Live your Dreams without Breaking your Budget
5 January 2012
While RVers have already heeded the 'one day' calling to hit the road, we know that many are dreaming of specific goals, whether in the tropical Top End, the rugged gorges of Tasmania's wilderness, or in the east, the west, or somewhere in between.
One of the main stumbling blocks is a restrictive budget. However, a few simple moneysaving strategies can save enough to pay for some experiences, or at least help along the way! With that in mind, here's a top 10 must-do list of experiences (and free or cheap places to stay) that together with some clever money management, will have you turning 'one day' into a more achievable 'next year' – or maybe even 'next month'!
CRUISE THE DAINTREE, QLD
All aboard the Crocodile Express Daintree Wildlife Cruise! Spot a croc on the Daintree River in the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world and a living museum of unique flora and fauna. Enjoy walks from Mossman Gorge to Cape Tribulation, or 4WD the famous 61.93km CREB track to Bloomfield.
• Save money on a guide, as there are many amazing self-drive tours and walking tracks. Maps can be picked up for free from the tourist information centre.
• Catch and cook your own dinner! Stay at the Daintree Riverview Caravan Park from $10pp: the barbeques are free to use and there's excellent fishing on-site at the jetty below the cabins.
CROCODILE EXPRESS DAINTREE WILDLIFE CRUISE
Where: Daintree Forest, Far North QLD
Getting There: 110km north of Cairns, Captain Cook Hwy, 55km north of Port Douglas
When: Regular one-hour cruises daily
Cost: $25 ($20 Seniors). Unlimited cruises
Ph: (07) 4098 6120 Web: www.daintreerainforest.com
WHERE TO STAY
DAINTREE RIVERVIEW CARAVAN PARK
2 Stewart Street, Daintree
Ph: 0409 627 434
Cost: From $10pp
MEANDER THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD, VIC
The GOR demands no set agenda. Why? The journey is the destination. Areas will 'speak to you', beckoning further exploration, whether a charming seaside village, the Otway Ranges' waterfalls, or just an unusual log washed up on a spectacular coastline framed by rugged cliffs. Must sees include the Loch Ard Gorge and some mother-and-baby whale magic at Logan's Beach, Warrnambool (June to October).
Where: Great Ocean Road, 243km between Torquay and Warrnambool
Getting There: 650km SE of Adelaide, South Eastern Fwy and Princes Hwy, 94km SW of Melbourne, Princes Fwy
Ph: 1800 620 888
• Free-camp at beautiful Johanna Beach, 4.7km south of GOR. This beach is renowned for its good fishing, so if you're handy with a line, catch yourself some dinner!
• Between September and April, visit the Cowrie Community Markets held every third Sunday at Elephant Walk, the Esplanade, and Torquay for some bargain shopping and local produce. Or visit the Aireys Inlet Community Market, a community-owned authentic farmers market, held every second Sunday at Aireys Inlet Community Hall.
WHERE TO STAY
Free-camp at Johanna Beach, 4.7km south of GOR along Red Johanna Road.
SURFSIDE HOLIDAY PARK
Pertobe Road, Warrnambool
Ph: (03) 5559 4700
Cost: From $42/night
HOT AIR BALLOON OVER THE YARRA VALLEY, VIC
Up, up and away! Get up early for a sunrise balloon flight over lush valleys, sprawling vineyards and mesmerising landscapes. Welcome the dawn, weightlessly drift through crisp, fresh air and ponder the world below with Global Ballooning, renowned as Australia's best operator. Flights over Melbourne are also available.
Where: Yarra Valley, departing Rochford Winery, Coldstream
Getting There: 50km east of Melbourne, Eastern Fwy and Maroondah Hwy
When: Daily (subject to weather)
Cost: $290pp or $315pp with champagne breakfast at winery
Ph: (03) 9428 5703
• Stay in one of the many beautiful national parks, like the Upper Yarra Reservoir Park or Buchan Caves, where tariffs range upwards from $6/night.
• Pick up cheap, fresh, local produce from local farmers' markets, like the Hurstbridge Farmers' Market on the first Sunday of the month or the Marysville Farmers Market on the fourth Sunday of the month.
