"And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling" Shanti
Kilkivan Bushcamp came highly recommended to us by close friends and various caravanning and camping groups. So it is fair to say that we had high expectations of the place.
And we were not disappointed! Even before we arrived, we were impressed. You see we took the wrong exit and were travelling along this country road quite happily until we reached a t-section with no directions and no idea which way to turn. Would you believe along sped this car, pulled up next to us and before we even asked, told us how to reach the campground.
We soon learned that this friendly bloke is co-owner Ralph. At the campground we were met by his partner and wife Antonija. They are both lovely down to earth people – we immediately felt at home. The atmosphere at the campground is very relaxed.
Our spot for the weekend was on the banks of Fat Hen Creek. What a difference to be camping in the country – the sites are VERY generous with lots of trees and grass all round. It is an absolute delight to wake up to the various bird songs.
Fire pits are provided and we made full use of ours! You are transported to another world sitting around the fire and gazing up at a starry sky. In addition, the campground is also pet friendly. All dogs we encountered during the weekend were friendly and well-behaved – their owners weren’t too bad either.
But wait, I am not done yet singing the praises of the place. Saturday mornings from 8am Ralph and Antonia put on a free breakfast for all campers. What a great way to meet your neighbours while enjoying pancakes with a variety of toppings and a warm cuppa.
Another advantage of this place is that there is no mobile coverage. I was quite surprised just how peaceful and relaxing it is to be without a phone and the internet for a while. However, you are not roughing it by no means as there are power and modern amenities.
What can you do here?
Fat Hen Creek is a great spot to cool down. Both children and dogs had a ball swimming and splashing around in the cold water. It is also a great place for birdwatching. We were delighted by the antics of a trusting Apostle bird.
The township of Kilkivan is just a few minutes away where aromatic coffees, delicious food and quaint antique shops await you. Or you could follow the signs in town to Mudlo National Park. It is a lovely winding road (all bitumen after the day use area) to the top of the Mudlo range where there are picnic tables, an open fireplace and toilets.
For some bushwalking head back to the Scrubby Creek day use area. The Scrubby Creek circuit leaves from the carpark. It is a very easy walk crossing the creek twice. Pearson’s Lookout branches off from this circuit and is a 1.4km return walk. However, it is a very steep climb with lots of steps to reach the top.
Kilkivan bushcamp is also a great spot for a base if you like 4 wheel driving. Start by exploring ‘The Chimney’ which is a restored part of the Mount Clara Mine Copper Smelter. The range offers a variety of tracks to explore ranging from very easy to somewhat challenging.
I am certain that when asked the question ‘Why do you camp?’ most people will respond that they simply love it. However, that answer is insufficient, it is the easy way out. Take some time to think it over …why do you camp?
We camp to get away from it all and be close to nature. What can be better than to sit next to the campfire at night and gaze up at the stars? What a privilege to wake up to the sound of birds, to breathe in the cold freshness of the morning air and to see the horizon ever so gently lighten up as the first rays of the sun emerge.
As our family expanded and the kids came along we couldn’t think of a better way to build a family bond. We wanted them to experience and enjoy nature the way we do and for quite some time it seemed to work. Then they became teenagers and the bright lights, noise and rhythm of city life cast a spell over them.
However, I am confident that one day they will return to camping. You see I hear it in their voices when we reminisce about places we visited. And when I listen to what they deemed highlights of various trips, I also realise that while camping we were building memories to last a lifetime.
In addition to memories these camping trips have also helped to shape the kids characters. For example, trying to sleep in a tent at Port Gregory while the wind does its best to rip it to pieces, taught them to stay calm amid a storm – literally and figuratively. Thanks to that and many other similar experiences they know that difficult situations are merely temporary and that those too shall pass.
They have developed a love and respect for all life forms. We encountered a few spiders, snakes, stingers, bull ants, etc. along the way, but because we also came across cute and cuddly animals we know to treat them all with respect, even the ones we don’t like so much. Those ones you just avoid as far as possible and leave them to go their own way. I can see the kids applying these principles to people too and it works a charm.
Climbing the Sterling Ranges taught them that hard work pays off in the end. It also taught them to listen to their mum, that the wind on top of a mountain is really ice cold not matter what time of year!
Oh I can go on and on about the blessings we received and the lessons we learned while camping. But I think is it clear that we camp because we really love it.
