Friday, May 31

$6,000 Aussie-made camper trailer that’s actually good

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Most people know the Gall Boys. Barry and his sons have made a name for themselves towing seemingly unbreakable off-road caravans behind Toyotas into places that caravans just don’t normally go. Their VHSs (remember them) DVDs and Youtube clips have inspired thousands of caravanners to hit the road less travelled far more often. Despite the fact most pictures of the ‘Gall Boys’ only show Baz and four of his sons who work directly in the Kedron Caravan business, there’s a fifth, Craig, who builds his own range of Aussie made camper trailers under the Walkabout Campers name and has been since 1989, 10 years before Kedron started building caravans. Most are custom-built and he’s certainly not churning them out in their thousands, but they are durable, simple and most importantly, affordable. Like less than six grand affordable. Australian made. In Australia. In fact, they are so cheap I had to make a new category for the website because we didn’t have one for sub $10k campers.

On display at the Brisbane Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow, Craig had a small range of what he can do, but it was the simplest of them all the stood out. Fitted to an Australian made, hot-dipped gal trailer measuring 6 feet by four is one of his simple, be very good-looking family soft-floor tents. I was told they were Aussie made trailers when I saw them on display by Craig’s offsider, but when I sat down to look further into it and really considered the price I had to double check. The trailers are made by PBL Trailer in Brendale, Queensland and Craig told me he started just making tents and modules to be fitted to customer’s own trailers, but as people started taking notice who didn’t already have one, he found an Aussie made solution.

With softer lines but bolder colours than most campers on the market, it’s curves give it an almost futuristic look. Craig says the tents are modelled of the shapes of an igloo or boat bimini, two designs that stand up to a lot of wind without being damaged. Set-up is nice and easy as once you flip over the canvas there’s only one tent bow to adjust and it has a set length, so you just push it out until it clicks locked on both sides. There are large windows with weather covers over them and a simple foam mattress for the bed. Cleverly, there’s a zippered section tent section under the bed which you can open up to let sand and dirt spill out when it packs up – no broom required.

They are basic, though. The tent’s features list is not long, but includes phrases like three minute setup and six foot awning included, and Craig can do custom colours for you, but for $6000 don’t expect to have a fridge fitted or even a basic kitchen. He says most people he comes across already have all that, anyway, but if they want it, he can get it built into the campers. Another more sophisticated trailer on display had high-sides and a Drifta kitchen fitted to the tailgate. The tent base does hinge and lift up on it’s base for easier access and there’s also a spare wheel, stone guard and small toolbox on the front. It’s light, too. The whole package only weights 295kg, so there’s no need for trailer brakes if you can keep the loaded weight under 750kg.

Craig certainly isn’t the last person still building entirely Australian made camper trailers, but he’s undoubtably the least expensive, and probably by a long way. A quick look at the members of the Australian Manufactured Camper Trailer Guild (of which Walkabout isn’t a member) shows that most soft-floor builders are selling to the upper ends of the market.

So, if you’re after just a simple, really well-made Aussie camper, this is a package that should be hard to pass up. Craig says he can normally turn around an order in about five to eight weeks, which is pretty good for a small, one-man show.

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