Getting away at Easter is a great Australian tradition. A glorious work-free four-day break, it’s a brilliant opportunity to pack up the van, grab the kids or the dog and head off to capture the last glimmer of warm weather.
This traditional long weekend oftentimes drops right in the middle of school holidays too, so it’s an opportunity to take a few extra days away (it’s a short work week either side anyway, right?) and go adventuring.
Here we chat about why it’s important to travel over Easter this year and beyond, we get a few tips from some active Easter travellers and offer up a suite of Easter events happening across the country.
Easter is the busiest period of travel outside of Christmas and New Year, which means it’s the second highest time for tourism businesses including caravan parks, tour operators, local attractions and shops to make their livelihood.
Holidaying at home this year is more important than ever given the bushfire crisis and the effect the blazes had on townships that rely on tourism across the country. There are numerous campaigns to encourage Aussies to take a break and pour money into fire and drought-affected towns, such as South Australia’s #BookThemOut, NSW’s #LoveNSW, Tourism Australia’s ‘Holiday Here This Year’ push and the #EmptyEsky movement to travel and buy local produce and wines along the way.
Keep on Camping (www.keeponcamping.com.au) is an initiative launched by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA) in response to the fires. RV travellers play a huge role in supporting regional tourism, with 30 per cent of all trips in regional Australia involving caravan or camping. Tourism Research Australia stats reveal caravan parks in the South Coast of NSW and the Gippsland regions account for the largest market share of all commercial accommodation nights in the region, at 38 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.
CIAA General Manager of Marketing & Communications Keelan Howard says the website, which has an interactive map to highlight the safety of caravan parks in fire-touched areas with a traffic light system — red, amber and green — and includes a ‘book a trip’ button, is designed to encourage people to spend in affected towns.
“If you take some of those businesses, and it varies for each business, their opportunity to make a living could be 50–70 per cent in that (Christmas) period,” he told Caravan World.
“It was such a scale that we realised that we needed something like this.”
The site also encourages sharing stories of travels, meeting locals and ways of supporting local tourism with the #keeponcamping hashtag on social media.
Howard said the CIAA is pushing the message about Easter travel as an important time to give back, including a neat little idea to encourage all generations to book a trip called ‘Gramping’.
“We know there are a lot of families where the kids get leave from school, but the adults don’t necessarily get two weeks of holidays,” he says. “We talk about how good it would be to get retired nan and pop to stay in the caravan park and take the kids Monday to Friday and for the parents who are still working to go down from Friday to Sunday.”
TIPS FROM THE TRAVELLERS
Sydney couple Mark and Libby Taylor and their children Drew, 10, and Amy, 7, travel every Easter with their full-sized New Age 6.1m (20ft) Manta Ray caravan with toilet and shower.
Each year they choose a different location and have camped at NSW spots including Tabourie Lake, Swansea, Karuah, Narooma, Shoal Bay as well as Brighton in South Australia. The family often tour with friends so they plan and book in advance.
“Easter destinations are chosen as somewhere we haven’t been before, have a variety of sights to explore and have always been by the beach so the kids are entertained too,” the couple tell Caravan World. “It also depends on availability of sites in caravan parks as we usually go away with people at Easter and want sites together.
“Unfortunately with all the annual bookings they allow these days finding places to stay along the coast can be difficult, so it is a must to book ahead.”
Traffic jams over the Easter period, particularly on coastal roads, are all too common but the couple have some top tips to avoid bottlenecks.
“The best way to avoid traffic is to arrive the Thursday before Good Friday and come home the Tuesday if you can have extra days off work,” they advise. “If you can’t have extra time off, leaving early in the morning on arrival and departure days helps you beat the rush, especially when everyone is leaving the caravan parks at 10am.”
This year the Taylor family will visit a number of bushfire-affected towns in NSW and Victoria during an extended April adventure including Eden, Mallacoota, Buchan Caves, Wilson’s Promontory, Erica, Mansfield and Bright. Although it’s exactly the kind of holiday tourism bodies are calling RV owners to take, this was pre-planned in November. The Taylors are happy to be embarking on an #emptyesky journey.
“We were very keen to visit all these places and were reluctant to change or cancel our bookings during the fire season so we are happy that our route hasn’t had to change and we will be able to go down and support these communities,” they said.
“We will definitely be taking an empty esky and buy food and drinks to help these communities get back on their feet.”
EASTER TOP TIPS
Here are a few other handy pieces of advice to make your Easter holiday a memory-making adventure.
Book ahead: Easter is always a busy period, so plan ahead and book a caravan park early to avoid disappointment. No one wants to be spending Easter on the side of the road. Free camping spots will be first in, best dressed so think about leaving home earlier and perhaps leave later than others. Traffic can be a nightmare too, so choosing irregular times to travel will ease the frustration.
Avoid the crowds: If the thought of battling 100 other ‘vanners for space in your favourite seaside caravan park doesn’t fill you with unbridled joy (especially if you don’t have kids), consider taking a journey somewhere less touristy where you can enjoy time away without the blare of youthful enthusiasm screeching around your caravan park on a bike.
