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March 2016

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

* Top cop plans to retire and become grey nomad 5735 people reached

* Kyle Sandiland a victim of caravan park child sex predator ‒ 2811 people reached.

* Jayco scraps fifth-wheeler production ‒ 2187 people reached.

* BIG4 Deniliquin Holiday Park wins gold in Qantas Australian Tourism Awards 2152 people reached.

* Winnebago Australia reaches new milestone ‒ 2044 people reached.


Men find a wee problem when using facilities

I WOULD like to comment on kids using the wrong shower and toilet blocks at caravan parks (see story here).

The problem isn't young boys in the women's facilities but young girls in the men's facilities!

I have gone into the toilets to find a man and a girl aged about six in there.

While the man the father was washing his hands, the young girl was looking at the urinals.

In another case, I was almost physically assaulted for asking a man to remove his approximately 12-year-old girl from the menís toilets as I wanted to use the urinals.

I pulled out my 'phone and told him we could let the police solve it for us, and he left and was  obviously disgusted with ME!

The children could have been standing outside the block and be safe after all.

Where can a male now legally urinate without being accused of some sort of crime if we cannot use the urinals without young girls being brought in by their incompetent fathers?


Solo queries

I BELIEVE there is a caravan club for solo travellers in Hervey Bay and I would very much like to know more about it.

I have an A'van (pointy top) and would like to get more use from it.

The sort of information I'd like is how often you get away, for how long, how far, any restrictions on dogs, do you sometimes bush camp, the sort of activities you like and if your group is affiliated with any other caravan clubs.

Is there anything else readers could advise me about?

Elaine Johns.

Pricey sites

SO Treasure Island has been voted Australia's top family park.

Obviously the price of a site was not a concern to the judges.

We wanted a powered site for a couple of days to visit friends ... but at $74 for one night there was just no way we were staying.

M. Allman.

No evidence of braking before crash


A CARAVANNER was killed when his rig slammed into a tree at the side of a NSW highway. The man, believed to be in his 60s, died as he was being freed from the mangled wreckage. His wife, also in her 60s, was airlifted to a Melbourne hospital. The tragedy happened as the couple was travelling along the Hume Highway between Wangaratta and Glenrowan yesterday afternoon (Tuesday). Their Queensland-registered Toyota tow vehicle rolled onto its side, trapping them both inside. The Victorian-registered caravan was wrecked. Police said the rig appeared to have been travelling in a straight line and had not been braking before crashing. Have your say

Water tank allegedly stashed with cannabis


A CARAVANNER has been charged after NSW police allegedly found about 13kg of cannabis stashed in a water tank. The discovery was made when police at Hay pulled over a Nissan Navara utility towing a caravan travelling east on the Sturt Highway. The 43-year-old South Australian man was arrested and taken to Deniliquin Police Station where he was charged with possessing an indictable quantity of cannabis leaf. He was refused bail and was appearing in Deniliquin Local Court. Have your say

Jayco fifth-wheeler

'Greater focus' on core business

Jayco axes fifth-wheeler production

LOW demand has prompted Australia's giant Jayco RV manufacturer to scrap production of its fifth-wheelers. National sales manager Shane Holloway told Caravanning News: "The decision was based on a re-evaluation of the Australian fifth-wheeler in today's market and a greater focus to our existing core caravan business." Launched in 2013, Jayco had planned to produce around 250 annually, believing there was "a significant market", particularly among people who were more or less full-time caravanners. Though popular at first, there has been a significant fall in fifth-wheeler sales generally in Australia. This has been attributed largely to competition from the modern all-inclusive luxury caravans and expensive tow vehicles for the bigger models. Have your say

New Age head

New Age Caravans boss hits back

By Dennis Amor
Have your say

MISCHIEVOUS rumour-mongers at a major caravan show have left the boss of a leading RV manufacturer fuming.

Claims that New Age Caravans had been taken over by Walkinshaw Racing in a $38 million deal spread like wildfire at the recent Victorian Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow.

