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Ingenia 'uniquely poised'
Profits soar as parks operator shakes off the COVID blues
By Dennis Amor
DESPITE a challenging COVID year, holiday and lifestyle parks operator Ingenia saw its statutory profit soar 131 percent to $72.8 million during the last financial year. Revenue grew 21 percent to $295.6 million, while operating cash flow more than doubled to $137.6 million. Chief executive and managing director Simon Owen said it had been a "challenging year", characterised by extended lockdowns across the business. "I would like to thank our team for all that has been achieved, as they remained focussed on our goals while continuing to respond to changing conditions," he said in his company's annual report. "While COVID-19 has disrupted our business and created challenges, it has also accelerated macro trends and consumer behaviours that support our longer term growth. Australians are travelling domestically, many of them experiencing our parks and destinations for the first time." Ingenia was "uniquely poised" to benefit from what it believed was a strong medium term outlook for holiday parks as target markets ‒ families and grey nomads ‒ sought accessible breaks. "Our holidays and mixed use portfolio has experienced strong demand as international borders remain closed and intrastate and interstate travel is buoyant." Mr Owen said that with further acquisitions over the year, Ingenia now had a network of 29 coastal parks from Torquay on the Victorian Surf Coast to Cairns in Tropical North Queensland. "While COVID-19 restrictions impacted revenue over the year, demand rebounded strongly as restrictions eased, with occupancy and rate both up on prior year," he said. The group's total cabin and camp sites had increased to 3150 and revenue was up 38 percent. Have your say
Sundays and Mondays are riskier
Be patient and don't rush
The Caravan Industry Association of Australia has urged road users to be extra careful during the school holidays. It said the Spring break was a peak camping period for families and at least 70 percent of campers would travel more than 250kms from their home. "We encourage people to be patient and not rush," the association's Keelan Howard said. "Our research indicates that Sundays and Mondays are when people are potentially returning home and maybe tired after a big camping trip. They are more at risk so plan your trip, ensure you are rested ... and don't rush. When traversing rural roads with long distances between towns, it is important to have a good night's sleep and take appropriate rest breaks (15 minutes every two hours). This heightens your alertness to hazards rural roads can cause you to encounter. Ensure you do not use designated truck stops for your overnight rest breaks." Have your say
Many Aussies doing it tough, but ...
light at the end
By Dennis Amor
and campers are doing it tough ... but looking
forward to hitting the road again, according to new research.
'It's the only sane way forward'
Supporters drown out critics of park's soon-to-be introduced COVID rule
SUPPORTERS have drowned out critics of NSW's Curlwaa caravan park in the small Murray River town near Wentworth which will soon accept only guests who have been fully vaccinated against COVID. The news prompted Facebook comments criticising the decision, with some opponents threatening to sue and boycott the park. Owner Ric Young said his decision was based on safety. "This will ensure the health and safety of all our caravan park users and maintain our COVID-19 Safe status," he wrote on his park's Facebook page. "We hope everyone understands the need for these changes." From November 1, guests will have to provide physical proof of vaccination. "We are a registered COVID Safe caravan park with great COVID safe practices including sanitising stations, regular COVID compliant cleaning and density limits in our indoor areas," he said. The announcement attracted nearly 900 Facebook comments, mostly supporting the decision and with only a small minority criticising the move. Supporter Peter Barrett commented: "I think it was the only sane way forward and those ignorant and uninformed about life are better staying away with their negativity." Meanwhile, David McEvoy thanked Mr Young for showing strength in making the decision. "Ignore that very vocal minority," he wrote. And Emily Grant commented: "Unfortunately the minority can be so loud sometimes - thank you for holding firm and leaving this post up. Because you didn't delete it, the majority is now drowning out the nonsense, which is heartening to see." Have your say
Smart device takes worry out of monitoring caravan functions
BMPRO has launched a new campaign that takes viewers on an caravan adventure along the Great Ocean Road. Video footage follows a family's travels while highlighting the added benefit of the company's ProSmart to keep a tab on all the RV's functions, no matter the distance and regardless of a Wi-Fi connection. BMPRO says that with ProSmart ‒ designed and manufactured in Melbourne ‒ caravanners can now travel longer, further and smarter through real-time insight on gas levels, water levels, battery status, temperature and tyre pressure all in the palm their hands. "There's nothing more valuable in life than these moments spent together with your family and nature," BMPRO brand ambassador David Bayliss said. "ProSmart enables you to travel anywhere without the stress of the unknown and worrying about how full your gas is or the level of your tyre pressure. It provides the opportunity to explore off-the-beaten track locations without the worry of breakdowns." To view the Great Ocean Road adventure, click here.
