A tour of the camper

For anyone who may be interested – this is the set up we started with on Friday of last week. It changed a bit over the weekend – I’ll do another ‘tour’ video by comparison when we camp over Easter. That will be completely off the grid, with our own power and water supplied (and toilet and shower).

Postscript: We bought the blue Dune chair for Charlotte but have since taken it back for a refund as it wasn’t as successful as we hoped. She kept sitting in our chairs! So we will buy her one of those instead 😉

Pointless facts I have come to realise since owning a camper trailer…

Here are a few of the things, in no particular order, I have learned since taking our camper out for her maiden voyage, to a densely populated tourist park…

  1. Communal toilets and showers aren’t pretty and BYO is better.
  2. Voices carry, so does music. Some people care more than others about this.
  3. There is no privacy in a camper trailer without the full annex all closed up – finding a corner to get changed away from other campers can be tricky.
  4. All food burns or sticks to the pan. No exceptions.
  5. Most people are super friendly and happy to chat.
  6. There’s no place where your ‘Choose Life’ sleep shirt is fashionable, even in a caravan park. Better yet, bring new family-friendly pjs because every person and their dog will see you in them.
  7. The sound of someone cutting their toenails at 7am is never attractive, even when you’re camping.

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    Shaming the offending toenail clipper 😉
  8. Powder is your friend, especially if you’re in a permanent slightly damp state from sweat, swimming or showering in a shared toilet block.
  9. It’s next to impossible for everyone to eat at the same time because the stove isn’t big enough for pans that are large enough to cook food for 3! (Bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns…)
  10. Neighbours will often give away unused food (or pool noodles!) when they are leaving camp – refer point 5.

The Maiden Voyage

While Brandon and I have both had yards of experience camping–so many of my childhood memories involve freezing my butt off at some cold and windy camp ground somewhere in Tasmania–we are both new to camper trailers. If we are going to be running our ship* like a well-oiled machine by the time we head off in late July, we will need quite a lot of practice setting up the camper and packing everything away again. If we want to set off at 7am one morning, I don’t want to have to get up at 4am just to make sure we have enough time to pack up! And if we only stopped driving at 6pm the night before, finished setting up camp at 9pm… well, you get the picture. Lots of practice is needed!

So off we headed this past weekend on the first of our practice trips.

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We chose somewhere reasonably ‘safe’ – close to home should anything go wrong, close to shops should we forget anything, a powered site with water, and plenty of things to keep Charlotte occupied. It was hard to find somewhere at the last minute but we eventually booked in at Treasure Island Holiday Park on the Gold Coast.

The park is very comfortable and certainly had everything we needed for our maiden voyage. We were given a nice powered site, close enough to one of the 4 pools (!) and the toilet block to not be inconvenient, but far enough away to not be bothered by noise. The park was busy but it certainly wasn’t full. We found our assigned spot easily and set about ‘bumping in’ as I’m inclined to call it.

I’ve heard from a lot of people how friendly many people are at campsites and how everyone becomes friends quickly. So I shouldn’t be surprised that at one point in our set up we were visited by “Kingie” who decided he wanted a closer look at our camper. Forward fold campers aren’t as common as soft-floor or rear fold hard floor campers, so they tend to attract a bit of attention. They are certainly becoming more common, and in fact there was another model forward fold camper just a few sites down from ours, but as a rule they stand out from the crowd and can be beasts to look at. So camping men in thongs and holding a stubby of beer are naturally attracted to the shiny newness of it all (note: my use of the word ‘camping’ as an adjective here may not provide the image I was initially going for!). We didn’t mind showing Kingie around, although amusingly he was a bit like the kangaroo from that YouTube video of visiting kangaroos that went viral [check it out here – it’s really very amusing] – Kingie came back a few hours later with his son-in-law and grandchild in tow and asked if he could give them a looky-see as well! (Naturally we were happy to show her off.)

Back to the set up… take a look for yourself and let me know how you think we went…

[The original video went for one and a half hours, which represents how long it took us to set up. Clearly a lot of room for improvement! After we stopped the video we ended up putting the rest of the sides on the annex but not the floor. That may have been a bit of a mistake, as we learned later that night 😦 But that’s a tale for another post.]

Other than learning about bumping in and bumping out the camper, I was also keen to see how Charlotte went with the camping lifestyle. Unless you count the Peppa Pig play tent she once had set up in her room, she’s never been camping before so it was a good opportunity to see how she would respond. Turns out, nothing to worry about! Water, duck, back. I’m not sure what added more normality – the television viewing or Daddy building Lego with her 😉

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So the trip was a success. We had a fun time, we learned a lot about the camper and what we’ll need to improve on for future, but we also glimpsed a picture of how much fun we’re going to have on our trip. Can’t ask for more than that 🙂 There were a few other aspects of the trip worth noting, but I’ll save those for another post.

* We have yet to name our camper trailer but I feel this is a must, if not for ease of communication in later posts. Come to think of it, Brandon’s car doesn’t really have a name either, except that we once thought about getting personalised plates for B’s car that read “Mudbug”. So I will most likely refer to the Landcruiser as MudBug… but what shall the camper be called?

Let’s go shopping!

“Our first test run of the new camper is this weekend! Eek! Better go shopping!”

Nothing like some last minute panic to make you realise just how much you have to do. We have booked ourselves in for two nights at the Treasure Island Holiday Park on the Gold Coast this coming weekend but up until a few days ago, the camper had been reversed up the drive way, opened up to season the canvas, and then closed and left alone. Time to get geared up if we plan to spend some time with her this weekend!

