THE PRICE IS RIGHT

Five cool hol­i­day parks for a re­fresh­ingly af­ford­able fam­ily hol­i­day

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION AUSTRALIA - KARA MUR­PHY

With all the lux­ury ho­tels and re­sorts in the world, you’d be for­given for think­ing you need to max out your credit card just to go on hol­i­days. Thank­fully, this sim­ply isn’t the case.

Car­a­van parks con­tinue to pro­vide some of Aus­tralia’s most eco­nom­i­cal ac­com­mo­da­tion – and, in many cases, you don’t even need a car­a­van or a tent. Most have on-site cab­ins or vil­las, of­ten with an en­suite, and oth­ers of­fer a glamp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence via per­ma­nent sa­fari tents. They usu­ally in­clude plenty of fea­tures to amuse kids, you can do your own cook­ing (thus sav­ing $$ on din­ing out), and they can be won­der­fully close to head­lands, beaches, rivers, or lakes. Here are five im­pres­sive Aus­tralian car­a­van parks to help in­spire your next af­ford­able get­away.

RIVER QUEEN MOAMA, NSW

Em­brace the mighty Mur­ray by head­ing three hours north of Mel­bourne to Discovery Parks – Maidens Inn Moama. On the NSW side of Echuca Moama, and fronting the river, the park has a boat launch­ing ramp and ma­rina as well as water­front cab­ins and wa­ter­view sites which pro­vide scenic bases for whiling away lazy af­ter­noons.

To feel like river roy­alty, opt for a deluxe three-bed­room cabin (from $179 a night) and en­joy Mur­ray views from your out­door bal­cony. Or, if you have a car­a­van, mo­torhome or tent, pow­ered, dog-friendly wa­ter­view sites start at $45.

The park’s swim­ming pool, playground, games room, wa­ter­park, and bounc­ing pil­low will keep kids busy; even if you’re just trav­el­ling with adults, use the lat­ter to em­brace your in­ner Tig­ger. Then ex­plore the Mur­ray at dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent speeds by sign­ing up for an on­site wa­ter­ski­ing les­son and hir­ing a pad­dle­board. Be­yond the park, check out the Port of Echuca, which has the world’s largest op­er­at­ing fleet of pad­dle steam­ers; join an eco river tour and travel through river red gum for­est; or pe­ruse vin­tage ve­hi­cles at the Na­tional Holden Mo­tor Mu­seum.

DISCOVERYHOLIDAYPARKS.COM.AU/NSW/ MUR­RAY/ MAIDEN S_ INN_ MOAMA

HOW’S THE SEREN­ITY? TAN­NUM SANDS, QLD

If you want to get a sense of car­a­van parks as they used to be, Discovery Parks – Tan­num Sands might fit the bill. A half-hour south­east of Gladstone, in a quiet bush­land set­ting near Tan­num Beach, this low-key park has all the im­por­tant fea­tures – a laun­dry, camp kitchen, free bar­be­cues – plus there’s a kiosk, swim­ming pool and ten­nis court.

First, set­tle into your ac­com­mo­da­tion – choices in­clude a deluxe two-bed­room cabin (from $169), self-con­tained stan­dard stu­dio unit (from $119), or bud­get en­suite cabin with kitch­enette (from $99).

Then re­lax in what­ever way you see fit. Take a dip in the ocean, walk into town, read a book, go fish­ing, walk across Wild Cat­tle Creek (at low tide) and visit Wild Cat­tle Is­land Na­tional Park, a habi­tat for nest­ing sea tur­tles and mi­gra­tory birds or set out on the Tur­tle Way, a 15km walk­ing and bik­ing track that winds be­side the Boyne River and along the coast­line. Drive 20 min­utes south­west to Lake Awoonga, and you can fish, swim and hire kayaks or pad­dle­boards.

DISCOVERYHOLIDAYPARKS.COM.AU/QLD/ GLADSTONE/TANNUM_SANDS

CHEAP DIGS IN A PRICEY SPOT BY­RON BAY, NSW

With sublime beaches, renowned mu­sic fes­ti­vals, scuba div­ing, kayak­ing, surf­ing and spec­tac­u­lar win­ter whale watch­ing from the Cape By­ron Light­house, By­ron Bay is an un­der­stand­ably at­trac­tive hol­i­day spot. How­ever, one thing you won’t find here is an abun­dance of in­ex­pen­sive tra­di­tional ac­com­mo­da­tion – par­tic­u­larly if you’re look­ing for some­thing other than a hos­tel. Thank­fully, car­a­van and hol­i­day parks of­fer some (gen­er­ally) cheaper op­tions.

