Caravan parks vs campsites: which is better?


That’s the sound a campervan’s door makes when it slides open and shut at two o’clock in the morning, and has given rise to the term ‘whizzbangers’. Whizzbangers is basically the phrase used to describe the young travellers who haul these little homes around Australia.

Whizzbanger Caravan parks vs Campsites Double-Barrelled Travel

Dave and Charlotte’s awesome setup at the back of their Whizzbanger

Such are the things you learn in a caravan park, like the RAC facility in Exmouth where we met Dave and Charlotte, a young couple from England driving their whizzbanger around Australia in between seasonal jobs.

According to Dave, ‘grey nomads’ sometimes complain about the distinctive noise whizzbangers make, which can be annoying in caravan parks where there’s often tight quarters.

But ask a whizzbanger what they think of a grey nomad, and you’ll get stories of old blokes working their bums off to get TV reception in a remote national park. Or reversing their caravans into trees. Or going as slow as a tractor on the highway.

It’s good fun though – after a few beers in the camp kitchen everyone gets along fine. After all, we’re all out for a good time. But if the sound of a sliding door gets on your nerves, what else is there to baulk at on a road trip?

Caravan parks vs campsites

If you’re towing a caravan or trailer, or driving a campervan or bus, your choice for accommodation boils down to two choices – caravan parks or campsites. We’ve found caravan parks are a home away from home, and campsites get you away from home.

Both styles have their own unique good and bad points. We’ve found that both budget and how we’re feeling will often assist in making up our minds for where we stay.

Coral Bay Caravan parks vs campsites Double-Barrelled Travel

We discovered this spectacular view near Coral Bay when we went 4WDing off the beaten track

Caravan parks are for community

We’ve stayed at a score of caravan parks on our WA road trip, from cheap and cheerful patches of gravel in Dalwallinu in the Wheatbelt, to flash new facilities at the RAC’s Monkey Mia development.

Roadhouse Coral Bay Caravan Parks vs campsites Double-Barrelled Travel

Stopping at the roadhouse on the way to Monkey Mia

At each one we’ve found a community of sorts, whether it’s friendly grey nomads who adopt Ruby as their instant grandchild, fellow parents who share stories of explosive poos and emergency wine, or young crew like Charlotte and Dave who helped us cook and eat a roast dinner.

That’s the best thing about caravan parks . We’ve had neighbours close by that become fast friends, everyone looks out for each other, and there’s usually a good atmosphere encouraged by caretakers and staff.

On the downside, having so many people around can be drag too, especially if the caravan park is busy.

Wooramel River Retreat Caravan parks vs campsites Double-Barrelled Travel

Our awesome setup in the trees at the campsite at Wooramel River Retreat

Escaping the crowds

Our trip is supposed be about getting away from it all. Yet this can be hard when our neighbours are sinking tins of bush chook and talking at the tops of their lungs, or barbequeing what smells like pickled feet.

Plus, with so many people around, there are plenty of cars. This means being on top of our ‘watch Ruby when she’s outside’ game one hundred per cent of the time, so it can be hard to relax.

Dave and Ruby caravan parks vs campsites DOuble-Barrelled Travel

Play time with dad at a campsite on the outskirts of Geraldton

Campsites are for communing with nature

To really get away from it all, we’ve filled the water tanks in our caravan and flipped the battery on to take us out to campsites like at Osprey Bay in the Cape Range National Park.

There our neighbours were few on the ground and they were at least twice the distance away compared to a caravan park. This meant we felt completely immersed in nature with no fences or gates to obscure the view.

The sense of community at campsites remains strong though, with other families, couples and people on their own happily sharing the wild open spaces. It feels like a much truer experience, close to nature and out on our own.

Carmen and Ruby caravan parks vs campsites DOuble-Barrelled Travel

Carmen and Ruby on a hike in Coalseam National Park

Campsites lack convenience

The drawback of campsites is the lack of convenience, with our water supplies limited to 120 litres. There’s also often no external showers, flushing toilets, camp kitchens or TV rooms.

We have to very frugal with water and power usage, and can’t stay longer than four days at a maximum.

That said, campsites are a hell of a lot cheaper, so it’s worth the bother to stay at them. We’re also currently exploring options like solar panels to allow us to access more campsites and free camps in the future.

Big Bell Caravan parks vs campsites Double-Barrelled Travel

Out at Big Bell ghost town near Cue

Just get out there

In the end though, to us it really doesn’t matter all that much whether you stay at a caravan park or a campsite.

As long as you see what you came to see and have a good time doing it, then both offer good things. Caravan parks are a great place to base yourself at, while campsites put you right in the action.

So – caravan parks vs campsites – what’s your pick?

But just remember, those bloody whizzbangers go to both…!



About the author

Dave is the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel and has been nomadic since May 2013. When he's not busily working on a novel, he can be found exploring a war museum, sailing a yacht (unfortunately not his own), or hiking up a mountain.

6 comments on “Caravan parks vs campsites: which is better?”

  1. Neil Gibbins Reply

    Hi Dave and Carmen, congratulations on becoming parents and welcome back. I enjoyed the story on Parks v Sites, good insights. Having not been a traveller but wanting to be soon this is useful info. I am more of a Site person so your comments on water tanks and power sources makes sense. When I am looking to purchase a van I will put these as a priority. With this in mind my suggestion for content for the newsletter is the best tips and tricks you see as you are on your travels. Perhaps issues you encounter and how you or others overcome them.

    Thanks and safe travels

    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      Thank you! Glad you could find the post useful.
      Thanks for the idea about tips and tricks for the newsletter as well – we will certainly add some to December’s newsletter.

      Thank you and we wish you all the best for your future travels 🙂

  2. Lesley HWke Reply

    Hi Dave and Carmen and Ruby,
    It’s been great following your adventures since waving goodby at Mullewa. Thanks for being great neighbours for the week you were there. Thanks for sharing Ruby with our many guests around our non existant fire at happy hour. But most of all thanks for bringing a smile to our faces with your shot of single malt whiskey and cake for Stuart’s 70th Birthday.
    Stay safe and keep keeping us amused with your stories.
    PS. Good luck Dave with the publication of your book. Would love to read it one day.

    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      So great to hear from you Lesley!
      It was wonderful meeting you and thank you for making our time in Mullewa so special.
      And a huge thank you for taking me under your wing when Dave had to head to Geraldton with the 4WD!
      We made special memories in Mullewa and we will remember you fondly.
      Hopefully we can meet again one day!

  3. Pingback: What we’ve learnt from caravanning around WA for four months - Double Barrelled Travel %

  4. Pingback: Don’t climb the rock: The high of staying low in Uluru - Double Barrelled Travel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *