Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pink My Ride - Vicky's Makeover

This is part of an article from Issue 3 of Vintage Caravan Magazine

Recently I decided that my caravan Vicky's original cream coloured beige walls did not work with my thoroughly pink interior, so although I appreciated her originality, it was time to “pink my ride” and give her a bit of a makeover.

Before: Stripped bare - Vicky's thoroughly original cream & beige interior

I stripped out the entire interior and sanded all the walls back and repainted them in clean, crisp white, which has made the inside look so much bigger and cleaner.   

The first coat of white paint goes on

 I also ripped out the original beige and brown sparkly floor tiles and replaced them with traditional black and white check and have reupholstered the dinette with hot pink fake fur and sewed pink curtains. After I had stripped the van out I decided I quite liked the front end being open and opted not to put curtains back up there to maximize the effect of the classic curved panoramic Perspex windows. For privacy and dark sleep ins I have the “bedroom” end of the van curtained and a privacy curtain in between the front and back halves of the van.

The black and white floor tiles ready to go down on the sanded floor

After - The lino tiles look awesome!

What I have learned since decorating Vicky is that not all pinks go together and that there are about a million varieties of pink! So I kind of gave up trying to coordinate it in the end and just let it become a crazy mixture of things I like. After all, that’s what vintage vans are about – individuality! What I have ended up with is a somewhat strange mixture of Gidget’s Hawaiian holiday meets Barbie’s pink campervan, but I just love it to bits.

I had the metal plaque Mum got me made into a full size sticker for the fridge

My van has become like a cubby house to me now. Even when I am home, I’ll sometimes go out and just sit out there with my computer or a good book - I just love the coziness of that little space so much.
Thank you to pinup photographer Helen McLean for the fabulous photos taken at Garterbelts & Gasoline Nostalgia Festival and for loving Vicky as much as I do!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Garterbelts & Gasoline Nostalgia Festival @ Mt. Tamborine April 29th – May 2nd

This article appeared in the 2nd issue of Vintage Caravan Magazine - June/July 2011

Having only just completed my caravan Vicky’s interior makeover the week before, it seemed as good a time as any to hit the road once more and show her off a bit. The occasion: the third annual Garterbelts & Gasoline Nostalgia Festival. Held for the first time in the idyllic location of Mt. Tamborine in the Gold Coast Hinterland, the euphoria started to set in even before we arrived at the showgrounds, as the perfect weather and breathtaking scenic drive up the mountain filled me with a sense of anticipation and adventure. The thrill of taking my little Vicky out and about to a new setting in conditions like this is one of life’s better joys and always makes me so proud and happy to be a caravanner.

Once inside the showgrounds, the pink flamingos were put in place and the banana lounge brought out to take advantage of the sensational summer-like weather. Then it was off the nearby Saint Bernard’s Hotel for a steak meal, some live rockabilly jives and the judging of the Miss Garterbelts & Gasoline pin-up contest.  The party went on well into the night and saw me crawling back into the van way past my usual bedtime.
Early on Sunday morning, even with earplugs in, the familiar rumbling of hot rods could be heard as streams of entrants and their pre-1970 vehicles rolled in to the showgrounds in preparation for the big day – the classic and custom car displays. Several vintage caravans, along with Vintage Caravan Magazine’s own “Vicky” were also on display and proved to be very popular with the crowds. And I was stoked to spot this pink Vauxhall!

The great weather continued throughout the entire weekend creating ideal circumstances for a long weekend festival of lowbrow art, tiki carving, hot rods, classic and custom cars, vintage fashion, pinup photography, market stalls, plenty of rockin’ live music and lots and lots of dancing.  Along with over 300 show cars, a crowd of almost 4,000 filled the showgrounds with most in full retro regalia creating a sea of slick back hairdos for the guys and circle skirts, petticoats, polka dots and parasols for the gals. 
The next day, with all the cars gone, I was lucky enough to get some photos done of Vicky and I by the renowned pinup photographer: the gorgeous Helen Mclean before hitting the road for the 2-hour journey home. Assisted by Miss Christine from Lindy’s Charm School for Girls on hair and makeup, the Helen McLean pinup photo booth proved to be one of the most popular attractions of the festival.

