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

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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 lilyponds.com.au

Amenities
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.

Highlights
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.

Avocados

Avocados

Lilyponds Holiday Park

Lilyponds Holiday Park

Mapleton Cabins and Caravan Park: www.mapletoncabinscaravans.com.au 

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.

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

Location
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

Verdict
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

Maleny Wines

Maleny

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Campsite review: Adder Rock, North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island – Straddie – is a fabulous island getaway just an hour from Brisbane. Living right on its doorstep, we’ve caught the ferry over many times, but this was the first time we’d taken our campervan. Enticed by the beautiful surf beaches on the eastern side, we tend to bypass the quieter resorts of Dunwich (where the ferry docks) and Amity Point and head straight for Point Lookout. There’s free camping along Main Beach if you have a 4WD permit and a couple of camping grounds, including Adder Rock, where we stayed.

Point Lookout

This review is just our impression of the resort. For full details about facilities and prices, check out the website: http://www.stradbrokeholidays.com.au/camping.

Booking

Reservations are essential at all campsites on Straddie, and they can book out months in advance in peak periods. The booking process was a bit frustrating. As is often the case at Australian campsites there’s no online booking facility so you have to ring up the tourism office, but the opening hours were quite restrictive – don’t leave it ‘til the last minute. When our schedules finally aligned, our first choice site at Cylinder Beach was unsurprisingly full (it only has a small number of powered sites) so we ended up at Adder Rock.

Location

Located just behind Home Beach on the way into Point Lookout, Adder Rock must be one of the best places to stay on Stradbroke Island. It’s practically on the beach, and just a few metres away from a sheltered and patrolled swimming area and sweeping stretch of white sand. You can walk to the bowls club, a couple of souvenir shops and a petrol station selling a few groceries. I saw one review describing this as a  ‘commercial precinct’, which is probably overstating it a little, but if you’re in need of a loaf of bread or a shell necklace, they’re within reach. At a push, you could walk to the Stradbroke Hotel pub at Cylinder Beach, but it would be around a 30 minute walk along the road. You can drive into Point Lookout for a few more cafes in about five minutes.

Home Beach

Most roads on the island are accessible by car, and it’s definitely worth dragging yourself away from the beach to explore the freshwater lakes and walking trails inland. You only need a 4WD permit to drive on the beach (available at the link above), and to reach the foreshore campsites.

Adder Rock site

The site doesn’t have a view but the pitches were shady and most of them were nicely spaced – we had loads of room around us and there was a fairly relaxed vibe. The washblocks were light, airy and well maintained, there was a small play park and a couple of bbqs. The main attraction though is the beach, and the site was quiet most of the day until people started trooping back with body boards and fishing gear late in the afternoon.

Clientele

More Gen Y than baby boomer, Adder Rock seemed to attract groups of younger people camping together as well as families with children. Ours was one of only two campervans, most people were staying under canvas. Having said that, it was quiet and peaceful when we were there, and having met the manager of the park, I don’t think she would stand for too much unruliness!

Verdict

If you like the beach, and if you’re heading over to Straddie you probably do, you can’t beat the location. Book well in advance and have a great time!

A trial run – Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort

If you love travelling, you might have noticed that an affinity for hotels is often accompanied by a slight addiction to the review site, TripAdvisor, both to research potential hotels and review them after you’ve stayed. Indeed, I was secretly delighted a bit embarrassed to learn yesterday that I’m on the cusp of being awarded my ‘Senior Contributor’ badge. A good one for the CV!

Once the campervan is finished, I have a vague notion of developing a website to review and recommend campsites that we (and others) stay at – obviously not on a TripAdvisor scale, but there doesn’t seem to be anything similar out there. Maybe because Australian campers relish the surprise of arriving at uncharted campsites; if that’s the case, Mum – the site might just be for you.

So over the next few months, keep an eye out for bestcampsites.com.au, and in the meantime, here’s the first review.

Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort, Cape Hillsborough, Mackay, Qld

As the name implies, the Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort has much higher ambitions than your average humble campsite. And for the most part, I think they’re justified – you can’t go far wrong when you’re located on a deserted tropical beach and surrounded by beautiful national park.

Cape Hillsborough beach

This review is just our impression of the resort. For full details about facilities and prices, please visit the website: www.capehillsboroughresort.com.au

Accommodation
There are powered and unpowered sites, some studio rooms and a variety of beachfront cabins, ranging from the more luxurious Beach House to the less salubrious Fishing Huts (boasting the description: NO LINEN AND NO BATHROOM – I know we were seeking a camping experience but thought this was a step too far for our first jaunt). We opted instead for one of the mid-range Beach Huts at $125/night.


The cabins

 

One of the powered sites

Our cabin was fairly outdated but functional with a bed, kitchenette and shower/toilet. Outside we had a small deck and a couple of chairs. An army of ants had moved in before we arrived, as could be expected in an outdoors setting, but they were politely unintrusive. The room could have been improved immeasurably though with a quick blast of Exit Mould and a whiff of bleach; it was the sort of place where you might just keep your flip-flops on. I can’t comment on the cleanliness of the other cabins, but from the outside, I got the impression they might be fairly similar.

Redeeming features
The resort is renowned for attracting native wildlife (not just ants), the highlight being the resident kangaroos that congregate on the beach at sunrise and sunset. As recommended, we stumbled on to the beach at 5.15am to find a sizeable crowd had already gathered around a lone kangaroo. Who, to his credit, was distinctly unfazed by all the commotion.

Bovvered?

If you don’t fancy such an early start, you may find (as we did) that once the sun is up, the kangaroo(s) will stroll nonchalantly into the campsite and snooze outside your cabin for the rest of the day anyway.

Resort guests only? Pffft.

Vibe
Relaxed, good humoured and friendly – so much so that as people walked back from the bbq at breakfast time wafting steaming plates of bacon and eggs under your nose, you did wonder if they might offer you some. Especially as we were less than prepared and sitting on our deck with one cereal bar each. (They didn’t though – not a sausage.)

Verdict
If you have a tent / caravan / campervan, go for it – it’s a great resort, and the pool would make it a hit with families. Make sure you stock up on provisions before you arrive, the onsite shop is limited, and there are few cafes or food outlets around. I’d probably give the cabins a miss.