough caravan.

We were looking for a very specific design that being a single axle off road van with a cut away rear end similar to the Coromal the in-laws owned. We wanted a shower and toilet and the whole setup needed to be suitable for extended outback touring. We looked at heaps of other brands but the River was as close to the perfect layout as we could find at the time. The only real compromise was a combo shower and toilet. The staff at Caravan Court and River could not have been more accommodating in customising the van to our needs although there really wasn’t much we needed to do as practically everything we wanted was standard.

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You get a lot of steel for your money with River caravans. The chassis is very strong, the control rider suspension has its own subframe and even the rear bar looks the business. The rear dovetail means it has stacks of clearence for serious off road work.

Some of the features and options fitted are:

  • 160w solar and 200ah batteries with Plasmatronics PL-20 controller.
  • 700w inverter with remote control and battery monitor.
  • Strong G&S chassis with control rider suspension and extended triple drawbar.
  • Raised bed height to accommodate second fridge and extra storage.
  • Raised side steps with trap door storage.
  • Metal draw runners and piano hinges thought the interior.
  • Updated ATM for additional cargo capacity.
  • 180l water capacity.
  • Huge, gal lined front boot.
  • DO-35 hitch.
  • Wheels and tyres matched to the Patrol.
  • 4 x Jerry can holders.
  • Reverse camera.
  • LED lighting throughout.
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While we had to make some compromises with the interior layout, it still offered plenty of space and was a pleasant place to be in. The bed height was raised to accomodate a 50l Waeco fridge.

The weight is pretty heavy for a single axel and I was aware of that when we bought it. I certainly wouldn’t want to go any bigger that’s for sure. So far it’s been absolutely fine. It actually tows better with a full load. We do have to be careful about how we pack so as to maintain sufficient weight over the towball but so far that hasn’t proved to be an issue. The front boot is huge and we have most of our heavy stuff in there. We have gone on a bit of a weight reducing exercise recently by turfing some unnecessarily heavy items that we weren’t using.

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Even though the kitchen was small, it uses the available space well. The top drawer on the left is actually an extendable workbench. The combination shower/toilet never presents us with any problems. In fact it is quite spacious.

The biggest issue with towing it is it is so high off the ground, driving into anything resembling a head wind really knocks the socks out of the Patrol’s fuel consumption. Again, if I was so worried about fuel consumption, I wouldn’t have bought the van in the first place…! It averages out in the end. We get anything between 16 and 20l/100ks travelling at about 90-100kph.

The only mods to date include a light under the bed, a shower curtain in the shower/toilet, concealed GPS tracking system and a DNOTV sign on the back. Nothing else.

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For such a big single axel van, the River Eliminator towed beautifully and always sat perfectly balanced behind the Patrol. It never gave us a single moment of concern.

 

 

31 thoughts on “River Eliminator Off Road Caravan – ‘Mick’

  1. Just found your blog, it is quite interesting.
    We like your caravan and Tow. We have had a 2.5 t Kedron 16′ single axel XC3 since Sept 2015 and so far have been towing with a Pajero. All legal, but like your comments about your 3.0l Nissan we have decided to upgrade our tow and have a GX LC200 on order for delivery in Sept/Oct. We really like our Kedron and plan to do a lot more bush travel. We did 10,000km of caravanning since last Sept.
    The comments about off road towing a largish van resonate with us, we have moved from a 1.2t Avan pop up to a full height 2.5t Kedron and are still finding our limits off road. Your comments about your LC200 also hit home.
    We will follow your blog with interest.
    Regards
    Terry

    1. Hello Terry and welcome to our blog.

      Glad you found some information here that was useful. We are trying to make the site about practical caravanning and hope to share as much knowledge as we can with our fellow travellers.

      Kylie will be extremely jealous of your Kedron. We have often looked at them and have been impressed with their design and strength. We also love the Gall boys videos.

      We have a 4 week trip planned for September so will hopefully be able to post up more stuff while on our journey. We’re heading to Stradbroke Island and Kempsey with lots of stops along the way. We need to start to push ourselves freecamping to see how long we can go with our setup as it is. So far its been pretty good on the short trips we’ve done.

      You wont be dissapointed with the Cruiser. They are a lovely vehicle and as good as it gets for towing a big load. Our Safari Tamer is close to 3.5t fully loaded and the Crusier tows it with ease.

