Season 1, Episode 19

Guests Janice and Rex Drane

Join Benjamin Starr as he interviews Janice and Rex Drane – a couple from Victoria who are very experienced caravanners! They tell of their experiences over the last 30 years and few tips for buying your first caravan.

Hosts & Guests

Benjamin Starr

Janice and Rex Drane

Read the transcript

Ben:  Okay with Driving Our Own Adventure today we’re in the Ingenious Harvey Bay Park and when you go for a drive you can go so many different ways to get here but Janice and Rex know this by the back of their hand. It’s 2045km from Victoria where you live.  How are you?

Janice:  We are well thank you. 

Ben:  I tell you what, you’ve been coming here for over fifteen years!

Janice:  Well look at the weather for a start, compared to Victoria at the moment. We have made   lifelong friends and we do a lot of amazing things don’t we?  Visit amazing places on the way up.

Rex:  This is the third caravan we’ve owned. We hired caravans before that and in between having those caravans as well as, we’ve had a camper trailer for a while where we visited places we couldn’t really go with with the caravan. So yes, it’s been a good and very enjoyable for us.

 Ben:  Is it a big investment to get into caravanning, like if people are listening today and they are thinking I want to get into this, what’s your advice. Because I mean I imagine, I look around at some of these wonderful caravans and you can say that’s fabulous and then you could probably buy it, go I don’t really like it.  I want that one over there.     

Rex:  Well my advice for people, particularly these days is caravanning or camper trailering  is to hire.

Ben:  Really?

Rex:  Before you buy. 

Ben:  Hire before you buy?

Rex: There are many many places to hire these days.  And answering your other part of the question, yes, it is a fair investment because if you buy a large van then you have usually got to buy…

Ben:  A big truck?

Rex:  A bigger vehicle to pull it, not necessarily a truck.

Janice:   That truck is called ”the beast’‘for a very good reason. 

Ben:  Now did you ever think of buying, because when you drive up and down the coast here there’s so many of those new motorhomes driving around. Is that something, is that different to caravanning?

Janice:  Very much so. You are locked in.

Rex:  Yes, so it’s different.  Probably you are a bit more restricted in they are a fair investment.

Ben:  Can I ask you about the friendships that you formed in the in the times travelling.

Janice:   Long term friendships have been very big, especially people we have met here, to the point that we lost a dear friend last year, and it devastated us as if we had lost a member of the family.

Ben: Wow that’s the power of it!

Janice:   That’s the power of it.  And there’s probably a nucleus of us who keep in contact during the year, including friends who come over from New Zealand every year for six months.

Ben:  So, what places have you visited in your time. What are some of the real highlights that you can say “you gotta go here”?

Rex:  We’ve gone from Wilsons Promontory to Cape York. 

Janice:  Southernmost point to the northern most point.  And we took water and stones from Wilsons Promontory and threw them in the water at Cape York.

Ben: Yes.

Janice:  And then, that was great, we met new friends on the way and travelled with themAnd another year we went from Byron Bay which is the eastern most point and we took our bottle of water and stones and we went to the western most point of Australia which is

Rex:  Steep Point

Janice:   In Western Australia and we threw our stone in the water up there.   And we travelled through Aboriginal territory for many many weeks where we had to have three or four different permits to do it. 

Ben:  Oh really

Janice:  And that was mind blowing that trip. That stands out as one of the best things we’ve done. 

Ben:  What was great about it?

Janice:  The remoteness of it.

Ben:  Yes. 

Rex:  The isolation and also, I guess, to us the planning of it was fairly important as well because the fuels a major consideration as well as food, but probably more so the fuel and planning that out.    

Ben:  Yes.

Janice:  You’ve got to do it with friends, so you’ve got back up.

Ben:  Oh, you couldn’t do it by yourself.  No, no, no.

Janice:  Because some days you would be driving, and Rex would say to me “how long has it been since we have seen anybody?” And we’d work it out, it would probably have been three and a half – four hours and we probably travelled three hundred odd kilometres, we hadn’t seen a truck or a vehicle.

Ben:   Its desolate isn’t it.

Janice:  It’s desolate.  

Ben:  You sort of wonder. We did an interview the other day with a family at their property near the    Atherton Tablelands, they… Burke and Wills went through there. I mean when you think about it, those guys… I think they did it because I didn’t know what they’re getting themselves into. 

Janice:  Exactly, we’ve actually been to the cattle station where the Dig Tree is.

Ben:  Right.   

Janice:  And that’s very remote. And we followed in Burke and Wills footsteps for a couple weeks.

 Ben:  And you suddenly realize that they just are….  

Janice:  They were mad.       

Ben:  They were totally mad, weren’t they?

Rex:  They were. And I guess they were also very unlucky.  When go to the Dig Tree and the history of it, that they missed their coordinates and they were catching up with the other party.

Janice:  By twenty-four hours.     

Rex:  By a day in the total amount that they travelled it’s just, it’s tragic in my mind. 

