CAMPSITE # 167 - Southern Cross Backpackers, 1770 QLD

Naming a town after a year, now there’s an interesting approach. Was it just laziness that drew Cook to give it its name? Perhaps he was so fed up with trying to be creative when naming his discoveries? Or maybe there was some sort of insight into its naming – either way, the town name of “1770” surely is a difficult one to forget.  It got me thinking about strange names of places that we’ve come across on during our journey –

Deadman Creek, NSW - was a body lying in a gully the result of its name?
Alligator River - Kakadu, NT – Now this one was named after sighting prehistoric reptiles in the water that they assumed to be an alligators but then later discovered to be crocodiles.
Chinaman’s Knob, VIC – Does it speak for itself?
Dismal Swamp, TAS – Which contrary to its name, was far from dismal.
Murder Point Rifle Range, QLD – Yep! Actually exists, don’t think we’ll be going there in a hurry.
The End of the World, TAS – Really does feel like the point at the end of the world. If you were to travel directly west from “The End of the World” the next continent you would reach is South America.
Useless Loop, WA – Just off from Monkey Mia, we didn’t take that road.

I'd been to 1770 just once before, as a quick stopover during a road trip to Airlie Beach. I remembered it to be a quiet coastal town just at the beginning of a major tourist boom. Aside from a few dozen modern mansions erected in the last 4 years, it was still the 1770 I remembered it to be. Last time I went there, it was during the peak season so to no great surprise we had a very rough time trying to find accommodation due to our lack of pre-planning. I was distraught four years ago when we tried to check into the Southern Cross Backpackers and were turned away because they were fully booked. I desperately wanted to stay there. Second time round, I was determined to not set myself up once again for disappointment.

Southern Cross Backpackers in 1770 is without a doubt the BEST backpackers both Tom & I have ever seen. It's located 2km out of town, and seemed to me to feel more like a rustic bush retreat with a touch of funk. Let me paint a picture for you of our first 2minutes of our arrival.

Take the turn off at the blue VW combi parked out the front - always a sign of some happy hippies in residence.

Follow the long driveway into a paddock of luscious green grass meeting an man made dam covered in white water lillies.

 Park up next to the golden fern palm trees and colourful Bali flags blowing in the wind.

Walk alongside the sparkling blue backyard pool and gaze over towards the good looking people (insert gender preference here) lazing about in there togs under the glow of hot summer sunshine.

Enter a glorified shed decorated in foreign flags, comfy lounges while listening to funky music you've never heard but already want to jump straight onto itunes and download a copy for yourself.

Find yourself increasing your intended one night stay to three nights when you learn you can setup camp on the grass out the back and use all of their facilities for just $13 per person per night.

Finally! Somewhere we could camp with people that we were closer to their age of than their own grandchildrens'. People we could relate to and share stories of our world travels. Finally, somewhere to drink in public at seriously reasonable prices. 

We broke out the damper, and sat around the campfire socialising and sharing our Aussie bread...

And then, it was time to do as the backpackers do, get really cheap deals on all of the local attractions. Would you believe, that there is still a place in the whole of a Australia that you can join a small group of other beginners for a 3 hour Learn To Surf lesson for $17 per person at Reef 2 Beach Surf!! Holy moly that is CHEAP!! That includes board and wet suit hire. We had an absolutely fantastic time, to a point where we were so disappointed we hadn't learnt to surf at the START of the trip!!!

Meet Patrick, he's our new friend that suggested we all went surfing together. We have Patrick to thank for our full day of awesomeness!! Patrick is from Ireland and has taken a year off to see as much of the world as humanly possible. He also has a blog you can check out at 

Perfect learn-to-surf conditions resulted in Tommy and I riding those waves like we were the next Mick Fanning...

And then Tom decided to start showing off by surfing backwards...

And then the man and his dog decided to start showing off...

By the completion of three days in the life of a backpacker, I was ready to return to our old life. 72 hours of funky music blaring through the shed that no longer felt glorified was beginning to give me a headache. Cooking three dinners amongst the pig sty left behind by grubs that wouldn't wash their own dishes made me concerned for our hygiene. Standing in the kitchen watching three youths 'meditating' to the water on the stove to make it boil faster just made me roll my eyes. Showering in a unisex bathroom while an American in the cubicle next door was busy trying to suss me out in the hopes of sharing one cubicle to 'save water' and I had just about had enough.
Time to return to our old life, just the three of us - Tom, the Troopie and I. At least for the next very small handful of campsites remaining.

CAMPSITE # 166 - Lake Causeway, South Yeppoon QLD

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock... time was running out. With just a couple of weeks left of the trip, we were determined not to spend our precious time sitting in the Troopie driving from place to place day in & day out. We decided we would prefer to set up camp for a few days at a time as we slowly made way back to Brisbane.

