Fletcher's Creek

This is a free campground is 45 km north of Charters Towers and is on the banks of the Fletcher Creek, suitable for caravans.

Part of the free camp looking across the creek.
All set for relaxing and some crafts
It is a very large camping area on both sides of the road with toilets on just one side. This campsite is near a river or creek that has some swimming holes.

Beaut riverside walks
On our first morning we slept in as it was a particularly long day the day before and this was a great opportunity to catch up on some sleep. Our time here is mostly one of relaxing and recharging our energy levels. We were blessed with warm to hot days though the evening got cook about 4am each day.

Beaut days but very cool first thing in the mornings
We found that some friends, Ken & Wendy were camped on the other side of the road. We caught up with them on one of our big walks up and down the river.

Following the shade to do my crafts
While you are here, make time to visit Charters Towers. We did on our last trip through this area when we were camped at the Macrossan free camp.

Part of the old bridge

Riverside flowers abound. I counted over 10 flowering species.

Chillagoe to Herberton

During our week long stay with friends, Joan & Ernie at Atherton,  we took a day trip out to Chillagoe. (Joan and Ernie are the lovely people who kidnapped us years ago and we went back and volunteered to be kidnapped again LOL)

The drive from Atherton is some 150km of mostly sealed road with about 30km of it dirt road.  The drive is unspectacular but we enjoyed each other's company and the drive itself.

We had a pub lunch, then went along to the almost instinctive visit to the Info Centre where we were advised to visit the Balancing Rock and nearby Smelter works. We opted out of a visit to the Chillagoe Caves due to Rob's health.

Balancing Rock

The walk around Balancing Rook was lovely and relatively easy though there were a few steps which rob had to take easy. The views are wonderful.

Smelter Works

The smelters are a part of the local history from 1901 to 1943 at least, though there was some nearby mining of marble going on. There are lots of informative signs explaining the various parts of the operation.

We also decided that a different route back would be interesting. We took a route back to Herberton through some 70km of dirt road.

Lots of little anthills along the way.
 I loved the relatively new mural on the side of a shop in Herberton.

We have been to Herberton before and I can certainly recommend the Spy Camera Shop. Click on the link to read about it from our previous visit.

We were soon back home after this. It was all in all a lovely but full day's outing but so worth it.

Christmas In July CMCA Rally, Mareeba

 Rob & I have have gone to the Dam Fine Rally in Townsville and now the Christmas in July one at Mareeba even though we didn't really appreciate our first CMCA rally.

Happy Hour at the Wanderer's 'site' That's our motorhome centre back!

Because we came in with Leigh & Wil and a few others from the Mareeba Bush Stays,  we were able to camp adjacent to them in a general area that had quite a few Highway Wanderers. This made it easy to join in the general friendliness of our neighbouring Highway Wanderers. We had to be careful not to forget to talk to people not in the HW so that we don't come across as being exclusive or cliquey.  I am not game to mention many in case I forget someone, but I do want to especially mention Chris who shared a stall with me at Market Day.

The rally flowed rather well.  I am still amazed that with the 300 or so RVs on site,  and many of these making use of the free hot water showers, that they never ran of of hot water, ever. I didn't hear of one incidence. Amazing! The volunteers also did a  great job keep the toilet blocks and the grounds lovely and clean.

Light entertainment, disc bowls, morning teas, happy hours were held as normal. There was a Christmas craft table running with felt poinsettias and pine cone crafts being the main craft being taught. There was supposed to be a craft/sewing table set aside, but I turned up and the appointed 'starting' time and no one came and so I joined the Christmas table. I tried again the next day but it took a couple of hours before 2 ladies turned up. I didn't try anymore after that. I am happy to craft on my own.

One of our row of tables at the Christmas dinner. Rob is there centre left.

Christmas in July Dinner

Leigh did a great job co-ordinating the table decorations for the Highway Wanderers even though there weren't prizes for the best looking tables, I am sure we would have won if there was.

