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March 2018

Monthly readership:
 19,867 to 32,232

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Breaking News headline
For full list, click above

Some tow kits (part numbers LA82210140 and LA82210141) fitted to WK Jeep Grand Cherokees recalled after fears they could come detatched while towing caravans or trailers.

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


* Caravanning road trip ends in disaster on Princes Hwy ... 16,359 people reached.

* Living Edge Caravans in liquidation ... 16,324 people reached.

* Jayco recall after fire risk fears ...  14,932 people reached.

* Family's caravan stolen from Ipswich ... 12,625 people reached.

* Quest RV in liquidation ... 6878 people reached.

* Sink hole at the Town of 1770 ... 5809 people reached.


Rolling out one reason for so many overturns

LAST month's story of police warning about towing weights was very interesting (see story here).

I have seen so many reports recently of caravans overturning and what concerns me most is the fact that people are buying 'vans for supposed "off-road use".

These have a much higher centre of gravity and it does not take much to lose control of them.

Why is it necessary for this type of vehicle to be sold in such large numbers?

Is it the "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality or do many people honestly believe they need this type of van to go on to a dirt road.

We have travelled this country with 'vans since the early '80s and never once had an off road-type 'van and never once had an incident.

I personally don't understand why there are so many incidents these days ... maybe the roads are too good and everyone is going too fast, but reports say this is not so.

Maybe we definitely need a crackdown on overloaded vehicles.

There must be a simple explanation to all this carnage.

Oni Pony.

The best!

HUMOUROUS story about devilish behaviour at a Tasmanian caravan park (see story here).

I would rate this caravan park among the best in Australia, not just Tasmania.

In Tasmania, it IS the best!

Maurie Young.


Rescue teams pluck 42 to safety

Cairns caravan parks hit
by horror night of floods

CARAVANNERS were almost swept away as flash flooding hit two caravan parks in far north Queensland. Swiftwater rescue teams with boats rushed to the BIG4 Crystal Cascades and Cool Waters holiday parks at Cairns and plucked at least 42 people to safety as flood waters rose in the aftermath of ex-Tropical Cyclone Nora, which was still producing strong winds and heavy rain. The SES received numerous triple-O calls for help. Cars and caravans were reportedly floating and being tossed around, with 4WDs and one hired Apollo motorhome crashing into cabins. One caravanner told Caravanning News it had been a horror night for tourists. "The water came up so quickly and then subsided almost as fast. People had no time to save their belongings inside their caravans." There were no reports of anyone being injured. In a Facebook posting, the BIG4 Crystal Cascades park said it was devastated. "Our park has been heavily damaged by extensive flash flooding overnight and will remain closed until further notice," it reported. "Our utmost appreciation to the emergency services and their assistance in evacuating all guests." Meanwhile, the BIG4 Atherton Woodlands Tourist Park offered to help in any way it could. Comment on this story

Doomed to failure, warn unimpressed caravanners

The American Airstream Basecamp

Aussie version of this Airstream Basecamp will soon arrive Down Under

By Dennis Amor
Have your say

JAYCO, which has already snared around 50 percent of Australia's RV market, has turned to the Americans for its latest venture.

The Victorian manufacturer has joined forces with Airstream, builder of North America's iconic "silver bullet” caravan, to relaunch the funky Airstream brand here in Australia.

The $84,000 single-axle, 5-metre Airstream Base13 will be the prelude to two larger International models in the $130,000 to $150,000 range later this year.

They will be partly built in America  ̶  where a similar Basecamp model is already produced  ̶  and completed here in Australia before being distributed from five Jayco dealers across the country.

Founded in 1975 by Gerry Ryan, Jayco has always been committed to the Australian caravan market, with nearly 200,000 RVs rolling off its production lines.

"In many ways, Jayco Australia is the Australian RV market," Airstream chief executive Bob Wheeler said.

But caravanners spoken to by Caravanning News were less than impressed and thought the partnership was a "no brainer".

Jayco owner Martin Joyner, who is on a year-long adventure around Australia, believed Aussies would shun the new Airstream.

