campervan driving through chillagoe

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Home is where you park it: 10 caravan parks to stay at


TNQ Writer

Have caravan, will travel. Say bye-bye to bricks and mortar accommodation and check out these incredible caravan parks in Tropical North Queensland.

Wake up to the sound of waves lapping, birds chirping or 180-million-year-old foliage rustling; when you bring the room, Tropical North Queensland delivers the views. With the freedom and flexibility to drop the steadies (aka caravan legs for the uninitiated) and roll out the awning whenever and (almost) wherever you want to, experience Tropical North Queensland at your own pace this holiday season.

Roll into the tropical way of life with this guide to caravan parks in Tropical North Queensland.

For the ultimate kids escape – BIG4 Ingenia Holiday Cairns Coconut Resort

The resort has a splash park, mini golf and more

Travelling with little ones? Swap lazy mornings and late nights for early nights and early rising and see how many activities you can squeeze into your day when you stay at BIG4 Ingenia Holiday Cairns Coconut Resort. This kid’s paradise knows a thing or two about family holidays – blending as much fun within its park’s boundaries as what you’ll find outside them (*ahem* Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforest).

Its location, seven minutes’ drive from the centre of Cairns CBD, affords this park enough distance to ensure you’re not putting the little ones down as Cairns’ nightlife warms up, but are still within easy reach of all the CBD’s amenities. Catering to the young (and young at heart), you’ll find an adventure playground, waterslides and splash park, mini golf, jumping cushions and pedal cars within its meticulously manicured gardens.

For the best waterfront views – NRMA Palm Cove

NRMA Palm Cove is a stone's throw away from the beach

If you were travelling in Queensland fifty or sixty years ago, caravan parks along the coastline were the rule rather than the exception. But today, finding a caravan park within tow-ball’s throw of the beach is as rare as, well, beachfront caravan parks. NRMA Palm Cove, much like its namesake destination itself, is like stepping back to a precious moment in time.

Once you’ve unhitched in Palm Cove, you won’t need to get your car or caravan out again, with everything on your caravan-step, including Williams Esplanade, which fronts onto what was once named Queensland’s cleanest beach. What’s more, it’s easy to outsource the cooking when you have Palm Cove’s restaurants on your doorstep. Who needs a camp kitchen cook up when you have NuNu Restaurant a short, flat, palm-lined walk away?

For fishing – Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park

Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park offers fun for the whole family

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If you’re looking for a holiday destination that will have you hooked from the moment you arrive, tow the caravan to Kurrimine Beach Holiday Park. Sitting only one block back from the water, expect a prime position to fish for flathead and whiting straight off the beach. For those who prefer to cast off from a boat, there’s boat hire and fishing charters available from Kurrimine and a public boat ramp if you’ve decided to BYO (boat).

For a convenient location – NRMA Cairns Holiday Park

NRMA Cairns Holiday Park is just a few minutes drive from Cairns Esplanade

If you choose your caravan park based on the three p’s of real estate – position, position, position – make NRMA Cairns Holiday Park your holiday-HQ. Find this tropical oasis, seven minute drive from Cairns Esplanade, making it an ideal base for first timers to Cairns or those wanting to tick off all of the major attractions in Cairns. Good news if you’re travelling to Cairns with your furry best friend, this park is four-legged friendly – simply call ahead.

For waterfalls – Malanda Falls Caravan Park

Stay next to the majestic Malanda Falls

Not all caravan parks have their very own waterfall on their back garden, but Malanda Falls Caravan Park proves on many levels that it’s not your average caravan park. For a start it’s right next to the Malanda Falls Environmental Park, whose rainforest forms part of the iconic Wet Tropics landscape that envelopes the whole area.

Outside the usual caravan, camping and cabin amenities you might expect to find, Malanda Falls Caravan Park also has its very own animal nursery complete with ponies, miniature goats and other ‘guest’ animal appearances over school holidays. As if the private access to Malanda Falls isn’t enough, you’ll also be a short drive to all of the other famous Atherton Tablelands waterfalls on this list to spend your days waterfall chasing.

For mountain biking – BIG4 NRMA Atherton Tablelands

Rest from the mountain bike trails at BIG4 NRMA Atherton Tablelands

Have bike, will travel, to BIG4 NRMA Atherton Tablelands. With its central Tablelands location, this caravan park knows its guests come for peaceful serenity, but stay to blaze the trails of the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park. With over 70km of mountain bike trails just outside this park’s gates, you’ll be thankful this caravan park includes in its list of amenities – swimming pool, camp kitchen and playground – a dedicated bike washing area.

For a date night – Mareeba Drive In

Head to Mareeba for a drive in movie and camping

For a slice of nostalgia, head to the hills to the Mareeba Drive In where you can camp (tents, motorhomes, caravans and trailers all welcome) on movie nights. A ticket to one of the last remaining drive-ins in Queensland will score you two film screenings and your overnight accommodation for the price of your ticket ($14 for adults). Accompany your drive-in experience with a meal from the canteen with the likes of popcorn, burgers and nachos on the menu. Dog lovers will be happy to know, good boys and girls are welcome, so long as they are on a lead.

For the ultimate fairy-tale – Paronella Park

Enjoy the Evening Experience, then camp on-site at Paronella Park

Love stories don’t come more romantic than the one experienced at Paronella Park, the five-hectare magical landscaped wonderland complete with Spanish-style castle that’s found an hour and a half south of Cairns. Those travelling with their own wheels will be happy to know, every entry ticket comes complete with access to the onsite free camping. You’ll be grateful to stay the night to enjoy the Evening Experience, which lights up the park after dark in a visual sound and light display that takes this fairy tale setting from a scale of one to happily ever after. If you decide not to DIY dinner in your onboard facilities, find good, old-fashioned pub cooking at the Mena Creek Hotel, within walking distance (200m) of Paronella Park.

For caves – Chillagoe Observatory & Eco Lodge

Chillagoe offers caves by day and starry skies by night

Swap the indoors for the great outdoors and drop your caravan legs at the Chillagoe Observatory & Eco Lodge. Remember, bookings are essential because this campsite is popular with travellers wanting to explore Chillagoe’s limestone caves, balancing rock and smelters by day and stargaze at night. Making the most of its savannah location and subsequent lack of light pollution, this caravan park comes complete with an observatory. After a cook up in the camp kitchen, join your host for a guided tour of the sky, taking a squiz at planets, nebulas, and star clusters.

To explore Cooktown – Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park

Stay in the centre of Cooktown for an abundance of activities close by

You won’t be the first visitor to come to Cooktown and stay a while, Captain James Cook was probably the most famous visitor to put his feet up in Cooktown after the Endeavour ran aground. To explore the historical town, check into Cooktown Orchid Travellers Park, which is smack bang in the middle of town. Set aside at least two days to discover these 10 things to do in Cooktown, which is rich in both Aboriginal and European history. For those headed further up the Cape, Cooktown is the ideal launchpad to prepare for this 1200km adventure.

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