Frankie J. Holden Talks Caravanning, Living on the Sapphire Coast and Crossing the Nullarbor

30 March 2013

Aussie legend, Frankie J Holden is a big fan of caravanning and holiday parks.

"Holiday Parks are a great way to see Australia, or to have a short family holiday, because parks have a welcoming and egalitarian atmosphere, so in that way they are very representative of Australia itself," said Frankie.

Frankie Holden Frankie J with Georgia and Michelle

"I'm still not sure why, but by staying at a holiday park, you and your kids will make friends, and share the experience. For some reason, in hotels, motels or apartments, you don't necessarily talk to your neighbours; you're much more isolated. This applies even if you are staying in a cabin in a holiday park, you will say "g'day" to your neighbours. Most importantly, holiday parks allow kids a lot of freedom and room for physical activity, and as we all know, if the kids are having a good time, so are Mum and Dad."

Over the past three years Frankie, together with his wife Michelle Pettigrew, who's family used to return to the same holiday park every year for 26 years, and daughter Georgia have been caravanning around Australia for the Network 10 television program, What's Up Downunder. The travel show focuses on caravanning, camping, 4WDing and enjoying the relaxed vibe of holiday parks.

With so many adventures on the program, it was particularly difficult for Frankie to nominate his favourite spots.

"Whew, where to start? The WA coast is remarkable, The Kimberley is astounding, The Snowy is amazing, Tassie is magnificent. I suppose the NT has the most memories for me, as I grew up in Darwin and love to revisit the Top End. It's a belief of mine that every Aussie kid should see the "red dirt country," as it's so different to where most of us live, and it gives you an understanding of the spiritual bond to country felt by aboriginal people," he said.

"Wycliffe Well, just south of Tennant Creek in the NT, is a hilarious place to spend a couple of days. It's in the middle of nowhere, and touts itself as the UFO capital of Australia. They put on a UFO/alien "show" which is unintentionally very funny and very "NT". Great piece of Australiana."

Based on their fantastic experiences, Frankie and Michelle decided to purchase their very own park on the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales.

"We got interested in a holiday park as a business through our travels with WUDU. We enjoyed the atmosphere of holiday parks so much; we thought it would be nice to make our own contribution to what is a great and valuable Aussie tradition. I first started coming to The Sapphire Coast when I met Michelle, around 1999. I was looking for a sea-change from Melbourne, and although I had thought about the north coast of NSW, once I started coming to the Far South Coast, my eyes were opened. It's a beautiful and under-appreciated part of Australia," said Frankie.

"Recently named "Australia's Coastal Wilderness" by the Department of Tourism, it's got great surfing beaches and national parks, superb fishing, whale watching, coastal walks, lots of golf courses and a lovely hinterland centred around the dairy and cheese centre of Bega. It's also only two hours from Thredbo and the Snowy Mountains. The clincher for me, of course, was the airport at Merimbula, just 10 minutes from our house, which allows me to commute to work via Sydney or Melbourne."

Sapphire Coast New South Wales' Sapphire Coast

The opportunity arose at Tathra, just 25 minutes north from where the Holden's live and they decided to purchase the Tathra Beach Family Park, which is right on the beach. Frankie tells Flight Centre that together with his wife, he mingles with the guests by running pizza nights, gigs, trivia and morning teas. We asked the former front man of the rock band Ol'55 what are the big selling points of the park.

"Because I'm there! No, despite the fact that I am often there, we are very proud of our "little park with the big heart". The Tathra Beach Family Park offers 500 metres of absolute beach front, with every style of accommodation you could ask for, including our brand new safari tents right on the beach. We have two pools, a great camp kitchen and indoor activities centre, kids club and playground, but it's the vibe, the ambience, the fun atmosphere that keeps guests coming back to us year after year," he said.

"Our three key words are: relax, recharge and reconnect. I describe it as a, "shoeless and keyless" holiday. "Shoeless" describes the casual relaxed atmosphere, and its "keyless" because once you're here, you can throw away your car keys: everything you need is a walk away - the beach, the skate park, the cafes, the fish shop, the bakery, the supermarket, the pharmacy, the golf club and the bowling club."

However for the moment, Frankie and Michelle are preparing for the 2013 series of What's Up Down Under.

"This year we will produce episodes from every state of Australia. We will go trekking with a Camper Trailer from Darwin to Kununurra, fly/drive to Tasmania where we'll visit Hobart, Devonport, Cradle Mountain and Launceston and go fishing in Pambula," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to crossing The Nullarbor, which is just about the only Aussie drive I haven't done. We aim to be informative and entertaining, and try to present the places we visit as any other family would see them. After all, caravanning and camping are primarily family activities, and that's what makes them so much fun."

What's Up Downunder airs at 4pm on Saturdays on TEN.

Check out Flight Centre's great rates on car, campervan and motorhome hire for your next holiday.

Lyndon Barnett

Guided by curiosity and a sense of adventure, Lyndon travelled independently to 69 countries on six continents. As such, travel is Lyndon's only addiction. He enjoys with equal measure - scaling the peaks of a South American mountain at altitude, attending opera in a European Opera House or hunting for a bargain in an Asian market.