Australia has the best beaches in the world. But which are the most caravan friendly? Turu rates some of its favourites.
PORT ELLIOT HOLIDAY PARK
We really like the whole southern stretch of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula – not just because of its great beaches and beachside camping, but because there is so much to do.
From the historic port of Goolwa to Cape Jervis, from where Kangaroo Island is just a short car ferry hop away and then up the western side of the peninsula via the bare, expansive hard-sand beaches of Sellicks, Aldinga, Port Willunga, Maslin and Christies, there is a wide range of beachside camping, caravan and other accommodation options. Port Elliot is a particular favourite.
Rather than a beach holiday spot, ‘Elliot’ is a historic town dating back to the early 1850s by the beach – in its case, sheltered Horseshoe Bay. And backing right onto Horseshoe Bay with absolute beachfront is the Port Elliot Holiday Park, with its 255 powered caravan sites, all only a couple of minutes’ stroll to the water.
It has been operated by the same South Australian family for the past 25 years. The family has invested heavily in its infrastructure, which includes a very popular children’s playground and jumping pillow, along with a modern camp kitchen and other communal facilities. But despite this, the park remains remarkably quiet and also couple-friendly, with no mozzies or sand flies.
STREAKY BAY FORESHORE TOURIST PARK
Perhaps it’s the relief in getting to a nice, tidy town after crossing the Nullarbor, or relishing the last opportunity to enjoy one before the long trip to Western Australia across the ‘Treeless Plain’, but Streaky Bay, on the western side of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, is a favourite watering hole for many trans-Australian travellers.
There’s only one caravan park in town, but the Streaky Bay Foreshore Tourist Park is perfectly placed, fronting a small horseshoe-shaped bay, just a short walk from the town’s wharf, main shopping area and great seafront eateries. These include the Streaky Bay Hotel, which is justifiably proud of its seafood platter. After all, this is one of the best places in Australia to catch and enjoy King George whiting.
The camping ground has two fully equipped camp kitchens, a coin-operated laundry, an on-site restaurant and a TV room.
Walk the rows of shiny, late-model caravans lined up, or enjoy dinner on the beach around one of the numerous ‘cage’ fireplaces and you’ll realise that this is a real RV oasis.
NOOSA RIVER HOLIDAY PARK – SUNSHINE COAST
Position, position, position. Noosa River Holiday Park is situated, as its name suggests, right on the Noosa River at Noosaville.
Although relatively small, with 87 powered double-slabbed sites (plus another three powered long RV sites for fifth wheelers), it’s the park’s sunset-facing waterfront location just a 20-minute walk to Noosa Heads’ famous Hastings Street shopping and dining strip, great north-facing swimming beach and adjacent national park that makes it special.
While it’s less than a two-hour drive north of Noosa, once there, you can cross the river via the Tewantin ferry and gain access to nearly 200km of beach driving and free-camping along the Cooloola Coast to Inskip Point and across to Fraser Island.
Head inland and the majestic hinterland includes Queensland’s famous Glasshouse Mountains and the art and craft shops of Montville and Malaney.
PANDANUS TOURIST PARK – TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND
Port Douglas and the Pandanus Tourist Park is less than an hour’s drive north of Cairns and within easy walking distance of the Port Douglas township, with its eclectic shops and upmarket and cheap eateries, and the marina from where Great Barrier Reef and sailing tours leave. It’s just a five minute walk to the fabulous Four Mile Beach. It really is the place to relax, TNQ style.
With its modern amenities block, laundry, modern camp kitchen and pool, Pandanus is caravan and motorhome-friendly, making it perfect for those planning to rest on their way up to, or back from, Cape York, or for extended stays in this beautiful tropical township.
There are lots of activity options, ranging from a day trip to Cape Tribulation, to cruises on the Daintree River and a visit to the famous Mossman Gorge rainforest. Plus, there is any number of things you can do on its surrounding waterways and ocean.
TALLEBUDGERA CREEK TOURIST PARK – GOLD COAST
For families visiting the southern end of Queensland’s Gold Coast, Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park has the lot: large, lush, grassy sites; an absolute creek-front location with safe waters and clean sand for children to play; excellent modern facilities for families and adults in a location just five minutes’ drive from the bustling and friendly Burleigh Heads James Street shopping centre and Burleigh’s famous surf break.
