It’s been a long time between visits for us and the Island has certainly changed a lot in 15 years. It’s noticeably more commercial, and I was quite shocked when we actually hit tar at Eurong township! My recollections of Eurong were that of a general store, a petrol pump, and that’s about it.
We left Sydney and headed up the New England highway, stopping at Aberdeen to visit my nan, then cruising on to Tenterfield for an overnight stop. Next morning saw us driving across the Queensland border, through Warwick, Ipswich and into Brisbane for lunch at South Bank. While having lunch in Brisbane, we got the message about Leah and Tim having their baby, so we had a little celebration for them. After lunch we jumped onto the Bruce Highway and heading for Gympie and Hervey Bay.
Next morning we all drove down to River Heads and lined up for the barge. Anthony and I loaded our little twin blue V6 Vitaras on the barge amongst a sea of great big white Landcruisers – it was quite funny to see. After such a long drive, it’s a good feeling to finally be on the barge, sun shining and water shimmering, as you make your way over to Fraser in the distance.
Once on the island at the Woongoolba Creek loading point, we made our way over to Central Station for a look at the camping options. I’d been really keen to camp at Lake Mackenzie, but a Queensland National Parks ranger we met on the barge had been telling us it was the worse place on the island for dingos, and it had some of the girls a bit worried about the kids. Although Gary was pretty happy with Central Station, I hate camping on sloped ground and Bernadette was pretty keen to be near water, so we pushed on to Mackenzie to see what we could get there. It’s pretty difficult to get a site at Mackenzie as there are only 16 spots, you can’t book them, and they are highly sought after. We couldn’t believe our luck when we managed to get three sites! Nice level sites, at the end of the camping ground and only a short stroll to the lake. We decided to stay.
On Tuesday we visited the beach via Eurong and drove all the way up to Indian Head and the Champagne Pools. We stopped at all the interesting spots along the way – Eli Creek, The Maheno Wreck, Happy Valley resort. I’d heard that Darwin Cheung and his family were also going to be on the island so I asked about him at the resort - they said he was staying there but had gone out for the day. We happened to bump into them when we dropped back into Eli Creek later in the day.
Eli is just beautiful. It’s a crystal clear spring that rises somewhere in the middle of the island and flows out to the sea, and it’s popularity with the island’s visitors is easy to understand. We spent some more time swimming up and down the creek, or rather, walking up the boardwalk and then floating back down to the beach, carried along with the current flow. Good stuff!
The dingos were a bit of a non-issue… we saw quite a few of them, but none were a problem. A couple wandered through our campsite at night a few times, but they really are pretty timid and I think so long as you stay out of their way, they really aren’t looking for trouble. I think it’s a shame they get such a bad rap.
Spent the next few days getting home via Gold Coast, Nambucca Heads, Casino, Grafton, Macksville, (including a very scenic drive across the main range on about 150kms of gravel) and back home via Armidale, Tamworth, and Aberdeen.
It was a great trip, and we’ll have to do it again soon as a club trip when the weather warms up.
Chris, Donna, Alex And Kate Betcher