Caravanning News is registered with the National Library of Australia's PANDORA archive

March 2017

Monthly readership: 19,000 to 24,000
(previous six-months)

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Breaking News headline
For full list, click above

MARCH 31: Caravan parks in low-lying areas of Chinderah, Tweed Heads and Kingscliff and other areas evacuating as Queensland's ex Cylone Debbie causes severe flooding in northern NSW.

MARCH 31: Shares in Apollo Tourism & Leisure - which builds, sells and rents caravans, motorhomes and campervans - had reached a five-month high of $1.425 at close of business yesterday.

MARCH 30: Family-owned Sugar Bowl Caravan Park on Queensland's Bruce Highway at Childers is on the market for $2.1 million.

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

* ACCC recall over AL-KO safety fears ... 24,277 people reached.

* Man disappears from NSW caravan park ... 20,594 people reached.

* Gold Coast cops' appeal after recovering stolen caravan ... 16,422 people reached.

* Australian Caravan Club's Kingaroy muster ... 9626 people reached.

* Apollo buys Sydney RV ... 8338 people reached.

* Wicked campervans outlawed in Queensland ... 8055 people reached.

* Boom times for caravanning and camping grounds ... 7696 people reached.


Training rather than tow licences

WELL, this is the first time I have seen an edition of Caravanning News and must say it very interesting and informative.

Referring to the topic of licences for caravanners (see story here)

I would be against paying for a special licence and test to tow a caravan.

I believe this would not prevent accidents and only raise revenue for the government.

As you see in everyday life, many motorists who drive cars have passed a driving test and have a licence but do not drive safely, correctly and also have many preventable accidents.

You can't and won't be able to stop incapable people from doing stupid things.

I think education and properly instructed training courses on towing heavy caravans would be much more appropriate to those who have had no towing experience.

BTW, your article regarding the recent safety checks on RVs in Victoria is very interesting as well (see here).

Howard Price.

Time bombs

I AM not fussed about whether or not people should get a licence to tow a caravan.

What is more concerning is the lack of quality in the construction and design of caravans and their poor engineering.

This often leads to potential time bombs being dragged behind people's vehicles.

My last caravan had a bent chassis and misaligned suspension welded underneath.

Licencing may help but I also believe quality control in caravan construction would play a big part in reducing accidents on our ever increasing busy roads.


No charge

YES, by all means test and licence drivers to tow and operate a caravan ... but at no charge.

There are hundreds of caravans being towed by incompetent drivers who have absolutely no idea what they are doing.

Very few can reverse a caravan or trailer even.

I can drive large articulated vehicles and have to pass practical and road rules tests to prove knowledge and competency.

Why shouldn't caravan operators also have a similar requirement?

Peter King.

Drop outs

IT'S just another revenue raising exercise.

If the costs of caravanning continue to keep rising, such as park fees and fuel, many caravanners will be forced to drop out.

Training fees and licencing fees just might push many to that point.

Alan Harrison.


A LICENCE should be compulsory for large caravans, as well as inspections because many are overweight.

Ian Zacher.





Cell caravan

Bank moves in


By Dennis Amor

FAMILY owned and operated Cell Caravans, which claimed to be one of the fastest growing companies in the industry, has closed. Gates at the company's premises at Somerton in north Melbourne were padlocked and a recorded telephone message told callers: "Unfortunately, we are no longer trading. Anyone who is owned money will be contacted." Its Melbourne Caravan Centre, which traded in Cell, Coromal and Windsor caravans, was also closed. It is understood the closures followed action by Cell's bank. Founded by Graeme Ryland and his sons in 2010, the business sourced caravans from America. Its website explained: "We bring the best and latest features from the biggest RV markets in the world. Our 'vans are principally Australian versions of our chosen US caravans, offering outstanding and innovative features. This is why our 'vans are the 'must see' of the caravan world." Cell sold its eye-catching caravans direct to customers and boasted an Australia-wide service network. No one was available at the factory to comment, but the company's Amy Ryland told Caravanning News in a previous interview: "There are a lot of Cell caravans on Australian roads and I think it's a reassurance for caravanners to see we are a trustworthy and reputable company and that our caravans are something worth looking at. The worry of an imported product has been reduced. It helps that we have a fleet of Cell owners on the road singing our praises everywhere they go." Customer Jeff Kite told Caravanning News he was greeted with the shock news after driving from Western Australia. He had spoken to Graeme Ryland, who allegedly told him he had "retired" and was not fully aware of what was going on. Mr Kite said Cell had taken a $5000 deposit in January and claimed he was told a new batch of caravans would arrive from America in April. "As it turns out they were never on order and were never due to arrive," he claimed. "But they still took my money. I was lucky only losing $5000 but I am sure others would have paid deposits, especially after these 'vans were displayed at the recent Melbourne show. Someone at Cell or Melbourne Caravan Centre must have known, yet they still took people's hard-earned money. Not good enough."  Have your say