About 2km north­west of town, on the western side of Be­longil Creek, Discovery Parks – By­ron Bay has choices that in­clude bud­get nonen­suite cab­ins (from $69 a night), a three-bed­room house (from $169), and new, deluxe two-bed­room cab­ins (from $201).

With all the typ­i­cal Discovery Park fea­tures (in­clud­ing bounc­ing pil­low and pool) plus free Wi-Fi, a wa­ter­park, ten­nis court and cafe, there’s re­ally only one draw­back (or ben­e­fit, de­pend­ing on your at­ti­tude to­wards ex­er­cise): the 1km am­ble to the clos­est beach, Be­longil, or the 2km walk to Main Beach. You can al­ways drive or catch the so­lar train.

DISCOVERYHOLIDAYPARKS.COM.AU/NSW/ NORTH_COAST/BYRON_BAY

WA­TER VIEWS IN THE KIM­BER­LEY KUNUNURRA, WA

If you’re up for an East Kim­ber­ley road trip, Discovery Parks – Lake Kununurra is a pic­turesque base to in­clude in your itin­er­ary – and it’s only 6km south of Kununurra (“big wa­ter”), the largest town north of Broome. Set on 4ha of bush­land on the Ord River (also known as Lake Kununurra) in Western Aus­tralia’s re­mote East Kim­ber­ley, the park has a boat ramp, boat hire and a swim­ming pool to help keep you cool. Here, the least ex­pen­sive cab­ins – the stan­dard one-bed­room – boast water­front views and start at $115 a night.

The park is a long (827km) drive from Dar­win; how­ever, roads are sealed, so you won’t need a 4WD to get here or visit most area at­trac­tions – for ex­am­ple, Lake Ar­gyle, home to 30,000 fresh­wa­ter croc­o­diles, and the Five Rivers look­out.

And for those at­trac­tions that do re­quire a 4WD (for ex­am­ple, the Bun­gle Bun­gle Range in Pur­nu­l­ulu Na­tional Park, about 300km south), you can join a tour. You can also fly to East Kim­ber­ley Re­gional Air­port, just west of Kununurra.

DISCOVERYHOLIDAYPARKS.COM.AU/WA/ EAST_KIMBERLEY/LAKE_KUNUNURRA

BEACHSIDE CHARMER COFFS COAST, NSW

Twenty min­utes north of Coffs Har­bour and a few steps from a pop­u­lar surf­ing and swim­ming spot, award-win­ning Discovery Parks – Emer­ald Beach charms with its beachside lo­ca­tion and ac­com­mo­da­tion choices.

At the top of the range are deluxe two-bed­room cab­ins (from $148 a night), with full kitchens, washer/ dryer, tele­vi­sion and a king bed. Su­pe­rior two-bed­room du­plex cab­ins (from $138) are also pop­u­lar, while stan­dard Boro­nia cab­ins (from $105) are even eas­ier on the bank ac­count.

Af­ter a quick pe­rusal of park fa­cil­i­ties (a wa­ter­park, heated pool, pedal kart hire and more), grab a towel and im­merse your­self in the wa­ters off Emer­ald Beach.

Then am­ble a few paces south to Moonee Beach Na­ture Re­serve and set out on the 1.6km Look at Me Now head­land walk.

Later ex­plore its 3km, one-way es­tu­ary ca­noe route.

DISCOVERYHOLIDAYPARKS.COM.AU/NSW/ COFFS_HARBOUR/EMERALD_BEACH

All prices are per night, in low sea­son. G’DAY Re­wards mem­bers re­ceive 10 per cent off all Discovery Parks’ and Top Parks’ site and cabin book­ings up to $40.

DISCOVERYHOLIDAYPARKS.COM.AU/ MEMBERSHIP_PROGRAM/GDAY-RE­WARDS

PIC­TURES: SUPPLIED

Af­ford­able fam­ily hol­i­days in pop­u­lar lo­ca­tions are not out of reach. Discovery Parks at By­ron Bay, Moama and Tan­num Sands are just three of the many hol­i­day parks where fun won’t bruise your credit card. BY­RON BAY

MOAMA

TAN­NUM SANDS

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