Saturday, January 29, 2011

Caravan park living

At Robe Caravan Park they sure pack 'em in. It's serious high density living where your neighbour is almost right on top of you. It's quite amazing really. People leave their homes to travel hundreds of kilometres to go camping in the wild outdoors and end up living in a zone that's more crowded than the city. I guess the idea is that you spend most of your time away from the van site swimming at the beach or fishing. It's not quite as densely packed as an English music festival at least. I recall pulling into Reading station and getting a glimpse of the Reading music festival site for the first time. I'd never seen so many tents before in my life. English festivals resemble a refugee camp to such an extent that Oxfam test out their portable toilets there before sending them off to war torn countries. They figure that if they can handle the worst that English youth can throw at them over a few days of drugged out mayhem, then they can probably  handle 100,000 displaced people in Darfur.
We never went to caravan parks with Mum and Dad when we were kids. In fact we never went camping at all. My first experience of a caravan park was when I'd just finished high school at 17 and flew up to the Gold Coast with 3 mates. All of us were in that euphoric state that is now called schoolies week. That period of pure celebration after exams are over and before the drama and angst of receiving results comes along. In essence it was the same then as I'm sure it is now. Basically two weeks of consuming as much alcohol as possible and somehow trying to get laid. We were staying in a studio style cabin with bunk beds and had been warned about keeping the noise levels down. It hadn't been too much of an issue as we'd mostly been partying out at pubs and clubs, only coming back to the cabin to pass out. That was until we decided to stay in one night and do our drinking there. I don't remember a whole lot about the night but I do recall that it went until around 5AM. At 6AM we were woken harshly by a ferocious knocking on the door. Somebody else got it together to open the door for the irate manager and I remember surveying the scene from the relative comfort of my bed while taking in his tirade. There were bottles and cans all over the pace, along with half eaten takeaway food and their wrappers. Clothes were strewn everywhere. And in the middle of the room there was an upturned table and some bench seats that only hours before had been fixed to the wall. The place had been uncompromisingly trashed. He told us that we had one hour to clean the place, pack up and be out of there. I think we were only 5 days or so in to a two week stay. Somehow, on one hour's sleep, we managed to put the place in a bit more order. We moved out as demanded and after some momentary panic of where we were going to sleep, we booked ourselves into the caravan park right across the road.
Here in Robe some thirty years later, it's fair to say that things have been a lot more calm than that. While visiting with some neighbouring campers a few nights ago and sharing a couple of quiet beers, a security guard came by at 10pm just to let us know that it was now late and  that we should ensure that we kept our talking levels down, so as not to disturb the other sleeping campers. Jazzy looked up at me with raised eyebrows. It seemed early even for a 10 year old.
Since we left Dean and Mel's place in North Warrandyte a couple of weeks ago, all of our stays so far on this trip have been in caravan parks. They are very convenient places providing electricity hook up, showers, washing machines and playgrounds for the kids. But it's not really my true view of camping. We're moving on from here today, up to the Coorong National Park. There'll be no facilities of any sort there other than a spider inhabited toilet perhaps. But there will be a lot more space to camp in and hopefully some wildlife to see other than the rugrats of other campers. I think we are set up now with all that we need and have a lot more familiarity with the workings of our van. We'll see how we go.

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