Part of building
Victorian caravan factory destroyed in mystery blaze
By Dennis Amor
A CARAVAN factory in Scammel Street,
Campbellfield, Victoria, was destroyed by a mystery blaze.
Part of the First Class Caravans' building, in the heart of Australia's
major caravan manufacturing area, collapsed as 40 firefighters tackled the
inferno. "Live power lines added to the hazards for us," a fire service
spokesman told Caravanning News. An ambulance spokesperson said no
one was injured or inside the factory at the time of the fire. The area
was sealed off today while forensic experts investigated the cause of the
outbreak. First Class Caravans' Luke Jurrjens told us that members of his
family-owned business were "devastated" by the fire. "We are too shocked
to make a statement at the moment," he said.
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Fire crews find body
WOMAN DIES IN 'VAN
A WOMAN died in an early
morning caravan blaze at Price Caravan Park on South Australia's Yorke
Peninsula. Caravanners and the park's relief caretaker ran to help but were beaten back by the
fierce heat as flames engulfed the caravan. The body of the 63-year-old
woman, from Seaton in Adelaide's west, was found shortly after 1am on
Country Fire Service crews extinguished the fire and searched the fire
ravaged caravan. A CFS spokesperson said: "The caravan was destroyed and
the cause is currently unknown but Fire Cause Investigators have been
called." Police have appealed for witnesses. Relief caretaker
Ron Pryor grabbed a fire hose and attempted to put out the flames. He
desperately tried to get into the burning caravan but was foiled by the
locked door. "There wasn't much we could do," he said. It is understood
the woman ‒ described as a "heavy smoker"
‒ and her partner arrived at the caravan on
Thursday afternoon but the partner returned to Adelaide some hours before
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Aged travellers ill-prepared, survey reveals
NOMADS AN OUTBACK
Challenge to health care service providers
Story: Dennis Amor
ILL-PREPARED grey nomads heading for
Australia's remote regions are causing some outback medical centres to
buckle under the pressure.
Some have pleaded with the ageing travellers to better pre-plan their
adventures and make sure they have provided for their health needs.
A survey of travellers aged
over 50 years staying in motorhomes or tents in WA's Kimberley region
revealed that an astonishing 68 percent had chronic diseases.
Alarmingly, over 60 percent were taking regular medications ... but only
half carried enough to last them the whole trip.
Only nine percent had a health summary from their usual general
practitioner, and 39.2 percent were not adequately vaccinated according to
recommendations made by the Australian National Health and Medical
A team of researchers put the health problems of grey nomads under the
microscope and has now published its report.
One of them, Dr Catherine Hungerford from Charles Sturt University in New
South Wales, believes more trained nurse practitioners could help remote
medical centres cope.
Holders of a masters degree, they are able to refer patients to other
health care professionals, prescribe medications and order diagnostic
"They actually do very similar things to the general practitioner, but the
beauty of it for the government is they're not quite as expensive," Dr
Hungerford, head of the university's School of Nursing, Midwifery and
Indigenous Health, said.
The researchers said many grey nomads had an expectation that medical
services they needed would be available in the bush as required,
regardless of location or capacity of the local communities to provide
"This generates a number of challenges for health service providers with
the brief to meet the health needs and preferences of all consumers who
present to them for help," they said.
"Generally speaking, the health profile of grey nomads is similar to that
of the wider population of Australians aged 65 years or older.
"This includes high rates of chronic disease and medication use."
Two rescue helicopters at scene
Caravanning family in horror rollover
A FAMILY of four,
including a baby and child, was involved in a horror caravan accident on
Hume Hwy south of Goulburn in NSW. Police said a Toyota LandCruiser towing a caravan was travelling south when it hit
a guardrail and rolled. Two rescue helicopters landed at the crash site. A female passenger suffered serious injuries and
was trapped in the wreckage for nearly an hour before being airlifted to
Canberra Hospital. A six-week-old boy was flown to the same hospital by
NSW Ambulance Paramedics in a serious but stable condition. The male
driver and four-year-old boy received minor injuries and were treated at
the scene. One witness said it was a miracle anyone survived the crash. All southbound lanes on the Hume Highway were closed, causing a
mammoth traffic jam. Police
from the Crash Investigation Unit have launched an investigation into the incident.