Only 'handful' of interstate visitors
Locals enjoy Litchfield National Park's latest camping treasure
LOCALS have embraced the NT's Litchfield National Park's newest treasure, with 99 percent of permit applications for Central Valley coming from local residents. Almost 400 campers have enjoyed the exclusive area since it opened over a month ago, with just a handful of visits from interstate travellers. To date, Parks and Wildlife NT has received 155 applications for permits, with 137 vehicles approved to enter the site. The first campground in the Territory Labor Government's $17.5 million Central Valley development offers 10 private campsites with access to spring-fed creeks. The campground offers drop toilets, an information shelter, and is accessible by high-clearance 4WDs only. When all construction is complete, Central Valley will add 32 new campsites across three separate campgrounds to Litchfield National Park. Have your say
'Big smiles on their faces'
Holiday park phones run hot
REFLECTIONS Holiday Parks reported nearly 3000 bookings after lockdown ended in parts of regional NSW. Chief executive Nick Baker said the late announcement last Friday night to include the State's Mid North Coast in the "exit lockdown" list saw phones running hot for parks at Jimmys Beach, Hawks Nest, Seal Rocks, Forster Beach and Tuncurry. "After weeks of lockdown, our park staff are run off their feet ... with big smiles on their faces," he said. "The rush to our phone lines and web site to make a booking shows that people can't wait to get out and about." Mr Baker was "incredibly appreciative" to see the level of public trust in its parks to provide a safe and memorable holiday, especially in this time of COVID stress. "Stringent COVID plans are in place, including additional cleaning of all facilities and a contactless check-in system," he said. It had been a "tough time" for the country and he thanked everyone for their cooperation as Reflections complied with government and industry directions. Have your say
'It's the talking point for many'
Last-minute border closures create confusion for nomads
Story-photo: Dennis Amor
THE travel plans for thousands of caravanners are in turmoil because of ever-changing last-minute border closures and restrictions due to the COVID-19 crisis. Some travellers are pleading with state governments to give them more time to reach their home states before they are locked out. "It's the talking point for many of us grey nomads," 72-year-old veteran traveller John Richmond, from Melbourne, told Caravanning News at a rest area on Queensland's Bruce Highway. "There's utter confusion at the moment and it's putting unnecessary pressure on us." Victoria's Shepparton MP Suzanna Sheed wants to see more done for stranded caravanners.
'Not handed out lightly'
Importer awarded caravanning industry's accreditation key
ONE of Australia's largest distributors of campers and caravans has been officially recognised by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia. MDC Camper Trailers & Offroad Caravans is the first off-road camper trailer and hybrid caravan importer to be awarded the peak body's Recreational Vehicle Manufacturers Accreditation Program (RVMAP) key. From its humble beginnings in 2005, the family-owned business has sold over 25,000 units nationwide from its network of showrooms. "We are incredibly excited and proud to display the RVMAP badge on our products," managing director Vaughan Hindley said. Association chief executive Stuart Lamont was full of praise for the team at MDC, having recently visited its Brisbane operation. "RVMAP accreditation is not handed out lightly," he said.
Work already started
Australia Zoo submits revised plans for camping ground
THE world-famous Australia Zoo in Queensland has rejigged plans for an $8 million wildlife camp. Work had already started at the world famous Beerwah tourist attraction, with original plans to feature a combination of tent accommodation, powered sites for caravans and RVs, glamping-style tents and cabins. But revised plans for 68 cabins and 40 bush campsites have now been submitted to Sunshine Coast Council. It was hoped to open the campground as part of the zoo's 50th anniversary celebrations in 2020.
Fifty percent rise in collisions
Motoring club urges 'vanners to brush up on skills as crashes soar
WA's major motoring club reports an alarming increase in caravan crashes. It comes after an estimated 50 percent rise in collisions this year. The RAC told media there were now more caravans on the road than ever, with 87 caravan-related incidents last September ... the highest on record. It has urged caravanners to brush-up on their skills before hitting the road. A recent survey revealed "a lack of confidence" when towing and reverse-parking RVs. RAC Insurance claims manager Glen Walker said it confirmed there were novice caravanners on the roads. "We've seen a huge increase in caravan insurance policies over the past 12 months as more Western Australians explore regional WA, and many are likely new to caravanning," he said. Many had admitted they had not done any caravan-related training before climbing behind the wheel. Have your say
'Only event of its kind in the country'
showcase aims to educate new
NEWFLASH: Event cancelled due to "uncertainty and inability to plan anything with confidence" in COVID times.
QUEENSLAND'S peak body for the caravan industry was to hold a dedicated weekend aimed at helping new caravan owners to remain safe. The inaugural Caravan & RV Safety Weekend at Willowbank Raceway this coming weekend was being billed as the only event of its kind in the country. It would have featured two full days of presentations, demonstrations and workshops from caravan industry experts covering safety topics such as weights, loading, and towing caravans, ABS and ESC, solar, maintenance, off-road towing and more. Caravanning Queensland Trade chief executive Jason Plant, pictured, said the event would have been an extension of the association's regular Safety Check days held throughout the State. Owners of self-contained RVs would have been able to stay overnight and enjoy live entertainment, campfires and food trucks to fully immerse themselves in the experience. Have your say
New ambassadorial role for singer
Caravan builder's chance meeting brings music to your ears
IT'S music to the ears ... well, it is to a popular Queensland caravan manufacturer. A chance meeting between Caboolture-based Sunland Caravans owner Roy Wyss and singer-songwriter Kevin Sullivan resulted in the newest team to take music to the outback and provide a new ambassadorial role for the former forensic police crime scene investigator turned award-winning entertainer. Kevin, whose latest hit Spend The Kids Inheritance features in the Australian Country Music Top 20 chart, and his young family are touring outback Queensland in a specially-built Sunland caravan.
