Where would you go?
Where would you go?
This post is a continuation of a series where I share accommodation tips from my travels around Australia.
As it was raining quite a bit, I didn’t really want to stay in a caravan park without any cover as getting in and out of the Teardrop when its raining is not the easiest thing to do without getting things wet inside and shoes have to stay outside in the rain. Not being able to afford motel accommodation and not particularly wanting to stay in a hostel, I thought I would try AirBnB for the first time. Really glad I did. For $50, I stayed in this wonderful place run by Peppe and Guilia. I could work on the balcony, it was quiet, bed was comfortable and it had a bath! I can recommend Peppes place in Suffolk Park. If you are thinking of trying out AirBnB, click here to receive $34AUD credit
I then stayed in the Discovery Caravan Park which I believe is the only one in the area where an unpowered site was less than $20.
You can get a fairly good meal for $9.90 at the Byron Brewery. You can get an even better meal at The Great Nothern Hotel (more expensive though) but in a town where most dining outlets are laid out to take advantage of the hotter weather, they are not so good to be in when its colder. However, when I stepped into The Great Nothern Hotel and felt the cosy warmth of the heaters and saw the powerpoints on the wall close to the tables, I quickly decided to stay and have a meal there where I could also work on my laptop. Also make sure you visit the Byron Bay Café which overlooks Byron Bay.
Deciding which caravan park to stay in takes some time and research. Need to find one with a camp kitchen (indoor preferably) or somewhere I can work on my laptop on a table out of the weather, near amenities, have to decide powered or unpowered and for a reasonable rate. Beginning to realise that all caravan parks on the Gold Coast were not going to be that cheap particularly on a Fri & Sat night. Eventually decided on the Tweed Billabong Caravan Park. I thought their camp kitchen they boasted about seemed like a nice place where I could work and out of the rain – OMG! What a Camp Kitchen. It really is like a restaurant.
I situated myself on a site near the Billabong where I could open my door in the morning and look straight out onto it. It seems to be quite a social caravan park too with quite a few organised activities.
Next it was onto Talebudgera Caravan Park near Coolangatta where I wanted to base myself for a few days to catch up with a friend. Had a lovely spot overlooking the river, paying a premium rate ($49 night for a powered site) but it was worth it as all caravan parks in the area seemed to be that rate anyway for a powered site.
Talebugera also had quite a lovely public golf course and very cheap. Finally these little babies got to see the light of day.
After a few days at Talebudgera thought I had better downgrade to save some money so moved to the Kirra Beach Caravan Park where I could book an unpowered site (not all caravan parks have unpowered sites) and I could get a night free if booking for 7 nights. It was a very peaceful quiet caravan park as not near any major roads. It also had quite a nice camp kitchen with gas burner stove tops (not all camp kitchens have these). Unfortunately I had quite a lot of food stolen from the shared camp kitchen. Made me think about whether there was an esky available anywhere you could lock that would fit in a fridge. Wouldn’t completely be full-proof but it might deter some. Hmm…perhaps that is another product idea…
Just down the road was the Kirra Sports Club which offered the best value meals I have ever seen. Not only were they cheap, they were good. Every night you could get a $8 meal special - one night I even had a good roast meal for $5!
I then attended the Gold Coast Caravan & Camping Show as an exhibitor and as I used the Teardrop on my site, I needed to find alternate accommodation arrangements. I used a fairly new app called Hotel Quickly. It's point of difference to other booking sites is that it really does offer cheaper last minute accommodation. It does this because it updates it's database 8am each morning for that day. For example I stayed at the Islander Hotel Resort and where other sites like booking.com had it for $99, I was able to book it with Hotel Quickly for $79. Worth having a look at and if you do, use my
invite code of JTREA to get $30AUD off your booking. Making my lunch particularly when exhibiting at shows saves me money. One thing I love with my plastic free silicone container is that I can fit a sandwich snugly in there and don't need any cling wrap.
After the Gold Coast Caravan & Camping Show I decided on the Gold Coast Holiday Park because it had a café where I thought I could plug in and work (didn’t turn out to be the case though) but the pool and spa also looked awesome. They were awesome but the park is near a main highway, constantly noisy, so make sure you don’t stay that side of the park. It was in a good location though being that a supermarket, food & coffee outlets, McDonalds, Hungry Jacks and a pub were 400m down the road.
Next post, I'll be heading to the Sunshine Coast. Stay tuned.
Related Previous Post: Accommodation Tips from a Digital Nomad in Australia - Mildura to Lismore
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 ...
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.