Have your say
Elderly owners fail to
keep up with digital age
internet knowledge leads to park sale
THE elderly owners of a
Lake Entrance caravan park in Victoria have decided to sell ... partly
because they can't keep up with the digital age. They have operated
the business for 22 years and are not enjoying the best of health as they
near their 70s. Selling agent Michael Keltie, of Business Sales Victoria,
said the owners had no knowledge of the internet and had a very poor
online presence. "If you don't do this with a caravan park, you are losing
80 percent of the market that should be contacting your business," his
advertising blurb says. The two-acre park has 50 powered sites, up to 50
tent sites and a 30-bed hostel with communal kitchen. It's on the market
for $855,000. Mr Keltie declined to name the couple or identify the park.
Have your say
Police hunt truck
after caravan forced off highway
POLICE are looking for a truck which forced a caravan and towcar off a
Queensland highway. It happened on May 31 on the
Warrego Highway about 6km east of Jondaryan in the state's south-east. A
police spokesperson said the truck had attempted to overtake the caravan
whilst travelling east but was forced to take "evasive action" to avoid an
oncoming vehicle. "There is no positive description of the truck other
than the second trailer was a flat-deck and unloaded," the spokesperson
said. Anyone who saw the truck being driven erratically towards Toowoomba
at the time should contact Oakey Police on (07) 4691 1020 or Crime
Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.
Have your say
first quarter for Winnebago
WINNEBAGO Australia is looking forward to a bumper year after a record
first quarter of sales and production. Business
development manager Richie Fort (pictured) said that with four of
Australia's five major caravan and camping shows already wrapped up, the
response to the company's entire range had exceeded expectations. This had
reinforced a commitment to improve production. "Our 2016 sales are already
on track to exceed those of 2015, which is a testament to the quality
product coming out of the factory coupled with our great network of
dealers who really know our product," Mr Fort said.
Broome's change of
heart over pets
BROOME Shire Council in WA has had a change of heart and will now allow
travellers with pets to stay for more than seven nights at temporary or
overflow caravan parks. Councillors unanimously
voted in favour of the move after numerous complaints from pet-loving
caravanners that the limit unfairly restricted their time in the beachside
town. They pointed out that all six caravan parks in the area banned
animals. New rules will now provide them with priority access to temporary
or overflow facilities at the local PCYC, pistol club and Seventh Day
body represents 'sexy' industry, PM told
AUSTRALIA'S peak caravan body represents a "sexy" industry with a bright
future, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been told.
The description brought smiles to Mr Turnbull's face during a face-to-face
meeting with Caravan Industry Association of Australia Treasurer Dennis
Austin. Mr Austin was showcasing the strength of the caravanning industry
in the wake of the declining car industry. During the meeting, he
highlighted the billion-dollar contribution of his industry, which was
currently showing a near six percent growth.
Fraser Coast moves
to attract more travellers
A QUEENSLAND council is anxious to attract a bigger slice of the growing
RV market. Fraser Coast Regional Council is
seeking expressions of interest to provide commercial low-cost camping
options to lure more caravanners and other travellers. It has asked the
State Government to endorse amendments to the Fraser Coast Planning Scheme
to encourage camping options so it can cater for the increasing number of
RVers hitting the road. "We are encouraging anyone who is interested in
setting up facilities to attract RVs to come forward with their
development proposals," a spokesman told Caravanning News.
'crims' thrown into the slammer
BIG4 Holiday Parks staff were thrown into the slammer after being
accused of "outlandish crimes". Chief executive and ringleader Steven
Wright (pictured left) was included the group which spent a night behind
bars at Old Melbourne Gaol. But is was all in good fun ... they were
raising funds for Whitelion, a charity which helps disadvantaged and
at-risk youngsters. Supporters of the BIG4 team posted $3820 "bail" money
before members were released from their spooky surroundings, where
bushranger Ned Kelly and more than 130 inmates were hanged. The brazen
group of BIG4 "criminals" had been accused of terrorising people
throughout some of Australia's most pristine holiday destinations. "Their
passion for enjoying Australia's best holiday spots is only matched by
their thirst for menacing the public with their outlandish crimes," it was
claimed. "Each with their own particular brand of brutality, you'll want
to be sure to steer clear of this vicious mob of thugs!"
