Beardy Creek Free Camp

Beardy Creek is approximately 8 kilomteres north of Glen Innes on the New England ... It is a free camp with a forty eight hour maximum stay. (Camps Australia Wide 7 #148)

I am standing up on the track which the truckies would use.

There is plenty of room for large vans here, and it is a good spot for quick overnight on your way though to see one of the majestic national parks in the New England Region.

A beautiful rainbow embraces the motorhome
 We enjoyed our friendly time in Maryvale but it was time to move on again. In keeping with our motto of taking it easy, we travelled just 200km after attending church first at Warrick. Our destination this time was at Heritage Park on Beardy Creek just north of Glen Inness.

Got to keep an eye on the rising creek levels

We generally average 80k/h but the hills slow us down significantly. Rob was very concerned about the brakes on the motorhome as they were shuddering something fierce when heavily applied. I was to drive within eyesight behind to reduce the stress on the brakes and to be within cooee if something terrible happened.

Hardly a soul in sight.
Nothing happened on the trip. The grounds are very wet and we chose not to camp at the 'proper' camp grounds as it was so boggy. instead we went just 50m further to what appears to be a very large truck stop. Rob reckons that not many trucks would stop there due to the approach from the road and they certainly can't veer off the hard track. Once we had parked and settled, we enjoyed relaxing and looking out with the creek just metres away. We weren't going to be doing much walking since there was a gently but constant drizzle of rain. We were watching the already high river to ensure that it wasn't likely to go any higher.

Maryvale and Condamine River

Our stay in Maryvale was a joy, mainly because of the company of our friend John who recently moved there. We generally  plan to meet up with John each time we travel to Queensland.

The very friendly Maryvale Pub -they have their own free 'Uber' driver

We first met John and Kathy in Western Australia back about 6 years and have spent many camp nights in their wonderful company. Sadly Kathy died in a bike accident early this year but John still wants to travel and meet up.

John's place - it's not really a free camp - we just did a send up for fun

He has just bought a flat 1 acre block in Maryvale just east of Warwick and is encouraging his friends to drop by and camp a night or two with him whenever you are in the area. So we did just that! John had other friends there whom we naturally befriended. We soon got to know John and Tracey and enjoyed their company too.

Tracey delighted us by cooking for all of us on the first night.  I returned the favour the second night and John the third night with the 4th night being a combined BBQ pit fire night for all comers.

Maryvale is such a lovely friendly place, it is no wonder that John is happily settled there. All John needs now is to get his plans passed so he can get his shed up and move in properly.

Daggs Falls & Queen Mary Falls

The five of us went for a drive through to Queen Mary Falls, stopping at Daggs Falls first.

Our two daggy friends (Pls note Rob is NOT a dag) ;)
We walked to see the Queen Mary Falls with the two Johns & Tracey doing the full walk down to the bottom of the falls and back.

A scrumptious lunch was enjoyed by us all at the Queen Mary Falls kiosk of their Wicked Cheesy Wedges with sour cream, bacon and onion and salsa.Oh my, these were so yum, I am almost salivating again as I write. (I am going to try to duplicate this recipe one day.

BTW you can camp behind the kiosk for a fee in their little caravan park. We were well nourished for a bit of light 4WDriving around Condamine River which is the head of the Darling/Murray River.

4WDriving around Condamine River

We stopped at a look out that overlooked the Gorge and lovely countryside.

John's car in front of us.

It is a wonderful drive going over no less than 14 river crossings! It was a fabulous day of great fun with these marvellous friends.

Festival of Flowers 2016 Toowoomba

There really isn't too much to say about the amazing flowers and the artistic presentation of the flowers is just awe inspiring... and this was after a horrible & extended period of extremely wet weather that must have disheartened the workers, but what we saw was just beautiful.
Feast your eyes and try to get there next year. It is truly worth it!

 Everything was so artisically arranged in the beds that it was a delight to see the next flower bed.


The tulips are the royal flowers here,
but that is not to say that other flowers weren't appreciated for their own beauty,
let alone as a gorgeous colour foil for the showpieces.


It was absolutely wonderful.

Oh by the way, I didn't mention anything about the scents,
only because that is one of the casualties of my cancer, I can't smell!

Toowoomba: the city of flowers

We have friends in Toowoomba, though we don't keep in touch alot with them, we do know that we can pick up the threads from the last time and weave a little more of the tapestry of life together each time we see one of them. This time, we stayed in the driveway of long time friends, Leo and Alice. We met up recently with Leo and Alice briefly when we were all at the Bathurst CMCA Rally back in July this year and they kindly invited us to stay with them when we came through.

