Outside the Tourist Centre and Museum at Biloela…

Queensland Heritage Park and Visitor Information Centre offers affordable camping in Biloela, in the Banana Shire.A low-cost camp and well-serviced area, conveniently located in Biloela and close to all amenities. Site availability varies based on seasonal conditions. Unpowered sites were $10 and powered sites $15. You can only stay 2 days..

Location: 11 Exhibition Avenue, Biloela (GPS -24.404606, 150.500885)

Sites: 30

  • 15 sites from the 1st October to the 31st March each year. 50% are powered sites.
The first site was too open, but this was perfect..My camp at Biloela

Queensland Heritage Park……My site was perfect for me as now I had a view across fields to the Machine Museum and also the sunrise. I had a tap and plugged into the power box. The lady from the Tourist bureau and her husband who is a groundsman, helped me set up my annex and I was very happy. The toilet and shower were individual little blocks with plenty of room for everything and a washbasin with soap. They were delightful especially at night when I walked across in the full moonlight.

  • Toilets: Yes
  • Hot showers: Yes
  • Pets: On application
  • Water availability: Yes, top up points only.

The Museum was free attendance to resident campers, and it was a great display of farm memorabilia and vehicles. Outside was a pond with a windmill edged with beautiful very old paperbark trees that were simply enormous and the oldest Methodist church as well as the original Railway station. Further out was the main shed housing the farm machinery.

I was lucky to see the sunset and the full Moon. The friendly staff at the centre suggested I visit Isla Gorge, so I phone a booking and that was my next stay


Duaringa Queensland

Free Camp at Duaringa Queensland

Full marks for a perfect Free Camping ground….Large, flat campground near town with plenty of room for a caravan, great for an overnight on the way through. The sites are mainly dirt, with some patches of grass. There are scattered trees that provide a bit of shade for some spots.

Hot showers and flushing toilets are always welcome when you have been on the road for a while and there is also a dump site for the caravans. The shower was hot with lots of water, but there was nowhere to hang towels or place belongings, so take a bucket with you..Rubbish bins, water, picnic tables and showers are provided. There is a nice little pond with lilies and rushes that provides a bit of aesthetics. However it was dirty and unkempt and needed water. There were green grassy areas, and I parked next to the green, under trees and it was all beautiful, as well as being across from the public toilets. Maximum stay 48 hours.

The Information Centre asks for a donation for staying here but it was closed and there was no place for me to place a donation.


The petrol station is right next door with great food as well as cheap petrol, and you can also fossick the grounds for gemstones I was told. The bonus for me was the amazing sunset…and the very friendly people that chose to camp here. This gentleman gave me hot water for a coffee….and they also offered me a hot drink in the morning before they moved on.

Stradbroke Island History

Gorge Walk Stradbroke Island

As far as European history goes, the Portuguese, Dutch and French possibly mapped the coastline around the middle of the 16th century. In 1770, Lieutenant  James Cook, sailing along the Eastern Australian coast in HMS Endeavour named Point Lookout, Cape Moreton and Moreton Bay.  The next “touch-point” is thought to be in 1803 when a group of Minjerribah men showed Mathew Flinders’ crew where to find fresh water in the Cylinder Beach/Adder Rock area. https://stradbrokeisland.com/about-stradbroke/island-history/

Slippin Sands and Jumpin Pin at Stradbroke Island

In those days, Stradbroke Island was still one whole island (today is of course, North and South Stradbroke Islands). It is thought that perhaps the cargo (which had contained dynamite) from the stricken vessel Cambus Wallace, which had run aground 15 miles north of Southport and had been detonated on site for safety reasons, had destabilised the fragile sand mass as when, two years later, a strong gale blew through the area South Stradbroke Island and North Stradbroke Island were created.


On July 16 1850, Dunwich was proclaimed to be Moreton Bay’s Quarantine Station. Only a few weeks later a ship called the “Emigrant” pulled into port with Typhus on board. All of her passengers were put into quarantine at Dunwich. Fifty six of them died and many are buried in the Dunwich cemetery. The quarantine station closed in 1864 and Peel Island was declared as Moreton Bay’s official quarantine station, and Dunwich was nominated to accommodate the Benevolent Asylum which was completed in 1867.

