CARAVANNING MADE EASY
By Peter Quilty
ALL IN THE FAMILY
I’m your regular family guy, but when it came to caravanning with the kids (in my case, two teenage sons) it was rarely a bonding session.
You see, they were totally averse to washing up, maintaining campsite sanitation, and practically anything they construed as elbow grease. (Oh the drudgery of camping, I could feel them saying.)
In other words, there was no law – and disorder!
I would chant and rant a non-political ‘Family First’ mantra until the gas cylinders ran dry, but it was all hot air to them.
To all intents and purposes I felt somewhat like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation.
But now the ‘natives’ are not so hostile and antagonistic… Call it maturity coupled with coercion they’ve suddenly got in touch with a sense of family.
These days it’s great waking up in the morning to clean dishes and not having to navigate around scattered clothing and food scraps. And occasionally the camping gods are smiling when I’m handed an egg and bacon roll. (Let’s be grateful for small mercies.)
Obviously the motto to this story is: many hands make light work – and a happy caravanning family!
Needless to say, I don’t contemplate flying home a la Clark Griswold (Chase’s alter ego) from family vacations anymore.
FIRST AID FRIENDLY
Let’s not beat around the bush (so to speak), a first aid kit in a caravan should be essential if not compulsory. Sudden illness or injury can also afflict those enjoying the great outdoors – including the camping community.
I recall holidaying with another family at Warburton when one of their sons hobbled into our huddle with the sole of his foot bleeding profusely. Apparently he had stepped on a jagged rock while wading through a river.
He was administered basic first aid before limping away to his father’s Toyota LandCruiser and immediately taken to the local hospital.
A few years later his younger brother wandered into a campsite wearing a tiger snake as a ‘cravat’. Fortunately it was a false alarm as the venomous reptile was dead, but I can still hear the deafening shrieks of women (and quite possibly a few men) in the young boy’s vicinity. I would hate to think what may have occurred if the snake was alive, and worse, if no first aid kit was available had he been bitten.
There’s also nothing stopping any caravanning enthusiast from learning basic first aid techniques.
No-one wants an emergency situation while camping, but knowing how to cope could be the difference between life and death.
TICK OF APPROVAL
In my formative caravanning days packing for a trip was unadulterated “organised chaos”. I adopted a higgledy-piggledy approach… There was no rhyme or reason; I just bundled in what I could get my hands on.
In fact I was a serial offender and acquired notoriety with the wife who had become a doubting Thomas on my ability to sort everything. She’d invariably ask: “Did you get everything?” And the answer was always “Yes”, but the reality was always No!
Consequently, calling into our ‘favourite’ camping retailer in Gippsland, because I’d not only left the chairs at home, became an annual event. So much so, I’d half-jokingly mention I had shares in the establishment… Well, I did have a customer loyalty card.
Okay, it took a while but the penny has dropped. I now put pen to paper and draft a checklist. And as a result, I’m ticking all the boxes – even with the wife!
We’re also saving a dollar or two, avoiding that perennial eleventh hour shopping spree while en route to the foothills of the High Plains. Oh, that loyalty card has since expired.
CAPABILITY & CULPABILITY
When I first started caravanning it was simply a “have car and van, will travel” philosophy.
Back in those days I hauled a Jayco Sterling behind a weather-beaten Mitsubishi Pajero, and in all sincerity I didn’t pay any attention to the capability of the tow vehicle.
I also had the car and van loaded up to the hilt, and the 4WD simply didn’t have the necessary ‘herbs’ to do the job asked of it.
Subsequently I literally ‘killed’ the engine. In fact I cooked the motor to such an extent it eventually sustained a blown head gasket. (The resultant cost to repair the Pajero was more than it was worth!)
The learning curve has been a steep as some of the tracks along the way, but for me a term such as ATM is no longer a meaningless acronym.
I speak from experience when I say it’s imperative to check the braked capacity of your tow vehicle and the respective Tare and ATM of your caravan.