Ben:  Yeah.          

Rex:  I guess that’s what makes history.

Ben:  That’s right.  I mean when you think about it, like, I just drove all the way to Cairns recently and I was saying to a friend of mine in Sydney. You know it’s such different driving outside of the city, I said it’s for me it’s a lot more tiring driving country drives because it is so much more to watch out for.

Janice:  Absolutely.

Ben:  And he was like, are you serious?   Well in the city of have got the luxury of lights; people walking around, there is always something happening. But out on some of these roads you could drive for hours and those highways are pretty remote, you know what I mean. And you have even got to factor in your fuel there going up there because you know. 

Janice:  That’s why we have good radios.

Ben:  Yeah, oh you’ve got radios on board? Yeah including like.  “Breaker, breaker – this is Janice”

Janice:  I’m not in charge of the radio.

Ben:  I can see Janice chatting up all the truck drivers driving past.

Janice:  No.

Ben:  Yeah. 

Janice:  The truck drivers aren’t very happy with caravans. 

Ben:  Oh no, because you slow them down? 

Rex:  Yes exactly.

Ben:  Ha ha ha ha.

Rex:   If there is a Bdouble coming let him go

Ben:  They just don’t like it.  

Rex:  Because we won’t see him again. 

Ben:  No, no, no, no, no they just plough through, don’t they?  

Janice:  And Rex usually talks to them anyway and converses with them and says to them I’ll let you know when it’s safe to pass and they are very grateful. 

Ben:  Tell me, in your times of traveling, what if you get not well, what if you are really sick and all that sort of stuff, I mean, you know healthcare and all that sort of stuff.

Rex:  It is an interesting and it’s a good, good question because this year the caravan that just would normally be over my left shoulder here. They come from South Australia they got to Roma    and the male part of the combination took ill and had to be flown to Brisbane.  So, there’s your Royal Flying Doctors service working for you.

Ben:  Right, okay. 

Rex:  And his wife flew commercial flight either that day or the following day.

Ben: Yes, so you have got to factor that in

Rex:  That’s worth factoring in because with health you never know. 

Ben:  I know.   

Rex:  But overall we’ve been very fortunate and we’ve also been I think fortunate in two ways, the health services do an. 

Ben:  Amazing. 

Rex:  Incredible job. Oh yeah.

Janice:  To the point we have a doctor here in town.

Ben:  Okay, right okay.         

Janice:  That we go to if we need to.

Ben:  Yes.

Rex:   And we’ve got a dentist here. We try to organize ourselves, we are part of a very good medical group at home. So, we have medical check- ups before go. 

Ben:  Before you head off yeah?

Janice:  And when we go home. That’s when we get a hand slap because we’ve been too naughty when we are away.     

Ben:   Oh, right oh Janice, you can’t win.  Doctors love to just pull it down a few notches don’t they – I tell ya!   What would they tell you to do? What would you get into trouble for?

Janice:  Not eating as much fish as what I have been. Oh, right you have to eat more fish?

Rex:  No, she eats too much fish!  

Janice:  No, I eat too much fish the wrong way and not enough red meat.

Ben:    Oh really, gosh. So that’s the thing, I mean these caravans now so well decked, out I mean, you can literally. It’s like a home away from home isn’t it?  

Janice:  Ours is.     

Rex:   It’s our home, when we drive in here this is our winter home.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.    

Janice:  And we try to bring everything along with us.

Ben:  Yes. 

Janice:  To make it our winter home.  Like Rex brings his golf clubs and he play golf.  Quite a group of them every Tuesday afternoon.

Ben:  That’s lovely.  Well look thank you very much for talking to us it’s been very insightful. I mean, What I’m scared off is going to one of those caravan camping and four-wheel drive shows and walking out with something that I didn’t think I was going to buy.That’s what normally happens.

Janice:  That is a risk.

Ben:  It is a risk.They all say though that that’s what happens.

Janice:  Our first caravan it actually took us two years to decide on what we were going to go with.  And we would arrive in Melbourne and we’d have two or three caravan manufacturers to go to.   Rex would have overalls on, and he would have a blue poly tarp and he’d go under the caravan with a torch.

Ben:  Oh, would you?

Janice:  And I’d be in the caravan with a torch inspecting everything within the caravan.

Ben: Yes. And you don’t accept second best.

Rex:  Let’s call it the average van these days seems to be getting around the twenty foot plus mark and you probably would have to invest at least $50,000, or more.

Ben:   Well that’s at least yeahWell thank you very much for your time today. It’s been really, really nice to talk to you both, we’ve had a great time.

Janice:   Thank you very much.

Ben:   There you go, we’ve been Driving Our Own Adventure with Janice and Rex Drane we’re here in the Harvey bay Ingenia Park and, I’ll tell you what – what an inside to caravanning. I don’t think I’m going to go out today and buy a caravan but it’s definitely on my radar.            

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