Great Stays

BIG4 Adventure Whitsundays Resort, Airlie Beach

It was time for ‘Come Camp 2011’ and we were due to arrive at Airlie Beach for a week.  So we decided to stay at BIG4 Adventure Whitsundays Resort to join in the fun.

FroggiesThe Resort staff went to a lot of effort to have a full activity sheet for families all weekend, coinciding with’ Come Camp’.  We arrived before lunch on the Friday, and watched as the park filled up to capacity with excited kids for the big weekend of fun. 

We spent the majority of the first afternoon enjoying the resort facilities, such as the massive pool with two proper waterslides.  Rhys has recently lost his long-term fear of water, and was up and down the slides for most of the afternoon.  He even coped with the onslaught of older kids running around him as the park got busier.  Both Coby and Rhys managed to make a few friends while bustling about.

Fortunately we managed to get them both down for an afternoon sleep, in preparation for a late night of watching a film at the outdoor cinema. Tonight they showed ‘Up’, which we had not seen before and thoroughly enjoyed while lying on a picnic blanket under the starts.  They were both asleep within 30 seconds of head hitting pillow.

PlaygroundCycle rideThe following day was jam packed, and we didn’t even leave the resort.  There was a pancake breakfast, colouring in competition, biscuit decorating and beading, as well as a muck-up session with water sprinkler s and slime.  We would have gone to the pizza/trivia night, but the kids were too popped from all the day’s action.  They had also spent a lot of energy scootering around the park with new found friends.

As part of ‘Come Camp ‘, campers were offered a late checkout on the Sunday, so the park didn’t really start to empty until well after lunch.  But it was great seeing so many families enjoying themselves in the great surroundings.  I was kind of glad we had the rest of the week to stay.

So after the excitement of the weekend, we decided to start enjoying Airlie Beach.  It is known as the gateway to the Whitsundays, and no trip here would be complete without at least one day trip.  We ended up doing two.  On our first trip we sailed out to Blue Pearl Bay for a couple of hours snorkeling on a great reef.  On our second trip we visited Daydream Island, and then spent the afternoon on the famous Whitehaven Beach.  The seas were calm and the weather fantastic, so we had a ball.  Of course you can do all sorts of Island and reef trips from here.  Just ask the staff at BIG4 to point you in the right direction.  They can even book your tours for you, and most companies will pick you up and drop you off at the front gate.

Our week here has been fabulous.  It really is a kid friendly park, and a wonderful place to enjoy your stay in the Whitsunday’s.  Movies are shown around three nights per week, and there are activities almost every day, including a kids club.

Luxury CondoCamp KitchenThe resort offers a good range of accommodation options, and as you would expect from all BIG4’s, the facilities are top notch.  Our campsite was grassy and shady with easy access to amenities.  As an added extra, we were visited every morning by some friendly ducks, wanting to share our breakfast.  The kids loved feeding them, and looked forward to their daily visits.

 So if you are looking to visit the Whitsundays, definitely consider staying at BIG4 Adventure Whitsundays Resort.  We had a great time, and have put it on our list of places we would like to go back to.

To find out more about the awesome Adventure Whitsunday Big4 Park please click Here.

 

BIG4 Port Douglas Glengarry Holiday Park

My birthday was coming up, so I wanted to spend it somewhere really special.  I had heard of Port Douglas from family and friends many times, and knew it as a stylish resort town.  Although we were backtracking a bit, I really wanted to visit.

The Port Douglas BIG4 is located approximately 7 km from the town centre, and it is a wonderful alternative to the posh and somewhat expensive resorts.  It is hidden in the Mowbray Valley, surrounded by rolling green hills and trees, away from the hustle of the central tourist area.

Glengarry Big4 Camp KitchenThe site itself has the usual array of on-site cabins and villas, powered slab sites and grassy camping areas.  One of the amenity blocks and camp kitchen areas is brand new and sparkling clean.  I love the individual bathroom style, where every bathroom has a toilet, sink and shower with plenty of space for ‘stuff’.  It makes showering and toileting the kids easier.

