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Hello Sailor is Hobart's waterside welcome to caravanning in Australia

March 13, 2008
Hello Sailor is Hobart's waterside welcome to caravanning in Australia

By Garth Morrison Editor GoSeeAustralia and New Zealand

Hobart is the "Hello Sailor" city. Australian marine history ties up at its docks. Bobbing on their mooring lines the fleet includes the oldest working sailing vessel in Australia the May-Queen. Innovation is everywhere.

Sail contrasts with cruise ships which are floating luxury complete with water-view apartments. We love this quirky, slow, surprise of an atmospheric town.

New Year when the Sydney-Hobart yacht race fleet cavort in wonderful eateries, wharfside pubs and cafes is a good time to head south of the Mainland. Our New Zealand friends say they find Tasmania just like home.

Which begs the question - Why would you holiday at home? But it is all good under the travel sun.

This Hobart visit was about caravan conferencing at the imposing Grand Chancellor Hotel near Constitution Dock. All work and no play is not for this Jack Tar and salty Hobart called.

But talking caravanning business for a moment it is obvious that the Mainland is Tasmania bound more than ever. Standing at the corner of Morrison and Elizabeth streets, Hobart the noticeable change in 15min of passing parade is the high number of interstate number plates.

Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and of course the northern neighbour - Victoria.

Tourism Tasmania CEO, Felicia Mariani, reflects the Recreational Vehicle market shift with an image challenge to the caravanning industry.

Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart
Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart

I will never be a Grey Nomad! she told more than 200 industry delegates. I will dye my hair to the day I die!

Felicia says she is interested in the caravanning lifestyle but she is ready to work with the industry to take the grey out of their marketing message.

Tasmania has put its money behind the comment with major sponsorship of the caravanning capers at the plush Grand Chancellor.

There was also an outstanding Tasmania touring stand from which Frank Hussey, Tourism Tasmania, Manager Sector Development delivered informed info in an ear-catching Canadian accent.

His official title doesn't seem to fit caravans, but GoSee knows Frank understands RV and caravanning needs through his informed support of the popular GoSee Lapof Australia caravan feature series with Ross and Jo Whitty and their friends Bill Carolyn Judd.
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Felicia Mariani CEO Tourism Tasmania. Nomad , yes - Grey - NO
Felicia Mariani CEO Tourism Tasmania. Nomad , yes - Grey - NO

Tasmania was their first touring destination. Anyway enough about work - back to the water and Peppermint Bay.

We cruised in high-speed, almost aircraft comfort, to this example of orginal tourism thought from Simon Currant. Simon has a good deal on his Europe-based motorhome if anyone is interested.

Currant is a risk-taker with about 30 years of development and operational background behind him.

He is Chairman of the Tourism Council of Tasmania, a Director of TT-line and a board member of Tourism Tasmania.

His works include Strahan Village, Cradle Mountain Lodge, Gordon River Cruises and Franklin Manor. He is working on turning a defunct pumphouse into a wilderness attraction which will be approach from beneath via what seems to be his version of a pipeline railway.

The Peppermint Bay experience tookyour correspondentback into some of the most beautiful waters I've sailed as the projectile of a purpose-built cruise boat creamed along between the Derwents western shore and the looming peaceful bays of Bruny Island.

Full ahead and flying for Peppermint Bay
Full ahead and flying for Peppermint Bay

The feast at the remarkable venue which was once a country pub was a generous taste of Tasmania.

The Peppermint Bay architecture is out there, but as Simon Currant said he thought about a traditional, predictable Tassie pub and rejected the idea.

This is a look at me which can't be ignored and the locals work with the business and relate to its individual marketing message. If that sounds familiar then, yes - it has a similar ringto Felicia Mariani's thoughts on being a Grey Nomad.

Roger La Salle threw an innovation grenade among caravanning conference delegates which brought positive reaction among trade delegates later.

Why do you build your Recreational Vehicles from such heavy materials? he asked as he delivered his suggestions on Profit through Innovation.

Imaginative menu got full  attention at Peppermint Bay Tas
Imaginative menu got full attention at Peppermint Bay Tas

Roger, perhaps in innocence, had looked hard at the selection of display caravans, motorhomes and tow vehicles which acted as landmark beacons for caravanning lined up in front of Grand Chancellor talk-fest venue.

This year GoSee decided to use its limited resources to attend Trade Workshops. We think the really exciting stuff is happening in the Trade approach to how it meets the needs of Felicia Mariani's Never Grey Nomads.

They are certainly different from when Jayco's Gerry Ryan built his first campers in a Dandenong, Victoria paddock more than 40 years ago.

In June 2006 Gerry Ryan in a keynote address to Energise Enterprise said: It is obvious Australia needs a world class technical and vocational education system.

He named Europe and China and their commitment to manufacturing and said - From a manufacturers point of view, I would like to see an overhaul of the Commonwealths RD programs.

We need competitively priced, high quality components, sourced globally where necessary. And our employees need the capabilities to compete with their counterparts overseas. They need the best tools and technologies available, Gerry Ryan said.

