We had been trying hard to convince our friends to retire and try caravanning because we knew that they love the bush and we’d often camped together over the years. Not to be outdone by an earlier episode at Healesville when the water main burst we decided to try again and invited them to meet us in Mildura.
“There was a light breeze but it was a lovely evening to sit on the riverbank. The fire worked well and the leg of lamb smelled good as it cooked on the Weber. We warned our friends that caravanners like to go to bed early and not to be surprised if the whole park was snoring by 10:30pm.
However the young people in the three cabins beside them (across the swimming pool from us) continued 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 were 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 retrieved a rifle from his car. He fired a shot in the air and broke another’s jaw with the rifle butt. All of this was being watched avidly by Woody through our half opened caravan blind and he was giving me a running commentary. Our horrified mates were watching through their bedroom curtains. When the rifle was produced Woody raing the police who it turned out were already waiting outside the caravan park. The gunman and his girlfriend jumped into their car and tore out of the park, rolling the car in the process. Leaving the girlfriend, ‘Lone Guy’ took to the scrub then must have thought better of it and returned to the waiting coppers with hands outstretched for the cuffs. The ambulance arrived to assist but left as the scene was not safely secured. Just when we thought that all of the fun was over an armed security guard who is contracted to keep an eye on the park arrived and we chat with him and the park manager. The suspect was 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