CLAIRVIEW - BLUEWATER - MISSION BEACH - WONGA BEACH (DAINTREE)
Our first stop in week four of OUR BIG LAP was Clairview, and this had been on our radar for quite a long time. Clairview is known as the ‘Crab Capital’ of Queensland and that was enough for us. There are few things that Lloyd loves more than fishing and catching and eating crabs so there was no question that OBL was going to stop for a night or two at the BarraCrab Caravan Park in Clairview!
Pulling into the caravan park the first thing we noticed was that it was one of the few places along this part of the Queensland coast where the Bruce Highway more or less meets the sea. Within two minutes of leaving the highway we were checking into the caravan park which is a rarity in the age of highways and bypasses.
The BarraCrab Caravan Park has a number of beachfront powered sites and a vast grassed area to accommodate unpowered campers and caravanners. The reception sells a range of groceries and bait for your fishing and crabbing needs and attached to the reception is a bar and restaurant which looked to be a cult favourite with locals and travellers alike. The amenities were clean and looked to have had a recent facelift. There was water available at each powered site however this was not for drinking. A separate tank was available to fill drink bottles and containers for drinking water. We opted not to connect to the mains water having been advised by a fellow caravanner that the water was quite saline and had caused some damage to his van’s plumbing - thanks for the tip old mate! Instead we used our tank water (which we had already filled in Gladstone) for dishes and whatnot in the van and availed ourselves of the amenities when it came time to shower. For the kids there was a small playground as well as a beautiful beach to play on, and at low tide there was thousands of the smallest hermit crabs I had ever seen to chase and discover.
Arriving in Clairview had us really, really feeling like we weren’t in Oakdale (our home town) any more. We arrived as an incredible 8m tide hit its lowest point exposing rocks and sand for as far as the eye could see (or so it seemed!) and it was also the first place where we had to be especially careful of crocodiles cruising the open waters and potentially making their way onto the beach. For the record we did not spot any crocs roaming the waters off Clairview but on our first full day as we did a spot of fishing from the beach at high tide we did spot a creature surfacing for air which was either a turtle or a dugong, we are not quite sure (but secretly I am going with dugong because, well, how cool!)
The 8m low tides were an incredible sight
There is not much more to Clairview than the caravan park and a row of houses lining the beachfront. Whether you like fishing or not, it is definitely a beautiful and relaxing spot to pull in and spend the night, but if you love crabbing and fishing (best fishing would be from a boat although we caught a few fish from the beach) then definitely book a few nights at least at BarraCrab Caravan Park Clairview – we could have stayed a week!
Lloyd with an impressive Clairview mud crab and Bec with her (not so impressive!) first catch on OBL
TIP: Bring your own crab traps if you want to try to catch your own mud crabs. The staff will give you advice on the best place to set your traps while you are visiting.
As we waved a sad goodbye to a wonderful stay at Clairview we set our sights on getting as far north as we could in one day. We had originally planned to have our next stop somewhere in the Whitsundays to travel to an island and visit the Great Barrier Reef, but having traded our planned stay in the Whitsundays for our stay on Heron Island, and having already travelled about the Whitsundays fairly extensively in our younger years we decided it was best to keep pushing north in an attempt to gain ourselves an extra day or two elsewhere.
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Pulling out of Clairview we had no idea where we would end up that night, or how long the kids would allow us to keep rolling, but it turned out they were absolute travelling champions that day and with a few stops at places like the awesome roadside fruit and vegetable stall at Gumlu we were able to clock up an amazing 530kms over about 7 hours to arrive at a little whistle stop of a place along the Bruce Highway called Bluewater, just north of Townsville.
The following morning we were off again with our sights set on Mission Beach. This journey was a much more palatable 200km and such a beautiful drive to boot. The journey along the coast was breathtaking and as we passed through idyllic towns like Cardwell we had to laugh at how lucky we were to live in a country where any one of these towns could have made the most amazing destinations to pull up and spend a few nights. It almost seemed wrong to simply roll through these towns without stopping.
