When Camper last reviewed a Complete Campsite Exodus 16, more than two years ago, company co-owner Grant Joyce told us that as many as half of the Exodus 16s he sold went to young families, a statistic we found a little surprising. They aren’t a cheap camper, by any means, so when we stumbled upon a young family out and about in one we just had to stop and talk to them about their motivations and their experiences.
Isaac and Bonnie Garrard are both lifetime campers, coming from families that have always enjoyed the many great camping spots along the NSW North Coast, based out of their hometown of Forster on the northern end of the Myall Lakes complex — an area considered a holiday destination for many.
After early experiences with tents the couple started out with a side-fold soft-floor, which is still in the family, having been sold on to a brother.
“We had that for a fair few years, and it was a great camper,” explained Isaac.
“But it took longer to set up,” Bonnie added. “With a hybrid type of camper your beds are already made up and you just open the door and step in.”
The Garrards have two small children, Scarlett (5 years old) and Ruby (3), and they were part of a big family trip which finished just before Christmas in 2018.
That “big trip” went up the East Coast and the Cape, to part of the Gulf and back down through Birdsville and the Flinders Ranges and that part of the world, then back up through Kings Canyon, up to Darwin, the Coburg Peninsula, across to Lake Argyle and Broome, to Cape Leveque and Pender Bay, then on to Karajini and back across the continent.
“It was an awesome trip that’s really imprinted on our memory,” Isaac said. “We wanted to prove something to ourselves, because we’d been up through there a year before in a Patriot camper, then came home and thought we’d upgrade into something a little more suitable for long term travelling with the kids.
“We’d always looked at the Exodus vans, had seen them at the camping shows and dreamed about them and thought they’d be good one day. We decided if we were going to travel we’d set ourselves up properly.”
In the future the Garrard family intend to do more of the same in terms of those big trips. Isaac’s career as a building sub-contractor allows the family the opportunity to make those calls whenever they feel the need to hit the highway for extended time away.
Bonnie’s time, when she’s not being a wife and mother, is invested in the completion of a teaching degree at university, something which she found last year she could accommodate on the road.
“Securing reception to submit assignments while on the road was sometimes challenging,” she added as a caution for anyone else thinking of doing the same.
Has the Exodus been everything they wanted and dreamed it might be?
“Absolutely, definitely,” said Bonnie.
“It’s ticked all the boxes for us,” confirmed Isaac. “It’s a personal thing, I suppose, but we didn’t want a caravan because we still want to have that capacity to go offroad. It’s easy to tow — I mean, we took it up the Telegraph Track, so if you’re keen enough it has the capability to go to those sorts of places, and it’s still a case of just opening the door and there everything is, just where you want it.”
“It’s not just the Tele Track,” added Bonnie. “It’s also all those corrugated tracks. You know that when you open the door everything’s going to be in its place, nothing’s broken.”
“We put it through its paces over a lot of dirt roads and it handled everything,” concluded Isaac. “You see a lot of people broken down, with axles coming off and bits coming off their vans, something’s vibrated off, but the Exodus is built for that sort of travelling and they come through it with ease.”
WHO ARE THEY?
Names: Isaac & Bonnie Garrard
Where’s home: Forster, NSW
Home on the road: Complete Campsite Exodus 16
Modifications: Only the option of air bag suspension; “We decided we didn’t need any more than it came equipped with as standard.”
Tow vehicle: LandCruiser 79
Modifications: Norweld rear canopy, JMACX suspension in the rear, long range fuel tank, awning, driving lights, bull bar, rock sliders, UHF radio.
Favourite destination: “Probably close to home it’s Point Plomer, where you can just sit in your camper and literally watch the waves roll in; and Kylie’s Beach in Crowdy Bay National Park."
Scariest moment: “The Telegraph Track was pretty scary at times. We did the whole track, from start to finish, with the Exodus. It was more nervous moments negotiating tight tracks than scary, river crossings and so on. We didn’t do Gunshot — the Exodus isn’t a camper I’d want to take through there — but we did the creek, obviously.”
Lessons learned: “Travel as light as you can. We came home in the middle of our big trip and unloaded a heap of stuff that we hadn’t used. It’s a pretty simple lesson that can make a big difference.”