Queensland outback

Carnarvon Gorge

Moore Park Beach turtles

Sydney circular

Santa's trip

Formula One interlude


Caravanning News is registered with the National Library of Australia's PANDORA archive

July 2014

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JULY 29: Fire crews free couple trapped in wreckage after caravan-truck crash truck on WA's Brand Highway at Red Gully. Airlifted to hospital.

JULY 28: Fifth Wheeler Network calls on Ballarat council in Victoria to provide free camping and dumping points for caravans and other RVs.

JULY 27: Couple taken to hospital with minor injuries after their tow vehicle and Supreme caravan rolled on Bruce Highway north of Marlborough in Queensland today.

***  Click on Breaking News above to see full list of stories.


How to win back budget conscious travellers

I HAVE stayed at caravan parks in Cooktown and found their prices quite reasonable.

And we have just come back from caravanning out west to Mt Isa.

Apart from a caravan park in Cloncurry (not value for money), everywhere else we stayed was reasonably priced at $22.50 a night for two people on a powered site ... and when you are on a budget that is a fair price.

Many self contained RVs, and others like ourselves, are opting for the free camps around the country because site prices have been steadily creeping up to the ridiculous.

So my advice to caravan park owners or operators is keep it clean, grassed and reasonably priced.

Then you will get the holidaymakers back again.

Helen Booth.

Rolling out
the blame
for putting others at risk

WHY shouldn't some people who roll their caravans get a fine?

After all, they do cost the insurers and police money to clean up the mess.

I see rollover applicants driving along at too high a speed, with their caravan swaying all over the road all the time.

Please don't argue that a person can't tell when his 1.5-tonne car is being manipulated by a 2-tonne 'van.

Sometimes they travel down the highway at you on your side of the road, driving along without a worry in the world.

You meet them and tell them their 'van is all over the road only to be told: "I didn't feel a thing."

People should accept responsibility for their poor judgement which puts others in danger.

I am more concerned for other road users ... the innocent parties who are at risk of being injured or killed by a caravan rollover.

Paul Trude.

Bitter outback pill for poorly grey nomads

I WOULD like to comment on last month's story on ill-prepared grey nomads clogging up outback hospital emergency departments (see story here).

It might have something to do with the fact that the doctors won't bulk bill.

We were confronted with this last year.

And the doctor's advice? Go to the emergency department!

John Hutcheon.


Bus stop scare for teenager

Police hunt caravanner who offered girl a lift

POLICE in NSW are hunting a suspicious caravanner who approached a teenage girl waiting at a bus stop. They have appealed for witnesses after the balding grey-haired man offered the 15-year-old a lift in Croudace Bay Road, Belmont, on Friday morning (July 25). Police said a white car towing a caravan stopped near her. The frightened girl refused the driver's request to get in the car and walked away. Police from Lake Macquarie Local Area Command are investigating. The man is described as being of Caucasian appearance, 40 to 45 years of age, average build with long wiry grey hair with bald patches. He smelt of cigarettes. His car is a white older model Holden Commodore ‒ possibly a utility ‒ with yellow and black number plates. It was towing a pop-top caravan. Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Have your say

The Higmans with their recovered Jayco caravan

Couple's holiday dream shattered

Nomads reunited with stolen 'van

By Dennis Amor

TWO Victorian grey nomads have been reunited with their caravan which was filmed as a thief towed it away from their home. The Higmans of Patterson Lakes in Melbourne were the victims of an alleged serial caravan thief. Victoria Police claim the villain, who they said wore wigs to disguise his appearance, had attempted to steal other caravans in the area. Ron (72) and Leonie (67) Higman had only recently bought their $50,000 21ft 6in Jayco caravan and were planning to leave this week on a road trip to Darwin. Ron, a caravanner for 40 years, told Caravanning News he was overjoyed to get the Jayco back. "We were devastated when it was stolen," he said. "Leonie went to get the mail and came running back inside saying it had gone. I didn't believe her. It was a big shock." The former manager of a Fletcher Jones clothing store said the couple's planned holiday would be put on hold while repairs were made to their caravan. Daughter Faye Goodridge said a neighbour had filmed the caravan being towed away and this led to a quick arrest. "It is my parents' pride and joy," she said. "Their recent tragedies in life was leading to this wonderful holiday of new adventures until some low life destroyed their dreams." She praised police who, she said, had been "fantastic". A Queensland man has been charged with theft and attempted theft of caravans in the Melbourne area.  Have your say

