This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

2015 Travels August 17

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Across both of our stays at Lightning Ridge, this year, I had been amazed at the number of different “breeds” of caravan there are, these days. They just seem to have suddenly proliferated. There were so many brands I had never heard of, or seen before. Guess if I bought magazines or went to shows, I would know more. But I had wondered, as dog and I walked around the park, and gazed at yet another new name, how many of these brands will still be being manufactured in, say, five years? It is, I suppose, evidence of the market growth as the baby boomers hit retirement age and invest in rigs to go travelling.

In the morning, before the day’s influx of new rigs

The modern trend was, obviously, away from the sterile white van cladding towards silver, black, with lots of multi-coloured decals and general bling. One can only hope that the quality of the build and finish on a lot of these matches the external hype.

I wondered what it was like inside the mainly black vans, on a hot day?

I’d like to know what this shrub is

Another evident trend  is towards increasingly larger vans. They need to be, of course, to contain the multiple lounges, large two door refrigerators, washing machines, on-board bathroom and separate toilet room, that seem to be the keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ items of now. I heard one van owner boasting of his dishwasher!

With a bathroom like this, who needs to tow one?

It is just a pity that some of these large van owners are not all that adept at towing same. At the Opal, all the sites are drive through. You would think that getting a van onto such a site would be an easy undertaking, but it was surprising how many drivers managed to mess it up. Some swung out too wide and ended up well over into the next site – time for a go-round. Or they forgot to allow room for their awning to go out – oops, time for a go-round.

One guy pulled into a site over from us, went through all the unhitching rigmarole, then thought to check the back of his van, which was almost two metres still out in the roadway. But he had plenty of room to park his 4WD in front of his van, instead of the usual at the side!

The en-suite sites had the additional complication of the little building to the side of the site. We saw one driver try to remove his awning by driving too close to the overhang.

Not exactly difficult to park on…

Some of these people must have enormous issues when they have to actually back onto a site.

It was not just caravans that have succumbed to the “big” syndrome. I saw some very large motorhome buses come in, usually towing a large enclosed trailer with car, trail bikes, sometimes with a boat on a frame on the trailer top. All eventualities catered for! The drive-through sites of the Opal cater for these behemoths, even though occasional ones needed two sites to put all their additional gear on, but a lot of parks don’t.

The Coaster feels like the poor cousin of such rigs. But I bet we use a hell of a lot less fuel. In the same way, our previous Trakmaster caravan was tiny, compared to the king sized fancy vans, but I bet we got that van into places they never even dream of.

The poor cousin…

One day I did lose my cool with the inept driver of one rig, and he didn’t even have an excessively large van.

The Opal has a designated check in lane for new arrivals, with enough roadway beside this to cater for residents driving in and out. It is well done. One enters the park across a cement culvert over a big drain. The culvert is easily wide enough for two vehicles to pass side by side.

On this day, I was coming back from a hunting and gathering expedition to the IGA, about lunch time. There was a queue of new arrivals, such that the check in lane was full with three or four rigs, and there were another three or four parked at the side of the road, waiting to enter. One side of the culvert top was occupied by a 4WD and camper trailer, waiting to check in. And there was a rig whose driver hadn’t booked ahead, and thus had to go try find somewhere else with a powered site to stay. He had driven into the park from the check in lane and turned around, as they do, but faced with the rig on the culvert, decided there wasn’t room for him to pass it. So he stopped, right at the entrance – no room for anyone to come past him from behind. And behind him were half a dozen residents’ cars, waiting to drive out. And out in the roadway, with my right turn indicator going was me, stopped, blocking my lane of the road, waiting… and waiting… and waiting. Whilst about four lots of new arrivals were checked in and moved off. The clown had no spatial judgement whatsoever. There was plenty of room for him to pass the parked trailer, and then some. In fact, it took me a while to realize that the reason he was stopped was because he thought there wasn’t space. I thought he must have broken down, at first. After a good ten minutes of this stalemate, the rig parked next to him moved forward and a Terios sized space was created between him and the next parked rig, through which I could weave. Not exactly legal, but…. As I got level with him, I did ask what the hell he thought he was doing, creating such a snarl up – or words to that effect. When he replied there wasn’t room, I said one could drive the Queen Elizabeth through that opening! Well, it was hot and I had melty things in my groceries….so I was cross. After that, he did indeed inch his painful way very slowly out to the road – with a good metre of space on either side to spare. Wonder where he got his licence?

Lightning Ridge sky

One thought on “2015 Travels August 17

  1. Thanks for the laugh Wendy. Yes, you do see some strange driving out there. Only last week we were trying to put our van away when a guy in a small sedan refused to pass, though I told him it was safe to do so. In his mind he was driving a Mack truck not a Mazda.

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