Our second annual National Rally was on at Apex Riverbeach Holiday Park in Mildura from the 15th to the 19th of May. This year saw twice as many of our members attend, including many returning from last year and ranged from holiday-making couples to former park owners. They all had two things in common though; they were all Family Parks members and they all loved catching up. We hope we’ll see you at next year’s Rally!

Below are recaps of the Rally from two couples who attended.

Neil & Janice

What a fun way to spend a few days!

Although we are “cabineers” and not “vaneers” we soon became part of the Rally by accident after booking a cabin in Mildura Apex Park for a few days last May. We were quickly accepted into the group and enjoyed all the planned activities of the first rally. It was so good we joined and booked up again for this year before leaving. This year was equally well organised and we got to see many things not normally on the tourist list.

Welcomed on the first night by Margaret and Daryl, the park owners and rally organisers, as they hosted a BBQ with all the trimmings around a blazing fire, we quickly made more friends with the members new to this year’s rally doubling its size from last year. Some of whom also brought along their “spoilt” dogs to this pet friendly park.

Luckily we were blessed with sunny weather as the tag along tours took us to many interesting places including a Murray Cod Hatchery. Amazing to see tens of thousands of fish in various stages of development before they are packaged and sent off to the markets of the world. Minter Magic, an asparagus and citrus farm and packing facility was another place not normally open to the public giving us a rare opportunity to see the products being processed and packaged.

Next day was a touch of culture when as we were off to Mildura Art Gallery and the Rio Vista Mansion and then on to the Inland Botanical Gardens with an amazingly knowledgeable guide to take us around, in a little Tractor Train. This filled in yet another day with more adventures the following day.

With good company, daily “happy hours”, wonderful lunches and dinners most day, including a pancake breakfast before we left for home, we thoroughly enjoyed our break. And yes we have booked in for the 2017 Rally in Deniliquin!

Leanne & John

John and I are Grey Nomads with training wheels having only paired the van with tow vehicle in March. We had let our Family Parks membership lapse, but fortunately have been receiving the Tribal Drum emails and spotted the information on the Mildura Rally. Wanting to learn as much as we could about travelling we thought a Caravan Rally was an ideal avenue to meet others to share experiences, so we contacted Daryl Beasy at Apex River Beach Holiday Park and booked in. It was with much excitement that we set out early on Sunday for Mildura.

We pulled into Mildura and followed the beautifully renovated van Millie in the gate. Daryl kindly booked us in and assisted John to manoeuvre the van to its site. A quick setup and short introduction to our fellow rally participants on neighbouring sites and it was time for our first official event, the wine tasting and welcoming BBQ. A local winery supplied a variety of delicious wines for tasting and we soon discovered that The Major sponsors “Yarrawonga Manufactured Housing Pty Ltd” had purchased the wines and local craft beers and soft drinks for our enjoyment. Daryl welcomed us and introduced the sponsors. Then he and wife Margaret and son Nathan cooked and served a delicious BBQ dinner whilst participants introduced themselves and others renewed acquaintances as they had attended the first rally.

Monday morning saw us meeting in the carpark excited and ready for our first Tag along tour around Mildura. Our cavalcade of over 12 vehicles set off for the Thurla Farm where they had diversified from the standard citrus, grapes and almonds to use the dams and shedding to hatch and grow Murray Cod. The tiny fingerlings were grown in tanks inside and then when a suitable size shifted to the dams to be grown for sale when they reached at least 1kg.

We then traversed through the farmlands to the Nangiloc Tavern for a delicious lunch and short exercise for the companion dogs. We then travelled to another farm, this time Minter Magic Asparagus farm where once again this property included the usual citrus and almonds but had diversified to the growth of asparagus in large scale fields. The asparagus was picked and packaged for local and the export market. Other crops were also grown to keep staff employed for most of the year. Snow peas were the crop being packaged whilst we were there. We returned to the park where we enjoyed a happy hour which lasted for 2 hours as we were enjoying the company of our fellow rally participants so much.

Tuesday was a free day, however, we went to the Mildura Golf Club for a golf demonstration and competition. One of our participants astounded us all with an amazing putt that was landed. A delicious home style carvery dinner was enjoyed by all.

Wednesday we visited the Regional Arts centre, part of which is the home of the Chaffey family, the Rio Vista mansion. We then travelled to the Inland Botanic Garden for a train tour of the extensive plantings and Devonshire tea prepared by some of the many volunteers who have created this inland wonderland. We ate in the old woolshed which is one of the several buildings saved and shifted to be rebuilt on site. It is now used as an events venue. We stopped to view the massive rose gardens before travelling to the Big V auto museum and workshop to relive a little of our youth. McDougal’s vineyard was the venue for dinner, however the tag along, which worked well in day light was not as efficient at night and most of us ended up not only on the wrong side of the river but travelling towards Sydney!

When we all finally gathered we enjoyed a variety of wood fired pizzas for dinner. We met Family Parks CEO Karl. We had been enjoying the company of board member Robyn and her partner Neil, who had documented the activities by taking a multitude of photographs. At this dinner we sadly said farewell to some of our fellow rally participants however a majority joined us on Thursday morning for a farewell pancake breakfast prepared by our wonderful hosts. It wasn’t really a farewell yet as following another free day that evening we boarded the Paddle Steamer Rothbury for another carvery dinner and wonderful musical entertainment. CEO Karl showed us he cannot only head Family parks but can steer a paddle steamer.

Unfortunately, Friday morning we waved goodbye to our new friends from Queensland South Australia and other parts of Victoria hoping that we will meet again next year at the 2017 Family Parks Rally.

Thanks to Apex Riverbeach Holiday Park for their stellar hospitality (for the second year in a row!), to Neil Fallshaw for the great photography and last but not least, to all who came and made the Family Parks National Rally such an enjoyable experience!