We decided to detour from the coast for our next stop and headed inland from Mackay toward Eungella. To break our drive we did an overnight in another low cost showground in a tiny town off the highway called St Lawrence. We set up away from all the other travellers so we needn’t stress about the noise the kids make when much to our horror a couple pull up right beside us, closer than if we were in a caravan park! Karma really does come back to bite you though as a third van pulled up beside them and out stepped a couple with a young baby. I’m guessing they will think twice about pulling up so close next time! The exciting part of St Lawrence was we saw our first “Beware: Crocodiles” sign next to the river down the road from our camp. They are quite the norm as we head further North but for us Southerners we had to get out and take a pic! Needless to say we are quite cautious about any body of water now!
Leaving St Lawrence we continued on our way headed for our first camp in a National Park. Located in the Mackay highlands, Eungella National Park sits in a mountain range that rises approximately 1000m above sea level. Climbing the steep winding road that takes us from the low lying sugar cane fields into densely vegetated, lush green forrest, we are afforded a stunning view of the valley below. The temperature seems to drop with each twist and turn as Terry the Territory ever so slowly pulls us up the mountain. Matty did a stellar job of getting us and Terry up (and more importantly down again) in one piece with our transmission and brakes still in tact!
Eungella National Park is a special spot as you can see platypus in the river. I was skeptical at first that we would see any of these elusive creatures but to my surprise and pleasure we saw quite a few over our 2 days, playing and splashing in Broken River. We were camped on an embankment overlooking the river and one afternoon we could even see a platypus swimming by us from our van.
Once the kids got over the horror of no mobile phone reception at all (hence no internet connection for iview or footy scores) we thoroughly enjoyed the serenity of camping in a national park. The campground had composting toilets, which if the wind blew the wrong way got a bit whiffy, but were very clean. As far as amenities go that was it though. So it was boiling water on the stove for bucket washes in the tub and all cooking had to be done on gas again. We have got the ‘no power thing’ happening pretty well now. We have a solar panel that charges our battery during the day which we can run the car fridge off as well as for lights and charging mobile phones etc so it is still pretty luxury camping really. We did learn a lesson about conserving water though. We have two 80L tanks which we filled with drinking water before leaving Kinka Beach, but after a stop in St Lawrence, two nights at Eungella and knowing potable water wasn’t going to be available at our next stop either we realised pretty quickly that we had to be a bit stingy with the washing and bathing water!
I came far more prepared this leg of the trip with food than our last bush camp and stocked up the fridges in Yeppoon (which had an excellent woolies by the way) with food to last us until we hit a big town again. Lots of salad, goats cheese, good quality ham, dip and gf crackers and wraps make for easy lunches, whilst various forms meat to throw on the webber with veg or salad are great dinners. A fire pit was provided at the camp ground so with firewood from the information centre we had a fire crackling the second afternoon. The fire pit had a grill over the top so some damper rolls were cooked over the coals in true bush camping style. They tasted pretty good with dinner too!
After leaving our beautiful bush camp we headed towards Bowen and back on the coast again. Our stay in Eungella confirmed for us that we are definitely bush camp people rather than caravan parks so we opted to stay at a station stay about 20 minutes out of Bowen. Glen Erin Farmstay is on a 700 acre property that runs cattle, a few sheep and some chicken and turkeys. You couldn’t really see any of the livestock but the kids had a ball running around with the owner Lyn’s dog on the huge green grassy lawn provided for campers to stay on. It must be a full time job for Lyn keeping it so green as the rest of the landscape is a very dry, dusty brown.
After setting up we ventured into Bowen with a stop off at the Big Mango and some delicious mango sorbet. Actually it was just pure blended frozen mango but Bowen mangos live up to their reputation and it certainly needed no sugar added. After the obligatory selfie with one of Australia’s ‘big things’ we headed into town and to Horseshoe Bay. A stunning tiny bay with clear blue waters surrounded on three sides by coarse sand and large smooth, sandstone coloured rocks and boulders. It must have been clear we were Victorians as the afternoons get quite cool and all the other people sensibly got out of the water whilst our two munchkins dived straight in!
We treated ourselves to dinner out that night and were very impressed by the service and help with gluten free meals at the Grandview Hotel. Bubba managed to get a gluten free pizza which he was very excited about and my gf marinara pasta was delicious. Loaded with local seafood, tomato based sauce and the right hint of chilli it left me licking my lips. We’d definitely recommend this place if passing through Bowen.
We only had one night at Glen Erin as it was meant just to be a stopover, but we were all sad to leave the next morning. However, Townsville called and we packed ourselves back up again and on to our next adventure.
I do realise I am a bit behind in giving you a new recipe but we have been seriously busy the past couple of weeks! I promise I will get onto it though and have one up for you very soon. In the mean time, eat well and live happy