Camper Trailer of the Year 2020: Bushwakka Bhoma

Camper Australia — 7 February 2020
The Bushwakka Bhoma earned itself first place in the $25,000 to $50,000 category at REDARC Camper Trailer of the Year 2020.

The Bushwakka Bhoma has a whole lot going for it: 360 degrees of shade, two comfy double sized beds, a configuration conducive of a cross-breeze, a unique swing-around kitchen with dedicated foam storage, and a tough body riding on capable leaf spring suspension. The combined package, retailing for $49,500, had the judges score this South African unit top marks for its endless expedition potential.



TIM VAN DUYL

Score: 69.5

Well done to Johnny, Annelize and the Bushwakka teams locally and back in South Africa. Their Bhoma has taken the hotly contested $25,000–$50,000 category at this year’s REDARC Camper Trailer of the Year in fine fashion. 

The Bhoma is typical of South African campers and the style is starting to take off here. Considered an expedition camper, it reflects what our campers first were — tradie trailers with room to sleep, heaps of storage and a few mod-cons. But the Bhoma takes it to a new level. 

It’s compact, easy to tow, fairly light and comes with plenty of essentials but it’s also a Tardis with massive twin 180 degree awnings and twin double fold-out beds, a great kitchen station, and storage for plenty of extras. 

Its purpose is to be a base station; it’s not really the kind of camper you’d want to set up and pack down daily, though if you kept the awnings packed away, you could. It’s the kind of camper you set up at your favourite remote spot, invite some friends to and relax or party for days on end. 

The twin double beds offer a family plenty of space and your mates will appreciate the room under the twin 180 degree awnings for their swags. There are no less than three external water taps, the pantry could swallow a month’s worth of food, and internally, there is enough storage in the massive under-bed bins to keep plenty of clothes and personal effects dry and dust-free. 

Base stations need plenty of self-sufficiency and the Bhoma does okay here. Easily upgradeable, it comes with 160W of solar and 240 amp hours between two AGM batteries. The main tank’s water capacity is 110 litres, and there’s three jerry can racks built in to allow more. A 1500W pure sine inverter will keep the basic household appliances charged, while charging of the batteries is handled by a Victron BMS. Elsewhere, the twin burner stove and hot water system is fed by a 4.5kg gas bottle. As a starting point it's great but a few years down the track a suite from REDARC and some more gas would be the icing on the cake. 

The Bhoma rides on leaf spring suspension complete with a solid axle. Remember this type of suspension was and still is the simplest, arguably the most reliable and rides just fine so long as it has good shocks and you adjust your tyres properly. Thankfully ’Wakka fit decent Gabriel shocks and the tyres are good quality A/Ts. We had no trouble towing it through the tight Gold Coast bush and on the road back to camp it was flawless. I would ask about the hitch and braking system though. It’s not that you couldn’t live with it but it's the typical semi-hydraulic cable system seen on most South African campers. It doesn’t have the articulation or brake feel of a DO35 and full hydraulic braking system from the gurus at Cruisemaster. 


SCOTT HEIMAN

Score: 78.5

Bushwakka has been around for 20-odd years and released the Bhoma in Africa in 2015 before the camper found its place in the Australian market in 2019. Bushwakka targets the Bhoma at a gap in the market between hardcore overland campers and people accustomed to caravan comfort. This is a market that the Bhoma services particularly well. This camper is highly suited to hunters, fishers, prospectors and to small families alike.

The Bhoma is a double rooftop expander with a twin side-fold. Either side can be deployed individually, leaving the unopened wall to be used as an internal lounge. Or deploy both beds and enjoy the two 125mm mattresses, meaning there’s no skimping here on anyone’s comfort. The camper’s twin 180 degree ‘BushFan’ awning can also be independently deployed or jointly so as to create a 360 degree awning — something the general market is now copying. In all, that constitutes six different layout configurations to choose from, making the Bushwakka Bhoma a real ‘Jack in the Box’. And as a 6’3” bloke it was really good to be able to stand tall under both the external awning and within the internal camper space.

For comfort, the Bushwakka Bhoma has got you covered. Lying on the restful beds, the breeze generated through the multiple fly mesh windows created an oasis on the hot humid Gold Coast day of judging. Talking of flyscreens, the model judged used shade cloth of a type typical to South African designed campers. But the Aussie 2020 model will have midge mesh that’s better suited to our local conditions.

Outside, the spacious kitchen is large enough to roast a wildebeest. And there’s plenty of access to H2O with five water outlets dotted around the camper. A ‘plus’ for safety conscious travellers is the dedicated First-Aid kit externally mounted on the rear of the camper and located in the kitchen where it’s in plain sight and easy reach if the ‘fit hits the shan’.

A key test for a camper’s utility is how long it takes to deploy. And the Bhoma is all good news on this front. The two-person Bushwakka team calmly established camp within 10 minutes, and within 15 minutes the awning was also deployed along with chairs and tables set out with fruit and wine. Now that’s quick in anyone’s language, and all done without the use of a ladder or milk crate.

With a name derived from Sanskrit meaning ‘born of this earth’, the Bhoma is truly ‘at one’ with the Great Outdoors. Whoever you are, and whatever your reasons for travel, the Bushwakka Bhoma will take you wherever you’d rather be.


DAVID COOK

Score: 67.5

The Bushwakka Bhoma is a unique take on a family or group camper that combines a lot of sleeping and living space within a relatively small package. The dual folding beds provide a great sleeping arrangement and the sweeping radial awning creates a huge outdoor living area. The Bhoma achieves its purpose with a certain ease and a fair slice of comfort, all the while taking a very different route to this end.

