The final journey – Part Four is the last section of my quest to find the best beach on the coast of Queensland. It’s been a long journey from Coolangatta to Cape York. If you want to read more about this quest click on the following link:https://digitalswaggie.com.au/riding-a-motorcycle-around-queensland-26-days-on-the-road
If you haven’t followed me on this journey, just to recap. I’m riding a KLR650 called “Emu” up the coast of Queensland looking for that mythical beach that has everything, you know the “Best”. So far I have broken my quest into three parts. The first was to ride from Coolangatta to Sarina. The second was from Townsville to Cooktown. Now I’m riding the third section to overcome the gap in my research. I’m riding Townsville back to Sarina. This is the absolute final journey in that quest.
One of the most rewarding parts of the final journey is to camp and wake up refreshed. Last night I slept in my tent at the Conway Beach caravan park. It is a beautifully maintained park with lots of family friendly features, it didn’t really cater to the solo biker. You can read about my experiences by clicking on the following blog link:https://digitalswaggie.com.au/camping-at-conway-beach-a-tribute-to-the-1950s
Needless to say, my tranquil, restful night was anything but and I awoke not rested but tired. Still there’s always coffee and plenty of sugar to get me on the road again.
It was Tuesday morning and the final journey ends today, in fact the whole best beach project finished today. But before I can go too much further, I needed to replace the rear tyre tube. After my flat tyre yesterday between Dingo and Airlie Beach. Taking advice from the good people at Conway Beach Caravan Park I headed to Proserpine’s Main Street. The shop is slightly obscure but once you go inside you can see the love the owner has for all thing with a motor on two wheels.
One of the mechanics was putting together a 120th Anniversary Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor, with its black chrome tank, brown leather seat and matt black exhaust. It looked like a work of art. I purchased my tube and got back on the road. About 30 minutes south of Proserpine I turned left at the “Midge Point” sign and headed to my next beach.
If you’ve read my blog posts you will have noticed that many of the beaches in tropical north Queensland are hidden behinds lines of sugar cane plantations. After about 15 minutes riding I came to the end of the road.
Midge Point is another beach side fishing community. Many of the beaches at this part of the coast are very shallow and flat. When I was there the tide was out and it took about five minutes to walk out to the water’s edge. The town is pleasant, I couldn’t find any facilities but the houses were reminiscent of Alva Beach.
It was great to get a bit of a stretch walking down the beach at Midge Point. I wasn’t taken with the beach but the community was pleasant, which is a bit like saying “Interesting” when you don’t want to be critical and don’t really have an opinion. I didn’t stay long here before I rode out of town to my next destination.
To get to St Helens Beach I had to ride back out through the cane fields, almost to the main highway before the road cut back in towards the coast again.
St Helens Beach
The ride into St Helens Beach is a fun winding road through the cane fields. There’s no hurry for me to get there, it’s early afternoon and I intend to camp here the night. I had contemplated going onto Seaforth, but I’m not sure about the caravan park or the fees. I’m camping at St Helens which is a free site. There hasn’t been a lot of free and/or wild camp sites on this trip and to find one on the final journey was surprising. I think I need to start another project looking for free camp sites around Australia.
The community of St Helens is small but with some well put together houses, some brick and tile homes, which are modern. While others are your typical fishing community huts that I have seen both up and down the coast.
Free Camping by the beach
When I arrived at the small but sufficient free camping site there were two other camps there. It’s not a big camp site but there is a toilet and shower facility and plenty of safe trees to camp under. The bay itself is ideal for fishing as it’s lined with Mangrove trees. My fellow campers arrived back as the sun was setting. The first I heard was the low droning sound of a four wheel drive in low ratio then the Nissan Patrol peaked through the track leading to the beach. Apparently the best fishing is at a small inlet south of the road end and requires considerable beach driving skills.
The camping was relatively quiet until a number of trades vehicles turned up early in the morning to use the facilities before going off to work. There’s a sense of finality in the air, this is the last day of the final journey which is the last ride in a two year odyssey to find the best beach in Queensland. I got up as the sun was rising, took some sunrise photos before packing up, having breakfast, and then heading out to my next destination.
It wasn’t long before I arrived at Seaforth early in the morning. It was one of those mild tropical winter days, which made for a great ride. Even the water was calm and relaxed having been glassed out from the lack of sea breeze. Seaforth has a substantial caravan park just back from the sand dunes, with plenty of trees, and birdlife. The park land between the small community is substantial and has clearly been there for a long time. It was clearly a beach side community established for the enjoyment of others. At a time before it became trendy to build houses on the beach and restrict access to those of us travelling or holidaying. There is substantial park land, with grassed areas, BBQ and picnic facilities. It even has a small pool, although it looks like it hasn’t been used for some time.
To the north of the small community is a boat ramp which leads out to a Mangrove lined fishing habitat. As I rode out towards the boat ramp I passed a yard fall of sailing and motor boats, with a sailing club house. This is definitely one of the best small beach side communities in this part of the coast. It exudes that typical laid back beach side community feel.
A community feel
Back at the community centre, I picked up a take away coffee at the post office come general store, come takeaway shop. Next door is a small ambulance station. It’s of the 1920’s weather board style, reminiscent of similar structures I have come across in some of the older mining towns of the era. My next beach is Haliday Bay, its only about 15 minute ride through beach scrub and tropical fauna.Haliday Bay
Riding into Haliday Bay I’m reminded of the contrast between Dingo Beach and Halliday Bay in the Whitsundays. Haliday Bay is modern, with brick and tile homes, manicured lawns and appropriately pruned bushes. It has a clean stark beach park area with limited facilities and a caravan park with very few trees.
