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Saturday, April 5, 2008


Do you remember showering in your flip flops in a caravan park ablutions block? Did you find those long list of rules sign-posted outside the reception office hilarious? Have you ever spent a school holiday travelling with your family in a caravan? Terry and I did, which is why we developed Caravanland* (eons ago), a documentary about the world of caravanning in Australia, and the quirks, rituals, rites, and idiosyncrasies of caravan culture that we’d both recalled fondly from trips with our families as kids. To us, the caravan parks of our childhood were charming and the people that inhabited them were real characters. The parks were leafy and had manicured lawns and were often set by the sea or on lakes. One of my favourites had a creek running through it, shaded by willow trees, where everybody would catch yabbies. We recalled times walking barefoot down to the beach to go fishing or crabbing, sultry afternoons spent splashing around in swimming pools and mucking around with other kids in the playgrounds. It was all good fun. But caravan parks weren’t classless, as Viscount Coke suggested. We weren’t that naïve. It was obvious some families had bigger vans than others, some were more luxurious; the most impressive were those with a shower and toilet. It was clear which families were on holidays (the ones with small vans and pop-ups) and which ones were doing the big trip around Australia (vans over 30 feet plastered with stickers from places visited or maps of Australia painted on their rear.). It was also obvious who was living in the park by choice (the retirees who loved the social life and that they no longer had a big house to clean) and who wasn’t. But the thing was, none of it mattered. As a curious teenager that’s what I loved most, that I was meeting kids and adults from all walks of life, people we wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to get to know in the ’burbs. The caravan park was a microcosm of Australian society. I thought that was pretty cool.

Pictured above is the beach at Monkey Mia, one of Western Australia's most tranquil. It's taken from the caravan and camping area at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort.

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