Eggs-cellent fun: The traditional Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday is an unmissable event for kids — and adults with a sweet tooth! Pro tip when camping as well as in parks: get up early on the Sunday morning to hide the eggs to avoid your chocolatey goodness being snaffled by local night creatures. Better yet, hide them in see-through food containers from your camp kitchen to keep them uneaten. Ditch the excess packaging of your Easter treats before you leave home and stash them away from prying little eyes. Hide a few eggs inside the van on Easter Sunday for the sake of variety (a great idea in inclement weather).
Get crafty: Take the sugar high from all the chocolate eggs and channel it into Easter egg decorating. Pack some food dye, glue, glitter and felt pens and then boil up some eggs to decorate. This is a great idea if it decides to storm over the weekend, too.
Easter events: April 10–13
Plenty of people plan their Easter break around an annual event that may span the breadth of the weekend, while others are happy to tag along to one-day or smaller community events that offer myriad experiences from seaside festivals, markets and the ubiquitous Easter egg hunt. Here are a few to consider.
GRIFFITH EASTER PARTY
Enjoy a family fun run, children’s brunch, busking musicians, a vintage festival plus scores of cellar door wine tastings, live music and food trucks.
AUSTRALIAN STREET ROD FEDERATION REGIONAL NATIONALS
Here’s one for the car lovers. Be impressed as 600 hot rods rumbling down Auburn St in Goulburn over Easter (with a super-fun 1950s theme this year) as well as live music and car displays in Belmore Park.
BACK O BOURKE EASTER FESTIVAL
Take a trip to outback NSW and enjoy a street parade, Easter egg hunt, live music, the annual Back O Bourke Races and more.
PARRTJIMA — A FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Alice Springs is taken over for 10 nights as a variety of light installations from Aboriginal artists are set against the MacDonnell Ranges, plus live talks, events and music from local and national musicians.
Alice Springs, parrtjimaaustralia.com.au
RED HOT SUMMER TOUR
The annual Red Hot Summer Tour celebrates its 10th anniversary and stops up top towards the end of its run. Performers include Hunters & Collectors, James Reyne, The Living End, Killing Heidi and Boom Crash Opera.
RIVERSANDS EASTER IN THE VINES
An Easter egg hunt and colouring-in competition is held for the kids, while older folk can enjoy a wine or beer, cheese platter, delicious homemade scones and country music.
St George, riversandswines.com
ROAM'S EASTER IN THE COUNTRY FESTIVAL
Celebrate all things ‘country’ at this annual event now in its 40th year. Expect pony rides and a petting zoo, bush tucker cooking demonstrations, street parade, rodeo, bush poetry, and a performance by country music legend Lee Kernaghan.
STANSBURY SEASIDE MARKETS
These colourful seaside markets on the Yorke Peninsula will offer treats galore, with home-made pastries and cakes, jams, sauces and locally made crafts.
SALVADOR DALI WINERY EXHIBITION
Until 30 April
One for the adults… Combine a visit to the dazzling d'Arenberg Cube vineyard in McLaren Vale with its on-site surrealist exhibition and sale featuring authentic bronze sculptures and graphic artworks by famed Spanish artist Salvador Dali.
McLaren Vale, darenberg.com.au
2020 PENOLA CUP
Spend Easter Sunday amongst the vines of the Coonawarra. Watch the amazing races while kids can enjoy the extra entertainment at the track.
KIDS IN THE PARK
Head to Burnie Park on Easter Sunday for this free family event where the kids can meet the Easter Bunny, try the giant downhill slide, hunt for Easter eggs and participate in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.
DAVIES CONSTRUCTION INTERNATIONAL MURAL FEST
This annual mural art competition and festival over Easter in Sheffield features a purpose-built outdoor art gallery to showcase emerging and established artists.
PORTLAND EASTER SATURDAY FAIR
A wonderful annual family festival on Percy St with live local music, community groups and organisations, free children's craft activities and face painting, Easter Bunny and friends plus market stalls.
150TH BENDIGO EASTER FAIR
This fun festival offers an Easter egg hunt, the Fosterville Gold Torchlight Procession and the Gala Parade as part of the Chinese Spring Festival.
BEECHWORTH GOLDEN HORSESHOES FESTIVAL 2020
Celebrate the historic traditions of Beechworth begun when Daniel Cameron rode a horse with gold shoes down the main street in 1855. Watch the annual re-enactment, cheer participants in the Grand Parade on Easter Saturday and join the Easter Egg Hunt and Family Fun Day on Sunday.
RUSHWORTH EASTER HERITAGE FESTIVAL
Expect live music, stalls, food, art and craft exhibition, steam engine display and museum. Saturday’s parade will include various types of horses, old vehicles and CFA volunteers. Head to nearby Moora on Sunday for the Moora Working Draft Horse Muster plus old arts of blacksmithing and shearing.
DWELLINGUP PUMPKIN FESTIVAL
Check out the biggest pumpkins in the west on show this Easter Saturday, as well as the Circus Challenge under the big top for kids, pony rides, mini golf, food trucks and more.
MYALUP EASTER FAIR
This community event south of Perth offers visitors live music, sideshow alley, a pet parade, market stalls, food trucks and the Youth Art Exhibition & Competition on Easter Sunday.
TAYLOR FAMILY'S EASTER TIPS
- Book sites a few months ahead, especially if travelling in a convoy
- Go somewhere different each year for variety
- Coastal destinations are popular but great for the kids
- Stay an extra night or two to beat the traffic
- Choose regional areas to support smaller communities