With hundreds of caravan and holiday parks across Australia, finding the holiday park that’s right for the whole family can be a challenge. Holidays With Kids magazine managing editor David Thorndike says holiday parks have come a long way since the 1970s and 80s. Along with the more traditional caravan slab or grass sites, many now offer resort-style facilities, glamping and even luxury villas.
From Queensland to Tasmania, here are David's top six picks of the best caravan and family friendly holiday parks across Eastern Australia.
Adventure Whitsunday Resort, Airlie Beach, QLD
Found right in the middle of Airlie Beach, this is a great spot from which to make day trips to the stunning Whitsunday Islands. There's plenty to do in the park as well, including a massive swimming pool with two water slides.
This resort also boasts its own animal park set on 1.5 hectares (3.5 acres) of bush land that's home to friendly fauna for the kids to get to know. Accommodation options include powered grass sites right by a bubbling creek, powered slab sites for caravans and campervans, open plan cabins and luxury three-bedroom condominiums.
North Star Holiday Resort & Caravan Park, Hastings Point, NSW
Situated on the NSW north coast, just south of the Queensland border, North Star offers a range of camping facilities from basic unpowered tent sites to glamping. You can bring your own caravan or campervan, or stay in a cabin, lodge or villa.
The on-site facilities include swimming pools, bikes and a huge water park to keep the kids amused. This spot is also really close to beautiful patrolled beaches and all the activities on offer on the Hastings River.
Easts Beach Holiday Park, Kiama, NSW
Located on absolute beachfront, if you get the right cabin you can sit on the verandah and look over the water. It's only five minutes drive from the town centre so it's easy to stock up on supplies or try the local eateries.
The world famous Kiama Blowhole is nearby, as are the picturesque townships of Berry and Kangaroo Valley. Jamberoo Water Park is also within striking distance. Spend a lazy week by the pool in the holiday park, on the beach or exploring the local area.
Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park, VIC
Away from the coast, this holiday park is just 1.5 hours drive inland from Melbourne and offers, like most of the parks here, a range of accommodation from camping and caravan sites to luxury spa cottages.
Ballarat is a big town well known for its gold mining heritage. There's lots to see and do in town, including historical Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum that recreates the gold rush mining town of the 1850s. It's also the ideal spot for taking a day trip to the Murray River. Back at the park, kids can enjoy indoor play, giant checkers, the huge jumping pillow (ed note different to a castle, safer), half tennis court and an indoor heated spa.
Anglesea Beachfront Family Caravan Park, Anglesea, VIC
This independently-owned holiday park is right on the beach in a quiet coastal town situated on the famous Great Ocean Road. It's also close to the township of Torquay and world famous surf spot Bells Beach.
Accommodation includes self-contained rustic timber cottages, modern, well kitted out cabins, and as the name suggests, powered caravan sites. There are two pet-friendly cabins available if you don't want to leave the pooch at home. Facilities include mini golf, poolside gym, a giant jumping pillow, indoor toddler play zone and a resort-style pool.
Discovery Parks Cradle Mountain, TAS
Cradle Mountain is ideal for active, outdoorsy families who want to get back to nature. It's close to activities including The Wilderness Gallery, the Overland Track, and the Night Spotlight Tour. After all that activity you can indulge yourself at Cradle Mountain Lodge's award-winning day spa. Accommodation ranges from unpowered sites to spa cabins.
Prices varies from park to park, but David says, "a rough guide would be as low as $15-$20 per night for an unpowered camp site, $40 per night for a powered site, and cabins from $120 per night." "However," he adds, "prices spike quite a lot during peak holiday times when you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 per week upwards."
Whether you are packing up the car for a camping extravaganza, taking the family caravan or going villa style there's something for everyone at holiday parks around Australia. Make sure you check that your car, caravan and travel insurance is up to date before you set out on your next caravan or holiday park break.
Check out our companion article Five of the best caravan and family friendly holiday across western and central Australia.