Helensvale Meet Up

Helensvale Meet Up

RnR Wanderers, Let’s Get Outta Here and Makn Trax were coming along for our first weekend away in months! We’ve had a really rough year having had no van or 4x4 for what feels like forever, and this was us finally getting back out there doing what we love.

 We still don’t have a caravan or a battery system in the Hilux but we weren’t going to let this stop us. So, we were heading off with what we do have – the Alucab rooftop and a borrowed Eski packed with ice.

Our initial plans of a weekend at Flanagan’s Reserve were completely thrown by the devastating bushfires that have wreaked havoc in our National Parks and so many other places. Where could we go on such short notice we wondered? The BIG4 at Helensvale popped into my mind (it’s our local go-to park being only 20 minutes down the highway). Worth a try I thought and made the call. Within a few minutes we were booked into the unpowered sites down the back by the river.

It’s such a fun park with awesome amenities and great, super-friendly staff. I love the huge tropical fish tank in one of the (really nice) camp kitchens and the even bigger one in the amenities block! It’s pet-friendly and even has a dog-park which was perfect for Mel and Geoff’s pooches Molly and Kiki to have a good run around in. If dogs and fish aren’t your thing, feel free to check out the various animals in the ‘petting zoo’. There’s a BMX track which Greg’s little fella didn’t take long to find, and plenty of open spacefor the kids to ride/tun around in.

The pool area lit up by flames at night and open until 9 p.m., is amazing.  You can relax in the spa or splash around in the heated pool which has a water slide while the kids (if you have them) have fun in the shallow kid’s pool. If you want to eat while hanging out in the pool area, you’ll find the café serves scrumptious food and drinks until 8 p.m. And they can whip up a mean cocktail! 

Yep, this park is just awesome! It also helps that the park is located right across the highway from Movie World, Dream World, White Water World, Wet n Wild, Outback Spectacular and Top Golf and isn’t far from Surfers Paradise or Brisbane.

Yep, this park is just awesome! It also helps that the park is located right across the highway from Movie World, Dream World, White Water World, Wet n Wild, Outback Spectacular and Top Golf and isn’t far from Surfers Paradise or Brisbane.

Mel and Geoff (RnR Wanderers) were already set up when we arrived about lunch time on Friday. We parked the Hilux next to ‘Blondie’ and our Alu-cab roof top and brand new awning was set up within a few minutes.

We had a bit of a chat before I left the boys with their beers and went for a bit of a splash in the heated pool.

When I returned to camp, Greg from Makn Trx  had arrived along with Kurt and Carly from Let’s Get Outta Here .

 The boys were frothing over Greg’s chopped 200 series and discussing all things 4x4.

Camping makes a person hungry and we were there is a flash when Kurt and Carly invited us over to their caravan for Weber-fired pizzas. Carly’s got that recipe nailed … dinner was delish!

It was still early when we climbed up into the roof top. It’s super comfy so we fell asleep fairly easily despite the sound of the freeway. We had forgotten how loud the road-noise is when not in an enclosed van!

The sun peeking in through the flyscreen combined with the cockatoos squawking had us up pretty early. I pulled up a camp chair by the river to read for a while and Chris did whatever it is Chris does (Instagram and YouTube I think … lol).

By the time the others were up and about, we’d showered, and Chris was getting hangry. We thought brekky at the café would be quicker than cooking our own, so we all headed over there to find we had 15 minutes before the gate opened.  Not to be idle, we decided to have a bit of a sticky at the huge new water park that will be open to the public in February next year. It will be amazing!

On the way, some gorgeous little French Bulldog puppies name Bob and Marley grabbed our attention and wouldn’t let go! They were adorable and had us all wishing we could take them home. Marty (their dad) came out and had a chat with us. Turns out he was there with his family on the final leg of their lap around Australia! ‘Glamping Around Oz’ was stuck on their Silverline next to a big ‘For Sale’ sticker.