A big shout out has to go to Paul Biagini and wife Amanda for putting together what was probably one of the best and definitely the most fun events I’ve been to in a long time. The choice of location and the enthusiasm and dedication to the nostalgia lifestyle shown by the festival organisers created a fantastic festival vibe and Vicky and I can’t wait for next year’s event!

This is the Saint Bernard from St. Bernard's Hotel at Mt. Tamborine who obviously has a very tough life - I found him lounging in the Pokies lounge!

Vintage Vans turn heads at Lennox:

This is the article I wrote for the very first issue of Vintage Caravan Magazine - May 2011

The best thing about owning a vintage caravan is hitching it up and setting off down the highway on yet another adventure to a destination far away enough from home to feel like a getaway, but close enough to come home from by Monday. I know as soon as the van is on the back of the car, my spirit starts to soar and small butterflies play in my tummy as I relish in the thought of yet another weekend change of scenery with my portable little home. But what makes a vintage caravan outing even more fun is being able to share it with a whole bunch of other vintage caravan enthusiasts.

On the first weekend of February a group of vintage caravanners from south east Queensland and northern NSW converged on the idyllic location of Lake Ainsworth in the seaside holiday location of Lennox Head, NSW for a weekend of fun in the sun, swimming in the tea tree lake and great company. Having experienced nothing but rain for almost the entire summer, we were greeted with a heat wave, starry nights and bright sunny days. Annexes were put up and banana lounges unfolded and boogies boards were fetched from boots of cars as the kids and road-weary parents hit the nearby lake for a cooling sunset dip.

After convoying down the highway with several other vintage vanners and a scenic detour through Byron Bay, Friday night dinner was a big communal sausage sizzle dinner on the BBQ’s.  The laughs and yarns continued well into the night, and long after the caravan park lights had been turned off. These first night chats are always a great way for vanners to catch up on any latest developments in caravan restorations and compare notes on the journey. On Saturday morning a few dedicated and less sleep-deprived members of the group decided to hit up the local garage sales and op shops in search of vintage caravan treasure while others took in the sights and beaches of Byron Bay. Sunday saw the owners of all the hot rods and classic cars line up to take any willing passengers for a joy ride around the scenic coastal roads giving the locals at the Lennox Heads pub some great Sunday afternoon entertainment.

 The Lennox Head weekend featured a great assortment of around thirty vintage caravans with a large number of Olympics fibreglass vans convening in one corner of the Lake Ainsworth Caravan Park. With all eras covered from the 30’s through to the 70’s, there were on offer quite a few aluminium clad vans such as Viscounts, Chesneys and Franklins, a good selection of older styled bondwood vans, including a few folding varieties and a couple of Sunliner fiberglass bubbles in various states of restoration.  Everyone had such a good time that they decided to do it all again a month later, although the weather let us down the second time around, sometimes it’s not about the destination, or even the journey – sometimes it’s just about the company you share it all with.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My new 1963 vauxhall PB Cresta

Vicky the caravan now has a new partner. Having had the ad for this cute classic Cresta pinned to my fridge since August last year, my dream finally came true when she was delivered to my house recently. Every time I had opened the fridge I had looked at the photo in the torn out piece of newspaper and said: "She will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine". I watched over the next few months as the price was reduced and then, in early December, the ad stopped appearing and I worried I might have waited too long and missed out. So when it reappeared just before Christmas at an even lower price I took no chances and bought her.
So it's not the EH Holden I had in mind, but I reckon it's the next best thing. It's a Vauxhall Cresta PB built in 1963 and very similar in design to the EJ Holden as it was also made by GMH. But for some reason, the Vauxhall does not seem to have captured the Aussie hearts the way the EJ and EH's have and when I excitedly tell motoring enthusiasts of my new aquisition I get chuckles and other less favourable responses.