We were expecting to reach Yeppoon, fall in love with the place and be desperate to stay there for another week. But it was completely not like we expected. Yeppoon seemed like a town trapped in between old school untouched coastal town and the urban, booming place to be. Give Yeppoon five years and it will no doubt be the next Noosa but at the moment, run down and tasteless old sheds adjacent to utilitarian Coffee Clubs just didn't feel quite right. We gave Yeppoon a miss and continued heading south towards Emu Park. That's where we stumbled across - 

Site : The Causeway Caravan Park
Rating : 8 / 20
Facilities : Slight trailer park trash feeling to the Caravan  Park but it's located right next to the Lake - with great fishing for 50 - 60 cm flatheads. Lovely family spot to setup for a picnic lunch by the lake. Facilities are pretty average but at $22 per night for a powered site - it's very well priced. 

One beautiful sunny day, we spent $25 for one hour and hired a double peddle boat (and snuck in a 6 pack of beer to accompany us)...

A day trip to Emu Park made us quickly realise that we were staying in the wrong spot. Don't be misled by it's name, Emu Park is infact a gorgeous little coastal town right on the water with amazing views. It was one of the NICEST towns we visited in all of Australia. I tell you what, if we had a few hundred thousand dollars just sitting around, we'd definitely be buying a holiday house at Emu Park. Discover it for yourself... it was simply breathtaking...
This is the Singing Ship, honouring Captain James Cook who discovered Keppel Bay on the 26th of May 1770. Unfortunately for us, it was a very calm day with no breeze at all so we didn't get to hear the ship singing away. From looking at how it's built, I imagine it would sound similar to a faint pipe organ...

Tom would like to introduce you to his all time favourite ice cream. According to him, it's the best ever ice cream in the history of mankind (and no- this is not an advertisement however it is heavily endorsed by Oz360)... the Maxibon Caramel Rough Nut

CAMPSITE # 165 - Technology take over?

Stopping over at Sarina, 30km south of Mackay, was never really part of the plan. It was more a stopover from lack of desire to continue driving. We were quite lucky to stumble across the Caravan Park we found, it was extremely well maintained with perfectly manicured lawns - always a favourite for me!!

Site : Sarina Palms Caravan Village
Rating : 10 / 20
Facilities : Like I said - amazingly well maintained. Ok distance into town but Sarina isn't really that exciting. $27 for a powered site. 

I spent the afternoon sat at camp, enjoying the fluffy green grass, sunshine and the comforts of a real campsite with all of the perks i.e. power & running water. I got out my laptop to spend an hour or so blogging my little heart out. Not long after I just sat down, our neighbour from the caravan aside from us, poked his head around the corner, looked me up and down and said "Gees love, get off that bloody thing, you're wasting away a beautiful afternoon". I glanced up at him and in shock just gave him an uncomfortable smirk and then quickly returned my eyes to my computer screen. As I stared blankly at my screen for the next 10 minutes, my brain was busy thinking of a reply. I think I'm still thinking of a reply, what do you say to that? 

Later that night, Tom and I sat out under the stars enjoying a steak and vegies cooked on our gas stove under our only dimly lit LED light. As I relayed the story of the afternoon's events to Tom, we turned our heads towards his caravan. Through the window of a very well lit caravan, I could see a shadow of a man lying on his bed watching TV as his wife was busy working her way around their kitchen, removing their uncooked meal from their oversized fridge and was busy cooking it in the microwave. Hmmmm.... need I say more?

I want to know from you guys, what would you say in return to a comment like that - "Gees love, get off that bloody thing, you're wasting away a beautiful afternoon" ??

CAMPSITE # 164 - Henning Island - Our island disaster

We had our very own image in our heads of what one week on a deserted Whitsundays Island was supposed to be like. A whole island all to ourselves, no people for us to have to contend with, just Tom and I surrounded by nothing but the open ocean. 

At least that's how it was sold to us by our agent, and we got sucked right in. 

As we thought more and more about our week in paradise, we got excited by the idea of spicing things up a little. Survivor / Bear Grylls / Gilligan's Island - eat your heart out, we were doing it rough. 

Initially our plan was to go the 'full hog', just water, a flint, a knife and all your essential survival tools. Call it common sense (or just chickening out) if you will, but I had to pull out the female card and put my foot down when it came to food supplies and sleeping arrangements.

The agreement was to take minimal food in the hopes that we would catch the majority of our meals. The tent and sleeping bag would come along for the ride but were only to be used should the weather turn extremely nasty.

