If you’re planning to hitch up the caravan and head off into the sunset without so much as a backwards glance, chances are, you’re going to be staying in caravan parks along the way.
While roadside rest areas or free camps are useful to break up long trip, there’s nothing like unhitching the van on a grassy site and relaxing with everything you need within easy reach. Indeed, caravan parks just can’t be beaten for amenities, facilities and tourist information.
FINDING A CARAVAN PARK
There are lots of questions to ask yourself before you set off. For some, it will depend on where in Australia you plan to travel. For example, a trip from Victoria to the Northern Territory, via New South Wales, will require a long list of holiday parks along the way.The time of year, the size of your rig, who you travel with and your budget are also important considerations – do you require a family-friendly park? How about pet-friendly?
Here are some of the things you need to consider when finding the best caravan park to stay at:
PLAN YOUR ACCOMMODATION AHEAD
The time of the year you want to travel could affect where you plan to stay. Planning to take your caravan north this winter? Don’t expect to just turn up and land a site. These parks book out months in advance as southern Australians flock north to escape the mid-year chill.
The same applies in reverse in summer, when coastal parks throughout the southern and eastern states are chock-full for months on end.
School holidays, no matter the time of year, are another busy period and bookings will need to be made well in advance.
For these reasons, it may be worth thinking carefully about your itinerary and trying to avoid very popular spots in peak periods to increase your chances of landing a prime site.
PET-FRIENDLY CARAVAN PARKS
If you think you can’t travel because you have pets, or that you have to leave your furry little friends at home when you hit the road, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.
More and more parks are jumping on the ‘pet-friendly’ holiday park bandwagon and allowing all creatures great and small to set up camp with you.
All parks which allow pets will have their own rules about what types of pets are welcome and what times of year they’re allowed. Some will restrict pets in their park during school holidays, and others will have dedicated pet-free zones within the park.
So do your research before you set off. There’s every chance you’ll find the perfect park for both the two and four-legged members of your family. And while you’re at it, feel free to join our discussion if you’re not sure where to start.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY CARAVAN PARKS
Caravanning has long been a popular pastime and holiday option for Australian families. In recent times, it has also gained traction with older travellers – empty nesters or ‘Grey Nomads’ keen to see the country at a leisurely pace. Many caravan parks endeavour to cater for both types of travellers, while others market themselves exclusively towards one group. Family-friendly parks may provide facilities such as jumping pillows, mini-golf, movie nights and school holiday activities, which those travelling without children will deem unnecessary. Choose a park which suits your demographic to ensure you have a pleasant stay.
OUTBACK OR COASTAL CARAVAN PARKS
Outback destinations will have fewer parks than more-populated coastal hotspots, so you might have to make do with less choice about where you stay. Facilities are likely to be a bit simpler and you may have to contend with generator-only power. On the upside, you’re guaranteed to have that true-blue Aussie Outback experience that so many of us are keen to have.
Once you hit the coast, however, you’ll be spoilt for choice with many parks offering total beach-frontage – the ultimate camping experience.
CARAVAN PARK GROUPS OR INDEPENDENT PARKS?
Last but not least, you might consider joining one of the larger players. Many (but not all) caravan parks belong to groups like Top Tourist Parks, Big4 and Discovery Holiday Parks. Travellers can become members of these groups and, among other benefits, they enjoy discounted rates at associated parks and can earn rewards along the way.