For some people, retiring means taking a holiday and slowing down: not so for Deb and Andrew Cayzer. This energetic couple waved goodbye to their home, their kids and their former life, jumped in their caravan and ended up the owners of a caravan park in Trangie. Now, the couple is excited to make Trangie an internationally recognised destination for bird-watchers.
Andrew and Deb Cayzer arrived in the small central west township of Trangie for the first time last year when they were flirting with idea of purchasing a caravan park. They looked around at the township – population 850 – for the first time and had to consider whether this was a place they could unhitch their van and permanently call home.
The answer was a resounding yes. Since then the couple has been nothing short of a whirlwind of activity and inspiration to everyone who lives there. Their desire to see Trangie “on-the-map” has led to interesting discoveries and number of brainstorming sessions with long-term residents of the area, who think the arrival of Andrew and Deb has been a breath of fresh air.
As the new owners of the Trangie Caravan Park, Andrew believes the town may be small but it packs a punch. Trangie’s connection to the cotton industry and its proximity to the local cotton gins makes for a fascinating corner of the world. For anyone who hasn’t seen the trail of white cotton tufts lining the Mitchell Highway during harvest season and the seemingly endless rows of massive round cotton bales sitting in the paddocks, that spectacle in itself is worth a drive. It’s certainly not a sight you see in just any country town. The town’s popular race days attract attendees from all over the state and increasingly, Trangie is seeing more and more bird watchers exploring the waterways and local habitat.
Twitchers, as they’re often called, are committed bird-watchers who travel long distances to see a new species to add to their bird watching achievements.
Trangie has abundant birdlife. It’s less than 20 km from Gin Gin Weir which is situated on the Macquarie River, and the Goan Water hole which is around a kilometre long and right in the heart of town. It’s the perfect environment to attract a variety of birdlife.
The town is also reasonably close to the world-famous Ramsar-listed Macquarie Marshes. The marshes are located on the other side of Warren and are a primary location for woodland birds and wetland species like Grey-crowned Babblers, Hooded Robins, Speckled Warblers, the cryptic Painted Snipe, Brolgas and a variety of Egret species.
Andrew and Deb plan to make Trangie an established and appealing destination for birdwatchers as they make their way to Warren and the marshes for more well-known wetlands.
And with the recent upgrade of their caravan park, including new cabins, the expression “build it and they will come” holds a lot of hope for the Cayzers.
Prior to their tree-change, Andrew was employed for many years with Woolworths and Deb was a registered nurse.
Once their children were grown, the couple decided - at just over 55 years of age - to go out and enjoy some of their new found freedom.
And they didn’t do it in half-measures.
“We sold everything, including the house, put the money in the bank and just went travelling!” Andrew says.
Their initial sojourn included four months in Tasmania, a month in Agnes Waters in the Gladstone region, then to Winton, Rockhampton and back to Gladstone where their plans changed when Deb broke her ankle.
Sitting for long hours in their truck was difficult and painful for Deb, and slowed them down considerably.
But before leaving home, the couple had joined a website that listed businesses for sale and lease. They were open to ideas.
“We knew we wanted to do something but we weren’t quite sure what that would be- possibly the caravan park industry.”
So they continued the trip with the intention of changing course if they were approached to manage a caravan park or similar business if the opportunity arose.
The Trangie Caravan park listing came through on the website last year. Andrew says there wasn’t much information on either it or the town of Trangie for that matter but it was on the market for a great price.
With their interest piqued, the pair started making their way in the van to Trangie.
“We stopped in Warren and then drove over to check out the park. We could see the potential straight away, it really grabbed our attention.
“Nothing had been damaged; it was just overrun but we could see through all that so we called an electrician to check out a few things and five minutes later he was here. Who ever heard of an electrician turning up in five minutes?” Andrew adds, laughing.
It all came up trumps so the couple decided to make a “silly offer” and within a short space of time found themselves the new owners of a freehold caravan park.
“We saw it in the morning and owned it by the afternoon,” Deb says.
Since that time the couple has invested a lot of money into the business by upgrading all the existing facilities and installing four of what could possibly be the quirkiest cabins in the central west.
The cabins have gone over a treat, especially with young international backpackers who work out on the cotton gins each year.
While they were busy building up their new business, Andrew and Deb were also trying to think of ways to get Trangie on the radar as a destination worthy of an overnight stay. Andrew says there was not a lot of talk on the internet about their new town, other than it being somewhere you pass through on the way to somewhere else.
“We wanted to make it a worthy destination; we have the weir, the waterhole and the race days and some great local businesses, but other than that it didn’t appear that we had a lot to offer, but there’s a lot happening – you just need to be part of the community to find out about it.”
So they asked around and spoke with a few of the locals about activities in the area. One local woman, who is a bird lover and former teacher, said there were always birdwatchers coming to visit the area.
Andrew says the bird watching clubs all knew about the area and deemed it worthy, with Trangie regularly attracting both national and international bird watchers, according to those in the know.
According to Andrew, the cotton farms and their large dams which attract hundreds of different birds every year make the area particularly attractive for twitchers.
Having recently collaborated with two local cotton farmers, Andrew has established five excellent spots on their properties where he can take visitors to see what’s on offer.
With accommodation sorted and prime bird-watching destinations in place, the couple has contacted various bird watching groups around Australia to advise they’re ready for visitation and more than happy to accommodate the twitchers and their needs.
With the cabins now installed and plenty of powered sites ready to fill, Andrew and Deb are looking forward to word-of-mouth doing its job for Trangie’s hospitality and bird watching friendly tours.
The couple admits they’re a bit green on bird watching at the moment but they’re keen to learn more and they’re looking forward to their guests sharing stories with them around their communal kitchen.
Deb said she’s heard there are definitely brolgas out on one of the nearby properties and is keen to discover which other species of birds are calling Trangie home.
“We welcome people to Trangie; it’s such a great town, the people have welcomed us, they’ve been so friendly, helpful and caring so we direct our customers through to the local businesses like the hotels, the club and the bakery,” Deb says.
“You have to go to the local bakery for the best apple turnovers in Australia – those turn overs alone are worth the drive!”
Trangie Caravan Park is located at 38 Goan St, Trangie, NSW.