Have boat, will travel
  |  First Published: September 2004

I HAVE been watching the growth and development of camper trailers with great interest over the past 10 years and have always considered them the way to go for people who want to combine camping with travelling.

Camper trailers come into their own in situations where people want to be on the move a lot, yet have an easily set up and pulled down camp. When this is combined with fishing it adds another dimension to the eternal dream of a trip around Australia.

There’s now a stack of camper trailers on the road, which vary from the ordinary to the exceptional. As an avid angler, for me the top of the pile belongs solely to the Belco Land & Sea Camper. While it might not have an all-stainless steel kitchen and built-in bathroom, the one big advantage of the Land & Sea Camper is the ability to set up camp and still have a boat on a trailer ready to go anywhere.

Most other camper trailer/boat combos have the boat on top of the tent trailer when underway, which means it has to be lifted off to fold out the tent or, at best, hinged to the side. Either way, once the tent is pitched you are restricted in the distance the boat can be carried to the water.

The other alternative is to carry the boat on top of the tow vehicle, but as anyone who has done this will tell you, no matter how good the loading system, it is still a pain to set up and pull down the tinny.

Colin White, from Quay Marine, told me he went around Australia with a tinny on top and only took it off four times. Every time he felt the urge to fish he looked at the boat on top of the car and decided it was too much trouble. How much better is it to simply launch and retrieve a fully set up boat anywhere you like, without having to load in all the gear, clamp on the motor and drag it to the water?

The other big plus is the size of the boat. 12-foot tinnies are about the limit for a camper trailer or car topper but the Belco Land & Sea Camper comes with a custom-built 4.2m Stessco Bass Tracker, vee-nose punt, which means the whole family can go fishing. The Bass Tracker comes with modified side decks, checkerplate foredeck, low floor and side pockets, motor, all safety gear, fuel tank and motor support bracket.

The advantages of a drive-away boat trailer and a 4.2m boat alone makes it game set and match to Belco. You can add to this the ease of setting up and pulling down. Dave Powell, the sales manager at Quay Marine, and I set up the camper in under 10 minutes for the photo shoot (admittedly, that was without pitching the awning). The other great part was the ease of packing up, which was just as quick and equally as easy.

There’s nothing worse than having to crawl out of a vehicle after a long day on the road, when everyone else is bored while the poor driver is exhausted, and the passengers at best lend a hand – or at worst sit around and watch while Dad sets up camp. A 10-year-old could set up the Belco, while Dad washes the dust out of his throat in the comfort of the director’s chair.

If it’s just an overnight stay, you’ll be set up in minutes. If you’re planning to stay for longer, or if fishing is on the agenda, you simply lower the telescopic poles (which hold the camper in position), lock them into place, and tow the boat and trailer out from underneath, leaving a fully set up camp.

The main tent holds a queen-sized bed up off the ground, with an alloy ladder for easy access, a fully sewn and welded floor, plenty of fine mesh sandfly-proof screens for ventilation and a 9-foot ceiling. There is a 40 square foot awning to create an outdoor living area for longer stays. All the poles and ropes are supplied and the canvas and boat are colour matched. There is also a front cover for the boat to stop it filling with dust.

The heavy-duty trailer has shackle suspension, disc brakes, 45mm axle, long travel springs, spare wheel, jockey wheel, checkerplate guards and steps, tilt trailer and off-road coupling with 235/75 RV tyres. The wheel rims and tyres can also be matched to the tow vehicle on request. A removable stone guard is fitted across the front of the camper for better protection while underway. Belco have been in the boat trailer business for a long time, so they know what they’re doing when it comes to trailer design and construction.

The starboard side of the camper has a large dust-proof locker on top with two side-opening storage compartments. Awning poles are stored in a PVC tube, which is protected from damage by the storage box. Two jerry cans, with carry brackets, come standard.

The starboard rear has a mini kitchen with everything including the sink. Tap, water and all. There are two 3.3kg gas bottles, gas hoses and a two-burner stove. A water tank and fold-out table finish off the kitchen.

Inside the main tent, under the bed, are two more dust-proof storage boxes with hinged lids which, like outside, double as mini tables when open. One of the compartments holds all the kitchen utensils supplied and ready to go (knives, forks, spoons, spatula, tongs, salt and pepper shakers, plates, cups and bowls). The camper is fitted with 12-volt low draw fluoro and LED lights.

These camper trailers are custom made, so there are plenty of options that can be fitted to suit individual needs. If you love your fishing as much as your camping, you can’t go past a Belco Land & Sea Camper. For further details contact Quay Marine in Cairns on (07) 4041 3166


1) The Belco Land & Sea Camper packed and ready to travel. Note the removable stone guard on the draw bar.

2) For short stops the main tent can be erected in minutes, while for longer visits 40-foot of awnings can be added.

3) The queen-sized bed is up off the ground and is accessed via a removable alloy ladder. Underneath are two large dust-proof storage compartments, one holding all the kitchen utensils, ready to go. Just pack your clothes.

4) The starboard side showing storage and kitchen set up.

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