We spent a large amount of our stay in the pool and by the pool.  I just love being able to BBQ dinner while the kids were splashing about, not getting in the way.  The owners provided pool noodles, which are great fun for playtime in the water.Glengarry BIG4 Pool

Every morning I got up early to go for a walk.  The valley road was quiet, and I travelled over wooden bridges and on the fringes of rainforest.

Port Douglas itself did not disappoint.  The famous four mile beach was as lovely as anticipated.  The area is famed for its coral reef snorkelling adventures and fishing trips, and is home to a very impressive marina.

From here you can easily access the rainforest, with easy access to the Daintree, and the famous Skyrail Cable Car near Cairns.   There are plenty of other activities available including golf, wildlife parks, horse riding and shopping.  BIG4 staff can supply you with the information you need, and book all your tours for you.

Port Douglas also has a vast array of dining options.  From budget friendly to gourmet gastro delights, you can find it here.  Being a bit of a foodie myself, and as it was my birthday, Mike shouted me and the kids to a fabulous buffet dinner at one of the resorts.  The food was just magnificent, with seafood and Asian dishes, including sushi (one of my favourite treats), and of course, dessert.  Both Rhys and Coby put away an impressive amount of sugar.Glengarry BIG4 Pool fun

Our stay at BIG4 Port Douglas Glengarry was really great, and topped off our Port Douglas trip.  We just loved it.

Please click here to visit the Port Douglas Glengarry BIG4 website.

Cairns BIG4 Coconuts Holiday Resort

Every now and then, on a big long trip such as we are undertaking, you just want to have a splurge and relax for several days.  We have done the hard yards the last couple of weeks, crossing the savannah way as the heat builds towards the end of the dry.  We know from experience that Cairns is something special.  To make it extra special, we booked 5 nights at Cairns Coconuts Holiday Resort.

We first learned about Coconuts from other travelling families.  It came very highly recommended, especially for when you wanted a real treat with the kids.

After checking in, we got a ride in the Nemo car to give us a quick tour of the resort and facilities.  As we drove round the park, both the children were rendered speechless from excitement, a rare event indeed.  ‘Are we really staying here mum?’ was all Coby could string together, followed by a whispered ‘How long?’  ‘WOW’ was her reply to my answer.

Coconuts CampOnce we were set up, and the kids found their voices again, we were inundated with requests to do this and try that, and go here and there.

My first recommendation for Coconuts is to make sure you keep a couple of days, or several half days free to use and enjoy the amazing array of facilities.  Difficult, I know, with all the fun Cairns has to offer.  But we put aside two full days and two half days, and still barely got a chance to do everything we wanted to do with the kids.

Water parkThey have thought of everything here, and those little touches make it so easy and so special.  There are two pools, with slides and spa’s, lush lawns and BBQ areas.  Every area, including the pools, has separate bathroom facilities nearby, which is great when you have young children.  There is nothing worse than having to hike halfway across a caravan park when your 3 year old needs an emergency poo, while your 5 year old is having a blast and forming a new lifelong friendship poolside.

This is the first caravan park I have encountered that has a water park with waterslides, cannons, fountains and water play I couldn’t dream up in a month of Sunday’s.   Playtime here was an essential every single day we were at Coconuts.

Rhys tries Mini GolfMini GolfAnother thing I really loved was that almost all the activities were free.  You pay a security deposit for balls or rackets/putters etc, go and have fun, and return for your deposit.  Although our kids are a bit small for some of the fun, we tried mini golf, basketball and peddle go karts. 

For the first time in ages, Coby wanted (actually begged) to ride her bike and scooter.  The paths around the Adventure Playground were fun, and she felt confident to just have a go.  I also think she was happy to scooter about as it gave us all a great excuse to visit the two jumping pillows, including the biggest one in Oz. 

There is an outdoor cinema, which shows family friendly films several nights per week.  To be honest, we never did make it to a film, as the kids were always too tuckered out and wanted to go to bed.

Luxury VillaCoconuts CabinsThere is all kinds of accommodation available at Coconuts, from luxury three bedroom condos with two bathrooms, spa and carport (sleeps up to eight), to basic double ensuite cabins.  There are plenty of powered sites, and you can upgrade to site with ensuite and spa.  For campers, there is a great, open plan camp kitchen, and all park guests have full access to all facilities.  There is even a free shuttle bus into central Cairns.

