You know those weeks where it all just feels a bit too much? You’ve been putting in the overtime, there’s work that needs to be done on the house, the lawn’s looking a little long… Hands up who else has been feeling a bit like that recently? Losing Trinity’s father a few years ago was the wake up call we both needed to realise that life doesn’t wait for anyone. All we have is the here and now. While our careers and our home are important to us, so is the down-time we get to spend together.
We both celebrated our birthdays early last month. Mid-week, leading up to Trinity’s birthday, we decided to throw in the towel on those little jobs that could wait and take a spontaneous trip out west to celebrate. We both finished up early Friday afternoon, restocked the camper, and pointed the car west. We covered roughly 1000km over 2 and a half days, and didn’t spend a cent on accomodation. It was exactly the kind of break we both needed.
Riverside camping… for free!
We spent our first night at the Carisbrooke camping and fishing area just west of Inglewood, Queensland. Many claim that to find a good spot at a free camp you’ll need to arrive early. But that’s not always the case. Despite our late departure from Brisbane seeing us pull into camp a little after dark, we still managed to find a quiet corner away from other campers.
Camped right on the bank of the river, we woke the following morning to the sounds of the abundant birdlife. While Carrisbrooke camping area is quite close to the highway, we think the serenity of the location outweighs any road noise from the occasional truck passing by. This free camp also does not provide amenities, so you’ll need to be fully self-contained if you plan to visit.
Our one disappointment is a common one we see at free camps – the lack of knowledge of bush toileting etiquette. No one needs to see your used loo paper left behind in such pristine surrounds! So, for those who need a quick lesson and don’t camp with a porta-pottie, here’s the basics:
- Always take a shovel. Dig a hole roughly 6 inches deep and bury your business.
- Loo paper is not as “biodegradable” as you may believe. Use it sparingly.
- There are three ways you may choose to dispose of your paper: burning, burying, or carrying it out with you. This advice comes with the caveat that it is only appropriate to burn the paper when it is safe to do so. Starting a bushfire in a Total Fire Ban is a bad idea!
Phew! So glad we had this chat. Moving along…
Another free camping tip: finding showers
If you’ve followed us for a while now you’d know we’re big fans of WikiCamps, like most travellers are. Not only is it a great tool for finding free camps like the Carrisbrooke camping and fishing area, but it’s also incredibly useful for finding free showers, dump points, and interesting places to visit. Yes, free showers are a thing!
For those who aren’t self-contained, knowing where to find clean public toilets and showers is definitely a bonus. Since we added our Ultimate camper to the family we have become fully self-contained. However, it’s not always convenient to set up our full ensuite, especially when we only stop for a quick over-nighter.
The most common place you’ll find a shower on the road is the truck stops. Some are free, others ask for a donation or purchase in store, so it’s best to check with the staff to find out what the policy is. Councils in regional towns also often provide free or coin-operated showers. On this particular weekend trip we discovered the Goondiwindi Council provides free hot showers at the Heritage and Water Park off Johnson Road. The park is a lovely spot to enjoy a short break from driving, with gas BBQ’s and a few short walks along the waterfront.
Thallon Painted Silos
We continued west another 190 odd kilometres to visit the Painted Silos at Thallon. Ticking one of the painted silo locations off our list was our primary motivation for this spontaneous weekend away. We were stoked to finally see one of these works of art up close!
For those making the trip to Thallon with the expectation of getting a photo of your car (and/or van, etc.) at the very bottom of the silos… well, you can’t. Before heading out we’d seen a few photos of cars parked right at the base with the silos creating a dramatic backdrop for the perfect photo and we had high hopes of doing the same. However, the silos are owned by GrainCorp and the land they’re on is private property. This means you can only snap your cliche touristy shot like we did from back at the viewing area.
After playing tourist in front of the silos we made the short, roughly 30km drive back to the Nindigully Pub. After staying at this iconic bush pub after our trip across the Simpson last year we’ve been keen to head back. It’s the kind of place that leaves an impression for all the right reasons. Nindigully Pub is known for great steaks, cold beers, free camping, and most of all it’s giant Road Train Burger.
Spending the night there on this particular weekend was a no-brainer. Once again we weren’t brave enough to take on the huge burger – the bun is specifically made for the Pub by the bakery in St. George, and the beef patty weighs in at over 1kg!
The food and beer aren’t all you’ll remember this pub for, though. There’s a large camping area provided for free, with toilets open 24 hours nearby. The pub also has hot showers available for patrons. We took the time to stroll down by the river on sunset, enjoying the atmosphere among other relaxed campers, and even had a laugh when a Mr. Whippy truck pulled in to sell ice creams to the kids.
This was one of those weekends that almost wasn’t. We’d been stressed, busy – far too busy to take a weekend off! But we needed it. Despite the 500+ kilometre drive home, we arrived back feeling well-rested and glad we’d made the effort. So, for those out there who are like us – working full-time and doing your best to stop the wheels from falling off – let this little trip report serve as some inspiration. We hope it inspires you to take some time for YOU. That it reminds you that it’s OK to say you need some time to recharge the batteries. Sometimes a couple days of being “selfish” is all you need to keep giving your best in your 9-5, then at home, too. Maybe we can’t all be living that idyllic dream of full-time travel (at least not yet), but that doesn’t mean we’re limited to only taking an adventure when we have enough annual leave banked!
As cliche as it is – yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. Live the best life you can each present day. Treasure moments, memories, and people, not things. Remember what it is you’re working so hard for. And, friends, don’t lose sight of what matters most.