Well, I don't get it. I think she's beautiful and I can't wait to get her restored and, yes, painted pink! At the moment she's in perfect running order, drives like a dream with her very cool "Hydramatic" automatic transmission and comfy bench seats and lots and lots of shining chrome in almost perfect condition.
We are already booked in to make our first appearance at an upcoming clasic car show - not as a show car, but as a vintage van and classic car combo in original condition and I can't wait to get the towbar put on her and take her and Vicky out for their very first photo shoot.

And here's one of the best things about this car; the mascot. Apparently it is off a 1954-55 Velox and has obviously been added by one of the previous owners, but I just love it!  All the chrome on the car is all in great condition and it even has a spare grille and hubcap in the boot!
Despite a severe lack of information on these cars, I have managed to find out that there are only around 50 of these cars still on the road in the UK where they were made, and only a handful left here in Australia, so despite what anyone else might think, I reckon I've scored something really special here and I love her to bits!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Southward bound!

Maleny to Lennox head, NSW and back 4-6 Feb 2011 (562km)

This trip had been in the planning for quite some time. The weekend away was pre-booked with a whole swag of members from the vintage caravan forums and so yet another weekend of old vans, classic cars, hot rods and good company was assured.
When Mum had told me she was planning a visit over from New Zealand at around this time I'd said "I have a vintage caravan outing then". She had suggested rescheduling her trip until after that. "No way!" I said. "Come along, you'll love it!" Having already made my son promise to join me on this one, I thought why not make it a family affair and drag Mum along too?

Mum's flight got in at 10.30am. At 9am I was still running around Maleny organising last minute things like an oil top up for the car. Then there was some last minute tweaking of the electricals on the tow bar to fix the right indicator which was wired wrong. Thanks to the lovely Maleny mechanic at JLR Mechanical and the Maleny Auto electrician next door for squeezing those last minute repairs in for me! Van all loaded on to the car, and bags all packed, the next stop was a fuel up and air pressure check on all tyres before hitting the road; destination Brisbane International. At around this point, running about half an hour behind schedule I got a text from Mum. "I'm here, where are you?". Ummm, "I'm still in Beerwah!" Oops! I raced down the highway at the speed limit (not something I normally do when pulling a van) to pick up a waiting Mum with the hopes of then dashing down to Yatala to meet the meandering convoy at 11.30 for the rest of the journey. Amazingly we made it! The pace slowed considerably from there, as the older cars and their cute caravans cruised down the highway at a much more leisurely pace, getting us into Byron Bay for a scenic detour and arriving at Lake Ainsworth Caravan Park at around 2pm QLD time.

The weather was awesome! We went for a swin in the surf once camp was set up, and then soothed weary bodies in the warmer and more sheltered tea tree lake. Once night fell, there was a big sausage sizzle at the communal BBQ area and vintage vanners gathered for a feed and a yarn well into the night.

On Saturday morning while some of the vintage vanners decided to go off treasure hunting at local garage sales, Mum, Bas and I went to Byron Bay. Although the beach there was nice, I found the town itself just a bit too full of tourists and hectic busy-ness for my liking, so we parked the car down the southern end of the beach and went for a long walk up to the lighthouse and back and all got severely sunburnt in the process! The lighthouse was beautiful, as always; a most photogenic landmark it is, set against the bright blue sky on the most perfect Summer's day. It was the first taste of a real summer I'd felt in a long, long time. All we've had here in the "Sunshine State" for the past three months or more, is rain!
I accosted a guy in the lighthouse carpark who was applying sunblock and asked if he'd mind if we could have a bit. "Is it always this hot here?" I asked. "Are you not from around here?" he asked. "No, I'm from Queensland!" It was pretty funny.

Anyway, we had a blast, despite looking like beetroots, came back for fish and chips and slept soundly. On Sunday morning Banno's crew made use of their new industrial-sized pancake makers for a communal griddle cake breakfast on the BBQ's - yum yum!

