I’d long heard about Woodgate and its beauty, mainly from a mate who ‘went home’ on an annual trip from the Central Queensland coal mining fields to his home town of Bundaberg and spent that time fishing and crabbing in and around the area.
Suzzanne’s mum Greta lives at nearby Hervey Bay and we invited her to accompany the Travelling Two in our new mobile abode and figured that Burrum Point Campground would be a good location given its proximity to the beach and fact it had amenities. So a mid week booking was made for a site and the fur babies had a holiday reserved at their favourite pet resort.
The four hour Bruce highway haul to Hervey Bay went quickly, listening to podcasts and admiring the stunt driving of several the lunatics we shared the road with. With Greta (and her many little bags of essentials) on board we continued through the pretty off-highway scenery and stopped in Woodgate village for a snoop around and a few last minute supplies.
While the girls where in the store I aired down in anticipation of the sandy track into the campground, it has been several years since I towed a trailer off road in soft sand and I got a reminder of how much longer it takes to manage another pair of tyres on the rig.
This was also first trip with a couple of new modifications, including the Kaymar rear wheel carriers and a Stone Stomper to protect the X3 on future expeditions on gravel roads. These combined to make access into rear of the Landcruiser wagon a PITA, so from now on I’ll be rethinking my vehicle packing criteria to make things like the air hose and similar gear more accessible via the second row seat area.
The sandy inland access track to Burrum Point campground was rutted and powdery, causing me to rethink whether 20psi was low enough in the tyres. I was travelling fairly slowly for passenger comfort and on a bend the rig lost forward motion as a plume of sand was thrown into the air – at that moment I realised I’d forgotten to engage the centre diff lock and disable TRC and VSC. With a few buttons pressed and the rig reversed a metre or so we were away again, bouncing our way into camp on the undulating tracks.
We found a few other campers set up, but the sites were well spaced with acacia and heath scrub between them and our site was vacant waiting for us. The site got bonus points for having a drinking water tap right beside it too, which was convenient for us and attracted plenty of visitors.
The nearest occupied site, across and along the track from us, had a decent sized off road caravan set up and a 200 series Landcruiser parked nearby. In typical caravaner style our elder neighbour came over for a chat while I was kneeling down unhitching the X3, we had barely been there 5 minutes and the social circle had enveloped us. He was a nice enough and we had a good chat that centred on the common thread of our chosen Landcruiser tow tugs, and then his wife called for him and we got stuck back into setting up camp.
Greta bought along her little 2 person ground tent for accommodation. It didn’t seem right that we would be living a grand life in the new X3 while my mother in law slept on the ground, but she was adamant. To provide a little more shelter I extended the Darche 180 degree awning on the Cruiser to provide some shade and rain protection, and a tarp ground sheet beneath her bivouac.
Camper set up was a little quicker than before as our routine started coming together. Suzzanne would do most of the internal tasks such as raising the tent support frames and removing the bed transport cover, while I would do the levelling, the awning and the pegging things down. Given nature of the site I used the Supapeg screw pegs purchased in readiness for beach and desert trips and they did a great job of anchoring things down. We still needed to tie down the bed to prevent it from springing up under force of the gas struts and tight canvas, so we’re waiting to see if this relaxes with age.
I’m still not convinced about the virtues of the air bags as a suspension system on the road but they are fantastic when setting up camp. The ability to quickly line and level the trailer sure beats reversing up ramps or onto rocks or logs. I found one bump stop bruised and loose after this trip to reaffirm my thoughts about how critical it is to get the ride height correct, and that the inner guard marker plates don’t give as good a guide as I’d like in order to achieve the Cruisemaster recommended shock length for travelling.
Next stop – the beach!! And what a beaut little stretch of beach it is too. Burrum Point is typical of beaches along much of Queensland, with no appreciable surf due to protective reefs or sand bars and slightly milky water from the many estuaries and river outlets. However it was clean and was home to a large number of birds and beach critters.
Mid afternoon crept toward evening so it was time to replace chips and dip for a real meal. One of the smartest features of the X3 camper is the nicely integrated Weber Baby Q1000, on its own swing out arm that makes it so easy to set up, it has quickly become the primary cooking utensil on the trailer (after the Jetboil). Tonight’s menu is a typical RSL spec meal, roast pork with crackling and baked vegies… let the magic begin!
A brief but spectacular sunset of pinkish purply hues appeared so dinner was left to crackle and spit while I ducked down to the beach to capture it. This is one of the reasons I love getting out onto these trips, you can never have too many beautiful sunsets in your life…
One down side of Woodgate NP is a no fires policy, which is understandable given the very flammable heath scrub surrounding these campgrounds amongst the dunes, hence the rule applies to many Queensland coastal parks. It does however limit the evening’s entertainment options so we headed for an early entry into our respective cots.
The following day was a lazy succession of beach walks broken by coffee breaks and lunch followed by afternoon siestas broken by cool drinks and nibblies. Greta was not completely crippled by her night in the tent but it was a struggle for her to get in and out of it so we think that next trip she might be better off in my swag on its stretcher.
The ugly but necessary side of national park management was on display at several locations, indicating that 1080 feral pest baits were in use in the park. Overall the park was in a reasonable state of maintenance and its a rare blessing to have flushing toilets and town drinking quality water on tap. We had one visit from the Ranger while there and on his advice we decided to exit via the beach run the following day, possible due to the morning low tide that would afford us a smoother run back to Woodgate.
We had a shower come over during the evening that sent us scurrying to bed early, it also meant a slow morning around camp to allow canvas to dry before packing up the camper and car awning. By the time a hot breakfast and a couple of cuppas were consumed that time had come, and the additional gear for one extra person was certainly noticed during the decamping process! Nonetheless we had everything stowed, folded and hitched in an hour or so and pointed the rig toward the beach.
The beach entry/exit track is short but soft and has a tight corner around a big gum tree. Judging by the many deep ruts some vehicles had found this a difficult spot to drive around, I suspect because they come up off the beach and found themselves going from hard sand to soft while having to turn, possibly while towing. A bit of right boot encouragement to build momentum had the rig swung around the obstacle and we eased down onto the hard beach sand.
Once onto the beach we had a gorgeous morning to run northward to Woodgate. I gave Suzzanne a turn behind the wheel, her first stint of beach driving since our Fraser Island trip a few years earlier, it also gave me a chance to throw the drone into the air to capture the fantastic view from above.
Burrum Point camping site is recommended, especially for families or those without an off grid set up and who appreciate access to toilets, showers and clean water. Further north in the park is Kinkuna camping site which offers bush camping for those after a little more isolation and can get by with less amenities.