Sunday, October 28, 2012

Queensland holiday - final instalment

We'd been told, when we were planning this holiday, that you couldn't just turn up to a camping area in a national park in Queensland. You need to have pre-booked and paid for your site before arriving at a campground. On the Thursday afternoon we rang the number to book a campsite on Inskip Peninsula only to find that the booking system was out of action, had been unavailable all week and there was no expected date for it be up and running again. We were advised to just turn up and find a campsite then contact the ranger to sort out payment. So we did just that. We headed through Rainbow Beach and made our way to one of four camping areas out on Inskip Peninsula. There was plenty of room so we found a suitable spot and set up the tents. It was about a 15 second walk to get onto the beach. Fantastic!

We doubled back to Rainbow Beach to sort out paying for the campsite and to purchase some firewood.

Rainbow Beach looking down towards the coloured sands

View from the sand dune just along from Rainbow Beach
Coloured sands - much more dramatic when you're there
We stayed at this campsite for a week and spent our days pretty lazily. One morning after breakfast we wandered along to the end of the peninsula to watch cars boarding the barge for Fraser Island. After checking with the crew we found we were able to go across on the barge at no cost so we hopped on. We weren't very prepared for this - no shoes, no water, no food - just what we stood up in. For me that was my bikini, sarong and hat.

View from the barge looking back at Fraser Island.
A couple of days later we got ourselves better organised and hopped back on the barge to spend the day out on Fraser Island. We walked around the coast for a couple of hours, had a picnic lunch and a swim before heading back towards where the barge would pick us up again.
View from our picnic spot on Fraser Island looking back at the mainland
Goanna on Fraser Island
View from Fraser Island back to Inskip Peninsula
The most delightful thing about both our trips out to Fraser Island were the pods of dolphins we saw. There were several pods and some came very close to the shore - almost within arms reach when we were swimming.

The camping areas on Inskip are pretty basic. There are composting toilets and there is rubbish disposal and that's it. You're not allowed to collect firewood and you need to bring all your water in with you. Rainbow Beach is just down the road and has cafes, supermarkets, takeaways, etc. We had some great meals cooking over the fire and using our little gas stove. A week after we arrived it was time to pack up and head for Brisbane and our flight home. We'd had fantastic weather for the week so didn't mind the torrential rain we encountered on our drive back down to Brisbane. With an early check-in time at Brisbane Airport we had booked ourselves into a cheap hotel out by the airport. The shower was complete luxury after a week of beach camping. The next morning we were up early and off to the airport after having had a wonderful relaxing holiday in the sun.

If you're thinking of heading to Queensland I can recommend the company we booked our car through. For $582 (Australian dollars) we had a medium-sized car (Camry) for two weeks with unlimited kms and a wide area we could travel within (which we only went outside a little!). We had great service from the pickup at the airport right through to collecting and returning the car. The only issue we had with the car was the alarm malfunctioning in the early hours of the morning at the Inskip campsite. That was soon solved with a quick disconnection of the horn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Queensland holiday - part 2

In Part 1 we had made it to Lake Coolmunda, Queensland. Our next destination was Lake Broadwater. To get there we traveled west to Goondiwindi, north to Moonie and then took the road north-east towards Dalby. We did a little shopping in Goondiwindi to stock up our food supplies before hitting the road again. The town of Moonie was the only place on the map between Goondiwindi and Dalby so we figured we would stop there for lunch. Of course, when we got there we realised town was a bit of an exaggeration. Moonie had one place to eat - the roadhouse. Not exactly a salubrious establishment but we were hungry so it had to do. After lunch we were back on the road to Lake Broadwater where we would spend the next two nights. The campground is right on the shore of the lake and there was tons of room so we sorted out our campsite before having a look around. Camping here cost us just over $20 / night (and there were hot showers!).

Here's our campsite and our kitchen / dining room

We got to see loads of kangaroos close to the lake. The first photo shows a mum with a joey's legs and tail hanging out of her pouch. Looks pretty uncomfortable for both of them.

On the second day at the lake we thought we'd go for a walk. There was a walk described in the brochure that sounded interesting and it mentioned a 1.5 km distance. Not too challenging. Sadly the instructions weren't quite right so we walked a distance of around 8 kms. We were all rather hot and tired when we got back to the campsite. On the walk we spotted one snake - we didn't get a good picture of it but it was fat and black from what we could see. Interestingly the track we were on was sandy and was crisscrossed with many snake trails - skinny ones and thicker ones. So I think the area was pretty much teeming with snakes.

