The Joys Of Caravanning

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Caravanning and camping provides caravanners and campers with a deep connection to the land, and to each other.

Australians are known for the principle of mateship and a laid-back attitude – camping and caravanning supplies these in spades.

When was the last time you found out the name of your neighbours while staying in a hotel or resort? While caravanning and camping you will always make new friends, while they’re not in your pocket, you can always find someone willing to spin a yarn over a drink or BBQ.

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Your fellow travellers also are great sources of information, from which campsite has the best fishing spot, to where to see a great waterfall.

It is great to see Australians getting into the camping and caravanning spirit – and research shows its one of the most valuable holidays on the market, not only in terms of cost but in the after effects of a holiday that allows you to reconnect with loved ones and nature.

A report from the UK titled ‘Real Richness’ concluded that campers are more happy, energised, optimistic and satisfied than non-campers, and that families that go camping feel closer and more wealthy. Eighty-eight per cent of campers say it’s something every child should experience, while 79 per cent of kids who have never camped say they would like to.

Camping and caravanning promotes family cohesion, satisfaction, togetherness and fulfilment, creating memories, traditions and special places that stay with you for life.

With such a big country to explore, full of diverse environment and natural wonders, there’s no better way to see it that caravanning and camping.

WHAT DRIVES GREY NOMADS?

They’re retired (or close to it), in possession of some kind of camping and caravanning equipment, are eager for adventure “before dementia”, and on most afternoons can be found with a drink in hand at your local caravan park for the Great and Honourable Happy Hour Tradition. They are the Grey Nomads and they make up 25 per cent of Australia’s caravanning and camping market.

Ian Thomason and his wife spend six months of the year on a yacht in the Mediterranean, but don’t let that confuse you. The other half of the year they take trips around Australia with their camper trailer in tow. You see, camping and caravanning isn’t just for those who like to ‘rough it’ – there’s something for every pace, taste, and budget in the Grey Nomad lifestyle.

“I’ve been camping in tents all my life,” says Ian. “We bought the trailer because its easier to load up and hit the road, and easier to pack up again to be on the move.”

“We just throw in a bit of food and the the fridge, hook it up and we’re off!”

Ian jokes that “because we’re getting older!” it’s also a more pleasant experience, sleeping in a trailer bed off the ground, and not crawling in and out of the tent.

Ruth and Colin Nicholls have been caravanning since their first child was nine months old, but as retirees they now have the ability to really experience the freedom of the open road for months at a time.

They are the classic Grey Nomads, taking off every year to escape Melbourne’s winter by heading North.

“We just decide on our directing and duration and then see what we like and stay where it suits us. Because we’re retired and our van is self-contained, we just need to pack some clothes and food and see where the road leads.”

“When we first got into caravanning it was a very different situation – we had a young family and Colin gave me a choice between three nights in a hotel or three weeks in a caravan, so off we went for three weeks,” explains Ruth.

“We also wanted to give our kids the opportunity to see as much of Australia as they could, especially the nature we’d encounter while bushwalking or kayaking.”

Colin and Ruth have now been on the road on and off for over 45 years, and Colin explains they’ve seen quite a change in the industry over that time.

“Caravans are much classier than they used to be, now they are far more luxurious, even the smaller caravans have very comfortable seating, bedding and a lot of the home comforts like televisions, dishwashers and more,” said Colin.

Ruth adds: “One of the real delights of modern caravans is the ensuites that are now almost standard fittings (including the essential toilet) wonderful for those not so young when caravanning. Even in our small sized caravan we enjoy the luxury of a bathroom on board which makes such a difference to ease of living.”

The Nicholls love the freedom caravanning gives them to travel to many places, and to set their own pace rather than being driven by a schedule of bookings and deposits.

“Now that we are ‘nomadic’ we can go wherever we like. You go where you want and if you find a spot that speaks to you, you can stay longer. There’s also the ability to make your own days longer, setting your own pace and schedule. Sometimes we don’t have dinner until later but we like it that way,” said Ruth.

The other key pleasure of caravanning for Ruth is the ability to go where you like while you still have your things with you. As an avid crafter, Ruth always has her supplies with her. “Having things that are ‘of you’ with you along the road is great, because while the simplicity of the life is wonderful, its always good to have your hobbies about.”

Through caravanning, Colin and Ruth have seen some amazing places and sights. Caravan Parks are often set in some of Australia’s most beautiful areas, whether by the seaside or river, or in the bush surrounded by wildlife.

“Once when we were in northern NSW, Colin went on a bushwalk and I just sat on top of some cliffs with a picnic feast and watched as whales swam by, breaching and diving. I counted 37 while Colin was on his walk. It was just a magical experience.”

“When you discover those special places to stay, with ‘million-dollar views’ to take one’s breath away, then for a time these places are all yours to appreciate and enjoy their beauty, absorbing in all that is around you and allowing the peace it brings to overwhelm you and make you want to stay for ever in such lovely places.”

Instead of experiencing these environs from a hotel balcony, the Nicholls feel that having the van helps them to bring the outside in, experiencing close up nature and scenery, while still enjoying the comfort of shelter.

“We love the beauty of Australia, and we’re fortunate to be free and healthy enough to enjoy it. We are delighted to enjoy the magnificent land of ours, and we like being where it is quiet and peaceful, without going totally wild.”

“We are so blessed to live in such an amazing country in which we are free to travel and we love to do this as often as we can. We love our caravanning way of life sharing all this together. We simply set the dates and the destinations and rest just follows. The memories we now have of so many amazing places all around Australia are ours forever. This is an amazing country so we would encourage you to join us and enjoy as much of it as you can!”

If you’re thinking of following the Grey Nomad trail, you can check out awesome product at your state’s caravan show, or check out letsgocaravanandcamping.com. au to get some inspiration for planning your journey.

Join the Let’s Go Caravan & Camping VIP Club

For ideas on where to go, why not check out letsgocaravanandcamping.com.au, a website full of info on where to go and where to stay while you’re there! You can also download free eBook 99 Experiences, with unique and fun things to do while on the open road across Australia.

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Alana Lowes
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