Is an 'Offroad' Trailer / Pop-Top needed for a trip around Australia?

Submitted: Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 16:39
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Hi all. We are a family of 6 planning our 12 month trip around Australia.

We have a 4wd and have just sold our soft floor camper trailer and are looking to buy a late 80's, early 90's model Jayco Swan, or something similar. It is proving to be a lot harder than we thought, finding an Offroad/Outback version, within our budget of around $7000.

So my question is - is an offroad trailer essential to do the big lap around Australia? We will be spending a fair bit of time in NT, WA and SA, and doing a lot of free camping and National Park camping, and I am assuming that access to a lot of these would be via dirt roads? We really don't want to miss out on going to the more remote places because our trailer limited us. (We won't be doing The Cape, GRR etc this trip). With an onroad trailer or caravan, would we be more limited to staying in caravan parks?

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Reply By: Notso - Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 17:34

Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 17:34
There are plenty of people doing the big lap in what you describe.

Our first trip around was in a highway van and we took it into some spots where there was 40 or 50 ks of dirt. Take it steady and that is achievable.

We also took a tent and sleeping bags just in case we found a spot or two really off road that we wanted to see (and we did).

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Follow Up By: randa - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:24

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:24
Thanks for your reply Notso. It's good to know that it can be done.....and taking a tent for the hard-to-get-to places is a great idea!
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Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 17:35

Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 17:35
Theres a Jayco Swan around here that's not off-road and its already been around Australia once and its actually for sale, so let me know if you want their details
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Follow Up By: randa - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:27

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:27
Thanks Bonz. We have actually viewed quite a few second-hand Swan's/Eagles etc and there are many within our price range. They didn't have the best clearance underneath them though, which was making us thing that we may need to buy an "offroad" version. Thanks anyway :)
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Reply By: Member - lyndon NT - Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 17:40

Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 17:40
Places like the Cape and GRR and the like are what make a trip around OZ worthwhile in my opinion. Otherwise you may as well just stay on the bitumen.
Your sort of between a rock and a hard place. 7 K ain't going to get you much in the way of a trailer for off road, might get you something for on road use only. You could tent it, but it's hard work and with a family of 6.......
Having said that, some campers are not that easily deployed as my nephew pointed out. When he went camping with his dad and family as a teenager he preferred to take his own tent and was finished setting up long before the camper was all sorted.

"and I am assuming that access to a lot of these would be via dirt roads"
Yep, 90 % of of the best of what Australia has to offer is via dirt road.

If it was me, I'd tent it. Just not for 12 months.Two big dome tents, both with just mesh and a fly for when weather makes it needed. Our tents (iprimus I think) are 4 x4 meters, so plenty of room. Will cost about $500 each with fly. We can set one of these up in about 15 min. Once you get the "crew" trained, you may well have them both up in 15 minutes. Dome tents are good, apart from being roomy and easy to put up, if the grounds to hard, it isn't always necessary to peg them down. Mum and Dad (and maybe bub) and the camping table etc in one ), the kids in the other
Really critical you get this one right otherwise your trip won't be much fun.
Don't forget to allow for the different seasons.

Good luck.

Cheers

Lyndon

PS. Get decent pegs, the standard one's don't work.
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Follow Up By: OBJ - Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 17:57

Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 17:57
I'd also go with the tent, as my wife and I did a complete lap with an Oztent (and all the extra panels that it came with). Faster to set up then my current campertrailer and was very comfortable.

Lyndon's suggestion about the pegs has some validity in many areas. I purchased some Bluescrew pegs and never had a drama the whole trip.
BlueScrew link

Enjoy the trip. You will never regret it.

OBJ
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Follow Up By: Member - lyndon NT - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 07:36

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 07:36
Tent

Maybe something like this if you all wanted to be under one roof. If you go down the tent path make sure the fly is separate. Some of the other combo styles tent to leak
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Follow Up By: randa - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:40

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:40
Thanks Lyndon. That was the exact same tent we had before we upgraded to a camper trailer! We could never go back to 'tent' camping as the 4wd is full as it is with the four kids in the back - so we really need to take a trailer anyway to have all of our stuff in. We sold our Offroad camper trailer a month ago, as we really wanted to buy something that we could keep things set-up in, so we weren't living out of plastic containers and suitcases for a year. But we are regretting it now! I think we may just need to sit tight save a few more $$ until we can afford to buy an Offroad Jayco. Thanks for your help!

And thankyou OBJ :)
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 18:27

Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 18:27
Without a trailer or some sort you would be struggling to carry your camping needs, clothes, food and water for a large family. You may also have educational needs for your children, and this includes somewhere for them to do school work. Hence the idea of tents as suggested may be difficult. Ages of your children would vary your needs. A camper trailer can give you more living space than a fold up caravan style of camper, and you should be able to find a sturdy one fit your budget and still get you onto some of the dirt roads.