"Imports have a bad name and most people tend to shy away from them," the 68-year-old traveller said. "And anyway, who in their right mind is going to splash out over $80,000 for something the same size a small camper trailer?

"I think this venture is doomed to failure."

Meanwhile, one member of the Web's biggest caravanning online forum commented: "Good luck with that. I’m sure they’ll sell ... in their tens!" Read More button

Barrier Highway sign'This is completely unacceptable'

Police nab driver who filmed caravan crash

By Dennis Amor

A DRIVER, 55, who filmed a caravan smash in NSW has been issued with an infringement notice for using his mobile phone while driving. Police spotted the man balancing the phone on his steering wheel as he drove past the accident site on the Barrier Highway, 41km east of Cobar. Rescuers were struggling to free two caravanners trapped in the mangled wreckage after their Toyota Hilux towing a caravan rolled. Police said the 64-year-old woman and 66-year-old male passenger were rushed to Cobar Airport then airlifted to hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Inspector Steven Munn commented: "Here we have a serious crash where people are trapped and injured, and a person idiotically filming the incident on their mobile phone as they drive past. Police, ambulance and volunteers from the SES and RFS were at this scene with an important job to do – we were trying to help those in the crash, we’re trying to keep the traffic moving and we're trying to keep everyone else safe. Instead we're having to chase after someone who thinks it's okay to break the law and put his life and the lives of others in danger by using his mobile phone while driving. This is completely unacceptable." Police are investigating the cause of this crash and have reminded drivers who are towing to be aware of the gross vehicle mass of their vehicle and trailer to ensure they are not overloaded. Comment on this story

Tathra inferno

Caravan park reportedly razed


By Dennis Amor

A CARAVAN park in the NSW South Coast seaside town of Tathra was all but destroyed in ferocious bushfires. The Tathra Beachside Caravan Park is owned by Australian singer, actor and TV presenter Frankie J. Holden. Ironically his pre-recorded telephone answering machine was telling callers this morning that it was a "beautiful day". It is known that guests fled his park, some along the beach, as the raging bushfires enveloped the town. In a Facebook entry, the park said: "Our thoughts and prayers are now with all the volunteers and emergency services battling the fires and to all our friends who have lost homes or who didn’t get out on time and had to stay and fight." Caravanning News was unable to contact the BIG4 Tathra Beach Holiday Park. It is feared up to 70 properties had been destroyed in the blaze. Comment on this story

Coromal caravansRevamp plan fails to deliver

Fleetwood's RV division still underperforming, says report

FLEETWOOD Corporation's RV division, which manufacturers Coromal and Windsor caravans, continues to underperform, it has been revealed. In its half-year results, the Perth-based company reports that revenue from the division rose a disappointing one percent to $21.3 million during the six months ending December 31. Earnings before interest and tax of $4.4m was $1.8m lower than the previous corresponding period driven by a $2.6m increase in losses from the division. Fleetwood has written down the value of the fixed assets in its caravan business to nil after it recorded a bigger underlying loss of $5.6 million due to an oversupply of caravans nationally and heavy discounting in the industry. Detailing the results, the report said that despite a "turnaround plan" three years ago  ̶  which included a revamp of the company's products and complete change in Fleetwood's management  ̶  the situation remained "critical". "It is important to note that the normal product development life cycle for caravans is similar to the automotive industry where new models are introduced over a three to four-year period, whereas revamping the Coromal and Windsor ranges was completed within two years," it pointed out. Read More button

Dave Lewis, Weightcheck founderDave weighs in with new safety venture
BRISBANE-based businessman Dave Lewis (pictured) is  lifting the weight off the shoulders of caravanners in his attempt to improve their safety.
And he is hoping to scale new heights with his latest venture, a mobile caravan weighing company which he launched after buying a new caravan and discovering he had become one of the staggering 70 percent of owners with overweight caravans. "I started researching the whole caravan weight issue and was shocked at what I found," he told Caravanning News. His fledgling company, Weightcheck, is about road safety and improving public awareness of the dangers of overweight caravans. "In order to do this we had to make the process easier ... why not take the weighbridge to the caravan, not the caravan to the weighbridge," he said. "Weighbridges are few and far between, and this is one of the main reasons owners are reluctant to check their weights." Read More button

