I’m not a camper*. I think any child of the 80s who was forced to spend wet and wickedly cold weekends in a caravan on the British coast would say the same thing.
I’ve come to learn, however, that if you want to explore regional Australia, at some point camping will become inevitable. That inevitability struck for us recently as we endeavoured to explore the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.
*I feel like I’ve started a lot of posts recently with the words ‘I’m not much of x ’ but seriously Victoria is really putting me out of my comfort zone.
Bit like my quest to find accommodation on Phillip Island, my research of chic but affordable hotels on the Mornington Peninsular threw up only unenticing offers of musty motels and overpriced private homes. Camping, perversely, was starting to seem like the best option, yet when I looked into hiring our own campervan they all had minimum hire periods of 5 days. We wanted 2, max 3.
The researching (and fretting) continued until something colourful caught my eye on booking.com. It was a caravan park, on the coast, boasting ‘glampervans’. Not only were these caravans glamorous, they said, but they had been lovingly refitted in retro styles and the photos showed they came in colour ways including egg yolk yellow and duck egg blue. This, I thought, is something I can get on board with.
We booked a van at Kanasta Caravan Park in Rye not knowing which one we would get assigned exactly. The room description highlighted that the vans weren’t ensuite but that the toilet block was a very short walk from the accommodation. It was just one night so I decided I could live with that.
After driving to the Peninsula from Phillip Island (where we’d stayed in a rather chic farm retreat) I did have a little wobble when we approached the caravan park gates. Flashbacks of miserable weekends on Hayling Island came flooding back and I looked around at the old vans dubiously.
“You’re in Summer,” the park owner said brightly, “lots of bright yellows for you.”
We opened the van door and those bright hues hit us like a sunbeam. There was a chaotic orange carpet, madly clashing linen, net curtains, faded lemon and blue cabinetry and an original formica table. I bloody loved it.
We spent a good 15 minutes walking around the little van and marvelling at the original details, especially the tiny dresser with a doll-sized mirror in the bedroom.
The vans have a permanent extension on them and ours had a bunk bed, sofa and TV in it so there was plenty of room to spread out – once I’d finished playing 50s housewife at the compact (non-functioning) sink. The vans also have a fridge/freezer, crockery and bbq so there’s everything you need if you want to self cater but as the park is only 2 blocks from the beach we set off to enjoy fish n chips and walk the pier.
The beds were super comfy and we had a good night, with the exception of my dancing jig and mad dash to the bathroom in the morning. (Note to self not to leave peeing to the last minute when there are multiple door locks and strides to the toilet block to manoeuvre. TMI but I got so close to bursting that Justin had to spring out of bed and open the door for me. I was like a panicking puppy who can’t think straight when there is toilet business to see to.)
The toilet blocks are as retro as the vans but they are very well kept and the tiny pink shower cubicles only add to the overall vintage experience.
The park itself is compact and very family-friendly, with an impressive old-school pinball machine in the games room, which teasingly cut out when Justin was killing it!
The location was perfect for us who wanted to see as much as the Peninsula in 2 days – we headed 15 mins south to Sorrento for breakfast and were on the beach at Mount Martha by lunch. The Peninsular Hot Springs (which I 100% recommend and will blog about soon) are just 10 minutes away too.
All in all, it was one of the quirkiest accommodations we’ve ever stayed in and a pretty great deal for $180. (The van sleeps 4 easily).
I wouldn’t say this was glamorous camping – you still have to do your own dishes, empty the bins and use the shared bathroom facilities – but it certainly was fabulously old-fashioned.
Maybe this girl is a camper, in certain quirky conditions anyway.
Kanasta Caravan Park is situated in Rye on the Mornington Peninsula, a short drive from the Peninsula Hot Springs. We paid $180 for a Saturday night in a van that sleeps 4. Our trip was self-funded and booked via booking.com.