a look around my camper trailer

Paul & Debb's 3Dogs Camper



paul & debb's 3dogs

Debb showing how it's done

    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

 february 2010