Campers have access to so many luxuries these days. Whether you're in a tent or a trailer the 'bare essentials' don’t seem so 'bare' anymore.
The smartphone has replaced the 'good knife’ in our survival packs and coffee makers have replaced the good ol’ canteen. Yet the reason we go camping remains the same: to get back to basics, to wake up with the dawn, to feel the warmth of a fire, and to gaze at the stars. So, leave the terms and conditions behind, stop your downloads and get back to simplicity in nature.
After a few hours of driving north along the Bruce Highway from Rockhampton, the Mackay Region jumps out at you with a slash of turquoise ocean as you roll through The Serenity Coast and Sarina.
Its forests, streams and coastline embrace you, and whether it's beach camping you're after or a taste of the rainforest, Mackay has you covered north, south, east and west.
Watching a kangaroo have a feed on the beach while you cast your line into the ocean is something you can only experience in Cape Hillsborough National Park. Just 45 minutes north of Mackay, it offers the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef meeting the rainforest. Make the most of this coastal buffet of fish, or, if the fish aren't biting (this is rare), head out for a hike through the park to take in the views. Rocky outcrops and pine trees line the shore with mountain ranges looming behind – and this is exactly what greets you when you zip open your tent in the morning. No lnstagram post can compete with that.
Clairview is a crab eater and fisherman’s dream thanks to its numerous creeks and dugong protection area. Alter a short one-and-a-half-hour drive south from Mackay, set up your chair on the beach for a front row seat to spy the endangered dugong, which grazes on the seagrass beds.
Spend a few nights in the holiday park, or if you're feeling adventurous (and you have a 4x4), head back towards Mackay. Alter 4O minutes you'll find Koumala and the entrance to Cape Palmerston National Park. A bit of off-roading will get you to Windmill Bay campground and a true sense of what camping is all about. The seclusion and beachfront views out to Temple Island are worth every bump in the road.
The islands off the coast of Mackay may not be as well-known as their northern cousins, but that’s just how adventurers like it. Getting back to the basics is a must if you’re planning on heading offshore. The solitude of Scawfell Island with its granite cliff faces makes a perfect base and also forces you to forgo mobile phone reception.
Nearby, you can find yourself surrounded by thousands of Tiger Blue butterflies as you adventure around Keswich lsland. you'll need your own boat to access most islands, however Keswich Island offers charter flight or charter boat transfers and the ruggedness of sleeping out on reef-fringed beaches will make you feel every bit the Bear Grylls apprentice.
The world’s strangest animal definitely picked one of the most beautiful places to call home.
Eungella National Park is an hour west of Mackay and is the home of the platypus. Pitch your tent at Broken River and keep watch for the curious critters splashing in front of you as you drink your tea. Being one of the only places in the world you can see these creatures makes the experience that much sweeter.
You can also swim through the clear waters of Finch Hatton Gorge or strap yourself into a harness and see the forest from the canopy with a Forest Flying tour. The activities around Eungella draw in people from around the world but you still somehow feel like everything ¡s here just for you.
There are endless roads, rivers and islands to explore around The Mackay Region bur when it comes to bringing back those good camping vibes of yesteryear, what's the rush? Keep it in low gear, take your time and get back in touch with Mother Nature for real.
The Mackay Bucket List
Tick these off the list on your next journey.
- Spot a platypus at Broken River
- Hang with the kangaroos in Cape Hillsborough National Park
- Go crabbing and spot a dugong in Clairview
- Go off-road in Cape Palmerston National Park
- Photograph the Tiger Blue butterflies on Keswich Island
- Leave your mobile reception behind at Scawfell Island