For full list,
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
* Wicked campervans outlawed in Queensland
... 8055 people reached.
* Boom times for caravanning and camping
grounds ... 7696 people reached.
MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Training rather than tow
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
I would be against paying for a special licence and test to tow a
I believe this would not prevent accidents and only raise revenue for
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
I think education and properly instructed training courses on towing
heavy caravans would be much more appropriate to those who have had no
BTW, your article regarding the recent safety checks on RVs in Victoria
is very interesting as well (see here).
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
My last caravan had a bent chassis and misaligned suspension welded
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.
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?
IT'S just another revenue raising
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.
A LICENCE should be compulsory for large
caravans, as well as inspections because many are overweight.
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
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
already 'effectively' serviced: peak body
New Sunday trading
hours cold comfort for small
Mr Chapman: increased costs
By Dennis Amor
Have your say
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
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
"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
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
Have your say
Marked increase in
Fleetwood RV division shows
promise as revenue soars
Photo-story: Dennis Amor
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
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
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."
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
Have your say
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."
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
Facility closed until
Tiaro rest area set for $150,000
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
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
Cool offer from
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
$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.
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
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 www.ticketek.com.au
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
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
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.
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
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.
Stink over caravan
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
Have your say
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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Illegal camping fines a
FINING people for camping at the Spit on the Gold
Coast is a double-edged sword (see story
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
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.
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
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
This area should be open for families to camp over the Christmas
THE mayor doesn't know what he is getting himself
If he chases freedom campers away he will have the small businesses on
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.
I WAS a little shocked by Ben's comment about there
being few overnight stops in Western Australia (see letter
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
They also often provide clean and comfortable caravan parks as well.