Caravan Parks – Three We Love, Three We Long For
From caravan parks masquerading as resorts to camp grounds showcasing the natural surrounds, here are places we’re coveting this issue…
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Bendalong Point Caravan Park, Bendalong, NSW
With a great surf beach on one side, a small, sandy, protected bay on the other and wildlife, natural beauty and facilities galore in between, the Bendalong Point Caravan Park is one of the best on the east coast of Australia.
Located on Red Point Headland, mobs of kangaroos bounce around the park, lorikeets and other parrots will come chirping for food and if you’ve caught some fish, the giant stingrays down in the bay at Washerwomans will hang around until you throw them something.
The amenities are clean, there’s a new camp kitchen and a large playground and aquatic park smack bang in the middle to entertain the kids. That is, of course, when they’ve had enough of catching a wave, exploring the tidal pools and caves of Inyadda Beach on the southern side, or swimming in the calm waters of Washerwomans and Boat Harbour beach to the north.
A convenience store is within walking distance, though Ulladulla is only half an hour’s drive away for a major restock or fresh seafood.
Undara Experience Outback Caravan Park & Campground, Savannah Way, QLD
Sitting in the Queensland Gulf Savannah is the Undara Experience, a privately owned and operated tourism outfit featuring accommodation, guided tours and outback experiences based around the Undara lava tubes. These volcanic underground tubes were formed over 190,000 years ago and are now places of significant floral, faunal and aboriginal importance.
The campground offers powered and unpowered sites in a shaded bush setting, with pretty-faced wallabies, kangaroos and a plethora of birdlife zooming around camp for your entertainment once you’ve had enough of walking through caves, bushwalks or mountain biking.
There’s a lovely landscaped pool and Undara Central where reception, the tour desk and a convenience store are located. A bar and bistro is housed behind these in a cavernous undercover area overlooking the bush.
At night there’s stories around the central camp fire, or your own if you prefer, and in the morning you can compete with kookaburras for bacon at the Bush Breakfast.
Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park, Jabiru, NT
Looking out over the green of Arnhem Land and feeling the unfathomable history left on the walls of Nourlangie by the traditional owners is a sensation anyone worth their wanderlusting salt needs to experience.
So it seems odd to think the trimmed style of a symmetrical and sanitised campground would feel authentic situated in Kakadu National Park, an Australian icon known for its natural and rugged beauty. But the Kakadu Lodge and Caravan Park, located in Jabiru, the only town within the national park seems to have the balance between natural and foreign just right. Grassy manicured sites are laid out in concentric rings around the pool and restaurant area though it’s reasonably easy to find a bit of space between you, the gumtrees, vibrant bougainvillea and hibiscus and other guests.
The pool is modelled on a large waterhole and is, most importantly, cool. The restaurant is licenced, the food is great and there is a wonderfully festive atmosphere here that is sometimes lacking in caravan park restaurants. Facilities are very well maintained though there are lots of bugs – we are in the tropics people.
Adventure Whitsunday, Airlie Beach, QLD
Imagine a caravan park where I can sit by the pool while the kids are entertained with myriad activities, safe in the knowledge I’ll be sleeping in my own bed tonight with tomorrow holding the possibility of a magical tropical reef experience – hang on, apparently I can.
The immaculate facilities of this park include a massive pool complete with water slides, numerous playgrounds along with unpowered go carts, giant chess boards, mini golf, tennis and a range of children’s activities during holiday periods. Kids are literally incapable of becoming bored, meaning great times for mum and dad. The slab and ensuite sites are landscaped for privacy, while the more open grass sites are larger. There are all the usual facilities of a great camp kitchen, dump point and amenities. I’ve heard the poolside massages are pretty good too.
Oh, and you’re in the Whitsundays – it’s totally acceptable for you to leave the park. The tourist desk at reception will book your reef, beach, fishing, jet-skiing, sailing or island trip… Take me there, now.
Osprey Campground, Cape Range National Park, WA
Within the Cape Range National Park is one of those magical campgrounds combining an amazing natural setting and the opportunity to set your rig up front and centre over the action. There are a string of campgrounds along this stretch of the Coral Coast, but Osprey is the only one where you can book a site right on the cliffs looking out over the ridiculously beautiful Ningaloo Reef system and the Indian Ocean.
A small sandy beach is located just off the campground as well as some shaded picnic tables and clean drop toilets, though this is where the facilities end. Potable water is unavailable in Cape Range National Park and you need to be self-sufficient with Exmouth an almost three-hour return trip on the bitumen. The individually marked sites are reasonably spacious and you’re still a respectable distance from your neighbour.
Snorkelling among the coral, kayaking, coastal or bush walks and the abundance of flora and fauna will keep you more than occupied. When the sun starts to sink into that blue, blue ocean, you’ll toast your lucky stars you booked early enough to get one of the most coveted spots on the WA coast.
Pemberton Caravan Park, Pemberton, WA
There’s something about Pemberton, a little country town carved out of the impossibly tall karri forests of the Great Southern, which catches your breath in the nicest way. It could be the huge natural pool in town or the drive along the 86km Karri Forest Explorer. Maybe it’s the heart thumping adrenaline of climbing a fire lookout tree via steel pegs 60 metres straight up.
Or maybe it’s the way that oxygen rich air gets into your lungs and, amid seemingly endless forest, your camping rig feels cosier than ever. As summer approaches, the idea of a campsite beneath cool trees beside the beautifully clear Lefroy Brook makes my heart soar.
Pemberton Caravan Park is certainly not the newest or largest kid on the camping block, but it is one of the prettiest. There are a range of cabins, most sites are large and either grassy or nestled underneath the trees. The amenities are clean, fire pits are shared and there’s a great camp kitchen. Reception has a small selection of supplies, but the supermarket is just up the hill along with an excellent Tourist Centre, cafes, pubs and shops