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September 2015
 

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MORE  LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Restricting kids at park swimming pools

REGARDING the grey nomad who thinks kids should have restricted hours in swimming pools (see story here).

I think this man needs to get a life.

How miserable can this person be.

I think he's forgotten that he himself was once a child.

Wendy Shearing.

Why stay?

AS caravanners ourselves, we are nomads.

I am in my late 40s and hubby is in his late 50s.

We don't have kids, so caravan parks with all the play equipment are not the ones we choose to stay at.

If other nomads don't like the idea of children being children, why stay at parks that rate themselves as family orientated.

We don't need the bells and whistles that these parks offer.

Our idea of a park is large bays, power, water, ablutions and laundry.

Donna Winzar.

Kids and dogs

MORE to the point, there are at least two caravan parks that donít allow kids just as some donít allow dogs.

The difference between what you may encounter with kids and dogs is that you may step in a dog's droppings that some thoughtless so-and-so didn't bother to clean away.

Most dog owners are responsible and will clean it away.

But you wonít ever step in anything done by a child, though you are 100 percent certain to swim in pee they leave behind in the pool.

So to the guy grumbling about not being able to get near the pool, you may want to consider how sanitary it is to use one in the first place.

I vote not for kid-free times at the pool but for more caravan parks that want to attract grey nomads.

They should realise that the majority of their YEARLY income comes from the full year-round traveller and not the seasonal one who may be there two weeks of the year at Xmas.

So, if your caravan park is doing it tough, how about making it 'no children allowed' and see how that works out.

Don't say 'adults only' though as this conjures the wrong image!

Greg.


Compliance

I WOULD like to comment on compliance issues being in the spotlight (see story here).

Great to hear that a body is undertaking audits/inspections of caravans/motorhomes.

I was concerned the other day to read on Facebook that someone's brand new caravan suspension was failing after 150km.

It concerned me more that some people were suggesting to the owners to report the issue simply to the caravan manufacturer as a warranty issue and all would be fixed.

My concern was that it was potentially a systemic defect and there could be a number or many caravans produced by the manufacturer with the same fault.

Incidentally, it was a major safety fault.

Such a fault in the car industry has the potential to bring about a recall.

My question are:

1. Is there a process whereby the public can report these faults to an independent body for investigation?

2. Is the manufacturer required to report serious safety faults?

3. How independent are the auditors?

4. How much warning do manufacturers get of audits/inspections?

Peter Euinton.
 


Fridges

I RECEIVED a recall notice for my Jurgens Lunagazer (see story here).

luckily I donít like gas fridges and had them install a compressor fridge, more efficient in hot climates and no gas burning while I sleep.

The fault with the fridge used in these affected models is if it senses fuel vapour in the proximity of the fridge it will start the ignition process.

This will happen with the gas turned off and the owner presuming it will therefore only operate on 12 volt from the vehicle.

I also presume this problem would be present in these fridges fitted in other brand 'vans during this period of time.

Automatic three-way sensing fridges are an attempt to solve the age-old problem of absorption fridges being nearly useless at keeping cool while traveling between destinations.

Again, this is why I specified a compressor fridge and a 200 watt house solar panel and MPPT controller proven to work in all but the blackest of rainy days.

Terry Young.
 




 


Fresh approach to product design

Fleetwood's RV revenue plunges

Bid to increase Coromal and Windsor appeal

By Dennis Amor
Have your say

FLEETWOOD Corporation's RV division, builders the Windsor and Coromal range of caravans, has suffered a dramatic downturn in revenue, it has been revealed.

Figures released yesterday show its income for the year ending June 30 plummeted to $112.2 million, down 18 percent from the previous year.

Operating earnings before interest and tax fell 229.7 percent.

The RV division also comprises Camec (caravan parts and accessories), Flexiglass (commercial vehicles canopies and trays) and Bocar (ute trays and accessories).

In its preliminary final report for 2015, Fleetwood said new initiatives, including key senior management changes, had been implemented to address performance issues in its caravan manufacturing business.

