Introducing Black Betty – House on Wheels Take 2

I know Jess has already ‘introduced’ Black Betty but I thought it was time to do it properly…. i.e. Blokey-ly….

So settle in for another one of my monster posts. (I don’t post often, I just post BIG)

First up, Stats:

Make: All Terrain Camper Trailer (ATC)

Year: 2009

Model: 17′ Full Off Road with upgraded deluxe kitchen and ‘Moon Roof” otherwise it is bog standard (well, it was….)

No disrespect to Karen Camper, living in her during our big trip was very comfortable, but there were times when we faced a decision whether to take a certain road or not, based on if we felt Karen would make it. Jess and I do not like being limited like that, if we want to go somewhere or do something, then nothing is stopping us.

Enter “Black Betty”

2013-10-14 15.19.18

ATC were created by a husband and wife team in Sydney with the desire to build an “indestructible” camper for their regular trips to the Cape, whilst retaining some creature comforts and practical tent design. What they built was a balance of Blokey toughness and female influence, for us, it ticked every box.

Our criteria was simple.

1. Easy 10min setup where we can (all 6 of us) be inside, dry and bedding set up.

2. No road to ever be excluded again

3. Option to expand the tent area for longer stays.

We found plenty of campers that would fit all of us, but even the most basic set up would require 20 poles/pegs and ropes plus a tribe of helpers (ours are not quite old enough yet). BB’s basic set up requires 2 poles, no ropes, no pegs. The ‘normal’ set up requires 4 more poles and 2 ropes and the “full monty” set up including the Kidz Room extension that essentially doubles the internal area requires about 30mins longer but ticks our box for expandability.  We found plenty of campers claiming to be ‘off road’ only to find that the chassis would have 10 separate pieces welded, the body would be tack welded to the frame, and the suspension would be some complicated, convoluted independent arrangement requiring many specialist parts (read: hard to find). BB has a single piece 150×50 chassis, FULLY seam welded body and 9 leaf eye-to-eye suspension (i.e. the suspension choice of the original caveman that created the wheel)

Normal Set up with the annex

Normal Set up with the annex


The Kidz Room attaches to the window on the RHS of this photo (the window becomes the door to the Kidz Room)

The Kidz Room attaches to the window on the RHS of this photo (the window becomes the door to the Kidz Room)

We narrowed the field to 2, Cameron Campers and ATC’s. The Camerons come from SA and the ATC’s from Sydney, so it was difficult to find anything local-ish. I trawled every camper trailer sales resource for about 6 months without luck, until one night I was looking at the very informative for something unrelated and I noticed they have a classifieds page, it was here that I found BB in Laura of all places!

The previous owners happened to come to Mareeba to do their shopping once a month and offered to bring it down and set it up for us, we knew the minute we saw her, this was the one. Sure, she has seen some miles, cosmetically she looks like a pack-a-day smoking alcoholic vs some of the supermodel “never been off road/hardly used” campers out there, but she ticked our boxes and she was clearly well used. Much like how I advertised Karen as “well loved and time proven”, we knew any kinks in BB were well and truly ironed out by now.

I liked the fact that she was bog standard as well because it allowed me to do the ‘necessary’ upgrades myself, how we want them. I will do another post about the changes we have done to date to get Black Betty road ready.

So that is Black Betty. She will be getting a baptism of fire in 2 weeks when we drag her to Lawn Hill via the Burke Development Road and sleep our first night in her, yeah, we haven’t even had a chance to have the backyard sleep out yet……

Here is a great video review of exactly our camper (minus the ensuite)

What do you reckon?  Anybody else out there with a camper trailer?  Love it or hate it?


Categories: Camping, Modifications, Planning | Tags: | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Introducing Black Betty – House on Wheels Take 2

  1. greatozescape

    Congratulations on the new acquisition, Matt; looking forward to reading about your trip to Lawn Hill, and to many other adventures in Black Betty!

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