Current market already 'effectively' serviced: peak body

New Sunday trading hours cold comfort for small caravan dealers

Ron Chapman

Mr Chapman: increased costs

By Dennis Amor
Have your say

QUEENSLAND'S caravan industry has given a cool reception to new laws allowing Sunday trading.

Major reforms to the state's topsy-turvy retail regulations will enable dealers to now sell caravans and other RVs seven days a week.

But Caravanning Queensland the industry's peak body warned the new hours could severely affect smaller businesses.

"Ninety-two percent of our members are against the decision, with increased trading hours severely impacting smaller dealerships," chief executive Ron Chapman said.

He believed the current trading hours already "effectively" serviced the demand for recreational vehicles.

"Extending trading hours would increase consumer costs due to increased overheads, negatively affecting the potential sales to be made," he said.

Queensland sold more RVs than any other state in 2015, despite competing against others with larger populations and seven-day trading.

Mr Chapman thought this proved there was no need to extend hours.

"As it is, there is no evidence of any caravan dealer in Queensland trading after 5pm Monday to Friday, despite the ability to open until 9pm, due to no consumer demand at this time," he said.

But the 23,000-member Australian Caravan Club has welcomed the Sunshine State's biggest shake-up of trading rules in 20 years.

"It was ludicrous that in a modern world where we have been able to buy groceries and even a boat on a Sunday, that people wanting to buy a caravan in Queensland on the weekend have been restricted to Saturday only," chairman Craig Humphrey said.

"There are so many different brands, layouts and types of caravan available and buying an RV is often the most expensive monetary item many RVers will make after their home.

"The extra time will come in handy for potential RV buyers to take a good look and satisfy themselves that they are getting a good deal and a good RV."

Mr Humphrey thought seven-day trading could benefit rural buyers and create more jobs.

"So our club sees this as a win for caravanners, a win for the dealers and a boost to employment," he said.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the state's existing "complex and costly" trading hours were holding back job opportunities and the economy.

"No workers will be made to work any additional hours which could result from increased trading hours unless they have voluntarily agreed to do so," she added.

Major caravan dealerships contact by Caravanning News declined to comment.

Police appeal for witnesses

Nomads may hold vital clues in hostage case

CARAVANNERS and grey nomads recently travelling Queensland's Bruce and Warrego highways may hold vital information which could help police with a hostage investigation. They have appealed for anyone who saw the pictured white Mitsubishi Pajero (above) during the last few weeks to contact them. It is alleged a 22-year-old British backpacker was repeatedly raped, bashed and choked during a 1500km, two-month road trip in the 4WD between Cairns and Mitchell. Their travels took them to Gordonvale and Bowen in the state’s north and on to Banana, Roma and Mitchell. They are thought to have stayed at caravan parks along the route. A man has been charged. Anyone with information is urged to contact police as soon as possible. Have your say

Comoral caravans

Marked increase in orders

Fleetwood RV division shows promise as revenue soars

Photo-story: Dennis Amor

FLEETWOOD Corporation's once-struggling RV division, which manufactures Coromal and Windsor caravans, increased its revenue by 89 percent to $21.1 million during the first six months of the current financial year. "Production is expected to increase further in the second half, bringing it closer to the break-even point and positioning the business for a profitable result in 2018," Fleetwood said in its half-yearly financial report. The Perth-based company reported that improvements in its product range and dealer network had brought a "marked increase" in orders and factory output. Staff numbers had doubled during the last 12 months but time required to train new employees had resulted in lower than ideal labour efficiency. The division's Camec and Flexiglass operations continued to remain leaders in their respective markets, showing a modest four percent increase in revenue, the report added. Fleetwood Corporation which also builds portable accommodation and associated products showed a healthy 264 percent rise in net profit to $3.6 million in the first half. Revenue rose 12 percent to $153 million. No interim dividend has been declared, but Fleetwood said the outlook was improving and the directors intended to resume the payment "as soon as practicable". Have your say

