NORTH WEST ISLAND, QUEENSLAND. AUSTRALIA

This was some time ago and I had to search for my photos (Was hard to find all of them). But in a recent conversation with friends the subject of your favorite beach camping site was put up. The usually answers of Fraser Island, Moreton Island, Stradbroke Island, Kangaroo Island, Magnetic Island, Lord Howe Island and even Tassie was put forward, which got a laugh. I threw a spanner in the works, because unlike my friends and people I recently meet, I have been and Kim has been camping for years. Kim’s memory of every year camping at Dicky’s Beach then Mooloolaba and me calling Inskip my second home for years. I’ll put the secret out, that if you truly want to experience a real Robinson Crusoe island, then my time at North West Island was the greatest ever camping experience.


I had always dreamed of holidaying on a deserted island, living off the land, snorkelling all day and sleeping under the stars by night. In all honesty I never expected a place like that existed, fortunately for me, it does. Located 75km off the coast of Gladstone is the most beautiful place I have visited,  North West Island.


This remote 100-hectare coral cay is one of the southern islands in the Great Barrier Reef. Home to rare species of flora and fauna, this spectacular spot will capture your heart from the second you lay eyes on it. For me, that moment came after a long barge trip. After spending most of the trip asleep at the back of the barge, I got up and walked to the front and from a distance saw the white sand of North West Island.


As I stepped off the barge and into the warm water, I knew I had found paradise. But in reality even paradise has its barriers to overcome. For starters, I am the sort of person who is used to creature comforts and in my dreams of living on a deserted island, I never imagined it would be such hard work.

With no running water, we showered in the salt water which meant by the end of the week my hair was like straw and I couldn’t get my brush through it. If you ever go to a place like North West Island make sure you pack conditioner and every evening put it through your hair.

It doesn’t fix the problem or stop knots from forming but it stops dreadlocks. As well as bathing in the sea water, we washed our dishes and clothes and caught our food in the Pacific Ocean.

When you are living on an uninhabited island, you must do everything for yourself and in some cases go without. There was so much to see and do on the island; at times its beauty was overwhelming.



Snorkelling was high on my list as was photographing the creatures which called the island home. It was about a half a kilometer walk out to the reef drop-off zone. The walk was the scariest and most beautiful experience I had on the island.

For most people who don’t think about accidentally stepping on a stone fish or cone shell, it is a relaxing and peaceful walk, but for me, every step felt like an aquatic form of Russian roulette.




Snorkelling on the reef should have scared me more, swimming with stingrays, jellyfish and sharks. But floating on the surface, diving down to snap a photo, of green turtles, coral, fish, sharks and stingrays wasn’t that frightening.




The only time I got worried was when a few spear fishermen came too close to us and the water became bloody. As clichéd as it will sound, the sharks that had been casually circling below me slowly made their way up higher. I am no shark wrestler, so that was my cue to exit the water.




There were many firsts on the island, from seeing green turtles up close to watching the sunset and sunrise over the ocean, so many amazing experiences.



I saw the sun go down six times and each time it was just as magical as the first. By day, when I wasn’t laying on a blow-up lounge a couple of metres from shore making shell necklaces from the white shells that covered the beach or fishing to catch my dinner, I was photographing the beautiful birds which inhabited the island or documenting the male green turtles fighting for a female to mate with.



At night the moon lights the way and you can watch as turtles mate on the shoreline, or just wander around on the secluded beach, listening to the waves lapping on the shore. It takes about two hours to walk the circumference of the island and it is worth the effort.

North West Island is beautiful and untouched. Its blue green waters are cool and refreshing, its birds and turtles abundant. It makes a wonderful holiday for those of us who like to get back to basics, who love the smell of the ocean and marvel at the underwater world.


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RED BEACH, BRIBIE ISLAND

We are so fortunate to live 30 minutes to Bribie Island where there are not just one but two designated dog beaches. If you are looking for a off leash dog beach, look no further than Bribie Island. With designated dog parks and beaches, including off-leash areas, Bribie Island has plenty of spaces that cater to dogs and their human owners alike.

Our favorite’s is the beach from Red Beach car park around to Woody Bay, Woorim. This fantastic stretch of surf beach is but part of the entire dog friendly southern coastline of Bribie Island, which runs all the way from here around to Red Beach Bongaree.

Although a bit narrow at high tide, at low tide there’s plenty of running and digging space for all concerned. There’s a convenient car park nearby on Bennelong St, from which the short path leads straight into the midst of 4-legged action. Intrepid owners and leash-free pets can from here hike the 3-4 km distance via Woody Bay all the way through wild scrubby beachfront to the calmer waters of Bongaree.