We got chatting to a bloke who told us that the lake had been dry for 12 years up until the previous year when they had massive floods. It's funny. In New Zealand if we decided to go camping at a lake we would expect there to be water in it. I guess it's not a given in Australia.

The following photo is of my lovely cousin Leonore and myself by the lake. Leonore drove several hours from the town of Surat to come spend the afternoon with us. It was great to catch up with her as we hadn't seen each other since we were kids (which is a few years ago now).

The next day it was time to pack up and start heading north-east with the intention of being able to easily get back to the coast the following day. This day took us through Dalby then Kingaroy. We stopped at a pub for lunch in Kingaroy - and to pick up more supplies (the all important cider was on the list of things to get). After lunch we headed to Lake Barambah for a bit of a swim before driving through to Glastonbury State Forest. Leonore had mentioned that we would be able to camp in the forest so we took a road into the forest, then another side road and set up camp.

Campsite for the night

Me in the kitchen (cider in hand)
We didn't bother using the fly over the tent so it was glorious night with a clear sky and lots of stars. The next morning we headed into Gympie to a park to have breakfast.
View from our breakfast spot in Gympie
And then it was on to the coast. We had picked the Inskip Peninsula as the spot where we would spend a week. I'll create another post for that one!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Queensland holiday - part 1

The recent October school holidays provided us with the opportunity to escape Wellington's miserable spring (hah!) weather and head for warmer climes. This was to be a relaxing holiday in the sun on a shoestring budget. We sorted out flights and a cheapo rental car and that was the organising finished. NZ school holidays had a week overlap with Queensland and New South Wales holidays so we were expecting that camp grounds, etc could be pretty busy.

We flew into Brisbane on the morning flight, picked up the rental car then headed to the second hand shops to get some supplies. After visiting three shops we had what we needed - a fry pan, a pot, cutlery, crockery and a bowl. We'd brought our tents and a little gas cooker so we were all set. We spent our first night at a holiday park in Kingscliff. This was our most expensive camping night at $55 (ouch!). The place was pretty chocka but there was a little corner for our tents so we set ourselves up for the night and used the gas bbq to cook our dinner.

The holiday park was right on the beach so a dip in the sea before breakfast was a great way to start the first full day of our holiday. With the weather forecast for the coast looking less than ideal and all the warnings about the busyness expected due to school holidays we made the call to head inland. So, after breakfast we packed up and headed to our next destination - Border Ranges National Park. While our holiday was primarily in Queensland, this park is over the border in New South Wales.

We stopped and had lunch at the Murwillumbah Services club. I'd been there before a couple of times with my parents so I was on familiar ground. After lunch we carried on and into the Border Ranges National Park. Here's the view of one of the worlds largest calderas.

The lump in the middle is Mt Warning and that's about the centre of the caldera. It's the biggest erosion caldera in the southern hemisphere.

We camped for two nights in the Sheepstation Creek campground within the National Park. Fees to camp here were $16 / night - a nice price after paying through the nose at Kingscliff. After numerous warnings about how busy all the campgrounds would be we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was plenty of room. Here's our site.

On our second day there we headed off for a walk around the Rosewood Loop track. The following are a few nature shots we took while on the walk.

Sheepstation Creek

Rather large, interesting tree

Waterfall (obviously)
Two freaking snakes - mating or fighting?
Another freaking snake
Seriously?!? We weren't expecting to see any snakes on our trip so to see three in one day was a little daunting.  All three were within a metre or so of the track we were walking on.
Reptile with legs for a change
Here's a short video of those snakes.

The next day we packed up and headed further west. On checking our comprehensive resources (a freebie tourist map of South East Queensland) we decided to head for the Coolmunda Conservation Park thinking we might find a spot in the park to camp. Sadly when we got there it was all fenced off and didn't look particularly attractive so we headed back towards the main road and booked in for the night at the Lake Coolmunda Caravan Park. This was about as attractive as the conservation park was but did have the advantage of having hot showers. It cost us $30 for the night. The park itself is sandwiched between the railway line and the Cunningham Highway. Nice! Only one train went through in the middle of the night. Anyway, here's a couple of photos.

Campsite at Lake Coolmunda

View of Lake Coolmunda from the campground
I think that's enough for the first episode. I'll get to work on the next one and post that in the next day or so.