Towing a caravan can be intimidating when you’re driving in busy highways among road trains and other heavy vehicles. Here are our top tips for towing your Goldstream RV and driving safely:
Before you leave, nominate someone who will keep their eyes on the map so you don’t miss the off-ramp or roads when you need to turn off the highway. Abrupt braking can be fatal even when there’s no other vehicles around. So if you need to do a U-turn, your navigator can look ahead and guide you until it’s safe to pull over to turn around.
All passengers – grandkids and pets included – must have their seat belts fastened before you hit the road. If you’re travelling with grandkids or pets, consider their safety in advance and get the most suitable car restraints for them.
Driving on open highways can get tricky on windy days and in areas where there is gravel or trails of oil on the bitumen. Keep both hands on the steering wheel and remember what your driving instructor taught you: keep one hand at 10 and the other at 2.
When you’re towing a caravan, it takes longer to stop and to accelerate. To be safe, keep plenty of space between you and the next vehicle. Two vehicle lengths should be a minimum – so from the nose of your 4WD or car to the tail of your caravan, times two.
If another driver gets on your nerves putting you in a negative mood, just keep driving. For your own safety, you’ll have to get over it. You never know how the other driver will react, and beeping at them can contribute to road rage. Beeping also breaks your own concentration because now you’ll be focusing on their error rather than your driving. It also distracts the other driver who may not have realised that they’ve done anything wrong.
Your navigator should also be looking out for road signs that warn of wildlife or cattle crossing the road. So be careful in those areas and, if you must, gradually slow down to a speed you’re most comfortable with – especially at sunrise and sunset.
Many people go caravanning or camping simply because they love Mother Nature and viewing all the marvellous scenery she provides. You can really get back to nature in some of the camping areas around Gloucester, just 3 hours north of Sydney.
Gloucester is a small town with a big heart and the people are warm and friendly. There are several events scheduled that make for an interesting holiday.
In winter, there is Chill-Out Day where the main streets are cordoned off to allow for many stalls and fun activities. There is also the popular Flicks in the Sticks, and Poetry at the Saleyard, not to mention country and western music festivals at various times such as Easter.
There is a family-friendly caravan park located next to the public swimming pool and just a few minutes’ walk from the town. But many people who like to truly get back to nature choose other nearby locations for which the town is a base. Some of them are even free.
Barrington is basically a suburb of Gloucester with caravan sites in the bush at Poley’s Place, where the country music events are held.
Gloucester River Campground, 38km south-west of Gloucester is an affordable choice where the only traffic you will hear is your own. This is located on the east side of Barrington Tops National Park and has many shady places near to the river where you can park your Goldstream RV.
You can swim in the river and explore walking tracks while watching for the wildlife that can often be seen during the daylight hours. Be prepared – bring your own water supply for drinking, food preparation and washing up. While you can use the river for bathing, soap, shampoo and detergents are not allowed, as these will damage the fragile ecosystem.
For free camping and the music of bellbirds, choose Gloryvale Reserve, 23 km north of Gloucester. Even though it is right beside Thunderbolts Way, traffic is very minimal, especially at night. Again, there is no water, so if you use water from the small creek, be sure to boil it for ten minutes first.
Copeland Reserve is another camping area where you will enjoy the sound of bellbirds and nature at its best. It is 15 km west of Gloucester and there used to be a working gold mine there. It is closed now, but there could still be some gold around. Just 7 years ago a child found a nugget in the river.
There are many other similar sites in the area. As Gloucester is considered to be in the foothills of the Barrington Tops and Gloucester Tops mountains, the areas can be hilly to steep, but still okay for your Goldstream RV and even for 2WD vehicles unless there has been heavy rain or snow in the mountains.
Just half an hour’s drive from Kempsey, on the eastern coast of Australia and near to the mouth of the Macleay River, one of the loveliest spots to enjoy a holiday is South West Rocks. Here there are several camping grounds to suit caravans, campers with tents, or for those who want more comfort, cabins. You can take your pick, with some caravan parks right on the beach and others a little further back.
If you seek adventurous activity, you might like to dive down into Fish Rock Cave to view the amazing variety of marine life, including grey nurse sharks. This cave is located about 2 km offshore and is actually a long tunnel under a small island. It is considered to be the best cave dive in Australia. If you don’t like diving, you can still admire marine life in this area because whales and their calves are often seen travelling quite near to the coast as they migrate up and down the coast.
Included in the many key tourist landmarks is the Trial Bay Gaol which was built way back in the 1880’s, high on the top of a cliff. It is only 3 km from South West Rocks in the Arakoon State Conservation Area along with a museum, picnic spots and walking trails. Around the gaol are other facilities such as parking areas, a kiosk, shelters, and great spots for fishing, swimming or surfing.
Only half a day’s walk away from Trial Bay Gaol is the Smokey Cape Lighthouse in Hat Head National park – and you can drive to it if you don’t want to walk. There are many other, shorter walking trails in the area, so if you feel like stretching your legs after driving, this is the ideal way to do it. Hitch your Goldstream RV up to one of the powered sites in the area to stay for a bit longer.