Breakfast was divine (pancakes, eggs benedict, brekkie wraps and big breakfast filled our table) and a great way to start the day that was filled with relaxing, chatting, swimming, being a little crazy in the pool and just enjoying each other’s company.

We had a nibbles platter for lunch, again thanks to Kurt and Carly, and said goodbye to Greg who was packing up and heading off only to set up in a new location a few hours later. The rest of us all went our separate ways for a few hours; some of us reading, others (Chris) having naps, swimming, and doing whatever else we felt like.

Chris added some awesome graphics to the back of the Let’s Get Outta Here Van and managed to get it straight even after a few Big Heads!

We came back together later in the arvo to sort out how we were getting to and from Top Golf which was just across the Motorway. Needless to say, we were all a little disappointed when we arrived to find out that the wait to play was over two hours.

We decided food was the next best thing (I know, food did feature a lot in our weekend!) and headed to the Boathouse Tavern for some amazing food and drinks.

We sat outside next to the live music. It was fun to people watch a bit and continue chatting. We didn’t run out of conversation all weekend which I guess is to be expected when like-minded people with similar passions get together. It was great!

There was a brief lull while we were all devouring our meals … but that didn’t last long! We all have so much in common and so much to share with each other … including lots of laughter.

I tell you … Mel and Carly seriously crack me up! Such hilarious human beings.   

Sunday was breakfast at the café and then time for Kurt, Carly and us to pack up and head off. We watched Mel and Jeff disappear in our side mirrors as we drove away … they were lucky enough to be hanging around for an extra night.

We had such a great weekend even though it was nothing like we had originally planned. Our free-camping adventure at Flanagan’s turned into a caravan park adventure with loads of delicious food and pool time! Who can complain about that? Certainly not me! I had a blast and I can’t wait until our next meet up in mid-December. 

Thanks to Mel and Jeff, Greg and Ellie and Kurt and Carly for making the weekend awesome.  Oh, and Chris. Of course, thanks to Chris! He makes all my weekends awesome 🙂

 

Sandstone Point Holiday Resort, QLD

Sandstone Point Holiday Resort, QLD

‘On the glistening shores of Pumicestone Passage, just a stone’s throw from the iconic Bribie Island is the brand new BIG4 Sandstone Point Holiday Resort. Nestled directly in the middle of Brisbane CBD & the Sunshine Coast, there is plenty to do with magnificent facilities, beaches and scenic bushland showcasing the best of South East Queensland escapes.’

Name:

Sandstone Point Holiday Resort

Location:   

1820 Bribie Island Rd, Sandstone Point QLD 4511

https://goo.gl/maps/jE61VorrgsJ2

Date of Stay:  Feb 15-17, 2019 

Type of Park: Resort

Rating: 4.5/5

Staff:  Lovely

Sites:  Large and flat, very new

 

Positives:

  • new
  • close to the hotel (for concerts/meals/drinks)
  • awesome facilities
  • shampoo/body wash in the showers
  • not far from Brisbane (minimal traffic getting home)
  • caters to most people
  • café/restaurant

Negatives:

  • no pets
  • minimal shade (trees)
  • no adults only pool (I wish!)
  • no beach frontage

After reading about this incredible park that was ‘opening to the public’ in November of 2018 and was booking out 6 months in advance, we knew our kids would LOVE it and we had to check it out. We decided that it would be the perfect place to go for my 40th birthday weekend and we booked straight away for the weekend of the 15th of Feb, 2019. (My birthday is Valentine’s Day, lucky me. Lol).

When we invited our camping buddies, we almost fell over when they said they’d booked the same place on the same weekend for Archie’s second birthday and were about to invite us! What an awesome coincidence.

We had to wait for the kids to finish school before heading up, which meant we arrived late in the afternoon as the sun was starting to set. Our first impressions of the park were dusted with golden hues – it was absolutely beautiful.