WHERE TO STAY
UPPER YARRA RESERVOIR PARK
Cathedral Range State Park
Ph: 13 19 63
WARBURTON CARAVAN PARK
30 Woods Point Road, Warburton
Ph: (03) 5966 2277
Cost: From $16pp
SUNSET CAMEL RIDE AT BROOME'S CABLE BEACH, WA
This world-famous, 22km stretch of pure white sand fringing turquoise waters invites lazy days, water sports and camel rides. Join Ships of the Desert for a 30 or 60-minute ride of a lifetime.
Where: Cable Beach, Broome
Getting There: 1870km SW of Darwin, Stuart and Great Northern highways, 2240km NE of Perth, Great Northern Highway
When: Three rides daily
Cost: $20 to $60
Ph: 0419 954 022
• Experience Broome for free and explore the self-guided walking trails around town, like the Broome Heritage Trail.
• Free night-time entertainment: relax on the town beach and witness the spectacular 'Staircase to the Moon', where the light of the full moon reflects on the tidal flats of Roebuck Bay and creates a 'staircase'. Night markets are held to coincide with this natural phenomenon, which is visible three nights a month, March to October.
WHERE TO STAY
CABLE BEACH CARAVAN PARK
8 Millington Road, Cable Beach
Ph: (08) 9192 2066
Make sure to book accommodation well in advance, as all of Broome regularly gets booked out. Or, if you're feeling more adventurous, there are a number of free camping sites on northern Broome beaches (4WD access only) and Walmadan (James Price Point), approximately 60km north of Broome.
GO WILD ON AN OUTBACK SAFARI IN THE RED CENTRE, NT
Spend three exhilarating days experiencing the Red Centre's icons, including Uluru, Kata Tjuta (Olgas), and Kings Canyon, and swag out under the stars enjoying campfire cooking! Ride a camel, learn about the local Aboriginal heritage, hike through the Valley of the Winds, and watch the sun set and rise over Uluru. Simply paradise!
Where: Red Centre, departing Alice Springs (or Ayres Rock Resort)
Getting There: 1530km north of Adelaide or 1500km south of Darwin, Stuart Hwy
When: Daily Cost:
Ph: (08) 8132 1375
• Free camp at Ellery Creek Big Hole or one of the other campsites in the West MacDonnell National Park. Campsites have a range of facilities, including gas and wood barbeques. Prices range from $3.30–$6.30 per adult, or $7.70–$15.40 per family.
• Stay in one of the cheaper (but no less attractive) caravan parks, like the Gemtree Caravan and Tourist Park, which has great gemstone fossicking, or the Barrow Creek Hotel, an old pub, built in 1926, which still has the original bar and underground cellar and contains a tremendous collection of memorabilia.
WHERE TO STAY
WEST MACDONNELL NATIONAL PARK
(From Alice Springs via Larapinta Drive and Namatjira Drive).
Web: http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/find/ westmacdonnell.html
GEMTREE CARAVAN AND TOURIST PARK
140km north-east of Alice Springs, Gemtree
Ph: (08) 8956 9855
Cost: From $11pp
BARROW CREEK HOTEL
Stuart Highway, Barrow Creek
Ph: (08) 8956 9753
Cost: $10 per powered site
TOUR THE BRILLIANT BAROSSA'S FOOD TRAILS, SA
Wine, dine, sip and sup on the delights of the Barossa Valley on a self-drive tour through this world-famous gourmet's paradise. Trails include: the Butcher, Baker, Winemaker Trail; the Cheese and Wine Trail; and the Para Road Wine Path. Maps and dollar-saving trail cards are available from the visitor centre.
Where: Barossa Valley Getting There: 70km NE of Adelaide, Sturt Hwy through Gawler When: Anytime, but spring is stunning
Cost: Varies Barossa Visitor Information Centre 66–68 Murray Street, Tanunda
Ph: 1300 852 982 Web: www.southaustralia.com/ BarossaFoodTrails.aspx
• Take advantage of roadside fruit and vegetable stores to stock up on food. If near Williamstown, visit the Abbeyfield op shop to pick up some local jams, chutneys and pickles. The Williamstown Country Markets, held in the Memorial Hall on the first Sunday of each month, are a great place to pick up cheap, fresh produce.
