Deanne and Gary are game gurus when it comes to caravan park playtime. They’ve been travelling the Queensland coast with their family for decades playing Yahtzee and Uno as they go.
The Pleavins know every card game in the book, flicking the decks like a pro, and have even ventured into making their own games for the campsite.
“We have outdoor croquet, we have outdoor quoits (ring toss), we have lots and lots of yard games, and we play heaps of board games, too,” Deanne says. “We play Scrabble, we play Yahtzee, we play Articulate...we have massive games as a family. My daughter and I love Yahtzee, and Gary actually made me outdoor yard Yahtzee recently. He made the big wooden dice and everything.”
It’s all in the name of family time, and time away from screens. “Just having that family time [is so important],” Deanne says. “Yes, you have your mobile phone, but you haven’t got the kids sitting on computers or in front of the TV. You’re out and about, exploring and letting kids be kids.”
The pair from Biloela (1.5 hours inland from Tannum Sands) have been bringing their kids (and their games) to Tannum for years, regulars of the park and its spacious grass areas to play.
“We’ve been camping and caravanning pretty much ever since Gary and I got together, with the kids. We used to go to 1770 every year for family holidays. It got too big, too populated and that, so we looked at different places,” she says. “We’re creatures of habit. We love it here now [Tannum Sands]. We come across here even just on Gary’s weekends off and that, we’ll come across here just to get away from everything.”
While their travels started with the kids, they’ve continued the tradition on as a couple, changing a few things along the way. “To start off with, with the kids it was a cheap family holiday. We had tents to start off with, then we went to camper trailer. We’ve had the van for probably 12 months now and we are fully self-contained.”
She says the key to carry on the love affair with camping and caravanning is to adjust to your needs as life changes. “The camper trailer was getting a little bit difficult for Gary and I to put up, and it would take us about a day to get it up, so we upgraded to a caravan and it’s great. Hook it on and away we go.”
For those teetering on the decision to camp, caravan or cabin, she says it differs for every family, but if you choose a caravan, you certainly won’t be without those creature comforts. “There’s so many mod cons out there now for camping with solar and everything like that. It makes it nice and comfortable. We don’t do it roughly. We do it comfortable.”
When your park serves communal pancakes for the whole campsite, we can understand why you’d never want to leave. “The guys here are amazing [Discovery Parks - Tannum Sands]. The whole team is amazing,” she says.
“You come here at Easter time and what this caravan park puts on is just over the top. They have pancakes every morning over in the camp kitchen, an Easter egg hunt for the kids on Sunday, an Easter disco for the kids...On Easter Saturday they have music and they’ll have a sausage sizzle, outdoor games...it is phenomenal what they do here.”
Deanne says the key to a relaxing holiday is to make the most of the great outdoors, scenery and activities nearby your caravan park, but make enough time to enjoy some downtime in the park, too. “We like to do a bit of each - a day at the beach and a day here. Go exploring: sit on the beach, go swimming, go fishing, and then have a day in here relaxing.”
With the kids now having children of their own, Deanne and Gary are looking forward to a lot more afternoons under the caravan verandah in the future. “We’re planning on retiring, hopefully soon and actually just selling up and travelling around, and seeing our amazing country. Just sell everything up and find a different home base and just explore before we get too old to do it.”
It’s a liberating lifestyle many Aussies are looking forward to, and you can see why. “We can wake up in the morning and decide if we want to keep going or just have a few days here and there...not be on a timetable...just being free to do what we want.” That’s what it’s all about.