The Christmas holidays were fast approaching and it was time to sort out what my family would be staying in. The requirements were simple: a comfortable bed for my wife Nicole, somewhere for 2½ year old Jasmine and six month old Amber to sleep, and somewhere for them to be in the shade.
A quick call to Carlisle at Camper Trailer Australia and the Vacation giveaway camper was all sorted for our annual pilgrimage to the beach. Now it was just a matter of packing everything that two little kids need - a bouncy chair, a trike, a high chair, toys, clothes and Christmas presents. Maybe some stuff for us parents too.
With the Vacationer Heavy-duty Off-road camper all loaded up and the fridge packed, it was time to hit the road. We barely noticed the camper tracking behind the 4WD. The Hyland hitch meant I didn't have to fiddle around swapping hitches and the LED taillights looked good from behind.
After 600km of driving it was time for the inaugural setting up of the camper. Jasmine wanted to help. I let her hold the poles but won the argument on who got to use the hammer. Four pegs in the main part of the tent and two upright poles, and the main section was up and functional.
The front section of the awning zipped across the front, we then attached all the walls and it was all done. With little hands holding the poles it was a relatively easy and stress-free job - even when blindly attaching bits here, bits there.
ROOM TO MOVE
The best thing for us as a family with a couple of munchkins was the space, both in the main section and under cover. The main section had ample room for the port-a-cot, a bed for my older daughter, a chair for feeding duties, and enough left over for our 6 month old to crawl around.
The outside awning was a big positive for us. We extended the roof by adjusting the awning walls, so there was always somewhere to sit in the shade. This also gave our daughter space to draw or play on the few days it rained. And the extra poles meant there was always a spot to hang the beach towel.
I actually like the simplicity of the unit. The trailer is solidly built, the dust seals work, and the simple kitchen works. Some people might want a built-in kitchen, but for summer nights it's great to be able to take the stove "outside" and make a mess and burn stuff.
Like with everything there were a couple of things I didn't like. The extra canvas annex wall covers could have been full height, the flyscreen walls zipped to the awning roof but stick to the main walls, and the internal upright poles seemed upside down to me when adjusting, but these were minor issues that barely registered a blip on our camping adventures.
With time up our sleeves we did a quick trip up to the Victorian High Country for some bush camping to see how the Vacationer likes a bit of easy 4WDing and dirt roads. The biggest surprise was how good the dust sealing was, with nothing getting into the trailer. The eye to eye leaf springs with shocks also handled the stuff that most people will throw at the Vacation Camper.
Would I own one? Yes. Whoever wins this Vacationer Heavy-duty Off-road will be a lucky person with nothing else to really add to it to go anywhere they want in this great country.
Thanks to ARB Kilsyth for their support with this article. Visit www.arb.com.au.
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