CAMPING - CAMPER TRAILERS
Outback Travel Australia is proud to be associated with a venture to design and construct a camper trailer that’s purpose-built for wheelchair people. The first such product is now doing sterling service for Jol Fleming and his crew.
The prototype was donated to outback legend and Alice Springs identity, Jol Fleming, who runs a 4WD training and tag-along tours business from his wheelchair and from the driving seat of a 4WD that’s fitted with hand controls. OTA has done many bush trips with Jol over the years and several of them are recorded in the Destinations section.
The Jol Van Project was committed to design and build a specialised camper trailer for Jol Fleming and was initiated by Darrell White, who headed up Tray-Tek Campers, before selling the business to Trayon. Darrell has done several trips with Jol and was determined to make his bush life easier, as well as easing the work load on Jol’s carers and helpers.
One of Jol’s tag-along regulars, Liz Cuming, handled the financial part of the Jol Van Project. Liz met Jol more than a decade ago and is thankful for
all the experience and knowledge he has shared with her, as he has with so many. He opened up the wonderful world of the outback and off-roading and
he really did change her life.
Severely hampered by the effects of a vehicle rollover in his twenties which left him an ‘incomplete quadriplegic’, needing constant help with everyday tasks most take for granted, Jol concentrates: “Not on the things I can’t do, but on the things I can”.
Jol grew up with Aboriginal people and his broad knowledge, generosity of spirit, and readiness to share his very big backyard (The Outback) with all-comers, make Jol a truly great Australian.
He has recently celebrated his 60th birthday – some achievement for one who wasn’t expected to reach 40 – at which time his family, friends and some business acquaintances pledged to fund and custom-build an off-road caravan equipped to meet his specialised needs.
Streamlining daily medical and care requirements made his beloved outback trips safer and more enjoyable for all concerned.
Hella provided all the interior and exterior lights free of charge; the Bridgestone dealer in Alice Springs donated three tyres; ROH contributed mine-rated steel wheels at little more than freight price; and Trayon/Traytek Campers came up with a nose pod at mates’ rates.
The trailer build started with a Darrell White-built rolling chassis in September 2015, followed by a busy October that saw the interior and exterior sheeting rivetted and bonded in place.
Kez and Allan W from OTA lent a hand with the sheeting exercise. Soon after, the Tieman tailgate lifter arrived and was fitted.
Linda White gave it a test run on the family quad and all worked according to plan.
Next add ons were the heater/hot water system and the pop-top roof actuators. The FRP/aluminium roof went on a few weeks later.
Darrell opted for an OzHitch coupling, because of its low profile and interchangeability with a Tregg-type receiver.
The finishing touches took another few weeks and the unit was ready for on and off road trials in early 2016. Kez and Allan W headed up to Queensland in
a Toyota LandCruiser 200GX wagon to do the inaugural test.
The new trailer towed beautifully behind the ‘Cruiser, coping with steep crests and washaways without grounding anything.
Linda and Darrell White towed it to Alice Springs for the handover to Jol Fleming. After an initial inspection, a test drive and overnight camp, Jol was delighted with his new ‘toy’. Since then it’s done three outback jaunts in the Alice Springs area and across the Northern Simpson Desert.
Jol’s support crew is as happy with the new trailer as is Jol, because it affords a sterile environment and considerably speeds up the morning and evening
Check out Jol’s test drive, filmed by Linda White, towing the new camper: