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The Gorge Camping Reserve near Aratula, SE Queensland.


Gold Coast Camping and Social 4wd Group to The Gorge



Anzac weekend we headed away with the Gold Coast Camping and Social 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.


MAGNETIC ISLAND, QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA

MAGNETIC ISLAND




Magnetic Island is located off the coast of Townsville, situated around 4 hours south of Cairns. To sum it up, it is absolute paradise. Nestled within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Magnetic Island is home to an estimated 800 Koalas, Wallabies, many scenic walks, lookouts and of course, beaches. 54% of the island is made up of national park which means you are in for quite the breath taking Aussie getaway. It is like a postcard paradise with rocky granite headlands and hoop pines dropping down to sandy bays and azure seas. Its beauty is immediately apparent and we are already in love with it before we even taken two steps off the ferry.



As soon as we got off the Ferry at Nelly Bay, our accommodation was right there waiting for us. We stayed at Mantra Bright Point for 6 nights. Its home to modern self-contained apartments that are pretty much brand new. We stayed in a two bedroom apartment that overlooked the ocean. If we stay again, we will stay there again because it was so beautiful and perfect for us, but if you travel around the island you can find various places to stay, including lots of houses to rent. We dropped the bags and started for explore the four pools and leisure centre. We were lucky that we had a pool just below the apartment, so we got changed and spent a lazy afternoon enjoying to pool to ourselves. 



The next day we headed off on the bus to the Forts walk. Australia panicked a little bit during the WW2, and thought Japan might attack. So they built a fort, with guns and a signal base, just in case. A lot of it is just concrete foundations, but don't be fooled. Koalas are best seen when you go off the main track to see these foundations.  We spotted one in his tree, and took the obligatory photos. I made some random noises, hoping to hit upon the right one for a mating koala. Something worked. He opened his eyes, and looked at us. Little were we to know that we would see another koala, seemingly tumbling down through the trees on the hill (I saw a grey blur) and then he came walking along right where we were and then jumped on a tree, climbed it, and started chewing the cud, or just the leaves. The Forts walk was a fantastic 4km return walk that took us to the historic fortifications and infrastructure, ending with stellar 360 degree views to the Palm Island Group in the north and Bowling Green Bay National Park in the south. A lot of walking later, we made it to Florence Bay. The water was nice and we snorkelled out to the reef just off the beach, and saw a stingray amongst other fish and colour-changing coral. The beach was very wild and rugged, with rocky cliffs and boulders enclosing the bay, with palm trees and fig trees edging the beach itself. Back on the bus we headed back to the apartment.


After a quick breakfast we heading down to the passenger ferry and toured Townsville. During the Second World War, Townsville was Australia’s most important air base, and Castle Hill, the highest point in Townsville, served as a lookout. During the war, the Americans contemplated leveling Castle Hill and using the rock to create a direct route to Magnetic Island.


Fortunately it didn’t happen, and the hill, which is only one metre shy of being classified a mountain, affords spectacular views. There are a number of walking tracks that take more or less 40 minutes to reach the top, and judging by the power walkers marching up the side, it’s clearly a local favorite. Castle Hill was our first stop before it got too hot.


There were plenty of locals strolling along the Strand foreshore, a 2km seaside promenade winding from the army museum to Memorial Park. It’s a pleasant sunset walk, particularly while enjoying an artisanal ice-cream from Juliette’s.  We headed to the museum and looked into the local history. Just beyond the Strand is Jupiter’s Casino. We took a walk over for a little look. We headed back to the strand for lunch at Longboards Bar and Grill. We then headed back towards the city centre to Townsville’s Flinders Street for a long line of boutiques for Kim, then onto Dinner at Courtyard in City Lane.



The next day we did an amazing  Aussie bush breakfast at Bungalow Bay Koala Village with the animals, but the breakfast books up fast so you need to ring ahead to secure your spot. The local cuisine on offer consists of lamb encrusted in outback spices, local fish, sausages, egg and bacon, pancakes and fruit, toast cooked over the fire and all the usual breakfast beverages.

Bungalow Bay Koala Village is owned by the Flemming family who are also the owners of the Billabong Sanctuary Wildlife Park south of Townsville. As you might imagine, they are passionate about wildlife and very committed to educating people about wildlife conservation. In recognition of this the Bungalow Bay Koala Village received an Advanced Accreditation with the Australian Eco Tourism Association in 2006 for their dedication to conservation and the environment.  This Magnetic Island wildlife park is spread out over 6½ acres. One of the things we enjoyed so much about Koala Village was being able to get up close and hold some of the animals. During our two-hour morning breakfast we held a baby saltwater crocodile, python, lizards and baby turtles and we also patted a wombat, fed a cockatoo and cuddled a koala. It was fantastic experience to get so hands-on with the animals and learn all about them at the same time. There is a small charge for holding and having your photo taken with a koala but the money goes back into wildlife care on the island, to help take care of sick, injured or orphaned animals.



The next day was a sleep in and had an early morning swim in the pool. We then headed down to Arcadia village, which has the island's main concentration of shops, eateries and accommodation. Its main beach, Geoffrey Bay, has a reef at its southern end. By far its prettiest beach is Alma Bay cove, with huge boulders tumbling into the sea. We took a dip and chilled with almost all the beach to ourselves.


Late afternoon we headed down to Geoffrey Bay around where we found dozens of rock wallabies. We were lucky enough to see a few baby wallabies still in their Mother’s pouches. We brought apples just in case we spotted some, but just as we arrived and started handed some out, more and more arrived. Kim sat down and a few came right up to her and she was patting them while feeding them. She loved the experience and we did it a couple more times before we left.


We then headed to the western most point of the island called Horseshoe Bay, the best place to see one of Queensland’s stunning sunsets. We enjoyed dinner overlooking the beach at Barefoot Art Food Wine – an award-winning restaurant that incorporates a gallery of local works. If you’re feeling like something a little less formal, consider grabbing some fish ‘n chips and enjoying them on the sand.


Some other things we did, everyone must consider:

You can’t leave Maggie without enjoying a cold one at the Marlin Bar by the window as the sun sets across the bay at this popular seaside pub. The meals are on the large side and (surprise!) revolve around seafood.

Head to Radical Bay which once housed a Resort, and a replacement is in the pipeline. In the meantime it's a peaceful spot. You can walk across the headland to Horseshoe Bay, taking a detour down to the unofficial nudist beach of Balding Bay (3.4km return).

Horseshoe Bay Ranch Gallop dramatically into the not-so-crashing surf on this popular bushland-to-beach two-hour tour
Arcadia Night Market, small but lively night market, with licensed bar and plenty of cheap eats to chow through.

Take a trip to Picnic Bay. Since the ferry terminal was relocated to Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay has resembled a ghost town. Shopfronts were abandoned as businesses suffered from the decreased tourist traffic. But that curious, elegant bird, the curlew, has made it its own, and the twinkling night views of Townsville are magical.
Activities in the area include swimming in the beach's stinger enclosure (November to May) or hitting balls around the nine-hole golf course at the Magnetic Island Country Club . West is Cockle Bay , site of the HMS City of Adelaide wreck, followed by West Point with its sunsets and secluded beach. East round the coast is Rocky Bay , where a short, steep walk leads down to a beautiful sheltered beach.