Australians’ desire to see their country has helped push RV production to levels not seen since the industry’s boom years of the early 1970s.
The Courier Mail reported that Queensland now has the second-highest number of caravan manufacturers in the country, building everything from humble camper trailers to “Rolls Royce” models that sell for more than $100,000 and feature wide-screen televisions, satellite dishes and spacious showers.
Nationwide production of recreational vehicles is now in excess of 20,000 annually, attracting revenue of $1.2 billion. More than seven million Australians have gone camping or caravanning over the past two years.
It has been a long road to recovery for a half-century old industry that dates back to when Neil Chesney set up a small caravan factory in Brisbane in the 1950s. Australian manufacturers such as Chesney, Murrumba Star, Olympic, Arrow and Litecraft rode an industry boom as caravanning became the popular choice for holidaying families in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
By the late 1970’s however the good times were coming to an end, with surging fuel prices, a penchant for high-rise resort holidays and an economic downturn sending the industry into long-term decline.
In 1990, the caravan industry held a crisis meeting to discuss how to survive what looked like a bleak future. Second-hand caravans were flooding the market as caravanning became something considered impractical and old-fashioned.
Industry veterans began to formulate a rescue plan – the targeting of the emerging Baby Boomer market that wanted to reconnect with the great outdoors.
While Queensland only represents about 10% of national production, with market leaders such as Jayco based in Victoria, locally-made RVs have a reputation for toughness and reliability. The Queensland industry turns over an estimated $120 million each year.
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