Shipping a van from the UK

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Shipping a grey nomad caravan from the UK
Sylivia and Jan’s van is in Australia and ready to roll

After being regular visitors to our shores for the past two decades, Sylvia and husband Jan have finally taken the ultimate step for any UK-based grey nomad … they’ve had their van shipped over to Australia!

Crazy as it sounds, it made bet­ter financial sense for the Brit­ish couple – who are in their 60s – to organise the interna­tional transport rather than to acquire a caravan locally.

“We were keen to buy an Aus­tralian caravan but, with pen­sions paid in sterling and the strong Australian dollar, this is currently out of the question,” said Sylvia.“The shipping com­pany were brilliant and had a no tolerance policy to damage, so we confidently made the arrangements.”

The couple’s much-loved 2006 Bailey Pageant Champagne then travelled from its home in the English country of Devon via South Africa, Reunion Island, Fremantle, Melbourne and Port Kembla to Brisbane, where it arrived unscathed in January.

After customs and quarantine inspections, it was transported by tilt tray to a caravan service centre in Brisbane where the necessary inspections/adapta­tions were done.

It was not a cheap procedure. The shipping and insurance cost A$6,000, plus another A$4,000 for import duty, GST, customs and quarantine in­spections, and shipping agents’ fees. The couple also had to pay A$1,500 for safety and gas certificates and minor altera­tions for compliance.

“We know it is not an off-road van, but UK caravans are not to be underestimated,” said Sylvia. “They are light and well built, and all have en suite.”

While their future caravanning plans depend on their health, the couple aims to spend six months in each country, putting their car and van into secure storage here in Australia while they are overseas.

Sylvia and Jan have previ­ously camped and used cabins widely in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queens­land. They say they have met many ‘fun’ grey nomads and so were eager to take extended tours themselves.

The couple started camping/caravanning 40 years ago. Their first trip was with two borrowed tents packed into their old car, along with their young children and a large Labrador … and they had a great time. Since then, the couple has had five tents, eight motorhomes, four caravans and three dogs!

“Although we have had years of experience with caravans and motorhomes in parts of Europe, and been camping or using cabins here for many years, we have only just begun our caravanning in Australia,” said Sylvia. “We are enjoying the freedom of movement, the prospect of meeting new peo­ple from whom we have learnt so much in the past, of visiting new and wonderful places, and always, always respecting the land within which you are travelling … whether it be af­fected by drought or flood, se­vere heat or ice and snow, or on busy highways or in isolation.”

And has the trip lived up to their expectations so far?

“We are forever thankful to be lucky enough to live the dream,” said Sylvia. “After all, dreams are what you make them.”

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