As a family we took full advantage of the parks activities.  There is free aqua aerobics three mornings per week, afternoon fire engine rides for the children, and the famous weekly pancake breakfast.

There is a café and mini market, which is really handy for essentials and newspapers. I’m guessing the TV and video rooms become popular when the weather is not so crash hot, but they were pretty vacant every time we walked past.Playground

I found the staff incredibly knowledgeable and helpful when it came to sorting out services (like finding a local beautician) and booking tours.

So after our 5 nights at Coconuts, we have had a great time.  I’m not sure either Mike or I had much of a chance to actually relax, as we were constantly on the move.  But we all had a ball.  I’m thinking we might well come back for a couple of nights after we finish our Cape York trip.

To find out more about Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort click Here.

BIG4 Howard Springs Holiday Park

It has actually been a really long time since we have stayed at a proper caravan park.  We have spent most of the last 6 weeks staying in National Parks, on cattle stations and roughing it with bush camping.  The kids were starting to wonder if they would ever see a normal swimming pool ever again. 

Howard Springs Street SignBut we knew Howard Springs was on our agenda when we stopped in Darwin.  Both Mike and I were looking forward to surprising the kids with several days in a park with both a pool and a playground.

The friendly staff booked us in and we were escorted to our powered site.  The park is really shady and spacious, which is especially great for a place that has a year-round heat you can’t escape.  The green lawns and endless palms give the place a fresh and tropical ambience, which makes a great change from the hot and dusty camping we have been use to.  In fact, the lack of dust in the park motivated me to give the caravan its first mammoth clean since leaving the WA coast.

Howard Springs Caravan Park CabinsHoward Springs BBQ areaThe park has the standard powered and unpowered sites.  There is also a great range of accommodation including 2 bedroom cottages, villas, self contained cabins and budget rooms.  There is an open plan camp kitchen with BBQ, burners, kettle and toaster.  Throughout the park, there are picnic tables dotted around in convenient areas, such as by the playground.  There are even some squash courts available for use in the recreation centre.

The park runs activates for its guests, including a weekly aqua aerobics class, sausage sizzle night and digareedoo entertainment.  On Thursday they organise a shuttle bus to Mindil Markets for dinner, shopping, entertainment and that famous Mindil Beach sunset.

But, of course the highlight of the park for us was the pool.  Not just one, but three pools and two spas, including a large pool the perfect depth for our 3-year old.  Guess where we spent most of our time whilst in the park.

Possum at Howard SpringsHoward Springs PoolOne evening, we were all sitting outside our caravan, enjoying a late dinner, when a friendly possum decided to pop down the nearest tree to say hello to us.  The kids were pretty impressed, as they have yet to see a possum this trip.  Unfortunately, we only saw him the one time, but it was enough for the kids to have a story for the grandparents.

One of the best things about Howard Springs Holiday Park is its proximity to Darwin.  At just 23km away, it is far enough to feel like you’re in isolated heaven, without missing out on all the attractions and conveniences of a big city.  It is also accessible to Mary River National Park, Kakadu and Litchfield National Park.  This makes Howard Springs a great base to do all the things you would want to do up at the top end.

During our time in Darwin, we visited Aquascene at Doctors Gully for the fish feeding.  The fish literally come up and eat bread straight out of your hand.  The kids just loved this.  We also spent a day at Crocodylus Park so we could all get up close to a real live saltwater crocodile. 

Darwin museum is definitely worth a visit, to see the infamous ‘Sweetheart’ crocodile on display, and to reflect of the tragedy of Cyclone Tracey.  They also have a great exhibit of traditional boats and fishing vessels from around Australia and South East Asia.  The museum also contains an art collection including some local aboriginal art.

Of course we went to Mindil Markets; no visit to Darwin would be complete without it.  We all had a great time trying tidbits of food from different culinary regions.  Almost everything you could think of was available.  Choosing what we wanted to try was the hardest task of the evening.

We left Howard Springs feeling relaxed, and the rig was looking a lot cleaner.  Thanks to the staff for making our stay so wonderful (and thanks for the mechanic tip – we got the truck fixed the following day).

