This was one of the rare trips where we head off on a Saturday morning. Usually we pick the kids up from school early and head off on a Friday afternoon, or if it’s just the 2 of us, we leave before lunch.

Our 2 older kids are now in high school (and loving it believe it or not!) and refuse to be picked up early. So, it was an early rise Saturday morning.

I’d prepped the food, sorted the clothes and packed the van the night before – I even managed to sneak the girls off to the movies! We were aiming for The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman (Charli was meant to watch it for her dance group), but it wasn’t playing and the only appropriately rated movie was Hibiscus and Ruthless. It was actually pretty good and both girls really enjoyed it. Slightly different to our normal Friday nights in the caravan!

Jump!

Anyhoo, slightly off topic! We headed off about 7am on the Saturday and it took us about 10 minutes before we made our first stop – Shorties for coffee of course! Chris just isn’t quite right without that first coffee of the day.

 

The weather was gloomy when we set off for Bigriggen. A grey and misty drizzle was hiding the mountains in the distance. By the time I’d thought to check the radar, we’d lost phone reception. QLD weather just hasn’t been on our side lately! It’s generally hot and sunny during the week, and then the clouds roll in just in time for the weekend. But this time we were determined not to cancel as we did last weekend!

2nd coffee of the morning!

We’d heard so much about this place and thought it about time that we checked it out for ourselves. And that’s exactly what we did!

We had heard that it’s dog friendly, but keeping a dog on a leash for long periods of time in an unfamiliar place can be a bit tricky, so we left our Sprocket at home. Others seemed to be doing okay with it though so we may try it next visit.

Everything about Bigriggen is picturesque, even the driveway. The tall trees, wooden fences, and rolling hills were just lovely, even with the grey clouds hanging low in the sky. I did my usual video as we turned in, and while Chris chatted to a meandering bovine, an elderly man stopped to make sure we weren’t lost! Imagine that happening in the city!!

 

The way into Bigriggen is stunning!

 

Check in …

 

At reception we picked up not only our maps but a nice pile of grass clippings from the recent mowing. Good thing I keep gumboots in the van for times like this – the others weren’t so lucky – thongs and bare feet don’t go well with wet grass!

 

We got a great spot not far from the water hole

 

After the general rundown we drove around to check the place out and found the ‘perfect spot’- an unpowered site not far from the little BMX track and close to the entrance to the swimming hole/creek. Within minutes – well, almost, we were all set up and the kids had headed off on their bikes. I wandered over to check out the amenities, which weren’t too bad for a bush retreat. Three toilets, three showers and as clean as they could be considering everyone’s shoes were covered in mud and freshly cut grass! There was a mop and bucket that was used every now and then and not a drop toilet in sight.

We all landed back at the van around the same time and the kids and I made a group decision that it was time for a swim. While the clouds were looming overhead and the raindrops occasionally fell, the temperature certainly did not! It was hot and pretty sticky, making the swimming hole very inviting – until we dipped out toes in! Ugh!! It was cold enough that we actually shivered and broke out in goose bumps. That’s not supposed to happen in Queensland, so not to be deterred we soldiered on, and the more of our bodies we immersed, the more refreshing the water became.

 

We braved the chilly water!

 

We navigated some large, smooth, super slippery rocks to get to where the water hole narrowed into a little fast flowing stream complete with beckoning rapids that dragged the kids, laughing and shouting downstream. They loved it, not minding a bit having to fight the water to get back upstream!

It was a few hours later we discovered that was where people were jumping on their flotation devices and heading down stream. We saw mattresses, giant hot dogs, bananas, pizza, watermelon and plenty of inner tubes disappear around the bend only to reappear back where we’d walked down the bank to the swimming hole in the beginning.

We headed back to the van for a rest, and the kids made themselves comfy and got out the board games. 5 Second Rule always makes me laugh! Gosh – the things they come up with. Cooper asked Charli ‘Name 3 places starting with L’ to which Charli replied ‘Lake, Loose Kid Factory and Lansion.’ When Cooper asked what a lansion was, Charli explained it was a mansion with lots of land! Haha. I could listen to those guys play for hours.

 

5 Second Rule … those kids cracks me up every time!

Frisbee, Popball and more swimming to wash off the dust – and then it was time to eat! Mealtime is probably my favourite time of day, especially when we are in the van and when I’ve prepped ahead. It’s a such a great family time. This time Chris got the BBQ going for the sausages while I heated up the cauli mash and steamed the veggies. We eat as well when we’re away as we do at home, and to do that prepping ahead is necessary.

 

Beer O’Clock – Chris loves his Big Heads!

Our friends arrived while we were eating and while they had their dinner we had the scrumptious, super-yummy, deliciously thick, sugar-free custard that tasted like cheesecake.

Our friends had the coolest 3 Second Tents!

 

Our friends arrived while we were eating and while they had their dinner we had the scrumptious, super-yummy, deliciously thick, sugar-free custard that tasted like cheesecake.

The storm hit just as my Apple Watch predicted and we all toasted marshmallows over the Weber gas flames while oohing and aahing at the lightning as it lit up the sky. Talking was a challenge as the rain pelted down so we said our goodnights and attempted to get some sleep.