But sole director and owner of the innovative and well-respected business Gabby Montagnese strongly denied the rumour.

"There is absolutely no truth of me selling out," she told Caravanning News.

"Yes, I do have many people knocking at my door, particularly from the European caravan market. But right now, the business is not sold. It is a ridiculous rumour."

One exhibitor at the show suggested the claim had been spawned to put visitors off placing orders with New Age Caravans, founded nine years ago and now one of Australia's top manufacturers.

"It tarnishes everything I have worked for ... I have no respect for anyone who would spread a rumour like this," an angry Ms Montagnese said.

"I don't want it affecting what I am trying to do."

Caravan Industry Association of Australia chief executive Stuart Lamont has personally contacted Ms Montagnese to apologise.

"He said he was sorry but people did cop a lot of this sort of stuff at the show," she explained.

"I am constantly at the forefront of people throwing rocks. I just don't want this level of rumour, particularly half way through a major show. This is quite disappointing for me."

Ms Montagnese said New Age Caravans was currently looking at expanding.

"We are looking at building a new facility to pick up a new product mix ... such as campers and stuff like that. Why would I want to sell out now?"

New Age Caravans national marketing manager Aleks Mendez said the company was doing "very well" and experiencing its best year to date.

"We are stable, sound and growing," he added.

Walkinshaw Racing failed to return any of Caravanning News' calls.

$5 million fall in revenue

Fleetwood facing challenging times

By Dennis Amor

Fleetwood's production of Windsor and Coromal caravans continues to face challenging times.

But in its interim half-yearly results released this week, the Perth-based group said there were "positive signs" for the future.

Revenue from its Recreational Vehicles division for the six months reached $51.3 million compared with $56.7 for the corresponding period last year.

Group revenue plunged by about $10 million compared with last year's first-half results and directors have decided no interim dividend will be paid.

Earnings before interest and tax during the period fell from $7.5 million last year to  $5.3 million.

Fleetwood said the turnaround in its caravan manufacturing business was expected to "take time", but new products were generating a "modest" increase in sales.

A stronger network of Windsor and Coromal dealerships, particularly in NSW, was being developed and the focus was on design and manufacturing efficiency.

"The impact on end consumer demand will be clearer at the conclusion of major caravan shows in the next three months," the company said.

"Restructuring operations continue in the Recreational Vehicles division to improve cost, efficiency and channels to market."

The results were announced shortly after Coromal released its latest offering ... a full ensuite 20ft tandem Appeal caravan for $49,990.

Fleetwood shares closed at a 52-week low of $1.03 on the day the half-yearly results were announced. Have your say

Stolen Jayco caravan

Have you seen this caravan?

Owner of stolen Jayco offers $1000 reward

THE owner of a stolen Jayco Sterling caravan is offering a $1000 reward for its recovery. Thieves made off with the caravan from Strathmore, Victoria, on March 2. The VIN/chassis number is H68135 and registration number R66549. Anyone with information is asked to contact police. Have your say

Free camping survey results released
FREEDOM Camping Australia has released the results of its national survey into free camping.
The organisation's 100-page report contains information gleaned from campers at 195 locations around Australia. The travellers provided information about themselves and their RVs, as well as financial details covering 2800 days on the road. It is claimed to be the most geographically extensive free-camping survey undertaken in Australia. The report is critical of the alleged rigidity of Australia's caravan park industry in its failure to address the needs of travellers in self-contained RVs. It also provide a window into the self-contained RV revolution that Australia's travel industry will face over the next decade. For more information, click here. Have your say

Winnebago Australia's new Burke caravanNew milestone for Winnebago Australia
WINNEBAGO Australia reached a new milestone with the launch of its first Australian-built caravan.
The 19ft, three-berth slide-out Burke is the first of four home-built caravans which will hit our roads this year. It joins an all-Australian range of Winnebago motorhomes and campervans. Priced at $66,490 and weighing in at 2000kg tare with a 400kg payload, the model boasts an impressive array of standard features including 150W solar panels, 2.5kg washing machine, 9kg gas bottles and 164lt water storage. More button

