AUSTRALIA IS SOMETHING of a road-tripper’s dream. All you have to do is gather some friends, stock a car and set out. In addition to the wide, open paved roads, Australia has some of the best off-road driving in the world.
Just over an hour’s drive from Brisbane you can be on the pristine coast of Bribie Island, a great introduction to sand driving for novice 4WDers. Bribie offers many delights including wildlife and bird life in abundance, Naturalists and birdwatchers will delight in the variety of fauna that inhabit the Island and surrounding waterways.
It’s not unusual to encounter dingoes, emus, wallabies or goannas in the Island’s interior and brahminy kites and sea eagles on the beaches. Pumicestonne Passage is home to dugong and is a stopping-off point for many species o migratory wading birds including grey-tailed tattlers, eastern curlews and ruddy turnstones.
Those with an interest in history may wish to spend some time exploring the remains of Fort Bribie, built in 1939 to protect the shipping channel into Brisbane from Japanese invasion. Many of the structures are still relatively intact, including the northern searchlight post and the gun emplacements, hidden behind the dunes. Bribie is also great place for anglers with the choice of ocean beach or estuary fishing, the rich waters of Pumicestonne Passage being accessible from Lighthouse Reach, Gallagher Point or Poverty Creek in the National Park on the west Coast.
Boating, fishing, swimming, birdwatching, bushwalking, unspoilt beaches, remains of historic fort to explore, tranquil, relaxed atmosphere, proximity to Brisbane.
Easy to moderate sand driving suitable for soft roaders and camper trailers (provided our vehicle has enough power to drag one through some soft sand).
If you’re searching for a quiet coastal escape with some 4WD’ing fun thrown in and you don’t mind a bit of a drive to get there, then the unspoilt Burrum Coast National Park south of Bundaberg man well fit the bill. The park protects just over 23 000 hectare of coastal lowland wilderness made up of sandy beaches, mangrove-lined estuaries, wallum heaths, tea tree swamps, eucalypt forest and livistona palm groves.
The National Park consists of three sections; Kinkuna, Woodgate and Burrum River, and the first two have plenty to entice the 4wd adventurer including 14 kilometres of vehicle-accessible beach, secluded campsites with uninterrupted ocean views, a tranquil wilderness atmosphere with birds, marine and wildlife in abundance and total peace and quiet. Although it’s a fair hike from Brisbane, if you visit the Kinkuna Section outside peak holiday times, chances are quite good that you’ll have the place entirely to yourself. Burrum Coast retains that laid back atmosphere that a beach holiday oncemeant, as well as the chance to enjoy those typical beach vacation activities; swimming,
beachcombing, a ball game or just lazing in a hammock under the sheoaks with a good book. It’s also an ideal destination for keen anglers; the bountiful waters of Hervey Bay are accessible from the beach and the nearby Gregory and Burrum Rivers provide sheltered estuary fishing and crabbing.
When it comes to where to stay, you have the choice of ‘roughing it’ in the Kinkuna Section, provided you’re fully selfcontined, camping with basic facilities at the Burrum Piont Camping Area of enjoying all the ‘mod cons’ at the caravan park or the range of accommodation at Woodgate.
Fishing, swimming, Birdwatching, bushwalking, unspoilt beaches, uncrowded, relaxed atmosphere.
Easy to moderate sand driving suitable for most ‘soft roaders’ and camper trailers.
Anyone who has travelled the Bruce Highway between Maryborough and Childers would have noticed the signs marking the entrance to the Wongi State Forest. At first impression this are may appear rather uninteresting but if you have time, a detour through this delightful forest is well worth the effort.
The forest roads provide an alternative, and much more leisurely and interesting route to Childers than the main highway “Wongi” means ‘Deep Water’ in the local Aboriginal Language and the string of permanent waterholes beside the camping and picnic areas provide the area’s wildlife with and important natural watering hole.