It was a lovely coincidence that we were in Toowoomba at the tail end of the Festival of Flowers. The organizers must have been wrought with concern with all the most unseasonably wet weather. We delayed visiting the gardens until a dryer period since we were staying a week and had the time. The whole city is filled with flowers but certainly the main gardens are spectacular. In my opinion I think it beats Canberra's Floriade by an artistic mile. In fact we loved the gardens so much and took so many photos that I will dedicate one post just to the flower festival.

Rob is loving the variety of flowers esp the tulips.

We filled some of the time visiting the Cobb & Co Museum and a drive to the privately funded Wellcamp Airport. Rob and Leo know the family that built this forward thinking public airport.

I didn't get my own photo, but this plane is truly up inside the airport terminal!

Dump Point Grumbles

On arrival before we rocked up to our friends, it was time to empty our black water tank. We had tried to use the one at Calbutra and found that it was unsuitable as it was 3 ft high. We need to use gravity to empty the tank. We have since been advised that it can be accessed lower, but you couldn't tell by driving up to it, hence we drove on past it.

So we had to use the dump point here at the Toowoomba showground and found that it was rather difficult to access. It has a 1 metre fence all around it. We couldn't park close enough to use it easily. For the first time ever, we had to use our extension hose, which I doubt many motorhomes would have.I reckon that the councils and waste water boards should seek CMCA advice before adding such services to make it as practical as possible. We've also been to ones where you have to reverse in to use it which would be very difficult for some RVs and caravans. A bit of forethought and planning would make a dump so much easier.

Beerburrum and the Glasshouse Mountains

We were able to camp at a private property in Beerburrum almost on the eastern slopes of the Glasshouse Mountains. Barry and Marlina have opened their property to members only of the CMCA to stay free of charge as part of the MSO initiative. This relatively new option is not open to the public but I believe will become more and more popular especially in areas where there is little free camping.

We were intending to stay here just 2 or 3 nights as we use this as a base to catch up with friends in Brisbane just some 60 - 70 km away. In the end we felt so welcomed, we stayed 6 nights. This also allowed visits to friends which didn't come together as well as we had initially hoped.

Of course no stay near Beerburrum would be complete without a trip to the fabulous Glasshouse Mountains. It is an area great for nature walks, hikes, photography, wild life and just stopping to admire the rugged beauty God has created.

Whilst staying here, we went for a touristy drive along the lower Sunshine Coast. We were unable to find any contact details of Brian & Lorraine that used to live in Bli Bli, and we were hoping we could physically remember where their house was, but were unsuccessful. Sadly, it had just been too long to reactivate a more precise memory. Still we enjoyed the drive around the beaches of Caloundra and further south. We found it almost impossible to park near the main beaches in Caloundra for lunch so we went a tad north to Shelly Beach instead. After lunch we mosied on further south through Pelican Waters before turning 'home'.  It was a beaut laid back day full of sunshine and a cool breeze.

On another day (with a lazy day or 2 in between) we went into Brisbane. One of our dear friends had been in a serious accident and was still in hospital several months later. So we wanted to visit him. We also lined up a coffee date with a fellow cancer Warrior whom I met through Without a Ribbon Inc. This charity has saved my sanity at a time when I felt very isolated from friends. It was so good to know that I was not alone and that the feelings and traumas I went through with a rare cancer were understood by fellow warriors. Sadly I found the Cancer Council didn't offer much support for people with rare cancers. So WaR and fellow Warriors became my lifeline to sanity.

Free Camping at Moura Apex River Park

The road here from Rolleston was probably the roughest Qld bitumen road we've encountered so far on any of our trips. We spent last night at the Dawson River Rest Area. It is a lovely spot on the banks of the river.

The rest stop is beside the highway but far enough away from the highway for its traffic not to be a problem. The town of Moura, Queensland is 7 kms away.

There's heaps of room, nicely mown grass, hot showers, toilets and even free firewood delivered by a ranger. There is an honesty box for donations.

While maybe you'd like to catch a Barramundi which are apparently kept stocked in the river, as we've said before, we are not really fishermen.

Bus woes 

While we were looking for a spot to camp, we noticed some serious noise coming from our gears, they were slipping. This is so serious that Rob has to investigate.

You can see the stretched chain here - it should be hanging like that!

Though there are problems to be expected from an old bus, we certainly didn't expect to have problems with our gear chain as that was fully replaced with brand new ones that we had to have made for us in America just 14,000km ago. The bad news is that the chain has stretched. Rob doesn't want to move on until he can do something. He decides to make a run to Bundaberg and pick up a nylon block or two to do a temporary fix.

Lake Elphinstone

Lake Elphinstone is approximately 90k west of Mackay. We arrived after experiencing some rather bouncy rough roads and lots of cattle grids.

