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by Marcia Mattushek

Please understand this about me: I DO NOT CAMP! I am a spoilt city girl from Cape Town who thinks that roughing it is surviving a holiday with a shared toilet – and that's with my own family So after we arrived in Australia, we heard all about this camping business. And my family got excited – to the point where the camp site was booked, the ferry paid for, and a small fortune spent on camping “stuff”.

On January 2, we left for Stradbroke Island on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. The ferry trip over was wonderfully exciting, watching the island come into focus and anticipating a fun time, whilst trying to ignore the dark clouds looming overhead. We arrived and set up camp with a small bit of snarling and sniping(all of it by me!). When a giant monitor lizard came twisting out of the undergrowth right next to our campsite, I was ready to leave. Pretty much the only thing keeping me there was the fact that I needed a ferry to get back to civilization. And then the rain came down! We were camped at Adder Rock with the beach only a short walk away. We decided to take the surf boards for an outing. The thinking here was: it's raining – when you're surfing you're already wet! And what a delight! Miles of beautiful beach, with life guards sitting out in the rain, and hardly a soul in the water. The waves were small and the sea not too brutal, so good for the whole family to surf, swim, boogie board or just wallow!

Tired and happy, we ventured home and started to prepare dinner. It wasn't long before we were enjoying a feast of braaied chops, wors and salad. It rained all night, but we were quite secure, with the odd drip or two, which we sorted out the next day! We clearly hadn't followed the instructions and we needed to learn some tent pitching skills.

Next morning came after a long night and after breakfast and a short walk to a lovely sheltered beach, where we donned our snorkel gear and hit the water. Within seconds all sorts of little colorful fish, surrounded us. And then Massimo spotted the shark! But before he spotted the shark he claimed he definitely heard orchestra music. (The jaws theme song no doubt!)

He was a little fellow, but we had much excitement checking him out! And you have so much more street credibility when you can say, you came upon a shark while snorkeling and lived to tell the tale! That afternoon, stuffed with my sisters famous packed lunch, Massimo led our convoy of four wheel drives on an adventure! When we hit the first mud puddle, I could all but hear my brother in law, Fred, in the last car! He likes nothing better than a clean car, so this was not sitting well with him! What fun! Bouncing around, driving through huge mud puddles and avoiding some vehicle swallowing pot holes!

We stopped for lunch alongside the “brown lake” – could see where that one got its name! More 4 x 4ing and a stop for coffee and cake at one of the tea rooms that are dotted all around Straddies. We said goodbye to the day trippers and headed home. A last swim/surf /wallow in the waves and the rain before dinner. A proper South African potjie cooked by Schalk! So delicious I'll go camping again just for the potjie!

The rain finally gave up, and after a dry night, we woke up, feeling quite refreshed and ready to take on the sunshine and Cylinder beach. The beaches on Stradbroke Island are white and the sand squeaks when you walk or drive on it. They seem to go on for miles, and many are patrolled. I had the best swim in the sea since I was a little kid. You know – the swim where you come out of the water with your bathers hanging down to your knees from the accumulated sand in the gusset!

We had bought a huge white esky (cooler box) and re-iced it, each morning from the ice/coffee/bread/milk/bait van which comes around to the camp sites. Our last remaining food was still frozen and had to be left out to defrost for yet another lovely meal and then it was off to bed for our last night on Straddie. There is nothing nicer than sitting around the campsite with beer in hand after an exhausting day of fun, and chatting with friends and family about nothing in particular.

We packed up our site, trying to clean and dry everything as we went so that we didn't have to do it again when we get home. And wondering how we got it all into the Rav in the first place! Our ferry back was only at 3pm. It's an overcast day, so we took a drive around the island and head off to find the “blue lake”. It's somewhere in the middle and a 5kmwalk on a pretty level path through the bush to get there. A bit disappointing once you find it, as it's not at all blue – maybe because of the overcast day.

But we did come across a swing rope and had heaps of fun playing Tarzan. Another great packed lunch and the hike back, where we needed plenty water. Awfully hot, but worth the effort. More driving to a cliff area where there is a path along the top. Lovely scenery, even though it's overcast and the sea is angry.

It was time to head for the ferry and home! We had conquered North Stradbroke Island, and the island had won our hearts. We will be back!

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Posted by Marcia Mattushek
25 Jun 2009

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Hi Saobonaians I enjoyed reading the article.Our two sons and their families are living on the Gold coast.We would love to experience this camping when we visit them next year.They are also keen campers and have kayaked to the island for a camping week-end.
Rating: 5 / 5
by Robert Mathias on 19 Aug 2009

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