And for those so inclined, it’s just 25 minutes to Seaworld, 35 minutes to Dreamworld and 96km to Brisbane.
NEW SOUTH WALES
EMERALD BEACH HOLIDAY PARK – CENTRAL COAST
Emerald Beach Holiday Park, just 18km north of Coffs Harbour and a few minutes off the Princes Highway, boasts a striking beachfront location offering crowd-free surfing, swimming, fishing and long, lazy walks along the beach. While back in the park, nestled wind-free behind a low dune and ti-trees you can relax surrounded by kangaroos, water lizards, echidnas and other wildlife.
Many will use the park as a base from which to explore the Coffs Harbour area, its many family attractions including the famous Big Banana complex. But with the park’s comprehensive list of features and facilities for guests, you don’t really need to leave its precinct to enjoy the location.
BEACHCOMBER HOLIDAY PARK – SOUTH COAST
This picturesque and secluded beachside holiday park is situated on a quiet coastal promontory just south of Tuross Lake in the Eurobodalla National Park on the New South Wales south coast.
Located just 10 minutes off the Princes Highway, about 4.5 hours south of Sydney and 8.5 hours from Melbourne, it’s a good place to break a coastal journey or, as our friends do, gather with other caravanners over Christmas-New Year for a relaxing holiday.
Mindful of its environmentally-sensitive location, the park has instigated several significant conservation initiatives, including providing its own water, sewerage and power, allowing it to offer what many consider the best of both commercial and national park worlds.
To meet these strict environmental guidelines, only four of the park’s 100 sites are powered (and only then by solar). But the key attraction is that many of the sites are just a few metres’ sandy walk right on to the beach, making it an ideal place for self-sufficient travellers, although there is a modern amenities block for those who aren’t.
CAPE CONRAN COASTAL PARK
If you like rustic beachside caravanning with friends and perhaps your pooch, you can’t do a lot better than Victoria’s Cape Conran Coastal Park, just south-east of Orbost in east Gippsland – a 396km, five-hour drive east of Melbourne.
As Cape Conran is a ‘coastal park’ rather than a ‘national park’, some things are more relaxed and the ‘dog-zoned’ areas and the ability to light a campfire (on non-fire-ban days) are among these freedoms.
The park consists of 11,700ha of coastal wilderness and fronts on to 60km of isolated sandy beaches facing Bass Strait, while the campground offers 135 sites spread out over 1km of beach frontage behind a wind-breaking ti-treed dune, so it’s easy to find the perfect campsite, except in the peak Christmas/New Year and Easter periods, when booking is essential.
Fishing, surfing and nature walks to spot the many birds and animals in the park are popular, but we’re often happy just lazing around to catch up on our reading.
The other good thing about Conran is that the campground is very sheltered. While being a cape, you can always get away from prevailing winds depending on which beach you choose.
WYE RIVER CARAVAN PARK
The Great Ocean Road is a magical place, especially Wye River Foreshore Camping Reserve.
Most importantly for a beach park, it’s just a stone’s throw to the beach for fishing, surfing and beachcombing any time of year, and the park’s wide range of facilities provides plenty of alternatives if the weather turns, as it can often do in the Otways.
Meanwhile, for adults there’s the excellent Wye Store café and the iconic Wye River Hotel, with its balcony overlooking the Great Ocean Road and the surf beach – both just a coupler of minutes’ walk from the park.
MIDDLETON BEACH HOLIDAY PARK
If you are in southern Western Australia and looking for the perfect, absolute beachfront, resort-style caravan park close to a major historic coastal town, it’s hard to go past Middleton Beach Holiday Park.
Sheltered by the calm waters of King George Sound, this quiet and well-kept park is located on 500m of world class beach offering a range of water activities from safe swimming for children, to surfing, kite surfing, fishing and whale-watching in season.
If you want a change of scenery, it’s just 3.2km from the centre of Albany, where you can enjoy the facilities and many attractions of this historic township dating back to 1826, from where the first Australian diggers embarked for Gallipoli.
The park has direct beach access, which complements the accommodation to create a distinctive destination.