Words and photos by Chris Soulidis
Most Australians have a caravan story. Whether it be a childhood memory of family holidays or a memory of setting off chasing the freedom of the open road as a young adult, caravans have a soft spot in the Australian culture. In fact, some 6 million Australians are now said to be appreciating the caravanning and camping way of life. Over four days, from 20 – 24 February 2015 this appreciation of caravanning was celebrated but with a twist.
At the South Australian Caravan, Camping and Outdoor Show there was a vintage and classic feel in the air as owners of caravans built prior to 1980 showed their pride and joy to the public. Fans were delighted at the collection of over 100 caravans on show in the National Vintage Caravan Grand Display.
Riding the wave of Australians embracing the trend of making vintage items popular again, the Show was the perfect location for the celebration of caravanning history, restoration projects and forging of new friendships. For the purposes of the Show, vintage caravans were defined as caravans built prior to 1970. A marvellous collection of wonderfully restored vintage caravans were on display for enthusiasts to pore over. The Show’s organisers defined classic caravans as ones built in the decade between 1970 and 1980. Again, fans were not disappointed with the turnout of caravans in this category.
A major drawcard of the Show was the inaugural National Vintage Caravan Parade which saw a convoy of caravans travel along the Anzac Highway from the Adelaide Shores Caravan Park to the Adelaide Showgrounds. The Parade allowed members of the public to appreciate these caravans in all their working glory before being parked in the grass arena of the Showgrounds. Some of these vintage and classic caravans were towed by fully restored vehicles from the same era adding to the air of authenticity. There those caravans were on display on both Saturday and Sunday.
Restoring classic and vintage caravans has become a popular pastime for many Australians. Friendships are developed and the opportunity to travel is endless. It is also fast becoming recognised as a necessary part of preserving and restoring history. Without these restoration projects the classic and vintage caravans are at risk of being relegated to the ranks of abandoned, rusted out relics resting in backyards across the nation. However; history is being revived and these caravans are given a new lease on life and to see this celebrated over the weekend was a truly heartwarming sight. No doubt, the sight of so many wonderfully restored caravans brought a wave of nostalgia to many in the crowd.
This was the first time that a gathering of classic and vintage caravans was held in conjunction with a major outdoor and camping showcase. The South Australian Caravan, Camping and Outdoor Show is the largest caravan show in South Australia. Organisers were impressed with the turnout of vintage caravans in a parade in Cowra in 2012 and thought that it would make a good inclusion to the South Australian Caravan, Camping and Outdoor Show. Many enthusiasts would agree that it was a good addition and one that should occur on a regular basis.