Lara Wetlands is situated 28km south of Barcaldine in Central Queensland. It is an oasis in the outback with lots of shady campsites, a large camp kitchen, and amenities blocks.
The road in is a good gravel road and our 8m motorhome had no trouble getting there, we just went slowly in some sections.
You arrive at the entrance near a Reception building that also houses a small shop and a book exchange. Check in is quick and efficient. You are told to find your own camp site however, if you are on the waters edge, you must park forwards or reversed and not sideways. This enables as more campers to get a waterfront site around the roughly circular wetlands.
Bikes and kayaks are available and a soak in the hot artesian pool is a must-do.
It costs $25 per night for two and you can purchase a trolley load of wood for $15 to use in the many fire pits scattered around the campground.
Lara Wetlands is one of those places you can keep coming back to. It is especially beautiful at sunset with reflections on the water.
The sandy banks of the fast-flowing Gregory River are a perfect spot to camp if you can manage to get a camp spot there. It is very popular so you feel lucky if you can get a spot.
The river is a wonderful place to cool off after the heat of an outback day. The clear water is cold and you can take a bogey board or pool noodle to float down the river amongst the cabbage palms, pandanas and tea trees.
It is just a track off to the left after crossing the bridge going out of town that leads down to the riverside. Locals would prefer people camp up on top at the free campground before the bridge where there are rubbish bins and potable water.
Takarakka Bush Retreat is situated near the boundary of Carnarvon Gorge National Park. The grounds are natural bush with a large loop of the Carnarvon Creek as the eastern boundary of the park. There is an abundance of wildlife including birds and the very cute Pretty Faced Wallaby.
There is a variety of accomodation options including, studios, a country cottage, ensuite cabins, Taka Safari Tents (some with ensuite), and powered and unpowered campsites. The sites are very spacious and spread out thoughout the bush land. It doesn’t feel crowded.
There are modern amenities blocks with laundry facilities. Fully equipped camp kitchens are available. The Taka General Store has basic groceries and a range of souvenirs. WiFi is available on the deck outside the store.
Sometimes a spit roast dinner is available on the deck. You have to bring your own plate, bowl and cutlery and a delicious 2 course dinner can be had for $20 per person.
Happy hour is held in the area near the deck where the Taka Bar is set up. A daily video presentation happens here as well at 5pm. Learn about the park and Carnarvon Gorge so you can plan your walks.
Camp fires are allowed but only in the purpose built fire pits. Wood is supplied.
A couple of walks are available in the park. One goes up to a lookout and the other follows the creek where you might spy a platypus if you are lucky.
Takarakka does have a dump point however, due to their remote location, they would prefer if people use the dump points at the towns of Rolleston or Injune before they make their way out to Takarakka. This puts less pressure on their septic system.
Although, at $55 per night for a powered site, it is not the cheapest of places, it is a beautiful park to stay in while visiting Carnarvon Gorge.
Oondooroo Station is situated north of the outback town of Winton on the Winton-Hughenden Road. You turn off the tar onto a dirt road and travel for 7km before reaching the entrance gates of Oondooroo. Oondooroo Station is a working cattle and sheep property but a few years ago the current owners, Jason and Kerry Turnbull added farm stay camping as another source of income.
Upon arrival at Oondooroo Station we were met with a warm country welcome by Jason. We paid up and followed Jason on his 4 wheeler and he showed us to a grassy spot. It costs $25 per night for 2 people and they also have fire pits &to wood available for $10 per night.
There are two toilets and a shower available for campers use. Water taps are scattered around the campground and they are artesian water from their bore.
Oondooroo Station has a rich history and was originally purchased by the Shollock family in 1878 and they stocked it with 23,000 sheep. The Shollacks aim was to establish ‘refined living’ and the cost of constructing the many fine hand-hewn sandstone buildings almost left them penniless. They sold the property to the Ramsay family in 1886.
In 1886 a shearer’s strike for better pay and conditions commenced and it is said to have begun at Oondooroo Station. The original 26 stand Woolshed was burned down during the strike.
In 1895 Banjo Paterson was staying on nearby Dagworth Station where he met Christina McPherson. Together they put Banjo’s poem ‘Waltzing Matilda’ to music. However Dagworth Station didn’t have a piano but Oondooroo did, so it was in the lounge room of Oondooroo Station that Waltzing Matilda was sung for the first time.
In 1990 the family business, Landers Creek Pastoral Company, purchased Oondooroo and Bill & Jean Tudehope lived at Oondooroo for 17 years before the current custodians, Jason and Kerry (Bill & Jean’s granddaughter) Turnbull took over in 2004. Jason and Kerry continue to live at Oondooroo with their two children Toby and Chelsea.
Many of the historic buildings still stand at Oondooroo and the family continue to live in the homestead. The homestead has been added to over the years and now consists of the original central sandstone building which boasts pressed metal ceilings, a main living room and four bedrooms. Another two bedrooms and wide verandah have been added which help to keep the house cool.
Oondooroo is situated on grasslands and, although they have had droughts, in a good year the Mitchell Grass, which is rich in nutrients, can fatten livestock well.
As a working property there is always something going on at Oondooroo and families will enjoy seeing the animals. During our stay there were kids (baby goats), puppies, many farm dogs, and friendly horses waiting for a pat.
You can take the short walk down to the Woolshed and see examples of the wool that is shorn at Oondooroo.
On the evening we arrived Jason told us they were trying something new. They were making hamburgers, using their own beef, and selling them to campers for $10 each and Jason would even deliver them to our camp. We said yes please to that and I’m glad we did. The hamburgers were excellent and beautifully presented wrapped in paper with a couple of onion rings on top. I hope this idea was a success and others get to experience one of those delicious burgers.