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February 2018

Monthly readership:
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Breaking News headline
For full list, click above

Feb 27:
Man arrested at Flemington caravan exhibition in Victoria charged with 17 counts of obtaining property by deception and one of proceeds of crime. Bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates' Court on March 5.

***  Click on BREAKING NEWS above to see full list of previous stories.

* Grey nomads in hunt for missing motorcyclist ... 153,242 people reached.

* Moyne Council seeks assistant caretaker for caravan park ... 52,773 people reached.

* Caravanners scoop $10m on Lotto ...  33,743 people reached.

* Woman seriously injured as caravan flips in NSW ... 25,859 people reached.

* Illegal campers at Byron Bay cop fines ... 23,507 people reached.

* Video shows caravan recovery after Bruce Hwy crash ... 22.669 people reached.

* SA police target unsafe caravans ... 18,839 people reached.

More letters
to the editor

Banning Tassie freecampers is 'wrong'

REGARDING last month's story on 'freeloaders' not being welcome in Tasmania (see story here).

This attitude is totally wrong!

We deliberately go to Queenstown specifically because we can camp for free in our self-contained caravans.

We don't cost the local ratepayers anything.

However, we go on the tourist train, we eat pies and drink coffees at the cafe, we buy groceries at the IGA, we pay to go to the museum and we buy alcohol from the hotel.

As for the local caravan park, it does not suit us to stay there.

By banning free camping, Queenstown is missing out on the tourist dollar.

This is a terrible decision for the struggling economy of this very interesting town.

Tasmania is a very expensive place to get to in a caravan ($2500) and the free camps help us recoup some of that cost.

We saw this starting a few years back.

The local shop owners at Latrobe asked us what we thought of their council's levy of $10 a night as they saw it as a tourist deterrent. They didn't want it.

With most caravanners using Wikicamps, it doesn't take long for a town to be bypassed with the tourist dollars going to the next town.

Think about it!

Township Guru.

RVs not banks on wheels

YET another bunch of fools who think all caravanners are banks on wheels ... funnel them into caravan parks and milk a living from them.

Itís hideously expensive to take your RV to Tasmania to tour your state.

Not all RV owners can afford to pay night after night of expensive caravan park rates.

Some of us have to sell the house because we retire and owe, so it is sell or have the bank take it anyway.

If you donít want us there, Tasmania, then stop sending the ship to Melbourne expecting us to come.

Those who save hard to come to Tasmania and then find no free camping will decide they are more welcome elsewhere.

Then all you will get is a heck of a lot of reduced tourist income dollars ... but your caravan parks will be happy won't they?


Beware greed

THOSE complaining should be careful what they wish for.

Take away one of the main reasons tourists stop in a particular place and they will just move on to the next more welcoming place.

Quite frankly, Tasmania needs all the help it can get financially so why knock-back tourist dollars spread around the whole of businesses in the area because one or two caravan parks are greedy and want it all for themselves.

Leanne Killby.

Free-loaders indeed!

GUESS what will happen to the thousands of Tasmanian-bound RVers visiting the Apple Isle ... they will go elsewhere.

Free-loaders indeed!

The cost of a travelling holiday to Tasmania in an RV is not insignificant (ferry etc) nor is the money spent on fuel, food etc.

I for one won't be going there. I'll be traveling to places that welcome me and are happy with me supporting their community.


Cam and Jaiden DublinPlans to help other families

Intrepid travellers Cam and Jaiden back on road again

By Dennis Amor

FORMER childcare worker-turned caravanner Cam Dubin has hit the road for the second time with his young Asperger's son Jaiden. The sole dad, who is in his early 30s, has already completed an 18-month adventure which began when Jaiden was just three years old and successfully helped him overcome many of the problems associated with his mild form of austism. Cam quit his job in 2012, sold all his possessions and turned an ageing 14ft poptop caravan into their $13,000 comfortable home on the road. For their second trip Cam and Jaiden, now aged nine, are travelling in a 1989 Coromal Lowline, dual-axle caravan boasting independent suspension, alloy frame, electric brakes, triple bunks and a double bed. "We purposely bought a family caravan that would allow us to loan it out to other families with children on the autism spectrum," Cam told Caravanning News. "The idea being we can give families a free holiday in our caravan and give them a chance to use nature as a form of therapy just as I did in the past with Jaiden." Read more button

Wealth head

Park prices a hurdle to ordinary travellers

Commonwealth GamesBy Dennis Amor
Comment bubble Have your say

CARAVAN parks on the Gold Coast have been accused of ripping off visitors by jacking up their prices for the upcoming Commonweath Games.

