When I'm at the helm of our Toyota HiLux 4WD with an Echo 4x4 Kavango a camper trailer in tow, I’m very conscious of how much space we take up on the road, at service stations and in shopping precincts. Our camper is relatively compact, but the combined length is just over 10m – the size of a small removals truck. So it’s not unusual to arrive at a point of interest or rest stop in a town to find the biggest challenge is finding somewhere to park and enjoy it.
Because of our rig’s combined length, in built-up areas we may not be allowed to park along a length of road for more than an hour (see for example Road Rules [NSW] Reg 200). Some local councils may restrict our street parking altogether unless we’re actually broken down. And in small towns, while it may be common to find designated off-street parking, it’s less likely to find spots for longer vehicles. It’s not unusual to be left carefully inching our way around parking areas that leave us feeling like we’re Gulliver arriving in Lilliput.
So, when we find somewhere that allocates long-vehicle parking, it irritates me when the parking bays are occupied by daily drivers with neither a campervan nor trailer to justify their presence there. Whether it’s at the local Bunnings or on a side road in a major town, the sites are there for a reason. Why do drivers think this is OK? We read enough about truck drivers’ rights to stop in truck bays without being disrupted by caravanners and RVs. I reckon it’s about time the needs of recreational tow-tug drivers were recognised, too.
It happened again as we were returning from a long weekend away to Mudgee on the NSW Central West. Cowra is a flourishing country town on the intersection of the Mid-Western and Olympic highways. So it’s not surprising that the main street has cafes and other amenities catering to passing travellers. Trouble is, these are largely supported by rear-to-kerb 45° parking spaces along the main road – which are no use to us when we’re towing. So we tend to default to the long-vehicle parking available on Young Rd next to Olympic Park and near a playground, cafe and the Golden Arches.
To say I was annoyed to find a line of cars taking up the entire length of the designated caravan-trailer parking is an understatement. And why were they there? Not because the standard parking was full. There were plenty of spaces for normal-sized vehicles. I can only assume it was because the long-vehicle parks were the only ones in the shade. Or they were close enough to totter off to the public toilets and to Maccas with minimal physical exertion. When did we become so self-absorbed?
I’d hope that, as a group of overlanders, we wouldn’t resort to such low standards. But it’s probably the case that, after a long day on the road and with a car full of fidgety kids, some might find ways to excuse similar behaviour.
But the actions we take in our own self-interest affect others. As an old saying goes: “You don’t serve a point of view, if the only thing you see is you,” (author unknown).