By Kirra Grimes

REGIONAL Victorians and others outside Stage Four lockdown zones are hitting the road in unprecedented numbers for their end of year holidays, prompting a surge in sales of Australian made caravans.

Iconic Australian manufacturer Jayco recently announced more than 250 new job opportunities at its Dandenong South headquarters, confirming demand for caravans and other recreational vehicles (RVs) had “skyrocketed” recently, and was expected to remain high while air travel was limited due to the pandemic.

Jayco’s national sales manager Scott Jones said the company had seen record interest and sales in caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes over the past few months, which had opened up new opportunities at its head office and factory, including production assembly, service technicians, maintenance specialists, team leaders, supervisors, and office managers.

“There has been a near-65 per cent increase in sales nationwide since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Jones said.

“Our facility and production lines have never been busier and we have hundreds of new RVs to deliver to our customers, so we’re accelerating our production to ensure travellers can get on the road as soon as possible,” he said.

A great way to travel

Cape Paterson retirees Mike and Anne Walsh are looking forward to their next getaway in their 21ft Jurgens Lunagazer – which they’ve owned for the past 4.5 years – saying caravan travel not only allows ultimate freedom and cost savings, but connection to a friendly community, just about anywhere you park.

Anne and Mike have travelled all the way up the east coast in their caravan, and had been hoping to explore South and Western Australia this year, until border closures foiled their plans.

Instead, as regional restrictions have eased, they’ve enjoyed shorter trips to places like 90 Mile Beach and The Murray, with the potential for more weekends away whenever the mood (and the right weather) strikes them.

Anne said the caravan purchase was a significant investment, but something the couple had always wanted to do in retirement.

“And it’s been one of the best things we ever did,” she said.

“It’s a very relaxing way to travel and you meet a lot of lovely people – not just when you’re travelling but also through the Facebook groups that do get togethers all over the country.

“It’s definitely more cost-effective too, especially when you can find free camping spots, and you have the facilities like we do to live off the grid.

“You can have all the comforts of home, as well as the freedom. But just make sure you’ve got a good towing capacity, and if you’re going somewhere in peak season, book your site well in advance.

“Most trips we’ve done though, we’ve just followed our nose and ended up finding really nice places.”