Caravanning can be an economical and interesting way to see a vast country like Australia. We have a caravan and have been fortunate to see a little of this land for ourselves. During our travels, I have made some observations which I want to share as well as comment on my own experiences.
It seems to me, there are two main types of caravanners – the Grey Nomad and the Holiday Caravanner. Of course, there are variations. These are merely my observations. The Grey Nomads are generally retired couples. They tend to be on the road for months and relocate frequently during this time. However, as they age, they are likely to go to a favourite destination and stay, sometimes, for six months.
On the other hand, the Holiday Caravanners are generally families who go away once, or a few times a year. I believe this group falls in two sub groups. One is the group that I call repeaters, as they return to the same site year after year. Generation after generation, in some cases. The second sub group take their caravan away for holidays but choose different destinations each time.
Caravanners are like caravans. They come in all shapes and sizes. There are the seasoned travelers who have been around Australia a dozen times. They usually have the four wheel drive and the off road caravan. They can tell you all there is to know about any given destination. Then there are the light caravanners, who have a small four cylinder car and a campervan or A-frame van. They have often had a large van but have downsized as they aged. Then there are all those in between. You name it, and there is a caravan to suit you. Unable to decide which caravan, or where to go? There are countless websites and magazines to help you do just that.
Caravanners have their set jobs regarding the work in setting up and packing up. The men generally drive and the women have the job of guiding their spouses on to the caravan site and at the end of the stay, on to the tow ball. Both are fraught with problems. It used to be they used hand directions and some used walkie talkies but more often now they use either phones or many have installed reversing cameras. There is often talk about the fights between spouses regarding this important matter. All sorts of gadgets were invented to assist with guiding caravans on site and onto tow balls. One such device is the CoupleMate Trailer Guide & Lock Tow Ball Hitch caravan ‘Marriage Saver’. I believe they were responsible for saving some marriages.
We are not your typical “Grey Nomads”. While we are both grey, we do not exactly fit the picture. We are sometimes on the road for a month or so and we do sometimes return to favourite destinations, but we also like to go to new places. I confess, I am hopeless at directing my husband onto the caravan site. I try to look like I know what I am doing, but honestly, I am not good at it. So much so, that my husband installed a reversing camera to assist him. He said that I am about as useful as two men away sick. How’s that for a compliment?
I am at my happiest once everything is set up and 4pm rolls around. If you have ever been to a caravan park around that time, you know it is time for drinks and nibbles and chatting with like-minded souls. A scenic location is always a bonus. I think, for me, it is more about the “idea” of caravanning that attracts me. I know that. For those who don’t own a caravan, there is quite a bit of work attached to this form of travel. Packing up the van, setting up the van, packing up the van, setting up the van … I know there are many people who thrive on this activity but sadly, not me. Having said that, when we are set up I like to stay for a while. I don’t like overnight stays very much. Just for the record, I am not anti-caravanning – just realistic.
While we haven’t been all over Australia by caravan, we have seen a few beautiful places. Some that come immediately to mind of which I have pleasant memories are Carnarvon Gorge, Airlie Beach, Sunshine Coast, parts of New South Wales and Victoria. We haven’t ventured west or north of Australia and probably won’t with the caravan. If the photos below don’t give you a clue, well, I like the water. Whether it is the ocean, rivers, pools or lakes. Maybe that is why I like cruising as well.
At the risk of being howled down by the committed Grey Nomads, we will probably fly or take the train to the likes of Darwin and Northern Territory including Alice Springs and Uluru, as well as Perth and Western Australia. We will do it our way. Travel by caravan over vast distances is not for us. My husband says its the whine that develops in the passenger seat after a few hours that puts him off. I’m sure I don’t know what he means…
Caravanning is an interesting and inexpensive way to see a “big” place like Australia, and in your own time. There is plenty of room for all the Grey Nomads (and assorted other travelers). There are many devotees, and they are found in caravan parks and free camping areas all over Australia. Importantly, the freedom of caravan travel allows you to do it your way, or not. It is a great way to see the country and meet some interesting people on the journey. Just make sure you work out the best way to get your caravan on to the site!
You really don’t know who you will meet while traveling (in any form). Another story (or stories) for another time, methinks.
Please let me know about your caravanning experiences. I would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading my post!