Batemans Bay Beach Resort, Batehaven review: A cabin of one's own

Read our writer's views on this property below

Bruce Elder enjoys the resort-style luxuries of a remodelled caravan park.

There was a time when the words "caravan park" and "spa bath" would never have appeared in the same sentence, let alone the same location. But times have changed. Once the cornerstone of a working-class holiday, caravan parks now have all manner of upmarket amenities.

We arrive at the Batemans Bay Beach Resort during school holidays. Surprisingly it is not full, although, judging from the number of children desperate for balls, golf clubs, score cards and pencils - all of whom are very unhappy to have to wait while we check in - the camping holiday has not disappeared as a quintessential Australian experience.

The biggest change is that in the 21st century, the caravan park is now called a "tourist park", a "holiday park" or, in this case, a "beach resort". Batemans Bay Beach Resort sits on superb real estate, just a 50-metre walk from Corrigans beach and a few kilometres south of Batemans Bay shopping centre. The resort has tennis courts (booked out days ahead), a jumping pillow, swimming pool, mini-golf and an amphitheatre.

There are 34 cabins, ranging from a three-bedroom version named Casuarina to two-bedroom cabins with beach and aquatic names such as Grey Nurse, Stingray and Osprey. Our accommodation is called Pipi. (Fancy spending a night in a Grey Nurse or a Stingray, Jonah?)

The cottages are modern, spacious and comfortable, and look as though they are pre-made modular houses - lots of veneer and simplicity. At $175 a night, and sleeping two adults and three children, they are a modestly priced holiday option.

Our spacious front deck overlooks a lawn (used as an unpowered camping site if the resort is full) and low-lying dunes, which lead to Corrigans beach. A leisurely walk along the long, firm beach is a sublime way to start the day.

On the deck are four chairs, a small table, an electric barbecue and a stainless-steel wash basin that, during our stay, will be used to clean and prepare a kilogram of local prawns bought from the Good Food Guide-listed Bay Marlin Seafoods.

The front wall is floor-to-ceiling windows, there is a table that seats four, kitchen with a good-sized fridge, microwave oven, cooktop, coffee maker and freshly ground coffee (Mexican Lite) from Uro-Coffee in Batemans Bay.

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Beyond the living area is a separate toilet and a large bathroom with a spa bath. Both bedrooms have exceptionally comfortable queen-size beds. One room also has a bunk bed above the queen bed. There is a small airconditioner in the living area and overhead fans in all the rooms.

This is family holiday accommodation at its best, a relaxing place where the ambience is casual and the emphasis is on leisure. There's enough here to keep children involved and busy for days. For those wanting peace and quiet, each cabin is sufficiently self-contained to not feel you are part of the park.

When we first drive into the site, we pass caravanners sitting outside their mobile homes enjoying afternoon tea and chatting to newly acquired neighbours. Once at our cabin, however, we look out to sea and the caravanners, somewhere behind us, merge into their own mobile suburbia.

The resort has 85 long-term sites, 51 powered grass sites, four powered RV sites, 21 caravan sites with en suites, 14 studio apartments and five powered slab sites. There are two camp kitchens, two laundry buildings, a children's playground and a place to wash boats. This is the old caravan-park model modernised for the 21st century.

Eating options in the area are surprisingly limited unless, being on holiday, you are happy to eat the usual seaside, barely adequate fish and chips. The 2012 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide lists just two places: Tyler's Kitchen at Malua Bay (not far from the resort) and On the Pier at Batemans Bay.

Speculatively, we decide to try the bay's Kohli's Indian Restaurant on the premise that it is difficult to ruin a curry. We are correct: Kohli's vegetable pakoras, chicken masala, Kashmiri pulau rice, peshwari naan and mango chutney are excellent and inexpensive.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

Batemans Bay Beach Resort

Address 51 Beach Road, Batehaven.

The verdict A five-star caravan park with spacious cabins and beach frontage.

Price Cabins vary according to the season. A deluxe cabin, sleeping two, costs from $140 a night, low season. A three-bedroom deluxe cabin costs $430 a night in the premium summer season.

Bookings Phone 1800 217 533; see beachresort.com.au.

Getting there Batemans Bay is 275 kilometres south of Sydney. Turn left off the Princes Highway/Vesper Street into Beach Road and continue on the road for 1.8 kilometres. Batemans Bay Beach Resort is on the left.

Perfect for A low-cost family break on the beach.

Wheelchair access Yes.

While you're there Enjoy seafood from Bay Marlin Seafood Market in Batemans Bay Bridge Plaza or the Pearly Oyster Bar in North Street. Cuddle a meerkat at Mogo Zoo; book a table at Rick Stein's Bannisters restaurant at Mollymook.