Accommodation: Driving across Australia, including the Outback, the Nullarbor & then some more

I originally started to do a post on each place we stayed at for the night, but I thought it was easier to have them all listed in one place. So without further ado, these are the accommodations we stayed at while we traveled from the Central West, NSW to North Western Australia. Overall we stayed at 5 different places along our journey:

(click on the name of the accommodation in the title for the link to each of their websites)

Night 1 Broken Hill, NSW: Lakeview Caravan Park

ImagePhoto from Caravan Park Photos

This was probably the nicest one we stayed at. While we both were pretty yucked out by Broken Hill altogether, and I was quite scared we weren’t going to find a clean place to stay for the night, I had to say this caravan park was the cleanest we stayed in of all nights. I was very impressed! We ended up with a Deluxe Caravan. It was the last one left and we booked it on the spot. It ended up having 2 bedrooms, a kitchen/living area and then the bathroom.

It was by far the best shower I had, and I seriously could not get over how clean that bathroom was. It had a kitchen area and all the things you would need to cook a meal and clean. It had a good size refrigerator, and of course a kettle (although, I think that’s a given no matter the accommodation in Australia.) All the furniture and decor is mismatched from over the years, but it was very comfortable and like I’ve said a few times, CLEAN. I appreciated their hard work in keeping that place so nice, especially after a long drive. And actually it was the cheapest we stayed at. It was $90 on a Sunday night.

Night 2 Ceduna, South Australia: Ceduna Motel East West

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While Ceduna was an interesting place and the Best Western was booked out, we checked as we drove in, (and when we actually found how to get to the reception considering the entire hotel was gated with a barbed wire fence 360 degrees) we were quite keen to find a safe place for the night. You not only worry about yourself being safe, but your car full of valuables as well.

Each day before we got to our destination I did a google/Wotif/TripAdvisor search of the accommodations we would have the options of for the night. I tried to find reviews of the places for A. safety and B. cleanliness.

There were a few in Ceduna that were red flagged and one that came more highly rated was the Ceduna Motel East West. It’s right on the corner and off the main road, across from a variety of caravan parks. This was the only motel style we stayed at along the trip. This place didn’t have a gate around it, but you parked your car right in front of your room, and there were plenty of other cars in the lot, so it felt safe.

From the people we talked to before we took our trip, we were warned about NOT staying in our car, and choosing a safe place for the night instead while in Ceduna. While we ended up staying somewhere each night, Nate and I were open and willing to sleep in the car if we needed to along the trip. Neither of us knew what to expect so we were ready if need be. But we knew from advice that in Ceduna we would be staying at whatever motel or caravan park we could find.

The motel was incredibly ordinary. I didn’t go in the reception area, as Nate checked us in, but the room was clean. Very old, painted brick walls, the night stands were a board sticking out from the wall. The bathroom was clean, but it reminded me an outdoor bathroom. It’s strange to explain, I wish I would have taken photos of everywhere. The room and the bathroom both had a huge light on the wall. It was like the sun. Lol… I remember looking up thinking, wow- we have the sun and moon in our room! We didn’t have a view of the ocean as some reviewers said they had.

Pretty sure they have a variety of rooms though. We just had one queen bed that faced the front parking lot. It was nothing special, a bit cold feeling (probably because of the painted open brick) and the TV was attached to the wall up high. (As I’m writing this, do you think they have a problem with theft? Everything is attached to a wall and up high. Lol)

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Overall, we checked in, got takeaway, ate in our room, watched a bit of TV then went to sleep. We woke up before dawn, packed up and checked out. You don’t need anything more than a clean place with a rood, bed, shower and heater (for the Winter) and it had all those things. It wasn’t as homey as the caravan park, but it did the job. I believe we paid $117 for a Monday night.

Night 3 Norseman, Western Australia: Acclaim Parks – Gateway Caravan Park

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This town made me laugh. Although we only saw it in the dark, it was still a good laugh. A cute laugh. We got into Norseman after dark (don’t lecture us, we know) and the first place we stopped was BP. You literally run into it as you enter the cute little Outback country town. Nate ran in to check the accommodation (Yes, BP had gas, a restaurant and motel rooms) and he was told they were on the other side. While he ran in I was checking local accommodation availability and reviews since we had been driving across the Nullarbor and had no phone reception all day. The reviews claimed it was a place noted for not being clean, so we skipped past it and we found the Gateway Caravan Park.

This was a totally long day. We did something like 1200+ Kilometers and made it across the whole Nullarbor in one day! The only way we did it was because of the hour and a half time change by crossing into WA. Either way we were excited and living off adrenaline by the end of the drive, but totally exhausted having spent like 13 hours in the car.

We were crossing our fingers they still had caravans left because it was after dark, and the motel next door to it was already booked out. Luckily they had one left! I believe it was $135 a night, but the nice lady enjoyed talking to Nate so much she gave it to us for $115. I like the place already!

