where to stay

Sometimes you just have to cough up the cash.

You’re in a big city. It’s finally time to do the laundry. Need to recharge the batteries. Some conversation.

In the city it can be cheaper to stay in a backpackers specially if you are on your own. That way you get to stay around the centre of town rather than way out on the outskirts, (that’s good). You can catch up with conversation, (sometimes good). The togetherness of 9 strangers in a room? Maybe not so good.

Outside the cities there’s the great Australian caravan park. These are scattered wherever travellers go which is, well, pretty well everywhere there’s a post office.

The unpowered tent sites are often the unshaded, grassless, rock hard wastelands that won’t fit caravans for some reason. Usually dedicated to catering for the self contained caravan drivers, the camp amenities can be completely inconsistent.

Hot water for a shower, usually. Always a laundry. A stray power point to charge a battery or two? Could be. Shade, grass? Often not. Sometimes a kitchen with a fridge, a microwave, a kettle for boiling water, a toaster. A TV for those who don’t like conversation or watching sunsets. A washing up sink. Tables and chairs. Occasionally pots, frying pans and unmatched plates etc. Usually a barbecue but whether it works is another question.

Payment in caravan parks is strangely inconsistent. Popular beach areas, that’s the complete East Coast and WA mining areas can be hideously expensive. Rural South Australia more moderate.

The full cost ranges from around $30 for an unpowered tent site, no discount if you are on your own, to, maybe, $12. In the high season in popular areas near the big cities it can be higher. $50 per site to stake a tiny tent out.

Usually they charge for the site. “How come I’ve got to subsidise those couples in 4WDs with the airconditioned van?” Why does the concept two people, big tent, parking for a large 4WD, equal two person price and one person, tiny tent, bike, equal one person price seem hard for them to get to grips with? It’s not like there’s a shortage of space in Australia. No, it’s not an argument, it’s customer feedback.

Sometimes they knock a few dollars off.

Once in a while you get the single person price. Wow.

And there’s rare occasions when you get the Esperance experience.

“One night please.” “That will be $10.” “Oh, how about a week then?” “$60, you get the 7th night free.” Yippee.

Just down the road it is $29 a night. Work that one out.

National Parks usually have a charge (around $7 to $10 each) and restrictions as to where you can camp.

Then, of course, there are plenty of places to stay where you don’t have to pay at all.