One park on the world-famous glitter strip is asking an incredible $10,252 for a three-bedroom cabin during the 11-day prestigious sporting event, twice the normal rate.

"They are certainly not playing the game ... just making themselves more wealthy by seizing the chance to swindle us out of our hard-earned cash," disgrunted grey nomad Maurice Cowdell complained to Caravanning News.

"There's no way the ordinary caravanner can afford those grossly inflated prices."

Tourism officials predict the April 4-15 games will attract more than 100,000 visitors to the Gold Coast, injecting more than $2 billion into the local economy.

Gold Coast Tourism chairman Paul Donovan has already warned that unscrupulous operators would give the tourist mecca's accommodation industry a bad name.

A quick check by Caravanning News revealed that a two-bedroom deluxe villa at Tallebudgera Tourist Park will set visitors back a whopping $5214 for the 11-day sporting event compared to $2846 a month later.

A premium powered site will cost $913 for the duration ... but only $42 a night after the games finish.

Couples staying 11-nights in an 'eco tent' at Paradise Country Farmstay will have to cough up $3000 whereas staying in a three-bedroom cabin at the BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park will fetch $10,252.

The price drops to $4972 a month later.

Meanwhile, non-powered sites for a 24ft caravan at the park come in at around $2000.

'We cannot endorse such behaviour by
the parks involved'
The 4500-member Australian Caravan Club has expressed disappointment at the price gouging, claiming it was "holding RVers to ransom".

Acting chairman Maria Minchin commented: "Many are retirees and pensioners on limited incomes and such higher prices may restrict many from attending the games.

"It may also prevent some RVers from travelling through the Gold Coast region at that time. We cannot endorse such behaviour by the parks involved."

Queensland's peak caravanning body Caravanning Queensland did not consider the prices "as necessarily excessive" for a peak period and when location, facilities and occupancy etc were considered.

"The better positioned, better equipped parks will always attract higher rates at peak times. This is no different to any other accommodation type," chief executive Ron Chapman told Caravanning News.

"Without specifically pointing to any individual case you have quoted you must take into consideration how many people can be accommodated in various cabin types. And we are not talking about bunkhouse types," he said.

"I know of cabins in parks which can accommodate up to 12 people so if you work out the cost per night per person it is certainly a competitive price, regardless of whether it is Christmas/New Year, Commonwealth Games or whenever.

"If any accommodation establishment is not competitive then they simply won't get business.

"I know of several parks which actually contacted everyone who stayed with them at the corresponding time last year offering them a discount as a loyal customer.

"Regrettably it is not realistic to expect off-peak rates at a time of high demand. This never was the case nor is it likely ever to happen."

Attempts to obtain a comment from Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate were unsuccessful but Gold Coast Tourist Parks spokesperson Adam Spencer said bookings were strong across all tourist parks for the period.

"We offer a range of pricing depending on the style of accommodation and the pricing is the same as our peak holiday charges we normally have at Christmas and Easter," he said.

"We still have camp sites available over the Commonwealth Games period from $52 a night and two-bedroom self-contained villas from $201 a night.

"This is some of the most affordable accommodation on the Gold Coast so we expect it will get snapped up pretty quickly."

