The Brisbane Camperland story began back in 1981, when current owner ‘Jimmy’ Carnavas and his wife Cherilyn were out shopping for a Camper Trailer to holiday in with their young family. Following a weekend of searching, Cherilyn spotted an advertisement in the newspaper reading ‘Camper Trailer sales yard for sale, millionaires need not apply’. Sounding like the ideal business for the young couple they approached fellow workmate Graham Kelly and his wife Lenore, and together the two families raised a deposit which enabled them to pursue the dream of owning their own business.
Operating out of a small yet iconic location, under the ‘Big Boot’ on the corner or Gympie and Rode Roads at Chermside, the Brisbane Camperland journey began with a staff of 3. The initial years proved to be testing times as the young businessmen battled against the odds of high interest rates and harsh economic times for the caravan industry in the early eighties. In fact, it was 2 weeks until they sold their first caravan. In the early days Brisbane Camperland would take on any work they could, whether it was caravan related or not. Although sales were few and far between it wasn’t long before Brisbane Camperland had developed a reputation amongst the Qld caravanning community for their great customer service.
By the mid-eighties the camping fraternity had developed a keen eye for Jayco Camper Trailers, which proved to be one of Brisbane Camperland’s greatest assets. As the order list for these innovative Camper Trailers began to grow, so did Brisbane Camperland. It wasn’t long before Brisbane Camperland had expanded into caravan and camping spare parts with the introduction of a small store in the corner of their sales office selling just the essentials.
By the early nineties, Brisbane Camperland had grown to a staff of 8, and with the introduction of a greater range of exciting Jayco products, Brisbane Camperland began to prosper. The company even boasted one of Australia’s first undercover showrooms for RV’s. In what seemed like a crushing blow to Jim and Graham, in 1994 their landlord informed the men that their leased premises was to be sold, and they had a month to re-locate. The news came as a shock to both partners. It was a classic case of ‘Sink or Swim’!
With a strong desire to keep the business operational, Jim and Graham scoured the city for vacant sales yards, in search of the perfect location. Following weeks of frantic searching, Jim managed to locate a small sales yard on the corner of Stanton and Wynnum Roads at Tingalpa on Brisbane’s Southside (our current premises). The one redeeming feature of this site was the accessibility from both sides of Brisbane and the close proximity to the Gateway Arterial Road. With limited time available the partners signed a lease and the shift began. The sales office and spare parts store operated out of cramped, hired de-mountable buildings, with the workshop and detailing staff operating out of a shipping container with a blue tarpaulin for protection from the elements. While the relocation seemed tough, their new location soon gained the attention of a new demographic of bayside dwellers who had a keen interest in the great outdoors.
Differences in direction lead to a business partnership split in 1995, and Jim, the younger of the two partners, decided to purchase Grahams share of the business. By 1996 the staff had grown to 11, and Jayco were celebrating 20 years as a manufacturer in Australia, which was a great milestone for the company who were now the largest caravan manufacturer in the country. In 1996, an opportunity arose to lease a larger patch of land at the Wynnum Road site, following the re-location of John Crawford Marine, another iconic bayside business. Jim saw this as a great opportunity to expand his business, and with the growing demand for the RV lifestyle, he took on the much needed space. Along with the additional display area came a permanent office building, a much welcomed improvement to the demountable offices that they’d become accustomed to.
It wasn’t long before Jims sons Shane and Joshua, joined the business in 1996 and 1998 respectively, as keen young salesmen. Hence, the true family business began. Between 1999 and 2004 the caravan industry in Australia enjoyed great growth. Aided by the uncertainty of overseas travel prompted by the September 11 attacks on New York and the growing spread of terrorism, the industry was fuelled by a desire for Aussies to travel in the safety of their own country, in the comfort of their own RV. Throughout the early 2000’s Brisbane Camperland recorded sales never seen before by the company and were named ‘Jayco dealer of the year' for 2000, 2003 & 2004.
At the 2003 Brisbane Caravan & Camping show Brisbane Camperland smashed all current Jayco show records, and recorded sales of 263 units, ‘quite an achievement’ for a Brisbane based company competing against dealerships in regions with much larger population bases. Along with the growth in the industry came a further need for expansion.
With the new combined energy of the family, in 2004, a need for a more substantial RV Accessory store was recognised, so they embarked on re-building an existing workshop into a modern RV accessories showroom, one of the best in the country at the time. A further niche was recognised in 2006, and with a vision to take the level of service offered in the RV industry to a new level, Brisbane Camperland began construction of a specialised RV service centre and holding yard, also freeing up valuable dealership space. This facility has received the highest of praise amongst the industry and has been used to benchmark RV service facilities within Australia. The construction of this facility prompted Jayco to recognise the dealerships new approach to RV retail, and they awarded Brisbane Camperland the ‘National outstanding customer service award’, shortly after the opening of the centre.
Whilst still celebrating the record breaking sales of 2007, 2008 marked a small set back to the RV industry following the GFC (Global Financial Crisis), with sales dropping by an estimated 20%. Whilst Jayco Australia continued to trade well through these testing times, the news wasn’t as good for a number of other well-known Australian RV manufacturers and dealers who were forced to close their doors. Through these toughen economic times, the resilience of the Australian caravanning community shone through, possibly due to the affordability and lifestyle offered only by the caravan lifestyle. Some interesting studies revealed that the overnight stays in RV sites and Tourist park accommodation including cabins, were the only growing sector the Australian tourism market following the GFC. 2008 also marked a sad time with the passing of Gordon Tolcher, Brisbane Camperlands long serving accountant, sounding board, business advisor and friend. The boardroom located at our service centre was named the ‘Tolcher’ boardroom in recognition of Gordon’s friendship and sound business guidance.
The Brisbane Camperland dealership consistently ranks as one of the most awarded Jayco dealerships in the country. The hard work and dedication of the Brisbane Camperland team, along with our belief in the Jayco product is our greatest asset. In 2010 we were again awarded ‘Jayco National Dealer of the Year’, and for the second time since the awards recent inception, in 2011 we were awarded the ‘Jayco outstanding customer service award’, which is now considered by many as the most prestigious of awards offered by Jayco at their annual dealers conference.
2011 marked another great milestone for Brisbane Camperland as we celebrated 30 years as a family owned and operated business.
In 2012 we launched our first on-line business, Caravanpro, offering a great range of Caravan Accessories, delivered to your door.
In 2013 and 2015 Brisbane Camperland were again awarded 'Jayco Dealer of the Year' awards, ranking us as the No.1 agent for Jayco RV's in Australia.
With a keen focus on continuous improvement, in 2015 we renovated and extended our RV Service centre to incorporate our RV Pre-Delivery centre, once again raising the standard of Caravan service centres in Australia.
We’re extremely proud of our team of hard working staff, with many team members sharing in our journey for the last 10 years, some for 15 years and even a few for over 20 years. Our commitment to exceed our customer’s expectations will continue for years to come, and the future plans for our business include some exciting pursuits to further grow the company and establish ourselves as ‘Australia’s Premier RV dealership providing a purchase experience that exceeds our clients expectations’.
Jayco leisure wheels | our original trading name
the carnavas family accepting jayco awards | early 2000's
The very first jayco owners club in qld with gerry ryan | jayco founder