Advice to a newbie camper!!!

Submitted: Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 22:01
ThreadID: 77414 Views:3999 Replies:12 FollowUps:8
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Hi Everyone
My husband and I recently borrowed a relatives camper trailer and took our 2 little boys camping for the weekend. Well it all went swimmingly and now hubby has a bee in his bonnet about buying a camper for ourselves!! (Must say I am also excited about it!!) Has anyone got any advice on the best value for money camper for newbies?? We have been having a look on the Trading Post and in the Trader section at second hand... do you think this is the best way to go? Have also looked on Ebay but just wondered if the new ones on there can be as great as they sound for the price?? We probably wont be doing any heavy 4WDing... at this stage mainly camp sites as the kids are still quite young. But would maybe like an off road model just in case! Any help would be appreciated =)
Cheers =)
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Reply By: Member - Duncs - Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 22:43

Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 22:43
G'day Allen's,

You have opened a can of worms. Hopefully I can help you make a good decision.

I have been towing the same camper trailer all over Oz for the last 14 years. This is what I reckon.

Firstly don't be in a hurry. I looked for 6 years and bought the one that suited me first up. The fact that it is still very suitable to my needs 14 years after it's initial purchase speaks volumes.

Secondly, do look at them all in the flesh. If a picture tells a thousand words then opening them up touching and playing with them tells a thousand times more.

Thirdly don't by something because your friends like it. At the same time as I bought mine a good friend bought the same make and model. He sold his years ago because it was not right for him. Mine is right our me you need to buy one that is right for you.

Fourth, be prepared to spend a bit more to get a quality product. You only pay for it once. Unless you buy a cheap one then you pay every time you use it. You will live with it for a long time or you will sell it early and lose money.

Last only buy one if you are convinced you will use it. It's not good value to have even a cheap camper sitting in the shed not getting used.

A well built camper that suits your needs will keep you happy, comfortable and keen to get out and use it for years and years.

I love the lifestyle and the freedom that it brings. We can make a spur of the moment decision to go away and be on the road in about 3 hours, confident that we have all we need for an enjoyable weekend away. Before we had the camper we just did not do that kind of thing.

The camper, if you get the right one, will also keep the boys safe and happy. You say they are little and for that reason you will probably stay in camp-sites. My son was 5 months old when we went to Fraser Island for the first time. He now takes his turn in the drivers seat and still loves being in the bush. Take them out while they are little and they will love it forever.

AnswerID: 411477

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 22:46

Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 22:46
p.s. I didn't tell you what brand my cmaper is because it doesn't matter.

It' not about what I like.

If you get to the point of wanting to know what people think of a particular camper and it happens to be one I know about I will then comment on specific brands. But not until you ask that specific question.

FollowupID: 681542

Follow Up By: TheAllens - Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:54

Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:54
Thanks for the reply and for the great advise. We will definately take our time making a desicion (though it is hard to keep a lid on it when you get pumped about something!! My husband is a very spare of the moment kind of person!!)
I might post the details if we find something we like and see what everyone thinks.. always good to have another opinion!!
Cheers =)
FollowupID: 681551

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:10

Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:10
Question; where do you live ??

I bought mine from a dealership in Melbourne back in 1996, had it made to measure, sold it last year as I now take a boat away.

As in the above reply, you must buy what 'you' want, not what a sales person tells you that you will need - just because he has it in his showroom.

# What did you like about the camper you borrowed?

# What did you not like?

Write down the thoughts of what each of you want and disliked.

If you get a camper made to measure then specify good quality parts as they will last.
Some very simple little things like quality zippers are very important, as they are used constantly and have to be able to hold up under the pressure of wind and over tight guy ropes too.
Think about heavy quality roof or wall canvas or added windows or even tighter woven mesh screens etc.

Some manufacturers will make larger annex areas with a choice of materials.

