Campsite review: Queen Mary Falls, Killarney Qld

There is a big choice of campsites and caravan parks around the Granite Belt. If you plan to visit Queen Mary Falls and the neighbouring waterfalls, this caravan park is in a perfect spot opposite the entrance to the falls and surrounded by national park and wildlife. You can walk a short distance to a lookout or a longer loop down to the base of the waterfall.

We stayed for three nights just after Christmas – note that they often operate a minimum stay at peak periods.

This review is just our impression of the site. For full details about facilities and prices, check out the website:

Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park

Visitors and residents

The site is popular with families and is a real draw card for nature lovers. We had wallabies playing next to our pitch and koalas and kookaburras in the tree above. There are all kinds of tropical birds swooping through the site and a feeding station by reception where you can hand feed king parrots and rosellas. The only creatures that were less welcome were the flies, who were prolific at certain times of day, although to be expected when you’re camping next to a field of cattle.

Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park - koala

Queen Mary Falls - kookaburra

What’s the site like?

The area for powered sites and cabins is fairly small but there is a beautiful and spacious grassy field for unpowered tents and vans, which was only sparsely populated. There are loads of spots for campfires which were well used at dusk, and helped to keep the flies at bay. They sell firewood at reception. One of the best things is the onsite café/restaurant/shop offering cream teas and light meals; it was always doing a roaring trade when we were there.

The washblocks let the park down, being a bit smelly and dingy with no hot water in the basins – not somewhere you’d want to linger longer than necessary.

There was no Optus phone reception in the site or surrounding area and Telstra was very sketchy.

Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park

Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park

Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park

Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park

Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park

Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park


A short drive from Warwick and just steps away from Queen Mary Falls, the caravan park is in a great spot for exploring some of the best bushwalks and waterfalls in the Granite Belt. Nature lovers and bird enthusiasts will be in their element.

Queen Mary Falls

Happy campervanning!

I love campervans and all the associated memorabilia. But there are only so many caravan cards you can buy for other people before they think you’re a bit obsessed. How could I resist this one though? It has gingham – and bunting! So I bought it to hang up anyway.

Caravan birthday card

Happy weekend everyone!

Taking the road less travelled – a week of waterfalls and wineries

So with a week off over Christmas we deviated from our well-worn route to the coast and ventured inland, for our longest trip away in the campervan. We spent our time circling Queensland’s Granite Belt, 3 hours south west of Brisbane, staying first at Queen Mary Falls near Warwick before driving down to the orchards and vineyards of Stanthorpe.

Our campervan was only designed for mini-mini-breaks, but it coped well with the extended trip. The fridge held enough food for a week (mostly leftover turkey and cold chipolatas), and our narrow shoe cupboard found its true calling as a wine cellar! So we redistributed the shoes and stocked up on some of Queensland’s best vintage. (Which was better than we thought!)

We coped well with the longer stay too. Or, we were coping, until Paul announced on the fourth morning that we were entering unchartered territory, at which point I suddenly began misjudging the low ceiling height and my back decided to give way in protest at the unsprung mattress cushions. Still, two mild concussions and the price of a heat pack were a reasonable price to pay for a week’s holiday.

Queen Mary Falls are part of Main Range National Park near Killarney and the border with New South Wales. Also nestled in the same rainforest and accessible from that stretch of road are Browns Falls and Daggs Falls, providing lots of lookouts and photo opportunities.

Queen Mary Falls, Killarney

Daggs Falls, Killarney

Our campsite was right opposite Queen Mary Falls, where you can walk a short distance to the top of the falls or around a longer circuit to the base. Or you could abseil, of course.

Queen Mary Falls, Killarney

The walk to Browns Falls was more challenging, requiring a few leaps over precarious stepping stones and a bit of tarzan swinging around trees. Not one for wheelchairs or pushchairs, although while I was psyching myself up for one of the river crossings, we were overtaken by two elderly ladies, so maybe I was being overly cautious.

As you’d expect, the area is teeming with wildlife and perfect for birdwatchers. For us, it was a peaceful antidote to the rush and excitement of the previous Christmas weeks.