Ballarat to end freedom camping trial
FREE camping at Ballarat's Pioneer Park in Victoria will be scrapped this month.
But the local city council has now called for a report on the possibility of leasing other land to the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia to establish a members-only RV park. The council introduced the 12-month free camping trial, which was extended by three months, after RV owners complained there were insufficient facilities for travellers preferring not to stay at a caravan park. But councillors were told at their recent meeting that concerns had been raised about the impact the trial was having on local caravan parks. There had also been complaints about travellers, some in non self-contained RVs, overstaying the 48-hour limit. The camp will be closed in mid-March. Have your say

Butane cookerNew warning on killer cookers
ABOUT a million potentially lethal butane "lunchbox" gas cookers may still be in circulation, a government minister has warned.
The compact cookers, popular among caravanners and campers, are at the centre of a new safety warning after explosions put four Queenslanders in hospital. A family was hospitalised and a childcare worker escaped serious injury in the two recent incidents. A 33-year-old man died last year after receiving 100 percent burns when his caravan erupted in a ball of fire after a butane cylinder exploded at Casino's Glen Villa Resort in NSW. A Queensland Government minister has now pleaded with people to get rid of the cookers before someone else is killed. More button

Apple Isle offers free wi-fi
CARAVANNERS touring Tasmania can now take advantage of government-provided free wi-fi.
Forty-two access points have been activated across the Apple Isle, with over a hundred more planned. The network will include locations such as Queenstown, Sheffield, Latrobe, Freycinet, Cradle Mountain, Salamanca Place, Launceston and Port Arthur and regional locations such as Campbell Town, Geeveston, and Cygnet. Tourists will be able to access 30 minutes of free wi-fi at each location every day. For more details, click here Have your say

Scene of caravan crashCaravan claims cost insurer $7m
THE Royal Automobile Club of Victoria forked out nearly $7 million in caravan-related insurance claims during 2014-15, new figures have revealed.
RACV Insurance said the statistics highlighted the need for caravanning holidaymakers to be more alert and adequately prepared. A total of 1397 caravan-related insurance claims were settled during the period, with an average cost of $4960. The most expensive claim amounted to $72,400 for fire damage caused by a fat-laden frypan being left unattended. And, it seems, the most likely place for caravanners in Victoria to have an accident is in the City of Greater Geelong. More button

Caravan rollover on Princess Hwy in NSW

Photo: Narooma News

Rig developed the 'wobbles'

'Recycled Teens' in rollover

TWO grey nomads suffered minor head injuries when their caravan and tow vehicle rolled on a NSW highway. The couple, nicknamed the Recycled Teens, were travelling along the Princess Highway when the 70-year-old driver lost control after the rig developed the "wobbles" on a steep hill near Central Tilba. Narooma police said the Jeep and Supreme caravan jackknifed and rolled several times, ending up on its side. Passing drivers ran to help the driver and his 68-year-old wife from the wreckage. Have your say

Five years' work bears fruit

Collyn Rivers launches new book

PROLIFIC writer Collyn Rivers has launched a new tome - The Caravan & Motorhome Book. The former research engineer who founded a worldwide chain of electronics and other magazines is well known in the caravanning world for his expert advise and easily understood technical books. It took him five years to research and write his latest work. Collyn was former technical editor of The Bulletin and other Australian business magazines. He has also recently been kept busy rewriting every single one of the 80-plus articles on his information-packed website and has two more books plus another major publishing project underway. Have your say

Self-certification under a cloud
SELF-certification by caravan manufacturers continues to generate many complaints from disgruntled owners of new RVs, according to the Caravan Council of Australia.
Founder and qualified automotive engineer Colin Young told Caravanning News there should be a level playing field where all new caravans were independently certified as complying with Australia's design rules. He claimed many compliance plates ‒ excluding those of the "top professional, world-class manufacturers" ‒ contained incomplete or incorrect information. He said owners with technical, compliance or quality issues could contact the CCA in confidence and with no cost to see whether the issue could be quickly and amicably resolved. The Caravan Industry Association of Australia admitted there was a problem which it was attempting to resolve. Chief executive Stuart Lamont commented: "We certainly agree with tightening up self-certification but we haven't achieved good results yet." Have your say

