Time to Roam Magazine Issue 9 - June/July 2014 - Page 17

| upfront feature 1950s Phylis Gibling now and then Still in love, after 50 years Phyllis and John Gibling were married in 1959 and the following year purchased the latest Sunliner caravan. Sunliners are hugely popular with vintage caravan enthusiasts and there were several wellpreserved examples on show at Broken Hill, but the Gibling’s van and its story really stood out. Not only have they had it since new, they actually purchased the caravan from its creator, the late great Bert Tickner, in person. John and Phyllis recall how they made an overnight trip to Forster from their home in Sydney, racing to get there before the factory closed at midday on a Saturday. John recalls Tickner as being a very honourable and decent man who was troubled by the fact he was selling them a caravan someone else had already paid a deposit on, but failed to turn up to collect. In the days before mobile phones and other forms of easy and fast communications, Tickner had tried but failed to contact the buyer. As fate would have it, he finally turned up just as John and Phyllis were leaving. “He asked us to sneak out very quietly,” John said. The van itself was the most technological advanced available at the time. Fully fiberglass with a light-weight tubular steel chassis, independent suspension, gas fridge, stove and 240 volt power. The Giblings and their daughters Robyn and Jeanette have travelled to almost every corner or the continent with it, as far as Cairns to the north and Perth WA. “And that was before the road was sealed,” John pointed out. Youngest daughter Jeanette and her husband Grant have recently taken custody, deciding to refurbish it in 2012 after it had sat in the garage for a few years without being used. “We were considering buying a camper trailer, but then we thought, why not fix up the Sunliner? It weighs about the same and tows just as easily,” Jeanette said. It was a pleasure meeting up with the Giblings at Broken Hill and obvious that after more than half a century Phyllis and John are as much in love as ever with each other and the caravan that has been their family pleasure vehicle for all that time. Today Sunliners are hugely popular with vintage caravan enthusiasts and there were several wellpreserved examples on show at Broken Hill, but the Gibling’s van and its story really stood out. > continued page 20 Issue 09 Jun/Jul 2014 17