Visit their website for more info and booking here.

 

Exmouth Cape Holiday Park – Exmouth BIG4

Exmouth exists because in the 1960’s the USA chose it as a site for a military base.  Thirteen low frequency radio towers sit on the edge of town.  These use to be used to send signals to submarines as far away as San Francisco.  Exmouth use to be like a little USA, with imported left hand drive cars, baseball diamond, bowling alley and various other American entertainments.  This was all shut down as a result of September 11.

But Exmouth has survived the US abandonment for one main reason; it is literally the gateway to the brilliant Ningaloo Reef Marine Park. The biodiversity of the park is amazing, considering its size.  It is also the only place in the world you are practically guaranteed to see the wonderfully mysterious whale sharks from March to July.

Even from the beginning of our trip, we knew Exmouth was going to be a highlight.  Ningaloo Reef is one of the biggest fringing coral reefs in the world.  The Great Barrier Reef may be great, but it takes at least an hour by boat to get there.  Here you can get to the reef just by swimming off the shore of the mainland, and there are plenty of great snorkeling spots.

With this in mind, we arrived at Exmouth Cape Holiday Park with great anticipation.  Peak season was just about to start, as humpback whales were starting to arrive, and the whale sharks were still about in large numbers.  The area is famous for whales calving here.  Luckily we booked our campsite early and got a great spot for our stay.

The park is located just on the outskirts of town, which is easily accessible by road, cycling or even just walking to the main shopping centre.  It is also close to the beach on the Gulf of Exmouth, which is pretty calm and safe to swim.  Exmouth itself is not a big town, but it does cater very well for tourists.

Exmouth Cape Holiday Park PoolExmouth Cape Holiday Park Camp kitchenLike all the BIG4 parks we have stayed at, the facilities are of the quality you would expect.  The sites are large and with some shade, and the ablution block is clean and tidy.  The pool is lovely, landscaped with a waterfall, palm trees and a rockery. 

As the park caters for tour groups, they have gone to a great effort to ensure the camp kitchen is large, airy and with enough facilities for all their guests.  This is one of the first caravan parks in WA we have been to that actually has a proper oven.  Every night we treated ourselves to an oven cooked meal, including a full roast dinner on the last night, with roast chicken, baked potatoes and all the trimmings.

During peak season, there is an open air cinema that shows family friendly films a few nights per week.  You can picnic under the stars just as the sun goes down, and relax while watching a film.

Exmouth Cape Holiday Park PlaygroundExmouth Cape Holiday Park BBQ AreaThe site is also home to Blue Reef Backpackers, perfect budget accommodation for the young and independent travelers.  It has dorm, twin and double onsite homes.

From the front office you can book your Ningaloo Reef tours, including a day trip to see the whale sharks.  Out of season there is other marine spotting and swimming options including manta rays, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, reef sharks, minke and humpback whales.  Not to mention the year-round coral viewing, diving, snorkeling and fishing.

Exmouth is also very accessible to Cape Range National Park, famous for its wonderful bays, gorge walks and snorkeling spots.  Visiting the park is a very popular daytrip from Exmouth.  If you are really into your snorkeling, be sure not to miss the drift snorkel at Turquoise Bay, or Oyster Stacks at high tide.  At Mangrove Bay, you may even be lucky enough to spot a dugong or two.

So after several days whale sharking, coral viewing and snorkeling, we had to leave Exmouth.  But we enjoyed the Coral Coast so much; I feel that one day we will be back.

Get more info on Exmouth Cape Holiday Park here.

Plantation Caravan Park, BIG4, Carnarvon

As we are heading further up the coast of Western Australia and inland to some National Parks, Carnarvon will probably the last biggish town we pass through for close to a month.  We decided to stop here at Plantation BIG4 Caravan Park for several days to relax, enjoy the facilities and stock up on essentials.

What I really loved about this park was the space.  The sites were huge, and lawns were green and lush.  The layout itself is bordered by beautiful established native trees and bougainvillea which were in full flower during our visit.  Our site was under the shade of a beautiful gum tree.  Not that shade was really needed as it was unseasonably cool during our visit.  Year round temperatures usually average 28°C, but we were there on the coldest day they have had for 12 months.  The kids looked longingly at the pool, but mum and dad just weren’t game enough to venture in.

