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February 2017

Monthly readership: 14,000 to 23,000

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FEB 26: Registrations for the Australian Caravan Club Chairman's Muster in Queensland have doubled. At least 100 RVs will descend on Kingaroy Showground for the six-day gathering beginning March 9.

FEB 25: BIG4 scooped top three placings in last night's 2016 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards' best caravan and holiday parks category, with BIG4 Deniliquin Holiday Park in NSW landing gold for the second year running. BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort in Queensland won silver while BIG4 Beacon Resort in Victoria received the bronze award.

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

* Victoria Police checking on caravan weights  ... 23,952 people reached.

* Caravan rolls on Black Friday ... 11,467 people reached.

* Caravanners in 70s escape serious injuries when rig rolls on New England Highway ... 10,720 people reached.

* Police plea after Lime Bay campground incident ... 9571 people reached.

* Mystery fire destroys caravan ... 8647 people reached.

* Potential buyer caught up in caravan-for-sale scam ... 8632 people reached.

* Government reviewing Anglesea caravan park tender process ... 8570 people reached.

* Cops hunt man who filmed boy in caravan park's amenities block  ... 8514 people reached.


Grey nomads rest their case on WA's
short stays

SAW your story in the last edition on Port Hedland's overflow RV park (see story here).

We are Queenslanders and love to travel.

I am 72 years old and my 75-year-old wife the driver would love to go west.

But the cost would be high.

Free overnight stopovers are few and very far apart in Western Australia.

Also, after our long drive we think the limited stay on them is not enough.

Why can't WA in its wisdom copy the rest of Australia?


Port Hedland fails to impress

WE were surprised with your report on the freedom stop in Port Hedland.

Arriving in town last year to refuel and do a major food shop, we visited the council office to enquire about stopping in the RV stop.

We were advised we could stay when all other facilities in town were 100 percent full (not 50 percent).

Our 'van had to be too large to fit on a site in a caravan park, we had to have a dog on board and we had to be fully self-contained.

The council would not advise us if the parks were 100 percent full.

Our 'van is 21ft (larger than some of those shown in the photo in your article) and do not have a dog ... but felt like borrowing one.

We are fully self-contained, including the collection of grey water.

We met only one of the conditions, but it was not enough.

Unfortunately we had to refuel the vehicle for our ticket out of the place, and we decided to eat small until we reached our next destination in Broome.

We cannot see ourselves stopping in Port Hedland again.

Keith Welsh.

Hippies get the blame

A TRUCKIE'S wife made an impassioned plea over rest area parking (see story here).

I agree with her.

Being a caravanner, I have tried to park at Yelgun myself but 15-20 hippie vans won't let you.

They seem to park where they want to, leaving no room for anyone let alone trucks.

Gus Taylor.






Opposition group voices its concerns

Park plan brings strawberry fields poison fear

OPPONENTS of plans to build a new caravan park at the gateway to Victoria’s Yarra Valley fear guests could be poisoned. Sandwiched on a 28ha green wedge between two strawberry farms at Coldstream, it would offer 96 caravan sites, 16 eco-cabins and space for 40 tents. But the newly formed Caravan Park Opposition Group has warned that guests could be exposed to fertilisers and other chemicals. It also points out they would have to suffer noise from farm machinery. Coldstream is located about 35km north-east of Melbourne's central business district in an area popular with fruit-picking backpackers and full-time grey nomads seeking seasonal work. Yarra Ranges Council has yet to make a decision on the development. Have your say

Police check caravan's  weight

By Dennis Amor
Have your say

ALARMING statistics from recent safety checks on RVs in Victoria suggest that most caravans on the road are overweight.

More than half those weighed by police and transport officials at the Princes Highway's Newmerella rest area were too heavy, five of them by more than a staggering 20 percent.

And many tow vehicles had inadequate rear-view mirrors.

The policeman who helped organise the two days of inspections claimed there was a "culture of non-compliance" amongst caravanners.

Acting Sergeant Graeme Shenton told Caravanning News that many owners believed it was "highly unlikely" their rigs would end up on the scales.