It was a small cute caravan, a lot smaller from the Broken Hill one, but again served it’s purpose. It was clean, and the shower had decent pressure. So far we were 3 for 3 in cleanliness and good shower pressure. Lol – shower pressure is a big deal guys when you need to wash this mane.

ImageThis is the Superior Ensuite Chalet

The curtains were a bit faulty, and there were bunk beds built in right as you walked out of the bathroom with two small windows (one on top, one on bottom) and the bottom one had no curtains at all. I was so tired though, I could care less who saw me naked walking out. Lol… plus you really would have had to been a peeping tom to have noticed anyway. We were so tired that night, we didn’t even watch TV which was in the main little kitchen room when you first walk in through the sliding door.

We checked in, showered, went and got dinner at the only place open, the one local pub, then passed out cold until morning. Once again, it was clean, comfortable and served it’s purpose. This was a lot like the first caravan park in Broken Hill with random mismatched bedding and decor. I would stay there again in the future. Especially because of their customer service. Like I said early it’s normally $135, but we paid $115 for a Tuesday night.

Night 4 Geraldton, Western Australia: Drummond Cove Holiday Park

ImageBeach Cottage #47

Best view, hands down! Hello ocean view with a wrap around porch! I kind of, not going to lie, felt like Emily from Revenge with that porch. I almost looked for the eternity symbol engraved into railing. Almost.

I found a link for the details on the exact caravan we stayed in. Impressed I found this, most places are lucky to have a website, let alone photos and details of the place. Beach Cottage #47.

This was a HUGE caravan. It had a living room with a sectional couch, a dining room with a real table for 6, a normal size kitchen, a laundry room, and 2 bedrooms that shared a bathroom. It was clean, the shower was ordinary, not the best water pressure, there were bugs in the kitchen due to the climate and it had a bright red couch. But really, who cares when they had views like that. Absolutely beautiful!

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The beach was literally a walk down the steps from us. I was in awe. Because I drove around after dark for over an hour trying to find a pharmacy open for cold medication for Nate, then I had to drive back into town after driving back to the outskirts where the caravan park was located only to find out Dominos didn’t deliver to our location an hour and a half after ordering, I went back out to find the closest food possible, McDonald’s. I literally got home, ate, passed out on the couch, eventually moved to the bed and didn’t move until morning. Although, I was keen to shower and get packed and ready before sunrise so I could watch it from that amazing balcony.

Overall, the views make it amazing. the cleanliness was pretty good, same thing with all caravan parks with the mismatches furniture, bedding, decor, etc., okay shower pressure- but once again, a nice place to stay for the night. I’d go back hands down for that view. I just wish I could have enjoyed it more. A big bonus was that it was out of town. Technically I believe it had a different location name than Geraldton, because it was a good 15 minutes out of town, which made it perfect for someone driving though. Because in the morning you just get up and go without running into any local traffic (this was a bigger and actual town, you would probably cut off a good 30 minutes off your drive had you of stayed in town. Although, it did make for a long night when you’re trying to find cold medicine.) I believe this was the most expensive at $155 for a Wednesday night.

Night 5 Carnarvon, Western Australia: BIG4 Plantation Accommodation & Caravan Park

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Ideally, we planned on driving straight to Karratha from Geraldton on Thursday. It was meant to be another really big day, but it also meant we would for sure be driving at night for at least an hour if not more. We decided to be safe rather than sorry for killing a Roo and damaging our cute car. Actually, what helped us from being completely stubborn and making the full drive was Nate getting sick. He had a cold coming for a few days that knocked him pretty bad Wednesday night in Geraldton, so I drove the 469 kilometers to Carnarvon, where Nate’s mom made it obvious and clear we weren’t driving any further and booked us accommodation at the BIG4 Plantation Caravan Park long before we even got there. I liked to think of Carnarvon as, “God’s Waiting Room.”

Apparently all the “snow birds” go to Carnarvon. Not apparently, but they must be picking out their plots there. It’s on the ocean and there are umpteen million caravan parks to stay at. I swear we passed 10 along the main street before we got to ours. Anyhow, back to the caravan park, it was probably the smallest, least clean and had by far the worst water pressure in the shower. I’m not even sure if it got me wet. But with saying that, it was still a decent place to stay at. They were super nice at the front desk and when Nate’s mom called in to reserve the room, she asked to have an early check in because Nate was pretty sick with a bad fever by then and of course they did. We were extremely thankful for that!

This was the first place we got to where we saw more than 30 minutes of sunlight. We actually got into Carnarvon and checked in around Noon, so we actually had an entire day to veg out and relax. Something unexpected but really nice! This caravan was studio like, with a kitchenette against the wall when you walk in, then a sofa to the right with the bed next to it and a pretty tiny bathroom. When I pulled back the sheets on the bed for Nate to get into, I noticed stains on the bottom. It looked like stains that had already been washed but nonetheless, I don’t care what the hotel, I hate hotel beds, blanket and sheets! I literally slept with my sleeping bag all nights. Nate kinda got annoyed with me not understanding why, but my mom always taught me to lay something down, even if it’s a robe. That and I’ve been bitten by bed bugs before. That and those sleeping bags I got from Target before the trip just in case we did have to sleep in the car were fabulous! So soft, cozy and warm. Because it really didn’t even get warm until Carnarvon anyway. Everywhere before then was cold to chilly, day and night.

