The wildlife is very friendly here, as you would expect from a holiday park nuzzled in the cleavage of Victoria’s luxuriant Yarra Valley, deep in Wurundjeri Country. BIG4 Yarra Valley Park Lane sits on the fringe of the tourist hub of Healesville, a little over an hour east of Melbourne’s CBD. Sprawling across 24ha, the property is bounded by rolling hills and vineyards in the bucolic west, and towering mountain ash in the Yarra Ranges National Park to the east.
When I visit, during the last gasp of winter, mist curls from the hills, kangaroos munch on dewy grass, and the wind whips the gums into a roaring Mexican wave. It’s the perfect weather for a warming glass of red by the fire.
Before long we’re cozied up on a leather Chesterfield lounge by said fire, sipping wine – courtesy of nearby vineyard Rochford Wines. A gin tasting by local award-winning Four Pillars Distillery follows. All this occurs in a sparkly new camp kitchen, pimped out with pendant lights, subway tiles, and funky cafe-style bench seats. This is a caravan park stay but not as you know it.
While BIG4 has the family market cornered (I’ve visited many of the group’s 183 parks with my kids – and caravan – in tow), this adults-inclusive experience is new to me. And I like it. The kids can run amok on the playgrounds, pump track, and poolside, and the grown-ups can enjoy in-park tasting events – no designated driver required.
The accommodation and facilities are a nod to the park’s hybrid target market – where intimate couple’s glamping pods sit alongside spacious family cabins. My home for a couple of nights is a pod; a cute lumberjack’s log cabin with a Scandi aesthetic. It’s compact with a kingsize bed, ensuite, bar fridge with tea and coffee-making essentials, and French doors leading to a small deck. I fall asleep to the gurgling harmonies of Badger Creek and wake to cackle kookaburras.
During the day, we visit nearby TarraWarra Estate gallery and Healesville Sanctuary, with a bounty of Yarra Valley wineries and food producers at our doorstep. Closer to home, there are bushwalking trails to explore and endless opportunities for family-friendly fun. The park has two playgrounds, two jumping pillows, a bicycle pump track, a recreation room, two swimming pools (one a converted shipping container), and tennis/basketball courts set alongside a picturesque lake.
During a previous visit, we’d barely unhitched the caravan when my kids bounded off to explore. They returned moments later – wide-eyed and beaming – imploring us with kid-perfected urgency to take them to the pool. And there we stayed for the next couple of hours until the kids were pruned and goose-pimpled. It didn’t matter that it was barely 20C.
What I love about this park is it’s a self-contained resort hub, enveloped by nature, with no necessity to venture further afield. Extra points for indulging the adults. You had me at wine. Just mind the rosellas.
Cabins range from $100 a night for glamping pods without ensuite (low season), to $700 a night for an eight-person tram cabin, launched this month.
This is a park that caters to all budgets. There are more than 150 powered caravan and camping sites, plus 80 cabins, ranging from basic to bells-and-whistles converted trams.
Park Lane doesn’t disappoint. The recreation spaces are fantastic, and the camp kitchen and amenities are the best I’ve seen. Think heated floors, matt black tapware, and rain showerheads.
The park is so close to Healesville Sanctuary you can walk (2km), but it’s a longer trek into town on a steep road and best driven. The beautiful Badger Weir picnic area is nearby.
This park is a family favorite, close to Melbourne with facilities galore. All that’s missing is a bistro, but the kiosk at reception sells barista coffee, hot pies, and wine, and food trucks often visit.
The writer was a guest of BIG4 Holiday Parks. This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com