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On the road with cupcake Norma

Date

Dannika Bonser

Telopea Park School Kindergarten students Bridget Lehane and Olivia Baker watch as Belinda Neame sets up her vintage caravan.

Telopea Park School Kindergarten students Bridget Lehane and Olivia Baker watch as Belinda Neame sets up her vintage caravan. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

On first sight, Norma is a plump, pale, little 48-year-old, but boy is she hip, and she just loves entertaining.

Norma is a vintage caravan, and is just one of an increasing number of her kind found trundling into parks throughout Australia as the resurgence of vintage style continues to infuse with popular culture.

Editor of Vintage Caravan magazine, Lisa Mora, says there is a strong niche of caravanners who are obsessed with the look and feel of caravans designed between the 1950s and '70s.

Interior of vintage caravan "i am norma" cupcake store.

Interior of vintage caravan "i am norma" cupcake store. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

''We usually have nostalgia for the past because it represents a time when things were made with more style and made to last for a long time,'' she said.

The owner of ''I am Norma'', 36-year-old Belinda Neame, said she fell in love with the 1964 Sunliner after a two-year search finally led her to the home of an elderly couple who had owned the caravan for 30 years.

In the caravanning world, vintage models have always been adored, but Norma's pop-out windows, ''vintage mint green'' panelled cupboards, Laminex table and quilted roof lining are now sought after by a younger generation of weekend nomads.

''I don't have a favourite feature; it's more about how the all the features together make you feel. It takes me back to my nana and pop,'' Ms Neame said. ''It's just like in their house - the sound of the cupboard doors closing. It's about how it actually takes you back. The smell, too … I just love the whole package.''

Ms Mora said vintage caravanning is popular with younger families as those who grew up going on caravan holidays want to share the experience with their own children.

Editor of vintagecaravans.com.au, Mark Taylor, said the no-fuss, minimalist lifestyle that is at the heart of retro caravanning is something younger generations are starting to come back to. ''It's a lot of fun; we go away with our old cars and caravans … people stop you on the road, people come up to you everywhere and they want to share stories they have of their own old cars. It's just that friendly kind of community.''

Although Ms Neame and her husband Tim plan to do more travelling with Norma, for now the caravan is being used as ''an extra arm'' of their cupcake business, Cherry Seed. Decked out with black-and-white-checked flooring to match their Fraser store, Norma has become sought after for occasions such as birthdays and weddings.

This Saturday, Norma and her owners can be found selling cupcakes at the annual Telopea Park School's La Grande Fete.

The fete features multicultural food stalls, samba dancing, African drummers and, of course, Norma.

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