Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Solo locals

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Kirstin Nicholson, The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper

For some, the perfect getaway is flying halfway around the world to an exotic location, but for Jan Heap and Faye Donaldson, it’s driving a couple of kilometres from their homes in Cohuna and camping at the Cohuna Recreation Reserve.

Jan Heap and Faye Donaldson
Jan Heap and Faye Donaldson.
Photo: The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper

Jan and Faye are members of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia’s Solo Network which held its biannual rally in Cohuna from February 28 to March 7.

The rally attracted over 200 solo motorhome owners from across Australia, giving them a chance to catch up with old friends, form new friendships, try new activities, and experience new adventures and locations. 

Jan has been with the Solos Network for around 11 years. She moved from owning a caravan to a motorhome as she felt it was a safer option when travelling on her own and attended her first Solos Network rally in Gippsland.

Faye’s first rally was four years ago in Euroa, although she is no stranger to motorhomes – she has owned her motorhome for a while and travels extensively, mainly with the Bush Church Aid organisation. 

“You learn so many great hints from people who have been doing this forever and have good insight into what you can do with your motorhome. They’re from all sorts of backgrounds, such diverse backgrounds, and have great life stories when you sit down and talk to them,” said Faye.

“We’ve become such an isolated culture. So many people are single and living in houses by themselves. We’re human and we really love community. This is creating a community for people who may not have the opportunity. At the rallies, you can keep your independence, as well as being in a community, so you can be as involved as you like, or go sit in your van and have a read.”

With COVID-19 forcing people to stay at home or limiting their travel, this rally is the first time for many of them to get out and socialise in two years.

Jan added, “You can build on your friendship base. There are people here from Queensland who have travelled all this way. You meet so many people.

“I’ve been here volunteering, working on the gate and other jobs, whatever needs doing. It’s really well organised.”

Organisers of the rally, all solo members themselves, put on a full program of activities to cover all interests and abilities. Line dancing, rock and roll, barefoot bowls, meditation, book clubs, a walking group, cards, a ukulele group, information sessions and movie nights were just some of the onsite activities. Bus tours and visits to local attractions across the district were offered, giving visitors a taste of what the region has to offer.

“There are talks on safety in your motor home, tying knots, being truck friendly and dealing with trucks – how to pass trucks, indicate, and how to liaise with them,” Jan says.

Local community groups like the Lions Club, bowling club and the churches have benefited from the solos visiting, providing catering and other services to make the rally run smoothly and provide the best experience for the visitors to town.

“I like to promote the town,” said Faye. “It’s really worth promoting. I hope that people see it as a positive thing to have 200 people come into the town and pour something into the economy. Some are city people and some have been on the road forever. I think this is a very positive thing for Cohuna.”

While the rally has ended and visitors have either gone home or moved on to their next stop, Jan and Faye are planning their next adventures.

Jan plans to attend the ‘tagalong’ to travel to Alice Springs for a bush camp, then on to Leeman in Western Australia with other Solo Network members, while Faye’s next adventure will be providing services to communities in regional New South Wales with the Bush Church Aid nomads.

With the freedom of a motorhome, and organisations like the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia’s Solos Network, there are no limits to where you can safely go.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 10 March 2022

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 10 March 2022.

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