Rachel and Paul live in Queensland, Australia, with wonderful scenery on their doorstep. With a fully kitted out camper van they’re strong advocates of the spontaneous approach to taking off at a moment’s notice, parking up at a scenic spot, throwing open the doors and enjoying the view. They converted a Toyota Hiace minibus into a fabulous, self-contained camper van. It looks stunning … as is the view from their camper van window.
Happy Campers’ is a series of posts featuring camper vans and their owners. It’s designed to offer advice and inspiration to new and existing camper van owners – featuring members of the WildaboutScotland community. To take part, please send an e-mail to me answering the standard question format below together with a good photo or two.
1. Introducing ourselves and our camper van
We’re Rachel and Paul and our campervan is a much-loved (yet still nameless !) Toyota Hiace. Originally from England we’ve lived in Queensland, Australia for the last eight years.
We converted our little campervan three years ago from a 14-seater minibus. Paul stripped the van back to its shell and installed a seating/bedroom area, galley kitchen and miniature bathroom. We love the bathroom !
2. How do we use our camper van ?
We mostly use it for days out and long weekends up and down the coast. Last Christmas we enjoyed our longest trip which was a fantastic week exploring Queensland’s wine region.
Distances in Australia are so huge that it would take days to reach most of the other states, so we’re waiting until we can take some proper time off work !
3. Best thing we love about our van ?
We love the layout; we haven’t seen this style in any other Hiace Commuter van, but it makes complete sense. We can pack so much into a very compact space and with hot running water, a gas cooker and little bathroom, we are very self sufficient.
Most of all though, we love the way the campervan makes us smile as soon as we open the door. It’s a very special lifestyle.
4. Pet gripes ?
Nothing really. We opted not to install a pop-top roof, so have to stoop very slightly in the kitchen (the living area has extra head height), but living in a warm climate we don’t spend hours slaving over the inside stove !
5. Favourite accessories ?
A bit dull but we’ve been really pleased with our electric water heater. It heats the water to 70 degrees when plugged into the 240v, and only loses one degree per hour when we disconnect, so we can enjoy warm water even when venturing off-piste.
Other than that (and without wishing to conform to the stereotype of a 1950s campervan-wife) I do love our very swishy broom that cleans the wooden floor in seconds !
And our patriotic back door is always a talking point among the Aussies. We can put our feet up on the couch with a nice cup of tea and think of England !
6. Best tip for new owners ?
Don’t wait for your week off or that elusive sunny bank holiday; just keep your campervan packed up and ready to go then you can take off at a moment’s notice. If you haven’t got time for a night away, just drive to the coast or a scenic spot for a couple of hours, throw open the doors and enjoy the view !
7. Best trip in our van ?
We’re very fortunate to have some amazing coastline on our doorstep, and our favourite trips have been close to home. We had a memorable stay on the Sunshine Coast a few months ago. The day we were due to leave, the road outside the campsite was closing at 6am for a triathlon. So we decided to leave at 5am and headed to the aptly named Sunrise Beach just round the corner.
I hovered around the sand dunes with my camera, patiently waiting for the sun to rise from behind the only cloud in the sky, while Paul went back to bed for an hour and appeared at the same time as the sun.
We had a long walk along the beach, enjoyed a lovely brekkie overlooking the waves and then pootled back down the coast. The best start to a morning !!
8. Dream trip ?
We’ve travelled around parts of New Zealand in a rented campervan, so would love to do a longer trip around the whole country. The landscape is spectacular.
And in moments of extreme madness we’ve pondered the overland trip from Australia to the UK; we’d need to invest in some slightly more robust tyres though for Mongolia’s notoriously knobbly highways.
9. Favourite campsite ?
It would have to be a campsite in Maroochydore, a couple of hours north of Brisbane. The site overlooks the beach where the Maroochy River meets the ocean; you’re greeted with crashing waves on one side, sheltered waters on the other and white sand all around. Whether you think waves are for surfing, fishing or photographing, it’s a wonderful spot. There’s also a great surf club just along the beach for a nice cool beverage at the end of the day.
10. When I’m not camping we’re …
… trying to work out how our little campervan can accommodate a third person ! Our first baby arrived recently and while he can fit quite nicely into the van, he is accompanied by rather a lot of paraphernalia. So if anyone has worked out how to install a baby capsule in a Toyota Hiace (as well as a travel cot, nappy changing station and felt elephant mobile), we would love to hear from you !
You can read more about our full campervan conversion and recent trips at www.campervanconverts.com.
If you’re a Happy Camper and have a story to tell, please e-mail me and send a photo or two using the ‘Get in Touch’ form.