Driving & Caravanning

How we escape the crowds on our caravanning holiday

Jun 14, 2023
Staying at a caravanning park while on the road has many perks.

Purchasing a caravan is probably one of the best decisions my husband and I have made coming into retirement. Prior to Covid we spent almost all of our holidays overseas. In fact, we have been travelling the world since we were first married 50 years ago.

When Covid came along, we didn’t want to stop travelling so we hired a campervan and explored Tasmania. We loved it so much that when we got back home, we purchased our very own van and began travelling locally, with trips getting longer and further each time.

There is something special about hitting the open road in a caravan. For starters, there’s the sense of freedom that comes with exploring a new destination at your own pace and being able stop virtually anywhere for some photos and a cuppa. But then there’s also having the comfort and convenience of retreating to your home on wheels.

Living on the Gold Coast means we are spoilt for choice when it comes to where we can take our van. If we’re after a treechange, we’ll head west towards the Gold Coast hinterland, and if we’re in need for a country escape, we’ll continue further west to Southern Queensland Country and beyond. Lately, one of our favourite places to travel to is across the border into New South Wales, particularly the beautiful Northern Rivers region.

Even though we have two grown children and one grandchild whom we adore, we prefer to take our van on getaways during the week when the kids are in school so that we can enjoy some peace and quiet. For longer stays we go during the shoulder seasons – this is particularly the case if we plan on staying in caravan parks. That way, we can enjoy the park’s amenities and facilities without having to compete with an influx of children and families and thus the park can remain a tranquil, peaceful retreat for our holiday.

As we made our way down the coast, our first stop was the sleepy coastal town of Ballina. We based ourselves at Discovery Park – Ballina, located alongside a tidal lake just minutes away from the Richmond River and the Town Centre. Not only did we choose Discovery Parks for its convenient location, but also because of their pet friendly policy, and we love taking our pup, Saffie, on road trips with us.

How’s this for a tranquil spot to spend the night!

One of the first things we do when arriving at a caravan park is explore the grounds and the facilities available. The environment here is beautiful, and blends in wonderfully with Ballina’s lush surroundings. There is an abundance of grassy areas with shady trees and benches facing the lake, making it a pleasant picnic spot to unwind.

There are plenty of activities to do within the park, including a cockatiel aviary near the main entrance, play areas for children, a tropical swimming pool, a pool table, a small gym, and a putt-putt golf course – which was actually one of our highlights! My husband Ken is still bragging about the hole-in-one he made.

Take a relaxing dip in the pool by a leafy green oasis.

We then settled into our campsite at this gorgeous spot near the lake. We exchanged a few brief greetings and pleasantries with our neighbours, who all appeared to be roughly our age.

One of the best things about travelling midweek is escaping the crowds and being able to enjoy the serenity.

The tidal lake that borders the park is a popular fishing spot for campers. People were swimming, and we were told that flatheads were the fish to target. There is also a dog beach just across the bridge, and an off-leash dog park at the end of the street, which was perfect for us and Saffie.

Discovery Parks have a number of pet-friendly parks so your four-legged friend doesn’t have to miss out on your next caravanning holiday.

We took a walk along the sea wall, which is conveniently close to the park. The ocean was a little choppy the day we went, but we had seen dolphins surfing just inside the entrance on prior visits.

The view from the seaway across the sea to an empty stretch of Lighthouse Beach is breathtaking.

As much as we enjoy cooking in our van, we always like taking advantage of the camp kitchen – especially when it’s as spacious, clean and contemporary as the one at Discovery Parks – Ballina. They had four ovens, microwaves, and other appliances necessary to prepare your favorite camp meal.

Discovery Parks have a number of pet-friendly parks so your four-legged friend doesn’t have to miss out on your next caravanning holiday.

For those who prefer to cook outdoors, the park also has clean, sheltered barbecues conveniently located throughout. That night we cooked our dinner and watched the sun go down over the tidal lake as mullet leapt around us.

Ballina is an excellent holiday destination thanks to its abundance of restaurants, shops, pubs, relaxing cafes, and several clubs. There’s always something to do, especially with the maritime museum nearby and a number of scenic drives also within easy reach of the park. In the cooler months, you can go whale spotting from the seaway. We found that Discovery Parks Ballina is perfectly positioned in Ballina making it a great base to see everything in the area and surrounds.

If you’re planning a road trip this winter, we recommend signing up for G’day Rewards Membership. For only $50 for two years, members receive a 10% discount on camping fees at 300+ campsites across Australia. As an affiliated partner Discovery Park’s properties are also eligible for the discount. Members also receive cheap fuel discounts and perks like late check outs or free bags of ice. Last year, we used our G’Day Membership and were able to save quite a bit when travelling across Australia from east to west and back again. And we have no doubt the membership will come in handy again this winter!

Discover your Road Trip

Watch cityscapes transform to sandy white beaches along the Big Pacific Coast. Discover the Larapinta Walking trail in the Red Centre. Or enjoy fish and chips and watch out for whales along the Great Ocean Road. Book your journey with Discovery Parks today!

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