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These Oz Shacks are perfect if you don’t fancy pitching up a tent but still want the camping experience. Could you call it a ‘glamping’ experience? Well, it is more luxurious than a tent, but we reckon these shacks were the start of this ever-growing phenomenon!
Being a Big4 Member, we managed to grab this experience for $68 per night which is a flat rate for most of the year. Without the Big4 membership, it would have been $75 a night. As the Oz Shacks are powered, if we considered a powered camping site for $36 ($40 without membership) per night (average price for May 2019), it was worth the extra for some heat and protection from a pretty stormy, wet and windy weekend. Another reason why these Oz shacks are ideal!
Big4 Port Willunga Tourist Park, previously known as Beach Woods Eco Tourist Park is ideally positioned in the Fleurieu Peninsula, just over 45 minutes south from Adelaide. At just over 40kms from the CBD, it is the ideal escape for the weekend in a stunning part of South Australia.
As its former name suggests, it is tucked away in woods, not far from Port Willunga and Maslin Beach – two of some of the most gorgeous beaches Adelaide has to offer. You can see the ocean on the horizon in the distance, but is just a 10 minute walk to Blanche Point, where you can decide to go north or south!
It is also perfectly situated on one of South Australia’s iconic road trips – the Southern Ocean Drive – explore the highlights of Fleurieu Peninsula and beyond on an adventure you’ll find hard to forget.
The Oz Shacks at Big4 Port Willunga
These Oz Shacks are essentially wooden tents!
There are 3 Oz Shacks located to the west side of the park and are visible as you drive towards the entrance gate. Being located to the west, they are ideally situated to enjoy the colours of the sunset with views of the ocean horizon, with just a few trees between you and the sea. They have been positioned well for privacy, facing away from each other and a good amount of dedicated parking space was available to the side.
They have clearly been here for a while as there has been a fair amount of use as seen on the wooden decking and floor, but this doesn’t take away from the experience. Unfortunately, Oz Shacks is no longer in operation in Australia.
Upon the first impression, it really does feel like a hobbit house where any person in average height needs to duck down to enter the shack. It’s absolutely perfect for kids but is intended for an adult stay! Inside it opens up and you are free to walk around as normal.
When booking online, there was not an option to choose between a double or twin single beds. However, it had defaulted us into a twin share which we changed when checking in. It was lucky we were the only ones staying! Just a tip, if you are planning a visit during peak periods, ring ahead to check availability for the setup you require and ask for them to make a note on your booking.
The bed initially started to wind us up a little! It was older style bed on castor wheels which moved at the slight hint of it being touched. Whilst this was annoying to begin with, it made perfect sense that you could actually want to move the bed closer to the wall when not in use. This allowed for more space in what becomes quite a cramped area once you have some personal belongings inside.
The Oz Shack comes kitted out with double or twin beds, a wall mounted fan, one bedside table, a small desktop bin, a good sized esky, two wooden chairs and a wooden table. It doesn’t sound a lot but it worked in this situation. There was a double power point located to the side of the bed and good for charging all the many devices we all now seem to have!
The bed itself was, unfortunately, the biggest let down of the experience. We were thinking about staying another night but this was a turn off that sent us back home. Being an older style bed, ideal for the lack of space but also meant it was springy and its use over the years just wasn’t comfortable. And together with some weirdly small pillows and patterned bed covers, we needed to go back to normality for a night of good sleep.
Another tip – take some bug spray with you if you plan to go. Being in the woods, surrounded by paddocks and in this case, getting closer to winter, the shacks become the local spider’s hideout. It would have been nice if someone had been in to clear all the cobwebs and creepy crawlies before we entered, so this is just something to be aware of. There is an appreciation that with any wooden structure there needs to be some give for expansion, however, this expansion does lead to things getting inside!
