Traveller SHAME Files #5 – The Kitchen Sink!

 

 

Lake Tinaroo Caravan Park, Atherton Tablelands, QLD
Lake Tinaroo Caravan Park, Atherton Tablelands, QLD

Living Quarters? Hotel on Wheels?? Holiday Accommodation??? Nah, none of those quite fit. But if you’ve read Lonely Planet’s excellent guide*, you’d know our camper trailer would make a perfect mobile MICRONATION!

Elvis Campsite, Wycliffe Well, NT
Elvis Campsite, Wycliffe Well, NT

Our only constant when travelling, we’re cocooned inside at night when the world shrinks to the size of our living space. But, Brigadoon-like, we awake to new places, panoramas and vistas just waiting to be explored in the light of day! Beaches, rivers, the outback, deserts, rainforests, highlands, national parks, wet tropics, tablelands, lakes, cities, towns, mountains, plains – thankfully, SO many OZ picturesque and scenic locations still have public camping or caravan parks** nearby!

As my photos (both old and new) will show …

South West Rocks, NSW
South West Rocks, NSW

It’s true, that with a 3 x 1.5 m (9′ x 5′) living area and two extending bed ends for sleeping and storage the camper trailer’d be smaller than most other micronations – including ‘Lovely’ (a small flat in London) and even the Copeman Empire (a caravan in Sheringham, England). But – and I know this’ll come as a complete surprise to you – SIZE DOESN’T MATTER!! See? I’m shouting! It’s SO not a secret …

Carnarvon Gorge, QLD
Carnarvon Gorge, QLD

But when travelling with the southern grey nomads around this great land of OZ, you’d be forgiven for thinking that size really DOES matter! Roads heading north become clogged with a slow moving wagon train of 2-3 tonne giant caravans that when attached to a state of the art giant SUV become a rig bigger than some semi-trailers.

Lawn Hill Gorge NP, QLD
Lawn Hill Gorge NP, QLD

By comparison, our minimalist camper trailer appears more and more spartan with every year that passes since its 1998 purchase! But it still meets our requirements – portable and manoeuvrable, quick to set up, comfortable bed, table and lounge, cooking facilities, water, gas, outdoor area.

And it all fits in to this small space. We can take it almost anywhere. We don’t need help to reverse onto our site. Our carbon footprint is small. AND … perhaps most importantly – on balance, we’re not a danger on the roads***!!

Brunswick Heads, NNSW
Brunswick Heads, NNSW

So what’s the attraction of a big caravan? As far as I can tell they attempt to fully replicate the comforts of home. Because that’s why people travel, isn’t it? To have things exactly the same as at home??

Burra, SA
Burra, SA

I just don’t get it. Especially when the giant van is a gas-guzzling-overweight-high-energy-and-carbon-emission-difficult-to-manouvre-dangerous-to-drive-potential-lethal-weapon! Which it’s probably not such a good idea to start driving around at a time in your life when your reflexes are deteriorating. Just sayin’!

So here’s why I DON’T want these 10 ‘bonus’ extras I’d get by upgrading to a BIG van:

1. Bathroom and Toilet
Remind me again why spending my holidays cleaning the toilet is such a great idea when there’s a perfectly good amenities block that SOMEONE ELSE CLEANS?? (note – there’s probably nothing much you can say here to convince me!)(but try if you want to!)

2. Big water tanks
Carting 100+ kg of extra weight around when you’re in some of the highest rainfall areas in the country is a good idea because …???

3. Full sized fridge and pantry
Wouldn’t the extra 50+ kilos weight of supplies that I’m towing offset the savings I’ve made by stocking up at a big supermarket?? And no one EVER has enough fridge space! Despite having a full sized fridge in their van, many GN’s also have a portable fridge in their SUV – well, I guess you can never have enough cold beer …

4. Microwave and Barbecue
But I’m on holidays! I cook simple meals, and eat out for a treat! OZ is littered with free public barbecues in the most amazing picnic areas! And … there’s always a bakery if it all gets too hard …

5. Bigger bed
Why, when we’re managing to do everything that needs doing on our current bed??!!

Noccundra Waterhole, Outback QLD
Noccundra Waterhole, Outback QLD

6. Wardrobes
Have a look around in ANY tourist spot and play ‘spot the tourist’. What gives it away? Clothing!! Why not carry a week’s worth of ordinary, easy-care clothes and a couple of items for dress ups? Who needs a wardrobe for that??

7. Bigger lounge & TV
OK, when I’m visiting some of the most beautiful scenery in the world I’m either outside exploring or off on a day trip exploring. Why would I sit inside watching TV?

8. Airconditioning
I’m heading north because it’s cold down south. SO … I use aircon to make it colder than home in winter? Our windows open in any direction to catch the breeze (and we’ve actually got more window space than the average van) or we use a fan. A heater warms up our small space in about 5 minutes.

