One Saturday in September, 2006, my life changed forever, when I started an association with the newly-formed Australian Caravan Club (ACC) which has lasted for 10 years so far.
My wife Vi and I were members of the RACV Caravan Club and had managed their camping area on the foreshore at Sorrento, Vic, for some years, but I believed there was a need for something more: a united voice for caravanners similar to the Caravan Club in the UK with its more than 35,000 members and fantastic member benefits.
I’d expressed these views through my ‘On the Wallaby’ column (see page 216) in Caravan World a number of times but it wasn’t until that fateful day at Queensland’s Golden Beach that I found what I’d been looking for.
A number of us had gathered for an unofficial ‘weekend escape’ organised through Caravaners Forum on the internet and Grant Stable, the secretary of the new ACC, sent some information brochures down to our gathering. I read the aims of the new club and went to find Grant, who was living in the park while his family’s new house was being built. I gave him our completed application form and joining fee and, later in the day, he told me he’d been in touch with the chairman and they offered me a position on the Board of Directors.
It took me a couple of weeks to accept the offer – little knowing that quite soon afterwards I’d be the chairman myself, a position I held for the next five years.
SERIES OF FIRSTS
That five years saw a great number of firsts as the club grew by leaps and bounds.
The first Nomad – our club magazine – was produced by the secretary until membership growth made it necessary to have it published commercially and I’m still the co-editor, with my role these days of proofreading it before it goes to the printers.
Our first branch – the Sunshine Nomads – had their its muster at Kingaroy, Qld, and I had the privilege of handing the president the first branch banner. During the weekend, we visited the Bjelke Peterson property and had pumpkin scones with Lady Flo.
The first national muster was held at Byron Bay, NSW, in 2007 and was a great success with about 150 members attending. I have been to all but one of the eight national musters held since then and even though health issues kept me away from the Maryborough muster in person, I was able to be at the annual meeting through a Skype link – they could see me on a large screen and I could see the members on my computer screen.
We formed our first committees quite early in the piece as there was too much work for the six voluntary directors to do on our own and these included budget camping, member benefits, lobbying, etc.
Our monthly board meetings were initially held using MSN Messenger as we were scattered all over Australia – in fact, I conducted a board meeting from a camping ground in France surrounded by lavender fields – it was harvest time and, as I typed, the glorious smell of fresh-cut lavender was almost overwhelming. On another occasion, our treasurer was in the Middle East, our secretary was in WA, I was in Queensland and the other three directors were in New South Wales and Victoria.
I was lucky to be on our first ACC Tagalong Tour that took us into far western Queensland before arriving at the national muster at Casino. It was a fabulous trip organised by John and Brenda Somerville and friends made during the trip are still friends to this day. It was the first of many tagalongs including one organised by ex-Kiwis John and Brenda to New Zealand’s North Island. We hired 18 motorhomes for that trip for the 17 couples and me.
John and Brenda have recently moved back to live in New Zealand to be near their family but I’m hoping they will organise a South Island Tagalong one year soon while I’m still travelling around.
A HUGE PART OF MY LIFE
The ACC has been a fantastic part of my life for the past 10 years and I’ve made so many friends along the way. I’ve gained a lot of satisfaction from my membership through having been involved in helping form a number of new branches, assisting staffing of ACC stalls at caravan shows and had a lot of help from the media when I’ve been looking for publicity for the start of new branches and for our national muster.
We had Ros Bromwich, editor of Caravan World, with us at our first national muster and the magazine has been generous with support through the years – they even supplied the souvenir wine glasses given to all ACC members who were there at Byron Bay for that first national muster.
With the 10th National Muster taking place in Shepparton in October this year, the ACC has come a long way since its inception. I’ve been lucky to have been part of it during that time and hope to be able to continue my active membership for a few more years yet.
The ACC is a club for all RVers – membership is for owners of any RV whether it is a caravan, camper trailer, campervan, motorhome, fifth wheeler or slide-on camper.
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #558 December 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!