Caravans

You can do what many only ever dream about when you purchase your own caravan.


A major perk of caravan travel is that once you reach your destination you can unhitch your car and drive it separately so there is no need to drive an oversized vehicle around when doing day trips.

There are many different styles available, which can be anything from 3 metres to 10 metres long. Dependant on the size and your requirements they can include some comforts of home such as shower/toilet, refrigerator, gas stove, microwave oven and more.

There are a variety of reasons for buying a caravan: family holiday, regular short trips, extended bush travels or extended retirement travels. You should consider the following before you purchase.


Considerations

Things to consider

  • Caravans are a good compromise between a smaller and larger vehicle
  • Apart from reversing, they are easy to drive
  • The ability to detach your car from the caravan once set up
  • Provides the comforts of home and the accommodation freedom
  • You need to be careful about what you bring and how you store it due to its load weight capacity
  • Possible limitations of route choices due to their level of sturdiness

Size of the Caravan

The most popular size for today’s vans range between 3 metres (11ft) and 7 metres (24ft). Anything smaller is not particularly comfortable for more than one person, and anything larger becomes a towing challenge that will take much of the fun out of caravanning. Generally, the smaller the van the easier the towing.

Of course the shape, height and weight of the van will also influence towing performance. Today’s slimline, lightweight and low profile models are a complete contrast to the lumbering wheeled pagodas of bygone years.

If you can afford the right type of towing vehicle and have no qualms about towing a larger van, it’s a delight to own a luxury home on wheels complete with its own en-suite, flushing toilet, hot and cold running water, separate bedroom and full sized kitchen.

Frame & Axle 

The old argument about whether a wooden frame is better than an aluminum one still persists in some areas. The fact is that it doesn’t really matter. But the signs are already clear that aluminum is likely to be the material of the future as softwoods become scarcer and costlier and more responsible ecological practices prevail.

Prospective buyers can often be confused about the number of axles that it’s best to have. This is not really a matter of choice. The provision of two axles instead of one applies when vans reach a certain size and it becomes imperative, for safety reasons, to share the weight between four wheels instead of two. You won’t often find many tandem axles fitted to vans of less than 4.8 metres (16ft), and only rarely will you come across a single axle model of 5.1 metres (17ft) or more.

What kind of Suspension?

Whether you choose a van with independent suspension or a basic solid axle and leaf spring, once again there’s no reason for anyone to challenge your decision. Smooth riding independent suspension (any of the numerous designs available) is great to have on most Australian roads, kind to your van, and these days problems with it are rare indeed. Those who go for a van with the traditional leaf spring design will probably pay a little less and can enjoy the reassuring thought that there isn’t much that can go wrong.

When do you need an Off-Road Caravan?

There are vans designed and built to cope with the varying degrees of rough road to be found in this country. The most rugged of these could perhaps be described as ‘off-road’. More common are the models which can appropriately be described as ‘out back’ caravans. These are fairly conventional in design and are usually beefed up versions of a manufacturer’s normal range, with added strengthening to the chassis and items such as under van protection for water tanks, bumper bars that extend underneath for protection when emerging from wash ways, special dust-proofing and perhaps externally mounted jerry cans or other sensible additions.

There are many makes that carry a warranty covering towing with a 4WD vehicle. This may not seem as important as it was a few years ago when 4WD suspension was rough enough to traumatize a van’s chassis. Today’s 4WDs are greatly improved in this regard, but you can be sure that the caravan with such a warranty can take a moderate amount of punishment if necessary.

An entirely stock standard caravan can usually travel on rough corrugated roads for short distances without suffering damage, providing care is exercised.

Outback travel with a caravan is really a matter of using commonsense. Read the condition of the road, watch the van and if things appear to be getting too rough for it, go back. Check weather conditions before you go to ensure that you don’t get stranded, and if you want to disappear into the real wilderness for a few days, leave your van on site in the nearest town and take a tent.

We’d also like to point out that Australia today is well served with bitumen roads and these are supplemented by many unsealed roads of reasonable standard in most weather conditions. Almost anywhere you are likely to want to visit on your own, the first time around at least, is accessible without the need to risk life, limb or property.

Layouts

Where layout is concerned the most popular caravan today, as we are constantly told by retailers, is a 4.5 – 5 metre (15-16ft) pop-top with front kitchen, island double bed at the rear and an L-shaped dinette at one side with a small lounge seat opposite. Consequently this is the size and layout that is offered without fail at every caravan retail outlet around the country. Don’t be rushed into buying this floorplan though if you think you would prefer a model with a side kitchen and a big club lounge under the front window. Custom-building is the norm these days, and it’s usually worth waiting a month or two for the van you’ve set your heart on if it isn’t available.

The question of double or single beds makes many couples smile, but it’s really a serious point to consider. Smaller than home-sized double beds (often only 1.2 metres or 4ft wide) may look cozy and appealing in a sales yard, but on-site in tropical Cairns they can turn cuddly couples into hostile insomniacs. Unless you are both sound sleepers and accustomed to tropical climates, it may be more practical to opt for a single bed layout. One consolation is that this will give you more usable living space in your van, including seats for visitors.

The standard of a caravan’s finish is usually easy to determine by glancing inside cupboards and under seats. Most manufacturers have abandoned the heavy and less durable chipboard and returned to genuine timber for cupboard shelves and doors. Ill-fitting joints and rough splintery surfaces, too, are mostly things of the past, but vigilance is still recommended.