Then all the coolest cars and hot rods lined up and took many willing passengers for a quick blast around Lennox head which caused quite a stir with the onlookers at the local pub! Mum, Bas and I all got to ride in Banno's bright orange rod which went beautifully with the cute Sunliner they had only just finished in time to bring down to this event.

There were a great selection of vans and cars to be seen, a total of 26 vans attended and the whole weeekend was relaxed, stress-free and loads of fun with a real seaside family-holiday feel to the weeekend. And that, after all is what vintage caravanning is all about! Bas had fun with Izzy and the Banno boys - something to do with sparklers, glow sticks and bombs... hmmmm... no damage done apparently!

I managed to get some video footage of all the vans as I wandered around on Sunday morning before everyone packed up to go home. The Olympic fibregalass contingent were all gathered in one corner (they assure me this was pure coincidence). Then there were 1950's bondwoods, 1960's aluminiums, and a few fibreglass bubble shaped sunliners like Joey and Banno's along with a teardop and a couple of folding vans scatterd about within our designated part of the park.

For all her initial doubts, I think I've managed to convince Mum, as I have down with so many people now, that caravanning is not "camping". It's so much more civilized being able to rock up at your destination with your own bedroom all made up just the way you like it, a fully stocked pantry, a working fridge, stove, and electricity. This 'aint no roughing it - I adventure in retro style! Now Mum is even looking at vans for sale in New Zealand so I think I may have hooked another one!
So, the trip home was a lot quicker without the convoy and without incident. I love having that little van behind me, it makes the whole journey so much more fun.
We all had so much fun at Lennox Head that we've decided to do it all again next month.

Congratulations Mum on your first Vintage caravan outing!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Woodford Folk festival 2010 (aka: "Mudfest")

After weeks of preparation, countless lists of "things to pack" and a packed-to-the-roof caravan load, on the 24th December we drove down the range a mere twenty minutes from home to set up camp for the Woodford Folk Festival. After weeks of incessant rain, the site was muddy and boggy and all attempts to reverse into position failed due to loss of traction as the mud turned my tyres into racing slicks. But I managed to find a good spot in the volunteers camping area by driving to the top of the road and literally sliding down to the flat at the bottom. I unhitched the van and set up the full annexe for the first time - complete with tarp and carpet flooring, two camp beds and inner spring mattresses, and our outdoor setting from home, including a coffee table. 

The annexe was the boys zone and our lounge and the inside of the van remained my space (and miraculously managed to stay mud free for the whole week!)
Having had the gas reconnected the week before, we had the three-way fridge and gas cooker going and compared to most punters in leaking tents, we were the envy of many of our neighbours. Mud was kept out of the annexe with a compulsory foot-bath beside the annexe entry and a stricly enforced "boots off" policy before entering. Yeah, I know, I'm a cleanliness nazi, but as much as I love sloshing in the mud with the rest of the hippies, I sure as hell don't want to sleep in it, which is why I have a van in the first place!

The festival was wonderful despite the rain. It was very much a showcase of multi-coloured gumboots and rainbow umbrellas and, although I was not keen to take the good camera out on the really wet days, we were lucky enough to get one day of sunshine which was a cause for great celebration and so I made sure I took the opportunity to get the camera out and capture some of it. 

I was also stoked to see the addition of a new venue/ performance space I am sure they made just for me called "Trailer Trash" - a collection of artist-decorated old caravans assembled in a circle and a stage for live music in amongst it all providing the answer to that question "where do old carvans go when they die?" I now know - they go to Woodford!

Everything about Woodford is art - even the toilet walls covered in posters advertising the various gigs happening around the many stages over the course of the week provide a visual feast.

And every year the intersections on the streets become shrines to a combined artistic effort as addition after addition is made to the spirals and mazes scratched into the gravel.

Yes, I do love Woodford. Despite the mud, the way too many late nights that saw me crawling back into the van in the wee hours of the morning, and the sore throat I've come home with, I know I'll do it all again next year.