Plantation BIG4 Carnarvon CabinPlantation BIG4 Carnarvon PoolPlantation BIG4 Carnarvon Camp KitchenAs well as spacious, the park is also very flat, and almost all the powered sites have concrete slabs as well as a grassy area.  The open-air camp kitchen was clean and welcoming, and situated right next to the jumping castle.  This made dinner preparation easy and fun for everyone.  The staff has that small-town friendliness, and Barbara at reception was full of great tips of where to buy the best food treats in town.  We just couldn’t get enough of the fresh veggies, and loved those frozen chocolate banana’s and fruit ice creams.

Plantation BIG4 Carnarvon PoolWhen you consider this park was devastated by not one, but two floods in the last 12 months, you can really appreciate the work and effort the owners, staff and friends have put in to keep this park at the high quality level it is at.  Some of the cabins are still undergoing repairs, and some have been replaced with new cabins.  But the amenities block and laundry are spotless, and show no evidence of the disaster.  All the washing machines and dryers were replaced with brand new versions.  In their reception, you can see photos of the worst of the damage, but you have to look hard to see it in the parks current state.

Carnarvon is situated on the Gasgoyne River, the longest river in Western Australia.  Interestingly, it is an upside down river, which means the water filters through 18 meters of sand before it hits a rocky bed.  Water is actually flowing underground, and is purified through the sand.  This phenomenon, together with the almost tropical climate makes it the perfect area for growing fruit and veggies.  At least, this is what happens most of the time.  Given the amount of rain during the last wet season, the water just had nowhere else to go.

The park backs onto one of the regions numerous plantations.  There is a little fruit and veggie stand out front near reception where you can purchase some in season goods.  Bananas are in now, and having been absent from our children’s diet since cyclone Yasi, we just went to town on cheap, vine-ripened banana’s.   Rhys was tucking into at least 4 every day we were there, and we couldn’t leave without buying a few more days supplies.  I even made banana pancakes.

We were lucky enough to time our visit to Carnarvon with the annual Tropicool Festival.  The local festival ground was set up with games, rides, food stalls and entertainment.  The weather brightened for the event, so we spent a lovely afternoon having fun at the fair.  We also took the opportunity to venture out to Point Quobba, just 70km north, for some spectacular snorkeling.  You walk out a few meters into the sea, and the bay is just teaming with fish, giant clams and coral.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many species of fish in one place, especially this close to shore.

Carnarvon is also known for its fishing.  Unfortunately we going out on a boat can be a bit tricky with young children, but for those who just love the sport, there is plenty of opportunity here.  But we did have a great seaside experience travelling on the Carnarvon Jetty Train, a community run train along the old mile long loading jetty.

We left Carnarvon happy, relaxed and overloaded with supplies for the next couple of weeks.  It was a surprising gem of a town, and we wished we were able to stay longer.  But the Coral Coast is beckoning so onward we go.

Check out Plantation caravan park here.

Middleton Beach Holiday Park, Albany

When planning this trip around Australia, one of the major highlights for me was South Western Australia.  Growing up in NSW, most of my friends and family rarely travelled outside its borders, so I learned nothing about WA.  I assumed that besides the desert, it was all pretty much the same as home.

Now that I am an adult, I have met some more adventurous travelers.  Maybe these day’s people are prepared to go a bit further than they use to.  Everyone I know who has been to this part of Australia has loved it, and encouraged me to make it a future destination.  So after the Nullarbor, an inland visit to Kalgoorlie and some bush camping in National Parks, we arrived in Albany and headed for Middleton Beach Holiday Park.Luxury Spa CabinCabinsGames room

My first impression was how neat and tidy it was, and the gardens were spectacular.  It’s not a particularly large park, but it is nestled behind the dunes directly adjacent to the lovely Middleton Beach.Middleton Beach

Mike and I both agree that Albany is our favourite place so far.  There are two natural harbours (Oyster and Princess Royal), separated by Middleton Beach.  Most of the coastline is sparsely developed, which is refreshing for a large coastal town.  There are loads of Nature Reserves and National Parks close by.  We were there out of season, but Albany is a great place for Whale Watching round June-December. 