Star RatingsStar Ratings scheme to be abandoned
CARAVAN Industry Association of Australia has expressed dismay that Australia's motoring organisations, including NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RAC, RACT and AANT, will abandon the accommodation Star Ratings scheme on June 30.
It seems the programme has been overtaken by the digital age where the click of a button delivers a mine of information on accommodation reviews. "While star ratings was polarising, it is disappointing to see the end of what is a valuable part of the marketing and business improvement mechanism for some," association chief executive Stuart Lamont said. At the height of its success, there were 15,000 Star Rated properties, including many caravan parks. Australian Motoring Services chief executive Michael Reed commented: "Being Star Rated meant that consumers would always know what to expect from the accommodation they booked. We were always true to our message – the accommodation you expect should be the accommodation you get." Have your say

Matt Johns, Zone RVZone RV produces new video on towing safety
SUNSHINE Coast-based caravan manufacturer Zone RV has produced a new video on safe towing.
"It's paramount that we are sending our customers out the gate with the confidence to tow safely," company co-founder and sales manager Matt Johns told Caravanning News. "There have been national concerns growing about caravanners being misinformed and not knowing their load weights or legal tow limits, with many on the road towing illegally."  More button

ACC's Trekkers off to running start
THE Australian Caravan Club now has a new branch in the Toowoomba region west of Brisbane.
The Toowoomba Trekkers group is off to a running start, with 26 members representing 14 RV units signing up, ACC chairman Craig Humphrey said. "We ran a very successful stall at the Toowoomba Caravan Expo last year where we gained quite a number of new members," he explained. "Several lived in the Toowoomba region and expressed a desire to form a branch to cater for RVers in their own area." He said the ACC was for all RVers, adding: "We welcome owners of caravans, poptops, motorhomes, campervans, slide-on campers, camper-trailers and fifth wheelers without discrimination." The Toowoomba Trekkers can be contacted here. Have your say

Mr FergieJump-start ends in burns and a warning
CARAVANNER Neil Fergie has told how he ended up in a hospital emergency department with third degree burns after trying to jump-start his 4WD.
And now he wants others to learn from his nasty experience. "It can happen to any of us," he said. "So this story is, I hope, one of information as well as lessons learned, both good and bad." More button

Kickboxer jailed for killing grey nomad
A GREY nomad was killed by a young kickboxer during his round-Australia adventure, a court heard.
Graeme Wilton, 56, had spent two-and-a-half years on the road with wife Marlene when they stopped at a Mannering Park caravan park in Lake Macquarie in December 2013. NSW Supreme Court heard how he went for a stroll in nearby streets and remonstrated with then 22-year-old Muay Thai boxer Kaine Geoffrey Jones, who had allegedly been "screeching" his ute along the road. Mr Jones was left unconscious after being punched once by Jones and died in hospital about two months later. Jones, who admitted manslaughter, was jailed for 10 years for what Justice Ian Harrison described as an "unprovoked attack on a defenceless victim". He will be eligible for parole in mid-2021. Mr Wilton's wife of 37 years told media outside the court: "My husband has gone but Mr Jones was responsible for that and now I've got to get on with my life." Have your say

Tiaro rest area

Facility closed until mid-April

Tiaro rest area set for $150,000 facelift

Photo-Story: Dennis Amor

THE well-used Tiaro overnight rest area on Queensland's Bruce Highway south of Maryborough has closed for a $150,000 revamp. "It will greatly improve the site which is already popular," Fraser Coast Regional Councillor Anne Maddern said. "The project should take around seven weeks to complete and finish in mid-April, weather permitting." The council introduced overnight fees at the facility last year but they were abandoned after the local pub refused to collect the money. All mention of charges have now been blanked out on the site's noticeboards. Improvements will include better drainage, a new concrete driveway to make entering and leaving the site easier, planting grassed areas around trees, fencing and footpaths linking to existing footpaths through the Tiaro Memorial Park. Meanwhile, the council hopes travellers will continue to stop in Tiaro and use Petrie Park or nearby sites at Bauple or Rossendale Park just outside Bauple. Have your say

