Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Off The Beaten Track - Stanage Bay

After we scoped out Mount Morgan, we headed out to check out Yeppoon. Sadly the weather was awful, we spent most the time hidden away in the troopy watching movies.
When you are living in a small camper bad weather removes all the fun. We found paying for a powered site, hiding in bed, watching movies a decent way to go, but as we had just been released into the world of exploration, we didn't stay for long!
We got out of Yeppoon and back to Rockhampton for a night and then on the 30th of May we decided to head further north, our destination being Stanage Bay.

We decided we'd camp at one of a bunch of locations on the way, however the free camps were packed to the brim, so we decided to keep on to Stanage Bay.
Just before the turn off at Kunwarara there's a little fruit shop we stopped at, mistaking it for a servo, but what a gem it was! Gorgeous fresh fruit and it seemed everything cost 2 bucks, whether that be a pineapple or a punnet of tomatoes, all the grub was good!

As we turned off toward Stanage, over the cattle grids and down the sealed road at around 5:30 pm. This ride seems alright. Then the road became unsealed, potholes, corrugated, full of flood plains and giant puddles.
Was the roughest road we had hit yet, but thankfully we were behind the wheel of a Landcruiser!
The road to Stanage is about 100ks and mostly unsealed, a lot of the driving is through cow paddocks, so gotta watch out for them. At about 6:30 pm the sun had disappeared, this was about the time I realised the stock cruiser lights really aren't that great for the Aussie outback, dropped down the speed and did our best to avoid the potholes and skippys. One Wallaby in particular was very fortunate that the bullbar of the troopy came to a halt less than a foot from it's head.


Once we finally got to Stanage Bay we stopped at the first important place we saw, "The Crabpot Bar" which is the local pub, had a beer, then crashed out at the local campsite. Next morning in the sunlight we had a good look at the place we had arrived. What an amazing location! The 100k dirt track really paid of with our first off the beaten track gem. We had a bit of a look around the campsite and decided to move Rocky over to the other side of the grounds, our new campsite looked out over the beach which looked out to Long Island.

We made the decision to slow down and camp for a few days despite the lack of showers and flushing toilets. It's actually surprising how clean you feel from a dip in the ocean and a quick wipe off with baby wipes!
 We pulled out our collection of tarps and fabrics we received with the troopy and set up our rear annex. Life is good in Stanage. Chilling on the beach, laying about in the hammock or killing braincells up the pub was how most our time was spent.

Sunrise cruising through the ocean
Come Saturday night J, the publicans son, asked if I wanted a job as a deckhand on Sunday. I was already a bit full of the grog, but I jumped at the chance to get up at 4:00 am the next day and catch some fish! Naturally I woke up at 3:00 am unable to get back to sleep 4:00 am up the pub and by 5:00 am on the ocean heading out through the islands.
It was an amazing morning, cruising through the waves, seeing all the stars in a crystal clear sky, even saw a shooting star. Bouncing through the waves between the islands is a truly amazing way to watch the sunrise.

South Sail Rock
Our first trolling spot was a rock in the middle of the sea, known as "South Sail Rock". Baits in the water and a couple of laps intently watching the fish finder and "BZZZZZ" we're on. D, The bloke I was fishing with, pulls in the line and fights the fish. "Strap that belt to me" D says as he swiftly points to a belt then back to fighting the fish. After a good 10 minutes he asks "How good are you with a gaff?" to which I respond "Never used one." Turns out I wasn't too bad hooking the Spanish Mackerel and hauling it into the boat.
After pulling it in I was pretty shocked, don't think I've seen such a huge fish, even the sharks I've seen have been smaller than this thing! D grabs a pickaxe handle and clubs the fish in the head a few times to make it docile and then finishes the job with the knife "Alright, next one is yours". Crikey, the biggest fish I've pulled out has been a foot long Longtom, this was exciting me!