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 411481

Follow Up By: TheAllens - Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:57

Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:57
Thanks for the reply. We live in Southeast SA so travelling to Melbourne or Adelaide isn't a problem. Its great to chat with others who are experienced in the whole process to get some guidance!
With the canvas, is there a certain weight that we should get? I have seen from 10 to 15oz.. is the higher the better??
FollowupID: 681552

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 01:03

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 01:03
Link:-> Southern Cross Canvas / Camper trailers

Yes, higher rating is better
BUT ....
it's also heavier, because the stitch rate is closer together.

Talk with the owner, I dealt with him and he was fantastic, giving me the choice of canvas, zippers, windows and insect mesh and also increased the annex size etc
I sold the camper for $200 less than I had paid for it many years & klms previously, because it was still in such good condition.
I believe it pays to buy quality fittings in the long term.

Image Could Not Be FoundMaîneÿ . . .
FollowupID: 681558

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:22

Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:22
Camping is great and young children enjoy it very much. Im glad that your first experience with a camper trailer was a happy occasion.

But - have you been camping before? If not then maybe before you commit to a camper trailer it would be worth trying out other camping options, as there are pros and cons to all of them. There is no ideal camping arrangement, and there are lots of compromises to be made about cost, comfort, versatility, storage and so on. Also your family needs may change a bit as your children grow up.

Other camping options include as a minimum using a tent and towing a caravan (either full or pop-top), then there is the camper-van type of vehicle. All of these options can be hired, so you can try before you settle on any particular option.

Even if you do decide to get a camper trailer try to hire that particular make to try it out before you commit to purchase.

Whatever you end up doing, as Duncs has said, take your time - and have a great time.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Follow Up By: TheAllens - Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 00:02

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 00:02
Hi Val
Thanks for replying. Yes we have done a bit of camping before.. definately enjoyed the comfort of the camper trailer more than the tent... and I felt more secure in there for some reason! The kids thought it was fantastic (2 boys, almost 5 and 2) and were asking as soon as we got home when we would be going again!! One thing I will try and get will be a king size bed as they wanted us all to sleep together!! Fun times =)
The caravan idea would be good but a bit out of our price range...
I like the idea of hiring a camper before committing to buy, thanks for that idea!
Thanks for the advice
FollowupID: 681554

Reply By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:58

Friday, Apr 02, 2010 at 23:58
Hi Allens.

Gee, that's a tough call. There seem to be more camper makers and more models than any other product in Oz!

I built my first camper 34 years ago. Spent our honeymoon in it. Went all over the place. Got a bit squeezy when the two sons came along. It was a simple design mounted over a standard box trailer but provided a comfortable bed and a bit of extra space.

Then had some time available so built a you-beaut whizbang wind-up thingo with inside kitchen and bells & whistles. Real proud of the finished article but then came to realise that we had a mobile one-room house on wheels. It didn't feel as though we were really camping but we were stuck with it for some years.

Business got in the way and we didn't do much camping for a few years and the boys grew up and followed their own pursuits so we sold it and bought a secondhand camper much like the first one. Hooray, felt like camping again. good for a few more years.

Upon recent retirement we got the off-road bug and got a Troopy and fitted it up as a self-contained camping unit and off-loaded the trailer camper. Oz was now our oyster.

The moral of all this is that you need not be stuck with whatever you first choose. Select a solid unit with the basic features you want and get camping. It is likely that whatever you choose will not be absolutely ideal and with experience and observation of others you may want to make a change after a year or two. Look for a well-built solid trailer. If any parts look at all flimsy, walk away. Carefully checkout the warranty offered and be sure it is watertight. The canvas work should be strong and well-finished but not too heavy gauge or it can be a pain to fold-up. An attached awning is good for shade & weather protection but an enclosed annexe can be time consuming to erect. The boys can sleep in a separate small tent when they grow older......they will probably love the independence. Slide-out kitchens look great but are expensive. With built-in sinks they are a bit like taking the home kitchen with you rather than the good feel of camping. Ebay? Hmmmm, still need to look at it in the flesh and "kick the tyres".

