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.
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.
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.
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.
Towns in the Isaac Region
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.
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.
The big red bucket at the entrance to town is a good photo opportunity.
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.