Kookaburra, Queen Mary Falls, Killarney

Colourful bird

Dragon lizard


After three days we drove south to Stanthorpe, along the very bumpy New England Highway. There is loads to do in the area. Actually even more than we realised, as I discovered back at work when my colleague said:

‘Did you go to the jumping police dogs academy?’

‘Oh but you must have seen the giant granite frog?’

‘I can’t believe you didn’t even visit the famous maze!’

Hmmmm. We did, however, visit lots of wineries.

Armed with our Granite Belt vineyard guide, it was recommended we head to some of the 5* wineries just north of Stanthorpe first. That didn’t provide the most auspicious start though.

Boireann Winery was first on the list:

Boireann Winery

Followed by Summit Wines:

Summit Wines Stanthorpe

Which was very pretty, but these storm clouds burst just as we left the campervan, so we dashed back inside and made a cup of tea instead.

Thankfully things cheered up as we drove south, helped by the appearance of the sun and the much prettier landscape. The frequent cattle grids on the back roads attest to the vast number of cows and horses in the surrounding farmland – some of the most beautiful horses I’ve ever seen.



The only other wine region we can compare the Granite Belt to is Margaret River in Western Australia, which produces world-renowned wines and is generally a much wealthier region. It seems unfair therefore to rank Stanthorpe (whose wines are largely unknown outside Australia) in the same category, and the wineries are certainly smaller and less luxurious than in Margaret River, but they’re friendly and welcoming and we were pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety.

We tasted lots of wine (although not nearly as much as was offered), we bought lots of wine (thanks to our shoe cellar) and we took lots of photos of wine and vines.

Ballandean Winery


Wine barrels

Grapes on vine

It’s not all about the wine; as the region implies, there is plenty of granite around and in Warwick you can do a short walking tour of the historic granite buildings.



The best evidence though is in the very impressive Girraween National Park, which features huge granite boulders and ‘the Pyramid’: a steep, rocky cliff-face which is not for the faint hearted, but affords panoramic views at the top. (So says Paul anyway, I found the views panoramic enough at the bottom. It was 35 degrees!!)

Girraween National Park

Girraween National Park

Girraween National Park

Girraween National Park

Back on the highway and there are plenty of other treats to keep you occupied if you need a break from hill climbs and wineries (and can’t find the giant granite frog): lavender farms, olive farms, cherry farms, apple orchards, soaperies and gourmet produce outlets. It’s the perfect location for a foodie escape.

Apples Stanthorpe

Mangoes Stanthorpe


Campsite reviews of Queen Mary Falls and Top of the Town at Stanthorpe coming soon!

Campsite reviews – Mapleton, Qld

The scenic drives and rolling hills around the Glasshouse Mountains make it perfect caravanning country, but campsites are few and far between Montville and Maleny. Drive a few kilometres onto Mapleton though and there are a couple of lovely sites – both within walking distance of the best pub in the area. The Mapleton Tavern sits at the top of a hill alongside a smattering of shops, and the panoramic views from its wraparound verandah stretch across the Blackall Range to the twinkling lights of the Sunshine Coast.Mapleton Tavern


Maleny Qld

Maleny Qld

Maleny Qld

We stayed at both Lilyponds Holiday Park and Mapleton Cabins and Caravan Park.

The reviews below are just our impressions of the park. For full details of prices, visit their websites!

Lilyponds Holiday Park: www

The only campsite I’d read about before travelling to Mapleton was in a review for Lilyponds, which gave particular praise to its showers for being able to ‘fit most European males, even those over 1.9 metres tall’. We thought that was a rather good endorsement (and do like a nice shower) so arranged to stay there first. When we arrived I immediately sent Paul (as the only European male in our party, albeit a bit shorter than 190cm) to inspect. He reported back that the showers were fine, although not particularly noteworthy. The ladies were okay as well – a bit tired and dark, but clean.

How about the pitches?
We were staying in an unpowered section next to a couple of tents; it was a pretty and spacious grassy area with space for campfires. There is a large bbq area as well but it was commandeered by a large group of families (with multiple toddlers and puppies competing for the airwaves) for our entire stay. It would otherwise have been a quiet and peaceful spot. The rest of the site is taken over by permanent mobile homes (oxymoron of the day), some of which do look rather run down.

