a look around my camper trailer

Peter & Jane's Outback Birdsville





Peter & Jane's
outback birdsville camper


    Like most others we started camping with tents (in Tasmania) and finally with the addition of young children progressed to a camper trailer for ease of setup, more room for sleeping and the ability to loads lots more stuff that we never use (sound familiar! ).

    After looking at a number of secondhand campers around the place and using the camper trailers website to narrow down our choices we finally made a choice after looking at a large number of units at the annual AGFEST display just out of Launceston. We decided on the 'Birdsville' Off-Road model from Outback Camper Trailers at Carrum Downs Victoria. We placed the order and then went on a trip across Bass Strait in 2004 to collect it and return home to Hobart. Outback Camper Trailers were great to deal with and the only issue we have had was a faulty LED taillight (just up and died) which they posted us a new one within days of contact with a return envelope to send the faulty one back.

    It is a side fold softfloor model with Orac coupling (we find this easy to hook up) and Alco IRS suspension ( must say have been happy so far with this as we didn't know about all the different types of suspension available at the time). We got the optional tool box on the drawbar and there was no way after Jane saw the Queensize innerspring mattress that we were going home with the foam one. This has been brilliant and can honestly say sleep better on this than the one at home (nothing to do with the night-caps whilst camping). We also had the optional 12V system installed (85 Amp wet cell deep cycle) with Anderson plug for charging via the car (never used so far) and a couple of cig type outlets. The camper is heavy duty painted chequerplate with 2 jerry can holders and a 4.5kg gas holder. It also has the 60L plumbed water tank with really good underbody protection and a hand pump.

    We opted for no kitchen as the swingout tailgate has a folding shelf which we just place our 2 burner stove (already had) on and we have always used a plastic tub for washing up. Will possibly look a Drifta swingout tailgate kitchen in the future just to keep cooking utensils in an easy to get at place rather than in boxes for those stops on the side of the road. We also got the optional annexe which we leave permanently attached and the zip on sides which rarely get used but have been a godsend a couple of times in inclement weather. We find the camper easy to setup and suits our current needs with 2 teenage children. I think we would possibly look at something like the Tvan when the nest is empty. Like most we use the plastic box system in the trailer with each one (of the six 6) a designated task/area (ie food, kitchen utensils, etc).

    Things I regret were getting used tyres on the CT at the time of purchase ( a false economy would only get new if buying again). They were 15 to suit Landcruiser and I have had them changed to 16 with same wheel/tyre as our X-Trail which tows it. Also I have had electric brakes installed for safety after driving a friends setup which had them and NEVER again would I have a trailer without them, I believe brakes of some type should be mandatory on all camper trailers no matter what the weight.

    Since purchasing I have made some improvements (??) to the camper other than the wheels/tyres and brakes. These have included the tube on the side to hold the poles which before were packed loose in the trailer. I have added more 12V outlets both inside the tent and on the outside of the trailer for lighting (we now use LED strips inside the tent and over the kitchen shelf) and for powering our 40L Waeco we picked up from Supercheap Auto for $499 a couple of years ago (12V only model they imported directly from USA).

    I have also partitioned the toolbox to hold various things (recovery gear, tyre compressor, stove, fire blanket & extinguisher, pegs and ropes. I  have replaced the 85amp wet cell (now in a portable Battery box) for a Full River 120 Amp AGM hooked up to a distribution panel and now a Steca reg/controller which I hook up via Anderson plug to our 2 x 30W solar panels for charging the battery whilst camping. I chose these panels due to their dimensions as they will fit on the lid of the toolbox for travelling via some quick release mechanisms for easy removal ( when I get around to it !! ). This setup seems to keep us well supplied with 12V to stay in one place for quite some time. I also have a Ctek 7amp charger for 240V if needed. We also carry a little 2kg gas bottle in the toolbox to supplement the 4.5 kg bottle but will probably get another 4.5kg bracket welded onto the drawbar (in front of the toolbox) so I have two for longer trips. I must also get that stone deflector fitted (sometime !!).

    As you can see there is a large metal pole to hold the spare tyre in front of the toolbox on the drawbar but I do not use this anymore as it just makes the drawbar way TOO heavy with the toolbox and all its stuff as well. I have just purchased a swing out rear wheel holder from a Nissan Pathfinder which I intend to have welded to the rear of the camper which will swing out with the tailgate. I went this option rather than put the wheel on the tailgate as I was worried about the extra weight on the hinges and I liked the way I saw this is done on the Mod-Con camper trailers. I suppose I'll see how successful it is when I get it done.

    Well that's about it, we have seen a lot of Tasmania and now Queensland (since 2006) in our Nissan X-Trail and Birdsville and look forward to seeing a lot more of this vast beautiful land over the coming years. Now if only I can talk Jane into that new turbo-diesel Patrol I saw the other day !!


Thanks to Peter and Jane Rundle for a walk through their camper trailer

 november 2009