Vintage caravans are not just homes on wheels, they’re liable to inspire dress-ups and work on classic interiors


Bendigo’s Alison Mulqueen and Marcus Williams share a love of a bygone era in their 1966 Franklin caravan named Audrey.

The couple were part of a 6th annual vintage caravan rally at the Bridgewater Caravan Park, north-west of Bendigo, at the weekend.

More than 100 owners of the moving museums booked out the park in a welcome boost for regional tourism and the town of 326 people.

“You don’t look at the phone, you don’t look at the iPad. You walk around, you talk to people, you look in peoples vans. You go back to the ’60s or ’70s and just relax,” Ms Mulqueen said.

“We didn’t realise that there was a whole community of vintage caravan people. We’ve met lots of like-minded people and it’s grown and grown and grown,” added Mr Williams.

There is an unwritten rule for enthusiasts — caravans should be decorated inside to match the decade it was built in.

Some also go as far as wearing the vintage clothes to match their van’s era.

They also sell and trade vintage items throughout the weekend.

“You find things you cannot find elsewhere. I need this door handle, it’s red, had a push bottom, it’s from the 1950s. Then someone goes ‘oh I’ve got one of those. Do you want it?'” Ms Mulqueen said.

“And if you need to know how to do something mechanical, there will be someone here who will be able to help you.”

For Mr Williams, the caravan adventures take him back to his family summer holidays as a child at the Merimbula Caravan Park.

The vans are also a reminder of moments in Australian history.

Graham Southey’s was on display at an international trade show during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

“It was like the demonstrator model people would have looked at,” he said.

Some of Mr Southey’s efforts to match the interior to the 1950s have made van-life a little challenging, however.

“Pillows are made of horse-hair. But if you have a couple of drinks with friends before you go to bed it makes it easier to sleep,” he said.

Lisa Mora can not get enough of the vintage life, having written a book and formerly edited a magazine on the topic.

Her 1968 Viscount Duralvan is now a permanent traveling home with her dog Pixie.

She purchased the van for $3,000 from South Australia before giving it a vintage makeover.

“Initially I got into it because it was cheaper and I wanted to go travelling,” Ms Mora said.

Ms Mora renovated her first van 11 years ago and she has seen the vintage caravanning movement grow.

“Everyone’s been cooped up for so long, we’re like ‘yeah, we’ll go camping’ and everyone wants to get out and do it. I think that’s great, if you can get out and see your own country, why wouldn’t you?” she said.

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How to build for under $100,000 with these kit homes


Housing affordability remains one of the most pressing social issues of our time, with many individuals and families unable to afford a mortgage or experiencing housing stress.

The stakes for these families are high, with housing affordability being a fundamental contributor to a person’s wellbeing and an important way to reduce poverty. But what if you could build for less? The humble kit home may be the answer, with some suppliers, like Shed House Australia, designing kits that can be built for under $100,000.

As people search for affordable housing, new market trends emerge, including the movement of people from capital cities to regional areas. This trend also influences the types of homes built, with an increase in kit homes being constructed across regional and suburban areas. Jackson Yin, managing director of iBuild Building Solutions, has reported a 30-40 per cent increase in demand for kit homes compared to pre-pandemic levels  – a growth he believes is influenced by government incentives for new builds.

Yin says there are two key demographics behind the increase in demand: couples with children, typically in their thirties and building their primary residence in the country; and families looking to add a granny flat or retreat for ageing parents on an existing property.

Changing perceptions

iBuild_Kit_Homes_Melrose_rxjzyi
The two-bedroom Melrose kit home by iBuild Building Solutions. Photo: Supplied

The growth shows how the long-held stigma surrounding kit homes and prefab construction has been challenged in recent years. Improvements in the quality of building materials, as well as growing public awareness of the benefits – namely, the speed of construction and lower cost per square metre – means more owner builders are choosing kits to build their dream homes.