"It was just about impossible to find anyone that could give a firsthand account of being weighed while on their travels," he said.

"This perception has created a culture of non-compliance amongst caravanners ... 'we won't get caught so let's not be too worried about the weights'."

No fines were issued during the two day blitz but errant caravanners were issued with information sheets.

Caravans line up for weight checks at the Princes Hwy's Newmerella rest area

Caravans line up for weight checks at the
Princes Hwy's Newmerella rest area

Act Sgt Shenton is himself a keen caravanner and close follower and member of several online forums.

"As a caravanner and member of Victoria Police, I am able to look at these issues from both side of the fence," he said.

"With every posting of yet another caravan crash or rollover, the talk always turns to the number of rigs travelling around overweight.

"We have all seen the huge 'van on the back of a small dual cab, loaded with bikes, generators and tinnies.

"Anecdotal evidence runs riot across social media about the numbers of these overweight 'vans and the dangers they potentially pose to other road users.

"I decided to do something about changing the culture of non-compliance and to do this I needed to show that police are going to take an interest in caravans and that being weighed is something that can and will happen.

"I wanted to change attitudes to travelling safely. I want people to be more concerned about their safety than being fined."

During the two days:

• 71 caravans were weighed.
• Only three drivers knew all their ratings.
• Most had an idea of what their maximum allowable weight was (ATM) but were confused about how to manage weights.
• Three knew what they actually weighed.
• Forty-one were overweight in one or more ratings (ATM, GTM, ball weight).
• Five were overweight by more than 20 percent.
• The majority of those spoken with were surprised at how heavy they were and had underestimated their actual weight.

Act Sgt Shenton said there were plans to expand the operation to other areas in Victoria.

"I would also like to try and work with manufacturers and dealers to get some better safety information out to buyers at the point of sale and handover of the new 'van. That will be explored over the next few months," he added.

Sydney RVApollo in major deals
APOLLO, the world's largest privately-owned recreational vehicle operator, has acquired 100 percent of Sydney RV's issued capital.
The deal was said to be worth about $1.75 million and was funded with a combination of cash and Apollo shares. "This acquisition aligns with Apollo's strategy to grow the business by establishing additional retail sales centres throughout Australia, leveraging the Winnebago, Adria and Talvor brands," Apollo said. Meanwhile, it has also agreed to subscribe $1.75 million for a 25 percent stake in Camplify, making it the biggest shareholder in the online caravan and RV sharing community that connects caravan and RV owners with people looking to rent these vehicles. Have your say

Aussie Wide Caravans creditors' meeting
LIQUIDATORS will hold a meeting in Melbourne next month to show how the winding up of failed Aussie Wide Caravans was conducted and its property disposed of.
The manufacturer of custom-made caravans once turned over more than $1 million but collapsed in 2013 owing creditors around $500,000. It was reported at the time that the main creditors were "a related party who had injected money into the company" and the Australian Taxation Office. The creditors' meeting will be held at the offices of Grant Thornton Australia in Collins Street on March 15. Have your say

Caravanning family

Caravanning and camping continue to smash records
ADVENTURE-seeking travellers continue to smash caravanning and camping records.
Latest visitor numbers released by Tourism Research Australia again show unprecedented growth in caravan and camping holidays taken by Australians. The year ending September 2016 recorded the highest overall visitor nights and record annual growth since data was first collected in 1998, clocking 11.78 million nights and 13 percent growth on the previous year. Caravan Industry Association of Australia chief executive Stuart Lamont was not surprised, saying that Australians loved the great outdoors. More button

