Vintage caravan comeback connects holidaymakers with shared love of bygone era

Cooley Rocks, Coolangatta, Queensland

Cooley Rocks, Coolangatta, Queensland

The vintage caravan movement is not only taking holidaymakers on a trip down memory lane but also strengthening their social interactions.

Owners of vintage and classic vans are taking holidays together and finding their nostalgic vans are starting conversations with strangers everywhere they go.

"People don't talk to you when you turn up in a you-beaut caravan but when you arrive in one of these, people knock on the door and want to say hello," Marianne Lawson said of the 1976 Adelma van she shared with husband Chris.

The tiny rounded timber vans of the 1950s have become a trendy accessory at weddings and events, with savvy owners transforming them into pop up bars, cafes and ice-cream parlours.

But they are also being used for their original purpose as enthusiasts turn their backs on modern conveniences and embrace the downsizing movement.

Vintage caravan owners are embracing memorabilia from the era and enjoying the opportunity to open their vans to the public.

Together with vans of the classic era — 1960s–1980s — they are being dragged out of old sheds, lovingly restored, and put back on the road.

"The interest in these old vans has become incredible," caravan enthusiast Bob Freak said. He organised one of the first rallies involving vintage and classic caravans in Tanunda, in regional SA, in 2010. It attracted van owners from SA, Victoria and NSW and has grown into a regular event.

Recently about 40 classic and vintage caravaners booked into the Loxton Caravan Park and opened their doors to the public.

"There have been locals who have said 'we have an old van in the shed that we want to do up' … there's a huge trend," Mr Freak said.

ABC Riverland By Catherine Heuzenroeder

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