“Far from the luxuries of home, camp life forces a slower, more thoughtful approach to living. Mornings are savored. Coffee is sipped rather than drained. Making meals is less a chore and more an event. An evening stroll replaces the nightly TV hypnosis. In short, for a few fleeting days, we are briefly, blissfully, beautifully human again.”Mark Kenyon
I was looking forward to camping at Conway Beach tonight, and I was hoping to find a nice little free camping site somewhere on the way. However, after spending a few hours fixing a flat tyre coming out of Dingo Beach, I was now running out of daylight. If you want to see how I got here check out my post :https://digitalswaggie.com.au/?p=2994
There’s a really good caravan park at Conway Beach so I decided to stay there for the night. About 12 years ago my family and I went camping at Conway Beach. The kids were around four and six years old. The experience created a memory they still talk about today. You can see more about the Conway Beach Tourist Park at the following link: https://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/qld/whitsunday/conway-beach-tourist-park
Best Beaches Project
I’m riding down the coast to Sarina as part of the second stage of my best beach in Queensland project. I remembered there was a camping ground at Conway Beach. My family stayed here about 12 years ago and I have fond memories of it. It is one of the main features of the area and a big draw card for families. Therefore, I thought it was important to include it in my best beach collection.
The beach itself is exposed to the south east wind, so it can be quite blustery, this is either a good thing (summer time, when the sea breeze cools you down) or a bad thing (winter time when it’s cold and icy). Either way it’s a refreshing and beautiful beach, land and sea scape.
Where is Conway Beach?
The beach is nestled between the a forested ridge that leads out to Airle Beach and Proserpine on the south western side and the magnificent back drop of the Conway State Forest and Conway National Park. Looking out over the water you can clearly see the Repulse Island Group.
Camping at Conway Beach is a little bit like taking a trip back in time to the fun 50’s and 60’s. When I think of the 50’s, I think Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets. There are fleeting Images of a canary shit yellow duce (32) Ford Coupe racing a black worked 58 Chevy in the movie American Graffiti. I’m sure the decor of the Conway Beach Tourist Park is modelled after the burger bar where the the gum chewing, roller skating waitress serves Ron Howard a cherry coke.
Some people might remember the organised holiday camps in England such as the Butlins, Warner or Pontins. These were chains of holiday camps that sprang up in 1950’s after the Second World War. They offered a variety of family entertainment such as three legged races, building human pyramids and ballroom dancing.
While those heady days have long gone, in a small way the modern tourist village is evolving into something similar. The Conway Beach Tourist Village, a member of the “Big4” group is situated around a headland from the Proserpine River. The Proserpine River is an awesome place to fish.
It’s also recognised as having more crocodiles per square metres than any other river in Australia. That’s really saying something when you think of other big croc habitats such as the Daley, Norman and Ord Rivers.
Family Holiday Dilemma
The dilemma for families today is that there is a raft of entertainment available for individuals, but nothing that really brings the family or multiple families groups together. For example, if you plan a beach fishing holiday, what do the small kids do while Dad (or Mum) are out fishing. I’ve stayed at the Big4 holiday parks before and they go out of their way to provide activities and facilities for the whole family.
The Conway Beach Big4 is very close to an awesome fishing spot, it has a a broad wide beach not far from its main gate and it is decorated in a 1950’s Pop Art decor. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, a beer or wine and/or an ice cream then George’s Diner is ideal place to meeting up and tell fishing stories and have a few beers at the end of the day.
The “Diner” is a bar, restaurant and coffee shop that gives an extra sense of nostalgia that makes you want to put on your bobby socks, blue suede shoes and rock n roll all night, or at least until 9.0pm. The effect goes right down to the coloured neon lights and an authentic Peter’s Ice Cream sign at the entrance.
Camping at Conway Beach for the bigger kids
The park has a swimming pool and an adventure fun park that is awesome for both big and small kids. It also has the mandatory jumping pillow which is a great place for the kids to hang out and meet new friends. The pool area, provides a great location to have aquatic adventures and to help wear out the kids before bed time.
If this isn’t enough then bigger kids can hire racing buggies to reenact the race scenes in the movie, while smaller kids can take a train trip around the park.
Facilities and Accommodation
The park has the a colourful camp kitchen, fish cleaning station and super clean toilet and shower block, which is centrally located. The park caters for caravans, mobile homes and people who want to stay in cabins.
Throughout my best beach project travels, I have noticed that “Non Powered Camping” (in a tent) seems to be a problem for some caravan and tourist parks. While they are happy to take your money, in this case $32.00 per night. The areas they provide are less than ideal. At the Conway Beach Tourist Park the non powered camping site offered me was not as comfortable as it could have been. It was exposed to the road with very little shelter and right under a security light that was left on all night.
It’s a shame really because the park’s facilities are excellent and it was nowhere near full. It wouldn’t have put them out to provide a more appropriate area. This is not the first park to have such poor areas for non powered campers. Throughout my 14000 kilometres of travelling on my bike over the past two years, I have only found one park that had a dedicated area and that cost me $50.00 per night.
A conspiracy against back packers and solo tourists
While councils over the Great Dividing Range encourage free camping for the revenue it brings in to the community, those on the coast actively discourage it. In some cases the local councils on the sea side of the range have created a war against travellers, with some councils sign posting between $2000 and $4000 fines for being caught camping in a non designated camping area.
With councils attacking traveller’s rights to stop and take a break and tourist parks actively discouraging and pricing out solo travellers, it doesn’t bode well for the poor swaggies and their rights to travel this country freely.
There’s a really interesting change happening in Australia’s beach society, more and more substantial houses are being built in previous small shanty style fishing communities, I have noticed that many of these developments are not only building to their property boundaries but also claiming areas in front of those boundaries. These areas were once public access areas to the beach, but are now having restricted access.
Tourism operators are adding to these restrictive practices by lobbying local governments to remove “vagrant” campers and restrict public access to natural resources. This has the net effect of shutting away communities to those people who travel freely and want to enjoy nature without incurring massive camping fees. If you want to see more on the topic of “Wild Camping” read my blog at the following link: https://digitalswaggie.com.au/?p=157
Camping at Conway Beach is a great family experience. I hope you have enjoyed this review of the Conway Beach Tourist Park. It really is a great family park with a great 1950’s Pop Art theme. But regardless of the great hospitality and friendly owners, I would not recommend this for the non powered, solo traveller. Not unless they recognised the needs of non powered camping people and made a better camping environment. Safe Travels ……… Swaggie:)