But the benefits had still to manifest themselves in improved profitability.

Fleetwood said a fresh approach to product design was expected to increase consumer appeal for its caravans while allowing for manufacturing economies to be achieved.

Dealer presence in the Victorian market had recently been increased and opportunities were being explored in NSW.

Competition remained strong in the component parts market and initiatives were underway to streamline Camec's distribution operations.

Fleetwood Corporation's net profit was a mere $176,000. Excluding impairments, underlying profit fell 29 percent to $3.9 million.

The board elected not to pay a dividend, blaming mixed trading conditions, but said it intended to return to paying them "as soon as practicable".

Meanwhile, shares in Fleetwood Corporation which hit a year-high of $2.15 last month fell 16 percent yesterday to close at $1.63.


Independent body swamped with complaints

Lawyers seek advice from CCA

By Dennis Amor

THE Caravan Council of Australia is being swamped with calls from disgruntled caravan buyers.

"There is certainly a large increase whenever any issue or problem becomes public," founder and qualified automotive engineer Colin Young (pictured) told Caravanning News.

A typical recent issue had been the height of registration plates on caravans, he said.

A flabbergasted caravanner copped an unexpected $415 fine after being stopped in NSW and told his caravan's rear number plate was 30cm too high.

Mr Young said the independent council, whose aim is to raise RV manufacturing standards and protect caravan buyers from shoddy work, had been approached by lawyers seeking advice on the issue.

Many more caravanners and potential buyers were becoming aware of Australia's consumer laws and were taking action when problems arose, he said.

Incorrect ratings and masses still remained the number one cause of problems, often resulting in "nasty incidents" on the road and subsequent litigation.  More button


Surfers and caravanners uniteSurfers and caravanners unite
TWO of NSW's major caravanning and surfing bodies have signed a landmark partnership.
The Caravan & Camping Industry Association NSW (CCIA) and Surfing NSW hope their alliance will expose their activities to an ever expanding audience. They say it will also help create a link between surfing activities and NSW holiday parks, many of which have beachside locations. "This is a fantastic partnership opportunity for the CCIA," chief executive Lyndel Gray said. More button

Showground now welcomes travellers
MOSS Vale Showground in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales has now thrown open its gates to caravanners and other travellers.
The show society has been given the go-ahead by the local shire council to offer 12 short-stay campsites. This follows state government approval to amend the shire's local environmental plan to enable camping at the showground off the Illawarra Highway. Grey nomad Ken Doughty welcomed the news, saying the move showed a "common sense" approach to welcoming caravanners which more local authorities needed to follow. Have your say

Pambula caravan parkTrust takes over the reins at Pambula park
PAMBULA Town Caravan Park in New South Wales is set for a facelift.
NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust recently took over managing the park and is already looking at ways to modernise it and increase visitor numbers. Outgoing managers John Price and Maria King said they would be sad to leave the park. Maria told Caravanning News it was a "dismal place" when they took over in 1994. "But it has come a long way since," she said. "It's been such a beautiful journey over the years and the park, although old, has been like a jewel in our crown."  More button

Pay what you like, guests told
GUESTS at the council-owned Kulin Caravan Park in WA now pay only what they think it's worth in a unique two-year trial based on "trust, generosity and respect".
The council said bona fide visitors and tourists at the comparatively new park in the town centre need only hand over site fees "according to their own financial ability". Guests arriving in the Eastern Wheatbelt RV-friendly town can pay what they wish for up to five consecutive nights, with additional nights charged at the normal rate. The offer can only be used once within a 28 day period. Have your say

RV figures soarAnother record year for RV production
FIGURES for recreational vehicle production continue to outstrip last year's as Australians' appetite for caravanning and camping supports local manufacturing.
Statistics show a rise of 13 percent compared with June 2014, while year-to-date production is eight percent higher compared to last year. Last year saw the second highest yearly production in two decades. Year-to-date production is the highest in over five years as the RV industry continues to defy Australiaís trend of manufacturing decline in traditional and automotive industries.