We can imagine in the heat of summer, the mounted wall fan may struggle to keep the shack cool. But overnight for us, even with close to single figures in temperature overnight, body heat became a wonderful thing and actually woke up quite toasty and warm! The shacks are well insulated with felt and definitely do the job of keeping the rain out and heat in.
The paved area outside the Oz Shack was large enough to sit comfortably and enjoy the outdoors. The chairs and table provided are sufficient which can also be placed on the decking area if you need to get some sort of shelter. There is no overhead protection though, apart from the trees overhead that offer some shade; there is no protection from the wind or rain! It is a shame that there isn’t because with such a small space inside, you feel like you want to make use of the space outside, and in this case, we couldn’t because of the poor weather.
The Big4 Port Willunga Tourist Park
Big4 Willunga Tourist Park has a good reputation both locally and online. It’s not unusual for an impressive amount of stars or high review scores to appear next to its name and we were looking forward to seeing what this Big4 Holiday Park had to offer.
It’s a decent sized park and admittingly it was coming into the end of autumn which makes it difficult to review Holiday Parks when they are not in full swing. There were a few campers and guests staying in the cabins, along with the permanent residents in the centre but at a guess, they were running at less than 30% occupancy.
One aspect of the park that has been done well is the activities for kids. Check out the following available:
- Good sized salt water pool and decking area with sunbeds (open from Nov to mid April)
- Games Room with arcade games, pool and air hockey
- Tennis Court
- Mini Golf
- Go Karts
- Inflatable Trampoline/Giant Jumping Pillow
- Giant Chess Set
- Basketball/Netball Ring
- Sports equipment available to hire
As it was pretty wet, some of the play areas were covered over but these generally get great reviews from previous guests. The pool is a good size, looked nice, clean and loved the colourful beach huts that really give it a summer vibe!
Day passes are available for those not staying in the park for $5 per person per day which include the pool, play equipment, showers and amenities.
It’s obvious the park has been here for a while, but you can see replacements have taken place during that time. We were excited by the notice on their website that there had been camp kitchen renovations which had been painted, with new sliding door, enclosed drop down blinds, ceiling fans and large outdoor wall gas heaters installed – ideal for the wintery weekend we were suffering.
Unfortunately, though this was the biggest let down of the park for us. Yes, all those things existed but they must have been done some time ago. The floor of the camp kitchen was filthy and not cleaned once while we were there. This also made us assume that none of the equipment had been cleaned so we were very aware of our use. And the large outdoor wall gas heaters were there just to tease us. Located high on the walls, there was absolutely no way of turning these on or a sign to suggest how we could. It was freezing.
With this in mind, it almost set the tone for the rest of the park at this time of year. The amenities were clean, ageing but clean. But it just felt like ‘winter’s here – we’ll do the most minimal possible to keep the park going’. Maybe this is an unfair comment but as a guest, this is exactly what it felt like.
With it being so cold, we did need to find some heat from somewhere. And we were excited by their Big4 Port Willunga personalised braziers for hire. You don’t often come across one of these and they certainly must have come from the heydays of Big4 Port Willunga Tourist Park!
There was a full list of dos and don’ts that come with the hire for $10 for the duration of your stay (plus $50 refundable deposit on return). The burning of wood is prohibited so heat beads are available to buy ($14 for 5kg). During busy periods, these braziers can be booked in advance.
Due to its good size, we were able to pump some heat out of it and was a lovely touch to the ambience of seeing the sun go down in the far horizon, enjoying the evening quietness that the park has to offer.
The reception area was a good size with the usual array of local tourist leaflets and a small section of the forgotten or needed groceries and personal items for sale. Sports equipment was available for hire and there was also the added touch of a small cafe area with table and chairs for those important doses of coffee when you’ve left your machine at home! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to give it a try!
The customer service on offer was welcoming and friendly with enough information provided to set us for a couple of days.
There is also a convenient dump point within the park.
