DENYSE AND I had spent about five weeks out in far west Qld, and returned to the coast for a spot of luxury camping, in the regional city of Bundaberg at the Glenlodge Caravan Village tourist park. Bundaberg is a 50km drive off the main Bruce Highway, less than 400km north of Brisbane, but is a destination on its own. The city has a lot going for it.
The area is known for its soil fertility. Sugar cane and small crops are abundant and you can pick up bargains from roadside stalls. We bought five avocados for one dollar. Visit the strawberry farms and taste arguably the biggest and best berries in the land. You may even see a cane fire as some cane is still burnt in this area.
The city has a population of over 85,000 and supports a population of more than 100,000, so you will find major city shopping here including three main shopping centres. It has many parks plus a scenic river walk leading to a free zoo.
Many visitors will have heard of Bundaberg Rum and Bundaberg Ginger Beer. You can visit these factories, but this time Denyse and I decided to try the smooth water river cruise on the Bundy Belle.This cruise is operated by Burnett River Cruises, lasts 2.5 hours and takes you around 17km to the river mouth, passing the rum distillery and other fascinating sights. We also saw a range of water birds.
Skipper Bruce delivered a good commentary demonstrating his extensive knowledge of the river port. The cruise is reasonably priced with a discount for seniors and pensioners. Continuous tea and coffee with biscuits and cake are included. The boat has an outside top deck plus an inside deck and a toilet.
Other attractions include the Hinkler Hall of Aviation, within the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, and birdies will like the Baldwin Swamp Conservation Park, which locals call a small slice of Kakadu.
Fishermen love Bundaberg for the variety of fish caught in the river and ocean, and you'll also find local crabs on the menu.
The Mystery Craters are worth a visit, as are the local national and conservation parks.
There are several beaches only 13-15 km from Glenlodge Caravan Village. Mon Repos is well known for turtle watching. The nesting season runs from November to February while hatching commences in January going into March.
Bargara Beach is very popular and is a "touristy" type beach with a great walkway beside the ocean, plus coffee shops and the like. Bargara also has a Woolworths supermarket complex and boasts a top class golf course.
Strawberry farms and cane fields are also of interest here. A walking track leads to Mon Repos beach to the north.
Continue on south to quiet Elliott Heads for good fishing, swimming and another interesting beach-top walkway.
Baffle Creek and Rules Beach are just one hour's drive north. The road is now sealed all the way, but we were mainly interested in the attractions closer to Bundy this trip.
GLENLODGE CARAVAN VILLAGE
What a real pleasure and luxury it was to stay at an ensuite site at Glenlodge Caravan Village. This four star Top Tourist Park with all sealed roads, town water supply and greenery is a far cry from some of the camping spots we stayed at in the far west. The large ensuites are designed with room (and an extra power point) for your fridge and a cable connection for your TV. Much as we enjoyed the west, it was wonderful to have time out with the four star facilities of this park.
Owners, Brendan and Denise Haks and Brendan's brother, Simon, are usually in the office, and are a very friendly lot. Brendan gave us a town map, explained the main tourist features and showed us to our site. He also invited us to the morning tea on Tuesday plus a sausage sizzle on Thursday evening with entertainment.
There is a donation box for both these events and all monies collected go to charity, a nice gesture.
As well as ensuite and normal powered sites, there are large drive through sites (with a choice of grass or slabs) and a range of ensuite cabin accommodation. Facilities include a barbecue area,pool, and small kiosk. The two clean, modern amenities blocks have disabled facilities and laundries. We ate outside our van some evenings with no troublesome mozzies or biting midgies.
TV, Next G mobile phone and wireless broadband reception were good when we stayed.
We were there in school holidays, and were surprised by the number of families staying in camper trailers at this park.
Glenlodge Caravan Village is a quiet park, only 5km from the city centre, and is central to the main tourist features, a shopping centre and beaches.
We stayed in Bundaberg a week, but had no chance of seeing it all.You have to leave something to come back for, and we certainly plan to return to Glenlodge Caravan Village with its very friendly owners. It does pay to book ahead as it was full most nights we were there.
Bundaberg is 360km north of Brisbane.
Glenlodge Caravan Village is at 321 Goodwood Road, Bundaberg,Qld, 4670.
The park is a member of the Top Tourist Parks Group and is ratedfour stars.
For information, phone (07) 4153 1515, for reservations phone 1800420 202 or email email@example.com
Burnett River Cruises, phone (07) 4152 9188 or 0427 099 009.
Bundaberg Information Centre, phone 1300 722 099 or (07) 41538888, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Camper Trailer Australia #33