I myself have been camping my entire life. Some of my earliest memories are at camping sites learning to ride a bike, fishing with my brother and cousins and carrying on like kids do. My wife on the other hand came from a family that never once even thought about going camping. Her first camping trip was entirely because of me but it took 8 years and 2 kids before she finally agreed to give it a go on the proviso that we camped in style. Glamping! We bought everything. You name it we had it. Camping was once again awesome but the time it took to set it all up was insane and just as long to take it all down, pack it up, re pack in it in the shed when you get home, painful…. but worth it!
We did this for a few years, more and more often and for longer each time. We thought about going on a trip up to Yeppoon which is an 11 hour drive from the Gold Coast. With kids it’s long a drive so we thought we could stop on the way at Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay then go up to Yeppoon for a week and then again stop somewhere on the way home for a night or 2. Instantly I was hit with the work and what it would take to do that. Each set up if done in full, is like 4 hours at best and the take downs are basically the same. That’s three setups and three take downs… 24 hours work??? No way! We need to buy a Caravan. So, we did! We initially thought about buying a much older van and doing it up. Full reno, gut it all and start again. I’m a residential builder so I thought that I could do it no worries but when looking into old vans I realised they are just too much work and so much can go wrong. Rusty trailer, new gas lines and electrical so you never really know. After much thought, we bought a newer van, something that was basically ready to go. Everything works and we like the lay out.
We ended up going with a 18ft single axel 2007 Crusader XL with all the pros of most modern vans, A/C, 3-way fridge, Large deep cycle battery and plenty of storage due to not being a pop top. It was perfect but with my wife’s love of interior decorating the van was in need of a modern makeover! Now with the whole idea of this van being for minimal work we just had a few things to change to make it perfect for our family. The timber panelling was in great condition but there was just too much of it. I believe it would have looked dated the day it was made, and we also didn’t want the kids to sleep on the couches as this meant having to set up their bedding every night and pack it away every morning. We needed to come up with an idea to for some more permanent beds for our two kids. My wife thought of bunks above ours and its proven to be a winner! A little poky when you’re trying to put clothes in the back cupboards but you can stand up and do what you need to reasonably easy.
I built the bunks rails out of rebated material to support all of the cross runs and built up the sides with MDF to stop the little ones from rolling out. In the middle there is a divider to stop them sharing one side. I made the bunks to suit a mattress size that Ikea sell called the Junior Bed (700x1600mm) the size in between the cot and the single mattress and perfect for young kids and a caravan. Once the bunks were made we were ready for the spray job. This was a big job but well worth it. We taped everything that wasn’t getting painted which basically took two days for two people. Once everything was taped we cleaned all remaining surfaces with Methylated Spirits then sprayed 1 coat of Zinsser Cover Stain and Prep, then sprayed 2 coats of water based semi-gloss to all walls and cupboards. I sprayed 3 coats of grey to the cupboard doors and draw fronts outside of the van. Once dry, reassembled everything and the van was like brand new!!! The wife got to do her “decorating”, the kids got their bunks and it’s good for the family for a decade