Published in The Standard, March 15, 2013
PETERBOROUGH may be only a tiny spot on the map along the Great Ocean Road but it is proving to be a national tourism gem.
The Great Ocean Road Tourist Park in Peterborough took first place in a national search for Australia’s Best Holiday Park, run by Turu.com.au and Woman’s Day.
The seaside town’s family-owned holiday park was voted the national winner from 1800 tourist parks around Australia.
Owners Sarah and Dean Hellessey said their win came as a “pleasant surprise” and hoped the national title would attract more travellers to the area.
“It’s fantastic and I think it will increase awareness for the town and the area,” Mr Hellessey said.
“Peterborough is one of the smallest coastal towns in the south-west but it’s an undiscovered gem with so much to offer.”
The tourist park looks out onto the Curdies River inlet and Mr Hellessey said visitors could enjoy a number of land or water activities in a peaceful setting.
About 15,000 people voted in the competition, with the Great Ocean Road Tourist Park in Peterborough scoring more than 2000 votes.
Originally from the Mornington Peninsula, Mr and Mrs Hellessey owned a holiday park in Mildura before they decided to take over the tourist facility in Peterborough more than nine years ago.
Since then they have turned the camping ground, which they operate by themselves, into a family holiday park with caravans and a riverfront cabin.
Peterborough’s coastal hideaway now employs six regular staff and accommodates an average of 450 travellers in the peak season.
The couple and their children Lily, 7, and Toby, 4, also live in the park.
Mr and Mrs Hellessey attributed their success to dedicated staff and returning visitors.
“While there are many wonderful luxury resorts out there we are a family park and I think this shows travellers are really looking for friendly customer service,” Mrs Hellessey said.
“The more you give out the more positive comments you get back and we have the staff to thank for that.”
Victorian finalists in the competition also included Warrnambool Holiday Park, Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park, Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park and Sandy Point Holiday Park.