History buffs may be interested in the relics of Woorim Beach’s time as a strategic Pacific defence site in World War II that are dotted at various spots along the beachfront on the other side of the patrolled area. The nearest of these is the naval defence Indicator Loop hut at the far end of North St and in the picnic grounds nearby one of its squat concrete power huts that many a picnicker has mistaken for a toilet block.


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LONGREACH, QUEENSLAND OUTBACK. THINGS TO DO.

Longreach is a small town of about 4,200 people in central western Queensland.  The drive is about 12.5 hours from Brisbane and is completely on tar sealed roads. The outback town of Longreach, Australia gained its name after its positioning on the ‘long reach’ of the Thomson River.



The friendly outback town makes for an excellent holiday destination or stopping point on your Queensland road trip. You’ll find natural beauty as well as fascinating tourist attractions in this friendly town, where you can experience life in the Aussie outback and learn about the region’s important role in Australian history.


Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.

First stop on your list will be the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame which pays tribute to Australia’s pioneering legends and outlines our Outback history. There are six galleries to explore in the Hall of Fame, starting with a short video of interviews with different stockmen in the Longreach region (including women, Aboriginal, and young stockmen too).  This helps set the scene to learn about the rich history of outback families and to consider the changing reality for stockmen today. 



Remember to join experienced Head Stockman John Hawkes for an informative insight and tribute to the skills of all stockmen past and present. Horse Kenny and Olly the Steer are but a small part of the lunch and night show of horsemanship and the showcasing of traditional Australian Stockman skills that are still used today. You’ll be entertained, captivated and leave having a sense of pride in being a part of keeping the spirit of the outback alive.




Qantas Founders Museum

The award-winning museum tells the story of Qantas Airways through interpretive displays, interactive exhibits, aircraft and an impressive collection of artefacts. If you’ve ever wanted to see inside a heritage hangar, explore a Boeing 747 and 707, go inside the cockpit, learn how to ‘arm the doors’, see the black box recorder, go inside a luxury jet, fly a fighter plane simulator, or walk on the wing of an aircraft, then the Qantas Founders Museum is for you.


Cruises & Outback Shows



We loved the Outback Pioneers Cruise Experience which was an evening on the Thomson River complete with entertainment by Heartland Theatre. Heartland Theatre is the Outback’s premiere musical experience and a unique evening’s entertainment with a intimate candlelit bush dinner.  Award winning yet humble local musicians entertained all with the personalized combination of songs, bush poems and jokes while we enjoyed a country home cooked style meal.

Camden Park Station Tour

We got to meet the Walker family on their property as you experience a working sheep and cattle station. We meet Outback Dan, fifth generation farmer, who will guide us through his family’s historical homestead, cattle yards, shearing shed and took us for a walk down the “Queen’s Path”, in honour of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s 1970 visit. We waked through the historical Homestead Gardens, Shearing Shed and Cattle Yards then tour the farm after a scrumptious smoko.



Kinnon & Co



Cobb and Co were the pioneers of stagecoach travel and mail services throughout Australia. On their Cobb & Co Stagecoach Experience we traveled in a restored stagecoach on their award-winning tour – first at a leisurely pace through town and then full-tilt along a stretch of the original Longreach-Windorah mail route. You get to hear the pounding hooves of the magnificent horses on the outback dirt road. Hear the rattle and creak of the coach. Hold on to your hat for the only stagecoach gallop in Australia! It’s exhilarating. It’s entertaining. And it’s the closest you can get to feeling what it would have been like in the pioneer past. After the 45 minute stagecoach ride and photos, we slowed down with a traditional smoko (the original Aussie tea break), a classic 

Australian movie in retro cinema seats for the Harry Redford Old Time Tent Show, which has fun for all the family in a tribute to the old travelling shows.




First and foremost, when travelling in Outback Queensland you are asked to please acknowledge and respect the values and beliefs of Indigenous Australians as they have a long standing view that the landscape is the very core of all spirituality!

Road hazards such as livestock (think city traffic jam), long distances on flat terrain can take some getting used to.  This goes without saying, but OBEY the speed limit – it’s there for a reason.

While travelling on the major highways, fuel stops are rarely more than 200km apart, so it may not be necessary to carry spare fuel…but if you happen to come across a “no fuel” sign…that’s exactly what it means.  Ensure you always travel with extra water, first aid kit, spares for tyres (with the correct pressure), radiator hoses, fan belts and not to mention a good tool kit!
When driving in the Outback be mindful you are sharing the space with our stock, kangaroo and emu friends.  Kangaroos tend to be more active during sunrise and sunset (so stay vigilant).

Check the mobile coverage areas while planning your trip.  Both Telstra and Optus networks are covered in Longreach, Mount Isa, Charleville and Birdsville(Telstra Next G network will still be available within a 20km radius of most other towns), but you will find limited coverage in the far South West corner of Queensland.  If you’re planning that Outback adventure, then perhaps invest in a satellite phone.


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