App keeps track of grey nomadsKeeping track of grey nomads made easy
KEEPING track of grey nomads on the road is now easy for their families.
A Queensland company has released "one-stop-shop" tools for travellers to plan, document and show their whereabouts. Outback Touring's Caravan Australia and Grey Nomad apps enable grey nomads to draw their route by dropping location pins with dates on a detailed map of Australia and then automatically share this, together with a daily journal, photographs and their current location, with family or friends. "Our apps complement the popular social media platforms," Outback Touring director and experienced outback traveller Paul Campbell told Caravanning News. Have your say

Free camping trial at Winchelsea
CARAVANNERS will be able to stay for free at a camping area along the Barwon River in Winchelsea, Victoria.
Surf Coast Shire Council will run the 12-month trial, beginning April 1, after seeking community input earlier this year on making the town RV-friendly. It followed a 192-signature petition from advocacy and leadership group, Growing Winchelsea. Travellers in self-contained RVs will be able to stay for up to 48 hours at the attractive and scenic stopping point just off the Princes Highway.

New management team for struggling park
A MANAGEMENT group has been appointed in a bid to boost business at a struggling Victorian caravan park.
Lake Holiday Park at Shepperton, a member of the Top Parks chain, is being operated by Australian Tourist Park Management after a worrying 20 percent plunge in occupancy. Greater Shepparton City Councilís works manager Mike Freeman said the council wanted to save the park because it brought money into the town's other businesses. He admitted it had struggled while under council management but hoped the new managers would give it "a new lease of life". Have your say

Snake swallowing kangarooMacabre marsupial meal makes world headlines
A GRUESOME video showing a giant snake devouring a helpless kangaroo at a far north Queensland caravan park has made world headlines.
Newspapers and television stations around the globe have carried reports on the footage, captured by an astonished grey nomad at a family holiday park in Cooktown. Within days of being posted on YouTube last month, the 2min 19sec video had been viewed by thousands of people. Caravanning News contacted all five caravan parks in the small country town, but exactly when and where the horrific footage was shot remains somewhat of a mystery. More button

Controversial upgrade reaps its rewards
A CONTROVERSIAL $3 million upgrade of an Adelaide beachside caravan park, which saw over 40 permanent residents given their marching orders, is reaping its rewards.
The City of Holdfast Bay Council has revealed that Brighton Caravan Park's income soared by about 30 percent during December and January. Completed in December, the revamp included 14 new cabins, new playground, barbecue area, laundry and toilet block. Holdfast Bay Mayor Stephen Patterson said the work and new cabins had helped attract more holidaymakers to the area. Independent senator Nick Xenophon and actor Michael Caton both joined in an unsuccessful battle to save the residents' homes. Have your say

Fingal Holiday ParkTeen joins battle to save holiday homes
A TEENAGER has joined the fight to save the holiday homes of over 70 long-term leaseholders at a NSW beachside caravan park.
In an open letter to the Tweed Holiday Parks Trust, 16-year-old Meg Holland has pleaded with members not to evict the residents. "My family and I have owned a permanent caravan in Fingal Holiday Park for a major part of my life," she wrote. "I made friendships left, right and centre and created memories that I now hold close to my heart." A third of Fingal Holiday Park's caravan leaseholders are under threat of permanent eviction to make way for a major facelift, with the first five being told to quit their sites before Easter. More button

Age figures in online forum
MORE than half the members of Australia's biggest online caravanners' forum are aged in their sixties, according to its latest poll.
The survey, which runs until March 7, reveals this age group accounts for 52 percent of the membership, while those in their 70s make up 25 percent. Fifteen percent are in their 50s ... and just one percent are in the 80s. Not surprisingly, the Caravaners Forum (sic) has no members over the age of 90. One member wondered why so many caravan parks were putting in "all those jumping pillows etc" when the majority of caravanners were aged over 60! Have your say

