Travelling to France one English summers day, on the day of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in fact, I cursed at the caravaners blocking the roads with their slowness. Driving to Dover from Norwich with a car packed with camping equipment we got stuck behind snail drivers in their expensive 4x4s towing their flashy caravans. As a typical Brit following the trend of disliking caravaners, this annoyed me. There is a stigma attached to caravaners in the UK and this stigma is that the drivers are often retired and, therefore, they have a lot of time off and a lot of time to get to their destination. HOWEVER, how wrong, how very wrong, was I?
It took one step onto the legendary VW motorhome for me to become a member of the I Love Caravans club. There is now NOTHING that excites me more than hiring a motorhome and travelling 1000s of kilometres through the vast Australian outback, or the prospect of driving through New Zealand in one from Tuesday for 5 weeks. For $3 a day with Apollo relocation vans we drove through the Flinders Ranges to Coober Pedy and finally arrived at Uluru in three days. I have been enlightened. How brilliant it is to take a shower and step out in warmth while dinner cooks on the hobs and the monopoly board is set ready for a game on the table. How marvellous it is driving with 180 degrees of blue sky and Northern Territory sunshine on your face while listening to Van Morrison and Fleetwood Mac. How exciting it is to have lunch in a picnic spot off the road between Coober Pedy and Alice Springs and talk to fellow caravaners who want to tell you where they’ve been and where they’re off to. You can pull up at a fuel station with another 350kms until the next and it all seems a bit ‘outback’, but people only stare when a blonde 24 year old is unexpectedly behind the wheel of a beast; not because they wish you’d get out of the way and off the road.
With SA being the inventive murder capital and having watched both Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2 we were a bit more wary than usual. Our experience of the outback was obviously a fortunate one. The friendliness of all the drivers from Claire to Hawker and all the way from Hawker to Alice Springs proved how bizarre the outback is and how very great it is at the same time. Every. Single. Driver. Waved. No matter if they were driving a gigantic road train with four trailers, or a Wolf Creek style ute, they all gave a little wave. Cars are so few and far between it is possible to only wave every half an hour. So when you do pass a vehicle on the road in the outback make sure you’ve got your wave sorted. Will it be a lift of the finger? A salute? A frantic Ned Flanders in a motorhome wave (not recommended – unless you’re in the EXACT same campervans). Such fun!
I now understand the appeal of a caravan, and I understand how wrong I was to make premature judgements about something that I had never tried. Never will I ever think negative thoughts about caravans and caravaners again. I would like to take this moment to make an all-inclusive apology to every caravaner I passed on route to Dover.