Guacamole fans – look no further! Many of the pitches at Lilyponds are surrounded by avocado trees absolutely laden with fruit, so bring your tastiest recipes and a large bag of Doritos for early evening snacks.



Lilyponds Holiday Park

Lilyponds Holiday Park

Mapleton Cabins and Caravan Park: 

What’s the site like?
This felt like a much smaller site set in bushland; it does stretch a long way back but the land starts to slope uphill, which makes it less suitable for pitching a tent. We parked on a concrete slab and had a small but shady grassy area next to us. The grounds were meticulously kept and again, the staff were very friendly and helpful.

The wash blocks are basic, but they were clean and functional. Males over 1.9 metres might need to stoop…

As with Lilyponds it’s a really easy walk down the road to the Mapleton Tavern. It’s also right on the edge of Mapleton National Park, with an abundance of bush walks and scenic lookouts.

 Mapleton Cabins and Caravan Park

Mapleton Cabins and Caravan Park

Mapleton Falls

The staff at both sites are incredibly friendly and although the washblocks were in need of updating, we liked the pitches at each. Free avocados in season is a definite perk at Lilyponds.


Maleny Wines


Gourmet camping meals – finding a balance

I read a post a few weeks ago about the brilliant spontaneity of campervanning, and the romantic freedom it gives you to drive off into the sunset at a moment’s notice.

It is possible, that the post appeared on my own blog.

I haven’t yet managed, 100 per cent, to put my very useful advice into practice.

Keeping a separate set of camping cutlery, I can do. Remembering to fill the water tanks the night before – fine. The one tiny step I fall down on is ‘throw some food in the fridge and you’re off’.

The trouble is, we’ve been so excited to go away in our campervan that we’ve treated every trip, even if we’re only staying down the road, as a mini holiday. Equally every meal that we can eat outside on a rug instead of at a dining table has become a picnic.

Of course, holidays and picnics are wonderful. But the reality does come with its own stresses.

Who wants to eat their every day cereal on holiday? It’s a time for treats! Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Grilled mushrooms on sourdough. Blueberry pancakes with maple syrup. Mmmmmm. And as soon as a packed lunch becomes a picnic, your rather pedestrian tuna sandwich and a KitKat are replaced with wicker hampers overflowing with wild rice salad and honey-glazed chicken.

But this was requiring an inordinate amount of planning and food preparation every Thursday before we left. The spontaneity was disappearing in a flurry of lists and pre-chopped crudités.

I once spent the night before frantically flicking through a recent issue of Gourmet Traveller for some inspiration. (I know Gourmet Traveller’s reputation isn’t founded on the quality of its camping recipes but who’s to say you can’t be more adventurous than a tuna sandwich just because you’re staying in a field?).

Anyway I thought I’d struck gold with the first article: a twist on the humble toastie. Perfect. The photos looked simple yet sophisticated. I started scribbling notes for the first recipe.

Unfortunately there is nothing humble about a Gourmet Traveller toastie.

Step 1. You will need to start this recipe two days in advance.

Two days??

For a toastie? Doesn’t that contradict the whole principle of toasties?

Maybe that was the twist.

It was the final straw and from then on, I decided to be very strict. For the next trip, I threw a few basics in the fridge and transferred our usual box of pantry ingredients into the campervan. There were no lists. No pre-mixed spicy chickpea burgers. No homemade organic lemonade. And the whole experience was much more relaxed. Almost spontaneous! Paul’s happiest moments of the whole weekend were when I produced cornflakes for breakfast and he found out lunch was a cheese and pickle sandwich.

As it happens, I am now writing an article for a magazine quite similar to Gourmet Traveller (similar in that it’s about travelling, dissimilar in that it’s about travelling in caravans), and the article is focused on quick and easy camping meals. So I am looking for inspiration.

Fellow campers, caravanners – what are your tips for your favourite camping recipes? Meals that don’t require too much forward planning and can be rustled up with just a few basics? I’ve already got cheese and pickle sandwiches!

Campsite review: Cotton Tree Holiday Park, Maroochydore, Qld

I’m going to preface this review with the monumental declaration that Cotton Tree is, so far, our favourite campsite in Australia. <gasp!>

We weren’t planning to stay here, but the campsite we’d earmarked down the road in Mooloolaba was full when we arrived, so we carried on up the coast to Maroochydore.