“The perception used to be that a low-cost build meant a cheap build. But this has been gradually dispelled,” explains Yin. “High-quality builds can be done with a kit.”

29872890_1640139262701224_399252305908511572_o_kqorri
Work in progress: Kit home by iBuild Building Solutions. Photo: Supplied

Anita Brand, director at Mana Kit Homes, a manufacturer based on the south-east coast of Queensland, says she still gets asked questions relating to dated perceptions of kit homes.

“People ask things like, do the homes get council approved easily, and so on,” Brand says. “I am not sure how this stigma originally came about, most likely from the word ‘kit’ with some of the earlier style homes. In reality, the homes – and, more so, steel-framed homes – can have more structural integrity than a regular new build in a sub-division.

“Councils love the steel as it is termite-proof, plus it can be a sound choice for bushfire zones. When paired with the right thermal systems, steel has good energy-efficiency values.”

Change it up

When plans change and the scope of a project expands, the budget and timeline can blow out.
The overall the cost of the kit home depends on how much you are willing to do yourself. Photo: iStock

One factor influencing the comeback of prefab homes in recent years has been the ability to customise plans. In contrast to earlier kits offered to owner builders, today’s kit homes can be changed to suit different styles, making these affordable options even more attractive.

“The beauty of our process is that we will custom-design to our client’s budgets, giving consideration to the complete project,” Brand says.

For those trying to get a foot on to the property ladder, kit homes offer an affordable path to home-ownership without getting into huge debt. But the cost depends on how much you are willing to do yourself.

“As an owner builder/project manager our clients can save up to 40 per cent of the overall cost,” Brand says. “The more the owners put into the construction the bigger the savings.

“If our clients are putting a builder in control of the construction process, then they will still make savings but not as much. It really depends upon how much each client wants to contribute to the project and what skills they bring.”

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Rescued charm – Baltimore’s abandoned homes are being recycled | United States


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Suffer the little children – Kids in the Philippines have not left their homes for a year | Asia


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Hundreds of homes being ‘left vacant’ by landlords in Adelaide’s CBD, welfare group warns


Welfare group Shelter SA has said offering landlords incentives to unlock a vast body of vacant dwellings in Adelaide’s CBD could help significantly reduce homelessness, as well as rental stress.

Shelter SA has released a report into vacancy rates in Adelaide, and estimates hundreds of dwellings in the CBD are currently unoccupied at a time when there are “increasing levels of housing stress”.

The group said about half the 1,076 unoccupied homes in Adelaide’s CBD identified in the 2016 Census could have been used to “provide short-, medium- and in some cases long-term accommodation” — but it estimated that number had since increased.

“We need better data to understand exactly how many vacancies there are in the city, and we’ve been wanting to look at empty rental properties, Airbnbs that are not fully utilised, overseas student accommodation and tourist accommodation,” CEO Alice Clark said.

“There’s about 200 rough sleepers in the CBD right now.”

Adelaide property prices have hit record highs in recent weeks, with high levels of demand also reflected within the rental market.

Shelter SA’s report states that there is currently a “high volume of speculative vacancies — homes withheld from the sales market but not used”.

“When property is withheld from the private rental and sales markets, whether through being left vacant or used as an Airbnb, upward pressure is placed on prices by reducing supply,” it said.

“Despite suffering a major downturn in tourism since the outbreak of the pandemic, Airbnb is a significant contributor to the number of empty homes or highly underutilised homes in the Adelaide CBD.

“Currently, only 13 per cent of Airbnb properties in the CBD are rented for more than six months of the year.”

Shelter SA said making empty Airbnb homes available could help meet “emergency need”.

Housing affordability ‘extremely complex’

The report raises the option of “punitive measures”, including a vacancy tax, as a way of inducing landlords to make properties available.

“Such measures should not be ruled out and preliminary steps should be undertaken for local and state governments to explore what legislative tools are within their powers,” it states.