The WhitesAnother honour for Deniliquin

Australia's best caravan park secures place in Hall of Fame

BIG4 Deniliquin Holiday Park in NSW has been named Australia's best caravan park. Located on the banks of the Edward River in the Murray and Riverina regions, it is "thrilled" after scooping gold for the third time in the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards' best caravan and holiday parks category. The multi-award-winning holiday park, owned by Frank and Lynda White (pictured), was also inducted into the Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, the BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort in Queensland claimed both silver and bronze in the category. The awards have been operating for over 30 years and recognise the country's best tourism businesses which have demonstrated a commitment to excellence. The Caravan & Camping Industry Association NSW offered its congratulations, saying it was "proud to have such a wonderful park representing the peak of our industry both in NSW and nationally". Its owners had built a fantastic park with great features and activities. "They are wonderful ambassadors for our industry. Their park sets the benchmark nationally," chief executive Lynda Gray said. Comment bubble Have your say

Bumper performance as global Apollo forges ahead
APOLLO Tourism & Leisure, whose original foundations lie in a lowly backyard shed in Brisbane, made a whopping $16 million first-half profit, over four times its result for the previous corresponding period.
The global company's earnings before interest and tax increased over 255 percent to $28 million. The effective integration of recent acquisitions, which included Sydney RV, Kratzmann Caravans and George Day Caravans dealerships, had been a key focus during the half-year ending December 31, Apollo said in its half-yearly report. Earnings before interest and tax rose over 255 percent to $28 million. Read More button

Alleged caravan fraudster due in court
POLICE have nabbed at a man at a Victorian caravan show for allegedly cheating people out of money.
Hume Crime Investigation Unit detectives arrested the 43-year-old at an exhibition in Flemington. It is claimed he fraudulently obtained cash whilst buying and selling caravans over the past three years. The man has been charged with 17 counts of obtaining property by deception and one count of proceeds of crime. He was bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates' Court on March 5. Comment bubble Have your say

Stranded at Ship CreekAdvert lands AAMI up Ship Creek
A TELEVISION advert depicting a family of caravanners stranded in 'Ship Creek' was among the most complained about last year, the advertising watchdog has revealed.
The humourous footage advertising AAMI's roadside assist programme offended scores of viewers who complained to the Australian Advertising Bureau claiming it breached the Advertiser Code of Ethics. Although no actual swear words were used in the 29-second advert, they protested it still used "inappropriate language" and was not appropriate for children. Read More button

'Great response' to caravan dealer's new hire service
A QUEENSLAND caravan dealer's "try before you buy" venture has taken off in a big way.
Family-owned Tullmack Caravans at Mackay now hires out caravans after seeing the industry mushroom over the years. Director Trudi Jensen told Caravanning News there were many people unable to caravan because of the initial cost or space to store an RV. "We had a lot of inquiries about whether we hire caravans so we thought we would look into it to help give those without a caravan the opportunity to see what it's like," she said. "We have had a great response from couples and families so far, especially over the school holidays." Read More button

AL-KO Click LockAnother safety goodie from AL-KO
AL-KO, the name behind the world-renouned Electronic Stability Control safety device for caravans, has come up with another goodie.
The Innovative market leader has now taken ease-of-use to a new level with the release of an off-road pin coupling featuring its new Click Lock system. The hitch is self-locking, automatically completing the primary and secondary locking required for Australian Design Rules compliance, with no additional action required by the user. The result is hands-free hitching, making it safer and easier to use than other pin couplings on the market. To hitch up, caravanners simply lower the coupling over the pin. An integrated positive latching indicator confirms that the rig is ready to go when it clicks into place. The new Click Lock system was designed by AL-KO in Melbourne for Australian off-road conditions and exhaustively tested at the Australian Automotive Research Centre in Anglesea. Comment Bubble Have your say

