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March 2015

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MARCH 24: Fire crews fought blaze in toilet block at Kangaroo Country Caravan Park on Bruce Highway at Midgee, Queensland, in the early hours.

MARCH 24: Victoria police sealed off part of Calder Hwy to allow CareFlight helicopter to land after car and caravan flipped. No further details.

MARCH 23: Police search for possible missing person after campers found personal effects found strewn near cliff edge on Great Australian Bight 50km west of Nullarborn Roadhouse.

***  Click on BREAKING NEWS above to see full list of stories.


Emu-bobbers support Suter's sentiments

I VERY much doubt if any dedicated grey nomad RV person will disagree with Dr Suter (see story here).

Many of us go for a morning walk before breakfast, most taking a couple of plastic shopping bags with us to pick up litter along the way and deposit it in bins if available, or take with us 'til we can find one.

This practice is mostly carried out by freedom campers.

Caravan parks sort of restrict access to the type of areas that best benefit from our 'emu-bobbing', as the picking up litter is commonly called.

Although finding litter around caravan parks isn't always so difficult.

Freedom camping also gives us the chance to occasionally get bogged.

This is always a very good way to get in some extra exercise, inconvenient but what's the point of having an adventure if nothing of note happens.

We always easily remember such happenings, the same as we can quickly recall the dearest caravan park we encountered ... 'specially the ones that charge outrageous prices for LPG refills or swaps.

I see there's a data sheet being formed on this by a CMCA member.


RV fatties

I HAD a smile when I read the Dr Suter story, especially the part which might indicate that recreational travellers would ultimately be more healthy in participating in RV travel.

Seems to me that most, if not all, RVers do not get any exercise at all.

They sit in a tow vehicle all day, and this problem is further compounded by ensuring their arrival before 4pm.

That's the time when the obligatory happy hour drinks and snacks ritual guarantees more overweight bodies than is healthy.

Call me cynical, but I would wager that there would be more fatties out there in the RV world than on a comparable basis to the general population.

Robert Prior.

More WA pet-friendly areas needed

SO WA caravanners favour their own state (see story here).

Great, but it needs more pet-friendly areas or somewhere to leave our little friends.

Victor Viteni.

High site charges not the norm

A RECENT "dirt and power" letter to your web site mentioned that caravan parks in WA charge between $54 and $65 a night for dirt and power (see here).

I must disagree most strongly.

Having travelled the vast majority of WA roads over the last few years and while I admit that some parks in the far north do charge higher amounts than normal for peak periods, it is by no means indicative of all the state’s caravan parks.

The vast majority do not charge the fees claimed and those few that do in peak periods certainly provide more than just dirt and power.

There are many budget caravan parks in small towns, usually operated by councils who charge around half of what your correspondent claims.

There are towns near Perth which allow free stays with ablutions etc for travellers' use.

We also enjoy many free camp sites and thousands of informal sites where travellers can just pull off the road and enjoy the freedom of this great state.

I would encourage the correspondent to check the issue further ... I think he may be surprised.

Joe Jordan.

Underwhelmed with support for Adria

I WOULD like to comment on last month's story on Winnebago's official launch in Australia (see story here).

I hope Apollo do a better job with Winnebago than with Adria.

I've been underwhelmed with its support for Adria owners.

Ian Campbell.


Holden commercial upsets caravanners

Car manufacturer apologises

Holden ad upsets caravanners

By Dennis Amor

NEWSFLASH: Two days after this story appeared in Caravanning News, Holden edited out the word 'bloody' from its controversial ad.

HOLDEN has apologised to caravanners over the way they are portrayed in its latest television advertisement. Furious caravanners have slammed the Victorian-based car manufacturer for seemingly chastising slow-moving caravans. But Holden's director of communications Sean Poppitt told Caravanning News the commercial was "all very tongue in cheek", adding: "Obviously we did not want to offend anyone." The 30-second ad shows one caravanner in a brand new 4WD Colorado 7, towing an equally flash Jayco Silverline RV, shaking his outstretched hand and muttering "bloody caravanners" as he comes up behind a slower and older caravan ‒ a sentiment echoed by his young son. His rant came after he had been shown hauling the non-offroad Jayco at speed along deserted dirt tracks and through fast flowing creeks before swinging the rig onto the bitumen ... only to be confronted by the leisurely grey nomad. Caravanners approached by Caravanning News were disgusted with the ad and accused Holden of discrediting them. The commercial had portrayed them as being impatient or roadhogs, they claimed. More button

Half-year results show fall in revenue

Small business
hits Fleetwood

Michael Hardy, Fleetwood Corp chairman

Mr Hardy: impact on sales

By Dennis Amor
Have your say

FLEETWOOD Corporation, builders of Coromal and Windsor caravans, has suffered at the hands of smaller Australian caravan manufacturers, it has been revealed.