But Dr Clark said dangling the carrot rather than wielding the stick was the preferred option.

“Incentivising landlords and owners is the way to go,” she said.

“I don’t think a property tax works very well in other countries where they’ve implemented it, so we’d like to see incentives and even perhaps a voucher system for landlords.”

Shelter SA says there are currently 200 rough sleepers in Adelaide’s CBD.(ABC News: Simon Royal)

Shelter SA has urged the SA Government to directly intervene to “discourage residential property vacancies”.

Its recommendations include that the government “consider purchasing empty or underutilised residential properties to increase the supply of social housing”.

But Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said Shelter SA’s report “fails to take into account” work already being undertaken “to improve housing and homelessness outcomes in South Australia”.

“The State Government is also providing land tax exemptions to private property owners who rent through a participating community housing provider for affordable housing purposes.”

Ms Lensink said the Government would be “imminently” announcing new homelessness prevention measures.

In a statement, Airbnb said housing affordability was an “an extremely complex issue” and that many Airbnb hosts were already playing a part in the solution.

“Short-term rentals generally comprise only a small percentage of the overall housing market,” spokesman Derek Nolan said.

“Many hosts on Airbnb share their own home to help combat rising costs of living and meet mortgage repayments.

“In turn, these hosts help drive economic growth and job creation, with many local businesses relying on the valuable tourism dollars spent by Airbnb guests.”

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United Airlines flight makes emergency landing after parts of Boeing aircraft drop over homes | US News


A United Airlines flight bound for Hawaii was forced into an emergency landing after debris from the aircraft plunged towards homes in Denver.

Debris from Flight 328 between the capital of Colorado and Honolulu was spotted strewn across a residential area in Broomfield, including the engine rim and what appeared to be parts of the engine casing.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said that the Boeing 777-200 returned to Denver International Airport and landed safely after experiencing a “right-engine failure” after take-off.

Image:
Police have been sharing images of the debris in the town. Pic: Broomfield Police
Pictures show the casing of the plane's engine completely fallen away. Pic: @speedbird5280 via Reuters
Image:
Pictures show the casing of the plane’s engine completely fallen away. Pic: @speedbird5280 via Reuters

In a separate statement, United said that 231 passengers were on board at the time, with 10 crew, but released no further details.

The local police department in Broomfield, which is around 25 miles (40km) from Denver, posted several photos on social media of what is believed to be debris from the plane, with the large rim of the plane’s engine appearing to narrowly miss a house in the town.

Officers are asking anyone who has been injured by falling debris to come forward, with the force issuing a “code red” to nearly 1,400 residents asking them to check their yards for parts of the plane.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been tasked with the investigation into what happened, and has asked that all debris remains in the place it was found.

A number of videos have been shared online, including one from someone whose parents were purportedly on the flight, showing the engine engulfed in flames and missing its casing.

Footage was also taken by Twitter user Tyler Thal of the plane flying low over Broomfield with pieces of the aircraft falling from it.

He told the Associated Press: “While I was looking at it, I saw an explosion and then the cloud of smoke and some debris falling from it.”

“It was just like a speck in the sky and as I’m watching that, I’m telling my family what I just saw and then we heard the explosion,” he added.

“The plane just kind of continued on and we didn’t see it after that.”

Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer, declined to comment, instead referring Sky News to United Airlines.

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Debris from US plane falls from sky over Denver homes


Pieces from a US plane rained down onto Denver suburbs on Saturday, narrowly missing one home, after one of its engines suffered a failure.

The United Airlines plane safely made an emergency landing and nobody aboard or on the ground was reported hurt, authorities said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the Boeing 777-200 returned to the Denver International Airport after experiencing a right-engine failure shortly after takeoff.

Flight 328 was flying from Denver to Honolulu when the incident occurred, the agency added.

United Airlines said in a statement that there were 231 passengers and 10 crew on board. All passengers were to be rebooked on a new flight to Hawaii, the airline said.

