THIS camping/fishing/holidaying venue came to my attention as the result of strong recommendation from friends. “You've just about mentioned every other caravan park and camping grounds around the place,” they told me. “Why not the one at Main Beach?”
So it was off to meet manager Drazen Belic, and after pleasant introductions I took a look around the Tourist Park. This certainly convinced me of its worth as a holiday venue – it is one very tidy and well managed caravan park and camping grounds. And, judging by the near full occupancy even during mid week when I was there, it’s certainly popular.
The Main Beach Tourist Park has been going for many years, however, following a facelift a couple of years ago this Main Beach facility – one of several owned and operated by the Gold Coast City Council – is right up with the best of them on the east coast. So much so, in fact, that it enjoys a 4.5 star RACQ rating.
Located on Main Beach Parade (at intersection with John Kemp Parade) at Southport, the brightly coloured and highly decorative entrance to the Tourist Park is almost opposite the Southport Surf Lifesaving Clubhouse. These are landmarks you cannot miss once you’re at the Gold Coast and heading south from Seaworld and The Spit. Just keep the ocean on your left and you’ll see the Tourist Park on the right just past the large and well-signed surf club building.
There is actually an entrance to the fully-patrolled and well-supervised Main Beach surfing area right across from the Tourist Park’s entrance, which allows the visitor to slip on the togs and go straight across the road for a swim between the flags. Or, alternatively, you can jump out of bed at sparrow chirp and take off after some fish.
Inside the Tourist Park there is ample room for all manner of visitors. Those who arrive with only their car and tackle will find the cabins very comfortable (a disabled facilities cabin is available as well) or, if you have a van in tow, there is always the luxury of an en-suite cabin. Otherwise there are plenty of well maintained caravan sites (with generous sized concrete pads) and general camping sites available for campervans and tents.
Features of the very clean and tidy park include both powered and un-powered sites, grassed tent sites, a heated swimming pool, disabled access amenities, TV/recreation room, children's playground, a well set up camp kitchen, full laundry facilities, telephones, gas and ice supply and free electric barbecue areas. And while there is ample high rise development around the Tourist Park, the feeling within the high fence surrounding the grounds is one of complete self containment, with the prevailing sound being that of the surf breaking just across the road. In this sense you can imagine yourself in any beachside caravan park anywhere, and not smack bang in the middle of the Gold Coast – one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia.
On the other hand if it’s tourist attractions you want, for those days when the weather shuts down more piscatorial pursuits, you won't have to travel far to find fun for yourself and the family Attractions in the area include the local theme parks, massive shopping complexes (with Sea World and The Spit being only 2km away), all the restaurants and takeaway food you could wish for, bowling and Services clubs not far away, golf courses, and, of course, the night life!
First up, the beach is only 40 metres away and all it takes to secure some fish for dinner is to tackle up and simply walk across the road. Once you’re away from the flagged areas the usual beach species are on the agenda. At this time of year the clue is to look for a decent hole or gutter and fish for bream or tailor. Main Beach stretches for about 5km of lovely sand between the Tourist Park and the Seaway at the extremity of The Spit. Most times the best beach formations will be found towards the Seaway end of the beach, but that's not to say that a decent gutter won't form south of the Tourist Park. There is a lot of beach available within walking distance, that's for sure.
Like beach fishing everywhere, the fish tend to be most active around dawn and dusk. However, I have taken some very respectable bream and tailor near the sand pumping jetty at high tide in the middle of the day. The clue is to just keep away from where folk are riding surf boards because fish, particularly tailor, are very wary of board riders. I've seen a red hot tailor bite shut down completely when a couple of board riders scooted in on wave not far from where I was fishing.
The same stretch of beach can be brilliant for whiting during the warmer months, so don't be afraid to pull a few worms – there’s no shortage of worms on this beach – and give the whiting a go. Bream also like beach worms.
For the boating angler the attractions of the Broadwater, Nerang River, Seaway and associated offshore reefs are there as well. There are two well set up ramps with plenty of parking area on Seaworld Drive (the road out along The Spit). The first ramp is just along Seaworld Drive a couple of hundred metres from Main Beach Parade, and the second is at Muriel Henchman Drive, not far past the Seaworld Nara Resort.
Boating within the clean and very fish inhabited Broadwater is popular, as is the Nerang River. The entrance to the Seaway can really fire for fish such as tailor and trevally during winter, but this is an area for experienced skippers who can read sea conditions well. If it looks dangerous, it probably is.
In all, this great holiday venue has many attractions for visitors who demand just a bit more from their stay by the sea than simply listening to the waves at night and dropping in a casual line during the day. But that's the beauty of the Main Beach Tourist Park – there plenty of options on hand.
1) The Main Beach Tourist Park entry is prominent on Main Beach Parade, Southport.
2) That beach access area is straight across from the Tourist Park, the photo being taken from the entrance.
3) There is a lot of beach to enjoy at this venue. It's just a matter of looking for the right formations to find the fish.
4) Caravans and camper vans are well catered for at this great holiday venue, and there's no shortage of grassed tent sites.Reads: 1246