To celebrate the 100th episode of ‘That Bad Review’ podcast series, I chat with Australian actor, musician, long-standing TV host and more recently holiday park owner, Frankie J Holden. Frankie shares how he and his wife, Australian actress, Michelle Pettigrove, fell in love with the Caravan and Camping Industry. We discuss how the industry provides an opportunity for people to reconnect with each other and nature. We also have a great chat about the future of holiday parks.
Falling in Love with the Caravan and Camping Industry
Frankie explains how he and wife Michelle Pettigrove, fell in love with the industry, during their time as hosts on the TV travel series, What’s Up Down Under’. Hosting the show introduced them to the Caravan and Camping Industry. They quickly became accustomed to the down to earth and relaxed lifestyle the industry offered.
‘We would travel all over Australia and visit wonderful places, and go and stay in some wonderful parks’, Frankie shares.
Michelle had spent her summers growing up at a caravan park at Pambula beach, called the Holiday Hub. In contrast to this, Frankie had limited exposure to the industry, prior to his role as a co-host. Reflecting on the early years of the show, Frankie describes how he felt meeting the owners and managers of the parks. He recalls how they would come out in their boots, shorts and work shirts, often scruffy and a little rough around the edges. His initial impressions were quickly diminished after the conversations began. Frankie soon realised how intelligent park owners need to be, and how much business sense they must have, to be successful. After a number of similar encounters, Frankie came to understand how challenging, yet rewarding, owning and running a holiday park could be.
Connecting with Nature
Like many of my guests, Frankie acknowledges the role caravan and camping holidays play in disconnecting people from technology and reconnecting them with each other. After living in Melbourne for some time, Frankie describes his deep desire to surf and reconnect with his coastal roots. Trips to Pambula to visit Michelle’s family, reminded Frankie of the North Coast thirty years before. With a beautiful coast line, not spoilt by over-development, freeways or traffic congestion.
Frankie enjoys a true connection with nature coupled with access to great cafes and restaurants, all without the stress associated with an urban lifestyle. Despite the recent bushfires, Frankie describes stretches of sapphire blue water, just waiting for visitors wanting to escape the city. Frankie also describes the areas that were burnt by the fires, sharing how they are rejuvenating at a rapid pace, with pockets of bushland bursting with stunning, bright green foliage.
The Future of Holiday Parks
Frankie and I discuss changes that are sweeping across caravan parks throughout Australia. How the term Holiday Park is much more fitting to describe what’s on offer. The humble caravan park came about, to provide a place for people to stay in their van or tent, often with only basics facilities available. These days guests can enjoy a wide range of facilities, from ensuited sites to safari tents and luxury cabins. There’s state of the art camp kitchens and on-site cafes, restaurants and bars. Kids are not forgotten, with waterparks, adventure playgrounds, jumping pillows, pedal-carts and holiday calendars bursting with fun activities.
These days the humble caravan park is more like a resort, offering endless moments of family fun. One thing that remains the same though, is the opportunity to relax and having meaningful interactions with others. Staying in a holiday park is a very social event, particularly for kids. Names are insignificant, all that matters is how long the kids ‘new best friend’ will be camping out next door. BBQ’s are fired up and beers shared. It’s a very communal experience, usually taking place in the most idealistic natural settings; on the beach, beside a river or deep within the beautiful Australian Outback. Whatever the future brings, one thing is for sure, you could never get a more Australian holiday experience than when staying in a holiday park.
Other topics discussed on the 100th episode:
- What’s on offer at Frankie’s holiday park – Tathra Beachside
- Maintaining a work-life balance
- Mum & Dad park owners vs corporate entities
- Having a point of difference
- Not sweating the small stuff
Email Tathra Beachside – firstname.lastname@example.org
Country to the Coast Music Festival – 22nd to 27th April 2020