Finally, if you have the vehicle for it, get an off-road camper and get into the "Real Bush". It is great for your boy's development, beginning as young as anything.

Most of all, good luck.


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Follow Up By: TheAllens - Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 00:13

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 00:13
Thanks for the reply Allan!

Great advice.. I definately think we will start with something basic and see how it goes! I was thinking the same with all of the camping products you can get.. kind of looses the camping feeling!! Especially with kids growing up in such a technology based world, I just want to get them out there enjoying the outdoors without anything electrical, TV and computers etc!! We only had fairly basic equipment on our recent trip and that was the fun of the whole thing!!

What gauge canvas would you say to go for? And what do you think of annexes without zips just velro??

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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 01:01

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 01:01
Yep, get the kids away from the technology......that's for home not camping. If you cannot prise the computer games away from them at least don't take a charger! LOL

Canvas gauge? From memory I think 12 oz for the roof and 8oz for the walls.

Our last camper came with an annexe but I threw it away without ever erecting it. Formed an opinion from watching the hassles of others. Would think that velcro is much the same as zips. But, each to his own.

With the Troopy our cooking/sittin' whatever arrangement varies with the weather but the following photo is typical. Can't get much more basic but that was a great open relationship with the Coongie Lakes! But I understand that not everybody has the same outlook.

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Follow Up By: TheAllens - Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 18:23

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 18:23
Great pic!! What a spot =)
Thanks for all the great advice, its much appreciated!

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Reply By: Member - Barnesy - Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 00:28

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 00:28
Work out how much you will use it, honestly. If you will really only use it for a week or so once a year it may be wiser to simply hire one for that time rather than spend thousands of $ buying.

Honestly think about accessories you need. Do you really need fancy bells and whistles or just a simple, basic set up? Some campers can get expensive with luxuries. Think about how much room there will be on the floor section with the kids mattresses layed out, bigger is usually better.

Look at it. Price isn't really a good guide, some expensive new ones I looked at had tearing canvas seams whilst still sitting in the show yard! I would advise against buying off of ebay without looking at it first.

Be patient and look secondhand as well as new. You may find a bargain and save several thousand. When I was looking good s/hand would save around 40% off new prices. As a starting point for you to look at simple campers with good reputations Tambo, Cavalier. We have a Cameron extra h/duty and it has served us well.

AnswerID: 411491

Reply By: Member - Ann D (WA) - Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 00:43

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 00:43

Have a look at,lots of good info on buying your first trailer

Many interesting bits of information.

cheers Ann
AnswerID: 411493

Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 12:09

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 12:09
Be VERY WARY of buying on Ebay.

There was horror story on here last year of some people who bought a Melbourne based one and apparently it wasnt fit to take the rubbish to the tip.

If you are going to buy one see it first and take someone who knows what they are looking at.

We are all charmed by what we think we want and its too late after you have paid the money to find out its crap under nice paint.

Hiring and trying is the best way to go and some hire firms run weekends away to allow you to get used to it and see if its what you really want.

Dont do anything for a couple of months and see if hubby is still as keen as he was the day after getting back from the weekend.

Sometimes the gloss rubs off a bit.

AnswerID: 411517

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 15:24

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 15:24
It is encouraging to hear of folk such as yourselves getting into camping. All I can
say is "go for it". There are a million campertrailers out there &most will do the job asked of them. Many of the budget types are quite adequate for many campers, & to pay caravan prices for a camper is just folly. Buy to suit your needs & add what you really need as you go along. Just enjoy..........oldbaz.
AnswerID: 411532

Reply By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 21:25

Saturday, Apr 03, 2010 at 21:25
Absorb all of the advice given above.

Go to every camping & caravan show you can mange so as to look at many different units first hand.