 

Sandstone Point Holiday Resort is yet another amazing Big4 that has opened its doors offering up a stunning park filled to overflowing with all you could possibly want to keep the kids out of your hair all day and into the night.

The best part for us is that it’s not much more than an hour away which means on the Sunday afternoon return drive, we were ahead of most of the crazy Bruce Highway traffic. Those of you who live in Brisbane or further south and love to head up to the Sunny Coast on the weekend will know exactly what I’m talking about.

The facilities are world class; we are talking an epic water park that even I didn’t want to leave! The rainbow slide was a huge novelty at first, creating a trippy, wet and windy ride – but eventually the psychedelic colours didn’t even register as we raced from slide to slide, getting pulverised by water from all directions, stopping only to wait for the giant bucket to fill up and crash down on our heads or backs or whatever was facing up at the time!

This waterslide brought out the crazy kids in all of us!

The resort style pool is one of the best I’ve seen with floating pillows and just so much space – it’s a brilliant design. There’s an infinity type wall where the water flows into a beach-like shallow pool (perfect for the younger kids), and so many deck chairs, shade umbrellas and big round cushioned swings under the many palm trees. 

The cafe is pretty awesome as are the cocktails you can order while lounging around the pool (so I’m told!)

My only suggestion would be an adults only pool/section. Kids are great, but, well, some adults only space would be a very welcome addition.

The palm trees light up as the sun sinks low and the pool area quietens down and become almost magical with the soft glow from the restaurant and the hum of happy conversations.

Let’s be honest though, this isn’t ‘camping’ … it’s most definitely a ‘resort’ and every part of this gorgeous park reminds you of that.

From the wide, white concrete roads winding through the huge property (perfect for bikes, scooters and skateboards) and manicured lawns/gardens to the many camp kitchens and holiday villas dotted around. There is an air-conditioned gym and 2 air conditioned games rooms complete with air hockey, claw machines, x boxes, play stations, pool table and arcade games.

 

The amenities are fabulous and there is even body/hair liquid in each shower. Perfect for when you forget your toiletries bag!

Outside you’ll find a jumping pillow, full-size tennis court, basketball court,  playground, large chess game and a dirt section to play bocce.

All this plus the water park and swimming pool which is surrounded by beautiful palm trees and the softest artificial grass I’ve ever wiggled my toes in.

 

We had site 57 which backed onto what looked like a little forest of tall straight trees. It’s a prime spot close to the pool with grass to one side and the trees behind.

I went for a bit of a wander as I usually do, and this was when I discovered all the safari tents and villas up the back. Walking down the road past a huge 2 story house with water views, I saw a big thick rope leading down the bank.

I followed it down to the mangroves where there was a thin strip of sand and water lapping gently against the shore. Sadly, it was filled with mosquitoes and I ended up with more than a few bites in my brief 5 minutes by the water.

I walked back up some beautiful timber stairs that led me to a deck and yet another huge camp kitchen. The park is quite big with lots of different sections, all that were being put to good use.

We had babies right through to teenagers in our group and they all had a blast. The adults had a great time too. We had planned on heading over to the Sandstone Point Hotel, but sadly we didn’t get around to it.

Many huge international artists perform major outdoor concerts at the hotel, and Suzi Quatro along with The Angels, Baby Animals, Screaming Jets, Jon Stevens, Moving Pictures and Chocolate Starfish are all being advertised for next months ‘Red Hot Summer’.

I guess that would be something to be mindful of when booking – check for huge acts and avoid if you don’t like loud music or lots of cars in the guest car park. RnB Fridays are also being advertised at the hotel.

The guest carpark was where my bestie parked up when she came up for the birthday celebrations. She paid $20 which gave her a hot pink wrist band allowing her access to the park and all facilities for the day.

I was told by staff that 6 people per site are allowed, and as we had 5 in our family, one extra was fine.

 

While this usually isn’t our scene, we also enjoyed our stay as it caters nicely to everyone. To be honest the best time for us was Sunday after most people had checked out and the pool area and water park had quietened down.