Decision made in collaboration with caravan parks
THE Shire of Broome's overflow caravan parks and temporary camping trial at the Cable Beach car park are to be closed. Shire president Harold Tracey said the decisions had been made in collaboration with the town’s caravan park providers. In response to the rising number of visitors to Broome this year, the council approved a temporary free trial of overnight camping for travellers in self-contained caravans and other RVs in Cable Beach Surf Club car park from July 1. This was subsequently extended until 7am on September 6, which will be the conclusion date for the trial.
Campgrounds 'very popular'
Camping with Custodians initiative is being extended
WESTERN Australia's Camping with Custodians initiative is being extended, giving caravanners and other campers more chance of learning first-hand about Aboriginal culture. Tourism WA wants to hear from Aboriginal groups interested in being a part of the program, in which they work with communities to build and operate campgrounds. All fees collected remain with the host communities. Camping with Custodians sites are already open at Imintji, Mimbi, Violet Valley and Doon Doon in the Kimberley; and at Peedamulla in the Pilbara. “We know the demand for Aboriginal tourism outstrips what is currently available in WA, and there is an opportunity for significant growth in this area," WA's Tourism Minister David Templeman said. "The five campgrounds currently open have been very popular, and I look forward to expanding this program across the State." Have your say
'It's really embarrassing'
Caravanner's gruesome Cahill's Crossing video goes viral
A CARAVANNER'S gruesome video showing three crocs devouring a pig's carcass has gone viral, chalking up 1.1 million 'Likes'. The seven-minute footage was shot by the traveller on his iPhone at the notorious Cahill's Crossing on the Northern Territory's Arnhem Highway. The member of a popular online caravanners' forum posted it on YouTube, with over 170,000 viewers tuning in within weeks. "It attracted lots of comments and I have almost 300 followers," the bemused caravanner, known as 'skulldug', wrote, "It’s really embarrassing. I now have to wear a mask when I go out so I’m not recognised." Click here to view the footage. Have your say
Call for 'double-check' inspection checklists
CCA expresses disappointment over recurring design and quality problems
THE Caravan Council of Australia has expressed regret that design and quality problems still exist with RVs. Founder and qualified automotive engineer Colin Young (pictured) said it was "most disappointing" that the same type of complaints were allegedly being detected. "It can only be hoped that the new requirements ‒ as legislated in the Road Vehicle Standards Act ‒ will help to prevent these defects from continuing," he said. "We can only hope that the horrible coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns will not hamper the manufacturers' efforts to improve the quality of their 'vans while having to cope with critical production issues, such as severe shortages of necessary components and trained assembly personnel." Mr Young called for RV manufacturers to introduce double-check inspection checklists.
'Proud to have him as member of our team'
Caravanner praises truckie after wheelie bad luck on WA highway
A CARAVANNER has taken to social media to thank a Good Samaritan truck driver and other people who went to her aid after a wheel came adrift from her RV. Janetta Barnden and her husband were flagged down by an overtaking traveller between Northampton and the Billabong Roadhouse in Western Australia. "A lady started madly waving and pointed to our caravan," she wrote on Facebook. They pulled the Windsor caravan off the highway and a truck driver stopped behind it. "He jump out of his truck and went straight under our caravan and helped my husband with a solution to get us to the Billabong Roadhouse," she said. Several travellers had attempted to make contact by UHF radio, which unfortunately was switched off. "The truck driver wanted nothing for his help, but we are forever grateful to Nick the Centurion truck driver," Janetta said. "I thank you so much for stopping and helping us. It was greatly appreciated and restored my faith in the younger truck drivers on our roads." A spokesperson for Centurion told Caravanning News: "We are proud to have Nick as a member of our team and representing Centurion in the communities in which we operate. It has been great to hear of Nick’s efforts, which have demonstrated his commitment to embodying our values." Have your say
Council invites expressions of interest
Redland City plans new camping ground to meet a growing need
QUEENSLAND'S Redland City Council plans to establish a basic camping ground catering for self-contained caravanners and other RV travellers. It is inviting expressions of interest from not-for-profit or community organisations with experience or capabilities in operating the facilities. Four sites have been identified as potentially suitable after a recent economic needs assessment. "The self-contained RV and caravan market is growing, and Redlands Coast has so much natural beauty to offer these tourists," Mayor Karen Williams said.
Report puts paid to rumour
Fleetwood holds on to its RV
FLEETWOOD is holding on to its RV Solutions business after COVID-inspired strong demand for its products, it has been revealed. The division operates RV accessories company Northern Camec and the Melbourne-based caravan repairs and services company Northern RV. It had been rumoured it was in danger of being offloaded but Fleewood's newly-released annual report has put paid to that. It said RV Solutions ended the financial year with EBIT of $7.8 million on revenue of $72.4 million, with good trading conditions after COVID lockdowns. Non-executive chairman John Klepec, pictured, said it was expected to continue benefiting from "strong demand" on the back of international border closures.