Narrow the fields down to the two units you believe would suit you, then haunt the Trader ads on this site, the Trading Posty etc.... and pick up a pre loved unit at a bargain price.

I have personal experience of people buying campers or caravans then putting them on the market after the first trip. There has also been added pressure by the unhappy half of the partnership causing the units to be sold to the first offer so as to get it out of sight.

EXAMPLE: Guy retires from the Police Force, purchases a 5.5 mtr. plate aluminium boat set up with a couple of bunks, stove etc.. All of this with encouragement of the partner. First trip is an overnighter in Port Hacking, virtually the Sydney CBD. Whammo! Her indoors realised she did not have an indoor flushing dunnie.
RESULT: Boat on the market and must get it out of her sight. My F.I.L. bought what was then a 24K boat with three hours on the tacho for 15K.

If you are prepared to do your homework and bide your time you can do very well for your self. The advantage being that if you buy at the right price you can resell at the same or better. This allows the opportunity to have a second bite if the first choice turns out not to be quite what you were seeking.

AnswerID: 411557

Reply By: Member - Josh (TAS) - Sunday, Apr 04, 2010 at 09:21

Sunday, Apr 04, 2010 at 09:21
Hi Guys,
There has been lots of good advice on here so far and it is great to hear you are getting out with the family. Buying the right trailer depends on where you want to go with, how long you will spend away in it, where you will camp in it. There are so many trailers out there and so many are not worth buying. Have a look at how the trailer is built. Is it seam welded or just tac welded. Does the draw bar run right through the length of the trailer or just welded to the front. Make sure the canvas is heavy duty not cheap light stuff as used on most trailer on ebay. Something to think about is for later on if you do decide to go off road it is a good idea to have the same wheel track on your trailer as the car and even same wheels.
We have just spent 3 yrs living in our campertrailer full time travelling around Australia. We had a great time and loved it. Our girls were 3 and 5 when we left so taking the kids out camping is doable and they will learn so much. We had jobs for the girls to do when setting up and packing up so it was a team effort. This also helps the kids learn responsiblity to being part of the family.
Take your time looking at every trailer you can. Before buying ours we went to every camping/caravaning show we could. We looked at trailers 3 or 4 times each and noticed different things each time we looked.
Ask the sales people to put the trailer up and down for you so you can see how hard/easy it is. Some places will let you hire a trailer to test it out.
Second hand will save you money but be careful as problems can easily be hidden from the buyer. If buying second hand check wheel bearing, wiring/electricals, water/taps, look at seams and zips.
Happy looking and happy camping in the future.

AnswerID: 411580

Reply By: Member Brian (Gold Coast) - Monday, Apr 05, 2010 at 21:24

Monday, Apr 05, 2010 at 21:24
Hi TheAllens...

Welcome to the world of camping!
I must admit I haven't read all the above replies, but I can tell you I have a camper for sale. It is (or was?? I haven't checked...) listed in the Trader on this forum, it's a good camper with a 14' tent, suits a family, Cavalier off road style... lot's of extra's. A great camper, it's for sale simply because we upgraded to a Track Tvan. If not for the Tvan, we'd be still towing the Cavalier.

I am in SE Qld, I read that you are in SA, so that may be a problem I guess, but send me an email if you're interested to
dieselturbo42 AT gmail DOT com

Asking $5900



AnswerID: 411752

Reply By: pander13 - Saturday, Apr 10, 2010 at 15:25

Saturday, Apr 10, 2010 at 15:25
Hi TheAllens, you have probably been inundated with information now but I have just jumped onto this site and noted that your looking at buying a camper. I operate a small home based camper hire business with a partner operating under the banner of ASWS Camper Trailers. We currently have a couple of double campers (Deluxe Camper Trailers brand) that are available for sale. If your interested I am happy to send you some details, please contact me on 0414283836 or email direct to
Happy camping.
AnswerID: 412388

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