On a wet day at Pretty Beach on the South Coast NSW, we’d been watching a group of campers grow gradually from one rig to several, the final number at around 20 people including several kids and their 30-something-year-old parents. But this was no collection of city slickers with noisy soundboxes, rather an extended family reunion of people who clearly worked hard in trade industries and who valued time near the surf and the bush where the kids could get back to nature. The surf was bad thanks to inclement weather, so the adults were settled down under a well set-up ‘Tarp-Mahal’ chatting while the kids were doing what kids do best: making cubby houses among the bushes and riding bikes. Our six year-old daughter wasted no time befriending Bjorn and Jodie Dickson’s little girl, Lillian, so once everyone else looked settled we wandered over for a yarn.
Bjorn and Jodie had set themselves up with a Coolabah Camper by Coffs Canvas, which they’d bought second hand around four years ago. “We’re originally from WA and have been campers all our life. We wanted a camper trailer because we had planned an extended camping/prospecting trip,” Bjorn explained.
When deciding what rig to purchase, Bjorn and Jodie had no intention of buying the newest, biggest setup on the market. Instead they were looking for a good quality, Australian-made camper within their price bracket and they found it in the Coolabah, which was discontinued as a model by Coffs Canvas 15 years ago. As a tribute to its original construction quality, the Dicksons can’t fault it. Happy to keep things simple, they love the box trailer-based rig that’s easy to erect with plenty of storage down low. They added their own custom slide-out kitchen and water tank with hand pump.
What the young family loves most about getting away is the chance to wind-down away from work with fun, relaxing activities like fishing and surfing. “It’s great when you get a lyrebird walk through camp,” Jodie told us as she explained how she loves to spot wildlife. As for what things the family like least when camping? Inconsiderate, rowdy, drunken neighbour campers. And we tend to agree.
Far from spoiling anyone else’s camping experience, this large group represented exactly what we all like to see in a bunch of young travellers. They were polite, quiet and responsible enough to maintain a discrete but watchful eye on their young kids so they didn’t interfere with other campers’ enjoyment. We hope that this couple and their extended family have years of enjoyable camping ahead of them.
WHO ARE THEY?
Names: Bjorn and Jodie Dickson, with their daughter Lillian
Where’s home: Shellharbour NSW
Home on the road: Coffs Canvas Coolabah Camper
Camper mods: 12V fridge system and ancillaries; slide-out kitchen; water tank with hand pump.
Tow vehicle: Ford Maverick and Nissan Patrol
Vehicle mods: Dual battery system; CB radio; drawer system in the back; side steps; roof racks
Favourite Destination: Pretty Beach, Murramarang National Park and Bendalong, Shoalhaven.
Lessons learnt: Carry more fuel and water than you think you’ll need.
Future plans: Great Ocean Road and Cactus Beach, a well-known surfing destination along the Eyre Highway in SA. They also enjoy Lake Conjola in the Shoalhaven on the NSW South Coast.