Choosing Caravan Park or maybe other spots to stay.
CHOOSING CARAVAN PARK AND OTHER SPOTS
This is the nineteenth page of 23 with related information about making the most of your caravan holiday. At the bottom of this page I have links to the other pages and I suggest you check these out as well.
Deciding where to stay will take time and planning. Most people end up choosing a caravan park to stay in but there are a core group of independently minded travelers who prefer, wherever possible, to stay in the bush or by the side of the road. Think about what you want from a camping area, and what is expected of you in terms of being a good neighbor.
CHOOSING A CARAVAN PARK
The best caravan park for you is the one that suits your needs. Children need a park with a playground or a swimming pool and plenty of room to run around. If you are traveling with pets, you need to be choosing a caravan park that allows pets – not all of them do. A large van or motorhome demands a suitably large site, perhaps even a double drive through site. Travelers concerned about privacy may want a park with en-suite facilities.
Location is important. Choosing a caravan park close to shops, the beach and other facilities will reduce car use. This is important to those with motorhomes and campervans because using the car means dismantling your camp.
You will probably look in Caravan Park directories and on the Internet, but word-of-mouth can be the best way of choosing a caravan park. Make a point of talking to people who have just been to the places you intend to visit next. These chats which more often than not take place in the laundries of caravan parks are a great source of up-to-date information on where to go and where to avoid. Just remember that different people have very different ideas of what makes a good caravan park, so use your judgment on what others say in choosing a caravan park.
Australia’s auto clubs publish guides to caravan parks based on star ratings. A problem with this system is that for a park to earn more stars it must offer an increasing range of services and facilities. Average campers, who would happily settle for a shady site, friendly service and spotless amenities, find themselves paying for a range of facilities they do not necessarily need or want, such as tennis courts and trampolines. However, if “luxuries” at a caravan park are important to you – pick the parks with 4-5 star ratings.
When you are choosing a caravan park have a look for well-tended grounds because this often gives an indication of what the rest of the park is like. I am not taking anything away from anybody but you may find that owner-operated parks provide that little bit more in the way of friendly service.
CHOOSING A CARAVAN SITE
Every caravan park is different and has different layouts and sites of varying size. Depending on the time of your travel, your choice of site will be limited during holiday periods and in popular parks that are busy year-round. If you book well in advance, you may be able to specify a particular site, or a general area of the park, where you wish to be located. Sites with beach or river frontage are always popular, and may even attract higher site fees.
When booking or checking into a park, ask if there is a choice of site. You may be traveling or meeting friends and what to be close to them. You may want to be near the toilets or away from a busy road.
Most parks have powered and un-powered sites. Un-powered sites are generally reserved for people with tents and small camper-trailers and can occasionally be of a poorer quality than powered sites. If this is the case where you are staying and even if you do not intend to use the power, it may be worthwhile paying the little bit extra for a better site. However, in a lot of other parks un-power sites can be of a very good quality, with grassy expanses and close proximity to the amenities block.
If you are choosing a caravan park site or have been allocated a site beneath trees, always have a good look for dead or unstable limbs, particularly in riverside parks with lots of gum trees. The shade is wonderful but branches can, and do, come crashing down, causing injuries and even fatalities.
When you are traveling around and coming into a large town tune in to the FM tourist radio network. The availability of the network in a particular area is advertised on blue and white road signs as you approach the town. The frequency is usually 88FM.
PRICES AND BOOKINGS
If cost is a concern, choosing a caravan park is even more important to you. Prices vary dramatically across Australia with seasonal a low season prices normally available. Some caravan parks have a heavy demand on sites during holiday periods and charge extra at this time, but may offer attractive discounts in non-peak periods. Site fees range from around $10 per night for a basic park in a non-tourist area to $40-50 per night during the summer holidays in a good quality park near a popular beach. Parks often have a policy of minimum bookings over holiday periods: around four days over Easter and up to a week in the summer holidays. Look out for discounts, such as seven nights for the price of five, but make sure the normal nightly rate is competitive with other parks in the area.
There are three major caravan-park chains that operate in Australia. If you are planning an extended tour around the country, look at joining at least one and possibly all three. The chains offer discounts to members and you can quickly recoup your membership fees by staying there. They normally offer a 10% discount of their camping fees with a maximum discount of about $20-25.The caravan parks associated with these chains are generally of better than average quality.
If you are choosing a caravan park, the three chains are:
Family Parks of Australia
Camping in the bush or along the roadside has been common in Australia for ever. The nomadic lifestyle of the Aboriginal people, the exploration by the Early Settlers, the Australian Swaggie have all just camped in the bush or along the “track”. This has carried over by a lot of travelers. In recent years, rising concerns about security has seen less roadside campers, but many still enjoy the pleasures of self-sufficiency, particularly owners of motorhomes and campervans. The best places to stay are the many recognised bush and roadside camping areas where a small gathering of overnight campers can usually be found. There are a number of advertised 24 hour camping spots around Australia. Avoid camping alone if you can.
CAMPING IN NATIONAL PARKS
Camping in national parks is very popular. Most sites are designed for tents. Vans are allowed but in some parks they are poorly accommodated. A common problem is the positioning of the post and rail fences that are used to separate camping areas. Vans cannot pass through, forcing them to park on the roadside. However, a number of national parks do cater very well for vans, offering generous sites. Very few sites in National Parks offer powered sites.
8 Planning Your Trip (when to travel, weather, school and public holidays, local events, finding your way, GPS, maps and guides, visitor information centres, permits, Aboriginal land, National Parks, private land)
Hopefully, after digesting all this information you will have a fantastic caravan holiday. (With many more extended trips in the future). If you find it all too hard have a look at where Our Tours go and you may wish to consider one of these.