We had been considering a
camper trailer for five years, but hesitated using the arguments
of “where will we store it” and “just how often will we use it”
as excuses for not spending the money. I am a cautious buyer and
do a lot of research, but when I finally did buy I bought on
eBay, sight unseen. A BIG risk and totally out of character for
me, but it paid off.
I had been watching the second hand market for several months
and had narrowed what we were after down to a few known brands.
I was very realistic about how the trailer would be used. We
were tourers and that meant the trailer would travel bitumen and
graded dirt roads. Trips to the outer regions (the Cape) would
be without trailer.
We had done the red centre (Strzelecki, Oodnadatta, Mereenie
Loop etc) pulling a garden variety box trailer with all the
bolts tack-welded on so they wouldn’t vibrate off and with a
realistic attitude to speeds (not over 80kph) we didn’t have any
issues. Shockies on the springs would have been a big advantage
over the corrugations.
We thought we knew what we wanted from a camper, but still
took the advice about borrowing/hiring before we made the
purchase. We borrowed a serious off-road camper with a tare
weight of 800 kg. It had done most of the challenging terrains
across Australia and had only broken the occasional spring.
After a week, we knew that pulling 1.2 tons behind the Pajero
was not our style.
We then hired a Johnno’s trailer that was called a “light off
road” and we were happy. It didn’t slow the car down much, had
the storage space and a quality tent. Its tare weight was 500
kg. Our needs are basic and we have always travelled light. This
was the class of trailer we wanted.
A very similar trailer to the Johnno’s is sold by 3 Dog
Camping, Byron Bay. Friends rent from this company every year
when we go to Broken Head, NSW, and I was familiar with them so
when one came up on eBay I casually put in a bid. It was an
ex-rental, bought by a couple who did an around Australia trip
for a year. It had a quality tent with full awning, a Drifta
kitchen, water tank and was wired for 240v. I was the only
bidder, which was a bit of a concern and I have to admit, I was
worried. I thought I would be outbid so I didn’t do an
inspection, plus the trailer was a couple of hours drive away.
The next weekend we drove the 200 kilometres to collect it.
Other than needing new tyres, the camper was everything the
sellers said it was and the photos were honest representations
of the condition. Remembering that this camper had done a 12
month extended tour, yes of course it was stone chipped. I was
going to add gas bottle and jerry can holders, a centre draw bar
and put the spare tyre in a vertical position with extra
bracing, so it was always going to be repainted. The extras are
all added and we are very pleased with the outcome. The price,
with modifications, totalled $5000. Everyone loves a bargain!!
Well, I do anyway.
Our only regret was not buying a camper years ago. All those
road trips with the kids: the clumsy setting up and repacking
would have been so much simpler and maybe a little easier on
them if all we had to do was open the tent and pull out the
kitchen. My wife has always left the road-trip expeditions to me
to plan, but now she is reading my magazines and making lists of
places to visit. Yep, I should have bought one years ago.
My wife has always loved camping, but knowing that she will
always have a nice cup of coffee and a comfy bed, what ever the
weather, changed the frequency with which she wants to get away.
Also knowing that over night stops, when not raining, are a 10
minute setup has removed that mental barrier to road trips.
Month by month we are putting our own stone chips in the new
paint and I look forward to the day I have to repaint, because
it means we would have been to lots of places and enjoyed doing
what we like best – camping.
Thanks to Paul Murray for this article