Some van parks being re-designed to better cater for the rise of large rigs

Published: October 4, 2023

Four council-owned caravan parks in Queensland are the latest to announce they are being re-developed in order to offer more sites capable of accommodating larger rigs.

It’s a move that will be welcomed by the growing number of grey nomads who are travelling in ever-larger caravans, motorhomes, buses and fifth wheelers. Slowly but surely, it seems then that caravan park infrastructure is changing to keep pace with RV trends … but is it happening quickly enough?

The Deputy Mayor of the Fraser Coast Regional Council, Denis Chapman, said the council parks on the beachfront in Scarness, Burrum Heads, Torquay and Pialba, would all be refurbished over the next few years to ensure the parks meet ‘current standards and visitor expectations’.

“The existing infrastructure in the parks is ageing and the parks need upgrading to suit modern vans, especially RVs,” he said.

Mr Chapman said the parks would soon have fewer sites, but ones that were larger in order to cater for bigger, modern vans.

The move is not an isolated one.

When the Kingscliff Beach Holiday Park in Kingscliff in northern New South Wales was renovated a few years ago, catering to big rigs was a key consideration.

“Every site in the park is two-to-three times larger than what the sites were in the old park,” Tweed Coast Holiday Parks unit coordinator, Andrew Illingworth, said at the time.

In that case also, the upgrades meant a reduction in the overall number of sites. At a time when camping is surging in popularity, that can lead to other issues, such as a shortage of available camping spots. And the rising number of cabins in many van parks is further contributing to that ‘problem’.

Some time ago, writing on the Grey Nomads website, Simon Cook, said parks were building more cabins and this was pushing caravanners away … especially ‘big riggers’ like him.

“We have an 8.5m Paramount and, although sites are available, there’s a shortage of manoeuvring room in a lot of parks,” he said. “Parks need to move with the times.”

Another grey nomad, Yvonne Maxwell, agreed. She travelled in a Spaceland van towed by a LandCruiser 200 series, with a total length of just under 15 metres.

“We have had problems with parks that are still designed for smaller rigs,” she said. “We try to stay in free camping spots as much as possible but sometimes it’s not possible.”

And she said there were some practical issues that needed looking at.

“Parks need to rethink their sites remove huge trees that can cause problems in manoeuvring,” she said “It’s very annoying when they confirm the site is large … but, in reality, it’s far too small!”.

  • Do you think more parks need to be re-designed to cope with bigger rigs? Comment below.

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Most definitely! We have a 23’ van and have experienced problems getting a site large enough and them when you do they are very hard to manoeuvre the van onto.

This happened to us just this weekend after park management confirmed the size of our van .Then you also have to get the van out There was a poor scuffed palm tree that was miraculously still alive (I think!) that made it difficult. Just seeing how damaged the palm was spoke volumes about how the site was way too small.

Most definitely. We have a 31ft 5th wheeler with a combined length of 17m. We fit on a 10m site (just). Our biggest problem is people who take bookings not understanding the sites and and park layout. Like expecting you to swing in tight by a fire hydrant or lamp pole or under low trees. We have satellite tv and satellite internet these days and expect to be able to use it. While shade can be nice, not being able to get satellite signal due to the amount or location of trees is a pain. We ask for ‘no trees’ if possible when we book but often find that is not the case on arrival. The other big problem is False Advertising – the photos on the websites are nothing like what it looks like when you arrive.

Totally agree

No they don’t, our sensible sized caravan fits wherever we go. How much room does an elderly retired couple & a small fluffy dog need?
If parks revert to larger sites there will be less sites available for travellers. Common sense.

Exactly, the amount of people that are towing vans that are way heavier than the tow car is unreal, it’s so obvious there not confident to even do the speed limit

Well said! The size of vans has become ridiculous. I can understand a young family needing a larger (not enormous) van, but we see so many couples with large vans that are just not needed for only two people. In caravaning, ‘bigger is not better!’ Harder to tow, less safe on the road, more fuel used and difficult to get onsite. With so many vans on the road these days I like the idea of more sites, not less. The only good news is, it makes happy hour more enjoyable watching these vans try and get on their site!

There’s not that many small vans now they are getting bigger and bigger as more families buy them we live in our rv and tow a car caravan parks are mostly out of the question for us it has to be showgrounds

I understand and support the problem with bigger vans , the shire’s still want your business, so smaller tighter site’s will eventually happen, and that will raise an issue with privacy.

What about the people with smaller vans and the continuing reduction in the availability of sites. You can manoever an 18ft single axle van into almost anywhere.

Got a solution. Buy smaller rigs. Do 2 people really need that much space. Extra benefit, smaller and cheaper tow vehicles come in to play. Simples

Wrong. You dont have the solution at all. Abit late for those who have big caravans and 4wd. I know i wont be going small…You can not speak for others Not a solution at all.

We did 7 months touring in a 17ft 6 pop top (no ensuite) back in 2010. Absolutely loved it but the first thing my wife & I decided upon arriving home was to look at & buy a 21ft 6 full van with an ensuite. The extra 4ft is purely for the convenience of having a toilet & shower plus being able to save money on such long trips in free camps. The budget takes a massive hit when it costs $50/night for such a long holiday so we mix it up with CP, free camps & showgrounds.