Have your say
councillors see red over Wicked campers
BLUE Mountains Council in NSW has joined several others in outlawing
controversial Wicked campervans. Councillors
voted unanimously at their recent meeting to ban the controversial RVs
bearing "offensive, misogynistic, racial and degrading" slogans from
council-owned tourist caravan parks. Mayor Mark Greenhill, one of two
members who moved the motion, hoped the decision would shame other levels
of government into taking action to get the campervans off the road. The
council will also write to Justice Department Secretary Andrew Cappie-Wood;
Minister for Mental Health, Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual
Assault Pru Goward, and acting President of NSW's Anti-Discrimination
Board Elizabeth Wing expressing the council and community's concern. It
will also make a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Board.
Have your say
owner backs RV-friendly call
A CARAVAN park on the shore of SA's Lake Albert is backing calls for the
tiny town of Meningie to become RV friendly. But
Lake Albert Caravan Park owner Jacqui Grant said she was against offering
travellers an area for free overnight camping, suggesting a $10-$15 fee
would be fair. It would be "tough" for her park, a member of the Top
Caravan Parks chain, to compete if a free lakefront camping area was
provided, she added. Her pet-friendly park offers powered waterfront sites
for $32 a night and unpowered pitches from $15 nightly. Local resident Sid
Greig claimed at a recent meeting of Coorong District Council that RV
facilities in Meningie were "behind the eight ball".
Have your say
Rest area benefits
caravan park 100km away
A NEWLY opened 48-hour rest area in central Queensland is benefiting a
caravan park 100km away. Mount Morgan's Silver
Wattle Caravan Park has already welcomed dozens of travellers from
Queensland Heritage Park in Biloela, which is offering caravans and other
RVs powered pitches for $15 a night. It provides hot showers, toilets,
dump point and water top-ups. The park has a large array of heritage
displays celebrating Australia's rich heritage and pioneering spirit. A
Silver Wattle spokesperson said the new camping facilities at Biloela had impressed
everyone who stayed there. The two parks have now agreed to exchange each
other's brochures, pointing out that a "little cross-promotion never
Have your say
New life for
FLASHY vintage caravans are blooming in the small business world.
Would-be entrepreneurs are snapping up the old ladies from yesteryear and
transforming them into all manner of mobile trading outlets. Take
Queenslander Cherie Zimmerle, for instance. She has a 1968 Franklin
Caravelle caravan which acts a mobile florist store at festivals, markets
and other events around the Sunshine State. Meanwhile, teacher Alicia
Finch and her family from Ipswich in Queensland are the proud owners of
Mavis, an original 1952 homemade bondwood caravan which has been turned
into a mobile photo booth. Christened Mavis, the mint-coloured caravan is
now a regular feature at weddings, corporate functions, festivals and
other events in south-east Queensland. Caravanning News spoke to
Cherie and Alicia about their ventures and vintage caravans.
retail business of the year
WHEN it comes to business excellence, a Bundaberg caravan dealer in
Queensland has been judged as being among the best. The city's
District Chamber of Commerce has awarded Coromal and Windsor agents
Takalvans the prestigious 2015/16 Business Awards Retail Business of the
Year gong. Owners Dale and Natalie Rethamel (pictured left with their
trophy) said they were thrilled. "The award is not only for us, it also
recognises all the amazing work done by our staff throughout the year,"
Natalie told Caravanning News. The independent panel of judges took
into account the company's customer service, marketing, management and
growth. Originally established in 1998, Dale and Natalie, who have three
young children, bought the business in 2006. They are planning to build a
new caravan sales and repair centre next to their yard in Takalvan Street.