The Perth-based company made the admission in its recently released results for the half-year ending December 2014.

"Increased competition from a proliferation of small Australian-based caravan manufacturers and from overseas component parts suppliers has impacted sales," chairman Michael Hardy said in his interim report.

Figures showed that revenue for Fleetwood's recreational vehicles division had fallen from $69 million in the half-year ending December 2013 to $56.7 million.

The division comprises caravan parts and accessories company Camec; Fleetwood RV; commercial vehicle canopies and trays supplier Flexiglass and ute trays and accessories company Bobar.

Mr Hardy said Fleetwood had now initiated "several projects" aimed at increasing the division's competitiveness.

These targeted business structure and cost efficiency as well as developing better channels to the market.

Mr Hardy said there had also been subdued sales of its fibreglass canopies for light commercial vehicles.

Fleetwood's latest half-year figures show after-tax profit fell seven percent to $3.8 million on the back of $156.9 million in revenue.

This was an 18 percent slump compared with the previous corresponding period.

Because of trading conditions and capital recently invested in major projects, the directors decided not to declare an interim dividend.

'We have lost our figurehead'

Tributes flow after death of CMCA founder

Don Whitworth

By Dennis Amor

TRIBUTES poured in after the death of  Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia founder and life member Don Whitworth. Eighty-five-year-old Mr Whitworth ‒ who held the coveted membership number N001 ‒ died after a long illness. He and wife Erica launched the CMCA in Tweed Heads, NSW, in 1986. CMCA chairman Garry Lee told Caravanning News: "He was a very quiet, humble and unassuming person who did not look for gratitude or praise. In fact, he steered a long way from that. He will be missed." And director and past chairman Gary Rebgetz commented: "We have lost our figurehead. He was an inspiration to us all."  The funeral was held on March 13 at Melaleuca Station Memorial Gardens Crematorium in Tweed Valley Way, Chinderah. More button

John Howard

Former PM suffers heart problems

Howard pulls out of caravan conference

FORMER Prime Minister John Howard had to pull out of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia's national conference at the last minute after suffering heart problems. He was scheduled to join speakers including former war hero Benjamin "Ben" Roberts-Smith and television presenter Eddie McGuire at this weekend's three-day gathering in Melbourne. But Mr Howard was rushed to hospital to have stents inserted after two blockages were found in his arteries. His place was taken by journalist Andrew Bolt. Mr Howard had planned to speak on the importance of camping and caravanning to the Australian way of life. Have your say

Aspen suffers $18m first-half loss
ASPEN Group, which operates holiday and accommodation parks throughout Australia, has suffered an $18.2 million first-half loss.
It comes on the back of an unexpected $12 million write-down in the value of its Karratha mining camp, which suffered a dramatic drop in demand for accommodation during the unforeseen slowdown in the resources sector. Results for the half-year ending December 2014 also revealed a before-tax operating profit of $7.8m, six percent down on last year's corresponding period. Group executive officer Clem Salwin said there still continued to be "significant, steady progress" towards the company becoming a leading accommodation provider. More button

Byron BayTen fined in camping clampdown
A NSW council has warned it will not tolerate illegal camping at a popular coastal holiday town.
Ten travellers caught sleeping in their vehicles at Byron Bay have already become victims of the Byron Shire Council clampdown, which cost them fines and costs totalling $5350. All but one of the defendants admitted breaking the shire's tough camping laws during the busy Christmas and New Year festivities. The council's Legal Services Coordinator, Ralph James, said after the case at Byron Local Court that the penalties showed tourists using camping vehicles to visit the shire could avoid having their holiday turn sour by taking simple steps. More button

New rules for WA's nature-based camping parks
RULES banning small nature-based camping areas within 50km of West Australian caravan parks have been scrapped.
Changes to the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Regulations 1997 will now allow more of them throughout the state. WA has 25 licensed nature-based parks ... small-scale tourist camping areas in natural landscapes. More button

AL-KO tracking systemNew hi-tech weapon in fight against caravan thefts
AS caravan thefts continue to increase, a leading RV components company has announced the release of a state-of-the-art tracking system.
The new $599 AL-KO Anti-Theft System (ATS) incorporates up-to-the-minute GPS and NanoTag® microdot technology to provide ultimate, multi-level theft protection. AL-KO has responded to recent reports indicating that caravan theft is a significant and growing problem in Australia," marketing services manager Brad Hooper said. "With their high value, caravans are prime targets for thieves and it is estimated that around 500 caravans are reported stolen each year in Australia." More button