Chef Elizabether with her new JaycoJayco comes up with right recipe for travelling chef
THERE'S no slowing celebrity chef Elizabeth Chong down.
Elizabeth, who will celebrate her 85th birthday in a few weeks time, is on the move again after taking delivery of her new Jayco caravan. It is her second caravan ... the first having served her well but was recently retired after more than a decade of active service. Jayco helped customise her Starcraft caravan to help accommodate her culinary skills when cooking on the road. More button

New $5m caravan park planned for Waikerie
A SMALL rural town on the banks of SA's Murray River may be getting a new $5 million caravan park.
The Edwards Group plans to build the park in the Riverland region and says it would generate an extra 20,000 visitors nights for Waikerie each year. Peak tourism body Destination Riverland is supporting the plan, pointing out that it would also add an extra $2 million to the local economy annually. Have your say

Caravan on the open roadTowns missing out on grey nomad dollar: academic
A LEADING academic has warned that regional communities in South Australia's far north are missing out on the much-needed tourist dollar, particularly from grey nomads.
Associate professor Michael OíNeill, who is executive director of the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, has emphasised that the growing tourism sector presents a "fantastic opportunity". The respected economist has suggested communities should improve their caravan parks, beach facilities and other attractions such as old halls and heritage buildings. More button

Joint bid to promote NSW caravan and camping holidays
THE NSW Government's major tourism and events agency has joined forces with the state's caravanning industry to entice more people to enjoy the great outdoors.
Destination NSW and the Caravan and Camping Industry Association NSW have launched a digital campaign highlighting caravanning and camping in NSW as a year-round adventure. Destination NSW chief executive Sandra Chipchase pointed out that the state attracted over 35 percent of domestic caravan and camping visitors nationally. "NSW is home to over 900 holiday parks and there is something for everyone," she said. The joint campaign will run until the end of June.  Have your say

Supt Russell Miller

Looking forward to hitting the road

Top cop plans to become grey nomad

MOUNT Isa's veteran cop Russell Miller has retired after 40 years in the job ... and now plans to become a grey nomad. Supt Miller and his wife are looking forward to hitting the road in their caravan. He joined the police force in 1974 as a cadet and has served in a range of police appointments all over Queensland. He received an Australian Police Medal last year for distinguished service. Supt Miller led police investigating the horrific caravan blast at Mount Isa last year which claimed the life of a 38-year-old father and his two young children. It was later discovered he had used explosives to blow up the caravan in a double murder-suicide. Supt Miller told media the explosion had devastated the local community. "This was a horrific event which has had a significant impact not only on the families, neighbours and friends of the victims but also the wider Mount Isa community," he said. Have your say

New guides help plan the perfect trip
THE NSW Caravan & Camping Industry Association has released two new guides.
"Aussies love caravan and camping holidays and these publications can help you plan your next perfect trip," chief executive Lyndel Gray said. The Caravan, Camping and Holiday Guide provides a whole range of accommodation options from campsites, family and pet friendly parks, and cabin options for any budget or level of luxury. Now in its seventh edition, the National Caravan and Recreational Vehicle Towing Guide is another resource for anyone who is thinking of taking to the road with their caravan, camper trailer, campervan, motorhome, poptop or tent trailers. More button

Corella mayhem at caravan parkFly-in vandals make life a misery
CLAMOROUS corellas are making life unbearable for caravanners at a Victorian caravan park.
The raucous invaders from the skies have settled in at the riverside Bridgewater park and are driving guests crazy with their deafening noise. But that's not the only problem ... the small cockatoos are turning into fly-in vandals too. A Loddon Shire Council spokesman said the native birds were damaging property, even chomping through fire hoses at the park. Bridgewater on Loddon Development Committee spokesman Graham Morse told media: "People's lives are a misery because of these white monsters. We have tried everything to get rid of them but they have beaten us." Have your say

