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Convenience comes on a tray
  |  First Published: April 2005



Imagine the possibilities if you could hitch up the caravan and head off to your favourite fishing spot and also be able to take your boat along, too.

I’m not talking a little three-metre punt, either, but your state of the art tournament rig with all the bells and whistles. Nor would you necessarily have to stay in a van park because you would be fully self-contained with electricity, water and refrigeration and all the other comforts of home.

When you arrive and set up camp you have the vehicle free to tow the boat for easy launching or simply to just get around unhindered by either boat or van.

In your dreams? Not really, because such a creature exists and has for a long time and it is a fantastic piece of equipment that has not really caught on big-time in Australia for some reason.

The tray-body camper, which sits on the back of a tray-body ute, is a fabulous idea and with Australia being the ute capital of the world you would expect to see more of them around. Maybe those who like to travel around are not the types to own a ute but if you were looking at taking a serious trip around the country with only one other person, a tray-body camper would be hard to beat.

For a start, there is less maintenance because there aren’t any wheels, axles, draw bars or towing hitches involved in the body, just four anchor points that attach the camper to the car with turnbuckles – that’s it.

Installation of camper to vehicle is very easy and takes about 10 minutes when you get the hang of it. You simply back under the camper and lower it by turning the handles on the four support poles, then attach the turnbuckles and remove the legs.

Reverse the procedure when you arrive at your destination and you have a free-standing mini-cottage which you can lower if you don’t want to climb a couple of steps. Then you can add an annex if you are having a long stay and require more room. What could be simpler?

The added joy is you can go virtually anywhere as these campers fit on the tray of a 4WD nicely so you can get right away to the middle of nowhere, drop the camper body and then do your thing.

I get a bit excited about this concept because when I was a young bloke my family had one of these and it was fantastic.

We would head up or down the coast for a few days and set up camp in some great places, like right on the beach or next to streams or dams. It wasn’t too bad when we went to the snow, either, as you could ski down to the camper for lunch or a drink and avoid all those queues at the food outlets. We could have breakfast and get ready when we arrived at the snowfields while everyone else was scrambling around after being up for hours getting ready.

Being able to tow the boat is a great advantage, too. You have unlimited options: If the fish aren’t on the bite in one location, simply take your home and boat and head to another location and be in the action in less than an hour.

LAYOUT

So let’s have a look at the Sunray Camper version and see what you get and how the package is put together. Basically the camper is a caravan that is made to attach to the back of a tray-back ute. It has all the same attributes and as much room as a small van and more.

At the front there is an elevated double bed which sits over the vehicle cabin in travelling mode. There is a tonne of headroom as the camper has a raised, easy-lift pop-top on hydraulic shocks so even tall people won’t feel cramped. It folds down to keeps a lower, more streamlined profile when travelling.

There are large meshed windows so you will have plenty of air movement in the warmer weather and they zip closed in wet or cooler conditions.

In the main part of the camper there is a fabulous kitchen with a four- burner gas stove and grill, range hood, stainless sink with self-contained water supply of 63 litres or provision for attaching to town water.

A handy fridge and freezer runs off 12-volt or 240-volt power and gas and it holds enough food for several days.

There are cupboards everywhere to store anything you will ever need on a trip and there is more storage space that can be accessed from the rear of the camper for keeping poles and any larger items.

A 9kg gas bottle also is housed in a rear compartment.

An L-shaped lounge with a handy swivel table completes the appointments.

There is excellent lighting, power outlets and cables for TV aerial. The lights are 12-volt and will run off the vehicle supply or through an inverter from an external source. There are halogen lights on either side of the bed, two oyster fittings in the main cabin and a halogen lamp over the lounge.

There is also an external oyster light for general lighting and a light so you can see to put the keys in the door lock.

There are several 240-volt power points fed by a supply plug on the side of the camper in the same manner as a caravan. Power points are protected by an earth-leakage circuit-breaker and there is even a smoke detector. I question the wisdom of a smoke detector in such a small space and in a cooking area but it is probably law these days.

EXTRAS ABOUND

One of the optional extras is a 38cm flat-screen TV on a movable arm that allows you to watch from the lounge or in bed. There are other options like air conditioning, and a variety of fridge and freezer sizes and combinations and a multitude of annex types, from attached roll-out awnings to fully enclosed canvas offering extra living space.

In the larger model you can even have a shower and toilet.

Getting into the camper when it was on the vehicle used to be a bit of a drama but not these days: The Sunray is fitted with strong but light aluminium concertina steps which fold out and self-adjust to any height, be it on the vehicle or on the poles lowered right down to just above ground level. It’s a breeze to get in and out.

When travelling the stairs just fold up inside the doors, which comprise an insulated outer door and a fully screened inner door that is triple-locked for security.

The camper comes in a variety of colours to suit your vehicle and weighs only 560kg before you put in all the fishing gear.

There aren’t any annual registration fees and the body takes up very little storage space and would even be handy as a granny flat if guests arrive.

So now there are no excuses: You can take your accommodation and your boat with you and just pull off the road and bunk down in luxury.

For a better look at one of these campers head to the friendly people at Camden Caravans, 66 Camden Valley Way, Camden East, phone 02 4658 1929 or visit [url=http://www.camdencaravans.com.au/].

The Sunray tray body camper sits easily on the back of any tray body vehicle and can be ready for an instant holiday.

Check out the storage space, there is enough room for all the pots, pans, food and anything else you can think of.

The rear of the camper has more storage and a handy spot to keep the gas bottle.

The kitchen is well equipped with gas hot plates, griller and stainless steel sink.

There are several types of fridge/freezer combinations all with 3 way cooling systems.

The rear lounge and table are both functional and comfortable.

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