Where: 2 hours drive from the Sunshine Coast, west of Gympie
When: Anzac Day Long Weekend, 2016
The Rundown: What a pleasant little surprise Kilkivan Bush Camp was! We arrived at night (not recommended, it’s much easier to find in daylight!) and the caretaker guided us in to what he told us would be a nice shady spot that the kids would enjoy. We followed his torch-light and hoped for the best (we really had no idea, he could have put us anywhere!).
Well. We woke up the next morning, stepped outside, and found ourselves under a beautiful big tree, right above the dry creek bed and in eye-sight of the kids playground. I think we hit the bush-camping jackpot!!
The creek bed is apparently stunning and great for swimming when it’s flowing, but the dry didn’t bother us. The rocks and gently sloping embankment were like an adventure playground for the kids. And if that wasn’t enough, check out this kid’s dream-come-true….
We had a little explore and were more than satisfied with our surrounds. The caretaker found us again to check on us and to let us know about the free Pankcake breakfast on at 8am (every Saturday!!). So we grabbed our plates and mugs and headed up to the very well-equipped camp kitchen for pancakes with every possible topping you could imagine, and hot tea and coffee.
Now, I don’t usually go into the details about amenities – but these ones really need a mention. The Kilkivan Bush Camp bathrooms would have to be hands down, the cutest, quaintest, prettiest, homeliest, sweetest loo block I’ve EVER seen. I REALLY wanted to take a photo, but just felt too weird walking into the bathroom to take snaps. I tried doing it stealthily, but that just felt even weirder so I backed out. But just think – modern large tiled floors, cottage-style corrugated walls with timber trims, sunken basins in a gorgeous timber bench, posies of flowers, pretty vases and trinkets, and hot, steamy showers. Ohhh the showers. Good. Really good. Visiting the Ladies (and the Men’s too so I heard) is more like staying at country bed’n’breakfast than at a bush camp.
We were lucky to have some really friendly campers set up near us, and they had a little girl almost the exact same age as Sebastian. It’s great seeing the kids make new friends and socialise – and in this case it was just as easy for the grown ups. We spent a couple of nights chatting around the campfire and it really felt like we had almost planned to go camping with these wonderful people! Once again, it didn’t take long to find plenty of things in common. I just really appreciate getting to share our lives and stories and I think it’s such an important part of social connection. Good for the soul.
We took a little trip to the town of Goomeri, about 18 minutes drive from the bush camp. What a delightful little town! We stopped for lunch at the Pumpkin Pie coffee shop and Kai made a huge call, naming the meat pie ‘the best I’ve ever had’. He has claimed that the best pie he’s ever had was from the Old Dayboro Bakery, and that position had been held as long as I’ve known him. Kai does not throw around calls about meat pies willy-nilly. He didn’t even try the pumpkin pie which the café is famous for. Probably a good thing. He might have been in best-pie-ever overload.
After a play over at the park, we noticed the sign for The Country Way Museum and decided to check it out. Kai and Seb were in their element. This was the place for all things old. Old military stuff, old tools, old engines, old plane propellers, old toys…you get the picture.
Then it was the girls turn, and we stopped at That’s Nice 2nd hand shop. This place is incredible! Just when you think you’re at the end of the store, it keeps going! I saw sooo many trinkets, tea-cups and treasures I wanted to take home with me. It was a collection to behold. I could have stayed there for hours. Or days even. My heart was so happy.
On our way back to the campsite, we decided to keep going past it to check out the Chimney Stack. We were a bit put off by signs along the road stating, ‘Private Property, keep out. Dogs will be shot’, (and that was a subtle sign, they got more intense!). We decided that maybe we were in the wrong place and turned around, when Farmer Scott zipped out on his quad bike and said, ‘You guys are right, just keep following the road and you’ll get there. The signs are just to keep the d*** heads out, only the decent people actually turn around, so we know you’re ok.’ Ha!
We made it to the chimney stack unharmed (phew!) and discovered some interesting history.
On ANAC day we were privileged to be able to attend the service held by the United Field and Retriever club at a nearby property. This group is a wonderful bunch of people and four-legged friends from all over Queensland who meet regularly to camp and let their dogs do what they do best. Retrieve. You can find out all about them here. If you have a dog who has a special talent for finding and retrieving, or if you’d like to learn how to train your dog to do what he/she loves and maybe even score some prizes while you’re at it, then you need to check this club out.
Stuart and Edwena (UFR club members, and our friends) planned a beautiful service in memory of our fallen soldiers, with a special mention and commemoration for the animals who served and were never able to return home. It felt quite appropriate to be remembering and paying our respects in a paddock, simply and quietly, appreciating the country that we have to freely use and enjoy today.
The Tips: Just check the map before you head there. We followed the Tom Tom navigator and it nearly killed us – telling us to take a sharp-turn onto a road that used to be a road, but is no longer a road. Off a highway. With a caravan. The area is well signed, but they are not lit at night.
The Windup: If the Jeffs got a chance to re-live this weekend, we would do it all exactly the same way. (Except for maybe arriving in the dark and the Tom Tom trying to kill us). Same set-up spot, same activities, same neighbours…we would happily do it all again.