The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel - Susan Kuro­sawa

ASET of 50c stamps from Aus­tralia Post, launch­ing on Oc­to­ber 16 and fea­tur­ing car­a­van­ning through the years, has got Depar­tureLounge think­ing about her girl­hood hols and the com­plete lack of any­thing re­sem­bling a van therein.

Dur­ing the early years in deep­est, green­est Sur­rey, Lounge ’ s fa­ther did not drive and nei­ther did her mother, a prac­ti­cal wo­man who thought be­ing a smok­ing pas­sen­ger and a bossy nav­i­ga­tor to be a far su­pe­rior state of af­fairs.

Lounge ’ s fa­ther got a li­cence years later in Can­berra, but mother never did, far pre­fer­ring to make full use of the pas­sen­ger’s sun-vi­sor mir­ror for ap­pli­ca­tions of lip­stick and pow­der-puffery and to drag on fash­ion­able fil­ter-tips while lit­tle Lounge , slith­er­ing around the rex­inecov­ered back seat, in­haled a gag­ging mix of smoke, vinyl and fa­ther’s Old Spice.

Here was a wo­man who very much agreed with fas­tid­i­ous Her­cule Poirot’s ap­praisal of the great fresh out­doors. ‘‘ The open air should be closed, n’est-cepas?’’

But in Sur­rey there were gypsy car­a­vans parked on the com­mon and Lounge wanted noth­ing more than to hit the road for pas­tures free in one of th­ese gaily painted af­fairs. Truth be told, this idle reverie did not in­clude Lounge ’ s par­ents but a chap who looked just like Richard Greene (the then Robin Hood of television fame), ex­cept with ex­tra hair and a gold hoop ear­ring.

Some­how, be­tween snow-chained Sur­rey win­ters, Hume High­way driveathons be­tween Can­berra and Syd­ney and, later, beach breaks at board­ing houses in NSW’s Ter­ri­gal and Queens­land’s Coolan­gatta, car­a­vans did not get a look-in in Lounge ’ s hol­i­day al­bums.

The Aus­tralia Post se­ries starts with a 1950s retro car­a­van and a fam­ily pic­nic; Mum is in charge of food prepa­ra­tion; Dad is sit­ting on the steps, fully en­gaged in be­ing head of the fam­ily.

By the next scene, in the ’ 60s, Dad is at the bar­bie and Mum is be­ing at­tacked by a fam­ily of kan­ga­roos while he burns the snags. (Well, not quite; she does look rather alarmed, though.) Ob­vi­ously this is a madeup scene as Dad is not wear­ing an apron with a naff slo­gan like King of the Grill.

By the ’ 70s, the car­a­van is big­ger, the kids are play­ing cricket and the par­ents are re­clin­ing on ba­nana loungers smok­ing dope. (OK, I amex­trap­o­lat­ing.)

In the ’ 80s scene, there are boo­gie boards with shoul­der pads and Dy­nasty hair (al­low me a lit­tle ex­ag­ger­a­tion) and, in the fi­nal con­tem­po­rary shot, a pair of grey no­mads are look­ing very well set up and smug, no doubt ex­ceed­ingly pleased to have shed their chil­dren and half-spent said off­springs’ in­her­i­tance.

Al­though Lounge has never been car­a­van­ning and in­tends to spend her sons’ legacy on 10-star cruises rather than road trips, it must be ad­mit­ted that the in­dus­try is boom­ing.

A re­cent Tourism Re­search Aus­tralia na­tional vis­i­tor sur­vey showed car­a­van park pa­tron­age up by al­most 20 per cent. And parks are not just parks, it seems; they are star-rated hol­i­day parks. This bells-and­whis­tles re­brand­ing wouldn’t have fooled Lounge ’ s now-gone mother for a mo­ment. ■ AT 74, Bar­bara Har­ri­son from Tem­plestowe, Vic­to­ria, is Aus­tralia’s most ad­ven­tur­ous se­nior. Or at least that’s the ac­co­lade re­cently be­stowed on her by Get Up&Go, the of­fi­cial Se­niors Card travel and lifestyle mag­a­zine. Har­ri­son has vol­un­teered for 14 re­search teams in 12 coun­tries dur­ing the past 13 years, in­clud­ing Earth­watch field projects and chee­tah con­ser­va­tion pro­grams in Africa.

Her prize is a trip for two to Welling­ton, New Zealand, which prob­a­bly means she can put her feet up out of the wind and take a well-earned rest. www.getu­ ■ LOUNGE is find­ing it hard to keep up with the Banyan Tree lot. This Sin­ga­pore­head­quar­tered ho­tel, re­sort and spa group has been ex­pand­ing like crazy. Its Aus­tralian rep­re­sen­ta­tive Vic­to­ria Hobbs says Banyan Tree has new man­age­ment con­tracts in Turkey, Mau­ri­tius, South Korea, China, Turks and Caicos, and Jor­dan. The group will de­velop 40 ad­di­tional prop­er­ties world­wide in the next few years; with sis­ter brand Angsana, Banyan Tree con­tin­ues to pick up en­vi­ron­men­tal awards as a com­mit­ted green com­pany, too.

If you are China-bound, check out the ex­quis­ite all-villa Banyan Tree Li­jiang in Yun­nan prov­ince. Out­side Bei­jing or Shang­hai, it’s ar­guably the most hip ho­tel in China; re­cently opened here is a train­ing academy for Chi­nese spa ther­a­pists. All very 21st-cen­tury cap­i­tal­is­tic luxe. ■ FIND of the week: The se­ries of free Syd­ney shop­ping guides un­der the Ur­ban Walk­a­bout ban­ner. The pocket-friendly pam­phlets cover the cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict and neigh­bour­ing precincts such as Surry Hills and Dar­linghurst, and Dou­ble Bay and Potts Point. Fash­ion, ob­jects and food are the cat­e­gories cov­ered in each, with a fold-out map and lots of quirky in­clu­sions. www.ur­banwalk­a­ ■ LOUNGE loves: PoshNosh, the nutty filler that pops up on the LifeStyle Food chan­nel. Ara­bella Weir and Richard E. Grant are bril­liant as Minty and Si­mon March­mont. Learn how to re­lax an avo­cado, in­ter­ro­gate a lemon, bam­boo­zle a parsnip, an­noy a potato and rav­age al­most ev­ery­thing.

LOUNGE loathes: That Lonely Planet has been gob­bled up by BBC World­wide. Co­founders Tony and Mau­reen Wheeler and share­holder John Singleton sold the madly suc­cess­ful guide­book pub­lish­ing com­pany this week, but the Wheel­ers re­tain a 25 per cent share­hold­ing and Lonely Planet will con­tinue to be based in Melbourne. Still, it’s an­other Aus­tralian com­pany gone the swal­low­ing way of glob­al­i­sa­tion. Lounge awaits re­ports of sight­ings of the semire­tired Wheel­ers’ high-spec gypsy car­a­van up the Ood­na­datta Track and along the Great Ocean Road.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Tom Jel­lett

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