One of the things we always struggle with when we travel is packing in too many activities and having little down time to relax whilst on holiday. This is even more pronounced during long-term travel – in our case 2 months road trip around Australia – and finding the balance between rest and play. We started our travels full force with lot of activities – hiking, swimming, wildlife watching in Melbourne, Tasmania, Great Ocean Road and we were only forced to slow down when the kids and Ashique had fallen sick. We took some days out to recover then and only picked up pace again when we reached the Sapphire Coast. From there we carried on full force again through Wollongong, Sydney, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Barrington Tops National Park, Ballina, Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park and it was only thanks to the long 3 days Anzac bank holiday weekend, that we found ourselves in Witheren, Queensland, in the middle of nowhere, doing pretty much nothing (activity wise) and had a lovely relaxing ‘break’ during our travels!
Where was this middle of nowhere?
Surprisingly very close to the gold coast but could be a different country altogether given how different it was! Located at the south bank of the Coomera River, hours drive inland from Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Sharp Park River Bend comprises of five hectares of well-managed camping and recreational grounds. We set camp on the banks of this lovely stream and didn’t move for two days.
We left Barrington Tops National Park where we enjoyed being at one with nature and the next obvious stop would be the gold coast as we are heading up north towards Port Douglas. But given that it was a bank holiday we were very unlikely to find accommodation not having booked anything. I have said this before, but just wanted to highlight again the freedom of travelling in a campervan – in our case in our Britz campervan – and being able to decide whenever and wherever we wanted to go!
What we did in the middle of nowhere
We Chilled a lot 🙂
We read, worked – me on the blog, kids did some maths, bangla and writing, played boardgames, spun poi, cut wood, made fire, cooked food, read some more and pretty much chilled for 2 days. The most active thing we did was wade through the stream and try to make a dam. We also managed to see the carpet snake again and found a tiny turtle in the water which we released immediately. We saw many different bird species as well and Ashique finally sat down and wrote down all the birds we had seen to date – 61 new species – Australia is definitely a birders paradise!
Visiting Lamington National Park
On the third day, we felt ready to do something more active and since Lamington National Park was only 30k away, we headed there in the afternoon. What we hadn’t realized was how windy and narrow the road was to get to the Green Mountain entrance– one of the two places you can access Lamington. It was also the Sunday of the three day bank holiday so the road was very busy. We kept having to pull over the sides several times to let other cars pass. But it was so beautiful once we crossed the mountain and entered the rainforest! The narrow road was just cut out through the forest and you are surrounded by giant high canopy trees on all sides, it was really beautiful. Parking was very hard to find when we got to the visitor centre, both parking lots were super crowded as the kiosk and restaurant. This is the seventh national park we have visited on this Australia road trip and none (including Port Campbell National Park, Great Ocean Road) was this crowded! Note to self – don’t visit popular places during bank holiday weekend. Gorgeous park none the less!
The weather did not look very promising and sure enough as soon as we started our short hike, it started raining, on and off. We managed to do the tree top walk and the swinging bridge. The tree top walk was quite scary as you climb this long metal ladder two levels to reach the top canopy. Due to the rain the ladder was wet and slippery and the howling winds made the cage surrounding the ladder rattle! I am sure the views from the top would have been spectacular, but due to the cloud and rain, we couldn’t really see much.
There was all kinds of entertainment at the park – falconry show and wild bird feeding to name a few – but we didn’t stick around for all that. Just when we were heading out we saw some people feeding the rainbow lorikeets, crimson Rosellas and king parrots birds on the parking lot and shama managed to feed one as well. On the way back we stopped to have lunch by the roadside with lovely views and finished off the trip at the alpaca farm where we saw really cute looking alpacas (until they started spitting.)
When we came back to our campsite, it was almost empty as everyone had left to go back to work after the long 3 day weekend. There was one other couple and one family spread out far away across the field. I can’t remember if we made our third fire that night but we enjoyed another peaceful evening and night just hanging out by our campsite. Refreshed from our three days at Sharp Park River Bend Campsite, we headed off towards Gold Coast the next day.
Hopefully we learnt a lesson from this stay, that sometimes we need to stop, take a step back and relax during travels 🙂
Linked to Monday Escapes