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"An ocean swim is as good as a shower." 10 things you know if you're a holiday park family.

Discovery Holiday Parks
Thanks to our brand partner, Discovery Holiday Parks

When I became a parent, I quickly discovered that I didn’t need to spend money on swanky hotels or nice restaurants if I wanted to give my kids a holiday they’d never forget.

My kids don’t care about fancy. Their idea of a relaxing break is hanging out with their friends, eating copious amounts of Cheezels and not wearing shoes for days on end.

For me, camping has quickly become our go-to choice for school holidays (or even just a quick two-nighter on a weekend).

Recently, I’ve taken to looking at the Discovery Parks website to see where we want to go, whether it’s basic camping a more luxe safari tent or a cabin setup.

Close to Sydney, some of our favourite Discovery Parks are Emerald Beach (Coffs Harbour) where you’re literally 100m from the sand and sparkling sea; Gerroa where you’ve got the pool, the river AND the beach to choose from; and Pambula Beach with the best waterpark and waterslide, overlooking Merimbula Bay. We love this spot, as you’re literally steps from the beach.

If you’re a holiday park family, you’ll understand where I’m coming from with the following list.

1. Your kids need to get along with the other kids. Or else.

Please. Like. Each. Other. Image: Supplied.

It’s important for us to go camping with other families who have children that mine like to play with. It gives us parents a chance to relax while the kids make their own adventures.

My children love being given a bit more freedom to explore, build forts from driftwood, walk to the play area, take the dog for a walk, whack each other with sticks, climb trees, ride their bikes, slide their boogie boards down sand dunes, chase wildlife and all the other kid stuff that they get up to when I’m not watching.

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There’s not a screen in sight (except for me trying to take their photo).

2. Your groceries look like a nine year old was given $100 to go mad in Woollies.

I tend to over cater on snacks as there is nothing like sunshine and swimming to make your kids even more ravenous than usual.

There’s always a good selection of the ‘good cheese’ and crackers for the parents, and then copious amounts of Cheezels and Chicken Crimpy Shapes for the little ones.

My kids love knowing that they can tuck into some Coco Pops for breakfast every day (but only while we’re away).

We love marshmallows by the fire, too. Image: Supplied.

3. You have to get the ‘good spot’ for your tent.

There is a fine line between being near the amenities block, and too near the amenities block.

You also want to ensure you’re close to the entrance to the nearest body of water, as that’s where you’ll be spending much of your time.

There is much studying of the park map before booking to ensure you get the perfect spot to pitch the tent (next to your pals of course). The Discovery Parks website has clearly labelled park maps, so you can see exactly where you want to be, and if in doubt you can always call the park to chat about your spot.

4. You have a relaxed attitude to the ‘bush wee’, especially in the middle of the night.

When you hear the little voice saying ‘muuuuuuuum’ in the middle of the night, you know that someone needs to go to the loo.

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Luckily my children are quite keen on doing a bush wee under the cover of darkness, because there’s nothing worse than trying to find your way to the amenities block in the dark.

If you're staying in cabin, you don't have these problems. But hey, it's all part of the experience, right?

5. You’ve all got messy hair, but you just don’t care.

A relaxed attitude towards personal hygiene is a prerequisite for our camping trips. An ocean swim is as good as a shower, right?

Besides sun cream, deodorant, and leave-in conditioner, we leave all of our beauty products at home.

Yes, there’s sand in your shoes, your tent, your hair and your car – but that can be dealt with at home.

6. You have ‘camping clothes’ that are perfect for spilling tomato sauce on.

My children have a unique way of dressing when we are camping. They pretty much roll out of their sleeping bags and put whatever clothes they can find on.

As we aren’t generally going anywhere fancier than the local RSL club for fish and chips, I am more than happy to oblige them.

I tend to pack nothing but old swimmers, shorts, singlets and sundresses. Too easy.

7. Everyone gets seriously excited when the Mr Whippy van comes through.

My kids worshipping at the altar of Mr Whippy. Image supplied.

Kids know that their parents will always say yes to ice cream when they’re on holidays. More often than not, us parents are keen for one too.

The Mr Whippy guy is pretty much the celebrity of the campsite or park area, and can be seen with a gaggle of children waiting impatiently beside him at all times.

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And if you're lucky and you're staying at the right park during peak times, there's a parents' own version of the Mr Whippy van: the coffee cart. Thank you, coffee gods.

8. Your daily routine revolves around snacks and swimming.

It’s so much fun making a plan at night for the next day. Ours normally sounds something like this…

‘So we will get up early for a pre-brekky swim at the beach, come back for Coco Pops, grab the kayaks and head to the lake, come back for a ham and cheese roll, then do some fishing down at the wharf, have an ice cream, jump on the bouncy pillows and come back to get the sausages going on the barbecue. Then it’s marshmallow time.’

9. You sleep like a log.

See #8.

10. You’re together 24/7.

It's the trickiest part, but the most rewarding as well. Image: Supplied.

There’s not much alone time when you’re living in close quarters, but there’s something special about spending all your time with your crew. It’s a chance to connect and recharge the love battery.

After the bushfires that ravaged Australia this summer, we are planning even more trips to our favourite campgrounds to help boost the economies of these small towns, from Eden to Pambula Beach to Jindabyne.

Discovering new beaches, enjoying a bushwalk, or catching a fish together – these are the memories that our kids will keep for a lifetime.

To start planning your next family adventure, go to www.discoveryholidayparks.com.au.

Images: Supplied.

Discovery Holiday Parks

With more than 60 parks in some of the most magnificent locations around Australia, Discovery Holiday Parks is the place you go to reconnect as a family. With waterparks and bouncing pillows the kids can disconnect from technology and discover matters. With a range of accommodation options to choose from such as camp sites to cabins or even a glamping Safari Tent you’ll find the perfect holiday for you. Say G’day to the great Australiana holiday and start planning your next trip at www.discoveryholidayparks.com.au

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