We have been trying so hard to convince our friends to retire and try caravanning because we know that they love the bush and we’ve often camped together over the years. Not to be outdone by the episode at Healesville when the water main burst we decided to try again and we invited them to meet us in Mildura.
There is a light breeze but it is a lovely evening to sit on the riverbank. The fire works well and the leg of lamb smells good as it cooks on the Weber. We warn our friends that caravanners like to go to bed early and not to be surprised if the whole park is snoring by 10:30pm.
However the young people in the three cabins beside them (which is across the swimming pool from us) continue to drink all night. Although we slept until about 6:30am we woke to loud offensive language. It appears that sometime during the drinking session one of the guys allegedly had sex with another’s wife/girlfriend and an all in brawl broke out. Not far from us there are men fighting on the ground as well as women fighting each other on the ground. Between the men it seemed to be two against one, but the lone guy was stronger than the both of them. In the melee someone was beaten over the head with a chair before the lone guy rushes off and retrieves a rifle from his car. He fires a shot in the air and breaks another’s jaw with the rifle butt. All of this is being watched avidly by Brian through our half opened caravan blind and he is giving me a running commentary and our mates are watching through their bedroom curtains. When the rifle is produced Brian rings the police who are already waiting outside the caravan park. The gunman and his girlfriend then jump into their car and scream out of the park, rolling the car in the process. Lone guy takes to the scrub then thinks better of it and returns to the waiting coppers with his hands outstretched for the cuffs. The ambulance arrives to assist but leaves as the scene is not safely secured. Gee, and I thought that all of the fun was over! An armed security guard who is contracted to keep an eye on the park arrives and we chat with him and the park manager. The suspect is known to them as being somewhat of a troublemaker from another town.
On our return, armed with goodies from the farmer’s market the boys give statements to the police then we brush up and go off to the Black Stump Bistro for lunch. By mid afternoon peace is restored to the park. Pairs of ducks are swimming laps of the pool and kids are out doing each other on the bouncing pillow. The damage to the cabins has been repaired and new tenants are moving in oblivious to what has gone on. We light the fire again and this time it is a perfectly still evening. We toast marshmallows over the fire as paddle steamers illuminate us with their floodlights.
A couple of days later we head off into the wild blue yonder and our friends dash home to work, no doubt glad to get back to the city and normality. I doubt they’ll ever take up caravanning!
There’s Movement at the Van Park
There’s a woman in the dunny
Blowing hair all around
And talking incessantly
Of problems, they abound.
Campers are walking
Their poodles and shih tzus
Dawdling and chatting
And sharing, the day’s news.
There’ve been some young blokes
Misbehaving in the park
Drinking and fighting
Even shooting, in the dark.
We nomads are excited
Our minds are all abuzz
It’s not every morning
We have breakfast, with the fuzz.
– Lindsey Wood