The statistics say it all. Caravan parks are thriving, and they are evolving to suit customers who have increasingly high expectations.
Caravan Industry Association of Australia’s research shows the industry has been, on average, athe fastest growing domestic accommodation type for the past five years.
In 2017, caravan park revenue exceeded $1.9 billion, and for every $1 caravan park revenue generated, there is $1.38 worth of direct economic benefit into the local economy.
In the last year alone, the RV market spent more than $8.6 million annually. And investment is increasing - which is great news for travelling families looking for convenient places to stay which offer a huge range of activities to keep the kids entertained.
Here we look at three resort-style parks on the east coast between Sunshine Coast and South West Rocks in NSW.
PARK YOURSELF BY THE RIVERFRONT
Rivershore Resort in the Sunshine Coast suburb of Diddillibah, the first park to be built in Queensland in 45 years, was the brainchild of a local family who had previously owned
pubs and a retirement village. Less than 18 months old, the park has replaced cane fields.
Bernie McGovern says the idea came about because his family saw an opportunity to provide something unique.
“People want to get their kids back outdoors and we felt others weren’t catering to the new market,” he says. “We wanted to bring in the latest WiFi and have a restaurant and bar, and we wanted it to be unique.”
Unique it certainly is, with direct river front access and 15 luxury safari tents imported from South Africa, which Bernie’s mother styled.
This brand new park epitomises the new era, with retro bikes for hire and kayaks to take on a cruise down the river, and when you’re done, you can sit back and enjoy five star cuisine in the restaurant.
HOLIDAY HAVEN FOR THE KIDS
Further south, for those wanting something with a more traditional park feel, is the BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park. Never would you guess directly across from Movie World and
Wet’n’Wild on the Pacific Motorway, is a 32 acre haven with villas tucked away in lush tropical gardens, where kangaroos bounce along the back of the property, and koalas clutch to enormous gum trees.
This former residential park was re-developed six years ago, and under the current owners is now a tropical oasis with a Bali-style resort pool, licensed café, salt water creek where you can fish, BMX track, tennis court, and animal farm.
A small, but key difference to other parks, are the shower screens, which separate the changing cubicles. There’s also a newly opened doggie day care on site, so you can drop your pooch in and head to the theme park for the day.
Manager Mark Sickerdick says the park appeals because there is a variety of sites, and accommodation options for extended family.
He attributes the rise of this style of park to the “cruise ship mentality”.
“If you give people everything they want, they don’t need to go off site. People’s expectations have grown and the dollar is harder to get and easier to spend, so people want value for money, and they want those facilities.”
BIG 4 now has different classifications for its parks: classic, holiday or premium. They represent a sliding scale of cost in line with the features and services offered at each.
A TOUCH OF LUXE
In the NSW mid north coastal town of South West Rocks, the BIG4 Sunshine Resort South West Rocks has also recently evolved to meet the demands of discerning consumers, launching new luxury lodges which literally blend in with the landscape.
The seven Ngurra lodges (meaning ‘place of home’ in the Dunghutti Aboriginal language) boast a decal that replicates the forest setting behind them. Two hundred original photos have been photo-shopped together to create the life-like landscapes, which mould the lodges into the local bushland.
The new two-storey Ngurra Lodges have leather lounges, three televisions, full kitchen and laundry facilities, and two large bedrooms. Resort owner Tony Mayne says holiday parks are changing dramatically, “and we have always been at the forefront of meeting the new demand”.
Two years ago he added a $1 million water park and the park’s list of facilities also includes a
trampoline, putt putt, saltwater lagoon, and Go Karts.
Heading to the east coast with the extended family? Here are three of our favourite resort style parks to keep the entire family entertained for hours.
Rivershore Resort, Diddillibah, QLD
Best bits: Spacious sites, safari tents with uninterrupted river views, double slide in pool, five star cuisine and bar
BIG4 Gold Coast, Helensvale, QLD
Best bits: Resort style pool with slide, lush gardens, new villas, plenty of powered and ensuite sites, 32 acres of land, BMX track, proximity to theme parks, koalas and animal park and doggie daycare
BIG4 South West Rocks, South West Rocks, NSW
Best bits: Pirate ship water park with three slides in solar heated pool, resident kangaroos, food, and brand new lodges.