In April this year, I left Adelaide my home town) to ‘go on the road’ around Australia to promote my space-saving kitchenware predominantly at Caravan & Camping shows. I recently thought I should share my accommodation learnings and tips for other people perhaps also thinking of travelling around Australia to benefit from. Particularly if you are like me, travelling with a camper trailer or the like (I was extremely lucky to pick up this cute Aussie Teardrop trailer).
I don’t always look for the cheapest option to stay but I definitely always look for value for money. If you are interested in learning from my research and experiences plus a funny story or two from the road, then read on ...
Mildura to Lismore
Stayed at the Buronga Caravan Park and was very surprised when arriving at night to be greeted by fairy lights all around the park. I had made arrangements with the staff to leave the key and map for me as the office would be closed when I got there. I picked up the map stuck to the door, addressed to ‘Roaming Cooking’ and made my way to my cabin. I opened the door of the cabin and for a basic cabin at only $55/night, I was very impressed. Lots of wood made it very homely and cosy but not only that, the staff had turned on the heater for me so that it was warm when I entered. And...it had electric blankets on the bed! And salt & pepper shakers! I have stayed in a few caravan parks and can thoroughly recommend this one. I woke up to the largest Kookaburra sing along I have ever heard.
If on the road and looking for public showers, just outside of Mildura heading east, there are showers located at the service station where the IGA express is.
About 100km further along the road, just past the town of Euston, I came across the most wonderful rest area on the edge of Lake Benanee. It would be so easy to miss as the rest area is set back a bit from the road. Very peaceful, serene place to stop for a while.
Balranald caravan park is a favourite of mine and have stayed there a few times now driving back and forth from Adelaide to Sydney. It is right on the banks of the Murrumbidgee river and the cabins are very reasonably priced.
There are public showers in the town of Hay at the visitor center. Also in Hay, the Colonial Hotel has a quant coffee shop and excellent priced meals - T Bone steak for $15 and Schnitzel for $12 for example. There is also a coffee and cake deal for $7.
Heading towards Dubbo, I stopped in the town of West Wyalong. If your car is on LPG make sure you fill up in Hay as it is a fair distance and I didn’t see a petrol station offering gas along the way. It is a lovely drive heading into West Wyalong particularly late afternoon with the sun trickling through the trees and into dusk. True Australia.
$10 Rissoles, hot veg and chips was just what the doctor ordered after not eating vegetables for a few days. I dined at The Tatterstalls hotel which had quite a nice dining room (inviting wicker chairs). Could tell it was a regular for a few of the older couples and families so felt comfortable eating alone there.
I found the best accommodation – The Charles Sturt Motor Inn. Only $55 for the night for a 3 star hotel room with queen bed and single bed and ensuite. The other good thing about this place is that it has parking for trailers. I could drive straight in with my Teardop trailer, park along the side of a wall and continue in a loop to drive straight out again. Perfect! The owners seemed really nice too. Can even control the lights, TV and airconditioner heater off by switches by the side of the bed!
I do not like to overtake long trucks often but one time there was a really slow one so I decided to take the plunge, moved into the other side of the road and sped up to pass (the Teardrop really does zoom along). I reenter the correct the lane and then look in my side mirror and what did I see? I forgot to lock the back of the Teardrop and with the speed of passing and the bumpy road, it had swung open fully to expose the back kitchen and all my food stored in the shelves. What a hilarious sight this would have been for the truck driver. I immediately imagined all my food stuff sprayed across the road. Luckily there was a side road coming up which I took to stop and check the damage. Everything was still sitting neatly in the shelves and everything still intact. Phew! Gee I love you Teardrop. It must have been a funny site for the truck driver though. I chuckle myself as I think about it. Lesson learned though to check all locks before I leave.
Stayed at Poplar Caravan Park. Bit more expensive at $72 but all the caravan parks were priced around that. Good thing I had my left over vegetable curry safely stored in one of my Roaming Cooking containers with a lockable lid (could turn it on its side in my little esky and not worry about it leaking), because even though I had booked an ensuite cabin there was only a big frypan to cook with and no stove. I just took my curry out of the esky and popped it straight into the microwave. Dinner done.
Glen Innes is not very RV friendly. Parking everywhere was only on a 45 degree angle. I wanted my morning coffee and saw 2 free carparks side by side in the McDonalds car park and so quickly drove down the wrong way so I could park into them with the trailer – I would worry about how I was going to get out later. Luckily I was able to but I don’t think I’ll do that again.
The best hotel type accommodation option to stay is definitely the Invercauld Conference Center. Hotels in Lismore are not cheap and this was the cheapest (outside of pub accommodation) but also offered quality. It is also surrounded by lovely grounds (having been a doctor’s residence years ago) and has wonderful views looking down on the town of Lismore as you drive in and out the premises.
Next, its onto Byron Bay where I try out AirBnB for the first time…
p.s. If you happen to be wondering why I have been staying in other types of accommodation rather than in my Teardrop, well two reasons - I use the Teardrop when I'm at Camping & Caravan shows so it stays on site and secondly, it has been extremely freezing travelling inland Australia and I just wanted the comfort of a warm cabin with a heater. I can only afford to do that for a little while though so luckily I'm heading towards Queensland where I do plan to stay in it more often. Stay tuned for the next post.