Finding pleasure at your leisure
CARAVANS have mirrored the growth of the four-wheel-drive and softroader markets, making it one of the most popular forms of recreation in Australia.
That popularity stems from caravanning encompassing a variety of towing vehicles and leisure pursuits. But the common theme is a desire to relax away from the stress of everyday life and being able to pack up and move quickly should the need, or inclination, arise.
A couple of mates who load up the ute with a slide-on camper and go to the river for a weekend of fishing are just as much caravanners as the retired couple who pull the motorhome into a serviced caravan site each night on their trek around Australia.
Caravan sizes range from 2.8m tent-trailers to 7m homes on wheels, so deciding what you want the caravan for — then getting a vehicle to match it — are the two issues you need to deal with.
It’s better to have some power in reserve rather than the vehicle straining up every slope, which is why big 4WDs such as the Jeep Commander are popular.
The Commander’s towing capacity can be upgraded to 3.5 tonnes, meaning it can cope with anything short of a semi. If you’re using all of the seven seats, you’ll probably come close to needing a caravan that size.
Most people don’t, the average length of a modern caravan being about 5.5m, according to Caravan Recreational Vehicle and Accommodation Industry of Australia chief executive officer Ben Yates.
Caravan construction has benefited from modern technology, with lightweight materials and improved use of space.
Companies such as Concept Caravans are capable of including a vast range of amenities, from showers to satellite TV systems in what are self-contained mobile homes.
As a result, caravan parks have had to improve their facilities to draw patrons.
Venues such as the award-winning Ballarat Goldfields Caravan Park don’t just offer a powered site, but coin-operated laundromat, internet access, play areas for children, games room and common areas including the covered camp kitchen and barbecue area.
Yates says the improved standard of caravan parks has helped entice corporate people and upmarket travellers to take up caravanning.
‘‘As a result of the improved facilities and range of activities on offer, our industry businesses are seeing more and more corporate heavyweights in their caravan parks,’’ he says.
Road to adventure: from a weekend of fishing to a tour around Australia, a caravan caters for a range of pursuits.