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REPORTER: GAVIN ALDER.

Christmas on the beach -- It doesn't get any more Aussie than that. It's a tradition losing none of its appeal and why would it?

Our beaches are getting as full as Bill Gates' wallet. "It's booming, you could go as far as saying that", said Phil Villiers who is with Tweed Coast Tourism on the New South Wales north coast.

Phil puts the clamour for caravan and camping spots down to the parks providing better facilities. "There've been some wonderful upgrades - there are some extra facilities now so the whole holiday park experience is one of the best in the country", he said.The latest -- The Surfari Tent -- is open for business at Kingscliff in northern NSW for the first time this year and caters for anyone who wants the camping experience without the fuss. "When you finish you just turn the key, walk out and you go home and that's it -- we'll clean up after you", said Phil Adams. It is priced at $80-$120 a night depending on the time of year.

Or there is Raes on Wategos Beach in Byron Bay - one of Australia's most famous holiday locations, especially among international celebrities. For between $1,000 and $1,200 a night, you can rest your head where Elle McPherson often rests hers. Marionne DeCandier of Raes says it's exclusive and luxurious, but at the end of the day it's all about location. "It's all about the Australian culture and the beach and the lifesavers. It's just so Australian and all part of what we grew up with", Marionne said.

Whether it's a beer or a champagne budget, it's the simple things that keep drawing Australians back to the beach for their holidays. Sand between the toes and the view of the ocean it's all much the same and now more than ever, Australians are finding there's no place to holiday like close to home. Stayz online holiday accommodation booking service tracks holiday trends. Our dollar is getting close to parity with the U.S. dollar, which makes overseas travel more affordable.

Matthew Bell from Stayz has a theory: "This year's a bit different from past years with the global financial crisis. They're looking for affordability, so they're looking for places closer to home and a lot of places where they cater and don't have to go out for their food". Stayz holiday tracking shows 60% of New South Wales holiday makers stay in the state and their top five picks are Byron Bay; Sydney's city centre; Jervis Bay; Bondi Beach and Kiama, south of the capital.

60% of Victorians holiday in their home state, their favourite destinations being: Lorne; Melbourne city; Cowes; Torquay and Apollo Bay.

Queensland is the real stay at home state - 80% holidaying within Queensland. The top locations are: Surfers Paradise; Broadbeach; Gold Coast Central; Noosa and Hamilton Island.

South Australian holiday makers are most likely to travel interstate -- just 43% are staying in SA this Christmas, most choosing: Glenelg; Adelaide city; Victor Harbor; Robe and Port Elliot.

While in the west 58% holiday where they are, most choosing Fremantle; Dunsborough; Margaret River; Cottesloe and Mandurah.

And the Number 1 destination nationally is Surfers Paradise.

Record numbers are hitching up the van - there are more than 400,000 registered caravans in Australia - and experts can only guess at how many are pitching a tent. "They're getting back to nature, they're spending more quality time with families but it's also the most affordable holiday option in Australia", said the Caravan Industry Association CEO, Ben Yates.

Ben reckons it's not just because overseas holidays are more expensive, but they are too stressful to organise. "Caravan and holiday park holidays are less hassle, there are not the security lines, the check in -- you just pack your things and go", he said. And when you get there, chances are you make life long friendships with folk you wouldn't have met otherwise.