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LAST-MINUTE BOOKINGS NEED NOT BE A DISASTER

It’s the catch cry of nearly everyone at least one time or another, a plea somewhere between eternal optimism and hopeless desperation. Whether it’s down the phone line, or over the counter at the caravan park, it always boils down to the real statement: “We messed up, and didn’t book when we should have”.

But planning your travel itinerary down to the nearest minute robs the open-road adventure of some of its romantic connotations. After all, the very driving force of leaving behind suburbia for the great highways is the freedom it presents. The choice to go wherever you want whenever you want on this vast and spectacular continent.

So what tricks, if any, are there to offset the romanticised ideals of the wandering nomad with the harsh realities of the caravan park industry? Because let’s be honest, they love having you, and they love that you want to be there, but so did a thousand other people prior to your desperate phone call. So, what can you do, when squeezing in becomes holding your breath?

Turn “Can you squeeze us in?” to “We’ll see you soon!” with these tips for securing your caravan park site (and what to do if you can’t)

WORDS FRANK RYDER, IMAGES SKYE MARTIN AND RV DAILY

GUIDE Caravan Park Tips

If you're booking last minute, you may have to be flexible...

Australia’s most luxurious slide out caravans

The epitome of luxury just got even better.
browse the upgrades

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SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

BE FLEXIBLE – AGAIN
Not only may you may be on a slightly less preferred site, you may be on several. The savvy traveller will ask more than one simple question. Dig like your favourite detective to un-earth the answers you want. “Can you squeeze us in for three nights?” may be met with a resounding “No”, as comings and goings of long-term booked guests may tie up various sites across said period. But the determined may push the line of enquiry simply by adding, “Even across multiple sites?”

While the park may not have one site for three nights, they may indeed have three separate ones for a night each. While we would all love to put down at least semi-temporary roots for a few days here and there, we may need to replant them around the facility. Be prepared to move around the grounds to a number of sites if it is where you really want to be.

2
1

BE FLEXIBLE
If you’re prepared to put the park managers on the spot, be prepared for them to do the same. Any spot. While a beachfront powered slab site might suit you down to the ground, particularly one close to the ablutions and the jumping pillow, it no doubt suited several others as well. As such, you may find yourself on grass. You may find yourself unpowered. You may find yourself walking a little further than you anticipated. But at least you are in where you wanted. Take what they have to offer, and be glad they could accommodate with such short notice.

Don't expect the most idyllic site if you're trying to squeeze in at the last second

ABOVE Bargara CP. Prime locations require extreme luck to land without planning!

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

ADVERTISEMENT

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

MAKE YOUR MONEY GO FURTHER
If you’re planning on staying in the one place for a longer-than-normal period, extend your line of questioning to include ‘extended stay rates’. Find out if your business is not only wanted but appreciated with places keen to see your dollar go further.

4

BE REALISTIC IN THE FEATURES YOU NEED
While the heated pool of a resort-like park, and the giant waterslide of Big 4 are drawcards for most, they may not be for all. Be prepared to forgo certain advertised attractions in pursuit of a caravan park with a little less in the way of comfort or thrill-seeker sideshows. The Broome area, for example, has eight different places for the caravan travellers, but it’s fair to say the ones with the most attractions for the kids will undoubtedly fill first, and fill quickly. If you are perhaps approaching those golden years, or even travelling child-free in your prime, then you can afford to pick a less popular site for your stay.

3

You may have better luck finding a spot last minute at an older-style park

“So what tricks, if any, are there to offset the romanticised ideals of the wandering nomad with the harsh realities of the caravan park industry?”

for the outback
real caravans

THE INTERNET IS YOUR FRIEND
While it’s true most of us hit the open road to escape the modern lifestyle and to explore the great unknown, it cannot be denied that we live in a world run by technology. While the grandkids’ obsession with the iPad may infuriate you, and the wife’s obsession with Facebook is nothing short of addiction, don’t be dissuaded from using these formats to your benefit. A device with online capabilities will help you navigate the options available faster than any other means. Sites available, last-minute cancellations, alternative options or locales. All readily available at the touch of a few buttons. Jump online and do some browsing safe in the knowledge that doing so hasn’t broken your vow to avoid modern technology in your escape back to nature – it has only bent it a little and for very good reasons.

PACK THE TENT
So you’re driving the latest 4X4 and have the van to match. Big, spacious and luxurious. Surely there is enough room to pack the faithful tent or swag? To keep the long proverbial short, you are giving yourself options. You may have descended upon your preferred destination with your heart set on a prime powered site, but lack of planning has led to them being booked out. The savvy traveller will enquire as to whether there are any campsites available. If you have packed a very simple set-up inside the best available, you may find the site can accommodate you still. Parking may be available out the front of the facilities and the humble campground may be your home for the next few days.

6
5

BUILD YOUR CONTACTS
The experiences one enjoys through life are generally improved by one important element. The people you share them with. Ask anyone who has toured the great open roads about the best parts of the trip, and you will undoubtedly pick up on one factor that gets mentioned over and over – the people met along the way.

