Stanage Bay, Queensland
If you want to go fishing, boating or crabbing, the isolated town of Stanage Bay is a great option.
The remote township of Stanage is actually three separate mini-suburbs, all within cooee of each other. Beverley Hills at Alligator Point is the first turn-off, Happy Valley the next and the road then continues into Stanage. This could be referred to as the CBD as it is the location of the area’s two main businesses, the Endeavour Park campsite, boat ramp, Coast Guard and the Sea Rescue facilities.
Things to do in Stanage Bay
- Reef fishing, estuary fishing – Barramundi, reef fish, mud crabs
- Turtle nursery – November to January on Alligator Beach
- Whale (and dugong) watching
- Wildlife spotting - goannas, scrub turkeys, rare birds, kangaroos and deer
How to get to Stanage Bay
GPS coordinates: 22.135663 S - 150.032498 E
To find this out-of-the-way gem, head north from Rockhampton on the Bruce Highway for about 75km before turning right onto the Stanage Bay Road and head north beside the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.
The main attractions at Stanage are boating, fishing and crabbing, as well as the beautiful coastline with lots of rugged headlands interspersed by beautiful empty beaches, bays and nearby offshore islands. It’s a beachcomber’s paradise to trek along the deserted beaches where the only other signs of habitation are crab holes and dingo or turtle tracks. At the western end of the township there is a large creek lined with mangroves, a top spot for beach fishing and crabbing. If you are lucky, you might spot dugongs and migrating whales along the coastline.
Fishing and boating
There is a very good two-lane concrete boat ramp for boat owners. This is quite steep and restricts the larger boats to about a three to four-hour window either side of the tide. It is wise to practise your reversing skills and make sure your boat is ready to launch as soon as it hits the water.
There is nothing that raises the ire of the regular boaties more than hanging around while some inexperienced individual zigzags down across both lanes trying to reach the water and, on getting there, decides he has to put the bungs in, undo the tie-down straps and take the covers off!
If you fall into this category, you can easily avoid the embarrassment by getting in some practice before you leave home. There is a donation box at the top of the ramp for the Coast Guard and Sea Rescue service, which also operate a 24-hour marine radio watch, so please support this worthwhile cause.
Stanage Bay accommodation
For campers and caravanners, there is camping at Endeavour Park – named after Captain Cook’s flagship. This is a fairly small, but very pretty, camp area nestled along the north-facing beach next to the boat ramp, and it is quite sheltered. The park has good shady trees and a range of fruit trees including mangoes, guavas, custard apples, lemons and limes. These are a remnant from the old days when there were many shacks along the foreshore. There is also camping at Porters Creek and adjacent to the beach at Happy Valley but no fires are allowed at Happy Valley at any time because it is also a sea turtle reserve. Controlled camp fires are allowed at Porters Creek and Endeavour Park. All sites are maintained by local volunteers and donations to support this work by the Stanage Township Association should be made by campers at the Plumtree Store.
There is no power, wood or water available so suitable arrangements need to be made before you arrive. If there have been reasonable rains, you may be able to sweet talk the Coast Guard and Sea Rescue volunteers Billy or Alf Nord for some water from their large storage tanks in return for a donation. There is no dump point at Stanage, just pit toilets, which campers are asked not to empty their toilet cassettes into.
Forget about TV or internet reception here and mobile phone reception is just about possible on some days. To connect, you need to go to the top of the boat ramp, stand on one leg under the flood light and hold your mouth just right and you may be rewarded with one bar – be warned, though, the signal comes and goes.
Shops and restaurants
The Plumtree Store and the licensed Crab Pot bar and restaurant are owned by long-time residents Bevan and Maree Haynes. The store stocks a variety of basics, with fresh bread and other consumables arriving on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The Crab Pot provides a good menu of wholesome pub grub on Friday and Saturday nights and is very popular.
Residents Vonni Ireland and her partner Tony at the neighbouring Stanage Bay Marine will supply all your bait, tackle and boating gear and maintenance requirements. They have some space for boat or caravan storage. Both businesses offer bookings for a range of rental accommodation and their respective owners have a vast knowledge of the region.
Stanage Bay history
The area has a recorded history that dates back to the exploration voyage of Captain James Cook. He called in here in May 1770 looking to replenish his freshwater supplies and also careen the Endeavour to de-foul the hull. Finding no suitable supplies of fresh water, he left again, naming the passage between the islands and the mainland Thirsty Sound.
The next prominent voyager was Matthew Flinders in September 1802. He was north-bound, surveying the coast of Queensland as part of the first complete circumnavigation of Australia. The bicentenary celebration of his visit to Stanage Bay was organised by the community and held on September 7 2002.
Some 400 people, both current and previous residents travelled up for these memorable celebrations. You can view the memorial plaque and sundial in the park adjacent to the store – the sundial delivered pretty accurate time while we were there. The region also has a pastoral history with stock being farmed on both the islands.
This feature was originally published in issue #516 of Caravan World magazine. Why not subscribe today for all the latest caravan news, reviews and travel inspiration.