Around Australia Week 11 – Mission Beach to Rollingstone

Rolling, rolling, rolling… in this case, on to Rollingstone Big 4 Beachside Caravan Park, about 45 minutes north of Townsville. We need to be close to Townsville for repairs, quotes, assessors etc for the van and car, so we decided this park would be a good option.

Rollingstone Big 4 Park is a friendly community with lots of people wandering about and chatting, and meeting up on the hill late afternoon, overlooking the beach, for Happy Hour. This sense of community is probably helped by the fact that it’s a fair way from anywhere: there is the Rollingstone pub nearby and Fisherman’s Landing at Balgal Beach, but you can’t exactly walk to the cafe society. Well, you could walk to Fisherman’s Landing – which is at the end of the beach – but you have to wade across the estuary to get to the cafe. Although it’s only about 20 feet of water they don’t recommend it because of the crocs. They tell us that there are 3 resident just in front of the cafe.  So everyone elects to go the long way round: about 15 kilometres by road.

11_01_Looking_across_Balgal_Beach

And then there are the midgies. Everyone you see there is scratching in a frenzy. People stand about and exchange tips about the best bug repellent. I mixed up the home-made insect repellent that so many caravanners swear by (equal quantities of Dettol, DD Eucalyptus and baby oil), put it in a spray bottle and applied it liberally before going ‘up on the hill’ for Happy Hour. (The bugs particularly like to congregate in the grass there and attack every square inch of unprotected skin.)

Well, let me tell you, I sprayed every MILLIMETRE of skin. I was satiny with baby oil and fragrant with Dettol and DD Eucalyptus. I was very proud of the results until Rob shook his head sadly and told me I might as well just use sheep dip.

Huh! Charming!!! Oh well… midgies or not, it won’t stop us coming back. Great park.

11_02_RollingstoneBig4 We’re beginning to meet up with travellers that we’ve already encountered at previous van parks: it’s great fun! (Of course, we’ve encountered a few shocked expressions when people catch sight of the driver’s door and the van – the liberal application of gaffer tape does kind of attract attention…) One of the ones we bumped into again was Julie, who gave me the original ‘recipe’ for insect repellent at Airlie Beach. “Looks like my recipe didn’t work too well for you,” she commented, with a wry look at the number of bites decorating my arms and legs. Dot and Kevin Ridgeway were also ‘old friends’ from the Cannonvale park, and it was interesting to get the perspective of the solo traveller from John Keleher. We also caught up with Jim & Cheryl Wintour, who set up on the site next door to ours.

Here’s the “Rogue’s Gallery”!

11_03_John_Dot_Kevin_Cheryl_Jim_Rollingstone

One of the things we love doing – apart from meeting new people – is checking out their various rigs. We enjoyed seeing Camille and Rob Richert’s Jayco Heritage with its slide-out features. Rob and Camille love this van: it gives them plenty of room – thanks to two slide-outs: one in the sitting area; another in the bedroom – and provides a comfortable home while they’re travelling. And since they spend a lot of time on the road, this is important! (They also had some great advice about finding work on the road – we’ll be passing on some of their tips later on in Caravan & Motorhome on Tour magazine.)

11_04_Rob_Camille

Sometimes it might seem that we focus on caravans rather than motorhomes or fifth wheelers, but like most travellers we’re endlessly fascinated by all kinds of mobile homes. We spotted Keith and Cheryl outside their swish-looking Winnebago at the Rollingstone park, and couldn’t resist a chat to find out more about them.

11_05_Keith_Cheryl_Winnebago We discovered that they actually choose to live in their Winnebago when they go back home, too… they have an arrangement that many others would envy! Back home they have their children living in two houses on a block of land, which also has room for a big shed to house Keith and Cheryl’s motorhome (even with the slide-outs all the way out!) Keith is a keen golfer, and discovered that it was more economical to sign up for a month’s membership at nearby Mystic Sands Resort than to pay for a casual day’s golf here and there.

We also took ourselves off to Mystic Sands – but for a leisurely breakfast, not golf! We were tempted by the ‘hole in one’ challenge on the water’s edge, with its jackpot of $250… but in the end, decided to let more accomplished golfers have a shot at it! (The flag signifying the hole looked a long way off in the middle of the lake… about 150 metres?… nah, too hard!)

11_06_Mystic_hole_in_one While we were at the Rollingstone Big 4, we took the opportunity to check out a couple of free camp sites nearby – three of them, in fact! They are all between Rollingstone and Townsville.

First was the Bushy Parker Park at Rollingstone. This is an interesting place: as well as free camp sites (you can stay for 48 hours) it is the site of the old Rollingstone railway station and the local war memorial. You’ll find a basic amenities block here as well as some children-s play equipment and a sheltered eating area.

11_07_Bushy_Parker_Rest_Area A little further along the road is the popular Balgal Beach Rest Area – again, a 48 hour stay is permitted. However, when we were there, several rigs were parked on the adjacent street waiting for a space to open up – so get there early! Travellers like this because it’s close to the beach and the Fisherman’s Landing café. In addition, there were Sunday twilight markets on the day we took these photos… and travellers are welcome to set up a stall!

11_08_Balgal_Beach_Rest_Area Finally, we checked out the Bluewater Rest Area a bit further south. This rest area, part of Thuringowa (like Balgal Beach and Rollingstone) has a prominent ‘RV Friendly Town’ sign and provides an amenities block, sheltered picnic tables, a large playground, plenty of shady camping areas and walking trails. This is a handy place to stop and recharge, with easy access from the highway and close to Townsville for shopping.

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And that was about it for our week at Rollingstone… it’s almost time for our van to go back to Crusader Caravans for repairs, and this coming week the car will also be due at City Crash Repairs to be restored to its former glory.

See you next week!


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