From our very first visit we have been enchanted by Noosa. It is very refined and sophisticated with glamourous resorts, boutiques, art galleries, nightclubs and gourmet food. However, it managed to keep a relaxed vibe with plenty of natural beauty to attract nature lovers and surfers.
Until recently we have only managed to squeeze in day visits to Noosa spending all of our time around Noosa Heads and the Main Beach. Recently we based ourselves at Noosa Caravan Park and had a blast exploring the area. You can read about it here.
There is no shortage of accommodation, however, be warned that this area is VERY popular. Therefore you need to book in advance to avoid disappointment and be aware that it comes at a premium.
We choose Noosa Caravan Park as it is just up the road from the vehicle ferry to Rainbow Beach. It is a lovely park with a tropical feel thanks to all the palm trees and abundance of birdlife.
The bays are not huge and fairly close to one another. However, I thought it a lovely personal touch that the owner comes out onsite and gives the driver reversing directions.
All amenities are modern and very clean. There is a dump point for the disposal of black water and plenty of bins located throughout the park for both general and recyclable garbage.
No fires or pets are permitted in the park. Smoking is also banned in all buildings and communal area. The park has a solar heated swimming pool, playground, kiosk and free wi-fi.
Now while we have enjoyed the time spent in caravan parks while we get accustomed to the van, we do crave wide open spaces and campfires. So while we will still visit the odd caravan park here and there, future updates will focus more on camping spots away from the big smoke where you can sit around the fire and drink in the peace and quiet.
Technology has simplified and enriched our lives in so many ways. Although I have only recently discovered the apps I want to tell you about, I cannot imagine going on a road trip without it.
I am not the world’s biggest app user, but these two met all of my requirements. I need apps to be easy to navigate. I do not want to struggle through a mountain of literature or to ask the kids to help me operate it. Games are not high on my list of priorities, I need my apps to be ‘useful’. Furthermore I am not willing to pay a fortune for an app.
So I set out to find apps that will make life on the road a little easier. Our first requirement when hitting the road, is to find a place to overnight or a campground where we can linger for a few days while exploring the surroundings. Fellow travellers suggested I get WikiCamps.
What a little beauty! WikiCamps is a user generated camping app for Australia. I do believe you can also get it for NZ, the USA, Canada and the UK. All the information is added, edited and shared by the users. It includes campsites, caravan parks, day rest areas, points of interest and information centres. But wait, it even gets better: you can include your favourite activities in the search criteria for a custom made get away. For example, you can specify that you only want to view sites where you can fish, swim, do some 4x4ing or take your dog with.
The best feature by far for me is that you can find free camping grounds on this app. Users also upload photos enabling you to see what the area looks like before you get there.
The second app that I love is Triplify. It can be hard to keep up with what’s on while travelling. So many times we have missed spectacular events that happened a mere stone’s throw from our camping area – not anymore!
Now I simply use Triplify to see what’s on in the area. It is not only events in the capital cities that are covered, but also regional events in remote Australia. Simply type in your destination and see what’s on. You can choose between Cultural Events, Entertainment, Markets, Sports and Free Events. When you find an event you like, simply click on the heart symbol to add it to your shortlist.
Do you have any travel apps you adore?
Bribie Island Caravan Park has a lot going for it, not least of all being its location. It is situated only one hour from Brisbane, 30 minutes from the Sunshine Coast and a mere 300m away from the beach itself.
I have to warn you though that there is not a heck of a lot of caravan/tent plots available as most of the park is taken up by villas and cabins. Also at first glance it seems that the camping spots have been squeezed in rather close to one another. However, the park is rather well designed which results in maximum privacy for everybody.
There are a lot on offer for families like a pool, mini golf, half court tennis and games room.
The amenities blocks are open, airy and very clean. The laundromat, kitchen and dump point are sure to delight all campers.
You can take a leisurely walk to beach. Woorim is the only surf beach on the island and is patrolled by lifesavers. The foreshore has large grassy areas, a playground, a small shopping centre and various eateries.
Although all great features, I am sure you can find them all in other parks too. What sets this park apart, is the friendliness of the locals. There are a high percentage of permanent residents and they are the parks biggest asset in my eyes.
We were greeted warmly every time our paths crossed. They are also more than willing to tell you more about the island, e.g. best places to eat or favourite fishing spots. Take the time to get to know them, it truly is an enriching experience.