Lunch and some fruit and veg purchases at the RV and kid friendly Gumlu roadside stall
Arriving in Mission Beach around lunchtime we set up at the Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Village at South Mission Beach and what a beautiful park it is. Just in case you weren’t sure that you were in the tropics, you will know it when you unhitch and look around to notice lush green grass and equally lush tropical gardens at every turn. The caravan park is immaculately maintained, and features a resort-style pool with waterslide, modern amenities and a camp kitchen that would please the fussiest of cooks. The beach is just across the road and like everywhere in north Queensland the vibe of South Mission Beach is pretty damn chilled!
I'd happily push the kids all day with a view like that! Swings at South Mission Beach
Mission Beach is located on the Cassowary Coast and the Beachcomber Coconut conveniently backs on to a section of forest which is a protected cassowary habitat. The caravan park is known to have a cassowary or two stroll its grounds and within about an hour or two of arriving (and having a really great burger from the CP kiosk!) we were treated to our first cassowary sighting… some cassowary chicks poking around under our awning! Daddy cassowary wasn’t too far away so we made sure to give them plenty of space (they can be quite vicious) but we were able to follow them around for a bit and take in the beauty of this most peculiar looking bird! The cassowaries visited our site each day thereafter so if you are interested in seeing some cassowaries while you are up north, consider staying at the Beachcomber Coconut.
A male cassowary and his chicks visiting us at Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Park, South Mission Beach
A restful few days at Mission Beach was the perfect antidote to the 750-odd kilometres we had travelled in the two days prior to our arrival there and being able to spend those few nights there made the effort to ‘buy time’ with a few big travel days well worth it.
Week four of OBL ended with us in the Daintree Rainforest - as far north as we were planning to travel up the east coast. With so much to do in the Port Douglas/Daintree region we decided to leave ourselves four nights to make the most of it, and again, we were glad for those long travel days which gave us an extra night to spend here.
Heading up to the Daintree we hadn’t booked a place to stay but we ended up deciding to stay at Pinnacle Village Holiday Park at Wonga Beach which seemed nicely located between Port Douglas and Mossman to the south and Daintree and the rainforest to the north. Calling ahead to ensure they had room for us at the park it became apparent that in our race up the east coast we had outrun the main grey nomad pack with the park manager telling us to just pull in, choose a spot we liked and come and pay when she came back the next day!
The site we finally chose at Pinnacle Village Caravan Park, Wonga Beach
So following orders we pulled in and were a bit spoilt for choice and probably spent longer than was necessary trying to decide which site to call home for the next four nights! With the exception of one or two motorhomes that pulled in we had the tourist section of the park all to ourselves and it was great for the kids to have the freedom to explore and ride their bikes and scooters without us having to helicopter over them for fear of those people that drive too fast in caravan parks (you know the ones I am talking about!) The Pinnacle Village also had not one, but two pools which we made very good use of and an extensive camp kitchen area set up. Located right on the beach under the shade of some gorgeous trees and tropical gardens this really was a relaxing stay by day and by night the kids amused themselves endlessly spotting cane toads and the like.
Enjoying one of the two pools at Wonga Beach
There is no end of things to see and do in this region, and in four days we knew we couldn’t do it all so we tried to take in some highlights including a cruise on the Daintree River spotting crocodiles (our first for the trip!), amazing birdlife and even an enormous Monarch butterfly; a trip into Port Douglas for some haircuts and a final taste of civilisation as we know it for a while; lots of driving down roads and tracks in and around the Daintree Rainforest as the kids napped in the backseat and the highlight for me and Ava, a Jungle Surfing tour zip lining through the treetops of the Daintree Rainforest - incredible!
Check out the video of our Jungle Surfing adventure!
I hope you enjoyed Week 4 of OUR BIG LAP as much as we did - what an amazing country we live in! Next stop… the Savannah Way!
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