      Hopefully we will catch up on the road some day.

      Safe travels

      Marty

  2. Hi Marty,
    Came across your blog as my wife and I were researching info on the River Eliminator 2015 model we are looking at purchasing. We’re upgrading from a 17 foot no shower or toilet caravan. You blog is interesting and informative on many levels and obviously the positive experience with the River is galvanising our decision to purchase. I was wondering if your van came with a Waeco compressor fridge? My question is how much solar do you find suitable to maintain power while free camping for a number of days.
    The River has 2 x 120amp AGM batteries onboard, but is only solar panel ready. Also if you have any further info to share or questions or clarifications we should ask the dealer that would be appreciated, particularly anything you wish you knew about the van or fittings that you only became aware of later.
    My wife Rosie and I will continue to follow your blog with much interest as we prepare for our big venture around half of Oz in 2017.

    Happy and safe travels
    Graham and Rosie

    1. Hello Graham and Rosie

      Welcome and thanks for your kind words. Glad you have found the site informative.

      When we bought the River, we had no prior knowledge of them at all. We actually had our hearts set on a JB caravan but when we saw the River, we could see that there had been some thought given to the construction and design. They were also extremely accomodating when it came to finalise the deal.

      It was our first caravan and I think in many ways we were very lucky buying the River as there wasn’t a lot about it that we regretted we didn’t do beforehand. Everything worked from the outset and nothing gave us any problems. The only fault we had was a faulty safety switch which they replaced immediately.

      Ours was fitted with a Tetford 3 way fridge. The small Waeco 50l under the bed was an idea we came up with. The standard fridge only had a very small freezer so the Waeco could function as a freezer. We also used it instead of the three way when doing quick trips for the weekend. I believe River now provide the space and power for the fridge under the bed as standard but you need to supply the fridge itself I would think.

      While we never had any problems with the 3 way fridge, I do believe the compresssor fridges are the way to go, but you need decent battery capacity and plenty of solar. 2 x 120ah AGMs would be sufficient for most situations. You will need around 400-500 watts of solar panels to be able to keep up with the fridge’s power use. We now have 3 x 150watt panels on the roof and a plug for an external 100 watt panel. We have gotten 3 days of power out of this system while camped in a very shadded camp ground in the middel of winter in Victoria. I was pretty happy with that. I anticipate that in the more sunny north of the country in warmer times, we should be able to go on with just battery and solar power for an indefinate period. That said we do carry a generator as a backup as I need a CPAP machine at nights and dont want to get caught short of power.

      We have found water is the biggest limitation when free camping. The River had 2 x 90l water tanks and, if we both had showers every morning, we would be lucky to get 2 days out of them. Being frugal with water, we could extend that to maybe 3 or even 4 days but that’s about the limit. Our current van has 3x90l tanks, one dedicated to freshwater. We are yet to put this fully to the test.

      About the only thing I would reccommend you do when discussing is ensure they give you the fullest weight capacity (ATM) as possible. The standard 400kg may not be enough. Also make sure they seal up where the plumbing passes through the floor. Prevents any dust and water from entering. I’d also consider asking for a Swift 28l hot water system instead of the Suburban unit. Lastly make sure you have sufficient power points and 12v outlets to suit your requirements.

      That’s about as much as I can think of. River are pretty good. You should get a good run from them.

      Let us know how you go.

      cheers

  3. Hi, Thanks for your review!
    We are looking at the River Vans as an option and am wondering if you have had any issues with roof/sky light/window leaks at all?

    1. Hi Kendy

      We never had a single issue with leaks in the River. There were a couple of points where plumbing went through the floor in the back of the cupboards that could have been sealed up a bit better but that’s about it.

      It was a very well made van.

      Hope that helps.

      cheers

  4. Hi Marty
    Graeme & Jo Scott here. How are you going?
    We bought “Mick” from you when upgraded. We still have it & love it. Have done quite a few
    trips in it when we can get away from work & are currently planning a trip to NT this winter.
    Went to the Big Red Bash in 2016 & the Flinders in 2017.
    Had to upgrade our vehicle a couple of years ago & now drive a BT50 that handles the van like
    a dream. Only be upgrading when we do the “lap” in a couple of years time.
    Happy travels.
    The Scotts ????

