Do we need to book caravan parks??????????????????????

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 15:13
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We are planning on traveling around Australia for a year and would like to know if we need to book caravan parks especially up the top, some people tell us we need to book at least 6 months or more ahead but think this will be hard as not sure where or when we will be at that time.
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Reply By: Mick O - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 15:19

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 15:19
Yes at peak tyimes it can be difficult to get a spot at Broome, Kununurra, Port Headland and Cairns but you'll usually know your ETA at a specific town a couple of weeks in advance. Might have to wait a while here and there but never too long. Join the main caravan park groups as members (Big 4, Family friendly, top tourist, can't racall the others), and they have a forward booking service for you. They will book ahead for you. You get discounts on site fees as members as well.

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Reply By: landed eagle - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 15:31

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 15:31
I'd be making note of when the local school holidays are on too. Can be difficult to find a spot in some of the more popular parks during these times.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 16:45

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 16:45
Hi nighttrain

As we tour in a relaxed and relatively unplanned mode, we make a point of never booking in a CP. Having said that we prefer the lifestyle out in the bush where possible, or national park campgrounds and cities generally not on our agenda. We do like to utilise a CP for a good shower, shampoo and laundromat about once a week (also showers can often be found at servos and many towns have laundromats), and when doing the tourism thing or coming in for maintenance and shopping in a larger centre.

It seems our luck of the draw to come into a town the week of their annual show or local event which sometimes makes getting a spot harder, however most CPs have a section of unpowered sites fairly under utilised, so if you are running on solar there should be no problems. If the place is packed out due to an event, ask at the tourist info centre. They often organise overflow camping at a show ground or sports ground.

Times we have thought it necessary to book were Melbourne prior to leaving for Tasmania, and we booked on line for the Qld parks campground a couple of days ahead of time at Girraween NP as it was school holidays and the grounds were fully booked for the weekend and filling fast during the week. We still had to get there early in the day to find a spot we could fit our rig into.

If in doubt, we will bush camp, then get into town during the morning when there are usually plenty of places as people move out.

Only once have we had to go to 'plan B' which would be go and find somewhere out in the bush or move on to the next town. This exception was in SA last year when we struck a nasty hot wind, well short of Melrose where we had intended to overnight. Rather than drive in such circumstances we normally park up as soon as possible, however due to the heat, i wanted power to run the air con as we wouldn't run the genny in such severe fire hazard conditions. We tried the small town of Balaclava, expecting to find the small CP near empty. It wasn't, it was full (no unpowered sites) - not very attractive either, but must have been full due to seasonal workers. Hence we did go to another town and found an ever so much nicer place at the Auburn sports ground.

We have been to Broome in June 2003 and got a place overnight, and Darwin in August last year and got a good roomy place for the few days we needed at the small CP we had chosen, without any prior booking.

Takarakka CP at Carnarvon Gorge Qld came close. This popular but expensive ($38 per night) park have the monopoly for seeing the Gorge. We hadn't booked and they found us a lovely big site (which turned out to be the very site another traveller had recommended we ask for), but only available for two nights. They would have found us another spot but maybe harder to manoeuvre into with our F250, but we did all our sightseeing in two full on days and moved on.


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Follow Up By: nighttrain - Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 14:24

Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 14:24
thank you Motherhen for your great advice, you have some great ideas and we take note of everyones stories. We really dont want to book cp parks because we just want to go with the wind, after working all our lives and having to be there on time everyday and working by the clock we just want to be free, I know some places we might have to book but will cross that bridge when we have to.
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Reply By: Steve63 - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 17:58

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 17:58
If you are wedded to caravan parks I would book ahead. For any number of reasons all accommodation in a town can be booked out. Things like the round up for the Curdimurka Ball can fill up every available spot in a small town. There are lots of town fairs, Variety bash activities, touring events that can make it really busy for a night or two.

If you are prepared to bush camp then it is easier. Though last time we were in Queensland it looked like there were less potential camping areas particularly within ~100km of a town.

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Reply By: DIO - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 18:27

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 18:27
So many things can impact adversly on the availability of accomodation in many towns. For example, about 12 months (or so) back we tried to book into a motel at Clare (SA) for a couple of nights (over the weekend). Everything (EVERYTHING) was booked owing to the fact that there were 4 weddings being held. Not just school holidays can have an impact. Good luck with your travels.
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Reply By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 18:38

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 18:38
Broome in August last year at Roebuck Bay caravan park up to 20 vans out side waiting for a spot inside at 9am
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 19:19

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 19:19
In July they were outside Cable Beach at Daylight

We worked out when we would get to places like Broome, Port Hedland (Only 1 decent park and its not Black Rock at South Hedland)

Karratha can be impossible we stayed at Point Samsons new park.