Have your say
Guests encouraged to
parks join growing trend
MANY grey nomads have
taken up the latest fad among travellers ... growing their own vegetables
and salads. Take a walk around any caravan park and the chances are
you will see them outside their caravans lovingly tending to their crops
growing in containers of all shapes and sizes. Some mini-gardens have
even been ingeniously built into caravan A-frames. One grower told
Caravanning News: "I've seen all sorts of vegetables being grown ...
puts a new slant on self-sufficiency." And now, one of Australia's leading
chain of holiday parks has jumped on the growing trend, with nearly 20 of
its holiday parks inviting guests to be picky. BIG4 revealed that
vegetable and herb gardens were sprouting up at its parks all over
Australia. Guests are free to pick produce from the gardens to complement
their camp kitchen creations. "Fresh, wholesome vegetables and herbs are
the ideal accompaniment to any meal, particularly when you're on the road
and searching for healthy additions," BIG4 said.
Have your say
calls for rethink on Anglesea CP tender decision
MORE than 3000 people have signed an online petition calling for a change
of heart over the future of the award-winning 539-site Anglesea Beachfront
Family Caravan Park in Victoria. The Great Ocean
Road Coast Committee has announced it would take over the 4.5-star park at
the end of its lease on December 1 next year after claiming a tender
process failed to yield "an acceptable proposal for the value of the
site". But the Morris family, which has operated the popular holiday
destination for the past 20 years, was dumbfounded that its lease
submission, said to be worth more than $10 million, was rejected. The
petition to 17 Victorian "decision makers", including Premier Daniel
Andrews, has now called on Victoria's Environment Minister to personally
intervene and set aside the tender.
MURRAY Bridge Showground on the Princes Highway in South Australia has
been given the green light to double its overnight capacity for
recreational vehicles. The local council has
approved an enlarged overflow area which will be used during major events
or holiday periods. Councillor Fred Toogood told the meeting: "I donít
think we'll send any caravan park owners broke." The Murray Bridge
Agricultural and Horticultural Society had requested the extra space for
RVs after reaching its capacity during the Masters Games.
rewarded for 'outstanding contributions'
CARAVANNING Queensland's chief executive Ron Chapman has received the
inaugural Richard Davis Award for his "outstanding contribution" to the
caravan industry's peak body. Mr Chapman
instrumental in forming what is now known as the Caravan Industry
Association of Australia and acted as secretary through its formative
years. His efforts included developing international relations with
overseas organisations, hosting study tours, representing the industry on
national forums and ensuring the legacy of the past is firmly entrenched
in the decisions of today. The award is named in honour of industry legend
Richard Hasse Davis, who died last year. He had worked continuously for 40 years
with SA Parks and for over 20 years with the industry's peak body and its
previous entity. It was presented to Mr Chapman by his widow, Margaret Davis.
Have your say
backlash against planned camping site
PLANS for a free or low-cost camping site for RVs at the historic river
port of Goola in SA have received a setback. The
local council has been forced to throw out a proposal for a site at the
Murray River town's De Castro Square following a public outcry. A council
report said there had been an "enormous community backlash" against the
plan. "Feedback received has indicated that the community is against the
proposed RV park," it said. Locals protested it would create traffic
problems and devalue their homes. Councillors will now consider other
sites for travellers, possibly on the edge of town.
Have your say
award for New Age boss
THE boss of go-ahead caravan manufacturer New Age Caravans has scooped the
industry's coveted Future Leaders Award.
Managing director of the Victoria-based company Gabby Montagnese beat five
other finalists to be handed the prestigious gong at the Caravan Industry
Association of Australia national conference on the Gold Coast. The other
finalists were Danella Mitchell (FreeSpirit Resorts), Michael McIvor
(Broken Hill Caravan Park), Scott Jones (Jayco), Justine Schuller (Dometic)
and Shane Fagan (CUB Campers). Gabby told Caravanning News after
receiving her award that the industry was at a cross roads, needed change,
governance, compliance and more controls.
Work begins on new
A NEW $2.5 million campground will be built at the historic Jarrahdene
mill site in WA's Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park to meet increasing
demand for camping in the region. Preliminary
site works are underway at the 45-site camping area near the Boranup
forest, about 20km south of Margaret River. Regional Development Minister
Terry Redman said Royalties for Regions investment in the Parks for People
Initiative was helping West Australians and visitors experience affordable
caravan and camping holidays.
