When you’re travelling around Australia with a group of six people, you have to work a little harder to find the right kind of accommodation, at the right price. Fortunately, we found cabins, which are basically wooden or prefabricated buildings, which are all over the coast in Australia. Sometimes they’re either on their own or on caravan parks – which is often the cheapest option. With two people they cost from AU$50 to $120 (£20 to £50), depending on the individual site and how luxurious they are – some of the deluxe ones are fitted out with spa baths, hi-fi, DVD players etc. At most sites they also get the pick of the views – looking out over the sea, or alongside a river, while the campers are lined up behind with a view of the toilet block! (Boy, did we complain about that when we were in the camper van, but now we’re staying in them it seems okay!).
Once you’re inside it’s fitted out just like a house. There’s a lounge/diner/kitchen, kitted out with all the normal appliances, and then two separate bedrooms and then a bathroom with shower etc. From the inside you wouldn’t know you’re in a pre-fab – apart from the paper thin walls, which mean that there’s about as much privacy as you’d find in the middle of Brighton beach in the summer! Anybody turning over in bed risks waking everybody else up. There’s one double bedroom (for Sarah’s parents), and one with bunk beds (for us and the girls). The bedrooms aren’t exactly the biggest we’ve seen – once you’ve squeezed two two-bed bunk beds into a room, there’s enough floor space to put down our rucksacks, and that’s it. So we have to take turns getting up in the morning, although the girls are normally up well before us or well after us. I did ask Gloria and Michael if they wanted to take turns on the bunk beds, but apparently they’re quite comfortable in the double bed!
The great thing about the cabins is that because they are on caravan sites, you have all their facilities available, like the laundry, play parks, swimming pools and outside gas barbeques. This is much better than hiring a house, or staying in hostels, and it works out much cheaper than either of those options (we paid AU$80 for four dormitory beds in the Treehouse hostel, compared to AU$90 for four people in a self-contained cabin, with two bedrooms, bathroom, lounge, kitchen etc). If we hadn’t had a camper van for the last two months, cabins would have been more economical for the four of us than hostels. The major downside to staying in cabins is that you tend not to meet as many other people as when camping or hostelling – everybody spends more time inside their cabin and on their own veranda, with an impressive view (this is the view from the cabin here in Merango).
The girls love them too – not only can they wander through to see Nana and Opa first thing in the morning, they also get to watch television for the first time in two months. And today’s cabin has even got a DVD player (all we need now is a DVD to play….)