Bush travellers’ tastes and expectations have changed since Trakka kicked off as little more than a backyard business in 1973.
This feature was originally published in 4x4 Australia’s July 2009 issue
Trakka’s founders, Sally and Dave Berry, liked bush travel and discovered that there was a market for vehicles that were kitted out to make bush living easier. One of their earliest conversions was done on the LandCruiser TroopCarrier, a vehicle that combined a spacious interior and rugged dependability.
Since those early days Trakka has moved on to bigger things, but the company continued to build Bushman conversions on successive generations of Troopies. However, demand slackened as the venerable Troopie lagged behind newer machines’ performance levels.
Then came the 78 Series, with 4.5-litre V8 diesel power and the inquiry rate at Trakka went up. It was time to redesign the Bushman and Trakka’s general manager, Martin Poate, described the process:
“Today’s bush travellers have different expectations from those who bought the original Bushman. Back then, it was okay to squeeze a cooking area and a dinette under the pop-top sleeping area, but we felt that design was too cramped for today’s buyers.
“This new layout puts the emphasis on outdoor cooking and sitting, with the interior reserved for storage, sleeping and backup seating in the event of really bad weather.”
To that end the new Bushman comes standard with a side-mounted, roll-out awning and there are optional rear and side awning extensions that further increase the shade area. The kitchen, consisting of a portable two-burner metho stove, flexible tap with hot and cold water pressure supply, and a wash basin, rolls out from the side of the vehicle.
Two long, deep drawers roll out through the rear doors and a practical work bench clamps to the vehicle side. Even the 12-volt chest-type fridge is portable, lifting off its cradle at the rear doors.
The interior is primarily a storage area, with cabinets and drawers, but the tops are padded and upholstered, making a cosy living space when required. The high density foam bed can be left made up when the roof is lowered. Gas struts take the work out of raising the bed and the roof, even with the optional 125W solar panel bolted on top.
Insulated curtains are fitted to all the windows and there are removable screens on the sliding panes. A fly mesh rear door screen is an option.
Durability has long been a Trakka hallmark and the company is confident the use of pressure-laminated euro-plywood for the cupboards and drawers will ensure years of trouble-free bush travel.
The Bushman comes standard with a 70-litre fresh water tank, 100 amp-hour deep-cycle battery, outdoor shower point, 240V plug and 12-metre extension lead, two 12V outlets, six-amp battery charger and battery condition gauge. The house battery charges when the engine is operating and when the vehicle is plugged into 240V power.
The Bushman options list includes window tinting, a diesel space heater, a portable loo, drinking water filtration and a bicycle rack.
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Driving & Camping
The Toyota Troopie is a bush legend and the new model extends the marque’s horizons, with improved ride quality and awesome V8 diesel performance. With optional factory diff-locks a Troopie will go where most fear to tread.
The principal limiters on the Troopie’s abilities are the difference in front and rear wheel track and the fitment of old-fashioned split-rim wheels and skinny, 7.50R16 tubed tyres. We’d suggest budgeting for a pair of rear wheel arch flares and modern wheels and tyres.
The Trakka Bushman rode beautifully on-road, with the additional weight of the Trakka inclusions taking the natural harshness out of the rear leaf suspension. Handling was limited by the tyres, but most Bushman owners won’t be fanging around corners anyway.
Vision was good and the bucket seats gave reasonable comfort and support. The V8 diesel is a delight and doesn’t seem to suffer from the excessive oil consumption that the twin-turbo version in the LandCruiser 200 Series seems to.
The Troopie’s single-turbo 4.5-litre pulls strongly in all gears and delivers around 12-14L/100km economy, giving the Bushman excellent touring range from the Troopie’s 180-litre tanks.
Setting up the Bushman for camping is simplicity itself. The roof pushes up with little effort, the awning cranks smoothly and the kitchen slides out with fingertip control. You can be sitting down with a refreshing beer or G&T in five minutes. Importantly for many bush travellers, packing up the Bushman is just as rapid, taking the hard work out of overnight, roadside stops.
For long-stay camping, stage two involves setting up the optional shade extenders with poles and guy ropes.
The outdoor-living concept has made the new Trakka Bushman an ideal backblocks touring camper. However, it’s a shame some of the outdated Toyota running gear doesn’t match Trakka’s innovative conversion treatment.
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The standard Bushman is priced at $96,000 and you can up-spec with the following options: Porta potti $190; rear Sunblocker $490; water filtration system $350; roof-mounted solar charging system $2200; diesel room heater $2490; bicycle rack $450; window tinting $495; two reading lights $250; front and rear diff-locks $2735; rear door flyscreen $330.