A lot of caravan parks now charge according to size of caravans/rigs.

Becomes a double whammy. Site is too small to park the tug properly..less room for other occupants to manoeuvre.

We haven’t got a big set up but we do use our annexe and get caught without on-site parking for the Ranger

They also need to future proof by offering e charging options on the site grid.

Less sites means less income, unless the daily tariff is raised to compensate.

Spot on

I sold my large rig because I couldn’t fit into any campsite unless I went 100% off grid .. many times my axel was parked on the private access road … SWR Jerusalem creek every campsite was 2 small… I have an 18 ft RV

Caravan parks should look at sites on an angle, say 60°. Being slightly diagonal there are many benefits to all. You’re not looking at the side of your neighbours caravan as much. The angle means access roads can actually be narrower as the driver doesn’t have to turn hard for the traditional 90° site. With these narrower, one way roads it would probably mean more sites for the park owner(more income from the same size park). A diagonal site is longer than a 90° site & would allow many rigs to stay attached without being a drive-thru site.

The new Muddy Duck Park just out of Longreach has slightly diagonal sites and work well. Long enough to park 21ft6in Caravan and Vehicle. Very sensible design.

That’s a really cool idea. Better for everyone.

I do hope those that have these larger vans appreciate what the Local Councils are doing to accommodate your needs.. It is the Ratepayers of these communities ( who don’t receive any benefit except any business) that fund these expansions. The small Community I live in have to fund a revamp to the tune of $4.5 million. One would hope that is appreciated by all no matter what size van, tent etc. you may have.

Most definitely, Rob. In fact we seek out your type of town to stay in & make an effort to buy a coffee, cake, paper etc

Oh yeh..double the size of the sites….double the price is not a’s not only the size of the van.but a lot of the larger Tow vehicles nowadays required more room to manoeuvre.

If you want the business ..need to move with the times..or do like I do ..go find farm stays and out of the way free camps ..etc..

If they are catering for bigger things, are they going to charge these more for the space and for electricity. I do hope so. Some poor bugger with a small camper is made go into the smallest spot and pays the same amount for electricity. Bring in a card that you pay as you use the electricity in caravan parks.

We tow a smaller 5th Wheeler, 28ft but find that most van parks don’t cater for larger rigs. Some have more spacious sites but the roads within the park are narrow and jam packed with vehicles so it makes it extremely difficult to manoeuvre the RV into the allocated space. We specify the length of the RV but often find we we allocated a site that had the industrial bins or dump point all lined up directly opposite. Trying to back the rv in and having to keep a close eye on all the other obstacles makes it extremely stressful. The focus is on ‘how many vans can we pack in’ as it has become a very lucrative business.
Online booking is convenient but the booking site just allocates a site, despite the RV measurements and accepts payments. On arrival, the site is too small and then to be told the van park is full and they cannot cater for us. Not a pleasant outcome after a long drive. Also to be told, ‘you should have phoned us’. Not acceptable! What’s the point of online booking??? We will be glad when changes are made to caravan parks and site sizes. Change with the times and your customers’ needs.

With the size and absolute luxury in a lot of caravans and motor homes now, the term ” camping ” sorta doesn’t fit….and as for buying large ” off-road ” caravans, most will probably never see a gravel road, let alone go off-road… some research as to what you wish to achieve, and buy accordingly, don’t just listen to the bloody salesperson……

We are past due for a tax on vehicle weight.
The wear on a road from a vehicle driving on it increases exponentially as the weight of the vehicle increases. Heavier vehicles also require more energy and carbon emissions.

Already in place. High priced fuel.

Yes need to bigger for big rigs we have a 19 metre umit

Trees look lovely and are definitely needed in parks but they are frequently our concern. We are 3.3 metres high so need to be aware of the overhanging tree branches which make some sites unsuitable even if they are long enough.

yes I agree I have a 27ft van and tow with a ram so more bigger sites would be great as I drive a semi trailer for a living I have not a great deal of problems but some places are tight with trees and power poles

If parks have to halve the number of sites to suit these bigger rigs, is everyone prepared to pay twice the price?

Big rigs,yes there are more on the road and it would be good for them to find easier van parks to accommodate them. Also at the same time there should be a sliding cost scale to the cost of these sites. As an example, a 5th wheeler pulls into a van park site, which is fitted with aircon, full fridge, tv, and lots of other gadgets that run on electricity. They pay say $45 for a powered site, (say, low season). Then a campervan pulls into a powered site with a 12 volt fridge on board and maybe a shaver and tablet and phone to charge. Why should that campervan pay the same as a 5th wheeler? They dont dont as much space, and definitely do NOT use much electricity, so why should the campervan be subsidising the 5th wheeler? Food for thought.

And not to forget so many vans now with slideouts.

Totally agree after just getting home after a very long trip and staying at 35 caravan parks only 2 were easy to get into


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