Camping is such a happy and care-free activity for us that I have to admit that until recently I have been ill prepared for any illness or mishaps while camping. We are generally a very healthy family and therefore it did not feature very high on the agenda.
However, as we are venturing further and further away from civilisation on our camping expeditions, it just makes sense to be better prepared. Two standard first aid kits later (one for the caravan and one for the vehicle) I felt more at ease.
That was until a very nasty cold/flu bug cut short our camping trip last weekend. The first aid kits are absolutely marvellous for cuts, fractures and to rinse foreign objects from your eyes. However, it has NO medication at all.
Lesson learned. I have now expanded my first aid kit to include the following:
I included a wide spectrum pain relieve tablet that the whole family has been using with no side effects. Just remember to periodically check the expiry date of your medications and throw out any old stuff.
Again a broad spectrum medication that covers a range of symptoms like aching muscles, headache, running nose, etc. I really think it is vital that you only include medication you have used before. The last thing you want when out in the bush is to deal with a reaction to the medication.
Every family is prone to a certain ailment, some get headaches, others sinus, etc. My family’s Achilles’ heel is a sore throat. While lozenges provide huge relieve, it also has a lot of side effects. Due to the frequency we are using it, it leaves our throats feeling raw and our tongues very sore.
Luckily I have a home remedy that works a treat. A tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey in a quarter cup of boiling water. You should drink this as hot as you can and it can be enjoyed as frequently as required. For years I have just used store bought lemon juice, but now I know better.
Slice two or three lemons (depending on the size of your jar) very thinly and stack into a glass jar. Next fill the jar with honey and allow to infuse for a couple of days. Now simply use two tablespoons of this mixture in a quarter cup of boiling water. It seems to be a far more potent concoction.
Isn’t it annoying how the colder night air seems to bring on coughing fits? Annoying not only for the poor person suffering through it, but also for everybody within close vicinity trying to get a good night’s sleep. We have found a rather unusual solution to this problem.
When first a friend told me of this, I was highly sceptical, but let’s face it at 2am and close to my wit’s end, I was willing to try just about anything! The solutions lies in rubbing the soles of your feet with Vicks VapoRub. It works a treat :-)
Springbrook National Park is not only big, it is also comprised of four different sections on and around the plateau. We have previously hiked to and explored The Natural Bridge and has been quite eager ever since to come back.
Unfortunately due to family circumstances (read: active social lives of teenagers without driver’s licences) we again visited this park as day users. However, this time we also explored the camping grounds known as The Settlement. This area has so much to offer that a future camping trip is a no brainer.
The Settlement is situated close to walking tracks that lead to the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk and is the perfect base from which to explore the myriad of tracks in the park. It is currently the only camping ground as the previous camping area at Gwongorella has been closed. Bush camping is not allowed in the park.
There are 11 sites available that are suitable for tents, campervans or camper trailers. The sites are not suitable for caravans.
There are toilets, drinking water and a cooking shelter with free electric BBQs. However, there are no showers or mobile reception. Please also note that open fires are prohibited and that generators are not permitted. It is essential that you book your spot well in advance for holiday periods.
While it takes all kinds to make the world go round, you can save yourself a lot of tribulation by discovering who you really are. You need to know what makes you tick and what ticks you off. Not only will it be of tremendous help in your relationships, be it personal or professional, but it will also enhance and enrich your experiences.
Camping is no different. Once you know who you are and what you want from your camping experience, you can create your perfect environment as well as choose travelling companions that compliments your outlook on being outdoors. Trust me, you will all be happier for it.
You are as relaxed as can be. Your first mission when arriving at the camping grounds is to start a fire. Once that is going, you pull up a few chairs for your mates, kick back and relax.
This laid back attitude weaves it way through everything you do – even preparing food while camping seems to be a breeze. You only ever bring along two pots that miraculously produce delicious stress-free dishes.
Your favourite campsite activities include playing cards, listening to music or yakking with friends. Nothing gets in the way of you having a good time – if it rains you merely retreat to your tent to read a book.
You love the peace and quiet of nature and do not splurge on expensive camping gear. Camping for you is getting back to basics.
The adventurous camper.
You did not come camping to laze around all day. Armed with a map of the area you want to get out there to explore the landscape. Your main criteria for your food is that it should fit into your backpack.
