Friday, March 19, 2010

Camping it up

What do many Australians do when they get to a certain age and retire? They buy a caravan/motor home or some other wheeled accommodation vehicle and do a circuit, with detours, of Australia. Someone once calculated the time saving that would occur if you travel anticlockwise, on the inside of the circuit rather than the clockwise. I forget the answer but it was a bit of whimsical fun.

Maybe we would like to travel Australia in such a manner one day? So off we went by tram to the Caravan and Camping Show at Caulfield Racecourse. Yarra Trams cannot provide a sufficient service to St Kilda on Sundays, so they have diverted a direct tram to the racecourse to run via St Kilda, adding ten minutes to the trip. Ah well, no rush and there are worse places to be diverted via.

I was astonished at how many people were at the show and how many exhibitors there were. We did not bother with the accessory stalls, but there must have been a hundreds of them.

We saw big and tiny caravans, motorhomes, something newish called five wheelers, poptops and camping trailers that have tents that fold out into twenty bedroom houses (a spa is an extra).

Generally I wasn't too surprised in advances in RVs, as they seemed to be named now, since we hired a motor home in New Zealand. They don't seem to use dual voltage anymore. Things run off the battery mostly and so you plug in to charge the battery, rather than run things. I expect air con is an exception. For around $60,000 you could get a decent sized van with a separate shower, separate toilet and small washing machine, plus an exterior pull out barbecue. A small van without extras might have been $25,000.

Motorhomes are quite expensive, mind you many of them are Mercedes motorised. Our NZ motorhome was based on a Bedford van, so it was quite spacious and well equipped, even by today's standards.

Oh look, a nearby pub. A thirst quenching gin and tonic while we decided whether to get the tram home to the door or the train and have a twenty plus minute walk in the heat. We caught the tram. The time would have been the same.

We came away with nothing at all clearer in our minds. Motorhome, where you must always take your accommodation with you, or caravan to tow, which is less pleasant to drive and you have to reverse park it. I have heard stories of people gathering at parks to watch how well the newcomers reverse their caravan into a space. I used to be able to reverse a trailer or whatever, but it was a long time ago. I am not sure I want to refresh. I am siding with the more expensive motor home option. Of course I would be looking at used ones rather than new. But we are still young. It is a long time away.


  1. A few years back I went on an organised camping trip around Alice Springs, to Uluru, up to Darwin and around..... We saw lots and lots of "Grey Nomads" up that way!!

  2. Ha! I love that image of The Newcomer Reversing as entertainment for the others.
    and I love those top-of-the-range Winnebagos.

    If you want to see massed Grey Nomads, visit the Beaufort Steam Rally (in May and in November). They mass in the adjacent paddock and it's amazing (so is the rally).

  3. My Dad and his partner bought an expensive caravan and are now thinking of selling it because they don't use it enough to justify the money they spent. If my Dad can back a caravan then anyone can, he's not the most patient man in the world (oh heck, no wonder i'm impatient!)

  4. Anonymous9:40 am

    i easily love your own posting way, very charming,
    don't quit as well as keep creating due to the fact that it just simply worth to look through it,
    excited to looked over additional of your content pieces, cheers :)

  5. Missed the show, yet again, due to working nights :(
    As you know we love to travel with our family. We have the pop top van, an annex (two actually) and Tom has his tent.
    The ideal thing would be to have an RV with a small trailer on the back for a vehicle to be towed. That way you can take your accomodation with you, yet leave it to go do the exploring that the RV won't get a park at.

    For us, we love our 4WD, it allows us to take the kids to places a 2WD won't/can't get to. If it were just the two of us, we would have the 4WD and one of those roof storage bubbles and just put a double swag in it.