• Stay at Barossa Valley Tourist Park: unpowered site $25/night, powered $28/night, with free tennis courts, camp kitchen, barbeque areas near the lake and wireless internet throughout the park. Or stay at Tanunda Caravan & Tourist Park for special rates on coaches and safari tours.
WHERE TO STAY
BAROSSA VALLEY TOURIST PARK
Penrice Road, Nuriootpa
Ph: (08) 8562 1404
Cost: From $25/night
TANUNDA CARAVAN & TOURIST PARK
Barossa Valley Way, Tanunda
Ph: (08) 8563 2784
Cost: From $27/night
REEL IN A BARRA IN THE KIMBERLEY, WA
While the Bungle Bungles, Lake Argyle, Mitchell Plateau, and Argyle Diamond Mine should be on any Kimberley agenda, the action and thrills of barra fishing in the lower Ord River is an absolute must! There are many excellent fishing guides in the area if you want a few tips and tricks, but why not try your luck on your own?
Where: Lower Ord River between Wyndham and Kununurra (depart Kununurra)
Getting There: 1040km NE of Broome, Great Northern Hwy, 510km NW of Katherine, Victoria Hwy
When: April to October
• Free-camp at '10km Parking Bay', 10km past Kununurra towards Wyndham, or stay at Lake Argyle Caravan and Camping Park from $12pp: small shop, restaurant, laundry and camp kitchen on site.
• Fill up on fuel at the BP Ord River Roadhouse, 5 Messmate Way, Kununurra, and take advantage of their much-raved about homemade takeaway food: burgers, pies, lasagne and beef stroganoff for $3–$12. Bargain!
WHERE TO STAY
Free '10km Parking Bay', 10km past Kununurra towards Wyndham. (4WD transfers available from here and other locations)
LAKE ARGYLE CARAVAN AND CAMPING PARK
Ph: (08) 9168 7777
Cost: From $12pp
TOP DOLLAR-SAVING TIPS
• Travel off peak where possible.
• Take advantage of free camps or join a holiday park chain to receive members' benefits.
• Ask for the best rates at caravan parks if staying for longer than three nights. Pay for six, stay seven is common.
• Take advantage of activities and amenities already included in the campground rate.
• Regularly service road vehicles to avoid costly repairs, and inflate tyres correctly for the most mileage. • Buy fuel in large towns and use supermarket fuel discount vouchers. Try to fill up at the low point in the weekly price cycle.
• Where appropriate, travel at 90km/h instead of 100km/h, as this will reduce wind drag and thereby lower fuel consumption.
• Adopt a strict 'less is more' policy when packing. The less your RV weighs, the more mileage you'll get on the road.
• Look out for local discount stores and roadside fruit and vegetable stands. These are cheaper options than supermarkets and convenience stores.
• Eat out for lunch instead of dinner, as dinner is often more expensive. Seek out RSLs and bowling clubs, which generally offer better value for your money.
• If you're a keen fisher, why not catch your own dinner?
• Pick up a local paper. It offers a wealth of information on specials, garage sales and markets.
• Don't forget to ask for a seniors' discount if you're eligible.
EXPLORE 'THE PROM', VIC
'The Prom', otherwise known as Wilsons Promontory, is the southernmost point of the Australian mainland and the largest coastal wilderness area in Victoria. With 130km of coastline framed by granite headlands, mountains, forests and fern gullies, you can enjoy scenic drives, stunning rainforest walks and excellent beach swimming or kayaking. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals, koalas and wombats!
Where: Wilsons Promontory National Park, 200km SE of Melbourne, Sth Gippsland Hwy, 928km SW of Sydney, Princes Hwy
Web: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/ 1park_display.cfm?park=217
• Save money on petrol and camp on site at the beautiful Tidal River campsite within Wilsons Promontory National Park for $23.50 (non-powered). These sites are smack bang in the middle of everything. Book well in advance.
• Buy and bring in your own ingredients and cook your meals on the free gas barbeques provided in the carparks at Tidal River. Bought meals here can be expensive.
WHERE TO STAY
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Ph: (03) 5680 9555
Cost: $23.50 unpowered
PROM CENTRAL CARAVAN PARK
38 Nelson St, Foster VIC
Ph: (03) 5682 2440
Cost: From $25
WORDS BY JULIA HEBAITER AND LEANNE TOMKINS