We had been told that not only was the scenery spectacular, but there were some great 4X4 tracks to be found in the Flinders Ranges. One of the perks of knowing the owner of a 4WD tour company is that we always find out the best of the best places to visit on our travels! After getting the run down of where to visit we set off to explore a few of the tracks. The first was the Arkapena Track which is a track made up of two sections, an AWD section and a 4WD only section.
This self-guided four-wheel-drive track is on private property and it cost us $50 to drive it. Payment is made and key is picked up from Rawnsley Park Station. You are also provided with a map and information on the area you were driving, as well as directions to the starting point.
The first section, which takes about 3 or so hours to drive is an all wheel drive track which, although not challenging, we enjoyed it as it offered some great scenery. In saying that though, if you were in an AWD vehicle (not a big tough Prado 😂) or you weren’t experienced, you’d certainly find this first section very enjoyable!
The second part of this track is a 4WD only track and this section took us about an hour or so to complete.
⛺️Rawnsley Park Station offer onsite camping and park cabins. Contact details are:-
Telephone (08) 8648 0700 www.rawnsleypark.com.au
New Years Day saw us head off on another 4WD track, this time the SkyTrek which is located on Willow Springs Station.
This track is for vehicles with low range 4WD and experienced 4WDers only. As with the other track there is a charge which was $70. We were given a map, a key and information guide before we set off. There are 50 markers on the route and the information booklet takes you through what all of these points of interest are.
Note that this track takes around six hours to complete and you cannot start this track any later than 10:30 am. Willow Springs is a working sheep station and the Reynolds family have been managing and grazing on this land for over 85 years.
⛺️ Willow Springs offer onsite camping as well as various cottages. Contact details are:-
Many of the tracks in the area run through private property so always make sure you are actually allowed to be there! Not all people let you drive on their property. After you are sure you can actually be there ….
🔹stay to formed tracks
🔹leave gates as you find them
🔹take all rubbish with you
🔹watch for wildlife and/or stock
🔹call ahead if you would like to drive a track or call into the homestead and say hi if you are driving past, after all this is someone’s backyard you are driving through!
As you arrive at the tip you can’t help but notice the abandoned buildings that sit on the edge of the rainforest, slowly being taken over by the bush. We had a very quick look at this on our last visit, but didn’t have any idea of the story behind it at that point. On this latest visit, knowing a lot more about the area and this abandoned resort, we decided we wanted to explore a little further.
This is the remains of the Pajinka Eco Lodge (later renamed Pajinka Wilderness Lodge), which was once a five-star luxury resort located right before you reach the current car park area at the base of the tip. In its day there was a private rainforest boardwalk which guided resort guests towards the tip.
The accommodation consisted of bungalows, each with private bathrooms, bedroom and verandahs. The resort had direct pick ups for Thursday Island tours, offered great fishing charters and one of the more popular and promoted activities was the Indigenous cultural experience offered by a local Aboriginal man. Looking at it today its hard to imagine, but back in the day this would have been one amazing resort located in one of the most spectacular places around.
Now as we started investigating what had happened to this resort we actually found it hard to find too much information. There are a few different stories floating around and it seems a little secrecy as to what the real story may be, but from what we gather the basic story goes something like this …….
The lodge was opened in 1986 by Bush Pilot Airways (later Air Queensland). Ownership subsequently changed to Ansett Airlines and later to Qantas, before reverting back to its native title and being sold to the Injinoo Aboriginal Corporation in 1992.
The resort remained open for a number of years, but apparently things were slowly going downhill. Poor management was reported as one of the key reasons for failure, as well as talk of unpaid wages and clashes between Indigenous staff from different clans. At the ultimate time of demise, it must have been the off-season and the resort was operating on a skeleton staff when a fire broke out in the generator workshop and destroyed the generator shed and numerous vehicles. This had a significant impact on the resort and with no power and no money for repairs there was not much that could be done. Everyone just walked away, literally just walked out and never came back. The bar was left stocked, there was linen on the beds, drinks in the fridge, air conditioners and industrial washers and dryers ……. EVERYTHING was left behind.
Over the years things have been stripped out and taken from the site, I’m sure by locals and travellers alike, the main infrastructure of the buildings is still there, but there is little else. Anything of any value was obviously taken long ago. From what we’ve read, the lodge had a sign up in 2002 saying “closed for renovations” but it never did reopen.