The Broomfield Police Department posted photos on Twitter showing large, circular pieces of debris leaning against a house in the suburb, which is located around 40km north of Denver. Police are asking that anyone who was injured to come forward.

Passengers recounted the events that led to the parts falling from the plane, which began to unfold shortly after the plane full of holidaymakers took off.

The aircraft was almost at cruising altitude and the captain was giving an announcement over the intercom when a large explosion rocked the cabin, accompanied by a bright flash.

“The plane started shaking violently, and we lost altitude and we started going down,” said David Delucia, who was sitting directly across the aisle from the side with the failed engine. “When it initially happened, I thought we were done. I thought we were going down.”

Delucia and his wife took their wallets containing their driver’s licenses and put them in their pockets so that “in case we did go down, we could be IDed,” said Delucia, who was still shaken up as he waited to board another flight for Honolulu.

On the ground, witnesses also heard the explosion and were scared for those on board.

Tyler Thal, who lives in the area, told The Associated Press that he was out for a walk with his family when he noticed a large commercial plane flying unusually low and took out his phone to film it.

“While I was looking at it, I saw an explosion and then the cloud of smoke and some debris falling from it. It was just like a speck in the sky, and as I’m watching that, I’m telling my family what I just saw and then we heard the explosion,” he said in a phone interview. “The plane just kind of continued on, and we didn’t see it after that.”

Thal was relieved to learn no one was injured or killed from what he saw.

Video posted on social media showed a trail of smoke behind the plane as it flew through the air.

Kirby Klements was inside his home with his wife when they heard a huge booming sound, he said. A few seconds later, the couple saw a massive piece of debris fly past their window and into Klements’ truck, crushing the cab and pushing the vehicle into the dirt.

“If it had been 10 feet different, it would have landed right on top of the house,” he said in a phone interview with the AP. “And if anyone had been in the truck, they would have been dead.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

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These isolated Sydney homes are under ‘massive’ boulders which could fall at any moment, and authorities don’t know what to do


In Greek mythology, the sword of Damocles signified perpetual peril suspended over someone’s head, ready to fall at any moment.

Suzie and Joe Haddock know the story well — they’re living it — and are, so far, on day 120.

The couple’s home, in one of Sydney’s most remote suburbs, has been the subject of an evacuation order since October 25, when several boulders tumbled off a nearby escarpment and into their garden.

Authorities are worried there are more on the way.

The situation is so perilous, the Haddocks are only allowed to enter their home for 10 minutes a week.

“We’ve got the sword of Damocles hanging over us, literally,” Joe said.

“We live in limbo, and I just think — how can this have happened to us?”

The Haddocks are limited to just 10 minutes a week at their home.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
An image of Great Mackerel Beach with a wharf and a boat in the foreground and homes surrounded by trees in the background.
Great Mackerel Beach is on Pittwater and has just three-dozen full-time residents.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

On a stormy night at Great Mackerel Beach (or “Mackerel” as the area’s three-dozen full-time residents call it) the Haddocks woke to what they thought was thunder, then a crack and a thud.

When they peered outside, they saw a massive boulder had landed four metres from where they were sleeping.

Their neighbours weren’t so lucky.

Two doors down, Ray and Lorraine Kemp’s place was smashed by the rock slide.

A man and woman, Ray and Lorraine Kemp, look at the camera with slightly sad expressions
Ray and Lorraine Kemp’s home was badly damaged in the landslide.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
A damaged garden behind a house
The property is now open to the elements — and any animals that want to make it home.(Supplied: Ray Kemp)

They weren’t there at the time, but have seen drone pictures of the damage — walls and windows destroyed, furniture broken, the boulders even felled their fridge, leaving rotting food all over the floor.

“It’s all open at the back, so there’s going to be animals in there, doing their business,” Lorraine said.

“Everything is just going to be ruined.”

