a look around my camper trailer

Doug's Camper Trailer 1962




doug's camper trailer 1962
by Tanya Barnet

Great Ocean Road


    Campertailers.org members, are providing me with a lovely trip down memory lane by sharing their journey in making their own camper trailer. Innovative and creative people, just like my parents.

    As a child, holidays equalled camping ! Our upgrade to luxury came about by discomfort. Our parents were sleeping in the Vanguard wagon but it was becoming too uncomfortable and too difficult to quickly set up our camp. So between them, Dad and Mum designed and built the camping trailer.

    Dad was an engineer, a motor mechanic, a welder, a draughtsman and a business owner, a jack of all trades. (Weren’t they all back then?) Mum was a bean counter by day and a creative artist by night (Mums still are !)

    The back shed became the production line where Dad cut all the steel, (frame, box channel chassis, supports and panels) and welded the bits ‘n pieces together. I recall the axle and wheels came from GM-H, I wonder if the leaf springs did too? Mum sourced the canvas, designed and sewed the cover (tent section) and set up the interior. A removable steel frame provided support for the canvas cover. They used their inner spring mattress from home which was placed on the base of the trailer and the rest of the camping gear was placed on top. The unit was towed as is, I can only imagine the stress on the canvas. Amazing, but rain never penetrated the interior.


Sugar Loaf Creek
Map courtesy of “The Herald Road Guide” (4 shillings)

    The photograph above depicts the Sugar Loaf River (creek) lay off area on the Great Ocean Road. You can see from the map, the Sugar Loaf River is located just off Cape Patton.

    At Sugar Loaf Creek we were totally self sufficient. Fish, ocean and trout were abundant, eels and the occasional rabbit joined the cooking pot. Damper or white very crusty bread was cooked in the blackened camp oven that served just about every meal. Fresh vegetable produce consisted of carrots and potatoes. Toast was created on a long, long, fork held over the camp fire. Milk came tinned, dehydrated or condensed. Fresh water was from the creek. A topless Kero tin with fencing wire bridging the top was used to boil up the sand crabs, crayfish and our hot water. When not using the open fire to cook, a single burner pressure stove was used. At night we used a pressure kerosene lamp with a fragile mantle. The lamp was so bright it would light up the hillside behind the camp and highlight the old wheel on the overgrown track.


train wheel

    I presume the wheel was associated with some sort of past mining use. Spooky for my sister and I, especially if the wild goats happened to be enjoying some nocturnal grazing in the area. Kids will see shadows move every time!

    Today I am still an incurable camper “trailerer”. In comparison the Jayco Lark is sheer luxury! Why, I even have my very own rechargeable, water proof 6 volt torch !

 thanks to Tanya for sharing her memories with us


june 2009