Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Holiday Wrap

Three years before our recent campervan trip we began with an almost similar route.

This trip in the campervan we stayed one night each in San Remo, Waratah Bay, Lakes Entrance, Omeo, Merimbula, Narooma, Batemans Bay, Jervis Bay, Gundagai and Bright.

Last time in our previous car, three years ago, two nights Lakes Entrance, one night Eden, one night Merimbula, two nights Cooma, two nights Queenbeyan (Canberra to see Floriade and Parliament House). We mostly used motels. Lakes Entrance we stayed with our friend. At Merimbula we took a cabin in a caravan park.

It is far cheaper to use your own car and pay for modest accommodation, rather than hire a campervan and pay park fees. While I thought the campervan was quite economical on fuel, it was still an added cost, less than $200 and given the hills it climbed at high and low speed, quite amazingly economical really.

As a visitor to Australia, where you don't own your own car, the equation would be different and a campervan would be quite good value. It is pretty well $50 per night for a caravan park powered site.

R and I endlessly discussed a better layout design for our campervan but really, we did not come up with anything radical. Choosing a van with a bed over the cab is my recommendation and if you are staying in caravan parks, don't bother with an onboard shower/toilet. Many times we heard from caravan park check in staff , 'we've put you near the amenities block'. I feel old, but the deed was appreciated. The extra bed over the cabin can be used as daytime storage for things like suitcases.

I drove extremely cautiously and did not leave a trail of destruction behind me. I was paranoid about doing any damage to the van, given the $7,500 bond. Nevertheless, some of the roads we travelled on were quite extreme and R did get fed up with mountainous steep and winding roads, even just along the coast of NSW. I have learnt that Victoria's eastern and some of the western coastal roads are quite flat and the equivalent in NSW are not. That was not something we factored in or imagined.

To move from one end of the living area of the van to other if the other person was standing up involved phrases such as 'can you move your fat arse' or 'can you move your fat gut'. Please, we manage to get in each other's way at home in a large three bedroom apartment, never mind in a campervan.

We covered about 3,000 kilometres, 1,800 miles. The longest period of driving was about four hours but normally a good bit less. We took lots of breaks and often diversions if something appealed to us to see. There was supplementary driving on top of that, like around a town to see sights etc.

As it was our first time in caravan parks with our own accommodation, I was nervous about looking foolish because I was ignorant about something, but that never really happened and we quickly got the hang of how things work. Staff were always pleasant in the parks, at times very helpful.

All in all, it was a good experience, marred mainly by the weather, particularly the wind. I don't think we would do it again though. The stress levels can be quite high at times, but then so can they be when travelling by any mode on holidays. There is always so much to consider and plan.

Just a dodgy photo now to end, Batemens Bay lift bridge over River Clyde, taken with my phone.


24 comments:

  1. Your summing up of the trip is of great interest. My trip to Aus in 2012 was originally planned with a friend and we thought we would probably hire a campervan. In the end that didn't happen and reading your posts about the trip have convinced me I did the right thing by using public transport. A number of disadvantages but at least I had no accidents.

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    1. Marie, I think you made the right decision. The second person is really needed in a campervan, I feel.

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  2. Holidaying together is tricky. Or we have always found it so.
    I really enjoyed travelling with you two though. Thank you.

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    1. EC, hence Himself off on his own and you get a holiday at home.

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  3. Andrew your trip was fantastic and I would like to take part in it

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  4. Did read (and enjoyed) all you trip reports even though I didn't comment. No way could I do that (in a campervan) with The Golfer - we'd be at each others throat from day 1. Yet we can travel in car + accomodation and not have a cross word ( well maybe one or two) the whole time.
    Thank you for all the effort put into these posts Andrew - they will be a great help to others contemplating that route and means of transport.

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    1. Cathy, yes, the way you travel is our preference. Thanks.

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  5. Driving campervans can be a bit complicated and/or expensive, but sleeping in caravans is dead easy. Caravan sites exist all around the coast, usually facing the open ocean and have, as you say, excellent amenities blocks. As long as travellers are happy to live in tracksuits, bathers and sun hats, there is not much luggage to transfer from the car boot to the caravan each day.

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    1. Tracksuits Hels? The very horror. Barring none, the parks we stayed in were all of a very high standard and you are right about facing the sea.

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  6. For some reason, many tourists think that they should hire a campervan to travel between Sydney and Cairns, usually in 7 days or less. That is such an insane idea, especially in certain brands of campers which I personally think are downright unAustralian.

    Why do I think that? These companies go to the motor vehicle auctions and buy cheap 80's vans for under $2,000. They plonk in some camping items, sometimes a cheap plywood kitchen of some kind. They generally do nothing at all mechanically. They register them in states that do not require regular inspections. Then they hire them out to unsuspecting tourists at a weekly rate that would make your eyes water. Usually more than the price they paid for the van originally.

    These vans usually cannot achieve the speed limit of 100, especially not when going uphill. I have seen them here going downhill and struggling to get up to 80, even on a downhill slope! Locals get stuck behind them on one lane roads, much road rage ensues. And they don't even think to pull over and let people past.

    Quite often they break down. Our regular mechanic here will not even touch these vans. He told me that once did a lot of work on a certain branded van and has never been paid for it, he is taking them to court. The tow company did not get paid for bringing it to his shop, either.

    We took our own car and did accommodation on our recent Queensland trip, it was great even though we had one very long driving day - over 12 hours on the road with breaks included. :)

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    1. Snoskred, I get what you are saying. Back packers here pay a good bit to buy vans and of course after their trip, they can't sell them for anywhere near the price they paid. Twelve hours on the road is silly. I can't wait to hear about your GC holiday, especially given there was one amusement park you could not go to, or had just been to.

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  7. It was an interesting trip and you learned a few things along the way, mostly that you won't do it again in a campervan. If it was me, my biggest worry would be high winds, I'd worry about being blown over.
    Interesting the difference in coastal roads, and now everyone who reads here will be better informed if they are planning a trip of their own.

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    1. River, I think your coastal roads are even flatter than ours. It was a bit challenging when driving in high winds, but I never felt we were in danger.

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  8. I liked hearing about your travels, not just the sites you saw, but the things that bothered you, how good or bad the food was, all that. I liked the drama.

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    1. Speaking of drama, guess I'll be heading out in my raft soon, hope your way but probably wherever the current takes me. But you might look for in a year or so. I'll be real thirsty by then I imagine. Election night blues here.....

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    2. Strayer, it will be challenging to come in The Rip, but once you are in Port Phillip Bay, you will be home and hosed and there is a room waiting for you. I remember more now, it was the Contiki crossing of the Pacific.

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  9. Travelling around the country in a caravan sounds good to me.
    Merle.............

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    1. Merle, so how come you haven't done it?

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    2. I've worked it out. The Beer Fairy refuses to drive anymore.

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  10. Interesting to read your thoughts.
    If we don't take the caravan we always stay in Motels along the way. Only stayed in one Cabin first time we ever went to Port Douglas and the cabin was at Parks, so very cold at night, never again.

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    1. Margaret, we had a similar experience in Adelaide. From then on we just left the heating on as it took hours to warm the place from cold. There is a good reason why caravan parks in England shut down for the winter.

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    2. I recall once we stayed in Bacchus Marsh in a Motel which was very lovely - we kept blowing the fuse, the owner got a bit cross.

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    3. Phewy on him Margaret. They need to have adequate power for whatever people need to use. I have been through Bacchus Marsh, but I don't really know it. My grandfather's second wife moved there to her daughter's after he died.

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