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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Recollecting Easter Holidays and the Renaissance of Caravanning

My childhood memories of Easter: painting hard-boiled eggs red with my Russian baboushka; gluing pastel coloured cotton wool balls onto a silly hat (um, I mean, helping my mum make my Easter bonnet for the class competition); aching legs from standing for hours in the incense-filled Russian Orthodox church; wondering why my Easter bonnet didn’t win; concentrating on holding my candle upright so as not to spill hot wax on myself as we circled the Russian church (it was midnight); hunting for chocolate-shaped bunnies and eggs my dad had hidden in our backyard; and, naturally, eating chocolate, for days so it seemed. My memories are hazy; scrambled together are moments from two separate Easters, the Western Christian Easter we celebrated with the rest of Australia, and 13 days later, the Eastern Orthodox festivities my mother’s Russian side of the family observed. What is clear, though, is that Easter holidays usually involved family caravanning trips away. We’d tow the van to leafy caravan parks by the beach in small towns on the New South Wales coast with strange Australian names like Yamba, Tuncurry, and Mollymook. High on our list of priorities were fishing, swimming, sun, and seafood. By day we’d be on a boat or on the beach and in the evenings we’d be cooking barbeques by the van and playing monopoly or cards before bed. The parks were crammed with families who all had the same idea, to catch the last of the warm weather before autumn (fall) set in, so there’d always be long lines for the showers and toilets in the morning, plenty of other children to play with, and people for my folks to have a drink with after I was in bed. In those days, we called and booked our site a few days in advance, sometimes we even rocked up on the day. Either way, we nearly always got an excellent site within splashing distance of the sea. Or at least close enough to be able to walk barefoot down to the beach, and to fall asleep listening to the waves crashing on the shore. But I've already told you enough about my caravanning youth. These days, Australian families book a year in advance for school holidays, and there's such a shortage of parks that government land is being acquired to build more. The Australian economy is booming, Australian families could travel anyway they please. So is caravanning experiencing a renaissance? Take a read: Paradise Fills Up Fast for Nomads.

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