Tom Smith, ACCACC stalwart steps down
FORMER Australian Caravan Club chairman and director Tom Smith has retired from the club's board after nine years of dedicated service.
But he will continue being responsible for the club's policy, advocacy and town support portfolio, the RVSTAY scheme and the annual national muster. ACC chairman Craig Humphrey said the club owed a debt of gratitude to Mr Smith (pictured) for his extraordinary and untiring service. "On behalf of the board and all members of the ACC, I wish to formally thank Tom and his wife Sandra for their commitment to our club," he said. Read More button

BlazeAid volunteers help storm victims
GREY nomads are rolling up their sleeves to help storm victims in Queensland.
Members of the volunteer-based BlazeAid organisation have set up camp at the Murgon Showgrounds to work alongside rural families left struggling after wild Boxing Day storms battered the area, leaving a trail of destruction. Over 70 properties in the South Burnett region reported widespread damage in the wake of the 'mini-tornado'. The volunteers have received more than 30 calls for help. Murgon camp co-ordinator Brian Carr said they had so far completed work on about six properties, mainly repairing fences. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Mr Carr on 0455 190 151. Comment bubble Have your say

Mingo Crossing Caravan Park
Photo: Caravanning News
Mingo set for $2.5m upgrade
WORK is scheduled to begin this month on a $2.5 million upgrade at Mingo Crossing Caravan Park in Queensland's North Burnett.
The project has been equally funded by the local regional council and the Queensland Government's Royalties for Resource Producing Communities Fund. It includes building nine powered and six glamping sites, a second amenities block, camp kitchen, parking area near the existing boat ramp, a playground and developing open space along the north-east edge of the river for an additional 40 camping sites. The new facilities at the park west of Mount Perry will improve day use access and hopefully increase the number of caravan park guests, ensuring Mingo Crossing can meet its current and future tourism demands. Work should be completed by November. Comment bubble Have your say

New lease of life planned for Lancelin park
THE new owners of South End Caravan Park at Lancelin in WA have submitted a redevelopment plan in a bid to give it a new lease of life.
Work on the much needed improvements could start within months if approved by the GinGin Shire Council. The 27-site park will boast an indoor swimming pool, new ablutions, econolodges, accommodation for the disabled and a jumping pillow. The entrance will be moved further towards the beach on Hopkins Street. Comments on the plan may be submitted to the councils' chief executive officer in writing before 4pm on February 14. Comment bubble Have your say

Studio 10 castMillions tune into caravanning lifestyle
THE joys of caravanning have been beamed into millions of homes around Australia.
Channels 7 and 10 recently featured live national broadcasts from caravan holiday parks. Seven's popular Sunrise weatherman Sam Mac reported from the Discovery Parks' Adelaide Beachfront Caravan Holiday Park while Ten went live on Australia Day between 8:30am and midday from the NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park, featuring the complete cast and studio of its Studio 10 programme (pictured). Caravan Industry Association of Australia chief executive Stuart Lamont commented: "The national coverage highlighting the camping lifestyle saw millions of viewers reminded of why caravan and camping is as much a part of Australian culture as sports, and is a number one lifestyle activity. The Caravan Industry Association of Australia believes there is no other lifestyle or holiday type that is more Australian than caravan and camping. Linking the camping lifestyle and celebrating being Australian is an important connection. Comment bubble Have your say

Home detention for rogue RV converter
 A ROGUE businessman who converted vehicles into RVs but failed to deliver finished products has been sentenced to home detention. Brett Maxwell Smith, 53, director of now defunct NSW-based Stargazer Motorhome Conversions received the 15-month punishment after taking more than $165,000 to build motorhomes that were never handed over to customers. Parramatta Local Court found Mr Smith had breached a good behaviour bond he was on for an unrelated larceny offence and, to make matters worse, he was declared bankrupt in July 2015. Read more button

Caravan canineCaravan canines in the headlines
THE thorny question of whether pooches should be allowed in caravan parks has been highlighted by a NSW scribe.
Writing in the Newscastle Herald, journalist Jeff Corbett says canines have continued their climb towards equality as members of the human family. And nowhere is this more apparent, he suggests, than in caravan parks. "An active campaign is well entrenched in the caravan park industry now," Jeff howls. Read More button

