We got off reasonably early this morning as today was to be a driving day. Despite some initial issues getting into our site at the Island Gateway Holiday Park we were well positioned to get out and were able to make an easy and untroubled exit. Armed with maps and our Camps 7 free camps book, we made our way to the Bruce Highway and headed South without any set destination or caravan park booking.
The scenery for most of the day was reasonably uninspiring. It was basically sugar, sugar, sugar – remember the 1970s pop song – and sugar mills. The sight of continual sugar cane fields and even the sweet sugary smell in the air became a bit too much after a while. Having to stop at one point for a sugar train was something of a respite from the otherwise somewhat monotonous countryside.
First stop for late coffee and early lunch was outside the Mackay Tourist Information Centre. We were here last year and the Centre has been significantly improved since then with the addition of a roundabout so you can actually turn around, a dump point, and changed information facilities. No changes have been made to the amenities though.
From Mackay we returned to the Bruce Highway and eventually stopped for afternoon tea at Flaggy Rock Exotic Fruit Garden. This is a really interesting place to stop and the ice-cream and coffee were delicious. We were here last year and actually stayed at a free camp at the nearby Flaggy Rock Community Centre. We noticed that there was a job vacancy for a caretaker at the community centre and also that Flaggy Rock Exotic Fruit Garden was also offering overnight accommodation for self-contained RVs – apparently in competition to the community centre.
After Flaggy Rock we made our way to the St Lawrence Recreational Reserve free camp where we decided to stay overnight. We actually stopped here for lunch or coffee last year on our way south and were quite impressed and that assessment was confirmed today. We’re not quite sure exactly what this place is. There are some buildings, animal pens and stock loading ramps, a kiosk, an amenities block including toilets and coin operated showers, and more. This is a huge area and the variety of vans here is quite amazing. A popular local activity is fishing, although apparently the fish weren’t biting this afternoon.
We did a super quick set up with front and back legs on the van but remained hitched up. We put the awning out mainly to dry things out as it was a bit wet from the overnight dew when we rolled it up this morning.
As I was cooking dinner on the BBQ, we were delighted to see a beautiful sunset. Some of our neighbours have lit camp fires and the feeling of near black darkness punctuated by the occasional fires and brilliant stars in the sky is absolutely magic.
Free camping is not for everyone but we are set up to be totally self-sufficient. Our fridge, stove and hot water service all operate off the gas bottles and the lights and TV operate from deep cycle batteries which are charged by the solar panel.
For us, free camping at a place like St Lawrence is what caravanning is all about.
We might be tempted to stay here another day …..