The free wifi worked well and we were given a few limited data codes to see us over a couple of days. The laptop picked up the signal well both inside and outside the shack, but the phones struggled a bit inside, probably because we were that big further from the centre of the park. Once connected though, there was never a drop out which was a welcome change from some other tourist parks.
It’s easy to forget that you are still so close to Adelaide CBD. Being tucked away in the woods gives it such a natural feeling of escape. And one of the highlights was being able to see the Milkyway so clearly – always a big tick from us!
Things to do in and around Port Willunga
Being located in the Fleurieu Peninsula, Big4 Port Willunga is ideally situated to explore the McLaren Vale wine region and southern peninsula delights. The beaches in this area truly are stunning with Port Willunga, Maslin Beach, the unclad section of Maslin Beach for those who desire, Aldinga Beach as well as being so close to some of the few beaches that you can actually drive on in South Australia – Aldinga, Sellicks, Silver Sands and Moana.
For the water lover in you, check out our popular post of the Top 10 Fleurieu Peninsula Boat Trips and Water Sports, many of which can be done all year round.
Victor Harbor is only a 40 minute drive south, where you can enjoy Adelaide’s favourite holiday destination with whale and dolphin watching (which we highly recommend), cruises, swimming with tuna, jetskiing, surfing, canoeing and scuba diving all within close reach.
More locally, don’t miss the chance to visit Willunga Famers Market on a Saturday morning – South Australia’s first farmers market and is still impressive to this day.
For more inspiration of things to do, check out this Big4 post for a full list.
Other accommodation available at Big4 Port Willunga
This parks sure does come with a wide range of accommodation available! Around the outskirts of the park and studios in the middle, they have the following cabins on offer:
- Deluxe Cabin (5 Berth)
- Deluxe Cabin (4 Berth)
- Spa Unit (6 Berth – modern and receive good reviews)
- Studio Cabin (2 Berth)
- Park Cabin (5 Berth)
- Oz Shack (2 Berth)
These cabins suit every type of budget, from basic to more modern accommodation.
There are also 3 types of sites available – unpowered, powered and ensuite. The majority of the park offers powered sites with what looks like only 4 ensuite sites available. We love camping on ensuite sites as it just gives you that little extra level of privacy and comfort, but get in quick if you want one here!
There are over 130 sites at this park, with just one toilet block and one camp kitchen! However, there is plenty of shade from trees, the sites are generous in size and the sunrise tones over the park in the morning are simply gorgeous.
We glad we stayed and found out what Big4 Port Willunga Tourist Park was all about. It’s a great location and is tucked away in a natural environment, but still so close to the city. Being the water lovers that we are, it would have been amazing if it came with ocean views but it’s really not an inconvenience at how close the beaches are.
It would be interesting to see the balance of sites vs. one toilet block and one camp kitchen during peak periods. It feels like this may not be enough to cope with the demand; we just only hope that they pay a bit more attention to the cleaning standards, especially in the camp kitchen.
As for the Oz Shack, it was certainly an experience that reminds you that you don’t need much to get you through life. We didn’t want to pitch the tent up in the wind and rain so an Oz Shack was a logical choice without the price tag of a cabin. It was on the small side but we survived.
There are great facilities on offer with a good range of accommodation and we would recommend it if you are in the area. The prices offer good value for money and the good reviews make us think that it was just a bad weather weekend that we experienced.
The other question is, would we stay there again… probably not. It didn’t win any awards for wanting to bring us back – we would prefer to try another local park. The Oz Shack was good to tick off the list, but we are much more excited about trying out other glamping options!
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Interested in staying in one of the Big4 Port Willunga Tourist Park Wooden Tents?! Or how about one of their units or cabins? Check out Booking.com for some amazing deals. We use Booking.com all the time and we make some serious savings against other website prices.
Water loving British girl who moved to Australia and seriously caught the travel bug! Loves to explore and share destinations that inspire others to spend more time on the water and in the great outdoors. Typically, you’ll find her on a boat or next to the ocean, often in a daydream!