Arcadia Vale couple's 1964-built Castle Caravan an enduring wonder on wheels

OLD FAITHFUL: Theresa and Oscar Shahinian with their 1966 Model Castle Caravan at the NSW State Rally for Caravan Clubs. The couple, from Arcadia Vale, are still members of Prospect Caravan Club. Picture: Geoff Jones
OLD FAITHFUL: Theresa and Oscar Shahinian with their 1966 Model Castle Caravan at the NSW State Rally for Caravan Clubs. The couple, from Arcadia Vale, are still members of Prospect Caravan Club. Picture: Geoff Jones

Hitting the beaten track in a small caravan built in the 1960s isn’t most people’s idea of a perfect holiday – but Oscar and Theresa Shahinian, of Arcadia Vale, aren’t most people.

Their hand-built 1964 Castle Caravan has seen nearly every corner of Australia from Cairns to Tasmania since Mrs Shahinian’s parents, Ken and Shirley Whiting, bought it in 1969.

“I just love the freedom of it. I wouldn’t mind gypsying about for the rest of my life,” Mrs Shahinian said.

When I step into that van I remember my times with mum and dad. So there’s a big emotional attachment for me.

- Theresa Shahinian

“Why be stuck inside with the housework when you can go out and see all that wonder?”

The Lake Macquarie couple had the oldest model at the NSW State Rally for Caravan Clubs in the Hawkesbury recently.

They have many fond memories of the caravan, which they started using 14 years ago. The couple joined Prospect Caravan Club shortly afterwards.

The club was originally based around Prospect but has expanded to include members far and wide.

One particularly rainy trip to Southport saw five people, including Mrs Shahinian’s daughter and grandchildren, crammed inside the small van overnight.

“It was a very close fit, let me tell you,” she said. “But we managed.”

Mrs Shahinian said her fondest memory of the caravan was a trip to Tamworth Country Music Festival after the breakdown of her first marriage.

It ended up being the last trip she took with her parents. Her mother was unable to travel again after being struck down by a rare autoimmune condition soon afterwards.

“That trip was very soothing in a traumatic time,” Mrs Shahinian said.

“When I step into that van I remember my times with mum and dad. So there’s a big emotional attachment for me.”

The adventurer knows she will soon have to say goodbye to the old caravan – but not before they complete the checklist of Australian states with a trip to the Northern Territory.

The couple will be hitting the road to Darwin from May to August this year.

“That’ll be interesting for the old girl,” Mrs Shahinian said. “But as they say, if you never never go, you’ll never never know.”