Caravan review: Willow RV Caravans Ironbark 6522

Caravan review: Willow RV Caravans Ironbark 6522

The Ironbark range is Willow RV’s slide-out series, and this latest version boasts a king bed and spacious luxury for a touring couple. 

When Bryan Hammond, the dealer principal at ARV Caravans in Eden, NSW, was deciding on a new van for himself and his wife Jane, he thought the Willow RV Ironbark 22ft slide-out best suited their caravanning style. It’s roomy and luxurious without exceeding the 3500kg barrier he set for his new Toyota HiLux. As a Willow RV agent, he knew the vans were properly built, but he thought it would be a better option to have a king bed instead of a queen, so he suggested an upgrade.

The Willow team agreed, and modifying the side cupboards meant the larger bed would fit while retaining helpful storage. Upon completion, the van went to the Canberra Caravan show, and orders started flowing in. I guess the new model will soon outsell the queen version.

The construction

Willow RV owners Ian Jow and Eddie Wills are stalwarts of the caravan-building industry, with thousands of vans between them across three continents. Willow started building its innovative vans six years ago and understands the value and safety of light but robust construction. For a big van, the 6522 is an impressive 2781kg when empty. The Rollcraft chassis has a heavy-duty 100mm x 50mm hot dip galvanised BlueScope steel A-frame that runs back to the suspension and the same profile chassis members on top. It looks immensely strong and well-built with weight-saving C-section cross members. The suspension is an AL-KO Enduro X offroad trailing arm setup with coils and twin shock absorbers, rated to 4100kg. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels are shod with 235x75 all-terrain tyres. 

There’s provision between the chassis for up to four 95L water tanks, with the review van numbering three freshwater tanks and a grey water tank. The plumbing under the van is high out of harm’s way and looks neat with the new SharkBite fittings, but I would like to see better protection for the grey tank outlet from flying stones on outback tracks.

The composite body construction is robust and saves weight while delivering effective insulation. The 30mm walls have an external sheet of aluminium bonded to a panel of close-cell foam and an internal ply lining. Automotive paint covers the aluminium outer skin for a beautiful and easily repaired finish. Polyurethane bars inside the walls are designed for each model to support the door, windows and furniture. 

The build sees the furniture in place before the walls are installed, giving workers free access and allowing all electrical and plumbing to be neatly routed inside the furniture. The interlocking lightweight ply joinery is CNC finished and locked to the floor and walls for a robust build. 

Walls, roof and floor are all screwed and bonded together and protected with two layers of seal and covered with an aluminium cap for ultimate weather protection. 

If you are interested in the construction of Willow RV's caravans and would like to book a tour, head here.

The exterior

The aluminium exterior of the white wall panel shows a smooth, ripple-free finish. White is a sensible colour for the Australian environment, and despite fashion trends, I would always choose it or another light variant. A 400mm protective checkerplate panel covers the lower sides and continues higher on the front, where most flying stone damage occurs. Conservative dark blue graphics have splashes of bright colour embedded, and I like how they have filled in the colour splashes over the fold-down picnic table. 

A Cruisemaster DO35 hitch connects the extended A-frame where there’s enough room to move the two 9kg gas bottles forward and add a toolbox if required. Along the passenger side is a gas bayonet for a barbecue ahead of a full-width tunnel boot with provision for the jack, wheel brace and so on. 

The entry door is a European-style Hartal, and it’s a ripper. It’s very sturdy, looks great, and it’s practical. It splits for partial ventilation, but there’s the option of a sliding midge-rated fly screen for even better airflow. An entertainment hatch to the rear of the picnic table has power and TV leads and a 24in ENGALON television is standard.

A single spare wheel sits on the rear bumper, and the lights are set into a neat ABS surround. A high-set rear-view camera is standard.

Living it up

A manual step gets you into a modern design with ample room for a couple to spend months on the road without banging into each other when moving around. A generous size club lounge, clad in a light warm tone leather, sits across the front of the van where large windows wrap around, and two skylights add to the supply of fresh air and light. And speaking of light, the van features unobtrusive strip lights in the bulkheads and at floor level. You also have more LEDs in the two roof hatches, but they won’t be necessary for most situations.

The lounge will be the focal point for entertaining, with room for an extra couple. It will be a great place to spread out if you need to work on the road, and it offers a homey place to relax with a book or a movie when the weather isn’t conducive to time outdoors. The table drops on a hydraulic ram, and a supplied infill quickly makes an extra double or day bed. Storage spaces under the side seats suit bedding and pillows.

The kitchen runs along the driver-side wall, and a 274L Thetford compressor fridge is handy on the other side. I liked the slide-out pantry on the left, with a laminate covering to augment bench space and a decent amount of self-closing drawers and overhead cupboards. All the hinges and gas struts look good quality, and the openings have easy-action clamshell locks. The stainless-steel sink has a classy waterfall mixer and a long draining board. Cooking options include a Hawk 500 stove with gas and electric burners, a gas grill and oven and a Camec microwave in an overhead cupboard.

The bed moves about 500mm (1ft 6in) on its slide-out to make a wide walkway back to the ensuite. The mechanism works on a Lippert electric ram, with a manual override if needed. The slide opens the walkway to access the passenger side wardrobes and a dressing table/desk where there’s another TV mount and a wall fan, and there’s also an option for a large pop-up TV. Smaller cupboards at the bedhead are handy for personal items, and there are ample lights and charging points. The mattress is high quality on a well-built frame with a side-by-side slat base.