Prior to 1894 North and South Stradbroke were one and the same island. The two islands were separated after a barque; the “Cambus Wallace” was shipwrecked in a narrow passage off the island that was carrying explosives that had to be detonated in the passage. It is believed that the recovery of cargo from the Cambus Wallace, the detonations, and a severe storm caused the separation of the island creating North and South Stradbroke as we know it today.

https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?55788 Cambus Wallace 1894

03.09.1894 Ran aground in the heavy seas near the narrow stretch of Stradbroke Island called Tuleen. Within half an hour the main mast of steel cracked and broke, the lengthy upper part falling towards the bows. Some of the crew managed to swim to shore, but five men drowned. The hatches of the wrecked ship broke open as the tide rose and cargo washed overboard. The vessel was carrying whiskey, beer and cases of explosives as well as all kinds of imported fine goods. The barque disappeared entirely beneath the water in 48 hours. One weak and injured sailor breathed his last on the Miner as she was passing Cleveland on her home journey. He was buried in the Toowong Cemetery. By the spring of 1896, the tide had divided Stradbroke Island in two. The graves and memorial to mariners from the Cambus Wallace washed away into the waters of the new Jumpinpin Bar. Read more at wrecksite: https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?55788

Allen Tony 28/04/2009 The barque Cambus Wallace was wrecked on Stradbroke Island, off Brisbane, on September 4th, 1894. She sank with the loss of five lives.

ref. used:Hocking C., Dictionary of Disasters at Sea during the Age of Steam

Jan Lettens 14/05/2008 WRECK DATA Name: Cambus Wallace (+1895) Date wrecked: 03091895 From port: Glasgow To port: Brisbane Comments: Wrecked: Stradbroke Is. (Jumpinpin Bar) LOCATION DATA Where wrecked: Stradbroke Island, Jumpinpin Bar State: Queensland Latmax: -28 Latmin: -27 Read more at wrecksite: https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?55788


On 3rdSeptember 1894, the Cambus Wallace ran aground just 200m off the Jumpinpin Bar, South Stradbroke Island. The 1600t steel sailing barge embarked from Glasgow with cargo including, salt, whisky, dynamite, iron, paper and other goods.


The depth of the wreck has changed over the decades dramatically and was mostly completely covered by sand. Due to the shallowness, the Cambus Wallace is not a common scuba diving site but has been dived up to the 1970’s.

Picture credit and courtesy to State Library of Queensland. For more details about the history of the Cambus Wallace, visit http://www.bayislandnews.com.au/2018/01/02/cambus-wallace-ship-broke-island-1894/

The Gemfields and Sapphire

The Gemfields is a former locality in the Central Highlands RegionQueensland, Australia.[2] In the 2016 census, The Gemfields had a population of 1,449 people. On 17 April 2020, the Queensland Government re-drew the boundaries of localities within the Central Highlands Region by removing the locality of The Gemfields in order to create three new localities of RubyvaleSapphire Central and Anakie Siding (around the towns of Rubyvale, Sapphire, and Anakie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gemfields

Retreat Creek at Sapphire is mostly dry with no water.

The Sapphire Gemfields, just 45 minutes west of Emerald, are home to the largest gemfields in the Southern Hemisphere. The small settlements of Anakie, Rubyvale, Sapphire and the Willows are teeming with semi-precious stones of all shapes and sizes including sapphires and rubies… you just have to know where to look!