Fittings

You will be faced with an alluring array of internal features when you start to shop around the caravan retail outlets. Having decided on the size and style of van that’s right for you, the huge variety of choices that remain mean that the final decision is still by no means easy.

Space restrictions make it difficult for us to advise you but we can tell you that most modern features have been suggested by real caravanners and are genuinely worthwhile additions.


Preparing To Buy

Before you set off to the showrooms or dealers, take the time to ask yourself the following questions:

  • List everything you want in the caravan then classify them into ‘You Wish’ & “You Need’
    (This could include: Do you require an awning or full annexe; Will you cook inside or outside or both; Do you require a toilet/shower).
  • Where do you plan to go in your caravan in the next two years?
    (Calculate how many trips and total distance. Also consider travelling on roads, off roads etc)
  • Where will you store the caravan?
    (Calculate the maximum height restriction)
  • What is the towing capacity of your vehicle?
    (Match the caravan to your car)
  • How much space do you need inside?
    (Consider how many people will sleep in it and storage requirements)
  • What is more important: the comforts of home or economy of light travel?

Visit a NSW Caravan & Camping Expos

Head to one of our amazing Caravan and Camping shows where you will see everything on display in one convenient place.  Find the next show here

Talk to a CCIA Member

CCIA Members are specialists in Recreational Vehicles and can help to direct you to right vehicle that suits your needs and budget.  Find your closest member


Find Your Nearest CCIA Member

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186 Pacific Highway, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
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338 Central Coast Highway, Erina NSW 2250
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1 Jayco Drive, Dandenong South VIC 3175
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Corner Hume Highway & Grasslands Avenue, Craigieburn VIC 3064
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4/353 Maitland Road, Cessnock NSW 2325
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1 Strathvale Court, Caboolture QLD 4510
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36 Orange Grove Road, Warwick Farm NSW 2170
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1/9 Maxwell Place, Narellan NSW 2567
avan-1_0.jpg
57 Alliance Avenue, Morrisset NSW 2264
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32 David Road, Emu Plains NSW 2750
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Princes Highway, Eden NSW 2551
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56-58 Parfitt Road, Wangaratta VIC 3677
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105 - 107 Princes Highway, Unanderra NSW 2526
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136 Buckhurst Street, South Melbourne VIC 3205
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329 Pacific Highway, Heatherbrae NSW 2324
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187 Hastings River Drive, Port Macquarie NSW 2444
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828-830 Cooper Street, Somerton VIC 3062
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1 Uki Street, Yamba NSW 2464
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134 Metrolink Circuit, Campbellfield VIC 3095
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97C Glossop Street, St Marys NSW 2760
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390 Pacific Highway, Belmont North NSW 2280
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50-54 Capital Link Drive, Campbellfield VIC 3061
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2212 Pacific Highway, Heatherbrae NSW 2324
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42 Bruxner Highway, South Lismore NSW 2480
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514 Pacific Highway, Wyoming NSW 2250
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85 Enterprise Street, Kunda Park QLD 4556
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157-161 Minjungbal Drive, Tweed Heads South NSW 2486
avan_1_2.jpg
7/11 Webster Way, Pakenham VIC 3810
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92 Yass Road, Queanbeyan NSW 2620
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12/2316 Pacific Highway, Heatherbrae NSW 2324
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2256 Pacific Highway, Heatherbrae NSW 2324
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59-61 Sydney Road, Kelso NSW 2795
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12 Gateway Boulevard, Morisset NSW 2264
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8 Dreamhaven Court, Epping VIC 3076
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107 Benalla-Yarrawonga Road, Yarrawonga VIC 3730
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120 Princes Highway, South Nowra NSW 2541
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1-11 Pinewood Avenue, Gympie QLD 4570
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260 Hume Highway, Lansvale NSW 2166
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38-40 Mileham Street, Windsor NSW 2756
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3 Heald Road, Ingleburn NSW 2565
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334 Princess Highway, Bomaderry NSW 2541
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152-154 Hume Highway, Lansvale NSW 2166
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31 Pacific Highway, Bennetts Green NSW 2290
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87 Glossop Street, St Marys NSW 2760
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63-67 Glossop Street, St Marys NSW 2760
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4/148 Toongabbie Road, Girraween NSW 2145
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2 Birraba Avenue, Beresfield NSW 2322
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7 Monte Street, Slacks Creek QLD 4127
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380 Pacific Highway, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
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Corner Hume Highway & Grassland Avenue, Craigeburn VIC 3064
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26-28 Merola Way, Campbellfield VIC 3061
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150 Princes Highway, South Nowra NSW 2541
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Level 2, 9 Bay Street, Southport QLD 4215
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250 Princes Highway, South Nowra NSW 2541
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29 Humeside Drive, Campbellfield VIC 3061
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24/26 Camfield Drive, Heatherbrae NSW 2324
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838 Knight Road, Albury NSW 2640
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299 River Street, Ballina NSW 2478
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6 Collison Place, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
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17 Cooper Street, Campbellfield VIC 3364
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178-180 Hume Highway, Lansvale NSW 2166
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35 Randor Street, Campbellfield VIC 3061
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27A Sunny Bank Road, Lisarow NSW 2250
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2142 Castlereagh Road, Penrith NSW 2750
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31 Bourke Street, Dubbo NSW 2830
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6 North Boambee Road, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
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9-20 Lemko Place, Penrith NSW 2750
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1 Camfield Drive, Heatherbrae NSW 2324
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