In around February 1986, then-Caravan World editor Gwen Haslar was contacted by a reader, one Don Whitworth OAM. Don and his wife Erica were keen motorhomers. With their young family including children Ian, Caroline and Jennifer, they had not only toured parts of Australia in their first campervan, a VW pop-top, but subsequently spent four months touring Europe and two months touring the USA – all in campervans or motorhomes! To say they were keen was an understatement.
It was in Britain that the Whitworths learned of the London-based Motorcaravanners’ Club and became members, continuing that membership even when back in Australia.
FOUNDING THE CMCA
It sparked a thought in Don’s mind that Australians should have the benefit of a similar club. It started the Whitworths on a journey that was to become the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA). As part of the setting up process, Don convinced CW editor Gwen to run a one page item in the May 1986 issue of Caravan World on the setting up of the club.
Don and Erica were gratified by the response to the CW article and at the subsequent response at the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane shows, generated by the CW handouts.
Naturally, the CMCA had very slim beginnings with the Whitworth house becoming CMCA HQ and the Whitworth HiAce campervan, a mobile office. Don had been involved in running various businesses and was able to put that experience to good use.
A CLUB WITH NO EQUAL
Since those early beginnings, the CMCA has evolved into what it is today. Of course, it has not all been plain sailing, indeed, the club has gone through some tough times, almost closing at one point. However, that visionary Whitworth spirit persisted in a number of club members, enough to ensure that the legacy of Don Whitworth lives today in the form of a very strong campervan and motorhome club. One unique in many ways because it has its own headquarters building, paid staff, is the combined voice of many motorhomers throughout Australia and offers campervanners and motorhomers a club that has no equal.
Don lived a long and happy life, certainly long enough to see his dream become a reality. He died on Monday, March 9, 2015, surrounded by his family.
It was a privilege to have known him.