At $49,500 the Bhoma is starting to enter into the zone of upper-end camper pricing where it will naturally come under comparison with a range of premium brands — such as Patriot, Lifestyle, Vista RV, Zone, Ultimate and Complete Campsite — and a growing range of import hybrids. Some of these may offer the same or similar standards of fit-out, with more internal room and more simplistic set-up, though these almost all come with weight and size penalties.

There is much to recommend the Bhoma, but it does offer certain features that may not sit well with the Australian market: leaf spring suspension, beam axle, mechanical brakes, coarse mesh screens (though midge mesh will replace these in future shipments), a perfunctory stoneguard and a kitchen/food preparation area that is widely broken up (the sink/wash-up space is separated from the pantry/cooking/prep space, which is further separated from the fridge). These factors should not be deal breakers, by any means; they’re just something to consider.

The X-factor with the Bhoma is in that unique sleeping arrangement with the two fold-out beds that give a heap of comfortable and easily accessible bed space. For a family this is great. In the heat of the day, with the windows open on both sides and a pleasant cross-wind blowing, this is a fantastic space to lie and read a book, take a cat-nap or simply veg out.

The external awning area is also excellent, though it would need at least some walls to enclose part of it in the event of rain. It all folds away internally (no need for additional pole storage), has its own white/yellow (insect resistant) LED lighting, and is surprisingly easy to assemble. The kitchen is also a great feature, with plenty of bench and pantry space, even if it is an unconventional setup.


KATH HEIMAN

Score: 77

The Bushwakka Bhoma markets itself as a true offroad camper. And stepping into the Bhoma, you can almost taste its rugged outdoor credentials. Indeed, it’s probably true to say that this rig would look as comfortable as a native animal, whether in remote savannah country or tropical wilderness.

The Tonka-Tough features are evident as soon as you approach this rig. The Bhoma chassis is 3CR12 stainless steel and the body is a combination of stainless steel and checkerplate, clad in a combo of Raptor coat and automotive painted aluminium panels. There’s Sikaflex and rivets everywhere you’d expect to find them. All this is sat on a progressive-rated 2,200kg bundle of 10 leaf springs supported by a set of heavy-duty Gabriel Safari shocks to complete the suspension with a 2,500kg axle. Coming standard with alloy rims, the serious off-roader may wish to consider replacing these with steelies for added durability.

The twin 180 degree awning is manufactured with an impressive 17 ounce double stitched rip-stop canvas that provides sufficient coverage to protect a litter of warthogs while leaving ample space for a family of four and a few friends as well. The walls of the fold-out double bed spaces are predominantly made of the same canvas product. 

When it comes to quality amenities, the Bhoma has got heaps going for it. The swing door on the rear of the rig houses a large brushed steel kitchen work surface supporting a pantry with foam inserts that ensure the custom cutlery stays locked and loaded on the back roads. The separate wash up area is serviced by a hot water system. And all latches and hinges on this rig look like they were built to withstand some serious punishment. For those in search of endless horizons and night skies alight with a billion stars, the Bushwakka Bhoma is a seriously capable travel partner.

While many camper manufacturers have their sights set on accommodating every new turn in technology, this camper is not one of them, and it doesn’t want to be. Firmly rooted in 20 years of experience servicing a market that isn’t afraid of the outdoors, the Bushwakka Bhoma delivers a highly capable, comfortable and functional camper that promises to be as determinedly rugged as its owners. Whether you’re a pair of mates or a family, the Bushwakka Bhoma will take you places where others simply won’t follow.


CAMPER SPECS

Tare 1,300kg

ATM 1,700kg

Payload 400kg

Ball Weight 120kg

Suspension Heavy duty progressive rated 1.1m Leaf springs, with Gabriel Safari gas shocks

Brakes Mechanical

Coupling Knott 

Chassis/drawbar 3CR12 steel chassis

Body 3CR12 stainless steel and aluminium body

Wheels/tyres A/Ts on alloy rims

Style Offroad pop top

DIMENSIONS

Length (hitch to camper tail lights) 4350mm

External dimensions (travel)  2500mm (L) x 1850mm (W) x 2100mm (H)

Interior height (roof raised) 2200mm

ACCESSORIES

Gas cylinders 1 x 4.5kg bottle

Water 110L tank, plus three 20L jerry can rings

Cooktop Dometic two-burner

Kitchen Unique fold-down kitchen design, complete with all crockery and cutlery to fit

Battery(s) 2 x 120Ah AGM Batteries, 1500W pure sine wave inverter, Victron BMS

Solar 160W panel

Fridge/freezer 80L dual zone slide out

Hot water system Hot water to shower and kitchen as standard

PRICE AS SEEN

$49,500


CAMPER STAR RATINGS


David CookTim van DuylKath HeimanScott Heiman
1. Fit for Intended Purpose5.5888
2. Innovation8.56.567
3. Self-sufficiency6.5698
4. Quality of finish7787.5
5. Build quality6.5888
6. Offroad-ability6688
7. Comforts7.5878
8. Ease of use5.557.58.5
9. Value for money7787.5
10. X-Factor787.58


ENQUIRIES

Bushwakka 4x4 Campers

Address Oxenford, Queensland 4210

Phone 0457 910 243

Email enquiries@bushwakka.com.au

Web bushwakka.com.au

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