Ready for anything
When it comes to solid, well-built vans, Goldstream RV nails the brief, and the 2013 16ft FKST is a prime example.
Goldstream RV’S 2013 16ft FKST is a solid, well-built van
Picture this. You’re touring north along the Stuart Highway. Destination: the Kimberley. Just north of Alice, you have a decision to make. Take the shortcut along the red-earthed Tanami – 1000km of ruts and corrugations that’ll rattle the bones of the sturdiest caravans – or take the long way around, via Kununurra.
If you’re anything like me, you’d want to get off the bitumen and camp under the stars, beer in hand, boots filthy. Parked at that turn-off, I’d kick myself if I didn’t have faith in my van’s ability to withstand the tribulations of that former stock route.
That’s the niche filled by Goldstream RV. Its vans are the product of customer feedback gleaned from rough-and-tumble outback touring, and from builders who evidently engage their grey matter when putting their rigs together.
The manufacturer has been plugging away in Pakenham, Vic, since the early 1990s and it’s not a company that rests on its laurels, either. The 2013 16ft FKST (front kitchen, shower and toilet) pop-top review van came smartly decorated with a modern CNC interior that belies the van’s outback attitude and is sure to turn heads.
The 16ft (internal length) FKST has been on the market in one form or another for a number of years. While the options have changed a little, its basic ethos hasn’t. This is a pop-top for combined blacktop and rough-road travelling. The Tanami and Gibb. The Oodnadatta. The Gunbarrel? Why not?
Fitted as standard with Goldstream’s Aussie Adventure Pack, there’s plenty of touring versatility on offer in this 2013 model. Al-ko independent suspension, a cutaway rear for a much-improved departure angle, a couple of jerry can holders, 3mm composite aluminium walls (a contemporary and practical revision over the previous aluminium cladding), and checkerplate armour plating form the basis of the pop-top’s adventurous intent.
Externally, the pop-top also has a nearside picnic table, Dometic double-glazed windows, a 12V point, LED lighting, two 9kg gas cylinders on the drawbar, dual-clamp jockey wheel, 15in alloy wheels, and a Dometic awning.
The front boot, while small, is lined with easyclean marine carpet. It’s also home to the house battery and a CTEK 15A charger. What I really liked, though, was the service point for the shower’s
plumbing. Very few manufacturers would think about this. It’s the grey-matter thing I mentioned earlier, the little touches that build your confidence in the pop-top’s overall quality.
The 16ft FKST came with a standard ball coupling, but I’d think about upgrading to a Hyland or one of the many other offroad hitches available, from the DO35 to the Mchitch, for greater articulation. Speaking of couplings, the Goldstream’s is mounted to a thick steel plate that’s welded to the underside of the 6in A-frame rails. We found this gave the van a nose-down, bum-up attitude when hitched, but raising your towball, if necessary, would level it nicely.
Underneath, the pop-top has its act together. I’m not a fan of PVC grey water plumbing. It’s one of my bugbears (as well as unprotected A-frame taps). I’ve had too much PVC shatter on me when travelling on rough roads. So for my money, any van with claimed rough-road/offroad capabilities should have none of it, or it should be well protected. Thank goodness, then, that Goldstream used flexible, stone-resistant hosing, and what little PVC there is, is protected by a custom checkerplate guard, even the grey water outlet.
The rig comes fitted with two 80L water tanks – sufficient for a few days’ away from civilisation – mounted fore and aft of the axles.
Under tow, the 2013 FKST was steady and true behind our VW Touareg and D4 tow vehicles, just as I remembered this model from previous tests.
Step inside to a modern, vibrant interior, thanks to a major makeover resulting from Goldstream RV’S foray into Cnc-cut furniture around the time of manufacture. The layout in the 16ft FKST remains largely the same as its pre-makeover days – front
kitchen with adjoining combo bathroom, nearside dinette, offside bench and rear bedroom – but the revised interior breathes significant life into the old format.
Overall, the attention to the interior’s detail is pleasing. The cabinetry, with its glossy finish, is eye-catching and everything fits together like it should. As part of the Aussie Adventure Pack, the Goldstream has 25mm ply benchtops and 12mm ply doors for cupboards and lockers.
The front kitchen is home to a Thetford fourburner cooktop and grill, as well as a sink with mixer, filtered drinking water, and plenty of drawers, cupboards and lockers.
Fitting an island bed and a corner shower/toilet cubicle is quite a neat trick, especially when a dinette and front kitchen is part of the mix. Benchtop space isn’t a highpoint as a result, but it’s a worthwhile trade-off, I reckon. By nature, this is a compact pop-top so you have to expect a compromise or two.
The combo bathroom is a moulded fibreglass unit that sits neatly in the forward offside corner. There’s a variable-height shower rose, cassette toilet and 12V fan hatch. The dinette, meanwhile, features LED downlights built into the cabinetry above, and the
overhead locker doors feel very secur e. The lounge itself is comfortable, though access to the stor age space beneath is a bit of a squeeze .
Opposite, a tall cabinet houses the 128L Thetford three-way fridge and Jabiru air-conditioner. The cabinet is tall because it hides the air -con condenser. Inside the cabinet, behind a locker door, is the 14L Truma gas-electric hot water service and Flojet water pump. The Daewoo microwave above the fridge is at a sensible, Oh&s-friendly height.
In the rear is a north-south bed (1.9x1.53m) with twin LED reading lights. The storage space beneath, however, is somewhat compromised by the cutaway rear. Additional storage is gained, though, by neat corner cupboards at the foot of the bed and by wardrobes either side.
Other features include a Winegard TV antenna, flatscreen TV, stereo/dvd player, and water tank diverters and gauges.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The 2013 Goldstream RV 16ft FKST is built by a company that obviously knows how to bolt a van together. For an adventurous couple who want to explore outback tracks and national parks, this pop-top has a lot to offer. The Aussie Adventure Pack equipment – fitted as standard – adds scope for travelling deeper into harsh terrain while your mates stay back in town. As a rough-road rig, this Goldstream hits the mark.
That aside, its appeal lies in the fact that it contains everything – or most things – you’ll require within relatively compact dimensions.
Above: The cutaway tail significantly improves the departure angle. Words Max Taylor Pics Ellen Dewar