Hook up and hit the road
Enjoy the freedom of four wheels and a van.
Without doubt, Queensland is one of our favourite Australian states to explore.
It’s full of natural wonders, unique wildlife and dazzling beaches. For us, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
With so much to see and do, what better way than at your own pace towing a caravan. We just love our small, self-contained apartment that we tow and it works for us. Our beds are always made, we have food in the kitchen and even our own ensuite with shower and toilet.
However, we are limited to where we can tow our home on wheels.
Recently while in Queensland, we stayed in a mix of affordable overnight stops, numerous caravan parks, station stays, showgrounds and free camps.
There are some awesome free camps with toilets, dump points and barbecues plus many of them are easily accessible via all-weather roads, which is very important when towing a van.
One of our favourite stopping points is beside the Calliope River Picnic Area. This is a low-maintenance rest area that has a maximum stay period of 48 hours, located well off the Bruce Highway, 7km north of Calliope.
The access road is bitumen and if you get there early enough you can have an amazing spot overlooking the river. You can even do a spot of fishing, but beware – no matter how hot the day may be and how tempting the river may look, don’t go swimming. It’s saltwater crocodile country and those guys are not to be messed with.
Even though we tend to stay away from the larger towns and cities, we did base ourselves in Cairns at a caravan park for several weeks so that we could explore more of tropical north Queensland.
This allowed us to take many wonderful day trips along some beautiful coastal roads from Cairns to Cape Tribulation and to the Daintree Rainforest.
Driving on these roads we were happy that we weren’t towing our van. With the abundance of tropical growth there were many times we would not have been able to pass under low-hanging trees and vines.
We had heard so much about Paronella Park and there was absolutely no way we were going to miss the experience. Better still, overnight site accommodation for your caravan is free when you purchase tickets for a guided tour of the park.
However, the road in was narrow with many bends and we had to be vigilant for any oncoming traffic. But the experience and story of how Paronella Park came about is superb.
Travelling in Queensland can be something else, especially in the outback. The road trains, long distances of flat terrain and hazards such as livestock, kangaroos, emus and the occasional camel can take a little time to get used to, especially while towing a caravan.
Sometimes the roads are quite narrow and when you see an oncoming road train it’s not always convenient to pull over. It’s handy to have a UHF radio on Channel 40 so you can speak to the truckies. It’s saved us quite a few times and the truckies have appreciated our call.
Due to the size and weight of our van we tend to travel on the bitumen roads and stay away from unsealed tracks. We enjoy exploring these roads while we are unhooked.
Planning ahead makes sense when you’re travelling long distances between towns. In the outback, fuel outlets can be few and far between and when towing a three-tonne box on wheels we need to keep an eye on our fuel consumption.
Accommodation also needs to be booked in advance if you’re travelling during the winter peak season and planning to stay in a caravan park.
For instance, we had the experience of driving into Winton and thinking that with three caravan parks we would have no problem at all getting a site. Well, think again!
There was a camp draft happening and the town was packed to the rafters. The first two parks we contacted were full, but luckily the third park could squeeze us in. It was a bit of a squeeze too, but the hospitality was great and we were pleased to be able to have power and water for the night.
We have loved travelling in our van through Queensland and have especially enjoyed towns that have well-appointed parking areas for longer vehicles. We could pull up with the car and van rather than driving straight through. It gives you the chance to relax and enjoy lunch, maybe buy some freshly baked bread and local produce or even take a tour of the town. To top it off, it gives you the opportunity to give back to the town.
We have travelled many different roads and are always thankful to find a rest stop with toilets and ample parking, and a convenient dump point is a big plus. There are some wonderful Visitor Information Centres, such as the one at the Ingham Wetlands, that had a dump point but also a water facility to top up your van’s tanks.
There’s something nice about a road trip when towing a caravan with all the creature comforts onboard. But what’s even nicer is when the roads you travel and the towns you visit are RV friendly.
It’s time for another Queensland road trip with our caravan as there are so many amazing places to visit and it’s hard to pick a favourite. Look out Queensland here we come.
RACQ Roadside Assistance provides peace of mind on your road trip.