When you can't Cruise, Caravans & RV's Rule!!
By Dallas Sherringham
We have all made solemn vows not to something, only to break it one day and have the time of our lives when finally did try it.
Such was my dismissal of caravanning as a holiday - I tried it once as a teenager, crowded into a tiny family caravan at Terrigal while it poured rain – and I vowed never to do it again.
The onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic changed all that for myself and a million other Aussies who normally go cruising every year.
Suddenly our yearly adrenaline rush was cut off and we sat around gloomily contemplating life without Deck Chairs, Island Night, Gourmet Meals and Days Ashore.
My wife Sharon came up with the light bulb idea of hiring a motorhome and heading off around Australia. We arranged a Jayco model from Lets Go Motorhomes, the new startup company which is attracting a lot of business due to very competitive long term rates.
It cost us a bit over $5000 to rent a motorhome for seven weeks, which was compatible with our cruise fares each year.
Motorhome and caravan rentals and purchases in Australia have boomed in recent months as the nation contemplates a future without international travel and cruising.
We packed it up with far too many clothes and lots of extras we really didn’t need and headed north, scraping into Queensland two days before they shut the border. Our destination was Broome, but daily checks of the news told us WA was out and the Territory was unlikely.
So, we changed direction at Winton and headed for Palm Cove for three nights. It was so much fun, we stayed nearly weeks at the NRMA Caravan Park, right on the beach.
It was a real learning experience. Caravanning, like cruising, is a social experience where people mix freely with no pretensions. We made a lot of friends along the way and if you are thinking of taking up caravanning and staying in van parks, you need to be able to mix socially.
Now, a warning: some caravan owners love nothing better than discussing their latest adventures over an hour or two and others like to discuss the “mechanical” side of caravans and will tell you with your Jayco has the wrong tyre pressure or the “bolts of the fandangle need attached to the bomboogle”.
It’s all gobblygook to me, but I just agreed with whatever they said and got on with it.
Free camping is all the rage at the moment which means nights out in the wilderness with no power or toilets, but we decided to stay in van parks and the powered sites ranged from $30 to $60 per night. We booked ahead on the phone, just like booking a motel room and never had a problem.
The two best van parks were Palm Cove for its location and Big Four at Cannonvale which has Australia’s biggest water park in a campground.
The motorhome seemed restricted in size when we first started out, but after a few days we were used to the setup and the annex made it so much easier. Let’s Go Motorhomes supplied two foldup chairs and a table and they made our holiday so much more enjoyable.
Setting up each day involved connecting the electricity to the mains, the water inlet on to a tap and the wastewater outlet into a pipe. We had it down to about two minutes at the end after a ridiculously silly start on the first day at Gunnedah.
Now I am a caravanning convert and I should have been enjoying it all these years.
And to top it all off, I came back to the Central Coast and bought myself a second hand caravan and booked a month in Palm Cove next year.