We then unveiled another spanner in the works. All of the prospective islands to camp on were National Parks with a zero fire policy... there goes our plan to cook everything on an open fire!

As our departure day grew nearer and nearer, the list somehow got longer and longer.

For $105 per person, we caught a Scamper water taxi that specialised in overnight camping trips. We journeyed to our new home for the next six nights, Henning Island.One of 74 islands in the Whitsundays region, Henning Island is just south of the famous Whitsunday Island and directly west of the high class (and super expensive) Qualia five star holiday resort.

The boat ride there was wet and choppy. Strong winds had decided to settle in for the day and were forecast for the following day as well. We knew we would have some unfavourable weather to contend with but we were in high spirits, our excitement made us blind to the weather. 

As we approached OUR island, we were overcome with disappointment at what lay before us... A bright orange kayak beached up on OUR island. It wasn't supposed to be like this, there wasn't supposed to be anyone else on the island.

Unloading our minimal gear onto the island, we were given the welcoming we desperately didn't want. Nigel wanted to know  where we were from, how long we were staying and where the rest of our gear was. Stupid Nigel-No-Friends was quick to escort us to the campsite, inform us of where we should camp and just outright would not leave us alone. It wasn't supposed to be like this, Nigel was DEFINITELY not supposed to be on OUR island. The real problem was, Nigel didn't have NO friends, he had a whole fleet of friends and the bastards were all heading for OUR island that night! 

Our image of a remote island camping adventure went completely out the window. Being a National Park, our designated camping area featured mowed lawns, picnic tables and solar powered his & her toilet facilities. IT DEFINITELY WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS! Stranded on a deserted island, yeah right! Fending for ourselves with our very own loos and toilet paper, I don't think so. There were even too many bloody people around to bother trying to live our island dream. We weren't in the mood for their ridiculous questions, their smart arse remarks or even their friendly hellos, they're weren't supposed to be there!! 

The only campsite remaining was located right in the brunt of the high winds, it was cold, it was wet and we were bloody miserable. It was just one giant snowball effect, it seriously was not supposed to be like this! Not in the mood for their remarks, we hung our heads in shame and set up the tent. Rather than being survivors on a stranded island fending for ourselves, we just looked like seriously illequipped campers. Not just that but we were hungry, illequipped campers. The high winds made beach fishing practically impossible which left us rationing 6 portions of instant rice and 2 minute noodles to live off.

We counted one night, 32 people had pitched up their tents and surrounded us in a very small & pathetic excuse for a camping area, they were practically camped right on top of us! Each night as we lay down to sleep, we would drift off to the sounds of their invasive coughs, and their late night mobile phone conversations (yep - phone reception on our deserted island). In the mornings we were woken by their noisy conversations about how much rain we had overnight and how wet their pillows got... at least they had bloody pillows!!!

During the days, good old Qualia Resort, rented out tinnies to their guests and recommended they spend their day on no other island than... (you guessed) OUR island. At one point, we counted 6 boats run around on the island as their snobby little temporary skippers lingered up and down our beach while poking their noses in our business.

Fresh coconuts!! 

It wasn't fair. Our spirits had been seriously knocked for six. After battling it out for 4 days and 3 nights, we couldn't take it any longer. All I could think was we only had 2 weeks left on our trip and we sure as hell weren't going to waste 7 days of it miserable on that stupid island. We both woke on the Thursday morning after a terrible nights' sleep (on the ground without pillows in the freezing cold sharing just one sleeping bag). The decision was unanimous, to call Scamper and arrange for them to take us back on the next boat home. But the boat was already on the water and he was out of phone range. He would swing past our island in an hour or two. We had to pack everything up and stand at the pick up point and just hope to god that he would spot us. 

For the first and hopefully only time ever in my life, I felt what it would be like to be marooned on an island. We stood amongst all of our smelly and wet belongings on the beach waving frantically to our boat as it passed by.

It wasn't changing course. It wasn't veering towards us. It was heading home to the comforts of civilisation and leaving us on our crowded island for at least another day. I slapped my hands to my thighs and turned to Tom in disappointment. There I was, as I always do, dramatising the whole scenario as cool, calm, and collected Tom just raised a little grin on his face and calmly pointed towards the boat. They were coming! They must have seen us right at the very last minute - we were saved!!!!! 

Except once we had loaded everything onto the boat, we stood at the bow and turned back to farewell our island. It was all over. Our island adventure was behind us and now we were in a boat racing further and further away from our temporary home.

It may not have been the adventure we were hoping for, of bright sunny days feasting on fresh seafood and lying in the hammock. It may not have been the adventure we had hoped for but, alas, it was an adventure, one that will never let us forget - Henning Island.