Caravan Club workshops prove a winner
THE Australian Caravan Club has invited local councils to take part in its RV Industry Workshops project.
This follows the club's three recent successful talkfests involving businesses and community representatives in NSW's Liverpool Plains shire. About 50 people attended. "We would be happy to engage in discussions with other local authorities on matters affecting RV facilities and requirements," club chairman Craig Humphrey said. More button

caravan rolloverPoll pours cold water on licence idea
CARAVANNERS are pouring cold water on suggestions they should be specially licensed before hitting the road with their RVs in tow.
Sixty-five percent of respondents to a poll on the web-based 20,000-member Caravaners (sic) Forum asking "do you want to have to pay for and pass a test for a caravan towing licence?" rejected the idea. Only 35 percent indicated they were in agreement. The poll, which runs until next month, follows a series of accidents and unexplained caravan rollovers on the nation's highways. There is an increasing call for caravanners, whose rigs can weigh over 4.5 tonnes, to hold special towing licences. Have your say

Call for inquiry falls on deaf ears
A LEADING Queensland caravanning identity's  call for a royal commission into Australia's multi-billion dollar RV manufacturing industry seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Barry Davidson, who designed and built the first Phoenix off-road caravans, claims some companies are still cutting corners to reduce the cost of their RVs. And he speaks from a wealth of experience ... his Caboolture Caravan Repairs business north of Brisbane achieved a multi-million dollar annual turnover partly due to having to put right many problems brought about by shonky builders. Mr Davidson has often complained to Caravanning News about the build standards of some RVs, even including those from some leading manufacturers. He argues there are still inadequate regulations and enforcement controlling the industry. Former policeman Mr Davidson, who claims only 10 percent of manufacturers are able to produce a decent product, is still waiting for an official response for his royal commission call. He told us: "I do not believe that self regulation will ever be handled correctly by a rogue industry that has literally no interest in doing the right thing ... at any level." Meanwhile, the Caravan Council of Australia's Colin Young commented: "Hopefully there will be a government inquiry into the 'van industry now with one state minister for transport leading the way aimed at quickly getting the stupid and dangerous 'self-certification' acceptance abandoned and establishing some form of governmental regulation of the industry." Have your say

Jayco motorhome under Lets Go bannerJayco enters RV hire market
JAYCO, Australia's biggest manufacturer of caravans and motorhomes, has entered the RV rental market.
This follows its recent acquisition of Around Australia Motorhomes, which it has renamed Let's Go Motorhomes. "We see the demand for high quality RV and motorhome rental services everyday, both from our own native Australians and from people who come from across the world to experience our country's many wonders," Let's Go Motorhomes managing director Michael Ryan said. More button

Crooks strike at Victorian caravan parks
CROOKS have been making rich pickings at caravan parks on the south-western coast of Victoria.
Warrnambool police have now issued a plea to caravanners to be more security conscious. Thieves generally strike at night and have made off with bicycles, fishing gear, eskies and portable BBQs. Police urge holidaymakers to chain bikes and other property and store items inside tents and caravan annexes if possible. Have your say

Steven WrightBIG4 holiday parks make Top 10 'hotel' list
THE nationwide BIG4 chain of holiday parks is celebrating an unusual achievement.
TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site, has included two of its holiday destinations in its latest prestigious list of Top 10 'hotels' in Australia. They are the BIG4 Cairns Coconut Resort in Queensland and the BIG4 Beacon Resort in Victoria. BIG4 chief executive Steven Wright (pictured) commented: "It’s very exciting to see the public recognising what's perhaps the world's best-kept secret – that many holiday parks offer extremely high quality accommodation that competes with the best of the best within the hotel industry." More button

Wollondilly councillor honours tourist pledge
NSW's Wollondilly Shire councillor Matt Gould, who has pledged to develop the area's tourist potential, wants to create an RV and campervan-friendly camping area in Warragamba.
If given the go-ahead, it would be the first town in the shire to offer grey nomads and other travellers a low cost camping facility for a night or two. Councillor Gould has the support of other councillors. He claimed the shire was missing out on a valuable revenue source. Have your say

Newcastle caravan expoPlenty of time to check out Newcastle expo
NEWCASTLE'S upcoming caravan show in NSW has been extended, organisers have announced.
"For the first time, we will be operating the expo over four days," Caravan & Camping Industry Association NSW chief executive Lyndel Gray said. This would allow plenty of time for visitors to check out the 170-plus exhibitors who will be showcasing their products. The Newcastle Caravan, Camping and Holiday Expo will be staged at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre and Showground from February 9 to 12. more button