Jayco Camper recall after electrocution fear

JAYCO has issued an urgent recall after fears some Camper owners could risk electrocution. The company has warned that loose wiring at the appliance inlet connection could become detached and cause the chassis of the camper to become live. "A risk of electric shock exists if this defect is present," Australia's major manufacturer of RVs said. Campers with chassis numbers between S12032 and S80366 could be affected. Jayco has advised owners to disconnect any suspect Campers immediately from the mains supply and contact a local dealer for an inspection and rectification. Have your say

Stolen Jaycostolen caravan

Chains used to drag away RV

Stolen caravan found abandoned in bush

By Dennis Amor

MYRTLE the stolen caravan is safely tucked up at home ... complete with wheel clamps. The owner of the Jayco poptop had just completed an 8000km trip around Western Australia when the caravan crooks dragged it away ‒ lock and all ‒ from a front yard in Kalgoorlie. The Jayco Sterling's hitch lock failed to discourage the determined thieves who simply hooked chains around the A-frame and hauled it away into the darkness at the weekend. It was later found in the bush about 10km north of the town. Its 62-year-old owner, who has asked not to be named, told Caravanning News: "The thieves had dragged it through the bush and for some reason had stopped, ripped out the fridge, microwave, TV, battery, power supply, mattress and all our belongings. After cleaning up, the only real damage is the fridge and microwave recess, around the hotplates ‒ which they unsuccessfully tried to remove ‒ the power supply and fuse areas and the front door which was jemmied open. We are now arranging repairs under insurance." He said there was no external damage other than a few branch scratches. "I must admit, the 'van appears to have handled the bush and rough track very well because it is undamaged underneath," he added. "I have now fitted wheel clamps." Anyone with information is asked to notify police. Have your say.

Cania Gorge caravan park sign

Chat forums reach fever pitch

Park owner blasted
over free-camp stance

A QUEENSLAND caravan park owner who is opposing council plans to open up free camping areas has attracted an avalanche of criticism from angry travellers. Peter Rankin, owner of the 4-star Cania Gorge Caravan and Tourist park, a member of the BIG4 chain, admits he is fighting "tooth and nail" to block any moves by North Burnett Regional Council to provide the facilities. His battle includes gathering support from traders and taking out a full-page advertisement in his local newspaper in which he argues: "Why do the rich people who drive RVs worth anything from $100,000 to $500,000 need to be subsidised by ratepayers who, themselves, can't afford such vehicles and who can't afford to roam around the country on subsidies from government bodies." Online caravan forums reached fever pitch, with many postings attacking Mr Rankin's comments. One "flabbergated" member wrote: "Never in the freedom of choice camping debate have we ever seen such tactics used to frighten a community into supporting one business." But Mr Rankin told Caravanning News: "It is not the caravanners we are against – it is our governing bodies who make decisions that do not make sense." To read the full story and the park's reply to critics plus council reaction to the controversy, press the 'more' button. More button

Good news for protesters


Caravanners set to benefit from tax shake-up

The Minister's announcement may settle the dust a little on the push for fairer caravan rego in NSW

The Minister's announcement may settle the dust a little on the push for fairer caravan rego in NSW

Story-Photo: Dennis Amor
Have your say

CARAVANNERS are set to benefit from the biggest shake-up in NSW's light vehicle registrations in 90 years.

Public feedback is being invited on major changes which would see owners of recreational vehicles and light trailers paying less.

