Like the ‘lucky’ prospectors of the Mudgee Region, Kim Somerville and Heath Atchison ‘stumbled on’ success by the sweat of their brow.
In fact, since exchanging keys six months’ ago, the couple has toiled and transformed their newly-named Gulgong Tourist Park.
Two large modern villas, a large camp kitchen, bunk houses and women’s amenities signal a new chapter for the cosy bush caravan park that was in need of tender loving care.
“We always wanted our own caravan park,” says Kim, who with Heath, leaseholds another park.
“When we came out to have a look, we watched a stream of vans driving past on the highway. Travellers would look in the window before moving on.
“We could see the missed opportunity here.”
The couple is indeed sitting on a gold-mine, with historic Gulgong just a 10-minute walk way.
Below and above, courtesy Destination NSW: Gulgong Pioneers’ Museum houses a vast collection of Australiana memorabilia. Pic below by Evolving Images.
Sweet, hand-painted headboards, iron lacework and bullnose corrugated iron verandahs chart Gulgong’s rise to fortune at the turn of the 19th Century, with 130 dwellings earning National Trust accreditation.
Wander its wide streets and you’ll spot the Prince of Wales Opera House where young Dame Nellie Melba played to audiences. While, a little down the road is Lansdowne, an Australian Georgian cottage built by Henry Lawson’s father.
And, at the interactive soon-to-open Gulgong Holtermann Museum, is a remarkable photographic account of the ‘last of the poor man’s rush’.
Bernhardt Otto Holtermann helped finance the now UNESCO-preserved collection, after hauling a 280kg+ gold nugget from the ground at Hill End.
Today, Gulgong is home to high profile events such as the Henry Lawson festival, the Gulgong Folk Festival and the Clay Festival, which draws international crowds.
GULGONG TOURIST PARK RENOVATION, A TRUE TRANSFORMATION
The opportunity is not without challenge. The park was considered tired. Thankfully, the rejuvenation reflects Kim and Heath’s many years’ experience in park management but it hasn’t been an easy road.
“There were only five powered sites, 10 or so cabins–and several onsite vans,” Kim explains.
A little elbow grease, paint and repairs transformed the existing cabins, while bargain hunters claimed the onsite vans for free, making room for the Gulgong Tourist Park’s expansion.
“Now have about 30 sites available at the moment,” says Kim.
The big challenge moving forward is to inspire confidence among travellers.
“We’ve plastered large ‘Under new management’ sign across the front entrance and we’ve got a big sign that lights up at night,” Kim explains.
A WARMER WELCOME
Already, passer-bys enjoy a warmer welcome at the relocated reception sporting a new wood fire and lounge.
The new three-bedroom villas are larger than a traditional park cabin and come with white linen, full kitchen amenities, floating floorboards and a large, spacious lounge.
Twenty patrons can enjoy breakfast in air-conditioned comfort within the new camp kitchen facilities, with more seating close by amid tranquil bush.
Here, campers can kick back in front of wide screen TV and in the new laundry facilities.
Kim says new men’s amenities are next on the list with more kitchen spaces on the cards.
“In the future, we’d [also] like to install a pool, a communal fire-pit, smaller cabins for families and to upgrade the roads,” she says.
The community are thrilled with the changes, with volunteers from the Mudgee Visitor Centre frequently stopping by and locals spreading the word.
See the change unfold on the Gulgong Tourist Park Facebook page.