Before the world got turned upside down by good old COVID-19 and gatherings of large numbers were still allowed, the crew from Sunseeker and Marvel Caravans on Queensland's Sunshine Coast held their annual Owner's Rally.
When Chris Michel from Sunseeker Caravans first contemplated an owner's rally a couple of years ago, he thought that he could make do with a BBQ, a couple of kilos of snags and a marquee. Little did he realise that the owners of Sunseeker and Marvel Caravans would jump on board the idea, and before he knew it there were 80 vans at the inaugural meet-up.
This number grew to 125 for the second year, and for its third year, 140 vans and their owners descended on Habitat Noosa, on the banks of Lake Cootharaba in the Noosa Hinterland.
Run over three days and two nights, the owner's rally is a great way for Sunseeker and Marvel Caravans to give something back to their community. It bring owners together from all over the country to have a beer and a yarn and to check out the great setups that regularly tour our country.
I was lucky enough to have a chat with a few of them, including Bob and Dawn Benes. Bob and Dawn were first timers to the rally, and they hold a special place in the Sunseeker world, having purchased the very first Sunseeker Mirage back in 2016.
Testament to the build quality of all Sunseeker and Marvel vans, Bob and Dawn still have that van. Not ones to sit home, they've towed it from Port Douglas in Far North Queensland, all the way down to Port Augusta in South Australia and beyond.
Bob told me that he wasn't a spiritual bloke, but the favourite place he's dragged the Mirage was to Uluru. He reckons that there's just something about that place, and I'd have to agree.
Also making an appearance at Habitat Noosa was the Hoger Family — Travis, Alicia and their two kids. Now, I have to admit, I got pretty envious while chatting to Travis. You see, the Hoger crew have been full time on the road since September 2018 and are just about to start their second lap of Aus.
Getting pulled behind their new RAM2500 is a Sunseeker Desert Storm Family model with bunks for the kids. This family has plans to travel for at least another 18 months, maybe more.
Considering some of the tracks they've travelled, including the Gibb River Road, Travis said that he couldn't be happier with how the van has performed and the service from Sunseeker has been nothing short of top shelf.
Towards the end of their first lap, they had an issue with a drawer latch. After a quick phone call, the problem was sorted and when they went to pick the new latch up from the post, they found not one, but five new ones had been supplied. Just in case.
Rally newcomers, Jason and Nic Caldow and their three kids, also came along for a fantastic weekend amongst likeminded travellers.
Jason told me that it was an awesome couple of days and that they would definitely be back next year. He said he loved walking around, meeting new friends and being able to check out everyone's vans and getting some great ideas.
Being from the Sunny Coast, Jason said that buying local played a major part when he purchased his 19’6” Marvel Golden Child triple bunk van. With a full offroad warranty and with Marvel being based on the Sunshine Coast, he knew that if he did have a problem, then he was close to the source.
Future plans for the Caldow crew are a trip through the centre of Australia, before working their way along the Western Australian coastline.
While a good time is definitely encouraged, it's not all just kicking back and enjoying drinks and nibbles at happy hour. On the Friday night of the rally, a massive charity auction was held for Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Warriors. The Sunseeker and Marvel community selflessly dug deep into their pockets to support the cause, raising over $12,000.
Throughout the course of the weekend, there was also educational tips and live demonstrations taking place, including the importance of wheel alignments and caravan servicing. There was even a special appearance by Ron Wilson AKA KingBrown, who took aspiring camp oven cooks under his wing and let them in on a few of his secrets.
But perhaps the highlight of the weekend was the Marvel versus Sunseeker cricket match. It proved to be a massive hit with all who participated and watched, with many laughs and a fair bit of light-hearted sledging too. Marvel topped the scoresheets, running out a convincing win by eleven runs over Sunseeker.
After what was another fantastic event, it's very easy to see why the number of attendees to the Sunseeker Marvel Owner's Rally keeps growing year on year. If it keeps going the way it has, they might have to start looking for a bigger venue.