Dinner was plentiful
There was however a competition for the best head dress/hat for the night. It was fun to join in this. I didn't win with my snowman hat, but the fella that did win did a fabulous job with his hat which was a wine bottle and wine glasses around the brim all done up with tinsel.

Leslie wearing my hat and I wearing someone else's hat hamming it up.
The winning hat!
There was a lot of fun generated at our tables and then later on a band with dance music.

Dancing on the lawn

Market Day

A beautiful Sunday here got off to a fabulous start with a rousing church service. I then set up a table at the markets run here at the Christmas in July CMCA rally at Mareeba. I got to have my 2nd ever doll stall and sold a few dolls and dogs as  well ashave the opportunity to talk about the cahrity, Without a Ribbon and rare cancers. There was a demonstration of  whip cracking  which was just specatular. I also enjoyed looking at the other handcrafts on display and for sale as well as sampling some of the food stalls.

My small market table together with my hat which I wore most of the day!

All in all,  we had a relaxing time chatting to friends and crafting. I basically accept that I can not join in a lot of the activities due to my deafness, which is a bit sad, but a fact of life. Still joining in with friends certainly makes up for it. We had a ball.

We have really enjoyed our time at the Christmas in July rally held at Mareeba.
Now it is time to move on again.

Mareeba Bush Stay

Though it wasn't far from Rocky Creek, we decided to go to Mareeba Bush Stay as we had some friends staying there and we wanted to join up with them prior to the Christmas in July Rally.

There plenty of other Highway Wanderers  (our CMCA mobile chapter) around for company anytime as well as other campers. As it turns out our nearest camping neighbour comes from a neighbouring suburb, Dapto, which is just about 15km from our home. Small world.

Rob caught us a fine catch of red claw yabbies here thanks to some instruction and advice from Wil.

Best catch ever for us. 26 of them. We made a fine meal of them: Creamy Garlic Yabbies. Recipe at the end of this post. I was so hoping for another good catch before we left, but it was not to be.

Creamy Garlic Prawns Recipe

30 or so fresh yabbies: cooked and peeled
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves of garlic

1 1/2 tablespoon white wine

1 tablespoon plain flour
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 cup liquid chicken stock
pepper to taste (I doubt you will need salt)
1/2 cup cream
water as required.

Heat butter and garlic in butter. Add flour and stir until combined & smooth, then remove from heat
Gradually add just a little of the stock at a time, until combined and lump free. 
Add the mustard and wine. Return to heat and stir continuously until it thickens and boils. Add pepper . Add yabbies and cream. Heat just long enough to make yabbies warm. Do NOT overcook.
Serve on a bed of rice. 

Yummo!  By the way, the recipe works just as well for prawns instead of yabbies.

Rocky Creek Camping Area

Rocky Creek is 12km north of Atherton or 23km south of Mareeba. Rocky Creek has a large and relatively flat paddock type camping area setting adjacent to a War Memorial and is suitable for all types of self sufficient RVs.

Though it is classified as a free camping area  there is a donation box just outside the toilets and $5 a night is the suggested fee. Personally I like to pay these fees to help ensure that sites like these are available. Someone has to pay for the toilet cleaning etc. Though the toilet paper is replaced each time, sadly there are people who will knock off the toilet paper whenever they get the opportunity. There's a wheelchair accessible toilet block and a picnic area towards the back. There are non potable water taps provided in the area.

An aside: Sad people 

We  met a couple years back who bragged that they hadn't bought any toilet paper in 2 years! Such sad people that didn't know that this is NOT something to be proud of! And they were weren't poor either!

Maybe we should have buried them here! LOL
We spent some time here twice at Rocky Creek back in 2012 and so we knew it was a great spot to take some time out.

A surprise: Barney Springs

Yet for all that, I only learnt of the Barney Springs picnic area out the back for the first time on this trip. If you take a short walk near the gate and follow the track you will first cross a dry creek bed but keep going and you will come across the first of two permanent springs with an adjacent picnic area albeit very old. With something like 54-62 litres per second feeding out of this spring, I think it must have been popular back in the war time when the hospital was in operation. You see pipes and a pump house too!