This review is just our impression of the site. For full details about facilities and prices, visit the website here.

Where is it?
One of the nicest spots on the Sunshine Coast, Cotton Tree overlooks the beach where the Maroochy River meets the ocean. There is direct beach access from several points in the campsite; you’re greeted with crashing waves on one side, sheltered waters on the other and white sand all around. The Maroochydore Surf Club is only a five-minute walk away for great food and views, and there are a few cafes and shops just outside the front entrance of the site.

How was the site?
It’s huge! There’s a good mix of pitches and a few cabins. The premium waterfront sites are practically on the sand and surrounded by palm trees so get booked up very early, but any pitch around the perimeter has excellent beach access.

There are some large, modern washblocks and a couple of older ones, but they were all clean and well maintained. There are good laundry facilities and popular bbq areas.

You do pay for all this at $44 per night for a powered site, plus they ask for two $20 cash deposits on arrival for a key to the washblock and a boom gate card.

Who goes there?
Great for families, couples, silver nomads – any beach lovers will be in their element. Whether you think waves are for surfing, fishing or photographing, it’s a wonderful spot.

Fab. Book well in advance!

Five best things about a weekend in a campervan

Back when we were building the campervan, I did wonder how we’d get on with the whole camping thing. Staying in caravan parks. Having to remember a key (or, even worse, a code) when you’re hopping from one foot to the other, desperate for the loo. Reliving memories from guide camp of wearing clothes still damp from the previous day’s downpour. Making awkward conversation with other bleary-eyed campers on the early morning walk to the shower block. Sand everywhere. Ants in the cornflakes.

I wasn’t sure such proximity to either nature or neighbours would improve a minibreak.

But, I have been converted! Granted, we are not proper camping. We’ve been lucky with the weather (better than the Peak District) and having our own bathroom – however tiny – makes a huge difference. As does having a husband whose new hobby is evacuating every grain of sand from the wooden floors.

I’m not quite ready to relinquish my subscription to the Best Hotel Guide, but campervan minibreaks are definitely growing on me.

Here are our five best things about spending a weekend in a campervan:

  1. It feels like a proper break. As soon as you leave the house – and with it the endless domestic chores that would otherwise consume your weekend – even an express 24-hour trip away feels like a mini-holiday. And arriving home on Sunday afternoon still leaves you enough time to do the important stuff before work on Monday.
  2. You are completely self sufficient. You can drive to the middle of nowhere and everything you could possibly need is in easy reach, in the little space behind you.

  3. You don’t have that sense of foreboding on going-home day. While the proper campers on the next pitch are up at 6am trying to dismantle their canvas empires and cram everything into a trailer before the storm clouds roll in (in the knowledge that they have reverse the entire process when they get home), we fold up the chairs, unplug the power and drive off. The downside to this that while we can make a quick exit, our pitch never looks quite as homely as our neighbours’. Perhaps I should add a few pot plants to my list of campervan essentials.
  4. Eating breakfast al fresco. We’re lucky in Brisbane that it’s warm enough to eat breakfast outside for nine months of the year. But somehow when you’re at home, walking five extra steps to unlock the back door while juggling your porridge always seems too strenuous first thing in a morning.
  5. It’s cheap! Okay, the initial outlay to buy or build a campervan / caravan is not cheap, but once you’re on the road, you hardly have to pay for anything. Luckily after nine months, it’s still a novelty to rustle up a meal in our little kitchen, so we rarely eat out and our only costs are petrol and camping fees.

So last weekend we went to Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast. It was a beautiful weekend; the lifeguards were getting ready for the first patrol of the summer, so we spent most of our time on the beach watching the rescue boats zooming up and down.

We stayed at Cottontree Holiday Park which has the most perfect location backing onto the beach. Campsite review coming soon!

So, fellow campervanners and caravanners – what are your favourite aspects of camping?

What to pack in your campervan?

One of the most popular search terms to find this blog recently has been ‘what do I need in my campervan?’ I wrote a post a few months ago about 10 campervan essentials you need to pack for your first trip, but if you’re after a full list, here’s an inventory of pretty much everything we take for a weekend away. And because it’s always nice to have a nosy through other people’s cupboards, a few photos of how we store it all in a very small space.