South of Perth is also busy.

School hols need bookings especially in popular places.

Also be prepared to pay top dollar in these times $41 in Melbourne Adelaide, Kununurra and Broome.

Some more some less.

We started off for 6 months and budgeted $20,000 we're still 3 months from home after a week off a year and spent probably close to $50,000.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 19:43

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 19:43
Yes, Karratha is impossible, but there is usually room at Roebourne as an alternative to Pt Sampson.


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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 20:22

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 20:22
Yeah Well went to the nice museum at Roebourne then drove down the street behind it.

Well it featured on TV and they didn't show half of it. We continued on to Point Samson which is a lovely new park with triple width slabs but not enough loos.

Roebourne is a sort of a nature park I guess but too close to town if you get my drift.

Some however reckon its OK

Best way is work out an itineray and leave a spare day or two in between busy places and just book them and travel to arrive on booked date.

Worked for us.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 20:30

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 20:30
Hi Graham

Yes the Museum is well worth a look. We haven't stayed at any CPs in the area because we have family nearby.


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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 19:18

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 19:18
nighttrain, Are you self sufficient for power? As aforesaid, if you have solar power, even in peak period when parks are booked out, there are usually some unpowered sites free. If you jagged somewhere like was mentioned like Clare being booked out, unless you had to be in that town on that day, it would be easy to go somewhere like a couple of towns away even if you don't bush camp.

Basically, if it is "resorty" like Broome or resorts on the eastern seaboard there may be a problem, if not, just turn up on the day. If you heading for a place with an event on (this can often be seen from tourist brochures), ring ahead a couple of days earlier and check it out. If you really want to go there and can't get in, you could re plan your tour to suit. Of course if you are heading for the place to attend the event, date will be known well ahead so you can book.

Some people advised booking for Darwin. We toured Kakadu first and did not know our time frame so booking was out of the question. However we had earlier spoken to others trying to book in Darwin where there are many CPs including quite a few really small ones. They were ringing to be told that bookings were not taken and just to come and see at a number of these. A caravanner alongside us at Mataranka told us he went around several and was told there were no vacancies, then when refuelling, saw a small park adjacent and found a vacancy and the park acceptable. As it was near where we wanted to be, we opted for the same park - Leprechaun. As we left Kakadu, i planned to stay at a listed lagoon to get to Darwin the next morning, but camping had since been disallowed when we got there. I tried to phone the Leprechaun but as the receptionist was out of the office with a cordless phone, we lost signal so just drove there and they had a nice roomy site we could fit into.

Finding somewhere have never proved a problem for us in the end.

Are you away of Badger's Caravan Park Reports? Although it doesn't have everything in it as it is made up of contributions by other campers, it is a good guide.



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Reply By: 2000 Red Rodeo - Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 21:38

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010 at 21:38
In my mind caravan parks are like hair dressers. If they are expensive and you have to book ahead then they are not the one for me.

I would suggest changing the itinerary to avoid the crowds. Getting stuck in crowds would be the best way to ruin a holiday.

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Reply By: Member - Willie , Sydney. - Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 08:50

Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 08:50
If you are coming to Sydney, remember this - Lane Cove River Caravan Park is a little known spot in the heart of Sydney run by the National Parks.
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Reply By: Member - Tina D (VIC) - Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 14:21

Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 14:21
Hi Nighttrain,

Only twice have we booked campsites 2 months in advance and that was at Broome and Cape Leveque, otherwise we just rocked up or rang 2 or 3 days ahead and usually had no problem getting in.
But of course school holidays or a major event coming into town can fill parks very quickly, so if you want to be sure of a campsite is availablle, its worth ringing ahead if you can. The park will know if the town will be busy, when you are going to be there or not, so you at least know ahead to wait a few days to miss the busy time or not.

Cheers Tina
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Reply By: nighttrain - Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 14:36

Friday, Jan 15, 2010 at 14:36
Thanks everyone for your answers, they will all come in handy when we start our travels, as we will be new to this ever little bit of advice will be welcomed and wrote in our travel book.
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