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Follow Up By: randa - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:46

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:46
Thanks Motherhen. We actually had an offroad camper trailer which we sold in the hope of buying something with a quicker set-up time, but we are now thinking we should have kept it! :) If we can't find what we are looking for, then we will definitely go back to a camper trailer :)
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Reply By: jodie0075 - Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 19:18

Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 19:18
Some very sound advice from motherhen. With a budget of $7k maybe consider an older model Trak Shak camper if that is the way you decide to go. Cant part with ours yet after 11 years. Just so reliable.

Cheers Gary
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 19:25

Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 19:25
Agree with Gary - Trakshak was originally designed in Adelaide by a family of 6 for a family of 6! Been around a long time, so maybe you can pick up an older one? Still soft floor but you are not going to get a hardfloor for 6 for $7k.
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Follow Up By: randa - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:51

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:51
Thankyou Gary and Phil. I will definitely check out the Trak Shak campers!
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Reply By: Crusier 91 - Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 19:51

Monday, Apr 13, 2015 at 19:51
Family of 6!!!!!!!! with a camper budget of $7k!!!!! and on a 12 month trip around Oz!!!!!

I'd hate to be in your shoes packing and unpacking for 12 months straight.

I wish you the very best of luck though, hope it all works out and keep safe.

Cheers.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:07

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:07
Lots of people go around Australia with not much more than an on-road rig. We travel with a small trailer that many would describe as on-road but its certainly been on plenty of very rough tracks. Provided that whatever you buy has 1.enough ground clearance; 2. is rugged enough so that welds wont break etc and 3. you drive to the conditions meaning that on rough tracks you slow down and reduce your tyre pressures - then you will probably be fine.

The reality is that much of your driving (95% or more) will be on sealed or well maintained gravel roads, unless you make a deliberate effort to only go on unsealed and unmade tracks. Its the last little bit where you want to access a special bush camp, or you have to do a corrugated stretch of road that makes the difference - plan ahead where possible, be sensible, dont rush and you will probably be fine. In reality you wont see everything in 12 months, so the compromises that you make should not spoil your trip. Others have suggested that everything worth seeing is off the bitumen - I dont really agree with that, although there are lots of special places in remote areas. But if you are able to really observe the country and places as you travel you will find many fascinating and beautiful places within relatively easy reach. Good on you for taking your family on such an adventure - and yes, it ca be done on a budget too.
Cheers,
Val
J and V
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Follow Up By: randa - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:59

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 09:59
Thankyou so much for your advice and reassurance Val! Much appreciated! :)
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 14:10

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 14:10
Yes, a well-made camper should stand up to the corrugations and gibbers. That pointed me in the direction of a tried and tested Aussie brand when I bought second hand. The model was said to be 'light off-road' and it coped well with several outback trips including the standard desert tracks when limited to 4WD only after rain. Being soft floor it was relatively cheap, light and spacious (regarding storage as well as living room). Recently it sold for $4,500 or so.
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Follow Up By: Robyn R4 - Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 14:23

Tuesday, Apr 14, 2015 at 14:23
Totally agree with Val. There are many many fabulous places accessible via tar or decent dirt. We've done the Strezlecki Track, Birdsville, western Qld and many other places with a Kia Sorento and a homemade camper on dirt roads.
As Val said, much is within cooee of dirt roads (even Burke and Wills' Dig Tree is not that many k's off the tar these days!)
You won't see everything in 12 months. Do what you can and change course when necessary.
We travel with a small dog that frets when boarded and that restricts us in ways, but oh boy, the things we have still managed to see and do!
We're about to do the Kimberley and can't visit a few spots with a dog but we have quite a lot of things that we can see. Sometimes we have to lock her in the trailer with the windows open and sometimes we have to take it in turns to see something. We always say "Well, we saw more than we would've in our living room!"
You'll get to campsites and ask about sights. People will be able to tell you the current road conditions and you may have to make it a day trip in-and-out to the see the basics instead of spending a few days there...
Perhaps if they're of reasonable age, you could give everybody a chance to add to a "what would you like to do" list...and they'll be thrilled with ticking it off. If there's a really difficult request, discuss and modify.
Your kids (and you!) will have the adventure of a lifetime and will talk about the experiences forever...they will not talk about "Gee, we wish we could've gone to such-and-such spot".
:)

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Reply By: Brett T7 - Monday, Apr 20, 2015 at 23:09

Monday, Apr 20, 2015 at 23:09
I think you will find a perfect trailer for 7k. I would avoid a Jayco for this trip like the plauge. My grand parents have a Jayco on road caravan and its prefect. They keep it on the black to and its great. They also have a off road camper. This is what keeps there van perfect.

My inlaws just sold a off road swan as they wanted to do some longer trips and not be limited by it falling apart.

My top tip for avoiding things going wrong in what ever you get is stay as light as you can. Pack light and with 6 people you have a challenge in front of you!

Brett Toll
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