What would have been a beautiful place in an equally beautiful location is now a derelict site which is being taken over by nature. The boardwalk that once led to the tip is barely there and the wood of the structures is decaying and suffering from the elements. The buildings are probably not overly safe to be wandering around in, but we took a look around anyway! You had to be careful where you walked as steps were no longer there, wood was cracking under your feet and there were holes in the floors of some of the cabins (not to mention spiders and snakes and whatever other wildlife was making their home around here!). Most of the electrical power points, lamps, fans had been removed from the cabins, but some did still have their toilets and sinks in tact.
During our last visit there was corrugated iron covering the pool, but this time it was open ….. as hot as it was, this pool was not saying ‘come swim in me’! We’ve heard stories that a salt water crocodile was found in the pool a few years ago, I’m sure there are plenty of things living in that pool!
Apparently there has been talk of reopening the resort over the years, but the site is too far gone now for any refurbishment. This is a fabulous site for a resort and in theory it should be a great business opportunity for someone. But the tourist season doesn’t run for the full year, with most of the Cape York region being cut off and inaccessible during the wet season, so this would add its own set of challenges for the resort. Back in the day, being a luxury resort, I’m sure many guests were flown in by plane, but I can’t imagine it would be a relaxing holiday to be up there in the middle of the wet season. The heat and humidity and rain, and of course being isolated due to flooded roads, would take a little of the appeal away.
In some ways I think this needs to remain exactly how it is, the bushland and rainforest taking over and the remains of the resort now just another page in history. The area has such a magical feeling about it, it is rugged yet beautiful at the same time. To have this area taken over by a multi million dollar resort with masses of people around would really take away from the natural beauty of this area, it would take a little bit of that magic and sense of adventure away.
We first did this trip back in 2013 as part of our honeymoon and we are beyond excited to be back here doing it again! This time we have a total of 6 x 4WD’s, 1 x Camper Trailer, 12 x Adults and 3 x Children and we are all absolutely pumped for the weeks ahead! As we all came from different parts of Sydney and QLD we all made our way up to Cairns as our starting point. After a group dinner and drinks last night for everyone to meet each other, we met up again early this morning to start our trip.
Our first stop of the morning was Port Douglas. While we were up here we figured it was a chance for everyone else to see a little more of this beautiful area. Surrounded by palm trees, it’s not hard to realise you are in paradise. This is the perfect place to come and chill. The town is built for tourists, with many cafes, bars, day spas and of course shops. It’s kind of got a bit of an upmarket Byron Bay feel about it. Far too touristy for us, but beautiful for sure.
Next it was a short drive to the small town of Mossman. Sitting at the foot of the hills and surrounded by cane fields, Mossman is a small town in tropical North Queensland, not far north of Cairns. It’s a pretty little town with country stores dotted along the beautiful tree-lined the Main Street.
Just out of town you’ll find the famous Mossman Gorge, which sits in the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park. The Mossman River tumbles over huge granite boulders that line the gorge and this creates the perfect freshwater swimming hole. The water is crystal clear and it’s cold, very cold! I think this is our 3rd visit to Mossman Gorge and the water has been freezing on every visit …. some people call it refreshing!
It’s very much a tourist orientated place now, with plenty of money making, completely different to our previous visits. It’s still a stunning area, but it’s definitely lost a bit of its charm.
The Kuku Yalanji people are the indigenous inhabitants of this area with history dating back 50,000 years.
Our last stop of the day, and our home for the night, will be Laura, a very tiny little town with only a few buildings, of course including a pub …. the old Quinkan Pub, and this is where we are planning on camping for the night.
This area is known as Quinkan country, after the Aboriginal spirits which are depicted at the Aboriginal rock art sites in the area, Split Rock and Gu Gu Yalangi. Another little bit of history, apparently in 1873 Archibald Macmillan was exploring in the area and named the local river, Laura, after his wife.
Anyone who has been camping or caravanning for a while knows how important it is to keep the clutter to a minimum. You start off thinking you need everything with you or you just won’t survive a night away from home …. let alone a week or more! Over time you soon come to realise that you have too much ‘stuff’ that just doesn’t get used and takes up precious space or weight allowances. So when you find a product that saves space and makes your life a little easier, you do excited!