Snappy way to attract visitors
JUMPING crocodiles, an outback pub and camels were just some of the things the Northern Territory Government featured at a major caravan show in a bid to woo visitors to the NT.
The displays at the six-day Victorian Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow involved 26 Territory tourism operators. "Shows like this are an ideal opportunity to get information about our regions out to some of our most valuable tourists Ė the caravan, camping and RV market," Chief Minister and Tourism Minister Adam Giles said. Have your say

Airstreams being lifted onto roofSky high caravan park charges
WHILE many caravanners bemoan rising site fees, they pale into insignificance when compared to those soon to be charged at a Melbourne caravan facility.
Six US-built Airstream caravans are being transformed into five-star accommodation on Fry's Fast Park's disused rooftop in Flinders Lane. And it will cost between $320-$350 a night to stay in the luxurious 9.5m highly polished aluminium caravans dating from the early 1970s. Local businessman James Fry bought the retro Airstreams in the US for $A97,000 each before shipping them to Melbourne and having them lifted by crane onto the rooftop for his $1 million 'Notel" project. Have your say

New ACC branch off to flying start
A MEETING at the Bairnsdale Riverside Caravan Park in Victoria saw the formation the Australian Caravan Club's 38th branch. The new group will be called the East Gippsland Roadrunners and, with about 30 RVers already signing up as members, it is off to an flying start. A committee was elected, holding a meeting following day to organise future activities. Swifts Creek Caravan Park has been chosen for the Roadrunners' first muster over three days beginning on April 8.   Have your say

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Letter man

Enjoyable experiences
with Kingdom Caravans

WE were so sorry to read about the demise of Kingdom Caravans (see story here)

We bought our Kingdom 'van through Hinterland at the Gold Coast in October, 2011, and went to Kingdom Melbourne to collect it.

The boys Robert, Dano and Mande made our experience terrific.

We collected the 'van on a Friday and the few things we picked up over the weekend were gladly fixed first thing Monday. We were out of Melbourne by lunchtime.

That 'van has travelled over 30,000km and the only hassle were some minor problems with Thetford appliances.

We went back to the Kingdom factory yearly for them to update our 'van, firstly with a change of upholstery and then to have larger, opening windows fitted.

Both were enjoyable experiences.

We have had nothing but praise for Kingdom.

Initially, 'phone communication was poor but since Jason joined the team a couple of years ago, things have not looked back.

Dano and Mande can certainly build a good, reliable 'van while Jason is the front man any company would be lucky to have.

Bob and Loraine Davey.

Complete package must be supplied

AS a Kingdom Buckingham owner, and a happy one at that, I was sad to hear the news of the company's demise.

But as a manager of a mining supply company in a previous life, I can appreciate that suppliers, no matter what the end product , must supply the total package.

This includes quality product, competitive price, good service and last but not least responsiveness to owner and potential buyer requests for information.

Sadly, I can relate to these being nearly non-existent at Kingdom, with two to three-day waits for return calls on electrical issues, only to be then told to contact the electrician that did the installation.

Tick all these boxes and your future is assured in the industry.

Word-of-mouth marketing within the nomad community is worth more than any trade show or caravan expo.

I hope the former employees of Kingdom or potential new owners read this in the hope their new ventures are successful in supplying the FULL caravan package.

Dave Mudge.

'Ignorance' obvious

IN last month's Letters to the Editor, Ernest Adams wrote that many people drive around in flashy $100,000-plus caravans.

He said they canít be short of money and that they didn't give money to the area and didn't need free camps.

I have two things to say to Ernest:

1: Many owners have to sell all in order to buy their caravan and have NO house to go back to.

Many of us have to do that because there is no other way.

After retirement for any reason, we don't have the super to cover what is owing on the house so it is sell or have the house sold from under you for much less by the financial institution.

2: Your ignorance of what caravanners give to an area and what they have to face is obvious.