Caravan holidays in Western Australia have surged in popularity this year as Australia’s closed borders have convinced locals to explore their own State. More than 600,000 caravans are now registered nation-wide, and West Australians are on waiting lists of up to a year to buy new caravans, according to Jan Barrie, director of Perth-based touring company Global Gypsies.
Further underlining this boom in caravan and Recreational Vehicle (RV) holidays is a recent survey by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA), which found about 19 million Australians were interested in staying at a caravan park.
The high cost of air travel within WA has helped to make road trips and caravan holidays even more appealing. To escape chilly winter weather, Perth residents have recently flocked to northern locations like Broome, Exmouth, Coral Bay, Carnarvon, Monkey Mia and the Kimberley, according to Jan. Not only do these destinations have warmer temperatures but they also possess excellent facilities for caravanning.
Later this month, however, there will be a shift in focus to the Mid-West region, Jan says. Caravan holiday makers will descend upon coastal spots like Kalbarri and Geraldton, as well as inland destinations such as Morawa, Mullewa, Yalgoo, Mingenew, Eneabba, Three Springs, Carnamah and Perenjori.
The reason for this shift is currently sprouting from WA’s fertile soil. Wildflower season is approaching its peak in the Mid-West, with many of those aforementioned areas embellished by giant carpets of starflowers, banksias, kangaroo paws, and pink and white everlastings.
In October, Jan says, many caravanners will venture further south, as both the wildflowers and the warm weather head in that same direction. Australia’s South-West and Great Southern regions are expected to be heavily visited by road trippers and caravanners throughout late spring and summer.
The convenience and economy of caravanning is also being complemented by its sense of safety amid the Pandemic, according to the CIAA.
“By design, caravan parks have large open spaces, cabin accommodation and many caravans and Recreational Vehicles have their own toilet, shower, kitchen and air con systems reducing the need to use shared facilities,” says CIAA marketing officer Keelan Howard.
She said caravan parks had also greatly improved their hygiene protocols in response to the pandemic.
Jan Barrie, meanwhile, said the increased interest in caravanning could be maintained once the Pandemic abates.
“Even post-COVID, caravanning will be an affordable and enjoyable alternative to overseas and interstate travel and in future may be perceived as a safer holiday option, particularly for older people who are more cautious about COVID,” she says.
The caravanning boom had seen a rush on buying both new and used vans and RVs. Even second-hand vehicles were being purchased quickly once they entered the market, Jan says. The new and used caravans and RVs on WA’s roads at present were a mix of on-road and off-road versions. Particularly popular were larger caravans suitable for families which boasted their own shower and toilet.
“People want more and more creature comforts in their caravans” she says.
“There will inadvertently be some fallout from new owners who thought it would be fun but discover they do not enjoy the caravanning lifestyle. For this reason we think it’s a good idea to try before you buy.”
For those wishing to follow that advice, there are dozens of caravan and RV rental agencies across WA. Although West Australians have taken to domestic holidaying in increased numbers, the absence of interstate travellers means that the overall numbers of caravanners appears to be down, Jan says. The silver living is that means there’s plenty of space on WA’s roads and in its caravan parks for local tourists.