Aspen records stat loss of $31m
THE Perth-based Aspen Group, which is moving towards providing "pure play" accommodation, has recorded a statutory loss of $31.7 million.
Announcing its financial results for the year ending June 30, the ASX-listed property group said this was largely due to devaluating its resources properties. Operating profit before tax fell 31 percent to $10.2m. Chief executive Clem Salwin said his company had "substantially achieved" its strategic goal set two years ago. More button


Car overtaking caravan

Police pull over drivers for pep talk

Road hog caravanners cop flack

By Dennis Amor

CARAVANNERS were pulled over by police in Queensland for a pep talk on the importance of allowing vehicles to overtake. It came after it was revealed drivers towing caravans were the cause of many road complaints from frustrated road users. Senior Sergeant Ewan Findlater, from Rockhampton Road Policing Unit, said other drivers were often unhappy with caravanners and their manner of driving. "We hear complaints on how they aren't allowing other vehicles to overtake and that sort of thing," he explained. This often led to other road users overtaking dangerously. "We can avoid that by having slower vehicles pull over regularly to let traffic through," Sen Sgt Findlater said. "That will reduce the likelihood of other drivers doing silly things." He said police had joined Ministry of Transport officials to pull over a few caravanners to "have a chat" about the problem. Have your say


Tomago Village Van ParkTomago park snapped up for $10.5m
ASPEN has snapped up another accommodation park for $10.5 million.
The 305-star Tomago Village Van Park, 18km from Newcastle in NSW, offers a wide variety of accommodation in cabins and caravans. It has 160 sites, 136 of which are licensed for long-term accommodation with the balance being short-stay sites. There is approval for another 24 long-term sites. Aspen said the park was adjacent to an industrial area, which was a source of demand for accommodation. "The acquisition is in line with Aspen Group's strategy to focus on the accommodation sector," the company, which operates a nationwide chain of 24 holiday and tourist parks, said. Have your say

Industry highlights key issues with ministers
THE Caravanning Industry Association of Australia has held talks with government ministers to highlight key industry issues soon to be decided in cabinet.
Association chief executive Stuart Lamont, chairman Mark Lindsay, treasurer Dennis Austin and lobbying advisor Neil Coulson met with Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson to provide him with a clear briefing on the state of the industry. It included the industry's importance to small business and growth in Australia, the industry's position on the Motor Vehicle Standards Act review and other compliance issues. More button

Rawson welcome signBaw Baw throws down welcome mat
BAW Baw Shire Council in Victoria is throwing down the welcome mat for recreational vehicles.
It has already installed a dump point in the town of Rawson at the base of Mt Erica for use by caravanners and motorhomers. There are plans to install other dump points in the shire to develop RV friendly towns. Mayor Debbie Brown said the work would encourage tourism in the shire and provide economic benefits to the area. "Tourism is a major supplier of business, specifically in the Baw Baw Ranges area," she said. More button


Hancock's Lookout sign

Chief executive defends decision

Petition calls for SA council to have
change of heart on RV-friendly scheme

THE District Council of Mount Remarkable in SA's Southern Flinders Ranges is being urged to change its mind over its RV-friendly stance. The authority had decided to abandon support for the CMCA's RV Friendly Towns Scheme. But at its last meeting it was handed a near 1000-signature petition requesting a change of heart. It called for the townships of Port Germein, Wirrabara, Melrose and Wilmington to be registered with the scheme, as well as Hancockís Lookout to be reopened for short-term overnight parking for RVs. Council chief executive Wayne Hart said its decision took into account how much the scheme would cost local ratepayers, but did not mean it was unfriendly towards RVs. Meanwhile, Wirrabara Forest Council has agreed that its chief executive should prepare a report on the possibility of establishing a caravan park at Wirrabara Sporting Reserve. Have your say