Off we go to Anaconda, Tentworld and Outback Adventures to track down the items on our ever expanding list. Add this to the bundle of goodies given to us by the Wild Boar folks, and we’re almost set. But gosh it takes a lot to set up a camper! Seen below are just some of the ‘staples’ we need (roughly from left to right):

  • chock/ramp thingies to stop the 1.5 tonne camper from rolling down a hill and smashing into some poor unsuspecting bovine’s paddock…
  • chemical toilet (supplied with camper)
  • folding aluminium step (so the shorter legged, most likely furry, members of our family don’t struggle to get up into the camper)
  • gas hot water system (probably more for my comfort than anyone else’s, truth be told; also supplied with camper)
  • cutlery, crockery and a full supply of kitchen torture devices implements (some supplied, others purchased)
  • gas lighter (supplied)
  • 4-slice toaster (just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you want to wait for one slice at a time!)
  • Egg carrier (supplied)
  • Pots and pans
  • Fire extinguisher and fire blanket (supplied)
  • Foam mats and PVC annex matting
  • Water hose and hose bag
  • Chairs
  • Collapsible rubbish bin
  • Foot stools (who said you can’t be comfortable when camping – also useful as tables for shorter legged non-furry family members)
  • New pillows
  • Bedding (not shown – currently hanging on line after a pre-wash)

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And after all that, we’re still not finished! The kitchen supply box needs a bit of attention – we want to get it set up so that we don’t need to keep taking stuff from our home kitchen every time we go anywhere (except perishables) so a big grocery shop is also in order (salt and pepper, oil, sauces, canned goods, measuring cups, sharp knives, etc etc)

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Brandon also decided, quite wisely, that we should probably put the annex up before we go so we can be sure we know what we’re doing. I don’t think Brandon is as comfortable with looking like a fool as I am – I’ve spent too many years running in a tutu I guess 😉 I don’t mind wandering around looking like I have no clue, battering my eye lids and asking for help from fellow campers. But I suspect Brandon would probably find that troubling 😉 So we went with Be Prepared. Probably just as well. Turns out that to zip the annex on at the highest point in the camper’s roof, you really need to be quite tall. As much of our family is of the shorter-legged variety, a ladder was in order. Better add ‘ladder’ to the list of staples needed!

But we did it – and to be honest, if we were setting up from go to woe (hopefully not ‘woe’, hopefully ‘wo’) in one hit rather than hunting around looking for ladders and stabilising the camper to stop it rolling down the driveway and into the neighbour’s pool etc, the whole process probably would have taken 20 mins tops. Honest. No, really (to be tested this weekend!)

[In our haste to prepare our camper, we forgot it was also back to school time. Bugger! 😦 Nothing like covering books at 1am on the night before school starts. Thank you to Grandma for starting The Big Book Cover Adventure. Your technique was vastly better than mine – Charlotte’s exercise books now resemble a ‘touch and feel’ topographical map of the Great Dividing Range. Thankfully she and I are both working on reducing our perfectionist streak and we were both quite accepting of the finished product. Although Charlotte was heard to utter “I don’t think a pin is going to help those air bubbles”! Precious, forgiving soul. Never again – book covers all way from now on.]

Our new baby

Yesterday we collected our new baby, the Wild Boar Campers Razorback forward-fold camper trailer. Brand spanking new, built just for us. Paul and his crew at Wild Boar really looked after us – and threw in a heap of freebies as well. Can’t fault their service 🙂

Brandon had to make all sorts of modifications to his car to tow this camper because it’s approximately 1.5 tonne. (Some modifications were also for driver and passenger comfort, such as new XR Falcon seats in the front and a centre console Waeco 10.5 litre fridge.) New shocks, new springs, an electric brake system, a new tow tongue, a new rear bar to move the spare wheel from under the car to up on the bar, new rear-mounted Anderson plug… the list goes on. There is still more to do before we go to make our tow vehicle more comfortable but for now, we can at least get the camper out of the showroom and on to our property!

Speaking of which, here she is, coming home…

We’ll add more pictures and videos as we get out and about and get used to towing it, but for now it’s time to open her up and season the canvas to make sure we don’t get any leaks! (and don’t ask me to ever reverse this thing – I take 5 attempts to reverse a box trailer at the tip – this camper is going to be a real challenge for me!)

 

Welcome…

Welcome to our new blog, Hazelwoods on Tour. We are a family of 3, husband/dad is Brandon, wife/mum is Zoe and daughter Charlotte (we also have two fur children, Lucy-Lou, our Jack Russell Terrier, and Dobby who is a miniature dachshund).

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The Hazelwoods
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Lucy
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Dobby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 6 months we will begin our own ‘big lap’ of Australia, taking some long-overdue long service leave to drive anti-clockwise around this great country we call home. Leaving from our home in Brisbane, we’ll travel north to Cape York, then across the top of Australia to see Katherine, the Bungle Bungles and Lake Argyle. Then we head to Broome, and travel down the West Australian coast to Albany in the south, before starting the eastern trek across the Nullabor (hopefully with time to head up to Uluru). After a quick stop down in Tasmania we turn north and head back home.

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We have started this blog as a keepsake of our trip, and to allow our family and friends to share in our adventures as we complete our amazing journey. We are starting the blog now, in January 2017, to include our preparations and the lead up to our departure. We have a lot to do to get ready, including learning how to set up and pack up our brand new camper trailer! We plan to do a lot of weekend trips away between now and when we leave; we don’t want any surprises and we need to know exactly what to expect with the camper while we’re on the road. It will be a long way to turn around and head back if we have forgotten something!

We hit the road in July and that point we will write regular blog posts, including photos and videos of the places we go and the incredible things that we see. Our friends, family and anyone else who might be interested can follow our lap and see what we’re up to while we’re away. Charlotte will also do some posts, to stay in touch with her school friends and show her class what she has been up to while we are on the road.

So why not click the “follow” button and check back with us from time to time – our adventure is only just beginning!