Go West young man, Go West

That is the plan this trip, to head west of home for a few weeks, just following our nose, stopping at whatever takes our fancy. But our distance west won’t be any further than St George, QLD, due to time and a dog that is still not keen on car travel. Since we have travelled a lot further west on previous trips, St George doesn’t seem that far west these days. Once upon a time it seemed like a long way away.

Hooked-up

We headed off Friday after Chris finished work heading for Cooyar staying at our usual stop when heading this way Swinging Bridge. We stopped at Kilcoy for tea and to give Jess a break. Due to some very expensive motion sickness tablets she hasn’t been sick but was still anxious in the car.  She travelled better after Kilcoy and even settled down for a sleep.

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There are quite a lot of vans here this time, the busiest we had seen it but still plenty of room to spread out. There are several new power boxes at $5 per night payable at the local pub.

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The old toilets have been removed with a new rural fire brigade building taking is place. Toilets can now be found at a new park across from the pub.

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We are staying here a couple of nights, chilling out enjoying the peaceful surrounds, bird life and lovely deep blue sky.

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St George, Qld

Usually when we stay at Swinging Bridge it’s a one night stop and a quick early get away in the morning. This time it was nice to have a leisurely breakfast, let the canvas dry, go for a walk all before packing up. We had morning tea under the shade of the trees enjoying the tranquil setting before heading off.

We stopped at Moonie for lunch near the info and craft centre with the local post office next door. This is across the road from a big servo/ local hotel with descent fuel prices. There is heaps of parking for large rigs and trucks. In 1961 Moonie was the site of Australia’s first commercial oil field and still operates. It is also the home to monthly yabbie races.

Moonie-Crossroads Yabbie-Races

The road to St George is very bumpy. Last time we were in St George we were passing through and it was a few months after the 2012 floods. The temporary levy bank was still in town. The area had 3 floods in a row 2010, 2011 and 2012 all record breaking with 2012 being the worst.  It would have been a difficult and terrifyingly time for the locals and for people’s houses that were flooded.

3-Floods

We have stopped for a few nights below the weir on the Balonne River at St George. Not a bad spot, river is muddy and is a little stagnant but still has plenty of bird life. We found it very peaceful and stayed here 3 nights.

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It is opposite houses though and the track is a little rough to get in but it is on the flood plain of the river. Sandy is spots, rocky in others and rutted in other parts where people have driven in the wet. In Wiki Camps it has some very mixed reviews.

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Some of the trees had some interesting roots, some of which were very high and Chris was able to stand under them.

Roots

Jess loved the water but not so good for people swimming, very brown and every arvo a slim drifted in only to clear the next day.

Jess-St-George Shake-it-out

There are 3 caravan parks within the St George Town area and one a little further out. From what we could see they all seem to have plenty of people staying. The town is busy with travellers coming and going. We spent the cost of several nights accommodation on various businesses around town. So by providing a camping area for free the town certainly didn’t miss out.

Origins-of-St-George

We found the town to be very friendly and well maintained. Riverside parkland has a great walkway that runs along the river to at least the town area. Plenty of tables and chairs, benches, bins, water taps and shade with some play equipment for the kids. Drinking water to fill up water tanks is available at the information centre; you just have to see them inside for a handle for the tap. They have completed stage 1 of a permanent solution to flood proof the town.

Stage-1 Levy

We had a fire several nights and had fun taking pictures at night of one of the trees near our campsite, experimenting lighting the tree up with torch light, then later when the moon came up and lit the area. First pic was lit by torch light, second was by moon light it just about turned day into night.

Torch-light-tree Moon-Light

Q – Balonne River at St George

Balonne River at St George – OR, M, W, F, D, ND. Camping is below the weir at St George, just over the Bridge. Access can be a little rough in places. Several areas to camp near the river or further up. Short pleasant walk into town. Drinking water to fill up water tanks is available at the information centre; you just have to see them inside for a handle for the tap. There is also a dump point into town ask at the info centre. We found St George to be a friendly town. Rating – 4.

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Nindigully Pub

45 km South East of St George is Nindigully Pub or “The Gully” as it’s locally known and easier to say, is pretty much these days 4 houses and a pub on a riverbank. The pub is perched on the banks of the Moonie River, established in 1864 it is the longest continually licensed pub in Queensland.

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Apparently the meals are big here, we will see at tea time. They are famous for their burger “Road Train” a whopping 5kg burger big enough to feed 10 people.

Free camping is available just below the pub along the banks of the river. Plenty of trees but very dusty. There is a 500m historic river walkway called the “Gully Walk” along the banks with heaps of tables and chairs, fireplaces and bins. Toilets and showers are available for free behind the pub. Campers, vans and day trippers kept rolling in all day.