Guided underground mine tours are widely available or tag-along on a digging tour; book a self-drive fossicking tour complete with maps and mining equipment or try your luck at a fossicking park and sift through a bucket of sapphire wash keeping an eye out for the motherload. https://www.southerngreatbarrierreef.com.au/destinations/sapphire-gemfields

I drove to Sapphire and based myself at the Camping area at the RSL Club. There is also free camping with a toilet and access to water as you drive into Sapphire just past the Caravan Park, which is also the Petrol station and the shop for groceries and also hot food. You can virtually walk everywhere in that area if you want to search for Sapphire…Retreat Creek is dry as usual, and also the Common Lands which you can fossick on and there are many open areas for free fossicking. You need a license, but now you have to get one online for a small cost…

You can fossick anywhere without a claim notice. People have found sapphire in the common areas …all I found was shiny self polished rocks that look great but have no monetary value whatsoever.

We went to Pats Gems which eventually was open after the Virus scares and closure..and bought two buckets of sand for $30..$15 each, and diligently sieved, washed and searched for the elusive sapphire. We found none of any interest…a few miniature scraps, and were very disappointed. We went back to the common grounds.

Ooncooncoon Bay Russell Island

Russell Island in Redland City is the biggest of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, situated between the mainland and North Stradbroke Island. The island is eight kilometres long (north-to-south) and nearly three kilometres wide. The channel separating it from the mainland is known as Main Channel and the channel separating it from North Stradbroke Island is known as Canaipa Passage. The Bay between Russell Island, Lamb Island and North Stradbroke Island was named Ooncooncoon Bay..the Bay of Swans

Ooncooncoon Bay Russell Island

The geological origin of these islands is shared with the Redland Peninsula: all have the characteristic fertile red soil which enabled the peninsula to be the market garden for Brisbane. Overlain on parts of the island’s red soil are more recent sediments, chiefly sand and mud from the mainland river deltas.

The middle of Russell Island contains Turtle Swamp, mainly heath land, and the southern part has sandy soil with a trace of wallum country. https://queenslandplaces.com.au/russell-and-macleay-islands

Ooncooncoon Bay..looking towards Lamb Island

This Bay was called Ooncooncoon Bay because of the Black Swans. Black Swans are herbivores. They eat aquatic and marshland plants and algae. These birds also eat vegetation along the shoreline. Currently there is lots of green sea grass in the water. In shallow water, the bird dips its head and neck underwater in search of food. Because the Bay is shallow and at low tide, just mud flats, it is rich in food for the Swans who come here Autumn and Winter

Black Swans on Ooncooncoon Bay

Black swans are nomadic, not migratory. This means they travel for food and come to the islands when the bay is rich in food. Black Swans prefer larger salt, brackish or fresh waterways and permanent wetlands, requiring 40 m or more of clear water to take off. Outside the breeding season, Black Swans travel quite large distances. Birds fly at night and rest during the day with other swans.

Black Swans form isolated pairs or small colonies in shallow wetlands. They pair for life, with both adults raising one brood per season. Eggs are laid in an untidy nest made of reeds and grasses. The nest is placed either on a small island or floated in deeper water. The chicks (cygnets) are covered in grey down and are able to swim and feed themselves as soon as they hatch.

The black swan (Cygnus atratus) is a large waterbird, a species of swan which breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. Within Australia they are nomadic, with erratic migration patterns dependent upon climatic conditions. Black swans are large birds with mostly black plumage and red bills. They are monogamous breeders, with both partners sharing incubation and cygnet rearing duties. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan

Like other swans, the black swan is largely monogamous, pairing for life (about 6% divorce rate).  Recent studies have shown that around a third of all broods exhibit extra-pair paternity.[22] An estimated one-quarter of all pairings are homosexual, mostly between males.[23] They steal nests, or form temporary threesomes with females to obtain eggs, driving away the female after she lays the eggs.[24][25][26] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan

Generally, black swans in the Southern hemisphere nest in the wetter winter months (February to September), occasionally in large colonies. A black swan nest is essentially a large heap or mound of reeds, grasses and weeds between 1 and 1.5 metres (3–4½ feet) in diameter and up to 1 metre high, in shallow water or on islands.[3][9] A nest is reused every year, restored or rebuilt as needed. Both parents share the care of the nest. A typical clutch contains 4 to 8 greenish-white eggs that are incubated for about 35–40 days

Ooncooncoon Bay looking to Stradbroke Island

This Bay in Russell Island is called Ooncooncoon Bay, which means ‘The Bay of Swans‘ In the past I was told by an indigenous lady the bay was black with Swans. I have also been told that sometimes there are over 200 swans in the bay but I have lived here 3 months and am still waiting to see hordes. The largest group so far have been around 30 swans…

Sandy Beach Russell Island

Sandy Beach is at the far end of Russell Island and opposite is Stradbroke Island. It has some grass areas, a Lions Club Parking and Camping area with toilets, and a cold shower outside where the taps are.

