Newcastle:A friendly destination for oldies in their RVs

HAVE you noticed all the superannuated old farts driving self-contained recreational vehicles (RVs) around this gorgeous nation on their ski*tours?
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You probably haven’t if you rarely leave Newcastle. As a city, we’ve done nothing to welcome them. The tourism gurus in Newcastle have largely focused on attracting the top-end-of-town and bunging them into flash hotels. Little attention and no welcome has been extended to the bring-your-own mob and that is a lost opportunity. It’s also ironic given the national office of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia is based at Wickham.

But that may be about to change.

Among the papers for tomorrow night’s Newcastle City Council meeting sits a notice of motion from Greens councillors Osborne and Doyle. Item-7 on page 137 is a proposal for Newcastle to become an official RV friendly town or destination. Whether we list as a town or destination depends on the ability to meet specific criteria, with ‘town’ requiring the provision of more facilities than ‘destination’.

More politely known as grey nomads or the RV (relaxing vacation) set, at this time of year – in fact during much of the year, except during thesummer months when they surrender the humid highways to the crassness of the Wicked campers and Griswold-like families undertaking tours-of-duty to the Goldy – the New England, Pacific, Newell and Hume motorways are chockers with the species as it makes its way north to warmer climes.

It’s now as much part of the Aussie bucket list psyche as buying jousting sticks and complaining about referees. Retire, get the machine, fit-it-out and just take off for no other reason than to have a relaxed optic nerve and abandon the routines of the schedule slave.

And some of these recreational vehicles are not modest like the caravan sauna gulags I remember being forced to endure as a kid. Some are luxury apartments on wheels – shower, loo, bedroom, kitchen, lounge-room, satellite tele and sound systems that you can turn up to 11.

So, what’s in it for Newcastle and what do we have to do to get us some of that sweet RV coin?

Figures quoted by the Campervan and Motorhome Club indicate that members of the RV community in Australia spend an average of $100 per day while travelling.

If Newcastle goes for the higher-level accreditation, we must provide appropriate parking within the town centre (lol) with access to a general shopping area; provide short term, low cost overnight parking for 24/48 hours as close as possible to the CBD, access to potable water and a free dump point at an appropriate location.

Perhaps, given the above criteria, it is more likely we can achieve the designation of an RV friendly destination. That category requires the provision of short term, low cost overnight parking for 24/48 hours for self-contained RVs, the parking area needs to be on a solid, level surface and there must be enough room for large vehicles to manoeuvre.

The hard sell is managing any increase in visits by non self-contained RVs (no more poos in the bushes at the dog beach thanks very much) and convincing locals that the RVs can resist the urge to stay in our beautiful city for more than short periods.

*Ski- spending kids inheritance (no apostrophe, because the inheritance does not belong to the kids).

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