Welcome to the highway Hilton
Caravanning is more popular than ever, writes Mark Hinchliffe
AUSTRALIAN-MADE caravans and RVs reached a 30-year record last year, with more than 21,000 new units hitting Australia’s roads.
Recreational Vehicle Manufacturers Association of Australia figures show total production of 21,164 caravans and RVs for the year was up 32 per cent on 2009.
RVMAA president Richard Raven says this is a record for caravans and RVs built for leisure use.
‘‘The last time we saw more than 20,000 vans and RVs built in Australia was in 1980, so we really have witnessed something of a ‘J curve’ in demand from then to now,’’ he says.
‘‘Only in the 1970s did we see higher figures, and many of those were built for on-site use in caravan parks and for mining towns and disaster relief accommodation.
‘‘Growth in caravanning reflects the steadily improving quality and appointments of locally made RVs, with owners realising they can travel with all of the luxuries of home.’’
Most popular of the towable caravans and trailers were traditional caravans at 45 per cent, followed by pop-tops at 27 per cent and camper trailers at 19 per cent. Leading the non-towable slide-ons, fifth-wheelers, campervans and motorhomes were C class units — built on light truck chassis and typically weighing 4500 to 5400 kg — that accounted for 4.5 per cent.
Raven says local RVs and caravans are designed and built to suit Australia’s unique conditions and to meet all tastes and budgets. And it’s not just retirees who enjoy the freedom of a mobile home.
‘‘Though people may imagine that most vans and RVs are sold to ‘grey nomads’ spending their golden years on the road, caravans actually have a much more diverse appeal,’’ he says.
‘‘There have always been young families buy- ing into economical family holidays, but there are also adventurers with off-road rigs and retirees doing the ‘bucket list’ one-off trip around Australia, and then discovering they have caught the habit long-term.
‘‘The beauty of owning an RV is that people can go where they want when they want, at their pace — and economically too.’’
Free-wheeling: Towing a caravan is a great way to see Australia.