With thanks to guest blogger Jennifer Adams of Places We Go.
For the last seven years, our family has been travelling all over Australia. From a 4.5-month drive circumnavigating the country, to countless driving adventures in every state since, we travel for pleasure and for our television travel series Places We Go.
For the majority of these trips, we have chosen to stay in holiday parks. It began with the fact that we were towing a camper trailer on our trip around Australia. And it was then that we discovered just how much the humble ‘caravan park’ had evolved since we were kids.
In the early days, holiday parks were quite simply large expanses of land that hosted caravans and tents, public toilet and shower blocks, and a main reception. The beauty of many of them, and why they were so much fun when I was young, was a combination of both their locations and the communities that were built within them.
You see, holidays in these parks are totally unique. You are not isolated from your fellow holidaymakers like you can be in hotels and resorts. In holiday parks, people choose to interact, to make friends, and to share the experience (and the odd bottle of mosquito repellent). You always leave these holidays with new friends, shared stories, and promises to return.
This culture is still very much a part of modern holiday parks. I had almost forgotten what it was like. Now, having been reminded, I very much want the same thing for our children and family.
These days, visiting a holiday park is not just about budget. It is about meeting like-minded travellers and benefiting from the modern-day facilities that are very hard to find at any other kind of accommodation.
Because these days, holiday parks are outdoing each other with all of the bells and whistles. From giant jumping pillows to pedal karts, adventure playgrounds, resort pools, toddler pools, enormous water parks and even water slides, kids will feel like they are in paradise.
Recently, we even stayed in a BIG4 where they had built a water park out of a pirate ship, and in the school holidays entertained everyone with a live pirate show and roving characters.
We have experienced cutting-edge camp kitchens and even a pizza oven that can be used by guests! There are coffee carts, on-site bistros and cafes, massage studios, bakeries, BMX tracks, pancake breakfasts, and ‘silly hat’ evenings.
We have discovered an entire billabong within a park, complete with kayaks, inflatables, and fishing spots, and even a park where you can learn to abseil.
In support, much of the accommodation has gone to the next level, too. Many camping and caravan sites now have ensuites, and even luxurious safari tents are available. And cabins come in all shapes and sizes, including family spa villas and entire beach homes.
We recently adopted our first family pet – a dog named Rosie. Luckily for us, Rosie can join us on so many of our adventures because of the many BIG4 parks that are dog friendly.
None of this has taken away from the communal and egalitarian vibe that you will find at a holiday park, and which is the biggest drawcard for us.
As soon as we arrive at a park, our daughter Charli unloads her bike and rides off to make immediate friends. We find ourselves introduced to our neighbours within minutes and before long, many of us are gathered around the barbecues sharing our stories.
And the one thing that has remained constant is value for money – the incredible enhancements to these parks make them a destination within a destination.
And finally, one of the best things about so many holiday parks is their location. Many have been operational for generations and still occupy the same, prime location as they always did. From beachfront properties, to locations nudging our best national parks, these parks are planted in so many of Australia’s best locations.
I now encourage all of my friends to return to the holiday park with their family, and discover just how much is on offer.
Isn’t it time you uncovered all that a BIG4 holiday park offers, too?