Teen stole caravans to house homeless mates
AN 18-year-old man who stole three caravans worth $58,000 to house homeless friends has been handed a four-month jail sentence.
But the term was backdated and suspended by Darwin Magistrates Court, where the teenager admitted crimes including unlawful use of a motor vehicle, stealing, unlicensed driving with fake number plates calculated to deceive and breaking his bail curfew during the Christmas festive season. The court was told the defendant, who was also placed on a 12-month bond, was on the drug ice. Have your say

Matthew Mason-CoxConsultations ensure 'solid blueprint' for future
OVER 250 public submissions and comments were received on soon-to-be introduced reforms to the residential parks industry in NSW.
Fair Trading Minister Matthew Mason-Cox said that since passing the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013, the state government had continued consulting residents and industry stakeholders to ensure the industry had a solid blueprint for the future. "More than 50 written submissions were received on the new draft Residential (Land Lease) Communities Regulation 2014, in addition to the 200 comments received by residents and park operators who attended community forums across the state," he said. More button

Caravanners still clogging truck rest areas, say truckies
DESPITE widespread criticism, thoughtless caravanners continue to set up overnight camps in truck-only rest areas, say truckies.
The Australian Trucking Association's NSW (ATA NSW) branch said "little has changed" even though the National Association of Caravan Clubs and the Caravan and Camping Industry Association had urged their members to avoid heavy vehicle rest areas. The news comes after the state government announced it would set aside $119.6 million for a range of new heavy vehicle projects that could finance truck-only signage. ATA NSW manager Jodie Broadbent said Roads Minister Duncan Gay needed to ensure signs were erected at new and upgraded rest areas. There should also be liaison with NSW Police to provide education and enforcement to people parking illegally. Have your say

Dr BranderBoffins warn of risky beaches near caravan parks
NINE out of 10 coastal caravan parks in New South Wales are adjacent to hazardous surf beaches, according to a new University of New South Wales study.
About a third are completely unpatrolled, with another 61 percent patrolled for less than 25 percent of the time. The alarming figures indicate that local and international visitors to the caravan parks are at risk of drowning. They raise important questions regarding the provision of lifeguards on the beaches, the availability and dissemination of beach safety material and the duty of care of tourist park operators. More button

New rest area set for WA highway
CONSTRUCTION is expected to begin this month on a new $455,000 rest area near the old Western Australian gold rush town of Mount Magnet.
The facility on the Great Northern Highway about 60km south of the town should be ready before June. Transport Minister Dean Nalder said it would be situated at Kirkalocka Station. "This rest area will provide a place for road users to make overnight stops, with camping facilities and sealed parking bays for heavy vehicles," he said. Funding has been made available through The Western Australian Caravan and Camping Action Plan funded by the Royalties for Regions program. Have your say

WiFi at Devils Marbles in the Northern Territory

Caravanners welcome free WiFi

NT's Marbles go hi-tech

CARAVANNERS and other tourists have welcomed news that Devils Marbles south of Tennant Creek, one of NT's remotest tourist attractions, now has free WiFi. Parks and Wildlife Minister Bess Price said the free service was great news for Karlu Karlu, which receives 177,000 visitors a year. It would allow visitors to instantly share their photos of the area with the rest of the world. "The service will operate during daylight hours and extend from the day use car-park area where there is a clear line of sight," she explained. "We have worked closely with the Central Land Council and traditional owners to establish the service." Other sites may be considered for WiFi depending on the trial's success. Have your say

Stop publicising tariffs, urges management company
CARAVAN park operators are being urged not to publish their tariffs.
The Queensland-based FreeSpirit holiday park management company believes this is one way to increase revenue. "For too long, caravan parks have set their tariffs months in advance and published these for the guest to insist that they are honoured," it tells its members in a suite of strategies for maximising income. By not publishing tariffs, parks could remain "flexible" and adjust them when necessary. "It is not uncommon to raise tariffs as your property inches closer to being fully booked," privately-owned FreeSpirit points out. Officially founded in 2004, the company has more than 20 properties under its wing. Have your say