Overflow camping facilities mooted for Peterborough
The council-owned caravan park at Peterborough in Victoria is so popular it is having to turn away tourists.
This has now prompted local councillor Daniel Meade to suggest an expansion or overflow camping facilities to cope during busy periods. He maintains this would benefit local businesses which are losing revenue as travellers who can't find accommodation head to other towns. Boyne Shire Council chief executive David Madden camping facilities would be reviewed over the next 12 months. Have your say

Camps Australia Wide9Budget campers' bible available soon
THE new ninth edition of Camps Australia Wide, regarded by many as the budget campers' bible, will be available from February 15.
Published by avid travellers Philip and Cathryn Fennell, the book is a comprehensive and authenticated guide to over 4000 free and low cost camping sites throughout Australia. "Once again we have notched up a great number of kilometres checking, verifying and visiting existing and new sites and adding new photos," the Fennells said. More button

Mayor spitting chips over illegal camping
CARAVANNERS and other travellers are flouting laws which could land them with a $1200 fine ... so they can enjoy million dollar views on Queensland's glitzy Gold Coast.
Dozens of RVs regularly set up illegal camps at the Gold Coast Waterways Authority's Doug Jennings Park at The Spit just north of Main Beach. Local mayor Tom Tate has now called for a clampdown on the campers. He told media: "It is costing hardworking tourist park operators tens of thousands of dollars a week given these motorhome and caravanners should be paying to stay in registered parks. I again call on the waterways authority and State Government to clean up The Spit." Have your say

Cr David Pahlke (L) and Cr Wayne Wendt at new Ipswich rest areaIpswich opens new overnight rest area
IPSWICH, on the Bremer River west of Brisbane, now has a new overnight rest area for caravanners and other travellers.
Construction work at Albert Theaker Park on the corner of Champions Way and the Cunningham Highway at Willowbank was completed recently. The $190,000 project was fully funded by the Queensland State Government and offers picnic tables and shelter, rubbish bins, drink fountain and toilets. More button

SBS 50th anniversary. Pictured are, from left, Nat Schiavello, SPS chairman Tony Pace and Tony Schiavello

Pictured are, from left, Nat Schiavello, SPS chairman Tony Pace and Tony Schiavello

Subsidiary a major supplier to RV industry

SPS celebrates 50th anniversary

SPS Corporation, parent company of a major supplier of timber components to Australia's caravanning industry, has celebrated its 50th anniversary. Starting from humble beginnings in 1966, Pat and Rosa Schiavello commenced operations in Melbourne as Perfect Wood Mouldings. As the company grew and evolved, NCE and NCE Commercial were launched. Now a key supplier to the RV industry, the NCE range of products expanded from timber for caravan frames and roofs to being a major supplier of plywood, panelling, trims and mouldings to electrical products such as audio visual, whitegoods, air conditioners, cookware and lighting, bedding and flooring. SPS managing director Nat Schiavello is well known for his commitment to the RV industry in his role as president of the Caravan Industry Association of Victoria, along with being the driving force of NCE. With over 30 years' experience servicing the Australian RV industry, Nat, brother Tony and NCE Commercial general manager Mario Pace have over 100 combined year's of experience and involvement within the industry. Have your say

Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan ParkGORCC cleared of any wrongdoing in tender process
THE Great Ocean Road Coast Committee in Victoria has been cleared of any wrongdoing in a controversial decision to take over the lease of Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park.
An independent assessment of the process has decided it met relevant guidelines and requirements. There was a storm of protests after the committee called for tenders ... but then decided to award the lease to itself, leaving the current leaseholders out in the cold after 21 years. More button

New guide helps find perfect park
VICTORIA'S caravanning industry has made it easier for tourists to find their perfect holiday destination.
Each year, more than 21.7 million overnight visitor trips are taken in the southern state. And, according to the Victorian Caravan Parks Association, its newly published and free 2017 Victorian Caravan and Camping Holiday Guide is there to help. More button