The beach is quite pretty and the trees along the beach front make a beautiful back drop to the bay. It may one day develop into an awesome place to camp and relax. However, right now there are many better places to visit for your beach holiday or motorcycle camping adventure.
Ball Bay is a secluded, quiet beach side community between Seaforth and Cape Hillsborough. It is like so many other small communities, that seemed to start as a fishing or holiday beach house destination. It looks like it has with-stood urban development and stayed the same for generations. There is a small caravan park with ample fauna, natural parkland with well established trees. There are indications that the community is on the move with some modern houses being built and other older houses being renovated.
I would loved to have stayed at Ball Bay and camped the night, but it was still early so I saddled up and hit the road again. Almost next door is the community of Haliday Bay. There could not have been a greater contrast in the two communities that are less than 12 kilometres apart. Unlike Ball Bay, Haliday Bay is a modern albeit stark community.
My next stop was the famous Cape Hillsborough National Park. There are many iconic images of Australia, one of those is a picture of Kangaroos sitting on the beach as the sun is rising or going down. This shot is taken at Cape Hillsborough where Kangaroos have become habbitulated through regular feeding sessions each morning and night.
I have been past the sign to Cape Hillsborough so many time over the 20 years but not once did I have take the time to have a look. To get from Haliday Bay to Cape Hillsborough continue to follow the road that runs parallel to the beach. The road climbs up and through basalt country. It is dotted with basalt cliffs and lava plugs from an ancient volcanic time. This volcanic activity created perfect growing conditions for the abundance of flora that surrounds the park.
There is no camping at the park other than the Cape Hillsborough Tourist Park. However, there is a considerable manicured park area for picnics and beach goers. In my opinion this is one of the most spectacular beach and park areas in North Queensland and well worth a visit. Finding the best beach in Queensland seemed so easy at the beginning. But as I get to the final journey, I’m not finding this task easy anymore.
Bucasia Beach is one of the half dozen or so beaches in Mackay. To get there you drive south into Mackay and turn left at the first intersection. This takes you to Shoal Point, Bucasia Beach, Eimeo and Blacks Beach. These are all spectacular beaches with very similar beach configurations. While I visited them all, I particularly liked Bucasia Beach.
Named after Friar Bucas who worked tirelessly for the islander, aboriginal and general immigrant communities in the 1880’s and for whom a memorial has been created. Getting to Bucasia Beach requires navigating congested roads and continuous housing suburbs. It was a relief to get here and stop for lunch.
Half Tide Beach
Half Tide Beach is just south of Hay Point. You can see the Hay Point Coal terminal from the breakwater just north of the town. The beach is a flat tidal beach with an adjacent modern community. Half Tide beach is a modern community. Many beach communities, especially the modern ones are being populated with full time residents. These residents seem to think the beach area in front of their houses is an extension of their land.
Half Tide Beach is the most extreme example of this, that I have come across if you ignore Blue Water Beach north of Townsville, which you have no access to. If you look at the photo of the rock wall you will see a fence at right angles.
Taking extra land
The sign states is a sign “Keep Out” “Private Property”. This is not actually the truth. In most parts of Australia, Crown Land extends between 30 – 50 metres from the high tide level. There are of course high profile cases where property ownership has been granted to the beach, but these are exceptions not rules. Anybody can access Crown Land and walk down the beach and the 30 – 50 metres beyond the high tide mark.
There are a number of beaches south of Half Tide beach, these beaches have similar coastal developments which really spoil their ascetic. The final journey would not be complete if I hadn’t at least taken a look at the beaches. I have been to almost every beach in Queensland, and seen some amazing beaches and beach side communities. It didn’t feel like I needed to comments on these beaches. I’m sure the people who live there love them. They just don’t compare to the best beaches in Queensland.
My next stop was Sarina Beach, but first I had to ride out onto the Bruce Highway and south to Sarina. It was starting to get late and I needed to find a place to camp for the night.
This is the final journey and Sarina Beach is the final beach to be featured in this blog series. It’s about 18 kilometres east of the sugar township of Sarina. It is a holiday destination for those who live and work in the sugar industry and probably for those who work nearby at the Hay Point and Dyrimple coal terminals.
The beach town has a number of facilities and on a good day would be a great beach side community. I picked a not so good day, where the wind was hitting me from the South East. There was no personal connection to the beach, or the community and I left fairly quickly after arriving. I was looking for a place to camp the night, but the only park I could find was the Sarina Palms Caravan Village and there were no non powered sites at the park.
At last the final journey and the final beach of the best beach in Queensland project. It’s taken almost two years of planning and travelling to finally get to the very last beach in Queensland. Yet I am aware that I still have not got to every single beach. This is an ongoing mission, to seek out and catalogue every beach in Queensland.
I travelled back towards Mackay looking for a place to wild camp, unfortunately there were no easily accessible sites so I opted for a paid site. The solo camper or biker is not well looked after at camp sites these days, so I ended up finding a triangle patch of grass near a table under a menacing spotted pine tree. Hoping I was far enough from the branches should it decide to partake in some pruning during the night.
It was bit of a restless sleep, what with the constant highway noice and the vehicles going past me on both sides. Still I was over joyed that my project has finally been complete and I could ride back to Townsville with the knowledge I had been to over 95% of the beaches on the coast of Queensland.
My next project is to put all this into one blog. Check out my blog “Top 10 Beaches on the Queensland coast”.
Safe travels and hopefully I’ll see you out there……..:)