‘Slowly does it, but at least we’re back on the road’

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Grey nomads back on the road
Rod and Wendy enjoy the simple pleasures

Like many grey nomads, Rod LeNaine-Smith has had his caravanning plans thrown into chaos in recent months, thanks to the pandemic-inspired travel restrictions.

However, he and partner Wendy Dowling are luckier than most in that they live in South Australia and so are already being encouraged to hit the regions again. The couple has finally taken the hint and are taking their first baby steps back into the Big Lap lifestyle by spending a few days in the riverfront town of Morgan, 165 kilometres away from their Adelaide home.

While intrastate travel has been allowed in SA for a few weeks, Rod and Wendy were reluctant to hit the road before now … for a couple of reasons.

“We didn’t think it right to venture into the country while this virus is rather active,” said Rod. “While here is South Australia we have a very low rate of infection, we didn’t want to be part of catching it and spreading it around.”

Following multiple days of zero new infections in the state, there was suddenly only one thing that was stopping the pair from hitching up … the temperature!

“I don’t like temperatures below 18 degrees,” said Rod. “So we were waiting for a burst of somewhat warm weather.”

With the mercury forecast to be as high as a ‘balmy’ 21 degrees, the couple seized their moment. Rod and Wendy now travel in an Avan Aliner, having cut their travelling teeth in an Avan Sportliner.

They first fell in with Avans while seeking a compromise between Wendy’s passion for tents and Rod’s desire for something a little more sturdy.

“We didn’t want to take the ‘house’ with us so ruled out all the wonderful vans with bells and whistles,” said Rod. “We wanted a van that would be easy and safe to tow behind our two-litre car, easy to set up, easy to push into the garage, and easy to get into and out of tight parking places.”

They eventually decided the perfect solution was the small Avan Sportliner that they bought and fitted out.

“We didn’t need the satellite TV, deep freeze and air-conditioning,” said Rod. “We wanted to experience camping but not the bush-bashing.”

Their shakedown trip was to Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley, where they quickly decided that this was the life for them.

“It was most enjoyable sitting outside with a glass of wine looking at the sunset and listening to the birds settling in for the evening,” said Rod. “We were smitten on the idea of travelling with a van, and knew we wanted to do longer trips and see Australia.”

With more ambitious travel plans, the pair wasted no time in upgrading to an Avan Aliner and – once they have got a few more ‘training runs’ under their belt and border restrictions are fully lifted – they are excited to get off and live the dream.

“We would really like to set off in about 12 months’ time on the ‘Half Lap’ … up the Centre and over to the west,” said Rod. “I haven’t heard of any small Avans doing it … but I am sure they have.”

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4 Responses to ‘Slowly does it, but at least we’re back on the road’

  1. Called quite a few caravan parks today and they’re still saying they either aren’t taking bookings yet or only accepting fully self contained campers with their own showers….
    Some have this crazy rule where you can use the toilets, but not the showers?!?! That makes zero sense to me.
    Either way, there seems to be no clear standard that applies to all and I, as an non-self contained full time caravanner with nowhere to go am very eagerly awaiting updates!

    • We will be holding off on travelling until things get back to normal. No point paying a caravan park if you can’t use the facilities. Hope we get clarification on the free camp sites soon as well, since we travel with a pet and a lot of caravan parks don’t want to know us.

    • the water from one shower runs into the next bay and so on most only have the one main drain but a toilet and basin has it’s own drain

  2. We have an Aliner Adventure Plus and have done a trip across to the east cost from WA, to the Gulf of Carpentaria and backdown the middle and then the Great Central Road home to Perth. Never wished we had a bigger van. Never felt claustrophobic. Very happy with our choice of Avan and for similar reasons – light and easy to tow, both of us can manage to tow, no canvas and fits into the second garage space.

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