Funky flat-packs: the return of the trendy caravan?
FAR from being reserved for retired holiday-makers, caravans are making a comeback as the "glamping" vehicle of choice for families.
Half of Australian caravan users are now aged 30 to 54, and the Sunshine Coast is becoming a base for caravan manufacturing.
As the caravan manufacturing sector grows, so does the number of start-up businesses such as the quirky Zone RV in Coolum.
Zone RV makes flat-pack caravans for off-road campers.
Manufacturing in Australia has plummeted to an all-time low, but this year figures from the Caravan Industry Association of Australia show the country's production of recreational vehicles is the second highest it has been.
Zone RV's team is behind the world's first kit-set caravan, said manager Marty Bell.
The company makes a range of on and off-road caravans, tow-away haulers and ute-back campers that allow people to design their own to suit their needs.
Mr Bell said traditionally caravans were built with a timber frame and the spatial arrangement of items within were limited, but Zone RV had ditched this model in favour of one
people could assemble in their own garages.
"We have no frame - you can cut down a window and frame wherever you like - there are no restrictions," he said.
Zone RV is the creation of long-time friends Matt Johns and Dave Biggar who put their plan into action 18 months ago.
It was perfect timing for the Coast business with more families turning to caravanning and camping for leisure.
The "grey nomad" network was also important, Mr Bell said.
"On the road they will park their caravan, pour themselves a drink and sit back and watch the other vans set up," he said.
He said people could now put their dreaming of the perfect van into practice by creating their own.
Zone RV employs nine people and seeks out local upholstery contractors, engineering firms and other professionals to complete its projects.
Mr Johns said: "We're relatively young Coast guys and we're pretty keen on trying to support the Coast economy."