Revamp for CCA website
THE Caravan Council of Australia website has had a revamp.
Founder Colin Young said all caravan and camper-trailer documents had been updated, including independent informative sheets freely available under Technical Articles on the home-page. There is also a new pre-delivery checklist for RV buyers. "While it may not be practical to check and confirm every item, being able to tick as many boxes as possible will certainly go a long way to best-ensuring there are no major shortcomings or issues that would inevitably lead to serious problems, dissatisfaction and complaints," Mr Young said. The site can be accessed here. Comment bubble Have your say

RSPCALow-cost camping with the animals
GREY nomads are being invited to experience a different kind of low-cost camping.
It involves spending a few days enjoying a unique animal encounter. Six bays have been created for caravans or motorhomes at the RSPCA's Wacol centre in Brisbane. Volunteers can stay for up to a fortnight helping out at the centre. RSPCA Brisbane spokesperson Michael Beatty said the new initiative was designed to give grey nomads an insight to life-changing work undertaken every day by the charity. "Campers simply volunteer in one of many areas at the shelter for two to four hours a day," he said. "We ask for a donation to cover their facilities expenses during their stay." Volunteers have access to water, power, waste disposal, BBQ and an undercover picnic area. For more information, email the RSPCA. Comment bubble Have your say

Gidget boss to reappear in court
THE boss of Gidget Retro Teardrop Campers will reappear in court next month after allegedly taking money for RVs he then failed to deliver.
Glenn Wills will face 11 charges brought by the Queensland Office of Fair Trading accusing him of accepting payment and failure to supply. The founder of the Brisbane-based company, launched in 2014 but which is now in voluntary administration, will appear before Brisbane Magistrates Court on March 16. Comment bubble Have your say

CooroyConcern over RV stopover's running costs
NOOSA Council in Queensland is investigating ways of running its Cooroy RV Stopover at no cost to the local community.
This follows concerns by councillors about the cost of operating the facility in Mary River Road. Figures reveal that the pet-friendly overnight stopover achieved "modest patronage" during the last financial year, averaging only five RVs a day. Its operating loss was about $19,000 and the council says it would require a significant increase in visitor nights to break even. Read More button

Club welcomes freedom seekers
A LOVE of freedom camping and the great outdoors has inspired a group of RVers to form a new branch of the Australian Caravan Club that will cater specifically for their passion.
The recently formed ACC Sydney Freedom Seekers - the club's 49th branch - will be the first of its kind for the club in New South Wales. The ACC Bushrangers and ACC Drovers, both located in Victoria, already choose only freedom and budget camps for their musters.
Read More button

crookPolice warning after crooks strike
QUEENSLAND police have urged caravanners to invest in wheel clamps, chains or hitch clamps.
The plea comes after caravan thieves took off with a caravan parked at a Sunshine Coast retirement village. But their efforts were foiled when the RV came adriftwhile attempting a U-turn ... a padlock had prevented the tow ball from locking properly. Read More button

Early start predicted for caravanners
CARAVANNERS will be hitting the road earlier this year, according to one chain of tourist parks.
The Kui group says there will be more RVs on our highways and byways from next month rather than later in the season. The claim is based on a survey of 1800 people. "The results were really interesting," Kui founder and managing director Bert van Spronsen said. "From our experiences in Queensland last year it was really quiet until early July. But from the results of our survey, it looks like we will see a larger number of travellers on the road earlier." Comment bubble Have your say

Market Direct caravanMarket Direct ramps up production
THE Brisbane manufacturing arm of Market Direct Group, which claims to be Australia's biggest distributor of camper trailers and offroad caravans, is ramping up production.
It hopes to produce 300 units a year at its Coopers Plains factory, which opened 10 years ago. The company sells direct to the public and has national offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Newcastle, Townsville and Perth. Market Direct is currently advertising vacancies for cabinet makers and fitters at its Brisbane assembly line. Comment bubble Have your say

Award-winning park denies fouling river
THE award-winning Adelaide Caravan Park has denied fouling a local waterway.
The accusation came from a recent tourist who claimed on the TripAdvisor website: "Shamefully, the caravan park is discharging sudsy water directly into the natural waterway, and has obviously been doing so for some time." The solo female traveller from Reykjavik, Iceland, claimed two ducks had been found dead in the river. The popular holiday destination is a member of the Aspen Holiday Parks group and stands on the banks of the Torrens River (Karra wirra-parri). The park's office manager, who signed herself only as Rachael P, said no "sudsy water" had ever been discharged into the waterway. "Adelaide Caravan Park is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Adelaide, disrespecting its beauty by damaging the waterway is something we simply do not do," she wrote. Other parks, houses and business were located along the river, she added. The park is the holder of a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award. comment bubble Have your say