“It would only take one more to come down, and that’s my place flattened I’d say,” Ray said.

“Now the path is clear, there’s a good chance it could just be barrelling straight into our house.”

A picture of a metre wide boulder that is wedged up against a tree and a wire fence.
A massive boulder landed metres from the Haddock’s home.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
Damage after a rock slide
A risk assessment says massive rocks still overhang the escarpment above the homes.(Supplied: Ray Kemp)

Another nearby home was largely destroyed in the incident, which has left an enormous scar on the cliffs that soar over Mackerel — a suburb wedged between Pittwater and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, and accessible only by boat.

Four months after the incident, authorities remain unsure what to do.

A risk assessment by global engineering firm Jacobs shown to residents last week found “massive” rocks on the side of slope were “frequently overhanging”.

“Several detached blocks with maximum dimensions up to 5m are perched near the crest of the escarpment,” it read.

The assessment rated the risk of fatalities from a similar event in the future as “unacceptable” at three properties, including the Kemp’s and the Haddock’s.

Two men and two women stand next to a temporary fence looking unhappy. A yellow danger sign is out of focus in the foreground.
The Haddocks and Kemps have been living in limbo for 120 days.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
A yellow sign attached to a wire fence with an illustration of falling rocks. The sign reads 'Warning. Danger Do Not Enter'.
A more in depth analysis of the slope and potential solutions is being planned.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

The only solution proposed in the report to protect the houses — a fence — would be “challenging and expensive” to construct, and “onerous” to maintain, it warned.

In a statement, a National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesperson said the organisation’s priority was keeping residents safe.

They said a more comprehensive analysis of the slope above the homes, and potential solutions, was being planned.

“Specialist geotechnical engineers will complete the detailed analysis as quickly as possible to provide residents with the certainty they need,” the spokesperson said.

For now, the Haddocks are homeless.

“I’ve never been an anxious person, but I’ve discovered during this that I am,” Suzie said.

“When you start waking up each morning in tears, you know that it’s really affecting you.”

Two men and two women walk over a footbridge at Great Mackerel Beach.
The Haddocks are currently homeless and the Kemps can’t get an insurance assessment.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
A few boats and two canoes on a patch of grass in the foreground, with Pittwater and the Great Mackerel Beach wharf behind
The couples love its idyllic location and lifestyle.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

The Kemps have been living in another home they own, but insurance assessors have been unable to access their Mackerel property because it’s too dangerous.

The Haddocks, meanwhile, are caught in an insurance loophole — as their property is not damaged, they can’t make a claim.

Even if they could, it doesn’t solve the problem of their home being deemed too dangerous to live in.

They’ve been surviving on the generosity of friends, and crashing wherever they can.

“In May, Joe turns 70. I don’t think that he thought he’d be couch-surfing at that age,” Suzie said.

“We can’t sell our property, we can’t move on. We can’t do anything.”

The initial evacuation order was for a month, but it’s since been extended.

After a meeting with authorities last week, the couples now believe it could be years before there is a resolution.

A man and woman, Suzie and Joe Haddock stand at a temporary fence. Suzie is touching the fence and Joe holds their dog Karl Barx
Suzie and Joe Haddock’s Great Mackerel Beach home is uninhabitable due to a landslide.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)
A photo of a man docking a water taxi to the wharf at Great Mackerel Beach. A woman is standing upright to disembark.
Great Mackerel Beach is only accessible by boat.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

Petrified the sword would fall, Damocles begged to be allowed to escape from under it.

While he eventually did, the future for these couples is more complicated.

Despite loving Mackerel, the Kemps and Haddocks are resigned to the fact they will likely have to leave and are even open to having their properties forcibly acquired.

But it’s not that easy.

“We don’t own two houses, like a lot of people do on Mackerel,” Suzie said.

“We’ve invested everything we own in that house.

“If this goes on for two years, I don’t know what we’ll do.”

