The twin township of Forster-Tuncurry on the New South Wales mid-north coast is famous for its benign climate and gorgeous geography. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the ocean-like Wallis Lake on the other, you’re never far from something to do in this pleasant part of the world, even if that something is chilling out with a dangerous extravagance from the local patisserie.
In cooler months, the twin towns hum along to their own sweet tune but, come summer, the place goes bananas. Such is the magnetic attraction of the spectacular landscape and pleasant weather that thousands, maybe even millions, of Australians head in that direction for their annual holidays, populating every camping nook and cranny from Booti Booti to Forster-Tuncurry and beyond.
As you can imagine, holiday parks around here need high standards to remain competitive. The truth is, there’s no place for slackers in this business. Caravan parks all over Australia rely on return customers as well as newbies for their income and, when you boil that down, it means keeping the place looking sharp and inviting all year round. That’s one reason our caravan park managers are some of the country’s hardest working people.
We’ve visited just about every park worth seeing between Newcastle, NSW, and Bribie Island in Queensland, meeting many of these tireless folk and, in this instance, we’d be happy to kick back for a while at this bright and friendly Top Tourist Park.
Lani’s Holiday Island is situated on the main thoroughfare in Forster, The Lakes Way, so it’s hard to miss, even if you’re simultaneously steering with your knees and chomping on a burger. To reach the park from the north, you’d take the Forster-Tuncurry turn-off a little south of Taree. To reach if from Newcastle, you’d take the scenic route, turning off not far from Bulahdelah and approaching via Pacific Palms and Booti Booti which, technically speaking, aren’t towns at all but worth seeing for their silky beaches and the nice waves you’ll find there when all the planets align and the tide cooperates.
Lani’s itself has everything you need and then some. The park encompasses 16ha of well-organised accommodation and neat amenities. There are two swimming pools, undercover barbecues, a camp kitchen, boat storage for the fish-infatuated, reliable internet connection, free Foxtel and free in-house movies.
The number and variety of cabins is impressive. There are spa retreats, waterfront cabins, villas, lofts, cottages and bungalows, lodges, huts, even six pet-dedicated cabins for those who, like me, refuse to leave home without Bill the Flying Wonder Dog. The benefit of all this variety is that anyone can find a budget slot that suits them and, if you’ll pardon the pun, that’s an accommodating concept.
Best of all is the 40ha Tony’s Point Island, smack bang in the middle of Wallis Lake, and the park’s most notable attraction. Wallis Lake can be a tricky waterway at times, I’ve run aground there myself, but it’s safe enough if you keep your tinnie within the navigational markers. The island has a relaxed atmosphere and is actually quite pretty, with shaded campsites – no limit on their size either – fish-cleaning facilities and fresh drinking water, all with a 180-degree view of the sunset and sunrise.
- Lani’s Holiday Island, a Top Tourist Park, is located on Wallis Lake in the heart of the twin seaside towns of Forster-Tuncurry on the mid-north coast of NSW, just two hours’ drive north of Newcastle and 3.5 hours from Sydney.
- For information about camping and cabin rates and so on, visit www.lanis.com.au
- Emails requesting information should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org , or phone the friendly staff on either 1300 653 258 or (02) 6554 6273. And if you’re headed their way, take your water wings.
FIVE MINUTES WITH THE MANAGERS...
Lani’s Holiday Island manager Joshua Kingsmill, who runs the park with his wife, Tiffany, talks about life in a Top Tourist Park.
How long have you guys been managing the park?
My parents have owned the lease on the park for 18 years. I’ve been here for about 11 of those and Tiffany’s been here for about seven years. It’s a good life. You get to spend a lot of time with your kids and meet a lot of new people. We like it.
Have you guys always lived in Forster?
Tiffany and I moved here to take over the park but, before that, I’d moved all over the place because Dad was a country bank manager and we were country kids. But Tiff’s a city girl. She grew up in Sydney and moved to Forster almost nine years ago.
Is Forster a good place to live?
Absolutely beautiful. We love it.
There are many caravan parks in the area and that means a lot of competition. So how do you make Lani’s stand out?
There are a lot of parks, that’s for sure, in fact, there’s one right next door, but we’re one of the bigger ones and I think we all have something a little different to offer. What sets us apart is that we have a 40ha (100-acre) island for bushland camping. As far as we know, no other park has anything like it.
I’ve had a look at the island and it’s huge. Is it actually full during your busiest period?
Between Christmas and the New Year period, as well as over Easter, we are extremely busy, although we’ve never been full and we prefer to keep it that way. It’s more about the bush camping experience than trying to cram in as many people as we can. The island is right in the middle of Wallis Lake so it’s in a prime fishing spot. We have a boat ramp out there, too. The lake is pretty shallow in parts but if fishermen stay between the markers, they’re pretty right.
Do you think you cater well for families?
I think we do. We have a kids’ entertainer come in during the school holidays, we have two swimming pools, a play area and, of course, mum and dad can take the kids over to the island and have a picnic or barbecue or whatever. They can also fish off the island or from small inlets on the way over there, and if they’re not into fishing they can ride their pushies around and just muck about. Lani’s is close to town and there’s always something going on here during the holidays. We’re only about 15 minutes from the beach and the shopping centre’s pretty much across the road.
A good location by the sound of it. Do you get the same people coming back year after year?
We do get a lot of repeat customers, especially during the holiday period. They like the park and they love Forster too, I suppose.
I’ve stayed in parks that were totally anti-dog but you guys are pet friendly. How far will you go with that?
Well, we don’t take large animals like horses, although we once had a customer with a small petting farm, but we do welcome dogs and so on, and I think that’s another drawcard for the park. We have six pet-dedicated cabins and if they’re well behaved – the pets, I mean – we don’t mind them going out to the island with their owners.
Originally published in Caravan World #511, February 2013.