The proposed changes were announced by Roads Minister Duncan Gay after Tamworth and District Caravan and Leisure Club waged war against the State's weight-based registration fees which, it says, are the highest in Australia.

More than 10,000 people have signed a protest petition organised by the 29-member club calling for charges to be brought into line with neighbouring states.

Club secretary Pam Wilson told Caravanning News members were not happy with the government's review.

"We wanted the cost to be into line with states such as Victoria and Queensland," she said.

"But it's a long way short of that.

"Caravanners are not going to register in NSW, especially when the bulk of 'vans spend less than 60 days a year on the road and some travel a total of only 1000km."

A caravan costing just $49 to register in Victoria but based on weight would cost a whopping $738 in NSW where there are approximately 279,000 caravans registered.

Minister Gay admitted it costs more to register caravans in NSW than in any other state.

“Our registration system, which dates back to 1924 is based almost solely on calculating registration fees by vehicle weight," he explained.

"A new charging system to reduce caravan registration costs would also acknowledge they are generally used much less on NSW roads than regular passenger vehicles."

But despite this and numerous requests, the discussion paper says it is "not currently feasible" to cut caravan registration charges in line with reduced distance travelled and usage.

Mr Gay said there would also be initiatives encouraging new car and motorcycle buyers to choose safer and cleaner models.

To give feedback on the proposed changes until 24 July, click here.

Grant Wilckens (far right) with the other top five fundraisers from SA.

Grant (far right) with the other top four
fundraisers from SA.

Grant raises $17,260

Discovery boss sleeps
rough to aid homeless

DISCOVERY Holiday Parks boss and co-founder Grant Wilckens slept rough for a night ... and raised $17,260 for the homeless. He joined other chief executives during the recent Vinnies CEO Sleepout at South Australia's Government House to experience just how tough it is for the thousands who sleep rough every night. "Whilst we certainly experienced a rather chilly night, I was fortunate that it did not rain!" Grant said. "I have certainly gained a new-found understanding of the difficulties faced by over 100,000 Australians experiencing these conditions every night. It was an amazing experience." Grant's fundraising effort raised the fourth highest individual amount in South Australia. Over 1000 business and community leaders nationwide slept out to raise funds and awareness of the problem. Have your say

Caravan Industry Association of Australia logoNo fanfare for launch of new body
l be no fanfare when Australia's new peak body for the caravanning and camping industry swings into action this month.
"There will be no special ceremony on that day," a spokeswoman for the fledgling Caravan Industry Association of Australia told Caravanning News. She said next February's World RV Conference in Melbourne would provide an opportunity to formally celebrate the commencement of the association. Resulting from the merging of the Caravan, RV & Accommodation Industry of Australia (CRVA) and RVM Australia, the new body will formally begin operations on July 12. More button

The  wrecked LandCruiser

   The  wrecked LandCruiser

Couple trapped for over three hours

Thankful Geoff relives crash horror

CARAVANNER Geoff Maher has relived the horror of being trapped with his wife for hours in the mangled wreckage of their 4WD after a fatal head-on crash in Victoria. It took emergency crews more than three hours to free him and wife Carol from the Toyota LandCruiser after a campervan, driven by a German tourist, smashed into the front of their tow vehicle in April. The overseas traveller died and 71-year-old former truckie Geoff is still in hospital. Geoff has now spoken to Caravanning News about the horror crash and to express his gratitude to all the people who helped save his and his 70-year-old wife's lives. "But for them we would not be here today," he said. Read Geoff's story by clicking on the 'more' button. More button

Failed Ozhitch spigotFears that caravan coupling could kill
CARAVANNER John Booth is thanking his lucky stars that his caravan hitch failed when it did ... 10 minutes earlier he had been happily travelling at 90kph with his 25ft Coromal in tow.
The coupling fractured after he had slowed down and was attempting a U-turn, with only the safety chains preventing the 2008 caravan from breaking free. Mr Booth is alarmed the Brisbane manufacturer, Ozhitch, has not launched a recall after allegedly admitting there had been "a few" failures. "It has the potential to kill people," he said. More button