9. Luxury textures and fittings
Let me get this right. I’m travelling where there’s dust, sand, moisture, salt and/or heat. And I’m going to have a leather lounge? And granite benches?? And wooden cupboards/surfaces??? Yep, perfect for the conditions! AND see #1 re cleaning …

Quorn, SA
Quorn, SA

10. Livin’ the Dream
Our rig is devoid of signage (although that might all change if I achieved micronation status) unlike many caravans, whose owners are apparently “Livin’ the Dream”. And if watching TV with a whining pet inside a caravan with aircon on HIGH is livin’ the dream, who am I to argue?

Campsite, Bowra Sanctuary, QLD
Campsite, Bowra Sanctuary, QLD

In my opinion, these extra ‘bonuses’ can be a substitute for a) planning ahead; b) adapting to local conditions and c) getting the full benefit of the area you’re in.

And, the $60,000 odd (a fairly modest estimate) we’d save by NOT upgrading would buy a hell of a lot of site fees – actually 2,000 nights @ $30 per night, to be precise! Or halve that and factor in a commensurate number of bakery visits … but I digress!

And my credentials? We’ve experienced what most caravan owners haven’t – having once lived in our camper trailer for a continuous period of 18 months!

Of course I’ve got a long way to go if I decide to secede, and I don’t think I’d be competing with the Principality of Hutt River for it’s status as Australia’s best known micronation – but hey! A girl can dream …

* Weirdly, there’s a whole section about mad Aussies … go figure!!
** Trailer Parks
*** Ok, lots of big rig drivers aren’t either. So how do you tell those who are? Check the van/trailer for scratches, dingles, dents and small pieces of tree – a dead giveaway the driver has no idea of the size of the rig! The acid test is watching them actually reversing or driving around a tight corner …

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14 comments

  1. @Toru – welcome! Yeah, that SO works for me!
    @Manzanita – OMIGOD! I’ve been woken by roaring koalas, and the strangled scream of a barking owl, but NEVER something actually dangerous (unless you count the Grey Nomads on the road)! But if people want a bigger space, they’re welcome to it – just don’t tow it around behind you!!
    @Oak Lawn Lady – always a pleasure when you drop by! Shame about your rig – but surely you can still use it for shorter trips??
    @Mrs T – SO … (and forgive me if I’m stating the obvious) maybe just stay somewhere else??!!

  2. My husband has an RV, mostly because the public restrooms in the Imperial Sand Dunes are completely disgusting and I can’t hold my bladder for 5 days.

  3. Wow, Look at your photos….I see what you mean by a contrast between ‘down under’, and the ‘great white north’. We too love camping and had a pop up for the last several years. But alas, I think our camping days are behind us…so our daughter will inherit our ‘pop up’.
    Like I said before you have a great site and love your photos of Australia.

    Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

  4. Your space looks like home to me. We used to travel with 4 kids and a tent. You’ve convinced me, woman. I’ve never wanted a big van and I love your vocabularly in discribing them. I even sleep well in my car. Always have. I used to go back and forth alone from Montana to Florida. I’d just stop at a public facility and sleep. One night a large mountain cat kept hitting my pickup and rocking it, trying to get inside. Did it twice during the night but I just locked the doors and went back to sleep.
    Love and peace.

  5. @Cathy – welcome back! In my opinion, it’s the only way to see national parks!!
    @Michelle – so many advantages! But don’t just take my word for it …
    @Jayne – WOW! You probably think I’ve got a big rig then!!!
    @Toni – HA! I knew it wasn’t just me …
    @Andrew – I was waiting for someone to bite!! To each their own … that said – 1) Young? I wish … I ALWAYS go in the night, ur on hols, so life is different. We’ve never caught infections either! 3) Sure, but why carry it around? Buy as you need! 4)So eat out!! 7) Have TV, don’t need a HUGE one! 8)Haha, whatever!!
    @Kath – I get that!! But at least you’re not trying to tow your cabin/4 star around with you!!

  6. Agree with you on everything but I’ll also admit that, having had all of my holidays in tents and vans as child, I lean towards cabins and four star hotels these days! 🙂

  7. 1. Essential. You being so young, it perhaps isn’t an issue for you, but what about the middle of the night when I would have to go? I’d be so wide awake after walking to the amenities. I also live in terror of fungal feet infections.

    3. Drinks, wine, beer, ice. Can’t see why you wouldn’t need one as large as at home.

    4. I would not like the cook to go on strike because of a lack of facilities. What the cook wants, the cook gets.

    5. One small bed for two people? No, we need one each.

    7. One can only stare at the stars at night for so long. Tv is necessary, otherwise you’ll be in bed so early and wide awake at 6am.

    8. Comfort. I like to be as chilled when travelling as I am at home. See 6. Need clothes to keep warm when the air con is blasting.

    Adapting to local conditions??? Extraordinary thought.

  8. We’re waiting for our tandem trike to arrive and then we’ll be hunting down a little trailer to tow behind it…for our trips ‘out bush’.
    So, we’re not exactly keen on the big rigs, either lol.

  9. That looks like fun! When I was in Australia, I met a lot of people traveling by camper van….wish I joined in as well! Looks like such a great way of exploring the country!

  10. I would love to have a small trailer and take a road trip through our great national parks. I’m not a fan of those monster trailers that go 10 mph up a hill and take up way too much room at campgrounds. What a great way to travel!

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