10 Jan 2018
Watch: Meet Sue and the Wallace Gang as they share their stories from the road, which began with a simple riverside ski holiday that turned into a family tradition spanning three generations.
Meet Sue and Peter a couple from Newcastle, New South Wales, who have turned their riverside ski holiday into a family tradition spanning three generations.
When 12-year-old Lucy told her grandmother she plans to continue the family tradition of holidaying at Discovery Parks – Forster, Sue Wallace nearly fell off her chair. “I was so taken aback,” she says. “It warms the cockles of your heart that you can give a child a legacy like that - one they want to follow. Especially the way the world is today. I know Luce and I know she’ll do it.”
Sue and her husband Peter, aka Grandma and Da, have created an environment worth returning to.
“We’ve been coming here for 40 years now,” Peter says. “We started when we were young and into water skiing. We’ve been coming back ever since.” Their mates have, too. The ever-growing group of pals call themselves The Gang. “There’s about 60 in the gang,” Sue says. “It’s grown. We brought our kids’ friends when they were about 12, then they brought their friends and now those friends have all purchased here and are part of our gang.”
They’re a noisy lot. It’s glorious to watch.
Sue kicks up her tanned legs, pours another glass of vino and surveys the boisterous scene around her. She smiles. “It’s an amazing place. It’s like the old film Same Time, Next Year.”
Children dart between the vans while three generations of regulars meet for daily sundowners.
“An annual is a person who has a caravan onsite and can use it for a certain period of the year,” Peter says. “It’s about 180 days. We don’t use anywhere near that but it’s good for us.”
The couple live in Newcastle and it takes just shy of two hours to drive to Forster. Their living spaces are complete with outdoor kitchens, large screen televisions and Foxtel. “This is happy hour. We’re not clicky, anyone is welcome to join us. Because of where we’re situated people just wander in and join us. Everyone looks out for each other.”
Sue and Peter have three children and eight grandchildren. “They all want to come. We’ve had to put extra beds in and nearly go double decker to save arguments,” Sue says. “In the early days when the kids were young we used to stay in the log cabins down there at the [river] front,” Peter adds. “You can imagine all those kids… it was a bit of a squalor holler. We had to call out for the kids constantly.” He laughs. The gang had a squalor holler sign made for their patch of turf. “When you look back at the afternoons, the sunsets, the times and parties we’ve had down on the front deck – it’s been terrific and has held everyone together.”
For this lot, it’s more than just a holiday, it’s a way of life. When two young members of the gang passed away unexpectedly, the group rallied together to support each other. Some members lost partners but return solo to reminisce and re-live memories with their friends. “We’ve met a wonderful crowd of people,” Sue says. “Peter and I are both only children and to us, these guys are family. I cannot imagine life without it at all. Where else do you get this in life? If you go to a unit you shut the door and don’t see anyone.”
They even have a street named after them. “Our street is Wallace Way,” Peter says. “When both parks were purchased by Discovery, they had to re-name the streets because it’s such a big park now. We’re thankful they named streets after us and our friends because we’ve been coming here for so long.”
When the motley crew pack up their bags and prepare to return to the real world, it’s with heavy hearts and anticipation for their inevitable return. “Same time, next year.”
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This travel feature was published in G’DAY Magazine.