    1. Hello Graeme and Jo. It’s so awesome to hear from you guys. It’s also great to hear that Mick is still going strong. Kylie and I often think about you guys and if Mick is still taking you around the country. He’s one tough van.

      It would be great if you could send us some pics of you and Mick to put on the site.

      Hope we can catch up soon.

  5. We have owned a River Eliminator for six years and went around Australia three years ago. Mostly camping at
    truck stops and only camping sites when needing to fill the tanks and launder cloths etc.
    One can shower in most filling stations out west for a small cost saving van water.
    There are bigger and more luxurious vans but we love our van and wouldn’t swop for any of them.
    The only modifications we have carried out is an extra 140 watt solar panel and changed the fridge to a
    compressor type. Also we have a 140 watt panel on the wagon roof which powers a fridge when travelling and is
    also coupled to the van.
    We tow it with the Land Cruiser wagon V8 and get around 16 L per 100 and better. Chipped.
    Would recommend the River Eliminator to any off roader.

    1. Hi Albert.

      Thanks for your update on your River Eliminator. They are a top van and very tough. Ideal for outback travel.

      Great tip about the showers put west. That will come in handy for us soon.

      Cheers

      Marty

  6. Hi Marty,
    Just found your website. Wife Julie
    and I started tenting in 1972,
    progressed to Golf then Coromal
    camper trailers and now have a 2015
    21′ River Diamantina and love it.
    Looked at a second hand Eliminator
    that had some internal water damage
    so called River for a quote, owner
    Sal said the van has been lived in
    for 2 years, could cost up to 5k to
    fix and had we been looking at new
    vans???, well, we were at the time
    going slightly mad looking at 18 to
    20′ new vans in Adelaide, all much
    the same, all nice and white inside
    and all around 69k. Sal sent some
    pics of the 2016 model he had made to
    show dealers and as it had been to
    Sydney couldn’t sell it as a new van,
    I rang back and bought it, 300w
    solar, 2 x 120ah batteries, Alko ESC,
    extra spare and basically saved the
    dealer margin. I bought a Trailer
    Mate from Steve at Caravan Court who
    delivered it t River for us. We
    wanted an off road but are happy with
    the roller rocker suspension so far.
    Enjoy your travels.

    1. Hello Leigh

      Thanks for sharing your story. Sal and the guys at Caravan Court are pretty good. We are still in touch with the couple who bought our River from us 4 years ago. Still going string.

      Hope to see you out there soon

      Cheers

      Marty and Kylie

  7. Hi Marty,

    This review is great, i’ve just
    purchased a secondhand 2017 River
    Eliminator for $47.5K which seemed
    really cheap from a local Caravan
    dealer, seemed the previous owners
    had upgraded, current new 2017 one
    from parravans windsor is asking a
    smidgen under $70K so it seems the
    secondhand one in great condition to
    be a bargain buy.

    We’re heading to the dealer tomorrow
    to go through anything that needs
    fixing like the stuck hatch in the
    toilet as an example. Anything else i
    should check in particular? I had a
    good look underneath the van and
    could not see any damage or weld
    cracks etc.

    Was worried at first when i could
    find very little reviews on this
    model of van as the manufacturer
    seems to be a small volume builder.

    1. Hi James.

      Congratulations on your purchase. The Eliminator is a brilliant van. Well made and very tough. You should get many years of travel out of it.

      I’m not aware of any long term issues with them other than the standard stuff with caravans. Make sure the brakes and bearings have been serviced, the electrical system is functioning, batteries in good condition.

      Have a look on the roof and check the condition of all the seals. They deteriorate over time and may need resealing. They are a wood framed van and you don’t want any water leaks.

      Check the tires for even wear. Check all the lights are working. Check all the gas appliances. If it has a Swift brand oven, there was a recall issued to ensure they were installed properly regardless of who made the caravan.

      Good luck and safe travels.

      Marty

      1. Thanks Marty for the feedback, we
        went all over the van found a few faults
        like the thetford n604m fridge not
        working on gas so dealer fixing that, it
        also looks like on both sides near front
        boot area on side panels some silicone
        reselling was recently done although a
        little rough, asked the dealer to correct
        this.

        Toilet didn’t flush so sorting that out
        looks like it had no power.