Kui passes the 50 milestone
MORE and more budget-priced caravan parks are joining the Kui Parks chain.
In little more than a year, the company has grown its network to over 50 parks nationwide. And to celebrate, managing director Bert van Spronsen said it would be offering 20 free year-long loyalty memberships to guests and new visitors. "We want our travelling nomad guests to come and experience what Kui Parks has to offer," he said. The chain offered a cost effective, quality alternative to travellers. "Many nomads travel on limited budgets for extended periods of time so cannot afford many of the holiday parks with their wide range of facilities. In fact, many seek a quiet and relaxing spot to park, chatting with like-minded travellers," he added. Have your say

Graham PotterFugitive with liking for caravan parks still on run
A FUGITIVE with a liking for caravan parks is still being sought by police.
Graham Potter, 58, fled Melbourne in 2010 while on bail and is wanted by Victorian police over his alleged involvement in conspiring to murder and drug trafficking offences. Police recently issued a fresh appeal for information on his whereabouts as part of Operation Roam, a joint national operation between Crime Stoppers and all police jurisdictions around Australia. Mr Potter spent six weeks at Green Way Caravan Park in Tully, Queensland, before giving police the slip and escaping into a forest during a routine traffic check four years ago. More button

Secure your valuables, advise police
POLICE have warned caravanners to be extra vigilant when visiting holiday parks on Queensland's Fraser Coast.
Sergeant Darryn Morris has revealed that police are concentrating on caravan parks in the region after a number of incidents. The latest involved a handbag snatching at Beachfront Tourist Park in Pialba. In another, a man was fined $235 for trespassing at the same park after caravanners reported seeing a man acting suspiciously. Sgt Morris told media the incidents served as a reminder for travellers to secure their valuables at all times. Have your say

Melbourne LeisurefestLove affair with RVs continues: industry
VICTORIA'S caravanning industry is cock-a-hoop as recreational vehicle sales continue to soar.
"The love affair with our industry just continues," jubilant Caravan Industry Association Victoria chief executive Rob Lucas said. "And why wouldn't it ... it's a great leisure activity to get out and about, and with the product our industry is producing there's virtually nowhere in Australia you canít go." Mr Lucas was speaking as final preparations were being made for the Melbourne Leisurefest, Australiaís biggest RV, camping and 4WD show. More button


Jayco boss Gerry Ryan

Ryan calls for more national parks camping

Park closures 'major threat' to industry

JAYCO supremo Gerry Ryan thinks the time has come to allow camping in more national parks. He made the suggestion after pointing out that an increasing number of caravan parks were being sold for redevelopment. Very few new ones were being built to replace them and this was creating a major threat to the industry, he said. "You are seeing some of the parks, some of the best real estate, being turned into residential housing that gives a better return." Mr Ryan (pictured), whose Victoria-based company has snared almost 50 percent of the RV market and employs around 1200 workers, was speaking to Fairfax media. He said Jayco sales had increased by about 10 percent as more young families took to caravanning. He predicted a 50 percent rise in motorhome sales in the next three years. Jayco celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. Have your say


Great weekend for New Age owners
MEMBERS of the New Age Caravans owners' club recently held a gathering at the Great Aussie Tourist Park on the banks of Lake Hume in New South Wales.
A total of 17 caravans turned up for the event, which members described as "a great weekend" packed with activities. To find out more, click on the 'More' button. More button

Minister opens new Logue Brook campgroundMinister opens Logue Brook campground
A NEW 126-site campground and upgraded facilities have been officially opened at Logue Brook, 130km south of Perth. It will be managed by Lake Brockman Tourist Park under a two-year trial community partnership agreement with the Department of Parks and Wildlife. Performing the opening ceremony, WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the facility would offer more affordable, high-quality accommodation at the popular lakeside location. The new campground includes five camping loops and will accommodate about 540 campers. More button

Charity shop does roaring trade in old crocks
VINNIES op shop at Longreach in Queensland's outback is doing roaring trade ... selling crockery to touring southern grey nomads.
The charity shop said that after their long haul from the southern states in search of winter sunshine, the travellers were often short of cups, saucers and plates which get broken along the way. "They head to us because they know they can buy inexpensive replacements," one volunteer said. Have your say

