Worst of the Worst

Worst of the Worst

Speaking of accommodation, I’ve been keeping notes on the worst places we’ve stayed while on our trip. With just two weeks left in Australia, I’m hoping I won’t have to add to this list, but here are the places we’d like to forget!

Walpole, WA
We drove late into the afternoon through a wet forest to arrive in Wapole. The information center in town told us that many of the caravan parks were filled, but one that was just outside of town had a couple of cabins left. The woman at the reception desk with two teeth told me the price for their last cabin was a reasonable $65 AUD a night. She was very pleasant, so I took the keys to settle in for our one night stay. The cabin overlooked a lagoon on the Southern Ocean, but the whole park looked like the site of a construction zone. The road leading to our cabin was recently graded, and many of the cabins in the park were being renovated.

As we walked into the cabin we were met with a musty smell with an occasional whiff of urine. It was getting dark, and the rain began to fall harder, so I wasn’t in the mood to look somewhere else. As I unpacked the car, my wife began to prepare a meal. We had enough provisions to have a spaghetti dinner, so Deb looked in the kitchen cabinets for pots and utensils. She was met with a smell that made her reel back in disgust. Never in my life did I smell mildew so strong. Breathing near the open cabinets was almost impossible. We took out only the things we would need to eat, and washed it all in hot water.

After dinner, we were pretty repulsed by the whole place. The musty 30 year old shag carpet only made it worse. We tried not to touch anything and get some sleep. As we packed the next morning, we were happy to see the sun shining, and the cabin in our rear view mirror.
Philip Island, Victoria

Philip Island is known for a parade of Fairy Penguins that come ashore every night to nest in the dunes on the island. Accommodations are hard to come by and after trying to secure a cabin several times, we were concerned with not being able to find something for the night. I was finally directed to a holiday park that was off the highway leading out to the penguins. As we walked into the cabin, it looked like any other cabin that had seen twenty years of holiday use. It was clean, but well used. We quickly unpacked and headed out to see the Penguins. On our return, I noticed a couple of ants walking about the kitchen counters, and thought nothing of them, except to move some our food into the refrigerator.

In the morning, we were shocked to see trails of ants all over the kitchen counter. Even though there was no food left out, our kitchen was in the middle of an ant freeway. What was worse the ants didn’t contain their overnight exploration to the kitchen. Walking up a wardrobe, the ants managed to find my wife’s knapsack. She specifically put it high off the ground so the ants wouldn’t crawl around on her stuff, and now she had to empty out her belongings to evict her new tenants!

Needless to say we left that cabin as quickly as we could! Whenever I recall that stay, my skin crawls with the thought of all those ants!

Strahan, Tas

Strahan was touted as a beach getaway, and the price of the accommodations supposedly reflected it. We found a caravan park with an ensuite cabin available, so we booked it before we arrived. The weather was cold and rainy, so there was no attraction to spending any time by the water. The cabin was dark and gloomy matching the decor that was built in the 60s. The heat from the electric heater barely warmed the room and did nothing for the bathroom. Everything seemed worn out, and it really depressed the hell out of us. Not the best way to spend a couple of days by the beach!

Uluru Resort

This resort is just outside the world famous Ayer’s Rock, also known as Uluru. They are the only place within an hour’s drive to the rock, so if you want to be anywhere near the prime attraction, Yulara is the only choice. This resort was build 20 years ago after the original resort was handed back to the Aboriginal people along with the land surrounding Uluru. The original resort that was in the shadow of the rock was where the exclamation “The Dingos took my Baby” was heard. Today, an Aboriginal tribe lives in the buildings of the original resort in an agreement with the government. Yulara was built 20 minutes outside the aboriginal land, and is run by one corporation.

Without studying the intricacies of the agreement with the government and the aborigines, I cannot know how one company can control all the accommodation near a world famous attraction, but I can comment on how expensive it it. Ylara offers all types of accommodation from unpowered camp sites to full resort amenities, but all of these choices are at least twice the usual prices anywhere in Australia! Without competition, this resort can charge whatever they want, and not care if it’s too expensive. We refused to pay for a hotel room at almost triple what is normal rates, and settled for a cabin in there campground area. This cabin did not have it’s own bathroom, so we had to use a communal bathroom and shower, but it’s price was double what we would normally pay for a cabin with all the amenities.

Our whole experience at this resort was soiled with the feeling of being ripped off. Nobody likes to be taken advantage of, especially when we’re on vacation, and Yulara was the worst of it.

Jim’s Place, Alice Springs, NT

We wanted to break up the six hour drive from King’s Canyon to Alice Springs so we decided to stop at a place called Jim’s Place on the Stuart Highway. Jim is known locally as a outback celebrity complete with a singing dingo, so we decided to see what it was all about. We rolled into Jim’s Roadhouse in 100+ degree weather. Just outside the door was a rusty old central air conditioning unit rumbling away trying its best to keep the roadhouse cool. Even though it was about 80 inside, it was a welcome relief from the desert heat. As I walked in, three people were sitting on bar stools around a round table drinking beer. As I approached a window that served as a bar, cashier, and reception counter, one of the three people drinking beer got up to help me. The woman that came to the counter looked 75, but it was hard to judge because I’m not sure if desert living is good or bad for you, so she was either 50 or 90. She gave me the keys to our cabin, and sent us on our way.

We were met with another cabin that had not seen a decorator since the 70s. The shag carpeting was worn near the door, and chrome on the kitchenette set was a little rusty. An aluminum cabin in the Australian desert gets very hot, so we immediately turned on the air conditioning. I hoped the unit would quiet down after it was on for a few minutes, but it seemed to only develop more rattles as it ran. At least it started to get cool. We kept reminding ourselves that were were lucky t o have only booked a one night stay!

Mt Gambier, SA
My wife and I were having trouble finding an available Holiday Park in Mt Gambier, so we looked into hotels in town. We figured if we were going to spend the extra money, we would look for one that offered Internet access. A Best Western in town was the only motel that offered high speed access in the room, so we booked in.

As we settled into the room and fired up the computer for some much needed high speed access, our daughter found something to play with on the floor. On closer inspection, I found that she was watching an ant make its way across the carpet. When I looked even closer, I began to find that it wasn’t the only ant on the floor. There were at least 50 ants crawling on the floor, getting into whatever was in their path!

As I told the manager at the front desk about my discovery, he seemed to be pretty familiar with the complaint. He confidently turned around and produced a can of bug spray. I looked back at him for a second wondering if this was the only solution. He nonchalantly explained that it was a problem they had at the hotel, and he assure me that the spray would kill all the ants in my room. In fact, he said, it was a problem they had in the whole town! Disappointed, and without an option, I reluctantly returned to my room. Needless to say, we slept that night feeling we were covered in ants!

Queensland’s ants
As we headed into the tropics, we noticed many motels and caravan parks warning us about the ants. In other parts of Australia, they are a nuisance, but in Queensland, they seem to be a way of life. These small ants called “sugar ants” seem to get everywhere, and appear out of nowhere. We kept as clean as possible and tired to hide our food, but inevitably, if the place had ants, they would eventually appear everywhere. It must be a losing battle to live here and not get infested. The only place that seemed to be safe so far was inside the refrigerator!

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