Some people, like Chris, can sleep no matter what, and they’re out like a light as soon as their head hits the pillow. Not me though… I need dark and no noise… but we had an unpowered site and that meant windows open because of no air con and plenty of light. So, I was up and moving after only a few hours. Cooper was already out riding but the girls were still sleeping as was Chris so this was a perfect time for me to have a wander with my camera. It’s one of my favourite things to do when we’re camping. This is the time you see and hear things you wouldn’t otherwise; the sun has a special glow as it slowly wakes up and the light it casts over the park is otherworldly. I can see why the Celts called it the ‘gloaming’ – it just seems to fit! The grass was a brilliant green, still wet from the cleansing rain so that when the sun hit the droplets they outshone even a diamond ring! Light flashed clear then with hints of rainbow colours in the quiet stillness. I began to feel excited about our winter camping trips as I traipsed around in my gumboots, capturing the beauty in some magnificent photos.

 

Sunrise over the Park

I have to mention brekky because food is such an important part of camping! No coffees for the caffeine addicts though because the inverter wasn’t powerful enough to run the coffee machine (something to remember if you like your coffee) so off they went to get their fix from a nearby cafe. Back to brekky… it was better than most people have at home! Earlier that week Chris had been left to his own devices and came up with a gourmet meal. You should try this: bacon and asparagus cooked in lots of butter on top of a bed of fresh baby spinach then topped with chopped tomato, chives and spring onion. And, of course, you don’t waste that lovely butter and bacon fat – we all had some of it poured over our meal. AMAZING!! And the best thing is that it was extremely filling, and this is important because… keep reading!

The kids went for another swim and we took Vaughn, Georgia and Sarah down as they hadn’t seen the waterhole yet. It was too cold for Georgia, but Vaughn and Sarah gave it a crack … the kids went down the rapids on the inflatable mattress first, then Vaughn had a turn.

Ready to head down the rapids

We discovered that people use Bigriggen as a base for all the amazing things there are to do around there, and we’ll make sure we do that next time. But this time we only had time for one thig before heading home.

Upper Portals Track is an eight kilometre, three – hour return trek that crisscrosses Yamahra Creek and takes you through patches of rainforest, eucalypt and hoop pine forest finally arriving at a refreshing waterhole. The brochure mentions that a ‘high-clearance 4WD is required for access beyond Waterfall Creek campsite.’ It sounded like just the thing for us in our Hilux that’s lifted so high you need a ladder to climb in! Our friend Vaughan had his brand new Hilux too, so off we went.

The road started out easy enough, and then came the big red sign ‘LONG STEEP CLIMB NEXT 4KM. 4WD VEHICLES ONLY’ The kids laughed saying ‘that’s us!’ Vaughn and Chris were mucking about, one going past the other, Chris taking the hard, steep climbs … and then BANG. Yep. We broke it. And that’s where breakfast being so filling comes into play.

I could spend hours writing about what happened, but to sum it up, Our Hilux has been lifted with no diff drop kit being put in and we broke the front right CV/drive shaft. The way Cooper assessed the situation was this: ‘It’s just like dad’s shoulder when he puts it back too far – it just pops out!’

It wouldn’t have been a problem if we’d had tools – but no one did. It started with a huge branch, a rock, two jacks and a butter knife. Needless to say, they didn’t do quite what we needed them to, and the boys had to make the hour long trek into Boonah (on a Sunday!) to buy tools.

 

It was all fun and games to start with … !

 

Georgia and I stayed with the kids – we laid out the towels, the kids ate the food from their eski, and I started this blog. We were there for about 1½ hours before the boys came back … strangely happy and rather excited. Just quietly, I think this might have been their favorite part of the trip! Vaughn is an engineer and Chris likes to play – bush mechanics it was! It was laughs and grease all around, and three hours after we started, we had a 2WD Hilux reversing back down the steep hill, turning around and heading back to the caravan park. I must admit I was half waiting for the wheel to fall off, but Vaughn assured me he’d put more wheels on than I’d taught Zumba classes, so that was a little reassuring.

 

At least we had the LKI BAF towel to lie on!

 

We made it back to the park just as the owners and campers were about to call the police to come and find us! We’d called reception earlier telling them what happened when we were trying to find a 24-hour mechanic in the area. They were all quite interested to hear what had gone down on that steep hill with no one anywhere near by to help!

We saw lots of these little guys bouncing around!

 

The park was almost empty, and the peace and serenity of the morning was back along with lots of kangaroos and a sun that was hanging low in the sky. It was home time.

It is such a beautiful place!

 

 

So much lush green grass

 

We prefer to get a late checkout and head home later in the day – there’s not usually as much traffic and we can take our time.

Our time at Bigriggen wasn’t at all what we expected, but it was an adventure all the same. We can’t wait to go back (when we’ve got that diff drop kit fitted!) and explore what surrounds this beautiful bush retreat, maybe in winter next time so we can have a campfire and snuggle up under the doona 🙂

 

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