Caravan culture shock

Submitted: Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 05:26
ThreadID: 122473 Views:4863 Replies:7 FollowUps:0
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I know what I ask is rather subjective but hope a variety of responses will help me with my own considerations.

My brother has a caravan and I have looked closly at off road caravans and have taken a BT factory tour and I am totally convinced that BT is the caravan to get if I get one BUT!!!!!!!!!!

During my life I have done extensive bushwalking and lived out of a pack on my back. Then we graduated to larger tents and 4WD + kids to see fantastic parts of this country. In the last few years the tent has got wheels and we use an Aussie Swag offroader camper trailer.

We are about to retire and thinking about lots of touring and the advantages of caravan (toilet/ shower.- just drive away in the rain without wet canvas etc) and of course we now deserve our creature comforts.

Jumping to a caravan (a BT of course) will be a jolt to finances and we understand this. But what about the jolt to lifestyle????

How many BT owners out there have a BT as a first caravan and what is the change over like? Do you adapt to the caravan or does the caravan adapt to you or is it a natural progression for longer term touring.

I guess I have slight niggles that we might get a BT and then find culture shock too hard to bear.

I would appreciate any comments and accept that your position and life style will not be an exact match to mine but you have the changover experience that I do not.

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Reply By: Mobi Condo - Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 06:40

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 06:40
Howdy Alan,
Seems like a few were in your situation. We certainly were and thus put a document called "Why we chose a BT" to the BOG site. If you can access this have a read, if not let me know and I can forward a copy to you from my email.
It was a MOMENTOUS decision for us. However we have absolutely enjoyed our use thus far - 11 days from pick up to home (included two extended stays as well as 4 "on the road overnighters"), - then 9 days at a van park Xmas to New YEar and recently a 6 day tour deliberately keeping away from van parks to use the Solar and water reserves of the van. We really appreciate the luxury of the van and all the absolutely well made aspects of it.
Cheers - Ian & Sally
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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 06:53

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 06:53
Hi Alan,

A BT probably won't fit through the tunnel in the background of your picture but it is great for everything else.

We had an unplanned early retirement in January 2001 and picked up our van in June 2001. Prior to that we had standard type caravans in the 1970s and sold the last one to help finance a house we were about to build. We then went back to 4WD and tents and eventually a trailer camper, but not as flash as the Kimberley Camper that you have.

If you are anything like us, getting a Bushtracker soon after retiring is a great way to ease into retirement. I have met a lot of non caravan owners who have retired and have trouble filling in their day and are leading very boring lives. Having a Bushtracker has been the exact opposite for us. Always something to do and places to go and never any time to get bored. Don't know how I found time to go to work actually.

As you said "and of course we now deserve our creature comforts." that is what we think also and being able to pull up anywhere, be it in a rest stop on the side of a highway or a secluded bush camping area, it is great to have your own power supply via solar and batteries, with hot water for a shower, a Webasto heater for warmth in cooler weather and a comfortable bed to relax in. As you said packing up canvas in the rain is a real pain. The last time we were in Darwin we had a down pour when we were getting ready to leave, and although we still had to hitch up in the rain and 6 inches of water, we did it in our bathers, went back to the van and got dry and dressed, and then used an umbrella to get into 4WD and leave.

If you decide to take the plung and you like bush camping areas, you are unlikely to regret your decision.

Enjoying the friendship of BOG members

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Reply By: schommys - Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 07:21

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 07:21
Hi Alan
We had a Aussie Swag camper trailer for the last 6 years and it was a fantastic rig. We took it everywhere, along beaches, up and down sand dunes, all through central Aust. and round the coast of Aust. a couple of times. Our last trip in 2004, we lived in it for 5 months, and when we arrived home I knew then that I was ready for a caravan with more comfort.My wife was pleased to hear me say that cause she had been ready for a caravan for the last 6 years.
We got our 18' BT last Dec.(it is fully self sufficient) and have only spent our Xmas hols. in it but it feels great to walk into.We are taking off in March for the west coast and back over the top end again and even though sand dunes won't be tried, just about everything else will be attempted within common sense. A van will be a bit more restrictive because of its width and height than a trailer, but the way Australia is opening up so quickly,all the out of the way places are becoming a lot more accessible anyway.
I have no regrets in upgrading to a caravan.
Regards Al and Robyn (who always reminds me she was right all along)
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Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 21:16

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 21:16
Hi Alan,

What culture shock?. We`are first time vanners and in retrospect know we made the right choice - and we live/tour full time in the van.

