My first caravan trip, and it was love at first campsite

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Camping trip for grey nomads
Heather loved her first camping trip

It was a long time coming but wannabe grey nomads Mark and Heather Bishop were finally able to take their maiden voyage in their brand new 19’6 Vacationer caravan … before pausing their adventures again.

Back in March, the Sydneysiders were crushed when their ‘shakedown trip’ to Fingal Bay, a couple of hundred kilometres up the coast had to be cancelled as the unfolding Covid-19 crisis led to the imposition of travel restrictions.

“Everything was ready for our short holiday, except to fill our fridge with food and of course a bottle of champagne to celebrate our travels,” said Heather. “A few days before we were ready to leave Mark rang the caravan park where we were staying only to be told that it was opened to travellers in transit and we would have unfortunately been turned away.”

When travel restrictions were lifted a few months later though, the couple finally made their delayed debut trip … but new concerns over the virus spread probably means they won’t be going anywhere again for a while.

The good news is though, Heather – who was camping for the very first time – absolutely loved her caravanning adventure to Fingal Bay, and is looking forward to future trips.

“I have never caravanned or camped before so, although excited, I was a little nervous,” said Heather.   “Mark’s parents have owned several caravans and he and his sister travelled around Australia with them for four months when they were young teenagers … he has wonderful memories of places he visited.”

Having discovered she shares her husband’s passion for the Big Lap lifestyle, Heather is already making some serious plans for when they are both retired.

“When it is safe to travel we will join those grey nomads and head out along the dusty tracks to explore our beautiful country,” said Heather. “But for now and just to start off our caravanning, we intend to do short trips travelling to the Central Coast, South Coast, and the Southern Highlands.”

And wherever they go, their two small dogs Millie and Jack will most certainly be along for the ride.

While Heather retired recently after more than 40 years as a primary school teacher, Mark is still a Senior Analyst for NSW Health at Westmead Hospital but has largely been working remotely since the pandemic began.

“It’s very different with Mark working from home,” said Heather. “I sometimes forget he is chatting with his colleagues and I think, ‘oh no, he is talking to himself ’ or I may come into the study to show him something and he says, ‘it’s lucky I muted the sound’.”

The Covid-19 crisis has also meant muso Mark has been unable to get out into local bars to gig with his blues group, the Cutaway Band. But the couple is confident that things will get better soon.

“Hopefully, if everyone abides by the law, keeps their social distances when exercising and shopping, things may improve sooner rather than later,” said Heather. “And we hope that then our little grandchildren – maybe when they are older – will want to travel with nana and poppy on a short holiday and see some amazing places … they already love playing in the caravan as it is like being in a big doll’s house.”

  • Do you remember your very first trip in a caravan or motorhome? Did you love it form the start, or did it take you a while to ‘warm up’ to the possibilities? Comment below.

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One Response to My first caravan trip, and it was love at first campsite

  1. My first “camping” adventures started as a young lad following family through western NSW & Qld around shearing sheds and TSR’s. If the weather was fine (not raining) we set up camp stretchers under a coolabah tree and sat around campfire, on cross-legged camp seats, with billy and camp oven. Our main provisions were flour, sugar and what ever was shot daily ie. rabbit, topknots, spur-wing plover, kangaroo and such. After the war Dad purchased an Army surplus cottage tent took hours to erect so we soon ended up with a 12 X 12 canvas tent (timber poles & stakes).
    The box trailer with a frame over was the next generation, kapok mattress on the floor, tarpaulin (hootchie) slung off one side – boy, were we living the high life.
    In married life, started tenting again until the seventies – True luxury was the 1970 (20ft) Viscount Supreme with an internal gas primus stove and kitchen sink, 2 way fridge and canvas annex.
    Serious off-roading was the natural progression, small nylon tents, then camper trailers, as the body started to hurt and child bride complain, back to caravans – composite van was total rubbish and went back to “Stick and tin” Evernew. Total and absolute luxury, happy wife happy life. The only constant has always been the campfire, billy and camp oven, our new camp chairs have back supports and folding table with drink holders. The old steel, folding, cross legged canvas seats are still in the camper trailer which now lives with the kids (they’ve had a couple of canvas seat replacements).

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