No one needs to be told to be friendly, as the general feeling of well-being experienced while travelling tends to make that autonomous. You should be reminded however, to make a record of your new friends, particularly those you get along with exceptionally well. Take down a phone number, an address, an email, as you’d be amazed at how far the goodwill of fellow travellers will extend.

While everyone loves exploring new places, most people have the wonderful trait of pride in their hometowns, too. These new contacts may very well end up being your stopping place for a few days should your desired locale be booked solid.

My neighbour left three months ago on a seven-month trip around this great nation. I watched him pack fastidiously through eyes green with envy. Two months into his trip I walked the dogs past his house, cursing the wind tearing in off the lake as the lunatic Labradors did their best to tear my arms from their sockets.

I glanced at Pete’s house, only to notice a monster van parked in his drive. It seemed he had cut his trip short, and upgraded his rig along the way. A quick phone call, however, revealed that it was a guy named Mike, staying for a week in Pete’s house as part of his east coast expedition. Free accommodation in a spectacular site across from one of the best views I’ve seen. No fees. No booking. Just good networking.

7

STAY TRUE TO THE DREAM, AND GET AWAY
If the caravan parks close to the city limits are full, if the well-known traveller stops are booked out, then be prepared to pack up and head somewhere that ticks both boxes. Plenty of availability, and worth the trek to see.

Karijini National Park is one example of a destination that fits the bill. There is plenty of availability, with excellent campground facilities, and for those willing to make the trek, the park provides an experience that will last a lifetime.

Once there you will be free to experience the natural attractions that have made this locale one of the highlights of a round-country trip. The myriad walks and features are nothing short of spectacular. Fern Pool is breathtaking, clear water cascading over small falls to settle in the azure depths of the natural catchment, the water so mesmerising it is hard to turn away.

When you retire for the evening, satisfied to the depths of your soul after your immersion in nature, you will sleep soundly under a blanket of stars as you have never seen. The light pollution of the world has yet to taint the Milky Way, and the heavens are the backdrop you can only dream of..

ABOVE Make the effort to really escape and space is less of an issue. Credit John Needs // BELOW Our lifestyle is popular and becoming more so, but be prepared to share! 

8

CONCLUSION
So, do your due diligence for your trip, as always recommended, but remember, there are ways to negate the drama that arises from last-minute plans. Be flexible, be polite, and ask questions. Pack yourself an alternative and use the perks of modern technology to source new ideas and options. Network and take advantage of this country’s greatest asset, its people. And when all else fails, get out of Dodge. Right out, to where the issue won’t be whether you can book, but rather whether you will ever want to leave.

It’s the catch cry of nearly everyone at least one time or another, a plea somewhere between eternal optimism and hopeless desperation. Whether it’s down the phone line, or over the counter at the caravan park, it always boils down to the real statement: “We messed up, and didn’t book when we should have”.

But planning your travel itinerary down to the nearest minute robs the open-road adventure of some of its romantic connotations. After all, the very driving force of leaving behind suburbia for the great highways is the freedom it presents. The choice to go wherever you want whenever you want on this vast and spectacular continent.

So what tricks, if any, are there to offset the romanticised ideals of the wandering nomad with the harsh realities of the caravan park industry? Because let’s be honest, they love having you, and they love that you want to be there, but so did a thousand other people prior to your desperate phone call. So, what can you do, when squeezing in becomes holding your breath?

GUIDE Caravan Park Tips

LAST-MINUTE BOOKINGS NEED NOT BE A DISASTER

Turn “Can you squeeze us in?” to “We’ll see you soon!” with these tips for securing your caravan park site (and what to do if you can’t)

If you're booking last minute, you may have to be flexible...

WORDS FRANK RYDER, IMAGES SKYE MARTIN AND RV DAILY

Australia’s most luxurious slide out caravans

The epitome of luxury just got even better.
browse the upgrades

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

BE FLEXIBLE
If you’re prepared to put the park managers on the spot, be prepared for them to do the same. Any spot. While a beachfront powered slab site might suit you down to the ground, particularly one close to the ablutions and the jumping pillow, it no doubt suited several others as well. As such, you may find yourself on grass. You may find yourself unpowered. You may find yourself walking a little further than you anticipated. But at least you are in where you wanted. Take what they have to offer, and be glad they could accommodate with such short notice.

1

BE FLEXIBLE – AGAIN
Not only may you may be on a slightly less preferred site, you may be on several. The savvy traveller will ask more than one simple question. Dig like your favourite detective to un-earth the answers you want. “Can you squeeze us in for three nights?” may be met with a resounding “No”, as comings and goings of long-term booked guests may tie up various sites across said period. But the determined may push the line of enquiry simply by adding, “Even across multiple sites?”

While the park may not have one site for three nights, they may indeed have three separate ones for a night each. While we would all love to put down at least semi-temporary roots for a few days here and there, we may need to replant them around the facility. Be prepared to move around the grounds to a number of sites if it is where you really want to be.

ABOVE Bargara CP. Prime locations require extreme luck to land without planning!

