DESTINATION: TRAVELLERS REST, QLD
Set on 125 acres of bushland with complete beach frontage, Travellers Rest is the perfect place for rest and relaxation, say Tony and Denyse Allsop.
· A quiet beachfront van park located in a bush setting
· Beach walks
· Marble rock and the lava flow
Travellers Rest Caravan and Camping Park is situated at Midge Point, a 90-minute drive north-east of Mackay, Qld. This quiet caravan park is on 125 acres of bushland, has absolute beach frontage and no traffic noise.
In 1980, Bill and Heather Caldicott bought the land to build the park. They constructed a dam at the rear of the property, leaving an island as a nesting site for waterbirds. This dam was their first water supply.
An area closer to the van park was excavated to supply sand for the concrete slabs. After Bill bulldozed down a couple of metres, he struck the water table and, in the wet season, the large pool filled up with clear water. This later became the park’s first swimming pool, and we still have photos of Denyse, our German shepherd Shaka, and I swimming here.
Bill and Heather laid all the slabs by hand and they also dug all the trenches for power and water lines.
The park was finally opened in 1987-88 and was an early member of the Top Tourist Parks group. Our first visit was in 1989.
The couple also planted a mango orchard and Heather sold frozen mango to her guests throughout the year.
The land was previously unlogged sub-tropical forest, and they wanted to keep as many trees as possible, so the original sites were laid out in a circle with a concrete road surrounding them, but later sites are set out among the huge trees. Some sites have been left without slabs for those who prefer grass.
With the development of nearby Laguna Quays resort, town water became available and a swimming pool and spa were installed.
From day one, Heather supplied a free morning tea every day, her scones complete with jam and cream, while Bill held a barbecue every Saturday evening. Entertainment by their guests followed, and many a Saturday evening I sang and played my guitar. The Caldicotts were later given some musical instruments, including a drum set and, as southern-states visitors heard about this park, they formed a band. Those who stayed for the winter also planted a veggie garden. The park became very popular.
Bill also built barbecues and supplied wood for the large camping area. Finally a camp kitchen was built.
All sites were sheltered from the southern tradewinds by the beachfront coconut and sheoak trees, and Heather tied native golden orchids to the trees inside the park.
Bill and Heather sold the park a few years ago to buy a caravan and tour the country they love so much. They have now settled in as our back neighbours.
Over the years, a series of managers have made changes in the park, and two cyclones have brought down a number of trees. A lot of the undergrowth has been slashed and mowed, giving the park a much more open appearance. The camping area has been expanded, so there is more room for large camper trailers to spread out and there is
ample room for large rigs.
There are powered and unpowered sites, cabins, a large camping area, disabled amenities, a dump point, a pool and spa and a camp kitchen. It is strictly a tourist park with no permanent residents.
More recently, a firepit has been constructed near the camp kitchen, providing a wonderful venue for RVers to meet for happy hour and for Saturday evening sausage sizzles. The office sells bait, ice and gas.
Dogs are welcome but must be on a lead at all times for the protection of the wildlife. Pretty face wallabies are commonly seen throughout the park, as are scrub fowls and scrub turkeys. We also found a frilly lizard and a baby frogmouth owl. A huge number of birds call this place home, with more than 200 species on the bird list. Because the park is on such a large acreage and has such prolific wildlife, it feels like a national park.
We visited late in spring, when all the orchids were flowering and the weather was very pleasant. We were able to sit outside for happy hour with very few biting insects. Relieving managers John and Shirley Lay made us very welcome.
The owners have obtained permits to develop this park further, with an emphasis on upgrading the facilities and increasing the tourist trade. A name change is also being considered.
Watching wildlife, fishing and swimming are popular pastimes for visitors to Travellers Rest with Yard Creek, the lagoon, and the beach the main attractions.
If you head south on the beach and cross over the small creek at half-tide or lower, you will come across heaps of milky oysters on the rocks. Keep going to the first beach, then head back behind the small mangroves for about 50m until you come to what we call ‘marble rock’, a mass of very colourful and unusual rock. Above, you might see the local white-breasted sea eagles and brahminy kites circling Midge Mountain. If you keep walking, you will pass another couple of beaches. Walk behind the mangroves on the southern point to reach Six Mile Creek. Alternatively, you can head straight out across the sandflats to Six Mile inlet, which has good fishing and some shelling.
Head north along Midge Point Beach and cross the small inlet (no water at low tide) and you will come to another small beach. There is good fishing here on the incoming tide.
Keep going behind the mangroves and you will find an ancient volcanic lava flow that goes out onto the beach.
You can continue walking this isolated coastline for many kilometres, eventually coming across a road leading back to Midge Point.
The rocks near the lava flow contain some good-sized black lip oysters, but be aware that it is an offence to take oysters away in Queensland. You must eat them on the spot.
Both the lava flow and marble rock are only a 15-20 minute walk from the park.
Midge Mountain, just south of the van park has an old 4WD track leading to the top. The easiest way to climb the hill is to cross the creek at low tide and head right behind the mangroves to the lowest point, then head up through the scrub for about 10-15m and you will come across the road. The hill has many golden rock orchids and native hoyas. There is also a tunnel through the rocks at the top – the views are superb.
Fishing can be good in the hole at the southern end of the beach. You will see some rocks come out of the water at low tide. I have caught rock cod and mangrove Jack here, and bream in the large hole just further up the creek, as well as mud crabs. Beware of crocs, though, as I saw one sunbathing on the sand island just around the corner. I would not let my dog or kids swim in this hole.
Heading north just a couple of kilometres towards the old Laguna Quays Resort you will find a tavern with excellent meals, and a small general store, coffee shop, laundromat and real estate agent. Keep going for another 6km to reach the mostly closed resort.
This was, in its heyday one of Australia’s best resorts and resort golf courses. The marina is still going and some of the privately owned villas are still used.
Anyone who knew Laguna will be saddened to see its current state. It has been abandoned, and the once immaculate golf course has almost no grass on the greens. The waterholes and billabongs have a good display of red water lilies and birdlife, though.
However, RVers can certainly still enjoy the quiet, forest ambience of Travellers Rest, and be woken by the sounds of birds and sea.
· To get to Travellers Rest, turn off the Bruce Highway at Bloomsbury, 82km north of Mackay. It is a further 18km along a sealed road.
· The park is rated 3.5 stars and is a member of the Top Tourist Parks group. The park is at 29 Jackson Street, Midge Point, Qld 4799, (07) 4947 6120 or 1800 772 341.
Originally published in Caravan World #510, January 2013.