  6. Choose what is going to give you the less headaches and problems when you venture out; when you're young you can cope with issues but when you're slightly more mature you want to enjoy your travels without hiccups.
    Yes, the Beaufort Steam Rally is a beaut to visit, my relatives help organise and run it ;)

  7. Something a little OT, for your love of pavement glass inserts full explanation here and here.

  8. It is quite a phenomena in Aus KN. Do New Zealander's do similar?

    Indeed Stacks. Are they fresh out of the suburbs or experienced. I like steam engines. Just a nice hiss. I know of the Echuca one but not heard of the one at Beaufort.

    Lol Fen. I reckon there should be many cheap vans etc around for the exact reason you mention. But, from what I have seen, they hold their prices.

    Cazzie, we must have missed the double swag bubble....fortunately. A workmate's bro in law bought a Winnebago for $250K and when it was pointed out to him about going to the shops, he bought a small car to tow along behind. Rich bastard.

    Interesting re Steam Rally Jayne. Tell me more some time. You are right, ease of travel and comfort.

  9. Luxfers Jayne. Great. Remember how Reuben thought they were dangerous.

  10. Hi Andrew

    Here in Larrikin's End we are a major stopping off point for Bedford Bedouins. This is because we are a town of caravan parks. We also have excellent public toilets and showers, cheap chippies, free internet at the library and the local police don't mind people parking campervans in the street outside of holiday season.

    I recently saw a huge Mercedes motorhome roll into town. It had a trailer on the back with a brand new Mini Cooper S strapped onto it. Out got a very well-dressed, highly groomed and lavishly bejewelled couple in, I would guess their early sixties.

    I suspect they told their children they were just going on a SKIing holiday. What they meant was Spending the Kids' Inheritance.



  11. whilst working the le vineyard recently, I overhead a conversation between two mature gentleman about just such a topic of old farts in caravan parks. One of them gave a long-winded (pardon the pun) breakdown of the costs involved in owning, garaging, maintaining, registering, filling up with petrol....blah blah blah blah...

    just before I fell asleep and pitched head first into my basket of shiraz, I was struck by the thought that it would be cheaper to fly everywhere, hire a four wheel drive to get out and grub amongst it all and sleep in comfortable five star hotels.

    But that could just be me.

  12. "poptops and camping trailers"

    Bugger, I missed Midsumma again!

  13. Bedford Bedouins. Love it Pants. Re the Mercedes motorhome, I like Ozfemme's idea better.

    Ozfemme, the first time I read you comment, I thought bucket of shiraz, which gave me a different picture to a basket of shiraz. With the big expensive units, I am sure the price comparison holds up.

    And sorely missed you were too LS.

  14. Anonymous12:00 am

    Far out! - feeling incredibly old amongst you kiddies - if we were not raising a kid (junkie parents) we would be grey nomads. Been working on the van for the last week, mainly the 12v electrics - originally wired by dyslexic dwarfs. A real crap job. Getting there, but wish I didn't have to do so much work on it. Total crap wiring, reminds me of Alfa Romeos in the 70's - 1750GTV etc. Madness. But it was good training for sussing out weird wiring. Idiots put the 12v fuse panel under a bed, so to get to it, gotta do a lot of dismantling. Going away at Easter, so its a work in progress - split off the fridge, 12v lights, exhaust fans - still heaps to do.
    And to your trendy city dwellers, this is just crap. Amazing what you get into when your hormone levels drop.

  15. Michael, not sure what you mean is crap. I liked the old twin voltage lighting. I do recall the stationary Alfas at the side of the road. Small percentage of cars on the road, but a large percentage of cars on the side of the road. Enjoy your trip.

  16. Anonymous11:33 pm

    Andrew - sorry, my post was a bit cryptic. Modifying a very basic caravan - horrified by the way the 12v stuff has been installed, gradually getting it up to scratch. Want to go bush camping, no power, so need to be self sufficient. Thankfully, solar panels have come down in price HEAPS in the last 12 months - would be nice to have a cupple of panels feeding the battery bank. (pictures available on request...)

  17. Michael, I guess solar panels would be enough to charge 12v lighting and some. You would be looking for a sunny place instead of under a nice tree perhaps.