The Lake Elphinstone free camping area has flushing toilets, showers, tables, chairs and a few electric BBQs. There is no potable water so make sure you have topped up before coming here.

We woke to drizzly rain and strong winds. The lake is home to many species of ducks and geese. Red claw is to be found here but we had no success during our time here. Maybe it had been farmed out. Someone advised us that you had to drive around to the other side to have some success. We didn't deem it worthwhile. It is also apparently good for fishing but we are not really fishermen.

We didn't do much in the three days we stayed here but that's fine. We enjoyed the quiet times and I enjoyed my crafting times. It is a nice relaxing sort of place and I would happily come back again and again.

Witnessing a cane farm burn

Greg the owner of the working sugar farm where we are staying at, invited us all to witness a cane farm burn. We took it up and it is a fabulous experience.  WOW!!!! Let me cut to the chase: It was super awesome. LOL

Being up close to the sound and fury of a cane fire in full roar is like nothing else you could experience without being engulfed in a real bushfire. It all happens relatively quickly From the first fire lit to the end takes maybe no more than 10 minutes, which adds to the excitement as well as the danger.

Now the details: 

Apparently the Burdekin region is the only cane growing region in Queensland that still burns all of it's cane before harvesting it. I am not going to get drawn into the environmental debate here.  But here is some of the info I garnered:

The farmers have stuck with burning for practical reasons: There are many varieties of cane and the cane they grow here is thicker and taller than average. This variety copes better with the abundance of water in the region but it also makes the cane too leafy to cut when it is weighed down by more leafy growth which is of no value. Apparently the Burdekin crops are murder on mechanical harvesters which is why the Burdekin region still burns their sugarcane before harvesting.  A side note: you can see a selection of the different varieties of sugar cane at Ingham's Tyko Wetlands. 

The fires are lit from June to December. The farmers take a lot of things into consideration including waiting until dusk when the temperatures and winds have dropped.

The farmers work together like a co-op. There's fire engines present to help ensure safety. Constant monitoring of the wind direction. The farmers form a mini co-op sort of thing, helping each other out in turn. Preparations are meticulous. First, the farmer would plough a 5m corridor in the cane to make a fire break with a tractor.

A drip torch is carried along the break they've cut through the dry cane. Flames dance into the darkening sky, in almost no time at all it towers over the two men and soon the cane itself. Shortly the whole paddock is engulfed.  Safety is their number one concern ensuring the person who's back-burning doesn’t get too far ahead of the others in case the wind does change. This cane is tough stuff. Someone cuts off a piece for us to taste. I missed that opportunity. The area relies on flood irrigation and is crisscrossed by water channels and furrows that would be choked if cane trash were left on the ground.

In no time at all the whole experience is over and done with. I was probably just 10 minutes all up from the first lighting of the cane to the end. I am guessing it was a paddock of 300m square (I forgot to ask that question!)  It is so exciting that the quick end is almost anti-climatic. It is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

If you have the opportunity to witness one, take it as obviously it will end up being closed down on environmental as well as safety issues one  day.

Buredekin Cane Farm Stay

Just out from Ayr or an hour south of Townsville, our friends Steve and Lorraine had been camping here at Burdekin Cane Farm for weeks and weeks so we just had to catch up with them and find out for ourselves what was it here that kept them glued to this spot! Of course we love their company and so off we went.

It is a lovely spot right alongside Sheep Station Creek under the mango trees, and the owners supply and campfire wood for the daily happy hour too! Apparently you can even throw a line in the creek too, not sure what if anything you'd catch! ;) We certainly had the chance to sit back and relax alongside Steve and Lorraine.

An opportunity to witness a cane burn off.

This is truly a working cane farm and soon Greg the owner gives us the opportunity to  witness a cane burn up close if we want to go. and boy do I want to see this. That experience is so fantastic it gets a post all of its own.

Fletcher's Creek

This is a free campground is 45 km north of Charters Towers and is on the banks of the Fletcher Creek, suitable for caravans.

Part of the free camp looking across the creek.
All set for relaxing and some crafts
It is a very large camping area on both sides of the road with toilets on just one side. This campsite is near a river or creek that has some swimming holes.

Beaut riverside walks
On our first morning we slept in as it was a particularly long day the day before and this was a great opportunity to catch up on some sleep. Our time here is mostly one of relaxing and recharging our energy levels. We were blessed with warm to hot days though the evening got cook about 4am each day.

Beaut days but very cool first thing in the mornings
We found that some friends, Ken & Wendy were camped on the other side of the road. We caught up with them on one of our big walks up and down the river.

Following the shade to do my crafts
While you are here, make time to visit Charters Towers. We did on our last trip through this area when we were camped at the Macrossan free camp.

Part of the old bridge

Riverside flowers abound. I counted over 10 flowering species.