‘We’re big rig grey nomads … so, how do we fit in?’

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Big caravans
Room to move ... Rocket and Strop fine a place with space.

Taking the Big Lap can be a challenge, but taking the Big Lap in a big rig can be a far, far bigger challenge.

While countries like the USA have developed RV parks specifically for super-sized fifth wheelers and motorhomes, a common complaint from Australia’s big rig grey nomad community is that caravan park infrastructure here has failed to keep pace with the trend for larger vehicles.

‘Rocket’ and ‘Strop’ travel in a 3.5-tonne Colorado towing a 25’ caravan. The couple admits the size of the combination took some getting used to, but they can now manoeuvre the rig around easily enough … as long as there is a bit of space!

And often there isn’t.

The couple recently phoned ahead to a caravan park to check there was a site big enough for them, and they were suitably reassured.

“Well, when we got there, they got someone to guide us in but there were shrubs on both sides and at the back of site, and a tree in the middle of the shrubs on one side,” said Rocket. “There was about two feet spare at the back and just enough room to put out the annexe.”

And while getting in was one thing, getting out was quite another!

“We had to swing to the left but the caravan was too long and would have hit the shrubs and tree,” said Rocket. “It was that tight that a worker had to get their buggy and attach it to our tow ball and had to bounce the caravan onto the concrete slab to get it out … we will never go back there!”

Now, the couple insists on being given the physical dimensions of a site when they phone ahead. While it may not be happening quickly enough for some, there are also slight signs that times are changing.

The newly renovated Kingscliff Beach Holiday Park in northern New South Wales will have sites two-to-three times larger than its old sites when it re-opens on March 22. The park says the move will better enable it to cater for ‘modern, touring vans’.

The upgrade, however, does come at a cost. There will be fewer sites … and some suspect the fees for those that are available will rise accordingly.

Daniel B is not complaining, though. With a van that is 31’ foot in total length, he says he endlessly struggles to find a caravan park that can fit him in.

“Sometimes they have the site but the road is too narrow and the access is very difficult with my LandCruiser,” he said. “Some don’t realise that, in total, I’m close to 50’ long and you need room to move … more parks need to change!”

• Do you struggle with a big rig? Comment below.

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18 Responses to ‘We’re big rig grey nomads … so, how do we fit in?’

  1. I tow my Supreme 23’6″, 9.9 metres from lowball to back with an F250 ute, 6.6 metres front to back. A total of 16.5 metres, +54 feet. Working driving Semis, B doubles and road trains is certainly a help but some sites can be tight. Try to only need a site every 10 – 14 days.

    • Same for us. Have 24’ Bushtrackerand with long drawbar pulled with
      F 450. These days we do a lot of free camping where room is generally much better for our rig.

    • Crickey if you’re a professional driver and struggling at times Bob what hope do the rest of us have (22fft plus LC200)

  2. Understand your problem we are 16.5 mtrs long the tow is a f250 ford

  3. Well theres camping and there’s glamping, and there’s touring and holidaying and those that live on the road. We live in our motorhome and we are prepard to put up with sub standard to save money ,then you have the people who want to freecamp but are prepared to pay a small fee so they can have a picnic table and a clean toilet . We never book and always walk the park before booking in because we have found if you do book you get the crappy site. Even though there are heaps of campers out there, the most popular parks dont need to improve because their booked out ,then the little town parks who get less people cant afford to improve!
    We dont want to see an increase in cost because we are living on the road, we spend $7000 a year staying half the year in parks as it is . But we understand that families want jumping castles etc , so we stay out of cities etc and try to support the smaller rv friendly towns . One wonders where the camping industry will be when the government is saying no more petrol or diesel cars from 2030 ? Perhaps it will all be cabin camping by then ? And tear drop campers etc ? Lets just lap it up while we can

    • Can’t see the no diesel or petrol thing getting up in Australia any time soon. We’re a big country and unless some greenie in their Smart looking for a latte breakfast at 11am gets sway over government, I wouldn’t be worried.

