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!
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 …
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 …
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.
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***!!
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??
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??!!
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?
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 …
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?
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 …