Free booksThe new word on the street
BOOKWORMS are enjoying a new Free Street Library outside a country town's caravan park in NSW. It has been set up outside the 24-site Berrigan Caravan Park by the local library and Men's Shed. A similar 'take-a-book and give-a-book' service already exists at Tocumwal 37km away. The concept of free street libraries, which now has its own Facebook page, was spawned in 2015 and is now spreading throughout Australia. Berrigan Caravan Park owner Helen Lehre told Caravanning News it was a "great idea". "Travellers quite often want to swap their books for new ones and this saves them having to carry a whole pile with them," she said. Berrigan Shire councillor Ross Bodey said the system was working well at Tocumwal. "Many campers love reading books and magazines so this way they can pass them on," he said. Comment bubble Have your say

Industry leader stresses importance of conferences
THE Caravan Industry Association of Australia's new chairman has emphasised the importance of conferences.
Grant Wilckens stresses that no matter how experienced people are at their business, "everyone can learn". "Working in a small or large business venture can often be isolating," he said. "Without exposure to a variety of points of view, we can miss new ideas and trends that can impact future results. The educational aspect of a conference can expose you to new ways of conducting your business and help you discover what matters to you to ensure your ongoing success in business." Mr Wilckens, Discovery Parks chief executive and co-founder, was speaking ahead of the association's national conference, to be held at the Gold Coast's Star Hotel and Casino from May 16 to 18. Read More button

Tassies' neutrality rules closes camping venue
THE thorny issue of competitive neutrality and its effects on grey nomads and other traveller has again reared its ugly head on the Apple Isle.
Tasmania's Meander Valley Council in the central north of the state has closed the Westbury Recreation Ground to overnight camping, blaming noisy parties and a breach of planning regulations and national competition policy principles. The council will also ban camping and overnight stops at the Bracknell River Reserve from March 13, claiming it "must abide by planning regulations and national competition policy which govern how the reserve may be used". The council said it needed to stop camping and overnight stays until issues were resolved. Local businesses are said to be seeing red over the ban. Meanwhile, the Local Government Association of Tasmania has passed a motion seeking a state government review of the "current application of national competition principles as they relate to free camping in regional towns". Read more buttonj

Ingenia's first-half profits soar
THE Ingenia Group, which operates a network of caravan parks and community villages, has announced a whopping rise in underlying profit for the half year.
It totalled $14.6 million for the six months ending December 31, a 37 percent increase on the corresponding period last year. The group generated strong operating cash flow of $11.3 million, up 7.6 percent. Revenue rose 17.6 percent, which included a 55 percent increase in lifestyle and holidays rental income. "Our tourism business is performing strongly with the result benefitting from acquisitions, including Cairns Coconut, and a growing digital and brand presence," Ingenia's chief executive Simon Owen said. Comment bubble Have your say

Seal Rocks signSeal of approval for 'jewel in the crown' park
UPGRADES costing millions of dollars at the award-winning Seal Rocks Holiday Park in New South Wales have now been completed.
The NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust committed $7.5 million for improvements at the popular holiday destination, which last year scooped an Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality gong in the Mid Coast Business Awards. The work had cemented Seal Rocks' status as a "jewel in the accommodation crown" within the Great Lakes Region, it said. State Lands Minister Paul Toole recently visited the park to celebrate the completion of the staged redevelopment which began in 2013 and to officially launch the new identity developed by the Trust. Read More button

Crusader owners set for get-together
CRUSADER Caravans is planning an eventful get-together this month for owners of its RVs.
They will join bosses and factory staff for three days of activities beginning on March 23 at Nagambie Lakes Holiday Park north of Melbourne. For an all-in two-night site fee of $90, a couple can enjoy  ̶̶  among other things  ̶  a "dress up in bad taste" gala dinner with entertainment, various speakers, trivia, sausage sizzle and their own version of the Commonwealth Games with prizes. Their pets are also welcome. Comment bubble Have your say

Balaklava Caravan ParkDisabled cabin open for public inspection
LOCALS were today inspecting SA's Balaklava Caravan Park’s newest addition - a $96,348 cabin fully fitted for disability access.
An 'open morning' hosted by Wakefield Regional Council Mayor Rodney Reid allowed the community to peek inside the new addition and have a look around the park, which continues to be a major asset for the region. Cr Reid said plans for the new cabin came about when a local resident pointed out a general lack of wheelchair-friendly accommodation in the region.

