Off-roaders are on track at last
Now four-wheel drives and boats share the leisure-show limelight, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY
AFTER 18 years off-roaders have at last been invited to the party at the renamed Melbourne Leisurefest. Formerly known as the RV & Camping Leisurefest, the addition of four-wheel drives and boats is the biggest change in the event’s history.
‘‘It’s been the feedback from the public in the past few years,’’ organiser Peter Wright says. ‘‘We’re at a great venue and we’ll be able to make use of that. And though we are a recreational vehicle show, the public wants the complementary items like cars and boats.’’
It’s being held at Sandown Racecourse from next Thursday to Sunday, and the show’s organisers expect 35,000 people to see the latest in recreational equipment.
Despite the economic uncertainty and slowing car sales, Wright — who heads the Caravan Trade and Industries Association of Victoria — says the market is still bullish.
‘‘I can’t speak for boating, but our industry is still resilient,’’ he says. ‘‘Our market has softened in the family area, but the higher end is still doing well. People are still retiring and, though they may have a bit less money, they still want to do something, to see Australia. That side of the market is holding up well.
‘‘We just had our Sydney show at Penrith and though the Sydney market has been flat for a while, we had record crowds.’’
Several leading brands will be represented at the show.
Among the vehicles displayed will be Holden’s new Colorado workhorse and Captiva SUV, Honda’s CR-V compact off-roader, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, Renault’s Koleos 4x4, the turbodiesel Nissan X-Trail, and models from Mazda, Kia and Suzuki.
Visitors will be able to try the cars on Sandown’s off-road test track. And the racetrack itself will be used to demonstrate caravan and boat-towing and recreational vehicle tests.
Representatives from eight leading 4x4 clubs will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice.
Sandown bound: Holden’s new Colorado will be on show at Melbourne Leisurefest.