Daylight hours are not to be wasted. You can be found on your bike, kayak or hiking from sunrise to sunset. You are out there come rain, snow or hail. You spare no expense when it comes to your equipment as your very survival might depend on it.
You’ve got style and you are not afraid to flaunt it. Of course you love camping, as long as there is wi-fi. I mean, how else are you going to upload your pictures to social media?
Forget about tents though – they are so prehistoric. Your caravan or RV is equipped with a coffee machine, a Panini press, leather lounges and an entertainment unit.
You love getting away … as long as you can bring the finer things in life with you.
You camp to truly get away from it all. The less you bring with, the happier you are. You do not frequent caravan parks, but rather look for a clearing in the woods or a secluded spot next to river where you can pitch your tent.
You are not afraid of roughing it and are ready for anything nature throws at you. When you camp, you leave technology behind and rely on your common sense and skills to get you through difficult situations.
Do you dream of breaking away to a small settlement at the edge of the water where you can simply sit and watch the tide come in and roll out again? Maybe wet a fishing line if you feel up to it?
Throw in a couple of birds gently foresting for food in the mud flats for entertainment. A friendly mob of locals would be appreciated too.
Dream no more, both the townships of Donnybrook and Toorbul comply with all your requirements. They are located about 50km north of Brisbane on the Pumicestone passage facing Bribie Island.
It is speculated that the name Toorbul resembles that of an Aboriginal clan of the area. In days gone by this township was the causeway crossing point to Bribie. Nowadays it is home to a few retirees and holiday makers.
The town has a convenience store, tavern and caravan park. Along the foreshore there are several picnic tables and bbq’s as well as a boat ramp.
If boating and fishing are your thing, you’ll be hard pressed to find a caravan park with a better location than the one at Donnybrook. It is situated right next to the boat ramp with no streets to cross to reach the water. The caravan park is also right next to the general store with a take away across the road. You don’t even have to think about dinner, just head over to the local bowls club for meals.
Both these locations are great for bird watchers and photographers. According to Moreton Bay Council :
“Pumicestone Passage is home to about 1,500 resident shorebirds of 11 species, and nearly 20,000 migratory shorebirds of 24 species. About 15% of our migratory shorebirds stay for the whole year, being youngsters too young to breed or adults too old to breed or not strong enough to make the journey.
Most migratory shorebirds that choose Pumicestone Passage as their non-breeding grounds are summer visitors and come from breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere. The exception is the Double-banded Plover, a winter visitor from New Zealand."
Up till now our camping experiences were gained with tents. However, as we age, tent camping is becoming more and more uncomfortable …and so we entered the world of caravanning.
My best tip is to know what you need in a caravan before you start looking. What size are you after? What accessories do you want or need? What will you use your caravan for? How much are you willing to spend? Will you be buying a new or used one? These initial decisions will save you a lot of time.
The next step is to consider the towing capacity of your vehicle. Check the caravan’s Tare, ATM and tow ball weight against your vehicle’s specifications. Please note that is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that none of the load ratings of the caravan and towing vehicle are ever exceeded.
After months of research we decided to buy a used caravan. A big factor in this decision was the realisation of just how many extras are just thrown into the deal. We are also not too fussed about having the latest technology or design ideas – Bertus is pretty darn handy and will change these to suit our needs and liking. Buying second hand though requires you to have a slightly different checklist.
You need to take the caravan’s age and ownership history into account. Ask where the caravan has been stored when not in use and where it has been. Does the manufacturer still exist? This will be crucial should you need any spare parts.
Are there any documentation available? Ask for the weighbridge, gas and electrical certificates. It would also be handy to have a look at the service history and instruction manuals. Ensure to compare the VIN plate with the documentation provided.
Look for any signs of repairs. Are the sealant around the windows and ventilation hatches damaged? Check for stone damage, rust or cracks on the axle/suspension. What is the condition of the water tanks and wiring? Do the tyres have good tread? Is there a spare tyre? Check the condition of the battery and gas bottles.
Inside the caravan you should be checking for any smell of dampness or chemicals used to disguise it. What is the general condition of the cupboards? If there is an ensuite, check for signs of mould.
Does the awning opens and closes properly? What is the condition of the canvas? Is there a smoke alarm and fire extinguisher?
Whether new or used, it is a big investment, take your time.