2

Don't expect the most idyllic site if you're trying to squeeze in at the last second

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

BE REALISTIC IN THE FEATURES YOU NEED
While the heated pool of a resort-like park, and the giant waterslide of Big 4 are drawcards for most, they may not be for all. Be prepared to forgo certain advertised attractions in pursuit of a caravan park with a little less in the way of comfort or thrill-seeker sideshows. The Broome area, for example, has eight different places for the caravan travellers, but it’s fair to say the ones with the most attractions for the kids will undoubtedly fill first, and fill quickly. If you are perhaps approaching those golden years, or even travelling child-free in your prime, then you can afford to pick a less popular site for your stay.

3

MAKE YOUR MONEY GO FURTHER
If you’re planning on staying in the one place for a longer-than-normal period, extend your line of questioning to include ‘extended stay rates’. Find out if your business is not only wanted but appreciated with places keen to see your dollar go further.

4

You may have better luck finding a spot last minute at an older-style park

“So what tricks, if any, are there to offset the romanticised ideals of the wandering nomad with the harsh realities of the caravan park industry?”

for the outback
real caravans
WATCH THE 2019
WALKTHROUGH
Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

PACK THE TENT
So you’re driving the latest 4X4 and have the van to match. Big, spacious and luxurious. Surely there is enough room to pack the faithful tent or swag? To keep the long proverbial short, you are giving yourself options. You may have descended upon your preferred destination with your heart set on a prime powered site, but lack of planning has led to them being booked out. The savvy traveller will enquire as to whether there are any campsites available. If you have packed a very simple set-up inside the best available, you may find the site can accommodate you still. Parking may be available out the front of the facilities and the humble campground may be your home for the next few days.

5

THE INTERNET IS YOUR FRIEND
While it’s true most of us hit the open road to escape the modern lifestyle and to explore the great unknown, it cannot be denied that we live in a world run by technology. While the grandkids’ obsession with the iPad may infuriate you, and the wife’s obsession with Facebook is nothing short of addiction, don’t be dissuaded from using these formats to your benefit. A device with online capabilities will help you navigate the options available faster than any other means. Sites available, last-minute cancellations, alternative options or locales. All readily available at the touch of a few buttons. Jump online and do some browsing safe in the knowledge that doing so hasn’t broken your vow to avoid modern technology in your escape back to nature – it has only bent it a little and for very good reasons.

6

BUILD YOUR CONTACTS
The experiences one enjoys through life are generally improved by one important element. The people you share them with. Ask anyone who has toured the great open roads about the best parts of the trip, and you will undoubtedly pick up on one factor that gets mentioned over and over – the people met along the way.

No one needs to be told to be friendly, as the general feeling of well-being experienced while travelling tends to make that autonomous. You should be reminded however, to make a record of your new friends, particularly those you get along with exceptionally well. Take down a phone number, an address, an email, as you’d be amazed at how far the goodwill of fellow travellers will extend.

While everyone loves exploring new places, most people have the wonderful trait of pride in their hometowns, too. These new contacts may very well end up being your stopping place for a few days should your desired locale be booked solid.

My neighbour left three months ago on a seven-month trip around this great nation. I watched him pack fastidiously through eyes green with envy. Two months into his trip I walked the dogs past his house, cursing the wind tearing in off the lake as the lunatic Labradors did their best to tear my arms from their sockets.

I glanced at Pete’s house, only to notice a monster van parked in his drive. It seemed he had cut his trip short, and upgraded his rig along the way. A quick phone call, however, revealed that it was a guy named Mike, staying for a week in Pete’s house as part of his east coast expedition. Free accommodation in a spectacular site across from one of the best views I’ve seen. No fees. No booking. Just good networking.

7

STAY TRUE TO THE DREAM, AND GET AWAY
If the caravan parks close to the city limits are full, if the well-known traveller stops are booked out, then be prepared to pack up and head somewhere that ticks both boxes. Plenty of availability, and worth the trek to see.

Karijini National Park is one example of a destination that fits the bill. There is plenty of availability, with excellent campground facilities, and for those willing to make the trek, the park provides an experience that will last a lifetime.

Once there you will be free to experience the natural attractions that have made this locale one of the highlights of a round-country trip. The myriad walks and features are nothing short of spectacular. Fern Pool is breathtaking, clear water cascading over small falls to settle in the azure depths of the natural catchment, the water so mesmerising it is hard to turn away.

When you retire for the evening, satisfied to the depths of your soul after your immersion in nature, you will sleep soundly under a blanket of stars as you have never seen. The light pollution of the world has yet to taint the Milky Way, and the heavens are the backdrop you can only dream of..

8

ABOVE Make the effort to really escape and space is less of an issue. Credit John Needs // BELOW Our lifestyle is popular and becoming more so, but be prepared to share! 

CONCLUSION
So, do your due diligence for your trip, as always recommended, but remember, there are ways to negate the drama that arises from last-minute plans. Be flexible, be polite, and ask questions. Pack yourself an alternative and use the perks of modern technology to source new ideas and options. Network and take advantage of this country’s greatest asset, its people. And when all else fails, get out of Dodge. Right out, to where the issue won’t be whether you can book, but rather whether you will ever want to leave.