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The All Important ‘Shake-Down’ Trip

It goes without saying, that taking delivery of your new van is a most exciting time. And it really doesn’t matter if you are brand new to caravanning or an old hand, you will want to head off somewhere, probably not to far from where you live, to check out how good your new home on wheels is.

We think it’s a great idea to stay local for your first couple of trips. This way, you don’t have the stress of travelling to an unfamiliar area or having to drive for hours, when all you really want to do, is get to know every nook and cranny of your van.

So here are five suggestions of great places to go for your first (or your second or third) trip!



Being Gold Coast locals we knew that Sharp Park would be the ideal spot to head for our first trip in our NextGen Greyline. Located on the outskirts of the small town of Canungra , it is a large, free range style camp ground, with lots of shady trees, green grass and a creek running through its middle. There are both powered and unpowered sites available and also toilets but no showers.

Plus, once you are there you are just a short drive from the glorious National Parks of the Gold Coast Hinterland. Just a 40 minute drive and you will find yourself in the Binna Burra section of the Lamington National Park or around an hour’s drive will find you at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

Both offer spectacular views and plenty of bush-walking opportunities.



Coolum Beach Holiday Park is located right on Coolum Beach on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. It is a lovely roomy park with both powered and unpowered sites available. But the best part is it’s location. You can walk straight out of the park and onto the beach.

Coolum Beach is a dog friendly beach (as is the park) and there is miles of beach that you can walk along in any direction. The southern end is regularly patrolled if you fancy a surf.

If you are feeling a bit peckish, there are loads of restaurants and coffee shops just across the road. Our pick though is the Coolum Beach Surf Club where you can get a meal and a view!



Sommerville Valley is located a little over 10 kilometres from Stanthorpe, right in the heart of the Granite Belt Wine region. It is a huge park so you will never feel crowded. There are both powered sites and unpowered sites and most have a purpose built fire pit on them. Very handy on those chilly Stanthorpe nights!

Just next door to Sommerville Valley is Storm King Dam. The Dam is popular for water sports as well as fishing. Kayaks can be hired from the office. Of course, no visit to Stanthorpe would be complete without a visit to some of the outstanding local wineries like Ballandean Estate, Granite Ridge Wines and Twisted Gum Wines.

Stanthorpe also has a fine reputation for its fresh produce, including apples, strawberries and cheese.



The Southern Highlands region of NSW is one of the most picturesque areas that you will find. Just an hour and a half drive down the Hume Highway from Sydney, you will find the towns of Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale.

Bowral has become quite ‘trendy’ over the last few years and you will easily find a spot for lunch or coffee. Visit in the Springtime and you will find a mass display of Tulips of every conceivable colour.

Just a short drive out of Bowral is the historic village of Berrima. With it’s Surveyor General Inn dating back to 1834, it is the oldest continuously
licenced Inn, in Australia. This is a great spot to enjoy a beer or two or even lunch.

There are lovely caravan parks in both Mittagong and Moss Vale, with Moss Vale Showground also welcoming self-contained vans.



At less than a two hour drive south of Sydney, Kiama is the ideal spot for a shake down trip. Arguably one of the prettiest spots in the Illawarra region, you really will be spoilt for choice when it comes to places to stay and things to do.

If you want an absolute beach front stay then you can’t go past Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park which is located just south of Gerringong.

Make sure you check out Kiama’s famous Blow-hole. It is a pretty spectacular sight, especially on days when the surf is pumping.

Another thing to love about the Kiama area is the designated cycleways that run along the beaches and river. If you are looking to maybe entertain the kids then Jamberoo Action Park is a must. Located just 10 minutes drive from Kiama, you will find something for the whole family at this huge water park.

Article courtesy of All Around Oz

Melissa and Brenden are passionate caravanners, campers and travellers. In fact they have been travelling together for over 20 years. They love nothing more than ‘taking the road less travelled’ and then sharing their travel adventures on their blog. Their aim is to support small businesses that operate in the tourism sector and promote tourism in rural and regional Australia.

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