Lap it UP

Shimmy up to the Shore­line and throw in the pegS for an ex­tended buSh re­treat tucked in the tuan State for­eSt.

Camper Trailer Australia - - TRAVEL - wordS and picS CHRIS WHITELAW

When we travel for plea­sure, whether it’s a sight­see­ing hol­i­day or a re­cre­ation sa­fari, we gen­er­ally cast our eyes to the far hori­zon. And why not? In Aus­tralia, we have at our dis­posal the largest is­land con­ti­nent in the world, girt by golden sands and shin­ing seas, where the pos­si­bil­ity for ad­ven­ture is vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited. But, as of­ten hap­pens, some of the best ad­ven­tures lie wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered in our own back­yard. In my case, this is the Fraser Coast.

Since mov­ing to Her­vey Bay, Qld, a cou­ple of years ago, El­iz­a­beth and I have been to Fraser Is­land a few times and gone whale watch­ing on the bay, but we’d never re­ally ex­plored the main­land along the Great Sandy Strait south-east of Mary­bor­ough. Then re­cently we woke to a(nother) per­fect sub-trop­i­cal day and, on a whim, de­cided to pack a pic­nic and take the truck for a drive down the coast. What a de­light­ful trip it turned out to be.

We love our Kim­ber­ley Kar­a­van Tikay and have taken it with us on more than 60,000km

of roads and tracks across the coun­try – few rigs make such a com­plete and ver­sa­tile home away from home, on- or offroad.

On­wards, Cooloola Road stretched ar­row-straight to­wards the tiny water­front vil­lage of Boonooroo, where time is mea­sured (if at all) by the tides and the num­ber of fish in the creel. To the left of the road lay the Poona Na­tional Park (NP), 5000ha of coastal low­lands, pa­per­bark forests and wal­lum heath­lands around Kalah Creek.

This is a great place for low-key, na­ture-based ac­tiv­i­ties and we flagged it to re­turn an­other time for the wild­flow­ers and bird­watch­ing. To the right of Cooloola Road lay a patch­work of cane fields and one of the largest ex­otic pine plan­ta­tions in south­east Queens­land.

Mo­tor­ing south un­der a clear blue sky, a suc­ces­sion of side roads de­liv­ered us to sev­eral de­light­fully quaint vil­lages on the western shore of the Great Sandy Strait – Maa­room, Boonooroo, Tuan and Poona – all doz­ing in quiet seclu­sion with man­i­cured fore­shores facing Fraser Is­land, less than 10km to the east. This stretch of is renowned as an an­gler’s par­adise, and

in search of marine ad­ven­ture are well catered for with ex­cel­lent boat ramps, shel­tered moor­ings among the man­groves and com­fort­able

ac­com­mo­da­tion at sev­eral caravan parks.

Con­tin­u­ing south, we came to an­other side road that ran 14km through pine forests to the ham­let of Tin­nan­bar, also on the Strait, at Shark In­let. We turned here on to a rough, un­sealed all-weather track used by heavy trucks haul­ing logs out of the sur­round­ing plan­ta­tion. The tar­mac re­sumed af­ter 6km and con­tin­ued all the way to Tin­nan­bar, the only other road fea­ture of note be­ing a he­li­pad at an in­ter­sec­tion on the edge of the vil­lage.

Tin­nan­bar was very pleas­ant – clean and green, a Tidy Town wor­thy of the name, with an ex­pan­sive pic­nic area full of gum trees on a fore­shore fringed by a sugar-white beach, lapped by crys­tal rip­ples off the strait. The only metaphor­i­cal cloud on this oth­er­wise balmy sub-trop­i­cal hori­zon was a ‘For Your Safety’ sign be­side the boat ramp warn­ing that es­tu­ar­ine croc­o­diles may be present in the area. Af­ter cruis­ing around the vil­lage to con­firm the demise of the Tin­nan­bar Waters Caravan Park, we re­traced our route along Tin­nan­bar Road to in­ves­ti­gate the Tuan State For­est.