Our main kitchen cupboard has three shelves, which we’ve lined with some rubber grip matting to stop things sliding around, and everything is stored in large plastic tubs. Some things stay in the campervan all the time, other things we move into the house when we’re not using them, so it’s much easier when they’re in boxes. One of the tubs acts as a mini pantry to keep all the (non-refrigerated) food together, meaning there’s less chance of finding a stray onion lurking at the back of the cupboard in 12 months’ time.


Colourful knives, forks, spoons

Two sharp knives

Bread knife

Speed peeler

Two tongs

Mini whisk

Serving spoon


Can opener


Two small plates

Two large plates

Two bowls (cereal or pasta)

Two mugs

Two large wine glasses (Saturday night)

Two small wine glasses (Sunday night)

Two water glasses

Pans and other utensils

Three saucepans (varying sizes)

Two frying pans (large for a fry-up, small for pine nuts)

Three thin chopping boards (probably one too many but they are very thin!)

Two tupperware tubs (handy to decant a large tin)

Mini colander

Stainless steel mixing bowl (useful for all sorts)

Small measuring jug (for mixing salad dressing or just measuring)


Whistling kettle

Kitchen towel

Oven glove

Place mats

Two tea towels

One hand towel

Two place mats


Small picnic bag

Ice block

Thermos flask

Cleaning / utilities

Surface wipes

Jay cloth


Washing liquid and dishwashing brush

Microfibre cloth (useful for everything)


Bin bags

Ziploc bags

Two green enviro bags (handy for a quick supermarket shop)

Living area / bedroom

Two pillows and pillow cases

Bottom bed sheet

Top bed sheet (summer)

Quilt and cover (winter – this stays out during the day)

Two towels (double up for beach/shower)


We have one drawer for both our clothes, which didn’t seem much at first, but thankfully Paul is very economical with his packing so I can actually fit a lot in. I’m borrowing an idea that my brother-in-law uses for short family holidays, where everyone can fill just one shopping bag with clothes so they all fit neatly in the boot. I found a nice large M&S food bag does the trick.

We also have a narrow cupboard for shoes and flip-flops; jackets go over the backs of the driver/passenger seats.


There’s actually loads of space in the bathroom (relatively speaking, of course), plus we have two drawers and a cupboard in the vanity.

Toilet roll


Hand towel

Hand wipes


Insect repellant

Citronella candle

Insect bite cream (always needed in spite of the above)

First aid kit

Large Cath Kidston wash bag (me), toothbrush (Paul)


Most of our big items are stored in the space behind the front two seats.

Two camping chairs

Folding camping table

Beach umbrella


Body board (stored in the bathroom)

Awning (attached to van)

Inflatable kayaks (there’s no storage for these so they stay outside)

Two life jackets (always kept in the bathroom cupboard, only used if we take the kayaks out, or if there were a HUGE flood, I suppose)


Most of this (and the miscellaneous items below) is stored at the front of the van, which is quite spacious and has a few cubby holes and glove boxes.

Playing cards

Travel Scrabble

Mini telescope


Portable speakers (for outside)

Cross stitch (still to be attempted)


Fire extinguisher

Sweeping brush

Window shades for driver/passenger windows (there are no curtains in the front of the van)

Sunshade for windscreen

Curtain tie-backs

Mini fan

Torch and batteries

Various chargers


No-peg washing line





So here it all is!

Reading the list back we seem to fit a lot in. There’s an equally long list for food so I will cover that in a separate post. Is there anything I’ve forgotten??

How to add a touch of patriotism to your campervan

We’ve been neglecting the campervan a bit of late; the last few months have flown in an endless flurry of jubilee street parties and Olympic fever (not really, but it does explain the rest of the story).

One of the final jobs left in the campervan was to paint the inside back door in the bathroom white. But on our return from the UK a couple of weeks ago, where we’d been surrounded by a sea of patriotic memorabilia, this dull, wooden panel suddenly became a canvas of possibility. What are we doing painting it white?! Surely it is crying out for a union flag!