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Nindigully-WalkNindigully-pathNindigully-Pub-River-areaThe showers were pretty good. The light switch is up very high above the door which I, Kate could only just reach and I’m not short.

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Nindigully-Pub-Showers

The walls of the pub are dawned with lots of memorabilia, hats, photos and the like. There is a well set up dining room and an outside beer garden with table and chairs and play equipment and even a cubbie for the kids. There is also a phone box and a post box and even a dump point.

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A bit of history about the place, in its heyday Nindigully was home to a school, hall, accommodation house, post office, telephone exchange, mechanics, a vegetable garden on the banks of the Moonie River, a store and the pub which served as the Cobb and Co changeover station.

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The pub has had many names over its 150+ year history. The first and current name was Nindigully Hotel, but it has also been known as The Grand Hotel, Travellers Rest Hotel, Sportsmans Arms Hotel and Sternes Hotel. Info as found in the St George and Surrounds Travels Guide. The movie Paperback Hero was filmed here.

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Our camp spot in the dust.

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Well the meal had a little bit to be desired. Large yes, in fact we shared a meal. They had unfortunately run out of spuds, so no chips which many including us were disappointed with but these things happen. So we had veggies that were very holy as they had the hell boiled out of them. We had barra, steak was on special and looked good and many said it tasted good. Truckies use the place as a stopover for the night, grab a meal, a beer and have free showers. There were 5 roads trains pulled in up near the pub.

It was a very interesting place to visit, it was really really dusty, mostly due to the many many campers that stop here.

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Q – Nindigully Pub

Nindigully Pub – OR, M, W, F, D, ND, S, T, B, BR, DP. 45 km South East of St George is Nindigully Pub or “The Gully” as it’s locally known. This is a large area next to the Moonie River, sites next to the river go quick but they are the dustiest ones. Towards the back isn’t as dusty. Lots of trees, free toilets and showers up behind the pub and toilets and a dump point at the back of the camping area. Fireplaces, table and chairs next to the river, there is also a paved pathway called “Gully Walk” that follows the river with information signs along the way.

Meals can be purchased up at the pub, they are very large meals. There is also a phone box and mail box near the pub. The walls of the pub are dawned with lots of memorabilia, hats, photos and the like. There is a well set up dining room and an outside beer garden with table and chairs and play equipment and even a cubbie for the kids.

The pub and camping area really provide everything a camper would need. More information can be found in our post about the area. The only downside is it is very dusty, due to that we found it hard to rate and most likely people wouldn’t agree with us so we will let you make up your own mind.

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Lees Reserve

Sorry for the delay to our followers in getting this post up. Well we have got ourselves a beaut spot right on the river, but more on that later. There was a mass evacuation in the morning at the pub with everyone pulling out early. We were on the road just after 8am heading towards Goondiwindi. We picked up a few supplies at Coles and had morning tea at the park chatting to a few other travelers. Goondiwindi is a reasonable size town with plenty of shops.

Our aim was to pull into one of the free camping areas along the Dumesque River not far out of Goondiwindi, there are at least 4. We were aiming for Lees Reserve, third one along, the camping areas are sign posted on the main road, there is also a blue skip bin up near the main road. It’s a short drive down a dirt road to a rickety old gate, which must be kept closed due to cattle, which do leave their little deposits everywhere. Turns out the cattle aren’t always there.

At the end of the dirt road it opens up to a large flat area on top of the bank of the river, this is where caravans seem to go, there is also another big open area to the left. Down a steep little hill leads to the river and some areas to camp under the trees. Area is sandy and rocky. That’s where we decided to setup camp.

And what a beaut spot where only hard floor campers could get in. Tucked up on some rocks where no one can camp too close with a large rock area as our veranda leading down to the river with a few Cascades and home to an Egret and Heron.

Our view.

Just off to our left leads to a sandy beach like area at the river. Great for getting the kayak in.

It would be difficult to get any caravans down here so they all stayed up the top and we had the whole area to ourselves for the night. We just get them coming down for day visits ☺.

The river at present has plenty of water to keep it flowing. Cod and yellow-belly can be found in the river but it’s a bit fished out at the moment. We are expecting a bit of a crowd here over the long weekend so we may not have this area to ourselves for too long but we will enjoy it while we can.

Surprising it wasn’t too busy over the long weekend, people came and went. We had this area to ourselves for 3 nights nearly. We enjoyed relaxing in the hammock and paddling up the river.

On the third night in the wee hours of 3.30am someone towing a noisy trailer pulled in near us. By 6am his mate arrived with music. We lost count how many beers they consumed during the day, the plus for us they were out to it by 3.00pm.

