The twin towns of Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water on Queensland’s central coast offer eco-tourists a broad range of experiences. As well as being the state’s ‘birthplace’ – the site of Captain Cook’s second landing on mainland Australia on May 24, 1770 – they are also the gateway for discovering the region’s many natural attractions.
One of the most beautiful of these is Deepwater National Park (NP), 4730ha of sandy beaches and sub-tropical lowland forest protecting a unique coastal freshwater ecosystem centred on Deepwater Creek. On a recent ‘winter getaway’ with our offroad Kimberley Karavan, Tikay, we spent a couple of days finding out why this park is such a popular camping destination.
There are two camping areas within the park, one at Middle Rock and the other at Wreck Rock, which was our destination further south. It is possible to access Wreck Rock from the south by conventional vehicle but, coming from the north as we were, the track conditions demand a high-clearance 4WD and, if towing, an offroad capable camper trailer. Caravans are not suitable for either route.
The weather gods were smiling as we set out from Agnes Water early one August morning and followed the sealed Springs Road for about 4km to the park’s northern boundary. At this point the bitumen ends abruptly and the adventure begins as you plunge into a track of deep, soft sand as it ascends terrain dominated by a vegetated, 70m-high dune system. Signs warn of the approaching hazard and we took the time to lower tyre pressures and engage low range before entering this beguiling coastal woodland. Our plan to get an early start in order to avoid other traffic on this difficult track paid off – we didn’t encounter any other vehicles travelling in either direction, which was just as well because the few pull-outs provided as passing points were berms up to half-a-metre high of even deeper, softer sand.
For the most part, the track was fairly straight, which enabled us to enjoy the passing scenery – an open forest of pink bloodwoods liberally interspersed with weeping cabbage palms, grass trees and wallum banksias festooned with creamy-yellow cones. About 4km into this heavenly landscape, a side-track diverts to the east and connects with the Flat Rock Day Use Area. This location takes its name from a rock platform just offshore that encloses a natural pool at low tide and affords some protection from the strong currents that sweep the exposed beaches of the Discovery Coast.
BACK TO NATURE
Two kilometres further on another track branches off to Middle Rock. This shady camp in the forest behind the dunes is just a short walk from the beach and, with no facilities, offers a real ‘back to nature experience’ in peaceful seclusion. We saw only two groups relaxing in their bivouacs as we followed the track through the vine thickets to a long deserted beach punctuated at the southern end by a loose jumble of basalt boulders that are collectively Middle Rock.
After another 2km we came at last to the junction for Wreck Rock camping area, where 14 sites are conveniently laid out in a circuit through the forest, all handy to the facilities – toilets, a cold outdoor shower (that was character building) and taps that supplied non-potable water – not flash but sufficient for a comfortable stay in a beautiful bushland setting. Many of the sites were large enough to set up a camper trailer with annexe and still have room to park the car. Only a few of these were occupied and we set up Tikay in a secluded glade of weeping cabbage palms well away from the others. During our several days here we heard nothing of our neighbours above the birdsong and sea breeze in the palms.
Each day we walked to the beach, five minutes away, where gentle surf lapped around a rocky outcrop that separated two long beaches stretching away to the north and south as far as the eye could see. Occasionally we glimpsed a distant beachcomber or a lone fisherman casting a line from the rocks, but otherwise we had the entire pristine shoreline to ourselves – affirming the claim in the local tourist brochure that the only footprints you’re likely to see on the beach will be your own. There wasn’t much to do except walk or swim or sit on the dune or in our camp chairs in the dappled shade, feeling the tranquillity of the place wash over us, thinking all the while: it doesn’t get much better than this!
How to get there
The Deepwater National Park is 112km or about 1½ hours’ drive from Bundaberg on Queensland’s Central Coast. From the Bruce Highway at Miriam Vale, take the Fingerboard Road and Round Hill Road to Agnes Water, then Springs Road south for 4km to the park’s northern boundary.
Check out the full feature in issue #97 February 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.