Lyndel GrayAssociation welcomes 'amazing figures'
CARAVAN and camping holidays in New South Wales are to growing in popularity.
They continue to spearhead the state's domestic visitor night growth, with almost 16.9 million nights spent caravanning and camping in the past year. "These are amazing figures which show how Australians' love of a caravan or camping holiday continues its rapid rise," the state's Caravan and Camping Industry Association chief executive, Lyndel Gray, said. More button

Investment warning a dead giveaway
A BUDDING entreprenour planning to buy a house as an investment property on the NSW North Coast asked an online chat room whether a proposed new caravan park nearby would be a "positive growth factor" for its income.
One member of the forum thought it could have some beneficial flow on growth with a couple of new jobs, fuel and food sales plus caravan and car repairs. But he warned that if the park was mainly for retirees and not tourists "then the only growth area is the local cemetery!" Have your say

Caravan parks hosting more weddingsParks hosting more weddings
MORE and more couples are tying the knot at the nation's caravan and holiday parks.
According to Australian Tourist Park Management, Murramarang Beachfront Nature Resort at South Durrass in NSW saw the greatest increase in weddings last year out of more than 30 parks it manages nationwide. The South Coast park boasts the perfect backdrop for the romantic day, with absolute ocean frontage overlooking the pristine waters of Beagle Bay. Have your say

ACC opens first home stay in Apple Isle
THE Australian Caravan Club has opened its first farm stay in Tasmania, chairman Craig Humphrey has announced.
"The ACC is delighted," he said. "The Burrong Farm Stay is sited only 30 minutes from the Spirit of Tasmania dock. I expect it will become a very highly sought after stopover for our members travelling to and from the Apple Isle." The Farm Stay Scheme was spawned when a group of members expressed an interest in making space available on their properties for fellow members to stay short-term free of charge. Strict rules are in place based on the laws of the relevant authorities.  Meanwhile, the CMCA will open its second RV park on the island next month. It will be located at Railton, 20km inland from Devonport on the north-west coast and will offer limited facilities including a dump point, potable water and sheltered areas. It will be managed by CMCA members and cater only for members in self-contained RVs. Have your say

Croydon Caravan ParkParks shortlisted for government cash
CROYDON Caravan Park and Richmond Lakeview Caravan Park in north-west Queensland have been shortlisted for a share of a $5 million State Government handout.
The money from the Building Our Regions program would be used for infrastructure expansion at Croydon's council-owned 61-site park (pictured) on the local heritage walking trail, while Richmond Shire Council's grant would be used on for redevelopment work. State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said shortlisted applications were for a range of "small but critical" projects to support jobs and economic development in remote and regional Indigenous communities. "Small projects can make a big difference in remote communities," he added. Successful applications will be announced mid-year, with work to start no later than February 28, 2018.  Have your say

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Letter man

Pondering over 457 visas and necessary
ABN numbers

YOUR article on 457 visas allowing foreigners to manage caravan parks made me wonder (see story here).

No wonder job-seeking grey nomads are outraged.

With so many of them wanting these jobs, why does the government which issues the visas think there is a shortage of managers?

Makes no sense to me.

And while I'm on my soapbox, I notice that more and more parks advertising for managers require applicants to have ABN numbers.

One even stressed they should have a company name.


Frank O'Brien.

Return calls for better service

I WOULD like to comment on the Future Leaders tour of the Jayco factory (see story here).

If only Jayco would return 'phone calls ‒ and I have made many in the last six months ‒ they would get more sales.

They should be taught this ... because at the moment the service from the factory is bad.

Rudy de Groot.

Electronic circulation

SHAME about the vintage caravan magazine folding (see story here).

I am not a subscriber, but wonder whether it could be salvaged by sending the magazine out electronically.

The Australian Caravan Club now does that with its Nomad magazine, as do many businesses.

Give Aussie Post the flick, I say.

Bevan Wittwer.