Family prepares for camping adventureCaravan and camping nights show biggest rise
CARAVAN parks and commercial camping grounds saw the largest increase in domestic nights out of all commercial accommodation types in 2015-16.
Tourism Research Australia's annual report shows they were up 8.9 percent to 31.8 million. Caravan Industry Association of Australia chief executive Stuart Lamont said this showed that government commitment to regional tourism infrastructure was needed more than ever. "Caravanning and camping is foundational to regional tourism economies, as the numbers show," he explained. More button

Cool offer from Dometic
DOMETIC has extended its warranty period on a range of upright RV refrigerators.
Head of marketing Justine Schuller revealed that an additional two years were now available under the Dometic Care program. "This takes the total warranty period to five years, which has never been available before and gives owners of recreational vehicles the peace of mind they deserve," she said. The free offer is available until April 30. Have your say

Takalvans signTakalvans' $2m sales and service centre opens
AWARD-winning Coromal and Windsor dealer Takalvans has officially opened its new $2 million sales and service centre in Bundaberg, Queensland.
Local civic dignitaries, including Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey, and officials from Perth-based Coromal and Windsor builders Fleetwood attended the event. Takalvans is owned and operated by Dale Rethamel and wife Natalie, who claim to be the Rum City's longest serving caravan dealers. More button

Waiting list for serviced muster sites
REGISTRATIONS for this month's Australian Caravan Club Chairman's Muster in Queensland have doubled, it has been revealed.
At least 100 RVs will descend on Kingaroy Showground for the six-day gathering beginning March 9. "All sites that can be serviced with power and water are taken and we are now only able to accept registrations from members who have RVs with their own power and water," chairman Craig Humphrey said. "In fact, we have a waiting list for serviced sites. The larger than expected number of registrations has proved logistically challenging, but nothing that has not been able to be resolved." Have your say

Gold Coast caravan expoGold Coast show on track for success
THE Gold Coast Caravan and Camping Expo is on track to be another big hit with enthusiasts.
Organisers have arranged free train travel throughout south-east Queensland to Nerang station, where a shuttle will transfer visitors to Metricon Stadium during the three-day event beginning March 3. Caravanning Queensland show manager Jason Plant said there would be something for the entire family, including seminars, more than 350 RVs on show and free entertainment for children. Tickets can be bought at for $8 concession and $10 adults. Schoolchildren are free with a paying adult and all tickets include free train travel. Have your say

Government passes new regulations

Campervan with offensive sloganSunshine State outlaws
offensive campervans

By Dennis Amor

THE Queensland Government has now officially outlawed Wicked campervans portraying sexist, obscene and other offensive slogans. The State Parliament has passed new regulations to rid the Sunshine State's roads of the offensive vehicles. Other states have applauded the move and are considering similar action. The new laws will allow the Department of Transport and Main Roads to cancel a vehicle's registration if the owners do not remove the offending slogans within 14 days of being advised to do so by the Advertising Standards Board. Some caravan parks in Queensland and the Blue Mountains Council in NSW have already banned offending campervans after complaints from families. Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the government had acted on community concerns. "Many people across the community have been concerned for some time about the derogatory, sexist and outright offensive slogans and cartoons on the side of some commercial Queensland vehicles," she said. The new laws are expected to be in force by the end of this month. In the latest hearing, the Advertising Standards Board has ruled that a Wicked campervan's slogan proclaiming "If sex is a pain in the a... you are doing it wrong" used strong and obscene language which was inappropriate. A parent had contacted the board complaining: "I do not want my children reading such disgusting comments."   Have your say

Cairns Coconut Holiday ResortIngenia acquires new flagship in $50m deal
INGENIA Communities Group has bought Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort ‒ Australia's highest rated and awarded tourism park ‒ for $50 million in an off-market deal.
Ingenia chief executive Simon Owen commented: "This is an exceptional mixed-use asset with an emphasis on the strongly performing tourism market which will become a flagship asset for Ingenia's Holidays brand." It had "significant, fully approved opportunities" for further growth, he added. The move seeds a new North Queensland cluster, with further acquisitions being assessed. More button

