Camplyfe Over The Ditch / by craig levers


The gorgeous Ange and I love our Chevy. We've owned the big beast for a couple of years now and it hasn't missed a beat. We've over capitalised on it for sure, but we were always going to. Sometimes it is nice just to do the things that make something better and fun. Not be totally focused the economic return.  It's been a passion project for sure, and we're proud of where it is now compared to where it started. 

There's always the next project, and we're thinking about down scaling a tad. We're thinking Troopy. Sort of like this....


It's a big deal. As the opening line reads; we really do love the Chevy. So this week we went on a test. You can't rent Troopy's in NZ anymore... bummer, we'll just have to go to Queensland for a quick bit of research! 


We hired this for 5 days, knowing that Apollo sell their ex-rentals and in fact have a couple of these for sale now. 

So before I get into the good stuff I am going to bag Apollo here, because we are dismayed at their service. The front house rental staff- awesome, super helpful and nice, but that's where it stops. In the future I will use any other rental company before using Apollo again. 

A few years ago my good mate Steve Fortune was looking to buy one of their ex-rentals too. Steve saw the model on-line he liked, rang Apollo sales to confirm the vehicle was on site at their Brisbane yard. Sweet, he flew over. Not sweet, the vehicle wasn't there when he arrived, no one knew what he was talking about. He was, quite rightly, furious. 

Knowing Steve's misadventure, both Ange and I have been talking to the Apollo sales department. We are [were] dead serious buyers. The phone calls and emails are nothing short of rad. No care, very little desire to be helpful or offer solutions. OK, if we want this, the message is, we're going to have to do the work. The Apollo sales team are there to bank the cheque and hand over the keys. 

So we hire the Troopy camper as the final test run before pressing BUY NOW. Because it's peak season we pay the premium rate. On pick up we're advised that there is a $75 cleaning fee if the vehicle is not returned in exactly the same state it is. Have you ever had to valet a rental before returning it? Insurance; we payed the extra excess reduction, but Apollo have an extra extra. Insurance doesn't cover above the windscreen or the undercarriage, that's extra- extra for that. We're advised we have to buy toll road cover- another $75.00. We pay extra for deck chairs and an outside table- that's alright, most rental co's have add ons like that. But driving out of the rental office, we were not feeling good. We've hired campers in Oz before, we've both hired cars all around the world. I used to work for Avis. This was not usual. No maps, no camper manual and no mallet for the awning pegs. Lucky we know our way around campers. 

We talked to a couple of other Apollo renters on our travels. They had similar experiences and stories from other renters. Gear missing, systems failing, dirty vehicles on pick up. The vibe was the Apollo company was not helpful. 

OK- bleet over. The point is, I would encourage you to book a camper/motorhome with any other company over Apollo. 


The good stuff. Aussie fricken rules for campgrounds! There are a lot of council owned and run campgrounds in central and beachside locations. More often than not premium real estate. The Fraser Coast is no exception with three well maintained beachside motorcamps in Hervey Bay. We wanted to try somewhere new and test out living in the Troopy the way we do the Chevy. 


Hervey Bay's iconic Urangan Pier... 868 metres long.

The Fraser Coast is the doorstep to the Great Barrier Reef.  It's also Australia's self proclaimed fishing capital. There is no surf.  But there's plenty of boat charters offering fishing, whale and dolphin watching. There's also the chance to snorkel with dugongs and turtles. With limited time, we opted for the latter option and did a half day trip with Hervey Eco-Marine Tours  . It was excellent. The wind skunked us for a decent snorkel/water time.


But the glass bottom boat is great and the staff were really personable. Part of Eco-Marine's gig is employing the local Butchulla tribe to share culture and insight into the area. Local tribesman Joe was bloody hilarious with his terrible dad jokes but also a wealth of indigenous knowledge.


To be honest I kind of rail against touristy stuff.  I have to admit the boat trip with Eco-Marine was really fun and great value for money at $105.00 per adult. Basic morning tea, light lunch and all the snorkeling gear included. 

Food; we ate so much fricken seafood. So many prawns, Hervey Bay Scollops, Calamari, Morton Bay Bugs. The options for dinning in Hervey Bay are excellent. We even had great Baramundi and chips from the local dairy on PT Vernon.  


The Troopy; well, you already know we won't be buying an ex-rental from Apollo huh! First impressions; this is small. The design of Apollo's Trailfinder didn't work for us at all. Access to the two biggest storage compartments is hard. You can't recline on the bench seats at all, your head hits the roof seam where Apollo have cut the poptop cavity. Either the benches need to be lower, or a wider cavity cut. It made us both appreciate just how much room and storage we have in the Chevy. If we do sell the Chevy, fitting out a Troopy is going to be a real challenge. Stay posted, there are plans a foot!  

From The Galleries


If you blow up this pano to say... 1200mm wide you can see the old Hiace 4x4 camper van perched up at Supers. Epic day of swell. Shot on the Fotoman 617 camera. Check it out HERE