Kimberley Kampers and Bruce LoxtonCreditors approve rescue plan

Troubled Kimberley Kampers
in fight for survival

DETERMINED efforts are being made to save cash-strapped Kimberley Kampers, which went into voluntary administration in December. The NSW-based award-winning caravan company has been given until the end of next month to pay its creditors and workers their full entitlements. The rescue package forms part of a Deed of Company Arrangement approved by creditors at a meeting in Ballina. Another meeting will be arranged if the troubled company fails to meet the deadline. Administrator Steven Nicols, of Nicols and Brien Business Recovery, said wages and superannuation payments would be paid in full to staff, while unsecured creditors would receive six cents of every dollar owed by March 31. Kimberley Kampers was named Ballina Chamber of Commerce's Business of the Year and is the holder of two Telstra Business Awards. Bruce Loxton (pictured inset), has been the boss of Kimberley Kampers since 2003 and last year put his $4.55 million Potts Point penthouse in inner-Sydney on the market. He resigned as company director soon after the company went into administration. Comment bubble Have your say

Tallangatte Holiday ParkGrant would give park new lease of life
THE once popular Tallangatta Holiday Park in Victoria could be in line for a new lease of life.
Visitor numbers have plumetted in the last 10 years but Towong Regional Council hopes to reverse the trend with an application for around a million dollars from the federal government's Building Better Regions Fund. If successful, the council would chip in another $968,000. The park, which almost pulled down the shutters five years ago because of updated fire regulations, could be leased out to private operators or operated by the council. It enjoys a prime location on the foreshore of Lake Hume and offers 45 annual, five permanent, 75 powered sites and 25 camp sites."Towong Shire Council is interested in the park's future and is considering available options that could reinvent the park as a vibrant business," it is on record as saying. Comment bubble Have your say

Death-crash truckie faces court
THE driver of a road train will appear in court next month accused of causing the deaths of two caravanners.
Kimberly Thomas De Pledge's truck loaded with cattle is alleged to have smashed into the back of the couple's caravan at road works on WA's Great Northern Highway near Coonarrie Creek last June. The truckie faces two charges of dangerous driving causing death and three of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. He is on bail and will reappear at South Hedland Magistrateís Court on March 15. Meanwhile, a crash reconstruction expert is preparing a report on the horror Friday afternoon crash, which orphaned the victims' teenaged children who were also travelling in the family's 4WD. Comment Bubble Have your say

Craig Humphrey, ACCCaravan club addresses negativity
EDUCATING RVers on safer driving and road courtesy will be a major focus of the Australian Caravan Club throughout 2018. Chairman Craig Humphrey said he was aware of negative comments made against caravanners on Channel 9's A Current Affair and against RVers in other recent news media. "Clearly the negative and often unfairly biased image against RVers being portrayed out in the news media needs addressing," he said. The safety initiative will form part of the club's Focus 2018 policy which aims to improve the RV lifestyle. Read More button
Beware rebirthing scams
THE Queensland Government has warned potential caravan buyers to beware of rebirthing scams.
"Before purchasing, it is important you make an informed decision about what you are buying," it said. Rebirthing involves removing or changing identifying information of stolen or written-off vehicles. "There are significant risks associated with buying a stolen or rebirthed caravan. You may not be able to register or use it and you may not be able to recover any costs spent on purchasing it." Prospective buyers are warned that if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. "Sellers who are looking to move a stolen or rebirthed caravan will generally be trying to sell it quickly, so the price will be considerably lower than what it is worth," the government said. A comprehesive guide to identifying re-birthed caravans can be accessed by clicking here. Comment bubble Have your say