Business that does not innovate goes down
Business that does not innovate goes down

European product is in the Australian and New Zealand markets. The Research and Development behind European product deserves respect.

GoSee's recent series of features on caravanning Around Australia with Ross and Jo Whitty and their European built Geist caravan underline this.

Ross Whitty told GoSee after completing the trip in January - I had a total of three punctures, all on the caravan and had to replace a tyre each on the caravan and Prado (tow vehicle).

The Prado, (diesel), had its services done every 5,000kms and never missed a beat.

The only exception being that one day on the Nullarbor, after 5 hours of driving into a head wind, with the a/c on and the outside temperature climbing from 40C to 49C, the motor started to overheat but quickly dropped back to normal when I turned the a/c off.

The Geist is currently in for some repairs, all under the two year warranty. The major problems being a leaky shower, a cracked bathroom floor, (the second one), and some bubbling in the vinyl floor.

As you know, I had never towed a caravan before this trip, but the Geist towed like a dream and we only had that one incident in Tassie when the brakes got hot on a long downhill run.

Peppermint Bay is not your average Tassie Pub
Peppermint Bay is not your average Tassie Pub

Editor's Note: Ross had been briefed on keeping his cool. Frank Hussey of Tourism Tasmania gave prior warning on this potential issue when asked about travelling from the West Coast to Hobart.

For anyone planning a similar trip might I suggest a budget of at least $50,000 for a year. I am sure we spent a bit more than that but we only free camped on a couple of occasions, and we very rarely missed happy hour.

The Whitty Around Australia features can be read by knocking Whitty into the Multi-Search box at the top right of the GoSeeAustralia Home Page.

Against this challenging market development background it was disappointing to hear Industry Panel member Ben Binns of Winnebago Industries, motorhomes tell delegates that the industry still fell short on useable statistics.

This is disturbing as GoSee reported in 2006 that - Ken Illich, of Brisbane Holiday Village told the Gold Coast conference that there is a chronic shortfall in useful, accurate statistics from industry and wondered why. Ben Binns shared the view.

Helpful Frank Hussey Manager Sector Dev.Tourism Tasmania
Helpful Frank Hussey Manager Sector Dev.Tourism Tasmania

It is not a hard statistic, more of a pointer, but Barry Goodwin RV Manager for Premium Warranties Australia gave GoSee a coal-face insight when he said that a significant part of his companies warranty business involved 18 and 21ft shower caravans.

Darrell Wade, Co-founder and CEO of Intrepid Travel got GoSee's respect with his useful, measurable in terms of his delivery to delegates of - Using the Internet to Build your Business.

In response to GoSeeAustralia's question - How many individual visitors do you have to your website a month? He said 200,000.

In GoSee's experience this instantly makes his website valuable.

Individual visitors nails reality.

Hits to a website are not worth the overpadded web pages they ride on in a business analysis.

His business numbers for small group traveller adventurers show a core business which takes 50,000 travellers to more than 90 countries each year and employs more than 300 staff throughout the world.

He said using the Internet well was hard work, but emphasised it is worth the effort.

And Darrell's direction for Intrepid has a message forcaravanning edge to it - to provide fun affordable travel adventures that are sustainable and beneficial to both travellers and local communities.

Editor's Note: Also see these related Tasmania touring features -

Editors Note: also see www.discovertasmania.com.au

Close to the earth. Peppermint Bay Tas
Close to the earth. Peppermint Bay Tas

Fly united. Peppermint Bay Tas
Fly united. Peppermint Bay Tas

Hash House Harriers fund-raiser Telegraph Hotel Hobart
Hash House Harriers fund-raiser Telegraph Hotel Hobart

Helen Galton NT Tourism Industry Dev. Officer
Helen Galton NT Tourism Industry Dev. Officer

Jim Hayman names Noel Guthrie 2008 Excellence Award winner
Jim Hayman names Noel Guthrie 2008 Excellence Award winner

Lady Nelson replica Elizabeth St Pier Hobart
Lady Nelson replica Elizabeth St Pier Hobart

The oldest sailing vessel in Australia. The May-Queen in Constitution Dock Hobart
The oldest sailing vessel in Australia. The May-Queen in Constitution Dock Hobart

Simon Currant Chairman Tourism Council of Tas & TT Line director
Simon Currant Chairman Tourism Council of Tas TT Line director

Relaxed travellers on passage near Bruny Is. Tas.
Relaxed travellers on passage near Bruny Is. Tas.

Strong spread of  industry representatives
Strong spread of industry representatives

Tony Bellamy President RVMAA
Tony Bellamy President RVMAA

Top deck travel has crows nest appeal
Top deck travel has crows nest appeal

Veteran sea warrior Irene of London refits in Hobarts Constitution Dock
Veteran sea warrior Irene of London refits in Hobarts Constitution Dock

Two heads are twice as smart
Two heads are twice as smart

Windward Bound lies alongside Elizabeth St Pier Hobart
Windward Bound lies alongside Elizabeth St Pier Hobart

Waterplay drew delegate  interest in Hobart
Waterplay drew delegate interest in Hobart

Strong spread of  industry representatives
Strong spread of industry representatives

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