Wel­come to the high­way Hil­ton

Car­a­van­ning is more pop­u­lar than ever, writes Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

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.

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