And while I’ve probably missed the boat in terms of celebrating this year’s fantastic Great British events, it still seemed a timely opportunity to add a little (more) red, white and blue to our now very colourful campervan.

Paul painted a couple of white undercoats on first, and we went to Bunnings to colour match the blue with that of the curtains, so it didn’t clash too much.

Union flag campervan

I marked out the flag with what Bunnings promised was the best painter’s masking tape available, copying the original from Wikipedia. It’s a pattern that often features in my meeting doodles but I’ve clearly never looked at it closely before because I didn’t even realise it’s not symmetrical. So it was a bit fiddlier than I thought, making sure the wide and narrow bits were in the right place. (n.b. the hole in the middle is deliberate – it’s where the door handle goes.)

Then it was just a case of painting the red and blue in the right spots, and praying that the masking tape would survive three coats of paint.

Union flag campervan

It didn’t… quite. I waited until everything had dried and pulled the tape off very gingerly, but it had bled through on most of the lines. Still, we think it can pass for a vintage look, and when you stand back in the van, it’s not too obvious.

Union flag campervan

Union flag campervan

Union flag campervan

Union flag campervan

A campervan retreat in the mountains: Montville and Maleny

The weather in Queensland has really cooled down recently. The last time we took the campervan away we were still basking in the late summer heat, but autumn has now crept up on us and Brisbanites are swapping board shorts and flip-flops for scarves and Ugg boots. Some days it’s even dipped below 20 degrees!

We felt justified pulling out our English thermals though last weekend, as we headed up to the Glasshouse Mountains, an hour north of Brisbane in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It must be one of the most scenic parts of Queensland, particularly at this time of year when you get a hint of the autumnal colours that are absent along the coast.

It’s more like England than probably anywhere else I’ve been in Queensland, and in fact the Glasshouse Mountain range is so named because it reminded Captain Cook of the glasshouse furnaces in his native Yorkshire.

The mountains themselves have brilliant names, like Tibrogargan and Beerburrum. We made an unscheduled stop at Mount Beerburrum, enticed by a sign promising a short stroll to a spectacular lookout. It had the unexpected benefit fulfilling our exercise quota for a whole week, as the 700m path was at an almost vertical incline.

I stumbled across an internet forum the other day where enthusiastic bushwalkers post how quickly they complete various walks. Who knew it was such a competitive pursuit! I have not added our time, lest they think we crawled. Ahem.

Anyway the views were spectacular, and well worth the climb.

After a reviving packet of digestives back in the campervan, we continued to Maleny, which, along with Montville is one the main towns in the region. If your calves allow after your morning bushwalk, it’s a great place to mooch around rare book shops, local craft centres and organic grocers. Montville is more touristy but the main street is very appealing, with a number of little art galleries. After checking out a whole range of art and testing an abundance of fudge shops, we sat in a sunny café for the rest of the morning, enjoying a hot chocolate and some more stunning views.

Maleny happened to be hosting a famous wood expo that weekend, and seeing as it was also our fifth wedding anniversary (and I was keenly aware that if there’s ever an opportune time in one’s marriage to proffer a carved wooden gift, this was it) we thought it would be an appropriate activity. So we paid the $12 entrance fee (each!!) and went to watch some wood being chopped.

I’m not sure what I was expecting; people were proudly walking round with planks balanced over their shoulder and chopping boards tucked under their arm. But we didn’t need any planks and Paul has forbidden any more chopping boards so we made a meek exit and retreated, for what remains my favourite activity in the campervan: lunch!

Happiness is… a bowl of pasta with a gingham spoon

We found the nicest campsites were in the neighbouring village of Mapleton, and we stayed a night at two sites. It’s a different experience camping in the winter. We had a sliver of sun moving across our pitch in the afternoon, but when my deckchair started intruding on our neighbours’ scrabble game in my bid to capture the last bit of warmth, it was time to admit defeat and head inside. Once the sun disappeared from the site, the temperature dipped down to single figures, so we walked down the road to the Mapleton Tavern: the perfect country pub with a huge verandah overlooking the Blackall Range.

The campervan was surprisingly warm enough at night (the thermals and thick quilt helped), and once again made us very grateful that we were not under canvas!

Still, it will be nice to start wearing flip-flops again (without socks). Roll on summer!