Looking for a place to dip your toe in and perhaps, just maybe, catch some dinner as well? Here are our picks for a great stay near the water…
Words & Images Melinda Uys

1 We Love Mallacoota Foreshore Caravan Park, Vic
Sleepy Mallacoota is one of those gems easy enough to drive straight past on your way between Victoria and New South Wales. But just 23 kilometres off the Princes Highway is this beautiful coastal inlet with a well situated caravan park taking full advantage of its amazing natural surroundings.

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The Mallacoota Foreshore Caravan Park spreads out around a small headland, with a variety of unpowered, powered and waterfront sites. The overflow area has large flat sites, playgrounds and newer facilities; while the waterfront sites are slightly smaller and come with a view. There’s a large camp kitchen overlooking the inlet, clean amenities, and places to moor and launch your boats.

The inlet provides great fishing and even the chance to gather your own black mussels. Just down the road is the pristine Croajingolong National Park with its deserted beaches and calming bushwalks. Dogs are permitted with some restrictions.

­­2 We Love Daly River Mango Farm, NT
Alright, you can’t actually swim (I wouldn’t even dip my toe) in the Daly River unless you fancy yourself as crocodile food, but the century-old trees shading this excellent family-run park will go a long way in cooling you off from the oppressively hot outback sun.

Located in a reasonably isolated part of the Northern Territory, the Mango Farm feels likes a sweet oasis among the hot scrub. Powered sites here are large. The amenities are spotless and include a camp kitchen, barbecues, a boat ramp and pontoon; and there’s a small pool for jumping into and frozen mango for sale at reception. The Daly River is a well-known barramundi fishing hot spot. And there are interesting walks concerning history and wildlife directly around the campground, with the superb Merrepen Arts Centre in nearby Nauiyu, if getting in a tinny and floating about with the crocs isn’t your thing. Pets are permitted.

3 We Love Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park, WA

After driving hundreds of kilometres either north from Port Hedland or south from Broome, with the red dirt, dust and low scrub on repeat for hours, the Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park is the loveliest of reprieves. Located directly behind the dunes on Eighty Mile Beach, powered and unpowered sites are wonderfully maintained with plenty of green, green grass.

A camp kitchen, gas barbecues, a very well-stocked shop at reception and clean amenities make this a really pleasant stop after the endless dust; but its prime selling point is located over the dunes. Kilometres of white sandy beach in either direction, beautiful shells, and (in the right conditions at the top of the tide) excellent fishing straight off the beach. It’s also a magical spot for those westerly ‘over the water’ sunsets and for peace and relaxation in general. Pets are not permitted.

1 We Long For Big4 Middleton Beach, Albany, WA

As a fishing widow of note, I like a few creature comforts when I’m whiling away the hours – and this excellently-maintained caravan park provides just that. Located on beautiful Middleton Beach, this has all the usual Big4 facilities (minus the arm-breaker; sorry, I mean jumping pillow) at the standard we’ve come to expect. The very nice ensuite (powered or unpowered) sites are grassy with cement or ground sheet pads and are reasonably large (although the roads are narrow for those with really big rigs).

There’s an excellent camp kitchen, pool, guest lounge area and very clean amenities including a fantastic family bathroom which actually includes a bath and lots of room. A short walk over the white sand leads you to the calm waters of the King George Sound and Middleton Beach stretching off into the distance. There’s an excellent walking track which will take you around the headland, past great cafes and pubs, right up to the breathtaking ANZAC monument. Pets not permitted.

2 We Long For Point Turton Caravan Park, SA

In arguably one of the best spots on the Yorke Peninsula, located between the tavern on the top of the hill and the jetty down on the water, lies the sleepy Point Turton Caravan Park. Looking out over the calm clear waters of Hardwicke Bay, this very neat and tidy park has grassy powered sites with ground-sheeted slabs, along with cabins. Spotless amenities include gas barbecues, undercover seating, dishwashing facilities and laundry, with a boat launching and fish cleaning area just over the road. Reception sells bait and ice and can give the odd bit of advice about where to go to catch the night’s feed of King George whiting – one of the area’s most well-known species.

Not into fishing? Exploring the myriad deserted little bays, beaches and national parks within easy walking or driving distance of this park will keep you entertained and cool for weeks. Pets allowed on powered sites only.

3 We Long For Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort, Yamba, NSW

With a large frontage on the mighty Clarence River, two resort-style pools (one designed specifically for younger children) with waterslides, a number of playgrounds, jumping pillow, pedal carts … and within walking distance of the beaches, cafes and shops of Yamba, the Blue Dolphin Caravan Park ticks all the boxes for even the fussiest of fishing enthusiasts and their fishing widows. This is a large and well-maintained park with ensuites, powered and unpowered sites and cabins (some waterfront). There’s a well-equipped camp kitchen along with a private boat ramp and jetty. Don’t have your own boat? You can hire a tinny or kayak directly from the Blue Dolphin.

A range of fish species and crabs can be caught right out front and for those who actually like to know they’re eating fish for dinner, the Clarence River Fisherman’s Co-op has excellent locally-caught seafood just 300 metres down the road. Pets are permitted with restrictions.

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