Most electronics are under the bed, and installation is methodical and neatly finished. The batteries are in a sealed box to the left, so the installation complies with the new rules. With the electronics taking most of the underbed space, it’s not really suitable for general storage, but there are plenty of other spots through the van. A Projecta control panel and the main electrical breakers are in an overhead kitchen cupboard where they are labelled well and quickly accessible.

You can’t help but be impressed by the ensuite. It’s bright and roomy, with abundant light and fresh air from two overhead hatches and a window. The see-through acrylic shower door adds to the spacious impression, and the ABS moulded cubicle has functional shelves and a footrest. A big mirror has a light, and the vanity lifts to reveal a 3.5kg top load Sphere washing machine while over to the left, the vanity benchtop opens to a dirty clothes basket. Fittings look classy with on-trend and inviting light colours.

Off-grid ready

A standard Ironbark has a basic setup of a 170W solar panel and a 100Ah deep cycle battery. Bryan opted for 800W across four solar panels and a pair of 200Ah lithium batteries connected to a Projecta 3000W inverter/charger for his needs. For a couple of hours of our photo session and notes, we ran the air conditioner continually and seemed to be using around the same power as we were harvesting under a bright late summer sun. 

The van comes standard with two freshwater tanks and this one is optioned for an extra. Three 95L freshwater tanks should last with frugal use of the showers, and the twin gas bottles are a sensible option for cooking and water heating. 

The drive

For a sizeable slide-out van, the 2781kg weight is relatively light, and as Willow RV weigh every van, we know the figure is reliable. The ATM is 3400kg and can be upgraded to 3450kg if needed. The standard payload is 619kg. Ball weight is 255kg, so correctly loaded the balance should be on target.

We towed with my LandCruiser 200 Series and pointed the van south out of Eden where there’s a mix of flat open road, winding sections, and some long hills. The van is well balanced and sat smoothly, without any pitch or yaw, and we maintained good highway speed. While I like the idea of a heavier tow vehicle for larger vans, a well-sorted twin cab will suit.

We had to watch overhanging branches on the track into our photo location, and that’s always going to be the case with a full-height van and something to be aware of if you want to head the extra mile offroad.

Customer care

The warranty is three years on the caravan structure and according to the supplier for accessories. Willow RV has a solid commitment to looking after problems, and ARV Eden has one of the best reputations in the industry.

The wrap

Willow RV makes an impressive van for Australian conditions. The company’s construction methods deliver a robust van made to tackle Australian roads. Willow vans are substantial but light, with a reliable build, conservative looks and well-designed interiors. The 6522 is a van that couples could confidently set out in for a year of travelling around the country visiting all the popular places off the beaten track. The AL-KO suspension and robust chassis and frame construction are made to cope with rough roads where tyre pressures and speed are sensible.

The base price for the van is $109,491, which is a very high value. The review van has options including a larger fridge, the king bed, oven, washing machine and electrics upgrade for a drive-away cost of $132,589. This is still well priced considering the high-end components and the luxury fitout. 



  • The king bed at the slide-out adds floor space and comfort
  • Well-engineered chassis and composite body
  • High level of off-grid capability


  • It’s big, so some tracks will be out of reach


The basic package is superb value, and the upgrades keep it better value than many of its peers

Very well balanced, tows smoothly. Needs a high-capacity tow vehicle

A couple touring in the van will be right at home for months on the road

Well-engineered and beautifully finished with composite body construction

The slide-out king bed is a winner, and there’s plenty of room in the club lounge

Excellent electronics package and more than 300L water capacity 

Three-year structural warranty and as specified for components

Innovative storage and liveability, but the king bed is a winner

Conservative looks are impressive to those in the know



Overall length 8.73m (28ft 7in)
External body length 6.92m (22ft 8in)
External body width 2.47m (8ft 1in)
Travel height 2.95m (9ft 8in)
Internal height 1.95m (6ft 4in)
Tare 2781kg
ATM 3400kg
Payload 619kg (calculated)
Ball weight 255kg
Ball to tare ratio 9.2% (calculated)


Frame Composite
Cladding Aluminium
Chassis 150mm x 50mm x 4mm, hot dip galvanised
Suspension AL-KO Enduro X offroad trailing arm
Brakes 12in drum
Wheels 15in alloy 235x75 AT tyres
Water 3 x 95L freshwater 1 x 60L grey
Battery 2 x 200Ah lithium
Inverter 3000W Projecta inverter/charger
Solar 4 x 200W
Air-conditioner Yes
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control N/A (optional)


Cooking Hawk 500 stove with oven
Fridge 274L Thetford compressor
Microwave Camec
Bathroom Thetford cassette toilet and separate shower
Washing machine 3.5L Sphere top loader
Lighting LED strip
Hot water Gas/electric

Willow RV Ironbark 6522 price from $109,491


  • King bed
  • Oven
  • Sphere washing machine
  • Hydraulic table
  • Fans
  • Extra 95L freshwater tank
  • Electrics upgrade

Willow RV Ironbark 6522 price as shown $132,589


ARV Caravans
Princes Highway
Eden NSW 2551
P: 02 6496 4411

Willow RV
79 Bald Hill Road
Pakenham Vic 3810
P: 1800 717 589


If you need help choosing your first caravan or are considering upgrading your existing one, check out the Willow RV caravans available on TradeRVs today.

The sellers will be happy to help and answer any inquiries you may have about the products advertised for sale.


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