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Life Happens The adventures of Nora Dunn & Kelly Bedford, Professional Hobos. Nora writes, Kelly makes music. Together, we are on a lifelong journey to...wherever.

Caravan Culture

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 26 June 2008 | Views [5990]

Caravans (meaning trailers in Australian) and caravan parks are everywhere in Oz.

Trailer Parks. Tornado Bait. Trailer Trash. Drunks on welfare raising families of six kids born from three different fathers (or mothers). Lots of stained white tank tops with beer bellies poking out and LOTS of scratching. There are any number of negative connotations associated with trailer parks (caravan parks) that we have grown up with.


So it stands to reason that we resisted opportunities to stay in caravan parks as long as we could on our World Nomads Ambassador trip. We didn’t want the van covered in toilet paper when we woke up in the morning and to be held hostage by the hungry caravan dwellers. Who knows what they might do. Maybe they’d assimilate us and we’d end up drinking and scratching against our conscious wills in no time.


But we needed power. And after searching high and low for decent accommodations for our trusty van in Nimbin, and upon the strong recommendation of a local shop-keeper who didn’t seem to be insane, we tried our luck at the local caravan park. And now we seek them out whenever we can.


Caravan parks in Australia seem to occupy some pretty desirable patches of land. In Evans Head, the park is right on a piece of pristine beach. In Ballina, it’s on the river with the ocean waves peeking over beyond the point. In Nimbin, its right near the town centre. And between every city and town are gads and gads more caravan parks. There seem to be more caravan parks than campsites, as we discovered the hard way in our desperate search for something other than a caravan park.


And the caravans themselves in the parks are quite different. Some are rather permanent looking dwellings, and obvious year-round homes to some people. Others are less permanent, but appear to be a chore to set up and are well-used enough to be a home for at least a few months. And other sites yet are home to entirely portable trailers, camper vans, and even tents. It appears that we have found the home of the modern-day nomad; Professional Hobos like us.


Most parks have shower facilites, bbqs, and laundry on-site. And they all appear to be surprisingly clean and well-maintained.


Moving beyond our fears of stereotypical caravan park dwellers, we chat with a few people. Wait a minute – most of them are nice! Even intelligent! And some of the people are just like us! This comes as both a scary revelation and liberating thought.


There are increasing numbers of Australians (many of whom have grown-up kids and are gunning for early retirement) who are downsizing (and in some cases selling entirely) their houses and choosing a nomadic life with caravans. They stay days, weeks, or months in any given park, following the nice weather, or just their fancies. The caravan park in Evans Head is booked solid during the winter months, as “Mexicans” (their affectionate term for southern Australians looking for some warmth) come to stay for three to four months each year. All the amenities are close by, there is very little aggravating tourist traffic, and both inside the park and out in the town, there is lots of small-town charm. Everybody says hello to one another, regardless of whether they know each other or not.


Other parks cater to younger crowds, with a more transient or nomadic feel. Each park has its own flavour, perks, and many have a strong sense of community that is refreshing if you have been on the road for a while and are looking for a sense of “home”.


So I’m going to say it, and please don’t hold it against us: We like caravan parks! We are not those people who drink and scratch and have fourteen kids. And I will never (ever) let Kelly own a white-and-soon-to-be-stained-yellow tank top. We are fairly normal Hobos, as Professional Hobos go. And we are meeting like-minded people who are fun to interact with along the way. A sense of “carpe diem” is the subtle undertone of most conversations, and is a message that continues to motivate us to stay on our traveling course even when the going gets tough.

Tags: ambassador van, australia, caravan parks, evans head, nimbin, world nomads

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