“Does she have a name?” we asked the couple as they passed over the keys to our new 1985 VW Trakka Camper. “Just the camel” they replied. We decided to us, she was ‘Alice the Camel’ and with that our adventure began. We had flown in from Melbourne and picked up Alice just south of the Gold Coast in early December 2016, ready to drive her down the east coast for a classic Australian road-trip.
We truly live and breath vintage VW campers. Living and working seasonally in the US (one of us being American and the other Australian), we escape the cold US winters back home in Australia for as long as we can. This year we decided we needed to extend our VW family and purchase a camper in Australia that we can travel in when we come back each year.
In the States we have managed to frame our business around our love for VW Kombi’s. We run a tour company in the Black Hills of South Dakota with our uniquely built 12 seater, stretched 1969 Kombi, named Fiona. During the slower times of the year, we restore and sell vintage aircooled VW campers and transporters through our small workshop.
At just over 30 years young, Alice is the newest VW camper we have ever had and we were immediately impressed with the TRAKKA conversion (in the states we focus on pre ’79 buses). Of the dozens campers that have passed through our hands, the layout has proven both high quality and functionality with great unique features. We were also lucky that it had been kept in great condition and been loved by her TRAKKA family before us.
Cooking in a VW camper had never appealed to either of us, but the ability to rotate our TRAKKA stove outwards made cooking (and making countless coffees) remarkably easier. We were so impressed with the amount of storage and thankful that the gas pumped pop-top was so easy to elevate – a task that now seems quite difficult on our US counterparts. We also appreciate the undercarriage water tank, as many of the Westfalia’s we work on in the US take up precious and often prime storage space with the fresh water tanks.
So far Alice has travelled around 5000 kms with us, and probably been dragged on a few off-trail roads that her 2WD self would rather forget. She’s cruised the east coast, crawled through the Blue Mountains and made her way through much of country Victoria. On each trip, greeted with waves and honks from other TRAKKA family members on the road.
We have a few more weeks with our Alice this time around. Although, having won the hearts of our many family and friends who can’t wait to borrow her for weekend getaways, it is unlikely she will be without an adventure for very long.