History of the War Memorial at Rocky Creek.

I also love the history of the area. During World War II the Atherton Tableland area became the largest military base in Australia with camps at Tinaroo, Kairi, Atherton, Wongabel, Herberton, Wondecla, Ravenshoe and Garnet. Rocky Creek here was the site of the largest military hospital in the Southern Hemisphere at the time. It was a huge 3000 bed hospital which treated over 60,000 patients from 1943 to 1945. It is easy to imagine that the staff and mobile patients on long convalescence would appreciate the coolness of the area and a dip in the waters as a refreshing change especially in the hot summers.

Definitely a lovely respite area.

Free camping at Babinda

Babinda has a lovely park set aside for free camping just about 60km south of Cairns. The park is on the other side of the  railway line from town but still within easy walking distance - maybe 600 metres.

Babinda Rest Area itself has good shade along the river though it is mostly closed off the campers now but there is still places to camp on grass or you can choose the flat gravel area above. I really recommend the gravel area in times of wet weather as it gets rather boggy on the grassy area as can be expected right next to a creek (which floods easily too!) It is a clean facility with limited covered picnic areas, toilets, hot water showers (gold coin operated) and a dump point.

The town has a couple of craft shops including a scrapbooking shop, cafes, mini supermarket, pharmacy, mechanic, pubs etc. So make use of the town as a thank you for having a free camp in the area. Without us free campers supporting the businesses, the town would suffer greatly.

We have stopped here before in 2012 and we find that it is becoming more and more popular as well as there are more and more RVs on the road now too!

"The Dream" at Paronella Park

Wow! Just where does one start when describing a place like Paronella Park. Well it is an amazing and fascinating place to visit. You must visit this once in a lifetime.



The entrance fee ($39 each for pensioners and $45 regular) is valid for a year and & free camping for one night is included with entry ticket too! We spent a wonderful day and night at Paroenella Park near Innifail, North Queensland, taking in all 3 tours. It is a magical place of waterfalls, mini castles and romantic history all come together in one magical package.

Do join the guided tours so you don't miss out on any of the history or the highlights of the park. There was a daytime tour, a hydro tour and an spectacularly lit evening tour. Most lasting between 45-60 minutes. It is mostly easy walking but the Hydro Tour does involve steep steps however you can go as slow as you need. Rob was glad he managed it, though he was quite exhausted afterwards but that also might have been the collective effects of 3 tours through out the day though we rested in our motorhome in between. Gosh I was tired myself and a bit bit foot sore too!

The Dream Continues Tour

This tour is mostly about the history of the place which is quite remarkable.  As with many migrants Jose Paronella came to Australia in the 1930's to build a future for himself and then went back 'home' to marry his wife and bring her out. (There's a romantic story you need to hear first hand from the tour guide.) Jose continued to build his fantasy castle always as a money making tourist attraction.

There's more than one Spanish style castle complete with a grand staircase down to the river and a various parks with varying vistas. Today the buildings are in ruins, but still retain a beauty, covered in moss and surrounded by stunning gardens with paths and tracks to follow.

The Tunnel of Love was closed to us, is now home to a colony of micro bats. You can feed the turtles which live in the lake.

There's also fresh water eels, bream, perch in the river. Jose created the beautiful gardens planting over 7000 trees. You can walk just about everywhere and noticing  the magnificent trees towering above you.

The Hydro Tour

Jose certainly was certainly a visionary ahead of his time. The entire park was powered by Hydro electricity from the falls through a system designed & partly built by Jose. This was the first private hydro scheme anywhere in Australia and years before the surrounding area had any electricity. It is still working and powers the whole park.

The Darkness Falls Tour

As darkness fell we all gathered in front of the castle. Music began and the castle was lit up with a magical light display. The tour concluded at the waterfall which was now lit up and looked stunning.

No wonder it has won so many prestigious tourism awards. I sort of feel sorry for Josef though. I will let you work out why when you go there, which you should at least once!It is an experience like none other.