Blacksmiths Beach Caravan Park, NSW. Stuck in the ‘dog section’ right at the back of the park. You’re not allowed to walk your dog through the caravan park but have to go out of the back gate. The beach wasn’t dog friendly either.
Lake Jindabyne Holiday Park, NSW. This demonstrated to us how little common sense some park managers/receptionists have. I’d asked if they had any powered sites for the night which were quite expensive at $41. She told me they were fully booked in the main part overlooking the lake but there were some overflow sites. We pay and drive round only to see completely empty, absolute waterfront, unpowered sites and get to our overflow spot to find it’s on the main road behind some sheds in an overgrown grassy area (yet were still charged $41). Wouldn’t you think that maybe she would have said “if you’d like to go unpowered for the night, you can park up right next to the lake and have glorious views for $27.”
Kings Canyon Resort ($25 per person). ‘Resort’ was definitely stretching the meaning of the word. The gravel sites were tiny and we were hemmed in on all sides. The park had nothing to offer guests and there were wild dingoes wandering around the campsite.
Tennant Creek, NT – it was heartbreaking to see a town that appeared to have been completely ignored by the government. It has a population of around 3,200 and is 70% indigenous. People in the town are diagnosed with infections and diseases that have been eradicated from the rest of Australia for nearly a century. An African health care worker said the town reminded him of his home in Zambia. There is no maternity unit and expectant mothers have to catch the bus to Alice Springs.
The Daly Waters Pub, NT – it’s certainly a surprise to find this pub in the middle of nowhere but it’s a huge tourism rip-off. They charge $32 to hook up to a power pole in the car park and then expect people to pay $40 a head for their beef and barra bbq. If you want to spend at least $150 on a stopover, then this is the place for you.
Broome, WA. The Council has decided that dogs are not allowed in any of the caravan parks, on any of the beaches or at the markets. However, there are three places where you can only stay if you have a dog : the pistol club, the PCYC and the Seventh Day Adventist Church. We stayed at the Pistol Club and saw them turn several people without dogs away who didn’t want to pay the exorbitant prices at the caravan parks.
Termite Nests Rest area just before Exmouth, WA. Exmouth must be on the list of must-see places for backpackers and tourists as it was packed out and the caravan parks are very expensive. We stopped to see the impressive termite nests which are all around this rest area and it was absolutely the most disgusting place we’ve seen. The place has no amenities apart from a rubbish bin. There was rubbish, toilet paper and human poo everywhere. Why on earth Exmouth Council don’t do something about it, I don’t know. As an introduction to their town, it’s a disgrace.
Cocklebiddy Inn, Nullarbor Plain, WA. A large, virtually empty camping area when we arrived, next to the Inn. We were left scratching our heads as to why a) the manager bothered allocating sites and b) why he put us between a smelly fuel container and the Inn’s noisy generator. I went back and told him politely we were moving to a different site and told him which one. Unbelievably not long afterwards, another campervan pulled in and he allocated them the same site – even more unbelievably they stayed there.
Pinehill Caravan Park, Lilydale, Vic. A dreadful place but we were tired and wanted to stop for the night, with no other options. Next to a noisy highway and busy servo, mostly permanents but they seemed to be creating a new area for campers which was awful and I couldn’t see it looking any better once they had finished. They had crammed in as many small sites as possible. The tent area looked as though it hadn’t been mowed in weeks. The camp kitchen was an old caravan and the amenities were poor. Yet they still felt they could charge $38 a night.
Hobart Showgrounds – This was the talk of the travellers around Tassie – and not for good reasons. This is how our arrival went: Me: “Hello, we’d like to stay here on a powered site just for tonight.”
Receptionist (not smiling) “Have you booked online?”
Me: “No, I didn’t want to pay the $5 admin fee.”
R (thin lipped): “You can have site 76.”
After trying to negotiate the most complex campground map we’ve seen in all our travels, we found 76. A steeply sloping gravel site with broken glass and even with the world’s longest power cable we couldn’t have reached the nearest power pole.
Me: (back at reception). “Could we change sites please. There’s broken glass everywhere and we can’t reach the power pole.”
R: “You should get yourself a longer lead then. You can move to site 88”
Me: (after deep breath). “Can I have a key to the laundry too please.”
R: “Yes, but you can’t use the washing line.”
We moved to a site opposite and no-one cleared up the broken glass on 76. It also took me quite a while to locate the laundry which had a sign on the front saying ‘Men’s Toilets’. Oh and the camp kitchen was in the ferret pavilion.
Westbury Sports Ground, Tas (free). Westbury Council have closed this site apparently because of lobbying by caravan parks in the area. There is no caravan park in this pretty little town and the locals and business owners are furious about the decision.
Bothwell Council run Caravan Park, Tas. Bothwell is in a beautiful position in the Central Highlands. For $27 powered or $20 unpowered, you can stay behind the Council building on their dusty, gravelly car park with a cemetery on one side, tennis courts on the other and no views. No dogs allowed. The only saving grace is possibly the best public toilet block in Tasmania.
Spirit of Tasmania ferry. They really need to get their act together for pet owners. They advertise the fact that you can even bring your pet with you as they have RSPCA approved kennels on board which sound great – until you see them. Wire cages in the middle of the vehicle deck. It was only through word of mouth from other travellers that you learn you can leave your pet in your vehicle for the crossing. All the pets we saw would have been much better behaved than a lot of the children on the ferry!