Industry Minister Lily D'Ambrosio at Victoria caravan supershowMinister praises Victoria's RV industry
THE caravan industry was a "great example" of how Victorian manufacturing could continue to thrive and generate employment, according to State Industry Minister Lily D'Ambrosio.
Officially opening the recent Victorian Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow, the Minister pointed out that 85 percent of Australia's recreational vehicle products were manufactured in the state, where 70 percent of the nation's RV manufacturers were based. "At a time when manufacturing in Australia is facing some serious challenges, the caravan industry in Victoria is showing us that there are still great opportunities to grow and create new jobs," she said. More button

Coolum park undergoes $570,000 facelift
COOLUM Beach Holiday Park on Queensland's Sunshine Coast has undegone a $570,000 upgrade.
The council-owned park attracts an average of 20,000 caravanners and campers annually from all over Australia. It is a favourite of many southern grey nomads who head north every year to enjoy the state's winter sunshine. Improvements include installation of power, water and sullage points for grey water, drainage and sealing the park's internal roads. It also involved scrapping 70 smaller sites closer to the beach and replacing them with 46 larger one. The pet-friendly park now has 218 powered tourist caravan and camping sites and six villas. Manager Greg Howard said the upgrades had greatly improved the park's functionality and comfort for guests. Have your say

Jayco J-Pod

Jayco goes J-Pod
TEN grand will buy you the latest offering from the Jayco stable. Australia's biggest producer of RVs, which celebrated its 40th anniversary recently, has unveiled a teardrop-style camper with a price tag starting at $9900. The novel 3.6 metre, 749kg J-Pod features 12V LED interior lighting, roof rack, queen-sized bed, double-glazed windows with blinds/screens, fire extinguisher, roof hatch ... and even a spare 13 inch alloy wheel with wheel jack. Have your say

Another broadside in war on unfair RV rego costs
CARAVANNERS are still fighting to get a fairer deal when registering their RVs.
Owners in NSW and the ACT have long been protesting over the high cost of keeping their mobile holiday homes on the road compared to other states. In the latest salvo, ACT's Wal Pywell has fired a broadside over his tow vehicle costing less than half to register than his caravan ... even though they weigh about the same. In a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald he says his caravan costs $1067 compared to his car's $460. His complaints to government have been met with the argument that heavier vehicles do more damage to roads, he says. "It cannot be too difficult to introduce a separate category for caravans instead of lumping them together with Fixed Load Trailers," his letter points out. Have your say

VIPs at Winnebago RV launch in Victoria

Work begins on setting up national dealership

Winnebago VIPs at official launch

WINNEBAGO RV, officially launched recently, is now working hard to set up a national dealership. Chief executive of the Australian company Luke Trouchet said it was "a great way" to start 2015. "Winnebago RV has well and truly arrived," he said at the official launch in Victoria. His company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian-owned Apollo Motorhome Holidays, which announced a licencing deal with America's Winnebago Industries last July. Winnebago RV's fleet is a combination of US-built and Australian-designed caravans and fully Australian-built motorhomes. All models are built for Australian conditions and prices will range from $40,000 for compact caravans through to $170,000 for top-of-the-range motorhomes. Pictured at the official launch are (from left) Mr Trouchet, president of US-based Winnebago Industries Towables Johnny Hernandez and director of Winnebago RV Karl Trouchet. Have your say

Adelaide Hills park joins BIG4 chain
HAHNDORF Resort Tourist Park in South Australia has joined the BIG4 chain of holiday parks.
Owners Lynn and Brian Schirripa took over the park in the Adelaide Hills 14 months ago after selling their farming business. It was their first venture into the tourism industry. "When we first bought the holiday park we knew it had so much potential to be a real draw card for the region," Lynn said. "It’s a huge property that needed some love but we were up for the challenge. Joining BIG4 Holiday Parks was the next step for us and we are excited to be part of such a reputable national network." Have your say

Yamaha Super TankYarrawonga to host inaugural show
THE inaugural Yarrawonga caravan and camping show promises to be a permanent event on the Victorian town's tourism calendar,
according to the organisers. It will showcase the latest in caravans, campers and camping paraphernalia during the Labour Day weekend. Among the attractions will be the giant Yamaha Super Tank which provides a fish-eye view of life under water. More button

Hundreds quizzed in free-camping survey
PORT Macquarie-Hastings Council in NSW quizzed hundreds of travellers when it turned the spotlight on illegal campers.
It has now produced a 16-page report outlining the preliminary results of a survey on free-camping in the popular holiday area. Nearly 40 percent of respondents admitted they would not use caravan parks or other accommodation, but would spend at supermarkets and on petrol, other shopping and dining out. There was also "some notable expenditure" on local tours and attractions. More button

