Once again this year, with gusto, preparation and planning, we join the motley mob united by the desire to get away from the demands of everyday life, and pack up to follow the road.
We search for that elusive, just-right campground or caravan park.
We trawl the internet, follow tips from fellow travellers and book ahead or hope for the best and just front up.
Also on the road are those independent souls who, disdaining organisation and comfort, or eschewing the cost of regular caravan parks, prefer a free camp site. This could be under a tree near a bridge, in a council showground, in the shadow of a mountain range, or miles down a rutted, sandy track to an isolated spot by the glorious, wild ocean.
These sturdy folks will be driving an equally sturdy four-wheel-drive and be equipped with everything needed to be independent — until eventually needs dictate a day or two in civilisation, to wash clothes, stock the pantry and replenish water supplies.
Part of the appeal of caravanning for me is it acts as a great leveller. All sorts can be found on the road, and all are welcome — so long as the rudimentary rules are observed. So, cheek by jowl, you will find an ancient pop-top (that would be us), a 10m-long Jayco with an electronic wind-out extension for the “living room”.
Beside us may be a Winnebago, one of those imposing motor homes sitting high on the road, all bells and whistles in a single unit — no tedious hitching and unhitching to be done.
Or maybe a snappy little Britz campervan with sliding doors that go slaaaaaaaam in the night (and in the early morning as well). We heave a sigh of relief when they leave. Usually young and agile, they have little time to lose.
Then there are the tents: on the ground, or perched improbably on a car roof, or folding elaborately and neatly, small trailer.
One way or another, different and yet the same, we rub along for a short time. We exchange stories at barbecues, share the personal spaces of bathrooms, maybe cook in communal kitchens, then go our separate ways.
Diverse as our rigs may be, what we share is more than what separates us: the love of the open road, and the frisson of finding the unexpected around the corner. Camping, whether in a tent or caravan, campervan or flash palace on wheels — is there any holiday more quintessentially Australian?
The urge to follow the road, the allure of discovering for ourselves the magnificence of this vast, majestic land we call home — this is part of living the Aussie dream. How lucky are we. like a puzzle, from a
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