There’s something about a retro caravan that instantly transports you on holidays. The smell of sea salt on the breeze, beach towels pegged on the annexe to dry, and a pile of fish and chips spread out on the table inside.
The huge boom in travelling Oz and caravanning has seen vintage caravans being snapped up and artfully renovated, ready for picture-perfect, new adventures.
And with massive wait times on new caravans, scoring your own retro caravan could be your best option if you’re keen to hitch up and start exploring sooner rather than later.
Tibby, a lovingly restored retro caravan being given away with Endeavour Foundation’s $2.35 million Christmas Prize Home, is an amazing example of just what can be done with 15 feet of mobile floor space.
This rare single-axle, 1974 Viscount Royal has been meticulously renovated, retaining her 70s retro charm while injecting a dash of modern luxury, not to mention a few mod cons.
If you think a retro van like Tibby could be for you, there are a few ways you can go about it:
This is probably the quickest and easiest way to get you on the road, but you’ll be paying a premium for someone else’s hard work.
Check online selling platforms like Gumtree regularly for retro caravans for sale. If you see something you like, get in quick – the good ones get snapped up quickly
This one is likely to be the most affordable (and potentially most satisfying) option but also the hardest work and most time consuming. If you’re prepared to roll up your sleeves it could be a lot of fun and would give you a chance to get your creative juices flowing and really make it yours.
Depending on how old the van is (and the state that it’s in), it could be as simple as a quick spruce up with some new upholstery, curtains and linen, upholstery. But if your old girl is a little worse for wear, you might have to give her a complete overhaul from the ground up. This may take a little longer, but the results could well and truly be worth it.
While not the cheapest option, choosing this path will save you a whole lot of stress while still being able to create a customised caravan to match your vision. Companies like Retro Caravan Renovations, based at Burleigh Town on the Gold Coast, specialise in turning your fixer upper into the belle of the tourist park. They can even help you source the original caravan too.
If you’re caught somewhere between option two and three, Retro Caravan Renovations also offers a consultancy service to offer advice on where to start and how to tackle your own renovation.
But, if all that sounds too hard, you could just buy a ticket in Endeavour Foundation’s Christmas Prize Home Lottery. If you’re lucky, you could be introducing the family to Tibby in the backyard of your new $2.35 million home in the Glasshouse Mountains on the Sunshine Coast.
For the ultimate retro caravan renovation inspo, let’s take a look around the beautiful Tibby.
The exterior of the 70s Viscount Royal has been revived with a professional automotive paint job in crisp white and charcoal. The retro look is completed with classic textiles and a boho style paired with chrome fittings.
Inside the retro cool continues with a luxe, Instagram-worthy fit out. With so much incredible detail squeezed into just 15 feet of space, we’ve broken down the interior caravan renovation, zone by zone:
Tibby’s kitchen is all classic retro goodness featuring vintage-styled cabinetry, a white 130L Airflo retro fridge, timber benchtop, brick tiled splashback, stainless steel sink with gold tapware.
Every detail has been carefully considered, right down to the inclusion of an induction cooktop and built-in USB phone chargers.
Pro tip: Cool cooking
An induction cooktop (which is cool to touch even when it’s in use) is a great choice in a caravan as it will help to avoid burns from bumping the cooktop when moving around the tight space and it also won’t heat the interior up as much as a traditional cooktop.
Pro tip: Stop the slide
Line your cupboards with a non-slip PVC matting to ensure your dinnerware doesn’t go on a journey every time you do.
The cool but casual booth-style dining area at the end of the van features windows around three sides bringing in loads of natural light.
Retro-inspired upholstered benches are perfect for lounging on and enjoying the view.
A ‘statement’ pendant light hangs above a gorgeous mosaic tiled dining table with gold edging and hairpin leg.
When it’s time for lights out, the table can be lowered allowing the booth to convert easily to another bed.
Pro tip: Save the swinging for when you’re parked
If you go for a swinging statement pendant light like Tibby’s, make sure it can be easily removed for travel. (And of course, you need to actually remember to remove it before you hit the road.)
Pro tip: Look for light
If you love natural light, keep that in mind when choosing a van and look for one with lots of windows in the ‘living areas’ of your van.
At the opposite end of the van, Tibby’s stylish ‘bedroom’ features gorgeous striped linen and cosy cushions. The look is timeless, but also very ‘now’. Lots of valuable storage space has also been incorporated into this zone, above the windows and also under the bed.
Pro tip: Lighten the load
Choose lighter weight materials where possible when renovating your van. Tibby’s bed is made from lightweight aluminium. Each weight saving you make may not seem like much on its own, but when you add it all together it can make quite a difference.
Pro tip: Storage, storage and more storage
When renovating your van, try to maximise storage wherever you can. Any void spaces (i.e. under a bed) can be converted into storage spaces so you have somewhere to put everything and avoid clutter.
Pro tip: Get organised
One of the best ways to make holidaying or even living in your caravan a whole lot more fun is to be organised. Sounds like the opposite of fun. A caravan will soon feel cluttered if you have lots of stuff lying around, so make sure you have enough storage nooks and crannies to accommodate your things, so everything has a place. And if it doesn’t have a place, do you really need it?
To bring a vintage van like Tibby into the modern age, ensuring the electrics are spot on is important. In Tibby’s case, she’s been completely rewired with new lighting throughout and even ducted air-conditioning.
A mechanical braking system has also been installed to connect to your sweet ride.
Pro tip: Hands off the power points
The one thing you should never DIY is the electrics, so call in the professionals check over your van and complete any necessary rewiring or to upgrade fittings like cooktops, lighting and powerpoints.
If you’d like to checkout Tibby in person, visit Endeavour Foundation’s Christmas Prize Home in the Glasshouse Mountains. Find opening times and directions here.
For your chance to drive off into the sunset with Tibby, get your ticket in the Christmas Prize Home lottery now.