For those new to retirement and caravanning trip planning the where to go and when to go must be baffling. It’s hard enough to come to terms with the fact that you now have all the time in the world. At least until a debilitating illness takes hold of you! Let alone trying to understand why southern caravanners are more interested in northern weather patterns and cyclones on the TV weather report than how tomorrow’s weather will affect their golf game.
To put it simply, there’s an exodus north in the southern winter not only to ease the aches and pains of arthritis but why stay home when you don’t have to? Then there’s the dash in the opposite direction, to the southern states when the wet season sets in up north. As much as I’d like to experience a wet season there’s no way that I’d want to be in the path of a tropical cyclone in a caravan. Nor would I want to spend winter in the caravan in Tasmania when snow is common.
Simple eh? No. the southern states are glorious in the summer but one needs to keep a constant eye on the weather, news and emergency apps for bushfire warnings and avoid regions with no secondary escape route. The beaches may be sounding good but like anywhere caravan parks jack up their prices in the high season and one needs to book early for the privilege of paying through the nose.
Then there’s wind. A trip from east to west or vice versa during spring and autumn can be fraught with equinox winds that will eat into your fuel economy. If you want to do a big trip up the opposite coast then you will probably have to leave in autumn or return in spring anyway because of the distances involved, so it’s better not to worry about it. If it blows, it blows.
To complicate matters, some of us hitch up and head off to far flung corners of the continent to attend weddings, assisting the bride and groom by bringing our own accommodation. And others will suffer heat, dust and flies just to be a part of outback music festivals because there’s nothing like being kept awake all night by over lubricated bass pluckers and banjo pickers.
We live in Melbourne and have tried several times to get across to South Australia but have had to abandon plans due to bushfires and house guests. This year, once the hottest of summer was past we finally set off.
For Victorians, South Australia is next door so travel there by caravan tends to get put off for later when we’re over the big trips or relegated to the milder weather of Spring and Autumn.
This trip was a first for us as we were not in a hurry. In the past when we were working SA was somewhere to go for a long weekend. In recent caravan years we’ve dashed through to the West or down from the Territory with me in a plaster cast nursing a broken ankle. Not times for sightseeing if you don’t count waving an iPad out the passenger side window.
This time we set off for a Caravan Club muster on the Murray River at Moama, NSW then with mates we traversed Victoria’s Mallee into South Australia’s Riverland to Burra then across to the Eyre Peninsula before returning through the Clare Valley, Adelaide and the south coast. It was a journey of exploration and of delving into family history as Woody’s family were early colonists.
In all we drove over 5200kms in 33 days, found places that were the stuff of dreams, walked in the footsteps of ancestors and enjoyed every moment. Perhaps not the shredded tyre, the broken window, the jammed caravan door… but you’ll hear more about those another time.