We know what we prefer – and that’s free camping in more out of the way, unusual spots. We aren’t the biggest fans of crowded swimming pools and resort style places. (By ‘we’ I mean Miriam and Chris) but our kids LOVE this and have rated this one right up there!

I must admit, while secluded camp sites are what I prefer, on occasion I do enjoy the resort style caravan parks (in off-peak when they aren’t so crowded) and am happy to bob around in the pool, lay under the shade of a perfect palm tree wrapped with fairy lights, then make my way across the lush fake turf to the immaculate showers before retiring to the van without a speck of sand to be seen … Chris on the other hand gets quite annoyed and wishes he was by the ocean with nothing but our camp shower to rinse off.

We rate this resort up in our top 3 along with Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort (Cairns) and Northstar Resort (Hastings Point, NSW). Rivershore at Bli Bli also rates highly with our kids.

This is the perfect place for families and groups with kids – especially if you want your kids to disappear for hours and have a fun, safe time.

Facilities

  • Amenities Blocks
  • BBQs
  • Cafe/ Restaurant Available
  • Camp Kitchen
  • Caravaning
  • Convenience Store/Kiosk
  • Disabled Bathroom
  • Fire Pit/Camp Fires
  • Games Room
  • Giant Jumping Pillow(s)
  • Groups Welcome
  • Gymnasium
  • Ice
  • In-House Movies
  • Internet – Free Wireless
  •  Kids Activities
  • Kids Playground
  • Laundries with Washing Machines & Dryers
  • Playground
  • Pool
  • Pool – Heated
  • Recreation Lounge
  • Security Boom Gate
  • Sites
  • Small – Motorhome Friendly Sites
  • Tennis Court
  • Tourist Information and/or Bookings
  • TV & Video Room
  • Villas
  • Water Playground
  • Waterpark

Coolum Beach Holiday Park Review

Coolum Beach Holiday Park Review

Website:

http://www.sunshinecoastholidayparks.com.au/holiday_parks/coolum_beach_holiday_park/

Location: David Low Way, Coolum Beach Qld 4573
Date of Stay: October, 2018
Type of Park: Beachside
Rating:  4.5

 

 

 

 

Description:

Chris and I are celebrating 8 years together and for this ‘momentous occasion’ Chris booked a weekend without the kids at this gorgeous little park.

Happy Anniversary to us! We celebrated with a Big Head or two and a weekend away 🙂

We usually stay at Cotton Tree when we head up this way, but Coolum has been high on our list of places to visit as we’ve heard great things and driven past many times.

We are pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint! We were a bit skeptical of how the weekend would turn out after what feels like non-stop rain for weeks, and storms were forecast.

We were lucky to have gorgeous weather both Friday and Saturday with only a few drops of rain on the Sunday morning which brought a whole lot of clouds that helped create a spectacular sunrise.

 

This wasn’t an adventure-filled weekend, it was a ‘let’s relax and unwind’ weekend, and that’s exactly what we did. It was a combination of lying in the sun, walking on the beach, exploring Coolum and kicking back in the caravan park chatting to people as they wandered by.

We want for a wander to try and find a coffee shop for Chris

He needed coffee to help with what the Big Head’s had done last night!

We found Alley Cat … down an Alley 😉

Tickle Park is located right next to the caravan park and is a great place for the kids to play. It has a playground, undercover skate park and a nice grassy area that was being used to hold a bootcamp as we wandered by. This would be handy if you had kids as there is no playground or swimming pool in the park. There were plenty of kids getting around in the caravan park and nearby on bikes and scooters who all looked to be having a wonderful time.

The caravan park itself has 3 amenities blocks which are well maintained and easy to get to. There are 2 laundries and an outdoor clothesline, a camp kitchen and a couple of well equipped BBQ areas.

There were also lots of dogs dotted around the park and playing on the beach.