Peninsula councils urged to work together
COUNCILS on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula are being asked to make the most of its popularity with caravanners and campers.
A Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula report on camping options revealed that they had injected around $65 million into the region in 2015. The body now wants local authorities to work together to benefit from the travellers. Tourism and economic development manager Brad Riddle told Caravanning News he had circulated a "basic report" to councils. "It highlights how the caravan and camping market is evolving and seeks their support to finance a regional strategy aimed at ensuring our region is proactive in its approach to caravanning and camping," he said. Have your say

Cr Savige with pets Ellie (German Shepherd) and Cooper on the Bribie ForshoreTwo-page pact for pooches trial
A QUEENSLAND council has rolled out the welcome mat for well behaved pooches and their owners at one of its caravan parks.
But it will be no good turning up on spec at Bongaree Caravan Park on Bribie Island north of Brisbane during the trial, which ends this month. Dog owners will have had to sign a comprehensive two-page agreement a month before their arrival. More button

Stink over caravan site plan
ALBURY Council in NSW is considering setting up a user-pays overnight site for caravanners and other travellers ... near the local sewage farm.
Now a stink has erupted, with calls to abandon the idea in favour of a caravan park on the banks of the Murray River nearer to the city centre. Councillors decided by five votes to four to go ahead with a business case for the original site, which would be located near the Kremur Street boat ramp. Have your say

Swan Hill RV-friendly draft policySpotlight on RV-friendly sites
SWAN Hill Rural City Council in Victoria has turned the spotlight on RV-friendly sites.
Local residents and traders are being asked for their views on a draft policy to help determine RV-friendly sites around the area. Mayor Les McPhee said it was planned to strike a balance between capturing economic opportunities associated with the market while maintaining the interests of local businesses, especially caravan parks. "Under the draft policy, communities can apply to council to have a local site designated for RV use," he said. "When assessing these applications, we will take into account a range of factors including the availability of nearby commercial tourist camping facilities, links to priorities in community planning and the ability of the local community to take leadership in managing the RV-friendly site." Written comments on the draft can be made either online or by writing to Swan Hill Rural City Council at PO Box 488, Swan Hill, VIC 3585, before the end of this month. Have your say

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Letter man

Illegal camping fines a double-edged sword

FINING people for camping at the Spit on the Gold Coast is a double-edged sword (see story here).

The illegal parking is created due to the exorbitant cost of staying in tourist parks.

Then to add insult they charge a credit card fee on top of the daily rate.

I do see where the council is coming from but it needs tp have a good hard look at prices of tourist parks.

I am a caravanner and wonder why the charge is so high

The majority do not use the facilities as they are self-contained.

David Page.

Camp and respect

PEOPLE like myself spend additional money on setting up our caravans for free camping.

We are not interested in staying in the overpriced and crowded caravan parks around the country.

I believe if you set up properly and respect the location by keeping keep it clean and tidy then, within reason, you should be allowed to camp.



MOST people who camp there are homeless living in their motorhomes or cars as there is nowhere for them to stay.

Most of the major 'van parks are owned by the council and they have been totally booked out for the last few months.

I don't know where the mayor gets his information about caravan parks losing money.

This area should be open for families to camp over the Christmas periods.

Narelle Mole.

Mayor beware

THE mayor doesn't know what he is getting himself into.

If he chases freedom campers away he will have the small businesses on his back.

According to CRA, only 33 percent of RVs go from park to park.

Terry and Rhonda Boyce.

Strawberry farms not so dangerous

REGARDING your story last month on strawberry farms poisoning caravanners (see story here).

We have stayed at a strawberry farm in Queensland's Glass House Mountains and loved it.

The free strawberries and pineapples were worth the risk.

Some protesters will trump up anything to have a win.

Colin Campbell.

Overnighting in
Western Australia

I WAS a little shocked by Ben's comment about there being few overnight stops in Western Australia (see letter here).

What Ben actually meant was that there are not many listed in a book.

Basically what we do is drive until we are ready to stay overnight.

We watch for a nice spot off the road and pull up for the night, as do about 20 percent of other caravanners and campers.

WA is an awfully big state and to only stop in listed sites is going to make very long driving days.

Many shires in the south-west have overnight places designated for self-contained travellers.

They also often provide clean and comfortable caravan parks as well.

Don Steven.