Season 1, Episode 30
Ingenia Holidays Rivershore
Join Benjamin Starr as we Drive Your Own Adventure right into the popular, family friendly Rivershore Resort, where Bernie shares the vision behind the newest resort on the Sunshine Coast, while Head Chef, Ian tempts your taste buds with his locally sourced menu.
Read the transcript
Ben: Okay welcome back to driving your own adventure. Boy oh boy have we covered some miles or kilometres if you want to put it. I’d hate to think how many kilometres we have driven on this series, but we’re right back where we started from and we’ve got Ian and Bernie joining us. How are you guys?
Bernie: Yeah good thanks.
Ben: What’s it like to be a founder?
Bernie: Fantastic, yeah very proud of what we’ve achieved here but I think Ingenia can take it to bigger and better places.
Ben: It’s interesting on this trip that we have done right up the coast and right back down the common thread with everybody that we’ve spoken to is they all started businesses without very little knowledge. They’re all entrepreneurs, they have all put their passion, heart and soul into it and they’ve all created these amazing tourism businesses. It’s an amazing thing to see. What’s your take on it?
Bernie: Oh yeah for sure, the business for us yeah, we had a vision, and needless to say that vision expanded by the day, and the business has gone on leaps and bounds. In three short years ago when we opened, we had about fifteen or sixteen staff, today we’re at about fifty. So just in that it’s a rapid growth in itself. But what a great bunch of people that we’ve got on staff here, you know I enjoy working alongside them every day and yeah, I find inspiration with all the customers that come through and share their stories with us too.
Ben: Yeah amazing! When we were right at the top there in Cairns we were talking to people from all different walks of life that come back to the same park every year. This is my first real experience going into what this type of lifestyle’s like, if you want to put it like that. And it’s very much geared towards families isn’t it.
Bernie: The family markets definitely our… probably our primary market, and they’re the ones that really seem to enjoy themselves, you know being that one hour from Brisbane is good for that as well.
Ben: Yeah and the other thing that we’ve come across is you know, you go to these places and people go “well what do you do when you get there?” Well there is a lot to do in the parks, but there’s so much to do outside the park. I mean there is so many tourist things to see.
Bernie: Absolutely, the coast is blessed like that. You’ve got obviously the beautiful beaches, the Hinterland. But yeah, for sure having some young children myself, having the resort atmosphere where you’ve got everything here, why up root the kids, you know, if they are having fun in the pool why drag them out of the pool and take them to the beach or take them for fish and chips when you got everything here. We’ve got the got the pool, the river, the jumping pillow, the outdoor cinema and of course our beautiful Driftwood Restaurant.
Ben: Exactly, so speaking of the restaurant you’ve got Ian over here. So, Ian your job is to keep it all running.
Ian: Yeah my name’s Ian Smith, I’m head chef at Rivershore Resort and I guess yeah, it is my job to make sure that we cater for everyone.
Ben: How do you do that coming from Scotland?
Ian: Well we try and base the menu to cater for everyone really you know. The families, we are trying to push the menu to slightly finer dining, especially at dinner service. You know, we do functions where we cater from basic to you know like high end. So, for a small kitchen we definitely do well with that.
Ben: And it’s interesting you mention the word fine dining it is something that most people wouldn’t put in partnership with what we’re doing here. So, the parents come along, the kids get to play still, and you do all the fine dining experience.
Ian: Well yeah absolutely! I mean we try to use the, you know all the best local produce that we can. We push the menu further and further into the up market but, yet we still have dishes that suit everyone you know.
Ben: So, what are you famous for here, what’s your famous dish?
Ian: Oh, the at the moment I guess it would be the beef short ribs on the dinner menu.
Ben: Oh really?
Ian: Yeah really good yeah, you’ve got like a fresh Asian salad, sticky black vinegar sauce, it’s something that goes for everyone. But I think what we’ve really gone for is to give quality but good value for money at the same time.
Ben: So Bernie why bring a restaurant into a place like this, what was the reason for that?
Bernie: Look I think we….. we were campers and caravaners ourselves and I think people were looking for it. I did some research and that’s what people were asking for. And we want to do something a bit out of the box. Certainly, you don’t think to go to caravan park for a nice dinner or a nice lunch. We really tried to break the mould there. The food we produce is amazing. We get fantastic reviews on our food, and the restaurant is all cantered around the pool and has a quite a substantial playground with it as well, so it gives the opportunity for mum and dad, they are parting ways with their hard-earned cash. Kids can have a beautiful kid’s meal, then they can play in the playground and be occupied. And mum and dad can actually sit and have a conversation, have a beautiful craft beer or a wine from a family owned winery and sit and have a beautiful beef ribs or a char-grilled tuna which is on the menu today, or a beautiful rib eye steak from Jacks Creek.
Ben: When we look around here this is just not a caravan park. I mean, you know, this is like, you’ve got luxury tents over there. You’ve got a pool here which I’d hate to think how much it’s worth. I would say it’s the equivalent of what you’d see on the back of a P&O ship. There has been some serious money and planning invested in this place.
Bernie: There has been a big investment, and look we set out to be the best caravan park in Australia. You know we do feel like we’re a resort and we do provide a genuine resort experience, whether that goes right down to the facilities of the pool that you just mentioned which is currently heated at twenty-eight degrees. But where the resort experience really comes in is our customer service. We like to please our guests. All the staff here are certainly there to please guests first and foremost, and with that creates a great work environment and a great culture to be part of.