Every now and then a product comes along and we just think ‘wow, why didn’t we think of that’! Well this is one of those products. And guess what, this idea came about by another camper who had that exact lightbulb moment, another camper just like you and I who wanted to make life easier.
This product couldn’t be easier, everything simply clips together on your lanyard, you walk to the shower and hang it over the shower head or the hook on the door and everything is right there at your fingertips. No more leaving bottles behind after your shower, no more rummaging through bags to find what you are looking for and no more having to put things on the dirty floor.
So, before we go any further we must say that the wonderful people at Shower Ezy provided us with the Shower Ezy – ‘The Complete Set’ for free for us to review. So below we will give our honest opinion of the product. We did also purchase a few things ourselves so will review them as well.
Shower Ezy offer a range of different products including silicone bottles of 2 different sizes, toothbrush/toothpaste bag, toiletries bag, body loofas, mini LED USB torch, soap bag/holders and key fob …. they’ve got it all covered.
Their ‘Adventure Pack’ is your go-to pack which includes everything, a lanyard, silicone bottles, loofah, microfiber towel, USB torch and toothbrush/toothpaste bag, as well as a water-resistant drawstring bag to store it all in. How awesome is that!
Now these guys really have thought of everything, even the bottles are sized at 98ml to suit the carry on baggage limits of airline requirements (which is required to be 100ml or less). So many people are travelling with carry on luggage nowadays so this makes it ultra easy.
We are reviewing the products we have received.
Shower Ezy – The Complete Set – This set sells for $34.50. This set is what started the whole venture of Shower Ezy, it’s the complete set of everything you need to make shower time easier. It includes a lanyard in your choice of colours (Orange, Hot Pink, Navy BlueorTurquoise) – we chose Hot Pink (ok, ‘we’ didn’t choose Hot Pink, Shelly chose Hot Pink)!
As well as the lanyard, you receive 3 silicone bottles and a body loofa.
Mini LED Torch – USB Rechargeable– This torch sells for $4.20, doesn’t get much better than that! It’s water-resistant and rechargeable by USB which makes it super handy for us to charge either in the 4WD or the camper trailer. To be honest, for such a small torch it’s quite bright, it would be perfect to take to the toilet/shower at night or keep in the camper trailer for late night toilet calls! It’s so small and lightweight that you could even keep it in your handbag to have on hand for any occasion.
Toothbrush/Toothpaste Bag – This product sells for $4.50. This little bag is designed to hold your toothbrush/toothpaste/razor. Made from mesh, with a nylon base, it means it will dry quickly so no need to worry about putting your wet razor or toothbrush back in here. The drawstring pull keeps everything safe and secure and it’s easy to clip onto your lanyard.
Key Fob – This product sells for $3.90 and is designed to keep your keys safe and secure. The design makes it easy to clip on and off the lanyard, so no chance of losing your keys while you visit the amenities block. George has already claimed our one of these!
The bottles are designed from non-drip, non-spill, non-toxic food grade silicone and can hold whatever you like, eg shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shower gel, moisturiser, sunscreen. Each bottle features a twisting lid to display what you have inside. There is one blank display, aswell as Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap and Lotion.
Personally we are going to keep one of these in the 4WD with sunscreen, waterless handwash and aloe vera in the bottles. This way they are always on hand when we are out and about and easy to just grab the lanyard when going to the beach or for a walk.
Buy one for each of the kids and no more arguments about who is going to use the shampoo first, no more carting different bottles to the shower block and no more leaving things behind after your shower.
Whether you are into camping or not, this would be handy. Think hotels, weekends away, school camps, work conferences etc. What you use this for and how you use it is totally up to you, the options are endless, just think about what is going to work for you.
Lastly we need to say that the one thing that really stood out about this company was the personal service that we received, the personal emails to let us know our order was on its way and even the personal note with our order to say ‘thanks’. Also included is a little flyer on how to use the bottles. It’s this personal service that you don’t often receive nowadays so it was certainly a pleasant surprise.
Ordering couldn’t be easier, this is all done online via their easy to use website. There is a small shipping charge, as you would expect, and orders are posted out via Australia Post satchel, with tracking numbers.
Shower Ezy are based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.