  4. G’day All,

    We have a USA built Motor Home 12 Metres + Car Trailer ( Semi closed in ) 7 Metres & the Car trailer is parked along side the motor home & the awning comes out & is attached to it & becomes part of the living area+ the motor home has a slide on the other side We need an area / space 12 metres deep x 9 metres wide, which we always advise future Caravans etc of prior to arriving.& we usually ask for & get grass site down the back ( which suits us ) We also have a tow bar on the front of our small 4WD used to push the car trailer in on tight sites.

  5. We have an 8.5 mtr Parramount and although sites are available there’s a shortage of manouvering room in a lot of Parks. Also parks are building more & more cabins which is pushing the caravan we away. There are some 650,000 caravans in Australia {So they say} Parks need to move wither times.

  6. Wow a big rig! I remember in the old days when you could get tri axle caravans of the 36′ variety. Now that is a big rig. The mid size caravans were the 23, 24 & 26′ for example.

  7. We have a Spaceland ParIsienne which is towed by a Landcruuser 200 series our total length is just under 15meters. We have had problems with parks that are still designed for smaller rigs. We try and stay in free camping spots as much as possible but sometimes not possIbe. Parks need to rethink their sites remove huge trees that can cause problems in manoureving, very annoyIng when they confirm site is large but In reality far too small.

  8. Yes I so agree , we hav a 29’ triaxle and pulled by an F 250 and we get yes we have room and when we get there we just looked in astonishment, we thought the only way that we would of got to site was to be dropped from above . Some caravan parks sometimes have no idea

  9. We have given up on caravan parks we are an Isuzu FTS motorhome and trailer 18 m in length,

  10. Yes, we have a 31ft Winnebago and how our sheep, making us 50ft long. A bit difficult sometimes to get a site. I always ring ahead to make sure wr can get in and out but it is often a case of shopping branches etc. Off even though we have been assured we can get in.it is not easy……

  11. Ummmmm, “ya can’t always get what you want” – Mick Jagger.
    Take ur pick, big, little or in between, understanding you can’t usually have everything, and don’t winge, nobody likes a winger, especially if material wise you appear to ‘have it all’.

  12. The situation is not just unique to big rigs. We recently travelled with our Ford Ranger and camper trailer with small fold out tent. Most van parks put us on a van site with a slab which is not practical for a camper trailer needing poles and ropes. Most tent sites are too small. It’s rare for us to find a site where our ropes aren’t in the neighbouring sites and we nearly always have to unhitch even if we didn’t want to. We’ve even been placed in flood zones (and had to leave a day early at our cost when it rained) and in non-sites near boat ramps with no consideration to our comfort or booking a site well in advance.
    We have camped in Canada were sites are far more spacious, catering for much larger rigs and groups. Most sites have a picnic table or fire pit and shrubs shielding them from other sites. Noise restrictions are respected, and we were never woken at dawn by people packing up to leave. Prices were reasonable too.
    Unfortunately most places in Australia seem to want to jam-pack people into sites and make as much money as possible, especially at peak times, rather than consider the comfort of the camper and their potential to return if they had an enjoyable, worry-free stay.

  13. You can please some of the people all of the time..and all of the people some of the time….BUT
    You can never please all of the people all of the time…!

    • Yes Pat old sayings are very true, if we would step back have a look at the big picture, eg… plan before you buy. Remember this great old saying… Good Better Best, Never Let It Rest, Until your good is better and your better is best.

  14. Sounds to me a lot of you guys need to learn how to drive or maybe get smaller rigs I have a 23.5 foot retreat towed by a bt50 I admit I used to drive bdoubles and road trains ect I have had no troubles getting in to or out of sites it seem also to me some of the lengths you are you maybe should have a truck licences and stop saying the parks need to improve there sizes ect course you cannot drive

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