We also had a great time wandering around the town of Albany.  We visited the beautiful Emu Point at the entrance to Oyster Bay, and the Brig Amity replica, the boat that brought the first settlers to Albany in 1826.

The time we were in Albany was some of the best weather we had seen on our trip.  We made the most of it and visited the spectacular pool every day.  The setting was relaxing and we all had heaps of fun, also enjoying the Hydro-spa.  Pool

I have to also mention the Family bathroom.  This was bigger than our caravan.  For the first time this trip, I had a bath with the kids.  Such luxury.Family Bathroom 

Our sometimes travelling companions, the O’Callaghan family, were also in Albany, and were staying at the big 4 Albany Gardens Holiday Resort.  We met up with them one night at their park for a BBQ.  Although it is not a beachfront park, it is definitely a great alternative, especially if you wish to be located closer to the centre of town. 

Middleton Beach Holiday Park was a great place to relax and recharge before continuing on with our journey. 

Learn more about this great holiday park here.

 

Adelaide Shores Big4 Holiday Park

After spending a few days bush camping and coping with the absolute basics, we arrived at Adelaide Shores Big 4 Holiday Park, and were immediately amazed.  This place isn’t a Holiday Park, it’s a resort.

Pirate Ship Playground

The reception staff booked us in, and suggested a spot near both the playground and amenities block, which suited us perfectly.  The children immediately escaped to the Playground while we set up.  I could hear Rhys screeching ‘Pirate ship’, at the top of his lungs in excitement.  The playground was indeed in the shape of a pirate ship, complete with swings, slides, and steering wheel, all shaded from the sun.

So after setting up the caravan, we had stroll around to get our bearings.  Everything the family needed was within a stone’s throw of our spot, including the shaded and heated pools, leisure centre (which included at toddler room), camping kitchen, family showers and the all important jumping pillow.  The kid’s eyes were like saucers in amazement when we told them there were actually two jumping pillows at this campground, and a second playground.  I know they just won’t be satisfied until both areas had been trialed and compared.Camp Kitchen

For us, the facilities for small kids were just sensational.  We got a special token code for the toddler room.  So often at busy ‘kids rooms’ in pubs, clubs and cafes, we find the little ones get pushed aside by the older children in the enjoyment frenzy.  It’s nice that they have their own space to ‘go crazy’ with only others their size. 

The token code also works for the family bathroom, which means the showers are super wide, with extra hooks and shelves.  As I am usually the one on shower duty, cleaning two kids at once is a complex procedure in structure and negotiation.  Any extra help with materials and orientation can make the entire process a whole lot smoother.  The baths were also spotted in a microsecond, and we promised them the bath treat one of the nights we were there.

Heated Outdoor PoolOne of the main features I look for in a caravan park, being on such a long and varied trip, is the camp kitchen.  I like having the opportunity to spread out to cook and wash-up while standing completely vertical, unlike in the van.  The camp kitchen here is completely enclosed with lots of glass sliding doors to let in air and light.  There are two ovens (brand new on our second night), two microwaves, several gas and several electric cook stations spaced around a large area.  There is a food preparation area separate from washing up sinks, which is handy for the flow of people using the kitchen.  The front glass doors look onto an outside eating area, with several BBQ’s.  There is also an indoor eating area if preferred.  One unique feature (well, one that I have never seen before), was the fridges you could hire for a night or a week.  I imagine this would be very popular for big camping groups.Wide Avenues & Large Sites

Adelaide Shores Big 4 is located right on the beach, and there is a bicycle track that hugs the coast for several kilometers in both directions.  There are two back gates from the park that exit onto the track.  Both Mike and I took advantage of the cycle path, and had turns getting up early for a morning cycle.  One afternoon, we hooked the kid’s bikes onto ours, and towed them to Glenelg, a wonderful beachside suburb an easy ride away, complete with beach, pedestrian shopping mall and Water Park with slides.  Our children were a little young for the water park, but they really enjoyed the playground, and looking around the marina.