Eco park planned for Great Ocean Road
SURF Coast Shire Council will this month consider an application to build a new $105 million caravan and tourist park at Torquay on Victoria's Great Ocean Road.
BCR Asset Management's 50ha "eco park" in Coombes Road would offer 204 caravan sites and 515 cabins and accommodate 1380 guests. A market assessment and economic impact report described the proposed development, which would include a wide range of recreation and other facilities, as an "attractive one" for Torquay. It would make an important contribution to the holiday destination's tourism infrastructure, complementing the range of existing facilities available locally and in the wider region, it said. The plan will go before councillors on July 17. It is estimated that up to five new caravan or tourist parks will be required in the Great Ocean Road region in the next 15 years to meet the predicted rise in visitor numbers. Have your say

AL-KO launches new online resourceAL-KO hits cyberspace to aid smoother towing
RV COMPONENTS supplier AL-KO has launched a new website offering a comprehensive online resource to help caravanners have a smooth towing trip.
It offers up-to-date information, practical advice, "how to" guides and handy tips for towing caravans, trailers and "anything else worth towing". With research showing more and more caravanners are becoming active online, including both grey nomads and younger families, the site will provide an invaluable resource for those on the road or planning a trip. To this end, it has been optimised for viewing on tablets and mobile devices.  More button

Tourist park plan put on ice
PLANS for a new multi-million dollar caravanning and camping park at Murray Bridge in South Australia have been put on ice for the time being.
This follows news that the proposed council-owned Sturt Reserve site was once used as a rubbish dump. The Environment Protection Authority has advised the local council that a contamination audit would be necessary before the development could go ahead. This could take up to two years and land local ratepayers with a $600,000-plus bill. The council has now decided that the plan should "lay on the table pending a workshop". Have your say

Ron Johnson with his lettuce and chives crop

Growing fad among travellers

Grey nomads not vegetating

Words-Photo by Dennis Amor

YOU could hardly accuse southern grey nomads of vegetating during their annual winter sojourn to Queensland. Many have taken up the latest fad among the travellers ... growing their own vegetables and salads. Take a walk around caravan parks in the Sunshine State and the chances are you will see travellers outside their caravans lovingly tending to their crops growing in containers of various shapes and sizes. Retired teacher Ron Johnson, of Werribee in Victoria (pictured), is one of them. He is spending the winter at Moore Park Beach caravan park near Bundaberg where his makeshift garden outside his 22ft Roma Elegance has been fashioned from a big bag of potting compost. At the moment it is full of healthy lettuces and chives. "They grow very well and provide us with a constant supply of fresh salad," he told Caravanning News. "More and more people who are on the road are doing this ... it seems to be catching on." At least half a dozen other grey nomads at the oceanside park had mini gardens outside their RVs, some specially built into A-frames. One grower said: "I've seen all sorts of vegetables being grown ... puts a new slant on self-sufficiency."  Have your say

Caravan gas bottlesElgas dispels 'urban myths' on gas bottles
ONLINE forums are perpetuating urban myths about caravan gas bottle requirements, according to LPG gas supplier Elgas.
The company categorically denies claims that only gas bottles with certain coating classification codes can be used on caravans and that using the wrong gas bottle could void insurance. But it does warn that carrying too many could be breaking the law. More button

Frightening night at BIG4 parks
BIG4 will be raising funds for Camp Quality during a scary evening at its caravan parks around Australia.
General Manager Rachel Pugh - Marketing said the holiday park chain will stage a Halloween 'Camp and sCare' event to support the children's charity. Halloween-themed nights will be held at participating parks around Australia on October 31 and in Victoria on October 24. "It will be a fun event to bring families and friends together while also generously giving back to the community," Ms Pugh said. Campers can take part in the activity-packed event by paying just $20 to secure a site, she added. Have your say

Caravanning adventure turned out to be best medicine
YOUNG dad Cam Dubin, who has just completed an 18-month caravanning adventure around Australia with his Asperger's son, has admitted there were days when he had regrets.
"Being somewhat removed from society and the 'norm' has had a massive effect on me as a person ... be it good or bad," the former childcare worker said. Single parent Cam, who now lives with Jaiden on an eight-acre property at Blackbutt in Queensland, told Caravanning News before setting off on their adventures in 2013 that he believed a life on the road would help the then four-year-old overcome many of the problems associated with his mild form of austism. And Cam has now revealed how his son is a changed boy after their epic road trip.