Families fill parks at Easter, not nomads
FAMILIES were responsible for a boom in caravan park income over Easter holidays, according to Caravanning Queensland. Chief executive Ron Chapman said there were fewer grey nomads travelling at that time of year. "The big markets at Easter is families," he told media. "They tend to be in camper trailers or differently configured multi-bed caravans to grey nomads who tend to travel in winter in mobile homes or hardtop caravans with two beds." He believed the hot summer had given families the confidence to go caravanning again during the coming Easter. Have your say

Stuart LamontPeak body joins forces with super fund
AUSTRALIA'S biggest superannuation fund, AustralianSuper, has leapt into the world of caravanning and camping to form a new partnership with the industry's peak body. And Caravan Industry Association of Australia chief executive Stuart Lamont (pictured) has welcomed the move. "This partnership recognises our wider objectives of championing a sustainable caravanning and camping industry into the future, both for consumers who use the product and the 53,000 industry employees who rely on continued industry strength," he said.

Plenty of action planned for chairman's muster
FINAL arrangements are being made for this month's Australian Caravan Club 2018 Chairman's Muster in Victoria.
The six-day event will open at Elmore Events Centre, Elmore, on March 8. Around 150 members in 75 RVs are expected to attend. The club reports that chairman Craig Humphrey and his muster team have organised some "great activities" for the event. These include a day's tagalong to Echuca, a catered dinner and a visit to the HV McKay Rural Discovery Centre at Elmore. "Our club members are supportive of local businesses during these events," Mr Humphrey said. "Past major musters have seen an expenditure by members of over $100 per RV per day." A highlight of the muster will be a presentation to members on caravan safety and legal aspects by Colin Young from Caravan Council of Australia. Comment bubble Have your say

Jayco motorhome decalFire risk generates safety recall
A FIRE risk has prompted a safety recall of Jayco Iveco motorhomes fitted with Cummins Onan generators.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warns there is the potential for the petrol fuel line to sag and come into contact with exhaust pipe. The recall affects motorhomes sold nationally between 2012 and 2018. Dealers include Brisbane Camperland, Page Bros RV, Watsons Coffs, Australian Caravans, Prestige Jayco Geelong, South Auckland Caravans, Caravan Land, Kings Caravans, Jayco Sydney, Jayco Nowra, Jayco Newcastle and Canterbury Caravan Court. Comment bubble Have your say

Truckie killed in illegal caravan 'road train' horror
POLICE were astonished when they were called to a fatal accident involving a caravan on Brookton Highway in Kelmscott, WA.
They discovered the caravan was part of a "three-vehicle road train" comprising a ute towing the RV which in turn had a trailer carrying four quad bikes, two chainsaws, a motorcycle, fuel containers and other items in tow. Perth District Court heard how the overweight trailer suddenly became unhitched and ploughed into an oncoming truck, killing its 55-year-old driver. Dwayne Ten Vaanholt, 45, admitted dangerous driving occasioning death and was given an 18-month suspended jail term. His driver's licence was suspended for two years. The court heard how Ten Vaanholt, who was on his way to a campsite when the accident happened, had watched a You Tube video to learn how to modify his caravan's bumper so it could tow the trailer. Judge Felicity Davis said he had believed his set-up was safe. The "tragic consequences" had resulted from a serious error of judgement and "a failure to properly assess the risks". She accepted he was deeply remorseful and had reimbursed the truck driver's overseas family more than $13,000 in travel and funeral costs. Comment bubble Have your say