We were parked up the top directly opposite the path that takes you to the beach. We fell asleep to the sound of the waves and woke up looking out the window watching the waves rolling in. Just magic!

This was the weekend we both needed, and this was the perfect place to do it.

Construction seemed to be well under way for what looks like a new Pavilion. It’s right next to the camp kitchen, so quite possibly will make a bigger kitchen! (see the pic above). We will have to revisit when it’s complete 😉
Facilities:
  • Powered caravan sites
  • 6 villas
  • Baby facilities
  • LPG and party ice for sale
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Camp kitchen
  • 3 amenity blocks
  • 2 laundry areas
  • Dog friendly, on application
Staff:
  • Friendly and helpful
Sites:
  • 258 (I counted on the sitemap!) which are a combination of:
  • Powered slab sites
  • Multi purpose sites
  • Unpowered tent sites
Positives:
  • Direct access to patrolled beach
  • Right across the road from a huge variety of shops, cafes and restaurants
  • Great amenities
  • Lots of sites
  • Chess set and table tennis table
  • Pet-friendly (must be pre-arranged)

 

Negatives:
  • Reports of things being stolen on Friday and Saturday nights (from people who were here, not from us!)
  • No swimming pool
  • No playground

Imbil Camping Retreat, Imbil Review

Imbil Camping Retreat, Imbil Review

Name:

Imbil Camping Retreat (Formerly known as Island Reach Camping Resort)

Location:  5 Imbil Island Rd. Imbil, Queensland

​Contact:

Phone: 0447 135 471

Email: info@imbilcampingretreat.com.au

Website: https://www.imbilcampingretreat.com.au/

 

Date of Stay: September 2018

Type of Park: Rural town, on river

Rating: 5

Facilities:

  • Powered Caravan and Camping Sites
  • Unpowered Camp Sites
  • Onsite Toilets
  • Hot Showers
  • Camp Kitchen
  • Laundry
  • Fire Pits
  • Dump Point
  • Activities Hire (bikes, kayaks, SUP’s)

 

Staff:

  • Super friendly!

Sites:

  • Powered and unpowered.
  • Large
  • Fairly easy to get into.

Positives:

  • Close to town
  • Close to river
  • Shady trees
  • Large sites
  • Peaceful
  • Dog-friendly
  • Plenty to do

 

Negatives:

  • None

 

 

Description:

This dog-friendly campground was the perfect location for The Adventure Bash 2018, a family-friendly camping festival that was organised by Trip in A Van, Caravan RV Camping and Caravanning with Kids. Read our blog on the event here: http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/2018/09/24/adventure-bash-18/ It was the BEST weekend! I suggest you have a read and then go and book your tickets for next year as soon as they come on sale 😉

We checked in about 9:30am and were welcomed by Brett and Cheryl, the loveliest of hosts.

It’s a gorgeous little spot alongside the beautiful Yabba Creek, with 12 acres of shaded parklands ranging from secluded areas to open spaces for larger groups.

We had heard many great reviews, and it’s easy to see why. The huge trees and variety of peaceful grassy areas are just magic! Everywhere you looked a photo opportunity seemed to present itself.

This peaceful park is located right on the banks of the Yabba Creek which was the perfect spot for the kids to swim, canoe, lie around on their giant floaties, and play on the large rock in the centre. They made mud baths and mud slides and squeals of delight and laughter were heard all day long as they jumped into the water. When they were finished in the creek, they rode their bikes and ran around exploring. It is a great spot for kids!

There are 2 amenities blocks, one older and one fairly new that were well maintained and had great hot showers.

I could see what seemed to be a few fairly new cabins dotted around the place which looked lovely.

The central, undercover camp kitchen has 2 large fridges, a couple of large BBQ’s and a microwave. We didn’t have need to use it this time, but it looked OK.

There are also fire pits dotted around the park that we made use of every night.