Beachside CabinsThere are two things to consider about Adelaide shores.  One, it is near the airport.  But there was no airport noise between 10 pm and 6am.  It’s not a particularly busy for an international airport, so personally I wasn’t bothered by this fact.  Secondly, it is a very big park, and very popular.  If you are looking for a peaceful and personal holiday, plan your trip to the country.  But it is a great place to stay if you want the camping or caravanning experience, with the extensive array of activities offered by a big city close by.

 

 You can check out more about Adelaide Shores Big4 here.

 

The Anchorage – Port Fairy Big 4 Holiday Park

 The first stop on our year long adventure was only 900 m up the road at the Port Fairy Big 4.  I had 4 days left at work before we were truly on the road.  After spending the majority of the day moving out of our house, we set up the caravan at The Anchorage and spent the afternoon checking out our first real caravan park. 

Port Fairy Big 4 is fantastic.  Our hosts were Jenni and John Hider-Smith, long time locals of the town. They obviously had put a lot of work into creating a great holiday park for clients, and ran the place with enthusiasm and pride.

Kiddies PlaygroundTalk about easing into it, this place makes caravanning a cinch.  The toilets are spotless, the camp kitchen is spacious and well appointed and the pool was crystal clear.Camp kitchen  The playground had our children happy for hours.  They have this big ‘Jumping Pillow’ which is kind of like a bouncy castle without the sides, an inflated and massive trampoline.  Whatever you call it, the kids loved it.  The playground was better than most council run versions I have ever seen.

Park CabinsThis park really tries to cater for all tastes. As well as your normal powered and unpowered sites, there is a huge array of cabins, big and small.  They’re all modern and with balconies and furniture to sit and relax outside after a hard days site seeing.  They even have the new luxury Shearwater spa cabins.  You don’t even need to be campers to enjoy this place.  For those less adventurous there is a small motel attached to the park, where guests can use the facilities.Grassed sites

One option I have never seen before at a campsite is the powered sites with ensuite.  If you request one of these sites, you literally have your own private shower/toilet for your stay.

What impressed me the most about this place was the little touches.  There was a hop-up step for the littlies in the bathroom, so they could reach the taps and wash their own hands.  There were kid’s books and various women’s magazines in the camp kitchen.Indoor Heated PoolThe toddler’s pool is directly adjacent to the main pool, so the young ones can splash about while you can swim in the comfortably warmed pool.  There is also a deck with lounges for when it is sunny, with a glass doors entrance to the pool area that can be opened up to give a ‘villa’ kind of atmosphere.Games RoomMini Golf

Even the layout of this park was well thought out.  The playground was within shouting distance of the camp kitchen, so we felt secure in letting the kids just go off to play on their own while we cooked dinner.

Port Fairy itself is a great little town.  It’s a great distance from Geelong and Melbourne for a weekend or long weekend away, and you wouldn’t want to miss it if you were doing the Great Ocean Road for an extended holiday. If food is your thing, it has some of the best dining experiences outside of Melbourne.  Even going out for coffee and cake can be a major treat. The atmosphere is peaceful and relaxed, great for walking, and taking in the natural beauty.   If you’re into cycling, the local rail-trail has been open for around 2 years, and goes all the way to Warrnambool via the Irish village of Koroit, through picturesque countryside and farmland.

During the week we were there, 6 whales, including 3 Blue whales (1% of the remaining population) were spotted off the coast nearby.  Such is the beauty of this wonderful area.  So many places around the Australian coast are built up.  It’s nice to know there are still places in Victoria where you can see wildlife and natural beauty during a short break from the city.  I find it really something special.

On the Friday night, our last night there, the place became quite full with weekenders from the city.  I will always have a great memory of our two joining over a dozen other kids and preteens, mucking around at the playground as the sun was getting low.  There was happiness and excitement all around, and it made me feel even more excited about the adventure facing us.  Thanks for a great start Big 4 Port Fairy.

www.big4portfairy.com.auBig4 Port Fairy logo

3 Responses

  1. Hey this a great website , glad you having a great time , lots of love .
    Love you all , great things to tell our world !

  2. [...] to Sharon Smith for sharing part of her family’s Big Road Trip with us. Read about more of the Smith family’s travels at [...]

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