ImageWe stayed in the Couple Ensuite Cabin

I have to say though, this caravan park was ultra cute. There were heaps of people out when we got there washing their cars, kids riding bikes, people sitting outside reading the paper. Everyone waved, and most everyone had their own RV’s or caravans they had brought. They even had a sausage BBQ that night, everyone was welcome, and sausages were provided. Just bring your own chairs and drinks. I thought that was adorbs! (Yes I did say adorbs, get over it.)

I drove past as I went to pick up our dinner and bring it back, and that place was happenin’! They had the music going and all. Cute lil oldies, they know how to live it up. Most the day I did random things, went to the store, and then cuddled up on the couch watching Bethenny Ever After episodes while Nate slept his fever off. It was good for a night, but I did feel the least comfortable cleanliness wise. I tossed the sleeping bag over the couch as well. Call me crazy, I don’t know what freakish acts those oldies get into, aight? But once again, it served its purpose and we were thankful for a place to stay.

———–

What did I learn about accommodation on this trip? A lot!

Honestly, I found it really hard on what to expect having not experienced that kind of road trip ever. Obviously everyone told me about their experiences and I tried to read up on blogs and reviews online, but even then I still couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I never stayed in a caravan park and I honestly didn’t even know what that meant. And in my head I had been preparing myself for weeks on having to sleep in the car if we couldn’t find a place to stay. So for all the foreigners like me who haven’t experienced traveling across the Aussie Outback- it is nothing luxurious, there will be no 5-star or even 3-star hotels and you’re lucky to find a takeaway shop open for dinner. BUT, this was by far the best result for the trip I could have ever asked for.

Every place we stayed served its purpose:

A. It was a roof over our head
B. We had a bed to sleep in (often times multiple to choose from, which makes me laugh typing this because I’m always on about how we should get Ricky & Lucy twin beds because I complain about not having my own space like I’ve always been used too, and there I had my chance for a few nights and didn’t even take advantage of it!)
C. They were cleaner than I ever expected
D. They had heaters to keep us warm (and we could run all night because we weren’t paying the electric bill)
E. We were safe
F. We had somewhere to poop and shower in privacy! (Because some roadhouses or caravan parks you stay at have shared bathroom facilities- all the ones we stayed at had our own private ensuite)
G. Everyone was helpful and friendly

In the weeks leading up to our roadtrip I researched a lot on accommodations and I found it really hard to “plan” it. I tried finding blogs of previous experiences of where people stayed, but really didn’t find too much. This is the first trip I’ve ever gone on where I didn’t have reservations for the night. But since I was with my husband, It didn’t worry me except for the first night, because I was pretty confident he knew what he was doing and wasn’t going to put me in any dangerous place or dirty gross place (except for Broken Hill, until we got into our caravan, I was about to cry and Nathan was about to slap me.)

For a brief 10 minutes I forgot I could trust my husband and I wasn’t in this alone. It was a weird feeling, but probably because I had never stayed at a “caravan park” before, let alone knew what they were, nor had i stayed at “pub accommodation” because having rooms inside a pub is totally strange to me! But when I looked at all the pubs with their blacked out windows, I got scary visions of red lights and cockroaches and felt so out of place. I couldn’t relate to my husband on this level, I literally forgot to trust him and that he would be there to say no we’re not staying here if we walked into a room with red lights and cockroaches. Once he understood this and we both had food in our tummies, he was quick to understand my urgent need for hand sanitizer.

At the end of the day cross country travelers (especially foreigners who aren’t used to hostels) – it’s a trip everyone should take and I would do it again in a heartbeat! and I would have no problem in staying in all the same places again.

*On an extra note- all but the motel in Ceduna had kitchen facilities with dishes and cooking ware if you planned on cooking food along your trip. Pretty sure most, if not all caravan parks are like that, as long as you stay in specific ensuite caravans. The motel in Ceduna had a mini fridge and a kettle, but no kitchenetteAlso, all the caravans we stayed in, we chose the ones that came with all the linen, ie. towels, sheets, blankets, etc. I believe most sites have options where you can opt out for accommodation without, but I think it’s about $20 more generally for the linen. Sometimes no linen also means shared facilities.

**While we were able to cross the Nullarbor in a day, that is not always the case for travelers. But as a heads up, there are roadhouses every 200-300 kilometers along the drive that have accommodation.  We honestly had planned to stay in Caiguna, WA for the night, not thinking we would hit the roadhouse at 2:30 p.m. so we kept on going. I’m not sure of the rates or how fast they fill up, but I don’t think finding accommodation should be a problem going across the plains. That and if you are planning on staying in your car or RV, there are rest stops I would say at least every 50 kilometers that many people had seemed to camp at. 

 
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