Eagerly waiting for my chance to shine and "BZZZZZZ" another bite! With D shouting in my ear what to do "Pull up and reel, pull up and reel, spread the spool while you reel!" after about 15 minutes this huge Spanish Mackerel surfaces. D took over to land the fish, but man, no wonder they consider fishing a sport, I always thought it was about sitting around getting drunk!

D offered me a beer as the bites seemed to slow down as we got further from the turn of the tide. D asked if I'd like to check out Middle Percy Island, an international sailing stop-off.
What an island, as we head into the bay on the north side, it looks like that exotic island people get stranded on in movies. The most beautiful little beach (Almost as good as Whitehaven Beach). There was a Beach Hut which was full of bits and pieces left from people's yachts as if it was there way of signing "We've been here".


Up a sand track and there is a really cool looking treehouse which is inhabited by some local that must be doing it really tough!
Further up the track and the sand slowly changes to dirt through a bushy forest and opens up to show a river which flows through Middle Percy Island.
When I looked over the river it was all just mud, a couple of boats where sunk in on the mud, it was low tide. Several hours from now the tide would be in and the boats would be afloat on the sea waters!

After I finished exploring the north side of the island, I jumped back in the boat and tried our luck at the north side of the island where we caught up with J jigging with a local Stanage pro fisherman. They were pulling in a good feed of a variety of mackerel, however our trolling was unfruitful, so back to South Sail Rock.

"Bzzzz! Bzzz!" A couple more Spanish Mackerels decided to come on board.
We didn't get back to Stanage Bay until around abouts 7. When we arrive I'm asked how well I am at backing trailers, again, never done it! However after a few re-alignments I get the trailer down the ramp.
As I get back to camp I jump into the ocean to clean myself off and hide in the troopy - slept real well that night!

Just another Sunset at camp
The longer we stayed in Stanage Bay the less we found ourselves doing, other than going for a run every second morning, we were really living a lazed lifestyle! Definitely a good place to do it!
Lazing about in the hammock or sitting on the beach reading really was the extent of our stay! But come Origin night we were up the pub for Pie 'n' Mash with a few New's to wash it down and sticking it to the QLDers with a NSW win of the first game of 2012! Woohoo!

We originally intended on leaving after Origin, but after hearing of a long weekend coming up, we decided we'd hold our little piece of paradise for the long weekend! We made friends with a bunch of people staying in the park, in particular our neighbours A&G and their gorgeous staffys!
I pulled out Jen's ukulele and even gave that a crack! Might have to start a ukelee band soon!

On Monday we were running out of a lot of stock and whilst grabbing stuff from the Plumtree Store was very handy, it was a little bit expensive. So we packed up our little piece of paradise and decided before hitting the road to cut some laps of Stanage Bay.

First we went to "Beverly Hills" and decided to climb the large hill by the ocean with Rocky, what a climb! Not far from the top the road got a little too rough, with some pretty large ruts that would probably throw the troopy over! Jen jumped out and watched as I executed what was dubbed a "Billion point turn" and it had to be given where we were! Too far either side would see us tumbling down into the gorgeous waters below!

At the top of the mountain we were treated with Amazing views of the Stanage Coast. One of the main reasons that attracted me to Stanage Bay was the colour of the water Googlemaps shows in satellite views, and the views we got really showed this beautiful colour!
A few quick happy snaps and we cruised back down the hill and headed around the other side of Stanage to try and find some crocodiles down the river.

Was a nice drive down checking out all the bush and waving to the happy campers, however as we reached the end of the track and pulled up to the crocodile sign, we could see no crocs. I don't think any saw us either as we seemed to escape alright!

Back to the main part of Stanage Bay and we said hooroo to the lovely folks up the Crabpot Bar over some lunch then we returned to the 100k dirt track back to civilisation! Which was much easier during the day and dryer weather than when we came in!
Despite being back in civilisation, being stocked up on necessities and enjoying my first hot shower in 11 days I miss Stanage Bay and really look forward to visiting again one day down the track!

- Cameron