Traverse caravans (RMIT)

Red van on skis being pulled by a Hagglund.
Traverse RMIT van with Mt Horden in background (Photo: Buckshot)

RMIT-style traverse vans are a light-weight alternative to the more robust and heavy container-style traverse vans, and are constructed using fibreglass and composite mouldings in a two piece shell.

These light-weight structures can also serve roles as living vans, science labs, and communications centres, but are not suitable for use as generator vans. Generally the RMIT vans are used as supporting accommodation caravans for short journeys (one week) using over-snow transport vehicles such as Hägglunds.

These enduring and versatile forms of field accommodation were developed in collaboration with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in the 1960s, and underwent approximately five 'series' modifications. The original Series One vans are still to be see in Antarctica, but the first mould from which the RMIT vans sprung has been lost.

With a service career of some vans spanning forty years plus, the deployment of the vans has obviously been varied and extensive. A number of vans are still in service today and are regularly used for short and long trips away from the stations.

Features

  • The RMIT vans allow for rapid deployment of a light-weight self-contained unit that can provide additional living and work space for short overland trips.
  • They are durable structures with a proven long life-cycle.
  • The vans can be well insulated and offer a reasonable quality working/living environment.
  • They are suitable for fixed mounting of equipment such as for communications or renewable energy generators (PV, solar hot water or wind turbines).
  • Accommodation structures are mobile when Hägglunds are used.

Disadvantages

  • Interior space is quite small, making the van generally suited to shorter trips.
  • Fibreglass construction reduces impact resistance and requires specific maintenance actions to maintain service life.