Waves of Discovery - Van Renovations
Article ten: Van Renovations
But they don’t come cheap and free camping by the river banks take a special kind of confidence – and comfort – and if you’re not prepared for that, the alternatives can become expensive, especially when you start to add kids and multiple families to the mix.
The resurgence of the Viscount, Millards and Yorks have officially become a ‘thing’ as more and more people hit marketplaces and classifieds looking to flip old bangers into mobile boutique accommodation, complete with coffee machines, bunk beds and brass trims.
Shellharbour’s Kate Kerr has recently completed the renovation on her vintage van, affectionately nicknamed ‘Mazzy’, to honour her mother who passed away suddenly two years ago.
The thought of camping again without her was impossible and we tried to go away not long after she passed away and it was miserable – everything about it was awful, it was sad, wet, the tent leaked and it was around the time where Van Renovations were starting to become more common and I knew straight away it’s what I wanted to do.
“It took some time to convince my husband, he wasn’t interested in spending his weekdays at work and weekends working on a van and my Dad didn’t want a bar of it, but one day I was in Bali, I saw the van I wanted, I rang my Dad and he drove to the Sunshine Coast to collect it…and that was it and in fact, it really has become a real labour of love.
It’s taken us two years to complete it, just doing bits and pieces here and there and then when COVID locked us all down, I decided to pull my finger out and get it finished. My Dad did most of it, I gave the instruction and Dad and my husband built it.
Other than the wardrobe, overhead cupboards and seating we gutted it entirely – new interior, exterior, lining, plumbing, electrics and electric brakes – everything, but it’s been worth it and we couldn’t be happier with the finished product. I actually can’t wait to get another one!
It was finished in August, we listed it with Camplify at the start of September and it’s already booked out for the rest of the year!
Camplify have been awesome to work with and it’s a perfect solution for families from Sydney for example who want to get to the South Coast, the kids want to camp, the parents don’t because of the gear and the hassle of packing up, that’s where we come in.
We won’t let anyone else tow it, so we drive to their destination and set it all up before they arrive – welcome platter and all. We include the beach cart, chairs…literally, there is nothing you need to do but arrive and when your holiday is done, simply drive away. We come back, pack it up and drive it home.
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It looks pretty, it’s en vogue, but is it really worth it. We spoke to several locals who have flipped a van and compiled their thoughts and feedback, so you don’t have to. Here is what they had to say…
• If you’ve never owned a Van, take someone with you that knows what they’re looking for – rust, water damage, wheel bearings, road worthiness, spiders (!!), old vans can be a gold mine or a death trap, it’s vital you know the difference.
• Layout is so important. Know exactly what you need and what you want out of the van before you start knocking things out or simply throwing on some paint. Space is so important – so is storage and ensuring the van works effectively when it’s ready.
• Have an idea of how the van will be used so you know what to include – power, plumbing etc.. if you’ve ripped the insides out, it’s much easier to customise this to suit before you re-line it.
• Be prepared to spend a lot of time on the internet sourcing vans, suppliers, parts or simply ideas – there is a growing community of van renovators sharing all their stories and experiences and more than willing to help! #vanreno #vanlife
• It’s definitely worth it but it’s a lot more work than it looks – be prepared to put in the hours – and if you’re prepared to do so, money. You can spend a little or it’s very easy to spend a lot! And be prepared to overspend, hopefully only slightly, but you’d be surprised how quickly the ‘little costs’ add up!
• Avoid summer if and where possible – old vans are saunas!
• You can do it affordably if you are prepared to put in the work, to get anyone involved will see your budget soar – exterior paint alone will set you back thousands, upholstery, fittings...
• Watch the weight, remember that you still need to tow these things and they need to be roadworthy – it might be pretty, but it’s gotta be practical (and that goes for all the loose decorations or doors – they need to lock!)
• Know where – or how - you’re going to store it.
• Finally, know where you’re going to give it a test run! The perks of Shellharbour is that we are surrounded by suitable nearby parks that will give you the getaway you need, without getting too far away and realising you have some issues. From Shellharbour, Kiama, Gerroa, Nowra-Culburra to Narooma, we are within hours of some of the best parks on the East Coast – and now is the perfect time to go explore them!
If you want to experience #vanlife and don’t own a van, it’s worth jumping on to Camplify to test out Mazzy and enjoy a weekend on the coast with all the creature comforts of high-end accommodation with the added experiences that caravanning and camping can offer.