Have your say
highest in 37 years
RECREATIONAL vehicle production in Australia continues to flourish,
according to figures released by the industry's peak body.
Caravan Industry Association of Australia statistics show that a total
of 22,711 RVs rolled off production lines last year ... a 6.6 percent rise
over 2014 and the highest number in 37 years. Registrations rose 5.4
percent nationwide to 586,585, comprising 58,375 campervans and 528,210
caravans. More than 11 million overnight caravan and camping trips
(domestic and international) were undertaken in Australia in 2015, a seven
percent increase from 2014.
Have your say
camping facilities on Perth's doorstep
CARAVANNERS and other travellers are being provided with new and
affordable short-term camping on Perth's doorstep.
They will be able to stay for up to seven nights in the city's popular
Yanchep National Park when the one-year trial gets underway next month.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the 20 camp sites would accommodate
caravans, campervans, camper trailers and tents. "This trial will help to
determine the demand and the type of camping facilities that campers
expect in an area like Yanchep," he said.
councillors wage war on illegal campers
WHITSUNDAY Regional Council in Queensland has waged war on illegal
campers. The crackdown comes after a public
outcry over travellers stealing electricity, with proof being posted on
social media. An online photo clearly shows a campervan plugged into a
council power box at Airlie Beach. Angry councillors decided at their last
meeting to increase security patrols at the Lions Markets area due to
"high incidents" of illegal camping and to replace padlocks on power
Have your say
Tambo teddy 'Wellwater
Thefts drive locals
round the bend
OUTBACK TAMBO IS ON A
GREY nomads arriving in
the tiny outback town of Tambo in Queensland are being handed free
specially produced toilet paper. Light-fingered travellers have been
driving locals round the bend by constantly nicking toilet rolls from
public amenities. Now a dozen local businesses are handing out specially
produced souvenir rolls bearing a map of Tambo together with a poem about
loos in the area. The Tambo Tourism and Business Association initiative
has already raised a few chuckles among caravanners. "I suppose stealing
toilet rolls is about as low as you can get, but I had to laugh when I
heard about the giveaways," one amused traveller commented. Tambo Teddies
is one of the businesses taking part in the quirky scheme. "The campaign
is already proving a hit with tourists," a spokeswoman said. She thought
many travellers would hold on to the unique toilet rolls to remind them of
their visit to Tambo.
Have your say
honour for Tassie dealer
A TASMANIAN caravan dealer and accessory retailer has been awarded the
caravan industry's highest honour. Dennis
Austin, who owns Austin's Caravans & Leisure Centre on the Apple Isle's
North Coast, received the Eric Hayman Award For Excellence. The award is
to the caravan industry what the Brownlow Medal is to football. Accepting
the award, Mr Austin acknowledged the patience of his wife Marilyn, who he
referred to as a "caravanning widow". "I couldn't have done what I did
without the support of my wife," he said. Mr Austin has been a national
board member of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia for 15 years.
STUDENTS from the Salesian College in the Melbourne suburb of Chadstone
are busy restoring an old caravan as part of their studies.
The Caravan Industry Australia Victoria Trades Division (CIA Vic) has
donated the second-hand Evernew pop-top in a collaborative partnership with
the independent boys' college. The project is part of CIA Vic's Caravan
Industry Career Pathway. It will provide full support to the students,
including a workplace trainer and materials for the restoration. The
finished caravan, which will be raffled off for charity, will be showcased
at the Melbourne Leisurefest Caravan & Camping show from October 6 to 9.
CIA Vic last year launched the National Caravan Industry Training College
aimed at producing skilled workers with nationally accredited industry
qualifications and non-accredited industry specific training.
Have your say
caravan park lease up for grabs
VICTORIA'S Moira Shire Council is looking for someone to manage and
develop its 121-site caravan park. With the
lease due for renewal this year, expressions of interest have been invited
for Barmah Caravan Park, which nestles into a bend in the Murray River.
Council chief executive Mark Henderson said the EOI process would ensure
any future lease was determined "in a fair and transparent manner". "We
look forward to receiving EOIs from the existing operator as well as
others who may have a vision for this unique and special location," he
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