The water at South West Rocks stays warm almost all year round because currents emanate from the tropics, making it an ideal place for those who love swimming or surfing. The town itself is quite small with a population of about 5000, but this increases during holidays as the tourists flock in to enjoy the amazing beaches and all the other facilities. Horseshoe Bay is a family favourite for swimming while Trial Bay, or ‘Main Beach’ is for more adventurous swimmers.
South West Rocks is also known for its great fishing – along the river, off the beach and rocks, or out to sea. It is a commercial fishing spot, with large fishing boats moored in the river at two different locations.
Many people may have only heard of Kununurra as part of a country music song by Slim Dusty, but intrepid caravanners and tourists will be more familiar with this part of Western Australia. Whether you are a grey nomad or a tourist heading to Western Australia, you will be pleased to know that there are many National Parks in the Kimberley region – of which Kununurra is a main commercial centre – some of which allow camping.
But before you start out, be sure that you are going during the dry season – that is, in winter time.
Don’t get Bogged!
Travel over some of the roads is impossible during the wet season and you might get bogged if you try. As well, the National Parks are closed during this time. That said, it is good to go during the first few months of the dry season, before all those amazing waterfalls subside to just a trickle.
Purnululu National Park in the Bungle Bungle Ranges is a great place to visit and camp for a few days. It is reasonably easy to access for 4WD vehicles and single trailers with high clearance due to the poor road quality. Sounds like the Goldstream Storm would make it here when conditions allow, but just check with the Visitors Centre in Kununurra first. Ancient sandstone domes striped with grey and orange are a feature of this park, which covers around 240,000 hectares. There are two non-powered campsites with bush toilets, water and firewood, but you are advised to boil the water before drinking.
Kununurra has more than one great caravan park with excellent facilities for those who don’t want to rough it too much, including one on the lake front, complete with the red eyes of freshwater crocodiles at night! And there are caravan parks in other must-see areas within a day or two’s drive – like Litchfield, Wyndham and Derby.
For those who want to avoid towing on the rough roads it is sometimes better to set up your caravan elsewhere and then visit the National Parks on a day trip. Mirima National Park at Hidden Valley, only minutes away from Kununurra is well worth a visit, but overnight camping is not allowed. You still have to pay an entry fee, but it is well worth it to see some of the ancient landscapes and spectacular views available by following short walking tracks. Many people regard this as a miniature Bungle Bungles – such is the shape and colour of the rocky outcrops.
Parry Lagoon Nature Reserve is another interesting area to look at as a day trip. It is 15 km south of Wyndham and the road in is gravel and badly corrugated, but once you get there you may see birds that have flown in from as far away as Siberia, as well as rarer Australian species.
The revolutionary designs of the Goldstream RV makes them especially suited to unsealed roads and places that may be difficult for other caravans to access.
Pristine open waterways, loads of family fun and a relaxed holiday atmosphere define the waterside city of Mandurah. Less than an hours drive south of Perth on the Forest Highway, the city lies on and around the shores of picturesque Mandjar Bay, surrounded by the freshwaters of the Peel inlet and Harvey estuary.
Once a small fishing town, Mandurah has transformed into a modern seaside city, the second largest in W.A. A marina precinct is filled with restaurants, bars, shops and cafes with a boardwalk to take in the view. The Performing Arts Centre is situated here, with sweeping views over the city and boasting an array of performing and visual arts.
Mandurah is a perfect base for daytrips to explore the surrounding Peel region. The clear blue waters of the estuary provide activities such as swimming, fishing, water-skiing and crabbing, and a trip to Mandurah is not complete without a cruise on the vast, open waters of the area.
There are several boating options available from chartering your own pontoon to hiring a house boat. In peak season the open waters of the estuary are criss-crossed by jet skis and pleasure boats, or you could paddle a canoe in a sheltered bay. For a more restful alternative, cruising the waters on a dolphin watching tour and spotting water birds along the canals provides the perfect lazy day.
Enjoy a round of golf at one of the many beautiful golf courses in the region
Take a driving tour through the surrounding forests and national parks
Paddle a canoe or kayak up the winding Murray River
Walk a section of the Bibbulmun Track or ride the Munda Biddi Bike Trail
Fish for trout or marron
Visit wineries, galleries and antique shops
Experience the Thrombolite living fossils in Yalgorup National Park
There is a large variety of accommodation to choose from, with ten major caravan parks in and around Mandurah. Four of these are situated on the shores of the estuary, three are close to the town centre and three are situated in the picturesque forests and bushland areas on the outskirts of the city.
All of the parks are modern and offer the conveniences you would expect:
Campers kitchen with gas and wood BBQ’s
Shady grassed sites or with slabs, powered and unpowered
Wireless internet or internet kiosk,
Playground recreation room
Exclusive estuary water frontage
Family bathroom with full sized bath & baby change table
Recycling stations and toilet waste dump
Fish cleaning stations & crab cooking facilities
As a day trip from Perth, weekend getaway or longer term holiday destination, you don’t need to look any further than the beautiful Mandurah and Peel region.