Comments invited on long-term tenancies review
NEARLY 30,000 long-term residents of WA's caravan, lifestyle and residential parks are being invited to comment on a review of tenancy arrangements.
Consumer Protection is seeking their views as part of the next round of a consultation process on the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act 2006. Consumer Protection Commissioner Anne Driscoll said some park residents were potentially in a vulnerable situation because they owned their home but not the land on which it was located. More button

Mark ManteitNew chief executive for ATPM
AUSTRALIAN Tourist Park Management has named Mark Manteit as its new chief executive officer.
Mr Manteit will take up his new appointment on July 14, replacing company founder John Tilton who will step back from day-to-day operations and continue as a part-time business development manager after 20 years building the business. Chairman Graham Henry said Mr Manteit had more than 20 years of experience in senior and executive management roles in both public and private sectors, with a strong tourism and finance background. More button

NRMA parks in travel award finals
THREE NRMA holiday parks are finalists in this year's Out and About with Kids Best of Family Travel Awards.
The popular magazine's annual awards aim to uncover the best places in the world for families to stay, with readers voting in a range of different categories. Treasure Island on the Gold Coast, Ocean Beach on the Central Coast and Merimbula Beach on the NSW South Coast are all in the running for Best Australian Family Holiday Park. Treasure Island is also nominated for Best Baby and Toddler Hotel/Resort. Have your say

Silver Wattle Caravan ParkPark welcomes reopening of cyclone-hit highway
OWNERS of the Silver Wattle Caravan Park in Queensland have welcomed the reopening of Mount Morgan Range.
Traffic again flowed along the main road into the former gold mining town on June 22, 513 days after it was devastated by ex-tropical Cyclone Oswald which left a trail of 35 landslips along its length. More than 70,000 tonnes of stabilising rock and materials have been used in the $21.7 million reconstruction project to secure the key route, which normally carries about 3000 vehicles daily. Sarah and Mark Dalton, who bought the Silver Wattle Caravan Park about a year ago, described the reopening as "fantastic" and hoped it would bring more tourists to their five-acre pet-friendly park where new arrivals receive complimentary freshly laid free range eggs! Have your say

Job opportunities below average
JOB openings for caravan park and camping ground managers to 2017 are expected to be below average, according to Australian Government's Job Outlook.
Statistics show a 95 percent of workers in this employment category enjoy full-time jobs and on average they work a 63-hour week compared to 41 percent for all occupations. Have your say

Wodonga caravan showTwo-day passes introduced for expo
MORE exhibitors, more variety and more entertainment are promised for next month's fourth annual Border Caravan & Camping Expo at Wodonga in Victoria.
And for the first time, visitors will be able to take advantage of a special discounted two-day pass. The official industry show, staged by the Caravan Industry Association of Victoria, will have all the latest products and services at Wodonga Racecourse from August 15 to 17. More button

Annual conference will have celebratory theme
THE Victorian Caravan Parks Association's annual conference and trade exhibition will be held at The Pullman Melbourne Albert Park Hotel from August 18-20.
This year's theme – Building a Strong Association ‒ marks the 50th anniversary of VicParks. The event will look at how the organisation will continue to grow as a strong presence in the tourism and accommodation sector. Keynote speakers will include Bernard Salt who will provide a projection for the next five years on future clients of caravan parks, Mark McKeon who will provide tools to develop time creation and tips for health and wellness and co-founder of the Thankyou Group, Dan Flynn. Have your say