Please Note : Yes - The photos of Henning Island were lovely and depict beautiful sunny days in paradise. Don't get us wrong, the island itself is really nice, just a little less secluded than what we were after.

CAMPSITE # 163 - Airlie Beach, QLD

Welcome to the Whitsundays! The Troopie got put on the backburner, camping got put on the backburner, we wanted the full Airlie Beach experience. We checked into our version of the Hilton, our very own private room with air conditioning and electricity at Magnum's Backpackers

It's incredible how much we appreciate having a roof over our heads these days. After spending each morning exploring Airlie, Tom and I would then get very excited by the idea of returning to our new home for lunch, watching a movie on our laptop and just enjoying the confines of our little shoebox for a few days. 

One afternoon, we stocked up with blue cheese, dip, crackers, strawberries and chocolate and sat on our verandah just watching the day go by. Sad I know but it felt like such a treat!

Site : Magnums Backpackers
Rating : 11 / 20
Facilities : $50 per room per night for a private double room with fridge, kettle & basic crockery, airconditioning. Rooms set amongst natural bushland. Shared bathroom. Very good value for money. Right in the centre of town. Very cheap beers at the Magnum's pub :)

There was a reason why we couped ourselves up for three days. Don't go thinking "They're at the Whitsundays and they spent the majority of their time indoors". Believe me, we were soaking up as much of it as absolutely possible. We were waiting out for our boat to depart. We had booked a water taxi to take us to a deserted island on the Whitsundays for a whole week. But this time, we were doing it the real way. None of those creature comforts, we were off on a survival week. Just your basic life essentials to get us by... water, first aid kit, knife, fishing rod, flint and emergency food etc. We would put our new found camping skills to the test. Survivor eat your heart out, this would be Oz360's survival of the fittest.

We plan to video diary the entire journey, from start to finish. The good, the bad and the ugly. Wish us luck!

CAMPSITE # 162 - Townsville, QLD

A visit from my oldest brother James was over quicker than it started. We were to journey to Townsville and drop him off at the airport. The two hour drive from Mission Beach to Townsville made us desperate to stop in at Caldwell for one of their famous roadside pies. I had one of the best pies in the history of my pie eating career, a good old favourite Beef & Mushroom pie, Tommy loved his Beef & Bacon pie but James unfortunately was quite disappointed with his Beef, Tomato & Cheese. When the staff love their pies, you know they're good...

Arriving into Townsville, I was blown away by how much bigger it was than I had expected. But it is infact Australia's largest city north of the Sunshine Coast and is considered to be the unofficial  capital of Northern Queensland.

It seemed to me that "The Strand" was the place to be. A lovely beachfront parkland with street cafes, a man made lagoon and some rather funky art installations. 

And thank goodness for the man made lagoon with all of the deadly creatures lurking around. During the summer, you'd be busy dodging one of the world's most deadly jellyfish that is smaller than the size of your fingernail. Symptoms of an Irukandji sting include nausea, vomiting, cramps, high blood pressure, chronic back ache and acute anxiety. The venom is slow-acting and severe symptoms surface only after a few minutes of the attack. There is no known antidote, even morphine has been known not to subdue the pain.

We, however, had an even bigger reason not to swim in the ocean...

A visit to the Watermark on the Esplanade was high on our priority list, Tom's brother Will worked at the Watermark a few years back... it gave us a great excuse to have a few beers!!

Love this photo, we see it all too often...

Tom had an old friend from work who lived in Townsville so we planned to meet up with Kristian and his family for a meal. WOW! Tom and I were allowed to be sophisticated for one night, we were wearing the only good clothes we had. We went out for Thai, oh how I missed the taste of food cooked by somebody else! It was just delicious. We had a great night catching up and after a few beverages decided it sounded like a great idea to meet them all at 7am the next morning for a 2 hour walk up one of Townsville's highest peaks, Castle Hill. 

As we were driving towards Castle Hill at 6:45am the next morning, both sporting a couple of sore heads, I dreaded the path ahead. I pictured hundreds of steep steps each one hurting more than the last. As we waiting at the bottom of a disgustingly daunting looking staircase, our friends arrived with some really pleasant news. They did the steps the day before and were still a little sore so they thought they'd just go up the road instead. I couldn't have thanked my lucky stars anymore that day, a few strides up the road with a pleasant view overlooking the whole of Townsville was like a walk in the park in comparison.

Site : Rowes Bay Caravan Park
Rating : 11 / 20
Facilities : Nice swimming pool, decent campkitchen, very clean & modern bathrooms, across the road from the ocean, 30 minute seaside walk to the city centre.