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Perth bushfire: Number of homes lost rises to 86 as fatigued firefighters wait for rain


The number of homes confirmed destroyed by a devastating bushfire in the Perth Hills has risen to 86 as fatigued firefighters await forecast weekend rain.

No further properties were lost overnight but officials on Friday confirmed five more burnt-out homes were identified.

Estimates of properties lost in the city’s northeast started at 56 on Tuesday morning. By Wednesday the number had grown to 71 before rising again.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said he did not expect the figure to significantly rise.

“Obviously we’re working with local government and their databases but there’s many parts, as you can imagine, that have been absolutely devastated,” he told Perth radio 6PR.

“It is sometimes difficult to distinguish properties that have been affected by fire, whether they were a shed or a home or what they were.

“That’s the more detailed work that’s being done now by our technicians.”

Firefighters in Western Australia battle the blaze at Wooroloo, near Perth, Tuesday, 2 February

AAP

Emergency alerts remain for Shady Hills View, Bullsbrook’s east and north of Gidgegannup.

“If you plan to leave, leave now if the way is clear by travelling in a direction away from the fire,” DFES said.

“You must shelter before the fire arrives as the extreme heat will kill you well before the flames reach you.”

Firefighters are continuing to battle strong easterly winds which caused ember attacks overnight in an area east of Shady Hills.

Trees destroyed by bushfire are seen on Dinsdale Road, Gidgegannup in Perth, Thursday, February 4, 2021. An out-of-control bushfire in Perth's northeast has destroyed more than 70 homes. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright) NO ARCHIVING

Trees destroyed by bushfire are seen on Dinsdale Road, Gidgegannup in Perth, on 4 February, 2021.

AAP

Hopes are high forecast rain on Saturday afternoon through to Sunday will help firefighters get on top of the week-long blaze.

“We do have all the plans in place to continue dealing with this fire into next week,” Mr Klemm said.

“But if we get some rain Saturday afternoon and Sunday as it’s currently forecast, we certainly would welcome that.”

Premier Mark McGowan on Thursday described the damage as “devastating”.

“We’re all thinking of those who’ve lost their homes. In some cases, their livelihoods,” the premier said.

“The devastation caused by these bushfires is almost too much to comprehend.”

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan speaks at the Incident Control Centre at the Mundaring Arena,  Perth, Wednesday on 3 February, 2021.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan speaks at the Incident Control Centre at the Mundaring Arena, Perth, Wednesday on 3 February, 2021.

AAP

DFES Superintendent Peter Sutton said authorities were trying to clear damage from the areas seriously impacted by the blaze so homeowners could return to assess their properties.

“There are quite a lot of hazards in there still,” he said.

“We have powerlines down, we obviously have the issue of asbestos because of the area and also we have issues with chemicals because it is a semi-rural area.

“We just ask people to please be patient.”

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86 homes lost as devastating fire expected to rage on for another week


“I’m pleased to say there were no properties lost or damaged overnight,” he said.

He said the second fire which flared up near the main fire east of Bullsbrook near Wilson Road yesterday afternoon had been contained and controlled.

“That fire is suspicious, so if anyone had any information or dashcam footage, could they please call crime stoppers.”

He said warning areas of the blaze, now stretching 136 kilometres, had been reduced.

Residents were urging authorities to let them back to their properties.

“I understand a lot of frustration from members of the community, particularly those who have lost properties and we understand how much you want to get back in and see your properties,” he said.

“Within the fire area is … 240 kilometers of roadways, which has to be cleared.

“And we’ve done the majority of that work, and in fact that’s what we’re trying to do now.

“We have powerlines down, we obviously have the issue of asbestos and we also have issues with chemicals because it is a semi rural area, so please be patient.

“There’s been no loss of human life. And we certainly don’t want any to be lost.”

There is relief on the way for firefighters with rain forecast for the Perth metropolitan area tomorrow.

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