23 Jan 2018
WATCH: Tony gave us a scenic park tour of Discovery Parks – Ballina.
Park Manager Tony Middleton talks to us about working in Discovery Parks – Ballina, located at the picture-perfect Northern Rivers region in New South Wales.
I’ve been here… for five months. We’re new to the area. I came from the Central Coast where we were managing a park. I love it. It wasn’t a hard decision to come here. When my wife Kris and I saw it, we jumped on it.
The park is always pretty full… we’re a bit different here because we get the New South Wales and Queensland holidays.
I love it here because… location, location, location. It’s also all about looking after people and making sure they enjoy themselves. It’s very much a family-oriented park. We have a gymnasium, a water park, pool, jumping pillow, and mini golf.
We have… 48 cabins ranging from deluxe to standard and economy right on the waterfront. We have camping sites, too.
I grew up… on a cattle farm down in Gippsland, Victoria. Then I went into the Navy and for 15 years I was an expat in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, and Hong Kong. I was Director of Operations and Support for DHL. I gave up my corporate life four years ago and went to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
I miss the corporate nibble… you always flew at the front end of the aircraft. The stress was huge though. A lot of mates were dying of heart attacks so I got out. This is a good job. It’s fun. We do a 10 days on, four days off roster.
I have a firm belief in life… that if I don’t like it, I don’t do it. A lot of people make the mistake of still doing things they don’t like. I don’t understand it.
The waterfront is popular… people like to sit here to have their sundowners. Especially the caravanners.
This is Shores Bay… out there you can fish for bream whiting or flathead. We have kayaks for people to use. It’s a 20-minute walk to the pub.
I love fishing. This whole region is great for it. We have a fishing report that comes out every week – supplied by our local bait shop. We have a competition… whoever puts the best photo in gets a free bag of bait.
Right behind us is… the Richmond River. It’s very famous and very large.
We’re doggie friendly. Kris and I have changed a few things since we came in. You weren’t allowed to walk your dog through the park and couldn’t have a dog over 10 kilos. You can now.
Memorable guests… we had the ABC here for six weeks. They took up 25 cabins. They were filming a web series called Deadlock. They were a great bunch.
While you’re in the area… we’re close to Byron, great beaches, and the hinterlands. There are a lot of great cycling tracks around here, too.
We’re not from a camping background… absolutely not. Kris wouldn’t leave the dishwasher and fridge behind! We know how to look after guests though. Our ideal holiday would be a mix of different things: Thailand, and just down the road. If we have the grandkids with us it’s more park-orientated but if it’s us personally, we tend to go a bit more upmarket.
This interview was published in G’DAY Magazine.