Not all tourism is good tourism, VicParks conference told
NOT all tourism is good tourism, according to Geelong Tourism executive director Roger Grant.
Speaking at the recent VicParks annual conference, he said non-compliant freedom camping was outlawed in the region because it was in direct competition with commercial caravan and tourist parks. Problems created by freedom campers, coupled with major financial implications and environmental impacts, were also factors in Geelong/Bellarine introducing the ban. Parks invested heavily in ensuing compliance with regulations, he added. Have your say


Cruize returns after caravan accident

Couple reunited with lost Sheltie

Cruize returns after caravan rollover

A DARWIN couple has been reunited with their dog which fled after their 4WD and caravan rolled in the Northern Territory. Cruize, a Shetland Sheepdog (pictured), was returned after the family took to social media following the accident on the Stuart Highway south of Darwin. The uninjured Sheltie was found three weeks later wandering in the bush at Virginia. Hugging Cruize, Kaye Pisani who received fractured ribs in the single-vehicle accident said she could not thank people enough for their kindness. Her three other Shelties also travelling in the tow vehicle were rounded after the rollover, in which her husband escaped unharmed. Their rig was extensively damaged. Have your say


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LETTERS TO
THE EDITOR

Letter man

Triple reason for disliking some caravan sites

LAST month's article headlined 'Size Does Matter' primarily refers to the length of caravans (see story here).

But the industry responses seem to focus on 'minimum site size regulations'.

However, as touring recreational caravanners using caravan parks we have a strong preference for those with triple-fronted sites, ie wide enough to park the 'van, annex and vehicle side-by-side (or large sites which otherwise compensate for width).

Not only does this keep roadways clear, it also provides our minimum personal-space requirements which, no doubt, exceed 'regulations'.

Landscaping, gardens and/or hedging borders are very highly regarded.

Our custom is not swayed by meeting regulations ... our spend is based solely on emotion.

Since 2010, we have kept a spreadsheet of 86 caravan parks visited throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Under a column headed 'Stay Again?' only seven rate 'Definitely', 36 'Yes', 25 'Meh' and 18 'No'.

Of course, this rating is based on more than the size of sites but it is a major factor in swaying emotion.

Thus far, eight percent of caravan parks visited can expect further custom, 42 percent may be revisited and 50 percent will not.

Many need to revise their site plans to retain, capture (or recapture) our custom.

Dave Powell.

Sardine treatment

CARAVAN Industry Association of Australia chief executive Stuart Lamont says: "The overwhelming majority of caravans continue to be easily accommodated by all caravan parks."

I'm getting a little tired of hearing caravan industry 'spokesmen' droning on about things like the above when, in our experience, this can only be true if you prefer to be treated like a sardine.

Our most recent (July 2015) caravan park experience in Exmouth, WA, had the 7.25m-long caravan rear bumper touching the bollards at the back of the site, while the front was kissing the pathway.

Any passing vehicle towing another caravan, or just driving past us, had less than half a metre between them and us.

The site next to us was similar and their tow vehicle had to be parked outside their site.

There was no room inside it after they put out their caravan annex and chairs.

Phil Jones.


Tariffs

I HAVE just read your item on FreeSpirit urging parks to stop publicising their tariffs (see story here).

My dad used to say that if you looked at an ad which wouldn't say the price, AVOID IT.

It's why Victoria makes it illegal to offer vehicles for sale without a stated price.

Michael Mullany.


Ticket on a plate

IT REALLY is the pits that a cop gave this guy a ticket for having a plate too high from the ground (see story here).

No surprise that this should be in NSW.

When I have imported cars in the past I used to check ADRs, not an easy thing.

One of the laws is that the rear number must be 'centre or the right of the vehicle centreline'.

This was the immutable rule until the Toyota company said their 4x4s should have them on the left. No problem!

Hopefully the manufacturer will reimburse the innocent party, who will still be stuck with points though.

Michael Mullany.