Cops warn on importance of weight checks

Caravan rolloverPOLICE in Victoria have urged caravanners to familiarise themselves with the towing capacity of their tow vehicles. And they stressed that the extra weight most people load into the caravans for their travels should always be taken into account. "Drivers should also gain experience in towing large and heavy loads," a spokesperson added. The comments follow a caravan rollover on the Princes Highway at Providence Ponds. Police have not said this particular caravan was overloaded. One report claimed the caravanner had swerved to avoid a truck, causing the rig to jackknife and flip. The driver was taken to hospital for precautionary checks and released. The caravan and 4WD tow vehicle were wrecked. Comment bubble Have your say

Jillaroo JessLight-hearted look at safe overtaking
A NEW social media video showing how caravanners should overtake trucks has gone viral. Jess Edwards (pictured) posted the light-hearted four-minute footage on Facebook after being impressed when one caravanner used a UHF radio to safely pass a four-truck convoy in which she was travelling in South Australia. "He comes up behind us and called us on the radio, said 'Hey mate, I'm just coming around you' and he gets around us quickly and safely and then continues on his merry way," Jess (aka Jillaroo Jess) says. "Not many people know how to overtake trucks. It was amazing." She thought it would be a good idea to share a few hints on overtaking for other less experienced caravanners. Her video stresses the importance of having a UHF radio, Jess saying that even a small handheld would be useful to talk to truckies encountered on the road. Over 91,000 people have viewed the online footage, which also has more than 1600 reactions and has been shared 340-plus times. To see the video, click hereComment bubble Have your say
Proposed ban on roadside caravan sales
PEOPLE with caravans are being urged to take notice of Greater Bendigo City Council's shake-up of local community laws.
A review of the rules include camping in tents or caravans at a private residence for more than 21 days in a year without a permit. Offenders could cop a $500 fine, but the Victorian council assures residents it will not "patrol looking for offenders". The changes will also ban roadside sale of caravans. Mayor Cr Margaret OíRourke explained that the review was designed to "further enhance good governance" across the municipality. "Council is asking the community to consider if the new draft law adequately addresses issues or concerns regarding public spaces, environment, amenity, community safety, and fair use of public space and roads," she said. "All feedback is welcome". People have until February 26 to submit comments to the council. Comment bubble Have your say

La Poire cocktail caravanNew lease of life in a shake


A GRAND old lady from yesteryear has a new lease of life ... as a mobile cocktail bar! The 1960s caravan was originally intended as a coffee bar but Ballarat owner and fully qualified bartender Aprille Kaye has transformed it into the La Poire Bar where around 120 different cocktails, including old time classics and some new seasonal flavours, can be produced in a shake. Aprille told of how she had to struggle through mountains of paperwork, permits and licensing requirements before the fully kitted out single-axle caravan could take up its new role attending events such as weddings and other gatherings. She even flew to Spain to undertake an internationally recognised cocktail course and was named as Ballaratís best bartender while working at JD's Sports Bar. Comment bubble Have your say

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Letter man

Pat on back for understanding Sunshine State council

SO there might be a new caravan park coming to Hervey Bay in Queensland (see story here)'

This is great news.

There should be more understanding councils.

Far too many parks are reducing the number of caravan sites to make way for cabins as well.

Well done Hervey Bay Council.

David Evans.

Freedom of choice

WE, like many other caravaners, use both caravan parks and freedom camps.

But if we are not given the freedom of choice we will bypass or drive straight through and not spend a cent.

If Tasmania were to ban all free camps, would it not be unreasonable to ban all Tasmania-registered vehicles from free camps in all other states?

Remember Tasmania, you need us to come over ... on the other hand, we don't need the extra expence to come.

Trevor Smith.

The value of
free camping

I WOULD like to point out to Tasmania that there are other businesses in a community as well as just caravan parks.

They make an income out of free campers whether in a park or not.

They do not get much if people are driving by.

Quite a lot of towns that asked for receipts at the end of stays have been able to prove that the value of free camping far outweighs increasing restrictions.

I think if councils looked at how businesses relied on the increased trade to survive the full year they would realise that reduced services to the whole community will be the outcome of pandering to one business.

Peter Crichton.