A Day in the Life: Holidays are our business

FAMILY AFFAIR: Lake Ainsworth caravan park manager Debbie Smith.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Lake Ainsworth caravan park manager Debbie Smith. Andy Parks

WITH 1500 people packed into the caravan park at Lake Ainsworth and being on call 24/7, you might think the job of managing the popular holiday park might be a bit stressful, but manager Debbie Smith says it's a breeze.

"Having 1500 people at this time of year is actually easier than having 100 backpackers in the middle of the year... They all know each other and they all support each other."

She said most of their guests are groups of families who have been coming for years, sometimes for several generations. Most are from the Northern Rivers and some are working while their partners are on holiday, looking after the kids.

"They treat it like it's their place. It's like a big family," she said.

Debbie is taking me on a tour of the caravan park, which has everything from basic un-powered tent sites to four and a half star villas.

As if to prove her point the first person we run into is Margaret Sneath from Lismore, an 83-year-old woman who has been coming to Lake Ainsworth for her holidays every year for the past 60 years.

"We're not a bells and whistles park and that's what people like about it."

Debbie and her husband Aaron Matenga have co-managed the caravan park for the past five years.

They have a roster of 10 staff including groundskeepers, cleaners and office staff.

"It's all about coordination and staying in contact with the customers," Debbie says.

She seems to be on a first name basis with most of the guests, including the dozen or so kids who are buzzing around the camp kitchen where the morning's activity, clay modelling, is about to get underway.

Debbie said in the time she has been there, one of the great joys has been watching kids coming back a little bit more grown up each year.

Aaron's day starts at 6am when he does the rubbish run, unlocks the camp kitchen and generally checks over everything.

The cleaners work from midnight to 7am so all shower and toilet facilities are clean and ready to go for the morning rush hour.

Debbie and Aaron live on-site and are on call at all times.

Her day generally starts in the office at about 8am where she handles bookings, check ins and check outs and whatever else comes her way.

"I love the people. It really is a great job," she said.

Born in New Zealand, Debbie is a former school teacher and Aaron a former farmer. They managed their first caravan park in Sydney for about seven years before making the move to Lennox Head.



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