Sitting quietly at the water’s edge around dawn or dusk is an easy way to spot the many birds, marsupials and reptiles that call the forest home. The patient visitor may glimpse a wide variety of birds ranging from tiny honeyeaters and kingfishers to larger species such as cormorants and hawks. Large goannas frequently patrol the picnic areas in search of an easy meal and wallabies and kangaroos are often seen. During this tour you may discover the remains of an old forestry camp, enjoy a refreshing swim in the tea-coloured freshwater waterholes at Wongi, follow part of the Bicentennial National Trail along the historic Old Gayndah Coach Road or take in the sweeping views over the Fraser Coast Region from the summit of Mt Doongul. Wongi’s attractive camping and day visitor areas have toilets, drinking water, BBQ’s and picnic tables plus easy access to the waterholes provided by decks with ladders.
The unpowered sites are suitable for all methods of camping, including vans and trailers, and you can even bring our dog with you, provided ti is kept under control and on a leash at all times.
Easy access off the Bruce Highway, dogs are permitted in the camping area, swimming, birdwatching and wildlife spotting, bushwalking, ample space, vehicle-friendly camping.
Easy driving on dirt or gravel. Suitable for ‘Soft Roaders’; low range gearing or high ground clearance not required. It is suitable for camper trailer with ample space available at the camping area.
“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.”
Anzac weekend we headed away with a Social Camping and 4wd Group to The Gorge Camping Reserve
The Gorge Camping Reserve is near Lake Moggerah, which is located within the Scenic Rim region of south-east Queensland and is one of those places that you hear about via word-of-mouth. It is a privately owned camping reserve and is really only a ‘bush camping’ reserve although there are a couple of toilets up near the entrance and a couple of bush showers there as well. The owners limit the number of campers allowed at any one time so you can be guaranteed to set up in your own little piece of paradise with little interruption from other people.
The Gorge is located right on Reynolds Creek and is the perfect spot for swimming or canoeing. The track into the bottom camping section is probably only suitable for 4WD especially if it happened to be wet, although we did see a couple of people come down in cars and one group even towed a caravan in, albeit with a 4WD. We picked a spot and positioned our tent so we had a lovely view of the creek and there was also a spot for a camp fire, but didn’t use it because we used the main fire. Once setup we walked around catching up with everyone and did a bit of exploring.
After lunch we then jumped into the car and took a drive down to Lake Moogerah. Lake Moogerah is a picturesque destination, popular with locals and tourists to the area. It is popular with boating, water skiing and jet skiing enthusiasts. Public access to enter Mt Edwards National Park and beautification of the picnic areas around the lake have added to its appeal as a tourist attraction. We checked out the Dam wall and gave Shari (our dog) a run around in the park. We have already penciled in camping at Camp Moogerah in the future. We headed back to the camp site and headed to the main fire for some yarns and drinks.
The next day we were up and early for a trip to Stanthorpe. Our first stop was Vincenzo’s, which was twenty kilometres short of Stanthorpe on the New England Highway. It’s a wonderful delicatessen, café and wine store owned and run by a fantastically, quirky Italian man. His shop stocks everything from olives to salami and macadamias to merlot. My personal favourite was his homemade tomato relish with chilli. On the move again we hit the Markets in the Mountains at the showgrounds. Kim went in while I took Shari for a walk around the grounds. We then headed to the town centre and walked around and checked out a couple of shops that were open. We then stumbled across a car and boot market at Woolworths. Getting towards lunch we decided to head back. On the way back we took a detour at Vincenzo’s to Castle Glen.
Castle Glen Australia started its life in 1990 when the vines Chardonnay, Semillon, White Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and many alternative varieties. Traditional English style Liqueurs and the ‘World First’ Crème Liqueurs followed to become a large part of the business through the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and now boasts a range of 500 plus truly unique products. In 1994, Cedric designed and built “The Castle” – an iconic building sitting in the heart of the Granite Belt. Kim picked up her favourite Musk Liqueur and a Green Splice.
Back to camp we headed back to the fire for some more yarns and drinks and the next day packed up and headed home. Looking for the next trip.