Sandy Beach Russell Island

Today the Corona virus restrictions in Queensland were lessened and locals were able to drive within a 50 km area, easy on Russell Island which is 12 kms top to toe…so a few headed down to Sandy Beach where kids could play in the sand or paddle in the water and dogs could have a run. As it was one of the lowest tides of the year, there was only half the water there, and the birds were edging the waterline and there was lots of sand on view.

There were a few boats in the water. A small motor boat went around and around by the markers, and a Jet ski was following it. A house boat and a yacht was there too, and a dinghy on the sand meant that the owners were on land maybe shopping or with friends. A couple of families with kids left with their dog, and another was enjoying playing in the sand. It was a quiet but active beach today, Usually only a dog walker or two, and a vehicle driving down and out again, possibly charging up the engine. Nobody stayed very long, it was have a quick walk and away we go.

The exposed rocks were thickly encrusted with open oyster shells far too numerous to count. Oyster catchers would have feasted on them when the tide first started to ebb. A man asked me if the oysters were edible, and I had to say no, because of the boats and contamination from water craft. There were oyster farms here, along the edge from where Jackson Road ends at the Football Ground, but all that is now long gone. I have seen the off fisherman here but at low tide, there is not enough water.

It used to have a sailing club, now defunct, but the Barbecues and playgrounds are still there. Used to be popular for a drink and barbecue on a Friday evening or Sundays after the sailing club met on the sands. You can still take a picnic and sit on the tables and cook on the free barbecues. Its a great spot for Children and the beach is safe and peaceful. Today there were no midges or mosquitoes…and it was a beautiful day and a beautiful place to relax in, Someone had left a toy animal on a rock.. and Lindy smiled for me from the mangroves which were now exposed and not under water.

Lawn Hill Queensland

Airport Lawn Hill….Landing strip

I went to Lawn Hill as the cook for the property that was a training ground for indigenous stockmen. Here they lived in bunkhouse shared rooms, and worked with a team running a station of mainly Brahmin cattle. There were horses for stockwork, motorcycles and 4 wheel drives, and they were trained as they worked the property.

IN the final stage of an agreement struck between traditional owners and miners in 1997, the Queensland Gulf country’s Waanyi People will soon assume 100 percent ownership of Lawn Hill and Riversleigh cattle stations on the Gregory River, south of Burketown. https://www.beefcentral.com/property/traditional-owners-to-acquire-100pc-of-gulf-country-cattle-stations-lawn-hill-riversleigh/

Waanyi Advancement Ltd has commenced the final stage of the 100pc acquisition of the two large grazing properties for the Traditional Owners, more than two decades after the Gulf Communities Agreement was reached with Century Mine and the State government.

Stockmen working with cattle

The 1997 GCA created the Lawn Hill Riversleigh Pastoral Holding Co (LHRPHC) with ownership of the 539,000ha pastoral properties currently split between mining company New Century Resources (formerly Century Mine- 49pc) and Waanyi Advancement Limited (51pc).

The mining company made a commitment to the Waanyi People that it would return 100pc ownership of Lawn Hill and Riversleigh to Waanyi.

“The 100pc acquisition of the cattle stations is the most significant event to happen to Waanyi and will provide a permanent source of jobs for the Indigenous people in the Gulf,” said Waanyi Elder, Eunice O’Keefe in a statement. https://www.beefcentral.com/property/traditional-owners-to-acquire-100pc-of-gulf-country-cattle-stations-lawn-hill-riversleigh/

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