Guest blog by This is Our Australia
Imagine sitting back relaxing on a tropical beach whilst holidaying with your family and then your wife turns to you to say, “We should take the caravan around Australia”.
Well, it happened to our guest blogger Warrick Wintle – 3 months after the idea surfaced, he, his wife Fabienne and their kids Charlotte and Celeste started their adventure to escape the ordinary and explore the extraordinary.
The Wintles’ adventure is aptly called This Is Our Australia and their mission is to encourage others to travel by sharing fun, beautiful and unforgettable places in Australia. Over the past 3 months they have been exploring Australia’s East Coast – here are the seven sweetest spots they’ve found so far.
Yes indeed, we first headed south of Brisbane in the middle of the winter. Crazy? No, we had a good reason – I entered into the 'Mullum to Bruns' stand-up paddleboarding race, my first ever competition. I didn’t win but beat hundreds of competitors, finishing a respectable 7th place. It didn’t look like winter did it?
If there is one place on the East Coast you must visit, then Brunswick Heads is it. ‘Bruns’ – as the locals call it – is a quaint sea and riverside little township in Northern NSW. The Brunswick River and Simpsons Creek flow with crystal clear water ideal for water-based activities such as swimming, fishing, boating and paddle-based (stand-up paddleboarding, kayak, etc.) sports. If catching a few waves or digging sandcastles with the kids is your thing, then the beaches north or south of the river mouth will supply plenty of enjoyment.
With a pub, plenty of good coffee shops and 3 caravan parks that front the river's edge, Bruns ticks all the boxes for a fun and super family vacation.
Escaping the mainland to experience the relaxation of island life is a must during any adventure. 'North Straddie' does not disappoint. It has a laidback village atmosphere with breathtaking scenery both on land and out to sea.
We enjoyed the simple life with a picnic at Point Lookout and watched the whales swim by on their journey north. Dolphins played peacefully along the foreshore of Amity Point, impressing the tourists with cameras glued to their faces. A dugong could be seen lazily swimming metres in front of our fishing lines at Dunwich Jetty. The idea of getting back to nature was coming to fruition.
With several 'point breaks' on offer for surfing we took advantage of the uncrowded waves and paddleboarded and surfed to our hearts’ content. When we weren't in the waves, we were off in the 4WD exploring the beaches and inland lakes.
North Stradbroke Island is an adventure waiting to happen, and best of all it’s just a 40-minute car ferry ride from Brisbane. Tip: During the winter months, they have specials so you can take your trailer/van for free – a good way to save if you’re on a budget.
Mum-friendly, dad-friendly, child-friendly? Yes, yes and yes. Noosa has certainly retained its alfresco feeling and proves to be a super popular place to visit. Noosa is not just Hastings Street – Noosaville is the riverside adventure hub with kids’ playgrounds, water sport hire and bike paths.
Fabienne loved the cafés and the French bakery, and my crab pots were filled with muddies. You can also journey over to Noosa's North Shore to escape the crowds. Throw in a line, crack open a coldie and just sit back and take in the serenity.
This small seaside township is a not-so-well-known slice of paradise just north of Hervey Bay (turn off at Childers). There’s 17km of sandy beach with 4WD access that will have you and the family set up on the beach for a day of fun. Drop your pots and throw a line into the local creeks to satisfy your hunting and gathering instincts.
There is an abundance of kangaroos that visit the local's lawns to lunch on grass, so close encounters and photos are a piece of cake. A push bike ride or walk through the surrounding National Park will have you pop out of the bush at the Burrum River.
Woodgate is for winding down and disappearing off the tourist map. Make sure you book at the one and only caravan park!
It's no wonder that the population of 1770 and Agnes Water increases 10 fold during school holidays. Dads are out in their boats catching dinner, mums are relaxing on the beaches and the kids are being kids digging pools in the sand and catching waves on their boogie boards without a thought of playing on electronic devices.
Out came our inflatable stand-up paddleboards for an exploration of the coastline. The weather was perfect with a slight tailwind assisting our voyage. Rocky point after rocky point, secluded beach after secluded beach we meandered our way through the crystal clear water passing the occasional kayaking fisherman and pod of dolphins. The Coral Sea had turned it on for us and we were rejoicing in being kid-free for the day thanks to some friends.
A must-do experience is the 1770 LARC Tour (Lighter Amphibious Supply Cargo). These very cool vessels/vehicles are at home both on and off the water and have been operated by both the Australian Army and Navy.
Airlie is about adventures and a great place to start is the Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, which is everything parents could hope for when it comes to a child-friendly caravan park. Your kids will thank you for it, and you can even have a massage by the pool while your kids attend kids club!
Start off with some fun and free adventures such as a family bike ride along the foreshore of Cannonvale (stop in for a coffee at the Fat Frog Cafe), then onto the boardwalk as it winds its way around the harbour, around the headland and down to the Airlie Beach Lagoon to cool.
If you're out to impress your lovely lady (we did this when we were kidless) then take a helicopter tour from Shute Harbour Airport over to Whitsunday Island. You will be amazed at the scenery flying over the water and breathless when you hover over Hill's Inlet. Your pilot will drop you onto Whitehaven Beach with a picnic which includes a bottle of champagne, so take as much or as little clothing as you want to wear and be prepared for years of " do you remember when we...".
Drive only 2 hours west of Townsville to experience the outback under the stars. Once gold was discovered in 1871, the township of Charters Towers boomed with every man and his dog fighting to stake and retain their claim.
I must admit to having a little 'Gold Fever' myself. The thought of a lovely nugget shining in the bottom of my pan is a lifelong fantasy that just could be. This being said, pop into the visitor information centre and grab the self-guided CD that will guide you around town in the comfort of your own vehicle. The goldmining section that takes you up to the top of Towers Hill is fascinating.
The Burdekin River winds its way nearby as the water source for the township and a weir has been created to ensure a stockpile of water. Fishing and boating are popular on the weir with some restrictions. My favourite spot (you will have to ask a local for directions) to the 'Blue Road Marker' which will take you out of town, into the bush and eventually down to a beautiful stretch of river that is perfect for a picnic and an adventurous walk along its shore.
Tip: Stay at the 'Aussie Outback Oasis' caravan park for starry night time festivities. When we were there, they had all the guests seated around the communal camp kitchen and fire pits feasting on spuds with all the lashings, woofing down wood-fired pizza and all the while tapping their feet to a local musician.
Are you thinking about getting out and seeing the extraordinary too? Make sure you’ve got the right tyres for your trip – This is Our Australia rides on the Cooper Discoverer S/TMAXX. If you’d like to see some great photos and read updates on their adventure, follow Warrick and his family on Facebook.