When we met them, Mark and Margaret looked casually chic wearing garb you’d expect to see at a blues festival. Their relaxed demeanour seemed in keeping with their funky tear-drop camper, settled among a cluster of caravans, tents and swags at a recent archery event near Newcastle.
Teardrop campers are magnets for discussion: their compact retro-styling puts a smile on anyone’s face. And we were no exception. It was good to hear their take on this quirky little van.
Mark and Margaret’s association with camper trailers started in a more conventional way. When the kids were involved, a Jayco camper was the home away from home. But when the coop was free, this couple were drawn to the home-made teardrop camper. “It was retro and all we needed for the two of us,” Margaret said. The camper weighs in under the 500kg unbraked capacity of their tow-tug diesel, a Hyundai i30 (1300kg braked), with Mark confirming that both car and van were working well together.
Margaret likes the comfy bed and the accessible kitchen. She told us “It’s so easy to camp comfortably compared to a tent or caravan – and there’s so much character in our little van”. Mark admits the camper’s timber panelling and home-made construction requires some maintenance, but he doesn’t mind as it fosters an uncomplicated and relaxing way of life.
“Camping allows us to recalibrate what is important and to get away from the distractions we don’t really need.” As long as they’re away from crowded commercial camping sites, this couple is happy.
When asked to share a memorable moment with their van, Mark and Margaret told us about the time they were camping during a blues fest (so we were right about all that jazz!).
“We brought along our espresso coffee machine”, Mark told us. “Halfway through making a brew, a couple came up and ordered two large lattes with soy! I explained that we weren’t selling coffee, but offered them to have a cup with us…”
We reckon this little teardrop deserves a better ‘wrap’ than a coffee stop. In an era where ‘big, bigger, biggest’ is all the rage – it’s great to see an original, fit-for-purpose micro-hybrid still has a firm footing in the camper trailer scene.
WHO ARE THEY?
Names: Mark Berry and Margaret Leske
Home: Helensburgh, NSW
Home on the road: Home-made tear-drop camper constructed (according to its compliance plate) by one ‘Mr Thompson’.
Camper mods: New mattress; LED lighting; shelving inside; new fridge; solar charger and 100Ah deep cycle battery. The couple has also added a 3x3m marquee tent for living space, that takes only a couple of minutes to erect. “It’s also provided us with a waterproof cover for the van when it pours,” said Mark.
Tow vehicle: Hyundai i30 diesel (CRDi)
Vehicle mods: Anderson plug and towbar
Favourite destination: Margaret and Mark love traditional archery events and the blues festivals.
Scariest moment:“A bent axle going down Mount Buller in the Victorian High Country”, Mark said. “It left us with one wheel pointing about 10° left of centre. Some awesome farm engineers in Omeo straightened out the axle and welded it up to get us home for less than $100”.
Lessons learnt: “You don’t need a huge expensive rig to have a great time,” said Margaret. And we reckon there’s a lesson on how good old-fashioned service is still alive on the back-roads of this great country.