You have obviusly have enjoyed roaming the country in swags - tents - camper trailers so the lifestyle obviously suits you.

We went from a very nice d/s farmhouse with a great view - which we rarely had time to enjoy due to farm commitments to a changing view each time we decide to move. We try and avoid caravan parks, particularly crowded ones and just enjoy the freedom of the coast/bush. This is why the independence of the Bt is so important to us.

From my perspectice it was a huge 'jolt to the lifestyle' - JUST MAGIC and we would never go back.


John and the Dragon
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Reply By: Rockgoc - Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 01:56

Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 01:56
G'day Alan. My partner (Easy) and I (Jan O) are full time caravanners who are working our way around Australia. Our van is 18 foot with all the bells and whistles as I said I had to have at LEAST a full sized oven, bed, and airconditioning or I wouldn't consider living in it. Home is where the wheels stop turning. We just LOVE the feeling of excitement we get each and every time we drop the clutch and head off into the unknown. The hardest thing for me to get used to, was saying goodbye to newly made friends. My 1st time saw me in tears wondering how on earth I was going to enjoy life if THIS was what was going to happen each time we left somewhere! At 1st, we felt a little like 2nd class citizens when people asked what our address was, and we would tell them we were caravanners, but now we take a delight in shocking by replying "Oh we're trailer trash!" which ALWAYS brings a laugh. We live better than a lot of people would like to in Australia! We have met some of THE most interesting people we could ever hope to come across, some REAL characters, some with incredible stories to tell, some who make us so thankful for just being able to do what we are doing. A lot of people stuck in a rut sigh with envy and wish that they could do the same, and to these we say "just make it happen....we did!" No rates, no power bills, and a great view most of the time. Things which used to bother us are now insignificant, and our philosophy is this: "Life's too short to worry about most stuff which used to have us in a knot." There's certainly no sense of culture shock in THIS camp, and most of the folks we meet are the real deal, not like a lot of the others we would normally have to deal with!
You'll never regret your decision if it's the RIGHT one for you!
Cheers Dears, from Jan O & Easy
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Reply By: The Hob - Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 02:41

Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 02:41
Thanks for the responses. You have given me plenty to think about. I of us is pretty well sold on the idea now we have a couple of years to get the other one on side.

AnswerID: 567949

Reply By: Freewheelers - Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 05:49

Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 05:49
Hi Alan,

We are first-timers, having graduated from 25 years of tenting (incuding 16 yrs in a 4-man hiker + extended fly) and we also defected to boats a couple of times during that period. We picked up our 20 ft BT in June last year, and have had only a couple of 2-week stints in it so far, but the sale of our house (currently on the market, and yes, we have bought elswhere) will be the trigger for us to retire and live on the road full time. We are currently based in Sydney.

We absolutely love our van and were well and truly ready for it's home comforts, having been spoiled with same in our boats. We have stayed away from caravan parks wherever possible, preferring Nat Parks and freecamping in out-of-the-way places. The only culture shock, which we were prepared for, but still disappoints us, is that we are now too big to revisit some of the wonderful places where we have camped in the past. I mean as in access, overhanging trees etc. Also, in NSW, NPWS is rehabilitating a lot of the camping areas, and in the process, putting up posts etc which means parking on one side and camping on the other - often some distance away. If you live in NSW you'd have firsthand experience of that problem anyway, from your Aussie Swag camping The upside is we get to explore other places/possibilites, and from the BOG feedback on campsites and travels, we are not concerned that this is a major problem. We recently checked out a stretch of NSW south coast and were disappointed, but at Christmas time we free camped around the northern end of Kosciusko NP with great success, and were surprised at the number of possibilities.

We always knew there would be a trade-off over this particular issue, and our compromise will be to carry a small tent with the basics and have an Engel in the cruiser for when we want to go more remote than the BT will allow. Overall, the BT wins hands down, no buts about it!

Cheers and Happy Wanderings
Stephen & Deborah

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