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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Steve Evans

Caravan sales soar after COVID as cashed-up younger people hit the road

Australians hit the road

There are grand vans costing $215,000 with all the mod-cons, and there are cute little caravans for a shade over $30,000.

Either way, the Canberra caravan show over the weekend is booming. The pandemic has given the nation's pullers of recreational vehicles a big push.

"Prior to COVID there were enquiries but not as many as we are getting now," John Bercich of Carlight Caravans and Trailers said.

The closure of the border during the pandemic, and the price of flights now the border is open again, has pushed people to get on the road in Australia.

"People now are seriously looking. They do want to travel. They want to travel in Australia. There's a lot to see out there. It's a lovely country. They are snapping up caravans."

John Bercich shows off his lightweight solution at the Canberra Caravan Camping Lifestyle Expo. Picture by Sitthixay Ditthavong

He sells cute little things, not much bigger than a bedsit on wheels, some of them with a shower, some of them without.

At the other end of the market, Norman Roe shows off a Winnebago Iluka (you can drive it away for $215,000).

"We see a lot of new people coming into the market," he said.

"Traditionally, we sold to retirees and semi-retirees but we are seeing a lot more younger people."

His explanation is that some not so old people now have a lot of disposable income. It's true that some are "tied up in a mortgage", as he puts it, but there are also people who had investment properties which they've sold at a tidy profit, and that profit has gone into a caravan.

"People are coming and they are cashed up. We see people coming through now who are in their 30s and 40s - mums and dads with a couple of kids, and they've got the cash."

His Winnebago is more a motor home than a caravan. It has a bed with enough room to walk around. There's a separate living and sleeping area, with a door between to give privacy at each end.

He says it suits "a gypsy-type of lifestyle" where people park up and stay for one or two nights and then move on. The motor home means they don't need the amenities of an established site.

Norman Roe in the grand interior of the Winnebago Iluka at the Canberra Caravan Camping Lifestyle Expo. Picture by Sitthixay Ditthavong

Show grounds around the country have got together to offer sites. "You have access very close to town, and all you pay is $10 or $15 a night," the salesman said.

But John Bercich (the seller of the small Euro vans) said the demand meant that sites were getting booked out faster.

"There's a waiting list. It's all changed. In some areas, you can't get a booking," he said.

Buyers and sellers come together in the Canberra Caravan & Camping Lifestyle Expo, to give it its proper title.

The organisers reckon that 15,000 to 20,000 people will visit the show over its three days, ending at 4pm on Sunday. They can peruse vans big and small offered by 120 or so exhibitors.

On top of the vehicles, there are demonstrations and shows about cooking and potential venues for those drawn to the road.

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