Accreditation keyWin with industry's key to commitment
THE Caravan Industry Association of Australia has launched a new RVMAP promotion highlighting the importance of its accreditation key.
It includes a competition designed, it says, to build "further awareness amongst the caravan and camping public of the importance of looking for the symbol when buying a caravan, camper or motorhome". Digital marketing packs have been sent to RVMAP businesses for distribution to their dealer network. The competition is open to Australian residents aged over 18 years who buy an RVMAP-accredited RV between now and June 23 this year. The association says the key signifies a business's commitment to consistently supply products complying with all relevant Australian Design Rules and Federal Compliance Regulations. Buyers simply need to complete an online entry here. Have your say

Aspen's balance sheet remains debt free
ASPEN, a leading owner and manager of holiday and accommodation parks across Australia, has recorded a statutory loss of nearly a million dollars.
This was offset by investment-driven acquisition costs of $2.1 million, the group says in its first-half results ending December 31. Chief executive Joel Cann said the ASX-listed company had continued to focus on affordable accommodation and acquisitions. "The balance sheet remains debt free and $16.8 million in cash," he added. During the six months, Aspen has settled two tourism park deals, acquiring BIG4 Koala Shores Holiday Park in NSW and the Darwin FreeSpirit Resort in the NT for $$29.7 million. Comment bubble Have your say

BIG4 ambassadorsStar ambassadors for BIG4
LEGENDARY swimmer Giaan Rooney and actor Shane Jacobson have been appointed BIG4 Holiday Parks ambassadors.
Chief executive of the holiday and tourist park chain Steven Wright said they were now important members of the BIG4 family. "They are wonderful people, they stay in our parks and they have a personal connection to what we do," he said. "We look forward to a long and successful relationship with these much-loved Australians." Read More button

Kingscliff park set to reopen
THE newly renovated Kingscliff Beach Holiday Park in northern NSW will reopen on March 22.
The redevelopment was included in a $20 million project which saw an upgrade of the foreshore and central open park space. An astonishing 1500 bookings worth more than $500,000 in revenue poured in within days of the reopening date being announced. Caravan sites at the park, which has been closed for about a year, have been made two to three times larger to cope with the growing trend towards bigger touring caravans. Have your say

DC on the Lake caravan parkGrant helps park accommodate disabled
A CARAVAN park on the banks of Lake Mulwala in NSW is set to become more disabled-friendly, thanks to a $104,561 federal government grant.
The money will go towards providing a special cabin and playground for the disabled at the newly-built DC on the Lake holiday park, which was devastated by a tornado almost five years ago. The grant was announced by local MPs Sussan Ley and Greg Aplin. Read More button

Point Turton caravan parkMajor upgrades for Yorke Peninsula parks
YORKE Peninsula Council in South Australia has installed a variety of new accommodation options and infrastructure upgrades throughout three of its premier caravan parks.
Projects include new self-contained villa accommodation, outdoor equipment and landscaping as well upgrades to powered sites at the Marion Bay, Point Turton (pictured)  and Port Vincent Foreshore caravan parks. The newly renovated parks will remain at the forefront of the tourism industry on the peninsula and continue to provide a major contribution to its tourism economy. Read More button

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Copyright 2005 Dennis Amor
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Dollar plug saga blows $80k sale for rude dealer

I WAS looking to upgrade my RV from a 21ft slideout to a 24ft double slideout.

In the meantime I needed a simple small plug for my current caravan's ensuite.

The parts person was incredibly rude, as was the salesman, so I rang to speak to the owner.

The parts manager said the owner was too busy!

For the sake of a dollar plug they blew an 80k sale.

What a shame this owner does not understand that the only thing he has is customers who keep coming back, but not me.

I live in Ballarat and he is not getting a cent from me.

What a shame.

Peter Hall.


Cooroy RV

I NOTICED councillors are concerned over the cost of running the Cooroy RV Stopover in Queensland (see story here).

I guess the rest of the businesses in the area get no benefit from the facility.

Maybe THEY should be talking to the council if they are making money and employing local people as a result of the visitors.

These things are an entire benefit for the whole community and not just their account-based representatives on the council.