Posts Tagged With: st lawrence

Day 71 – St Lawrence to Boyne River Rest Area

Ann and I both slept like logs last night. The darkness was a major factor – no bright caravan park security lights outside the bedroom windows – just stars punctuating the blackness! The silence was another welcome factor.

It was a bit cool when I got up so I started in jeans and a long sleeve top but changed into the more traditional shorts and tee-shirt once we hit the road as it was obviously going to be another beautiful day.

Today was to be another driving day similar to yesterday, with no specific destination in mind and just a couple of places that might be possibilities.

The first leg of our journey was one of the most uncomfortable driving experiences we had ever encountered, and I am sure that all caravanners will have experienced similar situations. As soon as we got onto the Bruce Highway from the St Lawrence road, we ended up behind an older Millard caravan being towed by an older Ford Falcon sedan. Speed-wise it stayed around 75 kmh with bursts of speed up to 80 kmh. In itself this wouldn’t normally be a problem as the BT50 has plenty of grunt and we have met these drivers before and I am usually quite comfortable overtaking in the right conditions.

With a fair bit of traffic coming in the opposite direction it was starting to take a bit longer that I would have preferred to be able to overtake the Millard and then disaster struck. The Millard van got stuck behind an older motorhome that seemed to be only able to manage 75 kmh at best, so we were stuck. There was simply no way I was going to be able to overtake two slow and totally erratically driven rvs in one go. The traffic behind us was going berserk and a few crazy drivers made overtaking manoeuvres, even over double lines, and often requiring the slamming on of brakes and pushing in to get back onto the right side of the road in the face of oncoming traffic. At times it was potentially quite dangerous!

Then, obviously seeing the error of his ways, the driver of the motorhome pulled off at a roadside stop and let traffic past. What a relief! Even the old Millard van got a bit carried away and started speeding up. Low and behold, just as it seemed that it was my turn to make a move to overtake, the Millard got stuck behind a slow moving Golf caravan. We were in exactly the same situation as before but with even heavier oncoming traffic making overtaking even more difficult!

Finally, just before Marlborough, the Golf van pulled off onto a side road and the Millard gained speed. We turned off the highway into Marlborough and had a well-deserved cup of coffee. Then, lo and behold, the Golf van parked behind us. Coffees were gulped down, dishes quickly washed, and we were off again. After a quick stop at the servo to top up the diesel we were back on the highway, ahead of that Golf slowcoach. It was a fantastic feeling to be able to get to 90 kmh, and that was in third gear! We eventually caught up with the Millard van but fortune was on our side at last and an overtaking lane saw that problem disappear and we were able to continue our journey at our own pace.

During this time the countryside had changed. We were no longer in sugar cane country and the scenery changed from flat cattle grazing land to bush and scrub, but all the while with mountains in the background. At times we saw the signs of recent bushfires, and smoke from current fires as well.

Changing scenery

Changing scenery

We stopped for lunch on the outskirts of Rockhampton. We had spent a few days in Rocky last year and it was quite nice to see the river and some of the other places we recognised. There were also some interesting roadworks underway. While following Gabby the Garmin GPS to a rest are in the Camps 7 book we saw some nice shady spots on the side of the road and decided to stop there instead of driving any further.

Views of Rockhampton

Views of Rockhampton

New bridge under construction near Rockhampton

New bridge under construction near Rockhampton

Lunch on the outskirts of Rockhampton

Lunch on the outskirts of Rockhampton

boyneriver-2014_2539-cropped_web

After lunch we headed for the Calliope River Rest Area – Q102 in Camps 7 – which we had seen last year and made some favourable notes about. Unfortunately things have changed since then and the main access road had been closed. When we tried the alternative route we found more changes to access including signs forbidding camping. There were a few parked vans at the end of the Old Bruce Highway and more along the riverbank but we were simply not game enough to take our van down the sandy and rough road that we assumed they used to get where they were.

We were a lot more successful at the next free camp we tried – the Boyne River rest area Q105 – although again there were changes compared to last year. Access to the area had changed with a result that vans had squeezed into all sorts of strange positions. The higgledy piggledy result left otherwise good flat areas inaccessible. In amongst the chaos there were actually several concrete slabs – it just didn’t make much sense. This is a very busy place and there are a lot of caravans and motorhomes here, and also several people simply sleeping in their cars or tents. Despite all this we managed to find a nice flat site with views overlooking the river and without close neighbours.

Views of the Boyne River from our van tonight

Views of the Boyne River from our van tonight

Views of Boyne River Rest Area free camp

Views of Boyne River Rest Area free camp

We feel that the Boyne River rest area isn’t as good as St Lawrence, but after a reasonably long day’s drive, and viewing a beautiful sunset over the river while having BBQ lamb and vegies for dinner, I’m sure that we’re going to sleep well tonight anyway.

We have no idea where we’ll be staying tomorrow night, but that’s all part of the adventure!!!!!

Categories: 2014 Townsville Adventure, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Day 70 – Airlie Beach to St Lawrence Recreational Reserve

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.

Ready to Roll

Ready to Roll

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.

Sugar Cane Train

Sugar Cane Train

Sugar Refinery

Sugar Refinery

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.

Flaggy Rock Exotic Fruit Garden

Flaggy Rock Exotic Fruit Garden

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.

Set Up at St Lawrence free camp

Set Up at St Lawrence free camp

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.

Sunset and camp fires at St Lawrence free camp

Sunset and camp fires at St Lawrence free camp

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 …..

Categories: 2014 Townsville Adventure, Free Camping | Tags: , ,

Blog at WordPress.com.