AB­SO­LUTE BEACHFRONT

About 9km west of the vil­lage, near where the bi­tu­men ends, we turned off for the first of two camp­ing ar­eas, Hed­leys. This road was sur­faced in a mix of hard-packed gravel, cor­ru­ga­tions and soft sand, noth­ing dra­matic but enough to keep us on our toes, un­til we came to a fork. The road ahead was closed by a gate into pri­vate prop­erty that could be crossed to ac­cess the camp­ing area, for a fee. A sign on the gate pro­vided in­for­ma­tion and a phone num­ber for that pur­pose. Veer­ing to the right, how­ever, led to a QPWS track sign­posted ‘4WD ac­cess only’ and ‘Road sub­ject to flood­ing’.

We chose this route and found it to be harm­less enough in the dry con­di­tions. We fol­lowed it for about a kilome­tre (some­what shorter than the al­ter­nate route) and were sud­denly emerged in the camp­ing area, well shaded by eu­ca­lypts and palms, at the edge of Kauri Creek. In am­ple spa­ces be­side the creek were campers com­fort­ably es­tab­lished in a va­ri­ety of car­a­vans, camper trail­ers and tents, with tin­nies moored within easy wad­ing dis­tance from the shore. A walk around the camp­ing area con­firmed these self-suf­fi­cient campers were quite in their no-frills do­main and that there were plenty more spa­ces among the for­est fur­ther back from the creek.

Apart from the boat­ing and fish­ing, there is much to love about this des­ti­na­tion’s nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Tuan State For­est con­serves valu­able coastal land­scapes – wal­lum heaths and swamps, banksia wood­land, eu­ca­lypts forests, melaleuca

wet­lands and man­grove-lined es­tu­ar­ies – that pro­vide vi­tal habi­tats for al­most 200 plant species and rare wildlife.

The Kauri Creek es­tu­ary is a wet­land of in­ter­na­tional im­por­tance; its ti­dal flats and salt­marshes are feed­ing grounds for mi­gra­tory shore­birds from Siberia and Ja­pan; its sea­grass mead­ows (among the most ex­ten­sive in south­east Queens­land) sup­port en­dan­gered com­mu­ni­ties of dugongs and tur­tles; its man­groves pro­vide breed­ing habi­tats for more than 70 per cent of the coast’s 39 fish species; rare Indo-Pa­cific hump­back dol­phins fre­quent the es­tu­ary and nearby Tin Can Bay.

Kauri Creek is part of the Great Sandy Marine Park and its up­per reaches are a De­clared Fish Habi­tat Area. Although there are nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties for fish­ing and boat­ing along the creek and in the Great Sandy Strait, some re­stric­tions ap­ply to en­cour­age sus­tain­able use and an­glers should be aware of these and other fish­eries reg­u­la­tions.

Re­trac­ing our route to the Tin­nan­bar Road, we drove about 3km fur­ther west be­fore di­vert­ing down a gravel side road to the Log Dump camp­ing area, also on the banks of Kauri Creek within Tuan State For­est. It bore many sim­i­lar­i­ties to Hed­leys with grassy sites spread through­out a for­est glade, all within easy walk of crys­tal

Kauri Creek. One im­por­tant ad­di­tion is a hy­brid com­post­ing toi­let. An­glers have a boat launch­ing area with a sandy en­try to a broad tract of the creek and di­rect ac­cess to the Strait.

Apart from wa­ter-based re­cre­ation, there’s lit­tle else in Tuan State For­est but therein lies its ap­peal – peace­ful seclu­sion to nour­ish the soul. But if that’s not enough, a short drive to the south will take you to the ad­ven­ture hotspots of Tin Can Bay, Rain­bow Beach and In­skip Point and, from there, it’s only a 10-minute barge ride to World Her­itage­listed Fraser Is­land.

Wel­come to my back­yard.

TUAN sTATe for­esT

ABOVE: The sites at Hed­ley’s camp­ing area have water­front views over Kauri Creek.

ABOVE: The boat ramp at Log Dump Camp.

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