The temperatures are improving, the summer hols are just around the corner, so this month I’ve found a story that will really captivate your ‘inner child’ and have you wanting a share of the lifestyle Graeme and Megan Wells enjoy; from caravanning to Rock n Roll dancing.

When I was growing up every Christmas holidays we packed the camping gear in the car and travelled to various camping spots. While we were putting up the tent, the caravan owners were putting up their awning, laying out seating and watching us put up our canvas tent.

How times have changed – but over the past few years there has been resurgence in caravans not just the new, but also older retro caravans.

Retro: relating to, reviving, or being the styles and especially the fashions of the past : fashionably nostalgic or old-fashioned – something that is old fashioned but currently cool!

Graeme and Megan have a beautifully restored 13ft 6” 1942 Terra Cruiser. “It’s truly been a labour of love,” says Graeme, “We bought her about five years ago, thinking I would just have to do her up but I’ve ended up rebuilding her from the chassis up.” We bought it from a neighbour who, as a keen fisherman kept it up at Lake Coleridge ready for weekend fishing, but had brought it home when the rules changed up there. It was originally blue/grey, but of course we like retro, so, red and yellow seemed like a good choice and Keith Johnson from Ashburton Bus and Truck Body Work painted her.”

“At the moment we are pulling her with a 1964 Galaxy with similar colours although I have a Model A pickup half built that I am really intending to do the towing,” Graeme continues.

The frame of the caravan is wooden and the cladding aluminum. Inside there is a lovely wood trim where plywood sheets look like the real deal. Surprisingly, there is good head room.

Inside is gorgeous with a red and yellow chequered floor carrying the outside theme through. Megan is busy placing retro bits and bobs around while we are talking and I ask her where she picked the various items up. “The toaster and jug came from a second hand shop; I made the curtains, tie backs and table cloth, and the 1950’s American chilly bin we found in Whangamata at the Beach Hop. We pick up a lot of stuff at swap-meets too”.

With good storage, gas cooking, a double bed, dining table and “rock n roll” music playing, I admit I fell in love with this caravan. The fridge is covered in retro fridge magnets and memorabilia is on the walls, along with the retro look cushions. The whole atmosphere takes you into a bygone era.

Graeme and Megan certainly make the most of heading away in the caravan with Annual trips to the Geraldine Classic Car Rally, and camp at Mt Somers, Otematata and Dunedin. It is probably timely to mention now that they are both rock n roll enthusiasts and Megan takes advantage when they go away to take as many rock n roll dresses as she can. When they head up to the Rangiora Muscle Car Madness she tells me she changes about three times a day and they both make sure they are well dressed for the rock n rolling that continues well into the night.

“When we first started going to the Beach Hop at Whangamata, there were eight caravans, this year there were 200 odd. We have also been to the Cooley Rocks, Gold Coast maybe ten times where rock n rolling is very strong, and we have collected bits from there as well,” she adds.

This was such a fun story to write and when it came time to take photos, Graeme and Megan took themselves off to dress appropriately. Don’t they look absolutely fantastic!

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.