AND WHO’S HIDING IN THIS CARAVAN PARK
- I wonder?
A very big part of our own lives’ rich tapestry is the people we have met and befriended on our way. Over the last 48 years it’s wonderful to realise that many of our family and friends have been around us for that long.
We’ve met them in all sorts of places: planes, boats, buses, trains, work places and sometimes just hitch-hiking and that’s something that, sadly I think, we don’t do anymore .. anywhere!
On this trip it has been interesting, and often quite funny too, to come across both families and individuals, who are complete strangers to us but who we’ve chatted to quite openly, shared stories and often heard their troubles – had many a drink and a laugh under the shade of a tree, somewhere in the Great Outdoors!
Caravan Parks are a relatively new idea for holidays – for us. It’s something that for most of our married lives (and before that as well) we never considered doing, as we could never afford a caravan, nor a car to pull it. Actually, we often couldn’t afford our own car, but had David’s company car – which certainly wouldn’t be towing a caravan!
To date we have travelled, in total, about 22,000 km and this includes our first long trip when we sold our home in North Rocks in 2012. Then, we took off for East Hills, Hilary and Peter’s place near Scone in NSW, then headed south to Albury, up the Murray River into Renmark, down to Adelaide, then back north again to Broken Hill and Bourke. It was when we were in Adelaide that we decided to buy a house on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland (typical D & L) .. so we caravanned it across NSW and southern Qld and bought a house in Beautiful Buderim – a very long way from Adelaide!
Twenty months later, we sold that house as well as it was far too big for us. We decided to have another go at caravanning and to see how far we might get this time.
As I’ve said before, we’ve now travelled almost 11,000 km on this trip and there’ll probably be a bit more before it comes to it’s close. Caravanning for us has been a great way to see our country. It’s not for everyone we realise, but we’ve loved it …… and most especially for all the people we have met along our way.
But to get to the point of this little blog – it’s the caravan parks and freebies (roadside sites that mostly don’t charge for staying) that intrigue me.
Indeed, who is hiding in them … I wonder ..
For the most part, it seems that permanent sites are in one section of the park, and the tourists, families, campers in tents, and dog owners are sectioned off in separate areas as well as can be.
It’s all of the above that has me fascinated.
To start with, I thought before this trip, that everyone would be like me – travelling in a caravan to see Australia.
Wrong, wrong and wrong yet again.
There are many people who actually choose to live in a caravan park – and for reasons best known to themselves.
Along the coastal fringe of both NSW and Queensland, the c/parks are for the tourists, people with families, dogs and for meeting up with friends.
Inland and in the Outback, however, it’s a very different story.
Once the turn to the west is made, and the Outback presents itself, then so do working opportunities for men and women alike. There’s work on cattle stations, down the coalmines, the aluminium mines, the copper mines, and the towns and townships that provide the infrastructure. Living in a caravan park is both private, cheap and easily accessible to all these types of jobs and the characters you meet are very interesting.
There was the mining family in Mt Isa, with a tiny baby and a toddler. He’d leave before 6am and be home around 7pm. In a tiny caravan with two littlies is no mean feat, in those conditions and temperatures in the summer. Water is costly and at a premium, yet still they choose this life – or maybe they have no choice? This particular mum had the patience of Job – I took my (sun)hat off to her!
There are many older folk living in caravan parks too – it looks like they are pensioners, even disabled pensioners, and the community nurses and buses arrive to care for these folk. What a wonderful thing to see ..
… and as I’ve mentioned earlier, the number of people caravanning, sometimes using walking frames and/or two sticks, is amazing. We even saw one lady in a wheelchair!
I think we have met every nationality under the sun – especially in the mining towns and they would easily outnumber the Australians doing the same jobs.
One lady in Blackwater said she certainly wasn’t a local as she’d only been there 15 years, but loved the place – that’s a huge mining town but also a major rail junction to ship on extremely long trains, all the way to the coast to Rockhampton.
Another chap had lived in his trailer home (as they are called in New Mexico!), for over 20 years and was just beginning to think of himself as a local; said he couldn’t live anywhere else.
Despite the fact that a number of people we have met who were born overseas, they have tended to be the permanent residents of the parks. It’s the fair-dinkum grey nomads who call themselves Australian that seem to be the majority of the tourists.
Not far up The Track (Stuart Hwy to Darwin), we overnighted in another freebie, this time at a small and very full Newcastle Waters. We decided on the very end spot, near where the road trains hurtle past, hadn't been there very long when a station wagon pulled in right behind us. Out got Mr Guitarman and his cattle dog - serenaded us for a while then got out his swag and slept on the bitumen, right next to our loo! It takes all sorts …as my mum would have said… !!
Until we reached Katherine, just south of Darwin, we had not seen many Aboriginal people – until Winton, the birthplace of “Waltzing Matilda” … and those we did see were road workers.
Aborigine people do not caravan at all, nor do they live in any of the caravan parks that we have stayed in.
In Jabiru (beautiful!) Caravan Park in Kakadu National Park, there were two teams of Aboriginal basketball players, all very smartly dressed and well behaved too. They were staying in the cabins but did join in at the bar by the pool for a drink at Happy Hour.
There was no trouble from them – but the noisy Aboriginal people also there seemed to be locals, and just walking through the park – probably because they could.
They tend to walk along the footpath in single file, well spaced out, and shout to each other in conversation as they go. This can be quite comical, except at 3am when they walk through the c/park and shout to each other!! The manager of the park was up all night, fielding complaints.
But who else is in these parks I wonder to myself…..
A very pleasant one-armed fellow here at Yandina, lives 4 vans away from us in a huge bus. He lives with his mum, he’s mobile on his electric chair and they have a healthy income between them of about $80,000!
There’s another ‘van’ I should mention and we met up with it at Camooweal petrol stop – along with so many other vehicles. It was very high off the ground, and built like a massive leopard tank. It had a Swiss registration plate and was a left-hand drive. It possibly had more than one bedroom, I did see what looked like a library and possible a media room too!
The owner was a Swiss chap with partner and the map on the side of their van was of the World, and mark with very clear black lines of the places they had been. I have a photo of this, they had been on every continent on this planet and the black lines were 'snakes' on the map - never-ending ones too, all in this built-to-his own-specifications (he told me), including Antarctica – a new one for me!!
We were very impressed – it took $900 to fill his tanks – a bit like one of those triple-road-trains we got so used to seeing.
(I might just add here, that on arriving at the 2 horse border town of Camooweal (Qld and NT), there's a sign that says "welcome to Camooweal - turn your watches forward 5 years and 30 minutes! - the NT is half an hour behind Qld). Quite right too … The caravan park there is not often full.
In all caravan parks, I think there are the hiding and the hidden, the rich and the not-so-rich, the famous and the infamous in these places ..
… and far from behind anxious about it all, I really like the richness of it all. But I doubt we'll ever find out ...
We would like to think – in these dreadfully uncertain times – that Australia is one place so many different cultures, types and wealth – can exist side by side.
I would like to think so.
Next week when we have one more week of School Holidays to endure (hopefully in a quietly cheap park) – we expect to be at Thorneside, an eastern suburb out near Capalaba and by the Bays in Brisbane. A good friend reliably told us that “yes, I know where that is .. the gypsies live there ……!!”
… so that’s all for now ..until next week from ‘where the gypsies live … !! xx