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What to do When You Can't Get Away
It’s the holiday you have when the whole family can’t travel.
Words and Images by: CAROLYNE JASINSKI

The Crawley Edge Boatshed, WA

You’ve been waiting all year for the big family getaway. The gear is ready, expectations are high, the kids (and you) are excited, but then the boss says you can’t have the time off work. What do you do? You holiday at home — well, close to home.

You don’t have to travel huge distances to ‘get away from it all.’ Our capital cities have some great caravan parks but, as locals, we often ignore them. It’s a little sad for the working partner who still has to slave away, but at least they get a taste of the holiday when they knock off and get to go ‘home’ to a different location, even if it’s just down the road.

The idea of holidaying at home is not a new one. Some families have been booking into their local caravan park for decades. Farmers do it all the time in places like Wallaroo on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, often booking from one year to the next at the local caravan park. Farmer Debbie Barnes says, “They can still duck home and check on animals and the kids have a ball at the beach.”

Hand-feeding tigers at the National Zoo, Canberra


Motorhome owner Neet Tresidder says there are lots of bonuses of staying close to home.

“Once you are there, you could be anywhere, really,” she says. “When my kids were growing up, we would caravan and camp 15 minutes from home at Swansea. The kids could still go to school and we could fish and eat out and have some relaxation during the day and they could get the school bus home and we would go and pick them up.

“I worked as a singer, so I could go off on the weekend nights for a few hours and come back. One time we got washed out, so we all just jumped in the car and slept at home in our own beds. We washed and dried our bedding and headed back the next day.”

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour


For some people, the holiday near home becomes a community event, with neighbours taking turns looking after each other’s children. For four years, Miffy Neville packed up the family and stayed at Point Leo in Victoria.

“I had three children, my husband was a shift worker and I worked part time,” she says. “A few of our neighbours from Somerville, about 20 minutes away, did the same so we all shared watching kids when parents were working. It was great. The kids could swim, surf or play cricket when we had to work.”

Business owners, meanwhile, can find a holiday at home is often the only type of family vacation possible. Kaye Armstrong and her family used West Beach Caravan Park for their annual vacation when her family owned a supermarket in Adelaide.

For Pat Mullen, the family getaway provides a much-needed break.

“We stayed at Mandurah Caravan Park this Christmas,” she says.

“My son wanted a holiday while his workshop closed over Christmas, but his dad couldn’t get the time off. This way we can have a little break and his dad can still drive to work.”

Cheryl Stubbs-Woods lived at Umina. Her holidays were just 10 minutes away ‘over the hill’ at Patonga.

“It was fun with all our friends and family together and some went to work from there each day,” she says.

North-South Track at Mt Wellington, near Hobart


If you haven’t thought of booking into your local caravan park before, here are some suggestions for capital city stays.

Adelaide: There are two parks about 30 minutes from the city and right on the beach — the BIG4 West Beach Caravan Park and the Discovery Adelaide Beachfront park at Semaphore. Both feature jumping pillows, resort-style lagoon swimming pools, Splash Zones, barbecue areas, play equipment, go karts, games rooms, on-site cafes and 27km of sand to explore. There are powered and unpowered sites plus cabins if you don’t have your own vehicle.

Closer to the heart of the city is Adelaide Caravan Park. It’s located on the River Torrens within walking distance of Adelaide Zoo, Adelaide Oval and the Riverbank Precinct and has access to 37km of bike riding trails.

Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens

Perth: Just 25 minutes from the CBD and right in the heart of a wine region is Discovery Parks Swan Valley. There’s a food and  wine trail for the adults and plenty for the kids at nearby Whiteman Park, Caversham Wildlife Park and historic Guildford township.

Closer to town (7km) but only 10 minutes from Swan Valley and next to the Swan River, is Perth Central (Top Park) Caravan Park. You can even ‘glamp’ it up with family-size luxury tents.

Darwin: The closest park to town is Discovery Parks Darwin. It’s on a direct bus loop to tourist hotspots like Crocosaurus Cove and the Big Buoy Water Park, and the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre is just around the corner.

Darwin Free Spirit Resort has family fun all sorted with three resort pools, kids’ activities, a jumping pillow and live entertainment.

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, near Darwin

Brisbane: Brisbane Holiday Village is a 15-minute drive to Brisbane or a 20-minute drive to the Gold Coast theme parks. They have pools for different ages, bike tracks, a sports court and daily bird feeding.

If you need to be closer to the city, Newmarket Gardens Caravan Park is 4km from the CBD.

Sydney: NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park scores big time for having one of the only beach-front locations. It’s 29km from the city on the northern beaches and is serviced by bus and airport shuttles.

Ingenia Holidays Sydney Hills is an hour out of the city and just 30 minutes from the Hawkesbury River at Wisemans Ferry. The park features a playground, pool, bike paths and tennis court.

Canberra: Want to feel like you’re in the middle of the bush when you’re just 4km from town? Try Alivio Tourist Park. It’s got tennis courts, table tennis, basketball, a pool, a cafe, bar and shop.

Add putt-putt, volleyball, walking trails and a jumping pillow — plus a few more kilometres — and Capital Country Holiday Park offers another option.

With vistas like this nearby, why would Sydnesiders travel far for the family holiday?

Melbourne: Not many places offer a rural setting just 9km from the CBD. BIG4 Melbourne Holiday Park does and it has play equipment, pool and spa, big-screen movie room, easy access to public transport and sporting venues nearby.

If mum or dad can handle a 45-minute commute to the city, Crystal Brook Tourist Park in Doncaster East will have you 30 minutes from some of the state’s best wineries and just under an hour from the Dandenong Ranges. Think bush setting complete with wildlife, kookaburras, ducks and lorikeets which come in for a daily feed.

Hobart: Family friendly Barilla Holiday Park has mini golf and takeaway wood-fired pizza. Located in Cambridge, it’s just 15 minutes from town but far enough away to feel like you’re getting away. 

Soccer, cricket and putt putt golf are just a few of the activities at Discovery Parks Hobart, 11km from town with plenty to keep the kids amused after ticking off all the local tourist attractions. 

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Category: Features
Written: Sun 01 Mar 2020
Printed: March, 2020
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Visit these websites for more information on any of the parks mentioned here










• www.capitalcountryholidaypark.