Let’s be honest. Travelling up north can be a hot, sticky affair.
And as you course the blacktop, the promise of fresh clean amenities and a lush, well-maintained environment can really keep you going, especially when accompanied with a smile.
Cairns Holiday Park managers Roz and Bob and their helpful staff pride themselves on the condition of their centrally-located, peaceful park. “The birds and frogs launch into song each day and you feel relaxed in this tranquil environment,” said Roz.
What’s more, they understand the importance of showing guests a little care after long hours on the road. But the welcome extends beyond salutations, and as you drive straight on to the large, grassed shady site (some furnished with ensuites), you can just about feel the tension recede from your road-weary shoulders and your senses pike in anticipation.
Once parked up but before I’ve properly unpacked, I like to scope my surroundings, and a stroll through the park’s gardens affords ample opportunity for a decent, post-trip stretch. When you’re done, there’s plenty of room to set up your own happy hour nirvana or just chew the fat under one of the communal barbecue areas or in the large, air-conditioned TV room when the heat sets in. The pool is under cover and accessible from 7.30am to 7.30pm if you – like me – enjoy an early morning dip.
The well-stocked kiosk serves a selection of cool soft drinks and ice-cream which you can take back to base camp. And, when in season, you can get fresh grapefruit, banana, pineapples, oranges, pawpaw, mangos and the exotic chocolate pudding fruit.
If you’re keen to share your latest exploits with friends and family at home, the 500MB Wi-fi onsite allowance will ease the burden on your own mobile data limits, and obtaining a key for your own laptop and devices is a straightforward affair. You also have the option to use one of five terminals in at reception if fussing with electronics is not your thing.
Although you may feel you’re submerged in rainforest, the Cairns Holiday Park is centrally located — it’s the closest one to town — and, if you have a little time, a relaxed half-hour walk will get you there, otherwise it’s just a five minute ride in a bus or car.
For the uninitiated, Cairns’ curious, relaxed, eclectic vibe is reminiscent of the Gold Coast minus the tizz. The extensive man-made lagoon, which separates the Esplanade from the life-giving flats, has really elevated it as a tourist destination. If you follow the perimeters to the Cairns Marlin Marina, you can actually see the waves breaking against World Heritage-listed coral reef.
The local culinary delights are threefold those of its southern cousin and it’s a great place to try a variety of seafood. The restaurants compete fiercely on a platform of quality and just about everyone buys local and serves fresh; prices can get expensive but are worth a one-off indulgence.
Of course, you can purchase your own seafood fresh from the marina — the selection from Prawn Star fishmongers, operating from the permanently anchored Lewis Venture, is worth a squiz. Or, if you’re keen, Roz and Bob can hook you up with one of the local fishing charters and, if you want to get creative, you can even flavour your bounty with herbs from the van park’s communal garden.
The Cairns Night Markets, close to the dining district, also provide culinary samplings and offer the perfect opportunity to stock up on hair adornments, jewellery or a sarong before you head out for a day on the reef or touring the Barron Gorge National Park.
Cairns Botanic Gardens are closer still and the staggering array of distinctive international flora, well-served by local tropical conditions, contrast nicely to the Gondwanan Heritage Garden and the Rainforest Boardwalk. The walk’s rewards are well beyond the effort.
Or, for the travel weary, simply bunker down and enjoy the tranquil surroundings at camp.
Cairns is 347km north of Townsville on the Queensland coast.
Click here to book your accommodation at Cairns Holiday Park.
Set in lush, tropical rainforest and bordered by some of Australia's most beautiful coastline, everyone should experience Cairns at least once.Click here for things to see and do in Cairns
The tropical heart of Australia, Queenland reaches to the furthest northern regions of mainland Australia.Click here to read Turu's destination guides