It’s  just a quick 5-minute walk into Imbil itself where you will find the local market (on a Sunday), shops, bakery, butcher, pub etc.

The old Mary Vale Rail Line is close by as well which kept our kids entertained for ages!

Overall it’s a lovely park in a great location suitable for both families and couples

 

Pelican Rest Tourist Park, St George, Review

Pelican Rest Tourist Park, St George, Review

Name: Pelican Rest Tourist Park

Location: St. George, QLD

Date of Stay: July 4, 2018

Type of Park: Town

Rating:  4.5

Description:

We spent the first night on our way to the Big Red Bash here – and what a great way to kick off the trip! I’t’s such a cute park, nestled in among  the trees just on the edge of town.

We were greeted by friendly staff, found our lovely grassy site (no prickles!) easily and were set up in no time.

Chris worked on the car and I had a wander around.

The grounds are spacious, grassy, very green and immaculate. It was really easy to park the van with plenty of room to maneuver (not that Chris ever does – he usually nails it first go! Lol).

We had relaxing views out all windows that made us all smile. Especially as the sun was setting and rising over the large open filed behind us – that was just spectacular.

The amenities are so clean and just lovely.

There is a great camp kitchen with awesome central fireplace, TV, BBQ’s, fridge etc. and a pizza oven (!) amongst other things. It is very well appointed.

The pool looks lovely, and I wish we’d had time and warmer weather to hop in! Next time ….

 

Facilities

  • Therapeutic artesian pool
  • Camp kitchen (very well equipped)
  • Laundry
  • Dump Point
  • Free wi-fi

 

Staff

  • Very friendly and helpful

Sites

  • Huge grassy sites, some drive-through

Positives

  • On the edge of town
  • Therapeutic artesian pool
  • Great amenities
  • Large, flat sites
  • Pet-friendly (for sites, not cabins)

Negatives

  • Some highway noise

 

 

 

Reception

Such a lovely park!

It’s just so green

Modern and well maintained amenities

Laundry

A pizza oven!

A great area to mingle

Well-equipped camp kitchen

Amenities block

Camp kitchen

Our site

The view out the side/back

Lots of info at reception if you are looking for something to do in St George

The 12 metre Artesian Pool

 

Big Rig Tourist Park, Roma Review

Big Rig Tourist Park, Roma Review

Name: Big Rig Tourist Park

Location: Roma, QLD

Date of Stay: July 14, 2018

Type of Park: Town

Rating: 3.5

Description:

We pulled in a bit before 3:30 on our way back from the Big Red Bash out on the edge of the Simpson Desert. It’s a Top Tourist Park and had the best reviews when we were looking up where to stay.

The guy behind the counter was friendly and we found our site easily.

Chris didn’t want to unhook the van, so we just pushed back past the slab. We didn’t even hook the water up as we had plenty left in the tanks.

The girls went over to check out the lovely little (unheated) pool and I had a wander around the park.

It’s located right on the road, but traffic noise wasn’t a problem at all from where we were parked.

The amenities are dated but clean and well maintained. There are 2 toilet and laundry blocks, a camp kitchen and a small swimming pool. There are also cabins as well as van sites.

It’s not a huge park but has all we needed for our stopover. 

Facilities

  • 2 amenities blocks
  • Laundry with $4 machines
  • Small, cold but lovely looking swimming pool
  • Camp kitchen with toaster, kettle, tables, sinks, fridge and an old BBQ.
  • Dump point
  • Wi-fi

Staff

The gentleman at reception was pleasant and helpful. 

Sites

A combination of (powered) slab and grass sites; some level and some not. Some were bigger than others.

Positives

  • Minimal road noise, even though on a main road.
  • You can walk to the Big Rig Tourist attraction.
  • Short walk to shops and pub.
  • Convenient overnight spot
  • Next door is a lovely park with ducks, geese, wild water birds and picnic tables.

Negatives:

  • No fence surrounding the park = no security
  • Older amenities that could use a makeover