Land­scape is chang­ing

Younger fam­i­lies are mov­ing with homes away from home, writes Stu­art Martin

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

GREY no­mads may be bat­ten­ing down the hatches on their wheeled homes away from home. No longer are car­a­vans and mo­torhomes the ex­clu­sive do­main of those in the sec­ond half of a cen­tury.

The stereo­typ­i­cal im­age of trav­ellers tow­ing car­a­vans — those on the ma­ture side of 50 who have di­vested them­selves of em­ploy­ment and off­spring— is fast be­ing joined by fam­i­lies with kids and other de­mo­graph­ics dis­cov­er­ing the Aus­tralian land­scape.

Recre­ational Ve­hi­cle Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia (RVMAA) pres­i­dent Richard Raven says the car­a­van and mo­torhome mar­ket has sur­vived the re­cent eco­nomic dol­drums and buy­ers from other age groups are back in the mar­ket.

‘‘Our main mar­ket is re­tirees, or those plan­ning for re­tire­ment. That is grow­ing. But the mar­ket that is re­ally grow­ing is the fam­ily mar­ket — a lot of the 30-40-year age bracket are buy­ing car­a­vans, and not just the cheap­est one ei­ther,’’ Raven says.

‘‘For the cost of a trip to Bali you can have a car­a­van, and it’s an as­set you can keep and use again.’’

The RVMAA fig­ures show recre­ational ve­hi­cles man­u­fac­tur­ing in the past fi­nan­cial year grew 18.4 per cent over 2008/09 to meet a sub­stan­tial in­crease in con­sumer de­mand.

Raven says a surge to about 6.5 mil­lion Aus­tralians opt­ing for a lo­cal Aus­tralian hol­i­day has in­jected $2 bil­lion into our econ­omy ev­ery year.

Win­nebago Aus­tralia’s sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager Max Mayo says the sub-50-year-old mar­ket is grow­ing, but the baby boomers are still in the ma­jor­ity.

‘‘The younger mar­ket is still a small per­cent­age, but one-third of the popu- la­tion are baby boomers (born from 1946-64). They’re all now start­ing to re­tire or al­ready have,’’ Mayo says.

‘‘There’s about six mil­lion of them head­ing to­wards us and though not all of them will buy a mo­torhome, it’s not a di­min­ish­ing mar­ket.

‘‘We’ve just fin­ished the 2009-2010 fi­nan­cial year, it was our sec­ond best in 45 years. And 2010-2011 is fore­cast to be our best ever.’’

The range of car­a­vans and camper trail­ers on of­fer now in­clude some for more ac­tive life­styles.

Jayco Aus­tralia mar­ket­ing man­ager An­drew Ryan says there is a no­tice­able in­crease in in­ter­est from younger buy­ers. ‘‘It used to be 70 per cent grey no­mads, 30 per cent fam­i­lies; it’s more like 60/40 now. Re­cent eco­nomic prob­lems slowed things down, but the grey no­mads are now com­ing back.’’

One ex­am­ple of the new style of ‘‘ac­tive’’ van is Jayco’s BaseS­ta­tion and Work ’n’ Play van — with room for six peo­ple and big toys such as dirt bikes, fish­ing gear and surf­boards.

Mo­bile life­style: you can take it with you, re­gard­less of your age, in mod­ern mo­torhomes and car­a­vans.

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