It’s a busy day for the Australian Olympic swimming legend.
After a breakfast marking the launch of the Queensland Caravan and Camping Show, Dawn Fraser spares 10 minutes for a chat, before rushing off to sign autographs at the Winnebago stand and then to later catch a flight to her Sydney home.
But that’s the life of an ambassador. Dawn’s affiliation with Winnebago has taken her all over the country for appearances at Australia’s major caravanning shows, on a fuel consumption “Safari” and the occasional trip with the Winnebago RV Club.
“What I really like about motorhoming is that it’s very self-sufficient,” Dawn reveals.
“As far as having all the necessities such as washing machines and so on. We are now travelling in Winnebago’s Longreach, which has solar panels and a generator that let you go much further. You don’t have to worry about the fridge either, as it switches over to charge from the Longreach battery automatically as you travel.”
More importantly, though, Dawn gets to travel Australia with her family.
"It’s a highlight,” she admits.
“I get to spend so much time with my grandson (Jackson) and daughter (Dawn-Lorraine). We live in different states, and the experience has been so good for my grandson. He has learned so much about the history of Australia – not many children get that opportunity,” she says.
"We’ve just travelled from Alice Springs up to the Three Ways, across to Cairns and down to the Great Barrier Reef. We went out to the reef in beautiful weather: he (my grandson) was in the surf and he saw a turtle, it was very special.”
She says that the family travels together, “whenever my daughter can get the time!
“The longest trip we’ve been on was from Sydney to Melbourne, to the whole of Tasmania for six weeks. Tasmania was the biggest surprise of all. We went right around Davenport and got off the road, there were so many places that if you didn’t own a motorhome, you just wouldn’t know were there.”
In addition to learning about Australia with her family, Dawn has gained other skills as well.
“A skill I thought I’d ever have, was to get my Medium Rigid (MR) license,” says Dawn.
“There was sitting the test with the RTA, getting the practical experience and knowing the rules and regulations for driving a big rig like this.”
As to where she plans to travel to next, Dawn is undecided.
“The Winnebago RV club will be going to the Aberdeen Highland Games, up the Birdsville Track, and they’ve got a trip planned to the Pilbara in August…
“I will be joining the club in a few of their trips in the course of the next 12 months.”
Dawn Fraser has won eight Olympic medals, including four golds, and six Commonwealth Games gold medals. In October 1962 she became the first woman to swim the 100 metres in less than a minute. It was eight years after she retired before her record was broken.
In 1965, Dawn retired from swimming and went on to become a publican, swimming coach and in 1988 became a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the NSW seat of Balmain. She was named Australian of the Year in 1964, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1967 and on June 8, 1998, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).