‘We bought a caravan park before ever staying in one!’

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Fowlers Bay Caravan park
It''s been challenging at times but Robyn Tyson has no regrets. PIC: Supplied/SmartCompany

For people from a non-business background and who admit to having never previously stayed in a caravan park, taking over the running of the remote Fowlers Bay Caravan Park on the edge of the Nullarbor was definitely a leap in the dark for Simon and Robyn Tyson.

Two years on, the couple have learnt a lot of hard lessons … but they have no regrets.

Few grey nomads who have stopped in at the South Australian community of Fowlers Bay with its a population of just 20 will ever forget the experience. Sitting in a surreal moonscape-like location, the whole town is powered by solar and sustained by water collected from nearby sand dunes. The roads can be a bit ropey, and finding mobile phone coverage can be a struggle.

Yet, it is here that the Tysons – both in their early 50s – decided to make their lives.

“We always dreamed of moving and working by the beach, and we decided a good way to do that was to buy a small business on the coast,” Robyn – who has a background as a geneticist and neuroscientist – told SmartCompany magazine. “We’d never owned a caravan or stayed in a caravan park in our life and, when we first had the idea, we thought ‘how hard could it be’?”

As they soon found out, it could be very hard indeed!

The fact that the caravan park is one of the main attractions in the town, meant the couple became more than just business owners, running everything from community cleanup days to the local arm of Australia Post.

“It turns out it can be quite hard … despite the caravan industry still showing strong growth, we ran into a lot of challenges when setting up the business,” Robyn said.  “We never expected to be out here advocating for increased mobile phone coverage and road improvements.”

Despite the challenges – which also included running out of water on one occasion – Robyn told SmartCompany that what she enjoyed the most about running the park was the diversity of people she’s been able to meet as they either began or ended their trip across the Nullarbor.

However, even dealing with customers isn’t always plain sailing.

“Being so remote, we don’t have all the bells and whistles of a larger park, and some people aren’t so happy about that,” she said. “I’ve learnt to not take negative comments to heart.”

For the first year, the Tysons ran the park entirely by themselves.

“While we managed that pretty well, I quickly realised balance was important and so was our quality of life,” said Robyn. “So we made the decision to give up a bit of profit to employ some people, and we’ve found we’re enjoying our lives more because of it.”

Having settled in, the two now have grand aspirations to see the park grow, hoping to purchase some more land to put some cabins on, along with wanting to run their own tours of the area.

  • What memories do you have of your trip to Fowlers Bay? Comment below.
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17 Responses to ‘We bought a caravan park before ever staying in one!’

  1. have stayed at fowlers bay caravan park 4 or 5 times ..loved it, loads better than parks with bells and whistles…although cabins and a better road would be a bonus….will probably visit again at some time

  2. Loved this park, we worked here for six weeks 3 years ago. Great for fishing. Can’t wait to go back there

  3. loved that park, simple, clean & what a few, that was back in 2014, we are heading home that way later this year so will be calling in again, we had a caravan then now have a Motor Home. Be looking foreword to meeting you two. good luck Robyn & Simon

  4. We were one of the first customers when the Tysons arrived. Super place and lovely caravan park.

  5. Hubby and I did 3 months there managing the park early 2016. It certainly had its challenges and the thing I missed most was having a bit of ‘me time’ for shopping and a haircut. Gotta admit that hotel room in Adelaide (I made sure it had a bathtub!) was pure luxury. We were lucky to have some of our east coast friends visit while we were there. Hubby loved the fishing – nearly EVERY night! The fresh calamari was memorable and the sunrises spectacular. Might get back there one day

  6. Fantastic. We stayed for several days in 2010 enroute Vic to Can kng Stock Route. Loved the park and FB. Practiced 4×4 and trye pressures in the dunes as well. Glad t’s being good to you.

  7. Rob6n and Simon are doing an ace job. We love the place and have stayed twice and will do so again

  8. The road into Fowler’s Bay is the overriding thing I remember. Then there is the bay and the water which y delightful.

  9. We stayed here early March 2019, Simon and Robyn are ding a great job, we were recommended to stay here by friends who helped run the park back on 2017, loved or 7 days days there, Tuesday damper is a stand out andv they did a great cook up on saturdays, lots of challenges for the owners but their up to it!

  10. We stayed here early March 2019, Simon and Robyn are ding a great job, we were recommended to stay here by friends who helped run the park back on 2017, loved or 7 days days there, Tuesday damper is a stand out andv they did a great cook up on saturdays, lots of challenges for the owners but their up to it!

  11. We were there 3 weeks ago. It was our last stop before we headed home across the nullabor. Robyn n Simon were the perfect hosts. They provide a meal for a small fee on Saturday nights if enough people interested. Great way to meet travellers n the locals as well. Basic caravan park, but everything you need. Neat clean and well run. Sadly it was very windy but we managed to find a beautiful protected bay and snorkled. Sea lions were very inquisitive. Different and beautiful

  12. We stayed there a couple of weeks ago. Better than the chain parks with all the playground stuff we don’t need. Good basic camping facilities with damper fresh out of the coals. Going through there on way home so will probably stop in again.

  13. We stayed there June 2018 for the second time. Great park and very obliging hosts. We had an incident and they organised ambulance from Ceduna and support while we waited.

  14. Stayed there and loved every moment. Walking the jetty and seeing the whales plus great fishing who could ask for anything more. The park was great. Would love to go back one day.

  15. Where exactly is your park be heading that way2020

    • It is the only caravan park in the town, you cannot miss it, you have to book a site at the general store, opposite the jetty.

  16. Stayed there in August in 2018 for a couple of night’s. Nice little van park, liked the unusual shower block’s, and liked the camp kitchen, boiling the kettle on main’s power, kept overloading the power switch. Camp fire every night where every one gathered.

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