Love your caravanning neighbour

By: Claudia Bouma, Photography by: Ellen Dewar


When you go camping you don’t get to choose your neighbours, but you can do a lot to establish a great relationship, says Claudia Bouma.

Love your caravanning neighbour
Don’t you love the stories where total strangers become the best friends during a camping holiday?

Neighbours come in all shapes and sizes; some are nice, some interesting while still others prefer to keep to themselves.

We happen to live in a quiet street with great neighbours where the kids like to play and we know they’re safe. To us, the saying ‘Better a good neighbour than a far friend’ certainly holds true. 

When you go camping you don’t get to choose your neighbours, but you can do a lot to establish a good relationship. Don’t you love the stories where total strangers become the best friends during a camping holiday? I thrive on those feel-good stories which counterbalance the horrific things you read in the newspaper and watch on TV these days.

During our last trip to the Grampians we had many different neighbours as most people only camped a couple of nights while we stayed put for 18 days. I remember the day this lovely couple rocked up in their Toyota Landcruiser, towing a hard-top camper trailer. As soon as they opened their mouths I knew they were Dutch and so I greeted them in my mother tongue. You should’ve seen the look on their faces!

They quickly explained they had trouble with the trailer but they didn’t know how to communicate this to the RACV because they didn’t know the correct terms. My husband Chris had a look at the wheel and realised the wheel bearings were the problem. One phone call later, the RACV was on its way with a tow truck. The lady, Ellen, was so grateful she pulled out a bag of pepernoten, a Dutch treat. Unfortunately, they couldn’t stay because they had to find alternative accommodation while their trailer was being repaired, but it was smiles and hugs all around as we said goodbye.

A few days later, a German family with two young girls hobbled into the camping area and parked their Kombi van next to us. The father approached me with a worried look on his face and pointed at the left back tyre – it was flat as a pancake. He had never changed a tyre in his life and was hoping Chris could help him. They had arrived in Australia only two days ago so it was rather disappointing when they ended up with a flat tyre as soon as they hit the dirt.

The men set to work; I watched them and acted as a translator. Johan did most of the work but was extremely grateful for Chris’ willingness to help him. Twenty minutes and the spare tyre was on – the next day they would drive into Hall’s Gap to replace the flat tyre.

I’m sure everyone has stories like this to tell and I think it’s important people share these tales. Sure, sometimes we experience the disappointing side of people when something gets stolen or damaged but let’s focus on the positive experiences. It all starts with being a good neighbour yourself – who knows how many wonderful people you’ll meet during your next holiday. 

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