Ben: One of the things that I noticed on this whole journey is that any given time there is millions of millions of dollars tied up in caravans and motorhomes sitting on any of these sites. I mean it’s a multimillion-dollar carpark.
Ben: The money that some of these guys have invested in their er, well I don’t know whether it’s a toy, but is phenomenal. Some of them are like better than houses!
Ian: I think it’s a way of life for some people it isn’t it?
Ben: It’s definitely become that.
Bernie: Absolutely. From where we’re sitting recording this podcast there is a caravan behind us which is probably, you know is about $200,000 being pulled by a car which is …….
Ben: Equally as valuable!
Bernie: Exactly, but look these… um, are obviously, this time of year you have a lot of active retirees. They want to get out, they want to see this beautiful country. There’s not many of them sitting around during the day, they are out exploring these beautiful parts of our region.
Ben: What’s interesting is now I don’t have kids, I’m probably about the same age as you, so I understand why you would bring kids here, but you do the sell as a parent.
Bernie: If you want to come here as a family or even more so as a group with a group of families, or a group of friends, we’ve got a few options for you. You can bring you camper trailer or your caravan, but then we’ve also got the luxury safari tents. And many people staying here right now, there is one or two of them in the safari tents and the other two or three people in the group are on caravan sites and we like to try and group them all together. Yeah. And they can all come and holiday in the one place. Being a caravan park we would like to think we provide a really safe and inclusive atmosphere for the children. I come back to the restaurant and playground, so you can sit and have a coffee or a glass of wine or a beer.
Ben: Do you find many single people come along like you know with their partners and girlfriends without kids?
Bernie: Absolutely yeah! Especially this time of year that we are recording this it’s mainly couples. Yeah look there’s plenty for them to do, they obviously enjoy the restaurant and bar aspect just as much as the families. We are recording this on a Thursday so this afternoon we have music on a Thursday afternoon and happy hour every day. So, by all means. Caravan parks provide such a social holiday, it’s all about interacting with people.
Ben: What about friendships? I mean you know you must see the same people come back every year.
Bernie: Yeah well we’ve only been open three years so, but yeah we’ve already had some guests have holidayed with us seven or eight times in three years, which is fantastic. We’ve got some people here who come here every time since we’ve been open, every year since we’ve been open I should say. So yeah its fantastic. You know we love to see repeat guests, we try to get to know them by first name if we can. They all seem to know us by first name which is great, we’ve got lots of friends.
Ben: Okay people that are coming up, the best way to get in contact with you guys is to jump on to the website, what’s the website.
Bernie: Yes so www.rivershore.com.au or you can obviously go through the Ingenia Holidays page. Or you can obviously follow us on our Instagram or Facebook as well.
Ben: Right. And then Ian, you put your recipes up every day? Do you do a Nigella Lawson experience every night?
Ian: We don’t put our recipes up you know, we like to keep them secret. We have daily specials every day which are forever changing, depending on which fresh fish we’ve brought in, you know all that gets posted up on Instagram as well. So you can follow the different kinds of food we do as well.
Ben: Busiest time of the year, if people are listening today and think yeah we want to come up, we want to go out and see some of the different regions and some of the tourism things. What’s the best time of the year?
Bernie: Look obviously Christmas and Easter are our busy time of year. I think a beautiful time of year to come to the Sunshine Coast, which is actually quiet is in May. Beautiful weather, you still got that last bit of the summer so the water is still warm. The crowds are little bit lower.
Ian: A little bit lower.
Bernie: Yep ahh.
Ben: Ha ha ha ha.
Bernie: We are blessed here on the coast we get beautiful weather all year round, so, look, weekends are obviously popular, but we try to not say no. We obviously get booked out, but it’s normally only a week or so in advance.
Ben: And what would you recommend for families to do up here when they get here. What are some of the go to places to have a quick look at things. Because you can’t do it in a week.
Bernie: Oh no, look absolutely, the beaches are obviously beautiful. Close to Rivershore you’ve got Maroochydore, Mooloolaba Beach. About 20 minutes north your into Noosa, which is obviously beautiful and really popular. And you know for the families obviously Sea Life and Australia Zoo are quite popular as well. There is definitely some good Hinterland walks as well you know, up sort of Maleny Way or Montville and even in Noosa you have the National Park as well, beautiful coast.
Ben: The scenery is stunning from the top of Maleny like it’s just like you can see it was a volcano. You know the Botanic Gardens up there. Have you ever been up there?
Bernie: No I’ve heard good things though that they have redone it all.
Ben: He is Dr Doolittle. You have to go there, let me tell you. We just did an interview with him. You have to go there that man has a passion for gardens like I’ve never seen in my life he is like Dr Doolittle. Well guys thank you very much for your time.
Bernie & Ian: Thank you.
Ben: Really interesting to talk to you and good luck with everything of course.
Bernie: Thank you this is really awesome having the headphones on, I feel like I am Alan Jones now.
Ben: Well where you are sitting is where he sits quite regularly, so there you go! As we Drive Our Own Adventure, thanks for your time.
Bernie: Thank you.
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