Caravanning made easy: Expert tips Part 2

By: Chris Whitelaw, Photography by: Chris Whitelaw

A bit of planning and preparation goes a long way.

Caravanning made easy: Expert tips Part 2
Some people like to ‘wing it’ when they go on a trip, which is fine, up to a point

Found Part 1 of our Caravanning made easy: Expert tips helpful? We bring you some more expert tips below!

Some people like to ‘wing it’ when they go on a trip, enjoying the sense of freedom and excitement of a journey into the great unknown, without the constraints of deadlines or locations that must be achieved every day – which is fine, up to a point. But this free-wheeling approach has its drawbacks. For example, missing a must-see attraction down a side road, or arriving at a van park with no booking at the end of a long drive only to find it’s full.

For me, planning a trip is half the enjoyment – building a sense of anticipation that is satisfied in execution. My family and friends might call me ‘Captain Clipboard’, but no one has ever complained that we didn’t get the absolute most out of every trip. Homework is not just about identifying routes, camps, attractions and events; it’s also about setting realistic targets in daily mileage and driving times, ensuring that you arrive at a destination safely and with plenty of time to enjoy what’s there.


There’s something about cooking a meal on a campfire or the Weber baby Q that really adds to the enjoyment of the great outdoors. No question. But sometimes – especially after a long day in the saddle or when the weather makes outdoor cooking unfeasible – it’s great to be able to pull out a pre-cooked meal from the chiller and sit back with a cold one while it reheats.

I have found this particularly useful on first nights in camp, after you’ve driven ages to get to ‘the spot’ and set up, and on last nights, when you might want to do some packing and avoid dirtying pots and pans that have to be washed up. Pre-cooking some meals also means that they can be frozen to stretch the provisions further and save on space that might otherwise be taken up with bulky fresh foods or perishables.


We own a Kimberley Karavan, which is a great little offroad-capable hybrid. It’s versatile and compact but, it has to be said, the onboard fridge/freezer is small – only 130L – and is of foreign manufacture.

The first aspect presents an obvious limitation but the second only became apparent at Borroloola, NT, when it stopped working. As it happened, a local fridge mechanic had parts on hand to get it going again but only after a couple of days. By then, the beer would have become warm and the food rotten, had it not been for the ARB-badged Engel fridge mounted in the back of our LandCruiser.

We’ve had it for years and it’s never missed a beat. Sure, it might take up some space in the back of the truck but its great advantage is as a back-up device with an additional 50L or so for essential supplies, which can extend our time in the bush between shopping stops.


When our kids travelled with us, up to about 15 years ago, we always made sure to have plenty of things on hand to amuse them, either alone or together as a family, such as cards, board games, books and the like. If they had spare energy to burn after bushwalking or swimming, we’d pull out the footy, the frisbee or the shuttlecock set.

One game that became a family favourite was bocce, which is relatively lightweight, compact and durable enough to withstand some of the rough courts we set up in the bush or on the beach. We pack it even now, along with the Scrabble, Boggle, Greed, Yahtzee, dominoes, Mah Jong and backgammon, as well as a deck (or two) of cards and a copy of Hoyle for new two-person card games.

We sometimes also take a laptop computer to watch DVDs and a Belkin converter for recharging it out of the dashboard cigarette lighter between camps.

Easy chairs

After a long day in the saddle, one of the great enjoyments of camp life is, ironically, being able to sit down – not on a wooden picnic bench or one of those tiny backless tripods that only accommodate one cheek, but on a fair dinkum camp chair.

There are lots of them on the market – lightweight, portable, folding (in different ways), reclining, with head rests, lumbar supports, attachable side tables or pockets for drinks, phones or insect repellent. Whatever, the most important thing is to have one that suits you best, so that you can sit for hours around the campfire or with a rod beside the creek or take a nana-nap under the coolabah tree. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #549 March 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!