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Camping : Lake Elphinstone

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We didn’t know what to expect.  We’d heard about the place, but there was no raving – as far as we knew it was simply a campground by a lake but we were pleasantly surprised to find much more.

 

After we had chosen our spot by the lake, a bird flew overhead and deposited its digested lunch on Dave’s shoulder.  As Juz laughed and took pictures before cleaning Dave up, she explained that getting pooped on by a bird was lucky but Dave was in doubt.  Over the course of the evening, Dave’s extra luck would not only present itself, but ensure that our time at Lake Elphinstone would be memorable for many years to come.

 

Lake Elphinstone is a free camping area about 90km west of Mackay that offers fishing, boating and bird watching.  Campfires are allowed (which is awesome), and there are also toilet blocks with cold (refreshing) showers.  Once the sun goes down, you don’t have to worry about being overrun by midges or mosquitoes, and you don’t even have to worry about crocodiles in the water.  If you’re with Telstra, you might even get a dot of reception.

 

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Our evening started with an improvised visit from some guy who worked at the mines in the area.  The first thing he said was, “do you need some eggs?”  Despite being wary of this bearded fellow wearing a wife-beater, we accepted the fresh, farm laid ‘bum nuts’ and after a quick chat, he decide to stick around.

 

From his ute, he whipped out an eski full of cold beers and as kookaburras laughed in the distance, we started telling stories – from our travels, from his travels – he was a really interesting guy.  All the while, three cute ducks were circling us, and we fantasised about Crispy Skin Duck and Peking Duck Pancakes as dinner time approached.  Eventually, our new friend said farewell and headed off.

 

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The yellow moon began to rise over the lake as swans drifted along the rippled surface.  Juz started on dinner (chicken and bacon stew) while Dave received a call from his phone carrier, offering him a better deal on his plan (how lucky is that!).  As we ate, we continued to watch the Swan Lake ballet before tucking ourselves in for the night.

 

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Before light, we were up and ready for sunrise.  The lake turned gold and the swans returned for a final dance across the lake.  What beautiful place.

 

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Towns in the Isaac Region

Nebo

This is a small town with a heritage listed pub, the Nebo Hotel.  You can tell the place has some history because of its character – decking everywhere, including the ladies restroom, and the men’s room even has some funny tiles on the wall.

 

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Moranbah

After the glorious sunrise at Lake Elphinstone, we took the dirt road through the mining area to Moranbah, one of Queensland’s youngest towns.  It caters to the people who work in the surrounding coal mines, and occasionally we were directed off the road so a wide load of massive machinery could come through.

 

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The big red bucket at the entrance to town is a good photo opportunity.

 

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Clermont

This small town was the first inland settlement in tropical Queensland and is garnished with beautiful art deco buildings and a rich history of gold.

 

During our time here, we visited the Apex Park and Hoods Lagoon.  The lagoon used to supply the town with water, and the original owner of the land where the Apex Park is located donated the land to the Apex Club after he died.  He was a hero of the town because during the devastating 1916 floods that claimed many lives, he rescued and sheltered up to 13 people.  At the entrance to Clermont is a piano in the tree, a reminder of how high the floodwaters got.

 

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The Big Camera

Big Things : The Big Camera, Meckering

Located about 133km east of Perth, the Big Camera is a museum of photography and has a huge range of cameras and video recorders.  The guy who runs the place is super friendly and has even put up a place where you can prop your camera and set the timer so you can be in a picture next to the Big Camera.

 

The Big Camera

 

Meckering

This little town was flattened by an earthquake in 1968 that lasted 40 seconds and measured 6.9 on the Richter Scale.  It destroyed buildings, the railway line, infrastructure, and major roads.  Miraculously, no one was killed, and we got to hear about the amazing story of the Salisbury ruins.  When the earthquake hit, the family’s 17 month old baby Debbie was sleeping in the lounge room and after the house collapsed, the baby was found completely unharmed and still asleep!  The guy at the Big Camera has a picture of the family about 20 years later and Debbie grew up to be quite a babe!

 

 

We stayed overnight in Meckering by the rosy Memorial Park, which to Juz’s terror was more like Jumanji Park because of the enormous webs that were built by hideous looking spiders.  Juz was strolling around the park and when she realised she was surrounded, she bolted back to the Troopy.  Later in the evening, we watched as a spider caught dozens of flies in its beautiful web, crawling out to investigate before bunjeeing back to the centre.  It was really fascinating.

 

 

Pink skies @ Loveday 4x4 Adventure Park

Camping in the Riverland

There are heaps of places to camp along the Murray River in the Riverland Region, whether it’s within a national park or a free site along the river.  Parks that require a permit include Murray River National Park, Danggali Conservation Reserve, Chowilla Game Reserve and Loch Luna Game Reserve.  These are available via Parks SA.

 

Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park

This privately owned 4×4 playground is located right on the Murray River and offers secluded camping, yabbying, fishing and 4×4 driving practice on their excellent touring track.  There is also a pair of lakes that are joined by a small creek, causing them to look like a pair of spectacles – hence the name Spectacle Lake.

 

 

There is a fee for this campground.  Check out our post on Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park.

Website: http://www.loveday4x4adventures.com

 

Maize Island Lagoon Conservation Park

Along the river are a series of lagoons that birds love to hang about in.  You have the choice of setting up camp right on the river or next to one of the idyllic lagoons.  At sunrise, watch the cliffs along the Murray burn gold and orange, casting beautiful reflections on the water.

 

 

Plushs Bend Campground, Renmark

A quick drive outside of town is Plushs Bend, a great camping spot right on the Murray, with toilets, shade and phone reception.  We met some nice people sitting along the banks and having a few drinks.  There was also a solo traveller that looked like he had pissed some people off in the past because he was missing quite a few teeth.  He got a bit clingy so we escaped early the next morning, knowing that he’d still be in bed with a god-awful hangover.  Of course, this annoyance can happen anywhere, not just at Plushs Bend, so please don’t be discouraged about our experience.  The campground is beautiful.

 

 

Martins Bend Campground, Berri

Another free camping area next to the Murray which is just outside of town.  No camping is allowed on the lawn between the river and the driveway, but there is plenty of space on the other side of the driveway to find a nook.  There are toilets, a dump point, a caretaker, BBQs and picnic areas, as well as phone reception.