Manilla in NSWRally to celebrate nomadic lifestyle
NEXT year's NSW Association of Caravan Clubs State Rally will celebrate the growing popularity of caravanning and the nomadic lifestyle.
Tamworth and District Caravan and Leisure Club will host the annual event at Manilla on March 20-22 when more than 100 caravans are expected to converge on the local showground. Committee members Ian Butler, Pam Wilson, Brian and Helen Hayward, Frank Wilson and Gavin Waters are planning a range of activities and entertainment for the weekend. More button

Loaded gun found in caravan, court told
A COURT has ordered a 28-year-old man, who was found with a loaded gun at Bimbi Caravan Park in Cape Otway, Victoria, to undergo mental health treatment.
Scott Planner was also placed on an 18-month good behaviour bond. No conviction was recorded. He admitted possessing an unregistered handgun, having a firearm without a licence and theft by finding. The Geelong court was told staff found the sawn-down .22 firearm and ammunition in the third-year psychology student's caravan. He later told police he discovered the gun in bushland and kept it to protect him against people who were "out to get him". The court heard that Planner had previously been bashed by men armed with knuckledusters and bolt cutters during a home invasion. Have your say

Calypso caravan park

Calypso plan blasted
PLANS for a major $7m revamp at Yamba's Calypso Holiday Park in NSW have come under fire from a grey nomad.
Geoff File, of Orange, has been a regular caravanner at the park for 65 years and claims the proposed redevelopment will cost the local economy more than half a million dollars in lost revenue annually. In a letter to local media, Mr File complains that the plan will reduce the number of sites by 31 ‒ nearly 25 percent ‒ with most of the 'big rig' sites being taken over by cabins. "Some people who have been coming back to Calypso for 30 years are going to find that their site has simply disappeared," he wrote. He was concerned about the adverse impact the redevelopment would have on all campers and the Yamba economy. Mr File believed the local council needed to have a "common sense rethink about this whole proposal". Have your say

To view previous editions of Caravanning News, click on the appropriate month:

Editor: Dennis Amor
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Taking the weight off the mind of recreational vehicle travellers

SO the peak body for Australia's RV manufacturing industry has released a new vehicle plate for caravans and trailers (see story here).

This is all very nice, but I wonder if it has more to do with absolving manufacturers of any liability should owners find themselves overweight.

The nightmare for RV owners ‒ especially nomads who are living 24/7/365 in their large RVs ‒ is that they are subject to the same laws (and gargantuan fines) as truck drivers.

The difference is that truck drivers know the exact weight of their vehicles and the exact weight of the load.

The arithmetic is extremely simple and well documented.

Contrast this with a new RV owner who is loading everything from a box of tissues to a couple of sets of golf clubs ‒ with all stops in between ‒ into their 'vans, plus clean water/grey water/black water/fuel/human weight.

They all have the empty weight and the maximum weight (total and per axle), but absolutely no accurate way to estimate the cumulative weight of all their worldly goods in total let alone per axle.

So far we have been waved through every weighbridge we have pulled into, but ‒ even with careful weight minimisation and weight-for-weight exchange on any new addition to our load ‒ we still feel anxious when we see that 'truck use left lane' sign.

Chances are we are ok, but we have absolutely no way of knowing, and anecdotal evidence says that the officials on these weighbridges are far from sympathetic towards first time offenders.

What would be REALLY useful from the government would be a government-sanctioned 'cheat sheet' that users could use to estimate their 'load'.

RV owners could use this to work out if they are at least getting near their maximums.

John Christopher.

Size does matter
to cope with
new caravans

REGARDING last month's story in Caravanning News about parks which could have site numbers cut (see story here).

I hope many more parks take this on to cope with the size of new 'vans.

Well done NSW's Far North Coast.

Norman Brown.

Fine point on
Byron Bay's
illegal campers

JUST a quick observation on your story about Illegal campers having their fines increased at Byron Bay (see story here).

They are probably out of the country by now!

John Hutcheon.