Campsite review: Top of the Town Tourist Park, Stanthorpe Qld

The signs and billboards around the Granite Belt advertising Top of the Town certainly give the impression it’s the place to be in Stanthorpe. We stayed for two nights just after Christmas while exploring the national parks and wineries in the area.

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

Top of the Town, Stanthorpe

Top of the Town, Stanthorpe

Facilities

Top of the Town is a large, pristine park with roses around its reception and fantastic facilities for families: a swimming pool, open air movies and a games room, as well as good kitchens and bbq areas, and a huge laundry and drying area.

Not that we used any of these during our two-night stay but a park with extensive facilities has usually invested in its washblocks as well, and that’s certainly the case here. Hurrah! More in line with European amenities (thankfully retaining Australian-style loos) the washblocks were large, light, airy and spotlessly clean with loads of hot water. A relief given so many parks seem to focus on caravanners travelling with their own facilities.

The pitches are quite orderly and regimented, not huge, but there are good pockets of shade around. We had to move from our designated pitch because it was so far away from the power box, our cable didn’t reach. We found a handy Mitre 10 in town for an extension lead.

Top of the Town, Stanthorpe

Top of the Town, Stanthorpe

Top of the Town, Stanthorpe

Location

We thought ‘top’ of the town meant the park would be in the thick of things, as much as that’s possible in sleepy Stanthorpe. But despite the park’s website claiming it’s ‘centrally located in town and walking distance to all shopping’, we found it a long walk from anything. It must be a 30-minute walk into town. There is a small regional museum next door, but we drove everywhere else. Having said that, it’s probably closer to town than any other caravan park.

Top of the Town, Stanthorpe - happy campers

Verdict

We’d stay here again. Lots of things going on, washblocks are the best we’ve seen.

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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: www.queenmaryfallscaravanpark.com.au.

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

Verdict

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

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

DSC_0509

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

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.

Verdict
Fab. Book well in advance!

Campsite review: Calypso Holiday Park, Yamba NSW

We did a lot of research into the best place to stay in Yamba. The Calypso is one of a few caravan parks scattered along the banks of the river, but it’s the one closest to the action. We were staying for three nights and wanted to set up camp for the whole weekend without having to move the campervan and all its paraphernalia whenever we ventured into town. Dismantling our awning is not for the faint-hearted!

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


Location, location, location

The location is ideal. Whether you’re in Yamba for surfing, fishing or simply exploring the coastline, the Calypso’s position next to the river is quiet, peaceful and within easy reach of the main attractions. A path runs along the river at the back of the campsite down to the beach, and then up to the lighthouse and Yamba lookout. There’s a handy Spar and a couple of takeaways at the front of the campsite, or it’s just a couple of minutes’ walk into the little town. Once you’ve exhausted Yamba, the campsite is right next to the ferry jetty and you can catch a boat to nearby Iluka several times a day.

How was the site?

It’s quite an orderly, regimented site hemmed on one side by regal looking lego trees and on the other, by the river. By late afternoon a sizeable crowd had gathered with a glass of wine to watch the sun set over the river – all very civilised. The pitches were a good size, although we didn’t get any natural shade. The washblocks were fine and usually empty. There were also some ensuite washrooms which didn’t seem to attach to a particular pitch, or if they did, there were a lot of people sneaking in.

Dining options in Yamba

It’s still a novelty cooking on gas in our campervan so we mostly celebrated the end of the salad era by serving up some hearty stews and soups.

There are a few takeaways near the site though, including the classic ‘Chick Inn’, and our caravanning neighbours cruelly wafted some pizza boxes under our noses as we sat and enjoyed our delicious… stew.

There’s a small strip of restaurants a short walk away opposite the Pacific Hotel, which were packed on the Saturday night we were there. We had a really nice dinner at the Yamba Bar & Grill which we’d definitely recommend – especially the desserts.

The food is meant to be good at the hotel as well; we had drinks there one afternoon. The views over Yamba are great, it’s just a shame you have to sit behind a glass wall to see them. Given Yamba (apparently) has the world’s best climate, a large outdoor terrace would be so much nicer than the current indoor seating area, which kind of reminded me of an old village hall – albeit with lovely views.

Who goes there?

We were traveling with two silver nomads so we fit in quite nicely, although we still shrank the average age somewhat. I think the other caravan parks in Yamba are more geared towards families with children so you might find the Calypso a bit quieter.

 

What about the mozzies?

Ah, yes. Mosquitoes like Yamba too. Most of the campsites pride themselves on being close to the river, so you’ll inevitably have to share your romantic sunsets with a few hundred buzzing locals. It wasn’t unbearable and I’ve been to far worse places along the east coast, but don’t forget the aerogard. And a fly swat. Or fish slice.

Verdict

There isn’t a lot to do in Yamba, but it’s good for fishing, surfing and chilling out – and all of that is very handy from the Calypso. The site was well maintained and the atmosphere was friendly. Next time we’ll take some rods and bait and try and put that fish slice to better use.