        Otherwise everything else appears
        okay, there was a running water
        dripping from the corner of the van
        when we had the a/c running turned
        out water condensation running down
        the roof and travelled down the side
        moulding to drip away, thought it was a
        leaking hot water service at first.

        Quick look of the roof thought unusual
        it was white on top where aluminium
        panelling was used for front,rear and
        sides.

  8. We are looking into a new River Dominator
    20’. It’s so hard to choose a good van as they
    all start to look the same after awhile. We
    feel River are very well built, and would help
    our decision making in regards to this van.
    We have looked on the lemons site and can’t
    find any reviews, we are hoping this is a good
    thing. There are over 90 different caravan
    builders in Australia, we would like to buy
    once and buy well, are we doing the right
    thing going with River?

    1. Hi guys.

      We understand your dilemma. Trying to choose the right van and right manufacturer is difficult especially with so many choices. The stories you hear online especially the lemon group tales, if you believe every one of them, you’d never buy a caravan.

      We loved our River. It was an awesome van. Very strong and well built. A few rough edges but overall we thought it was excellent value for money.

      River is not a brand you see a lot of because they are a small manufacturer. That can be a good thing as they are not rushing to build huge volumes.

      If you have any doubts, talk to other owners and get their opinion. See if there is an owners group on Facebook and join up.

      Our experience was good. We would reccommend them.

      Good luck

  9. Thanks for the feedback
    There doesn’t seem to be a Facebook page
    for River owners but I’ll keep an eye out.
    I somehow think we will end up choosing a
    River as we haven’t really heard anything bad.

  10. HI mate, hopefully you’re still looking at this blog. I found it when googling: Patrol GU towing heavy . hehe. I’m toying
    with the idea of getting a caravan myself, looking at an offroad hybrid. But reading through lots of blogs there is lots
    of different views regarding the towing capacity of the NIssan Patrol. I’ve got a, automatic Legend Edition Y61 back in
    2016. Towing capacity is 2500kg. The caravan is ATM 2700kg. I was wondering how was your experience ? did you
    install a transmission oil cooler? or had any issues with the Patrol?

    1. Hello Francisco. Yes our blog is still active although I have a fair bit of updating to do. We had a manual Patrol and, from memory, the towing capacity was 3,000kg. The only mods we made were to chip the engine and a larger exhaust. We also had updated suspension. It towed the River caravan brilliantly. It wasn’t fast and we had to slip the clutch a bit to get moving from a standstill on steep hills, but it did a good job considering. It was very stable. Fuel economy was ordinary for a 4 cylinder diesel. Around 20l/100k. We had absolutely no issues with it. In fact it was one of the most reliable vehicles we’ve ever owned despite the rather pathetic servicing by Nissan. We eventually took it to Turbo Engineering in Thomastown for the upgrades and servicing. The key with the Y61 is not to stuff around too much with it. If you do get it modified, take it to a reputable diesel specialist. Good luck and safe travels. Marty

  11. Good to read of your adventures with your River Eliminator. We have one too, bought it in 2012 when were living in
    Alice Springs. We chose it after a visit to the factory in Somerton. it’s been a great van for us although we haven’t yet
    used it as we intended….. mainly blacktop so far…due to ongoing health issues…we also use it as guest room in our
    downsized retirement home. Just had it serviced again, new tyres this time, we have some short trips planned, then
    larger if remission continues. We have installed a diesel heater (with some sheetmetal guards to protect the unit
    underneath, and the fuel tank.) and a double bike rack high on the A frame. And replaced the roll out canopy a couple
    of years ago. At home it lives under a tree, but looks almost brand new after a clean-up with the Gerni. Hope your
    adventures continue, we might see you on the road sometimes.

  12. Hi Fellows,
    Read my earlier blog on the River Eliminator. Mine is still in top condition and am forced to think of
    selling it for the reason I am now getting on for 89 years old and tumbled down the stairs two months ago cracking
    three ribs.
    This dragging my health down and feeling I don’t feel I want to be travelling any more.
    So, it has everything in it for comfortable living, including a diesel heater, compressor fridge, two lithium 100w
    batteries, three 140 w Solar panels. Band new tires only the run from the fitters on them.
    Judging by prices asked at the moment I would consider $52.000.
    Feel free to email me at timtam4101633@bigpond.com for any further info.

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