Former teacher on caravan park indecency charges
A 76-year-old former teacher awarded an Order of Australia medal for his services to youth has appeared in court after acts of indecency involving children at a Victorian caravan park.
Warrnambool Magistrates heard the offences were committed at the Hopkins River Caravan Park during the Christmas and New Year festive season, even though the defendant was staying at a Port Fairy caravan park. The former Sydney Grammar School master, who admitted two offences, was placed on an 18-month community corrections order and included on the sex offenders' register for life. The offences were committed in the park's shower block but there had been no physical contact with the boys, the court was told. Have your say

Coffee caravanCaravan's new lease of life fighting highway fatigue
RAY and Edwina Cameron, and their somewhat ageing caravan, are doing their bit to fight driver fatigue on NSW's Pacific Highway.
Their 33-year-old little blue caravan, pitched in the Beekeepers Rest Area 5km north of the Iluka turnoff in the Clarence Valley, has provided weary drivers with tens of thousands of coffees since opening for business last year. The location on the southbound lane is on an isolated stretch between Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads, a renowned fatigue zone where accidents are commonplace. "This enterprise had been received so well and we have our regulars on a daily basis," the Barista-trained couple told Caravanning News. More button

'Grey nomad' park planned for Mackay
MACKAY Regional Council in north Queensland is considering a new application to develop 57ha of bushland at the mouth of the Pioneer River.
The project, which would include a 238-site caravan park, has been in limbo for a decade after environmental concerns. Developer BMD said it had now dealt with the problems. General manager Wayne Rex told media: "The major caravan park will be for grey nomads that have nowhere to stay at the moment." Have your say

Park boss vying for council seat
VICTORIAN caravan park boss Franz Deustch is vying for a place on his local council.
Mr Deustch, owner of Lake Bolac Caravan Park, will be competing with police risk and planner worker Mike Russell for the vacant seat on the seven-member Ararat Rural City Council in the state's south-west. He told local media: ""I believe the council is a servant of the ratepayer and not their master." Results of the postal election will be known on March 28. Have your say

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Travellers cold-shoulder basic park sites

LAST month's story in Caravanning News about caravanners cold-shouldering basic $10-a-night sites at caravan parks brought a flood of letters. So many in fact that we have dedicated a whole page for just a selection of them. Click here to read them.

Letter on CMCA charter 'a little light on facts'

IN REPLY to last month's letter to Caravanning News about CMCA's charter (see letter here).

Oh dear, what an embittered and misguided letter which is a little light on facts.

Perhaps Greg should read the CMCA constitution and note that associate members, that is members who do not qualify for ordinary membership status, whether they possess a car, motorbike, pushbike or no vehicle at all are entitled to all the benefits of membership.

Yes, it does exclude holding office and voting rights, but this applies to many organisations and has nothing to do with cars and caravans as Greg has implied.

Over a quarter of a century ago, the CMCA was formed partly as a result of the then caravan clubs having nothing to do with motorhomes and campervans... and it has been highly successful.

Perhaps Greg, if he feels so offended by the club constitution, would like to refrain from using the 45 percent of the dump points installed in Australia by the club.

He could refrain from ever using the benefits of the 200-plus RV Friendly Towns, all at the club's instigation of the scheme.

And he could refrain from using any rest area in Queensland which were all closed down to overnighting but successfully reopened due to the efforts of the CMCA.

He could also refrain from using the many free and low cost camps negotiated by the club, and the list goes on and on.

The club has spent millions of the members' funds for the benefit of the larger RV community ... and the thanks they receive is misguided letters like this published in respected RV journals.

Perhaps the CMCA would be better to spend those millions on benefits exclusively for their own members, many members would approve of that.

And by the way Greg, there was a caravan-only club called the ACC which for reasons best known to themselves now accept all RV vehicles.

But I doubt its purpose was to try and push the CMCA out of the way ... so I guess you will have to start your own club if you wish to achieve that.

Arthur Bugden.

Great for kids,
but what about
grey nomads?

SO Shipwreck Island has opened at a BIG4 park (see story here).

Yes, it's a great children's play facility courtesy of taxpayers' money from the Tourism Awards grant scheme.

Great of BIG4 to cater for the children yet again.

But what about grey nomads who don't want to hit the water slide?

Phil Jones.

nude news welcomed

AS one travelling couple who enjoy the sun and breeze over all the body, the story about Lorella Springs' nudist facility is a welcome bit of news (see here).

There are about half a dozen bush camps that I know of who have opened up similar areas for us travellers.

Don't know when we'll get to Lorella Springs, but it is now in the book for a future visit.

Phil Jones.