Australia: A Queensland Winter

So, this is winter in Oz. Well, to be more precise, this is winter along the QLD coastal stretch from Hervey Bay to Elliott Heads and beyond. A bit perfect really in an imperfect country that’s wracked by joyless covid lockdowns and a slow vaccine roll-out.

Still, we’ve been able to travel freely, and on this 3 week camper trailer trip, we booked camp sites on the run, soaked up blue skies and day temps that nudged 23, walked, cycled and hiked to our heart’s content. Nothing, absolutely nothing though is taken for granted, because as we’ve seen, things fall apart ever so quickly.

We made Hervey Bay our first stop.  This town has certainly come into its own and makes an excellent camping destination. The Pialba Tourist Park set on the beach is in easy walking distance along the very pretty esplanade to cafes, restaurants and parks (loads of parks – children are well catered for).

As good as a campsite gets
Hervey Bay Esplanade – 17 kms long – walk or cycle on the excellent track that runs alongside the beach
Walk to Vernon Point – 8 kms return with the promise of burgers and beers at Hervey Bay Hotel

From Hervey Bay, we drove to Elliott Heads, stopping briefly at the town of Howard. Here, there’s a popular pub, an equally popular bakery that churns out delicious pies, a drapery store that delights sewers and quilters and a little bit of history thrown in for good measure. Andrew Fisher, Australia’s PM through World War 1 lived and worked as a coal miner here in Howard.

Old style store with umpteen bolts of fabric. Caved in and bought a couple of 70s flannos – yep, if you’re going to sit around a camp fire, best to wear a flanno!

Elliott Heads, 15 mins from Bundaberg is a town that has just one convenience store and one bowls club, so the focus is very much on walking, cycling, swimming, relaxing.

Stunning Elliott Heads beach with Dr May’s Island on the right. The island is closed Sept 1 to April 30 each year so rare birds from Siberia/Arctic Circle can rest and breed.
Rock pools
Nice set up at EH Holiday Park.

Changes are afoot though in this 1000 strong town. The winds of development are howling with the proposal of 3200 home sites and locals are understandably white, hot furious knowing their idyllic lifestyle will be ruptured. Read about it here https://www.realestate.com.au/news/2-billion-development-for-the-bundaberg-region-has-beach-appeal/

From Elliott Heads, we drove to Woodgate, a town to which we will most definitely return. Its laid back, easy going charm hooked us from the start.

This is Woodgate – 12 kms of sand and tracks on which to cycle
NRMA Woodgate cafe
Banksia walking track in the National Park – an easy, flat 5.5 kms during
controlled burning season
Such an Aussie thing – thong tree at Walkers Point, a short drive from Woodgate. Across the river is the very cute town of Burrum Heads.

A 30 minute drive from Woodgate is Childers, a town full to the brim with heritage listed buildings.

Federal Hotel with its swinging doors and on the left, the art deco Paragon Theatre
Once a bank
The Palace Hotel, 20 years after a deliberately lit fire killed 15 backpackers. Impossible to forget, the top floor is now a memorial to these young people.
Fabulous family owned museum heaving with war memorabilia and loads of other interesting things
Agriculture rules here- sugar cane, macadamias, avocados and tomatoes

We mixed up our camping experiences by using FB’s countrypubcamping which led us to Tiaro and Theebine. We couldn’t have been more pleased with our pub choices.

Hideaway Hotel Tiaro – good chatting to locals over drinks and substantial pub grub dinner. Free camping across the road.
Mary River views @ Tiaro
Lots to like at Theebine Hotel’s music/BBQ Sunday afternoon. 27 degree summer temps in winter sure helped our 2 days fly by as did the friendly owner and fellow campers. Will definitely return.
A few kms from Theebine – Dickabram Bridge built in 1886 – 23 m high across Mary River

Still wanting to mix up the camping, we headed to Mothar Mt near Gympie for some bush camping. Cobb and Co Nine Mile Camping is set on 50 acres and with lockdowns in place, there were few campers and plenty of space.

Making the cut – camp fire, camp dinner, wine, kangaroos, starry starry night
Mothar Mt rock pools

In signs of a changing covid world, at dusk on our first night at Mothar Mt, police paid a visit to our campsite to check we hadn’t breached lockdown conditions. After a quick look at our QR check ins, a long chat and wistful looks at our set up, they headed off.

On another note, Victorian number plates dominate camping grounds and naturally there’s considerable talk of the ‘best’ way to return home through locked down NSW. The Newell Highway appears to be the designated corridor, but with just 24 hrs to travel through the state and only fuel stops allowed, it’s destined to be a hard gig for travellers, some of whom are elderly, towing large caravans and have dogs on board.

We’ve been lucky; the last few weeks have given way to travel that too easily bends to whims, last minute decisions and a wonderful sense of freedom. Appetites are whetted, further destinations dangle like carrots; tantalisingly tempting.

For now though, we’re headed home to get double shotted with astrazeneca. Stay safe everyone.

4 thoughts on “Australia: A Queensland Winter

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