We took a few stars shots at night. We haven’t done this before so it was all a bit of experimenting and a bit if fun.

There are some mice here, we found a dead one in the sink water bucket and heard them on the outside of the canvas at night. So keeping everything locked up.

Of course Jess enjoyed, swimming in the river and collecting sticks that were nearly as big as her.

We stayed here for 4 nights, little did we know a better place was up the road.

Q – Lees Reserve

Lees Reserve, F, OR, B, W, M, D,ND, BR –  There are several free camping areas along the Dumesque River not far out of Goondiwindi. Lees Reserve, is the third one along, the camping areas are sign posted on the main road, there is also a blue skip bin up near the main road. It’s a short drive down a dirt road to a rickety old gate, which must be kept close due to cattle, which do leave their little deposits everywhere. Turns out the cattle aren’t always there.

At the end of the dirt road it opens up to a large flat area on top of the bank of the river, there is also another big open area to the left. Down a steep little hill leads to the river and some areas to camp under the trees. Area is sandy and rocky. You can also find some other little pockets to camp around the place. You can just get mobile reception. Rating – 5

Bengalla Reserve

We are so are so lucky in Australia to have some great free camping areas. I know many councils are closing them down but good on the Goondiwindi council for allowing free camping along the river. Support the town and do you shopping there if staying at any of these areas.

We think we like Bengalla Reserve even more. It’s a huge area, even if there was lots of campers you would will still be well spread out. There is another blue skip bin up near the main road and the place is well sign posted.

There are several roads with the main one running along the top of the bank following the river. As you enter the reserve you can turn left or right, we went left and followed it right to the end of the reserve and it goes along way, we haven’t gone right yet. There are 3 others campers that we know of, a van not too far from us but in our spot he can’t see us and we can’t see him without walking away from camp.

We have again snagged ourselves a great spot down near the river about 5m from the waters edge, talk about river frontage and water views. Tucked up in a corner hidden from the road with a bank behind us, there is a little bit of grass here. We have not setup the annex this trip so far but with some possible rain on the way we decided to put it up and put down the floor mat.

We also have the Ute awning up and used one of the side annex walls to reach across the gap from the camper to the Ute annex. Gives us a large under cover area to walk between both vehicles ☺ works quite well.

Last night and in the late arvo we had quite a lot of rain and used buckets and any other containers we could find to collect the rain water running off the canvas. We filled the 25 Lt shower drum and 5 other containers about 80lts all up. Chris made the point how come when we are camped next to a flowing river with plenty of clean running water to fill the shower drum we get rain but it never happens when you are camped in a gravel pit etc and could do with the water. Chris kept a close eye on the river making sure if was not rising during the night since we were camped so close.

Next day was very foggy and remained overcast for most of the day. We only saw the sun for a few hrs late arvo. Next morning was also foggy and everything was dripping wet with a heavy due. But it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. We went for a paddle up the river, very shallow in places.

We also went for a walk. It’s a big area with plenty of flat areas overlooking the river to camp.

More mice last night heard one scratching the outside of the canvas and we found a dead one in the kitchen waste bucket again. It was a pretty chilly night. We spent several hours having fun taking star shots. We have a big open sky above us, which our lenses aren’t wide enough to capture all the amazing site our eyes can see.

It will be sad to leave this area, we have very much enjoyed our time here, it has been so peaceful and relaxing. Jess will be sad to leave as well, she loves the water and her sticks.

Q – Bengalla Reserve

Bengalla Reserve – F, OR, B, W, M, D,ND, BR –  There are several free camping areas along the Dumesque River not far out of Goondiwindi. Bengalla Reserve, is the fourth one along, the camping areas are sign posted on the main road, there is also a blue skip bin up near the main road. As you enter the reserve you can turn left or right, with the main one running along the top of the bank following the river.

It’s a big area with plenty of flat areas overlooking the river to camp. Also several very large areas away from the river. Even if this place was busy you would still find places to camp. There are roads leading off every where. We really like this place. Rating – 6

Heifer Creek Theiss Memorial

Don’t you just love GPS’s especially on country roads. They take you on roads you wouldn’t think of traveling up and down windy roads, past lovely vistas. Try and send you up some dirt road short cut, or just try and tell you to turn down a road that just isn’t there and then get you lost. I’m sure they do it deliberately and have a little laugh about it, we call ours Bossy Betsy.

Eventually we made it to our last stop for the trip, Heifer Creek Thiess Memorial. Rather a pleasant surprise as you come up a steep hill into an open green grass area with plenty of trees for shade next to the creek. There are long drop toilets, bins and several tables. Not a bad one night stop. A memorial commemorates the contribution of the Thiess Brothers (Bert and Leslie) to Australian earth moving.