You don’t have to ask us twice to pack up and take off, especially if its for a long weekend. …If only we had more of them..So when the invitation to head west for some family camping at Woodleigh Station came our way of course we said YEEHAW! We hadn’t heard of it and didn’t google it (yes I know thats surprising) we just went with the flow trusting our mates who are long time camping campaigners. And to say we weren’t disappointed would be an understatement.
So it turns out Woodleigh Cattle Station is nestled between Ravenshoe and Innot Springs with a scenic drive through the misty mountains of the Atherton Tablelands. The view from the car windows changed constantly as we road tripped from Port Douglas with the caravan hooked up. From wetlands and tropical crops to rolling hills, lush rainforest and the states largest wind farm. With rumbling tummies we pulled in for fresh baked pies at the Ravenshoe Highlander Bakery, admired the quant country town and filled the Coleman Esky with ice from Queensland’s Highest Pub. In fact Ravenshoe is Queensland’s highest town perched 930 meters above sea level and we sure could feel the temperature had taken a dive.
Feeling adventure was not far away we got back on the road continuing west out of Ravenshoe for a further 22kms to the station turn off then along a graded dirt road into the working property. And bam we where smack bang in the middle of an Australia outback movie! It’s a quintessential Queensland farm steeped with history and packed with picturesque landscapes. The homestead, the hosts and the most amazing Bouganvillia greeted us with open arms. The property map showed us cabins and a bunkhouse by the main house and large camp sites scattered all over the broad land including alongside the Millstream River. Your nearest camping neighbour is guaranteed to be more than a cooee away.
We were all geared up for an off the grid camp site and had sweet talked our buddies to piggy back off their solar panels to run our Waeco fridge and even turing their Thunder Down Bucket communal for you know what. But we arrived to find we had a site near the homestead with shelter, a sink, limited power and double bathrooms with hot water..JACKPOT! Don’t get me wrong I love camping but when there is an option for a little glamping I’m one happy mama!
We have our set up down pat now, each with our own jobs including the little ones so in no time at all we were relaxing in our camp chairs. But then we were loudly reminded that we have kids and they needed to explore! First was a walk around the homestead gardens and through the beautifully preserved cottage packed with history of station life. Mrs Garnett was one amazing lady arriving on horse back from Port Douglas in 1872 with 4 children in tow including a newborn in her side saddle bag. She then went on to have another 9 children but still helped the men on the land whenever she could. Nowadays Woodleigh is run by the third generation of the Williams family and they have opened the station to camping, school groups, tours and events.
Woodleigh’s landscape offers up plenty of fallen timber and the kids loved going on a fire wood hunt in the back of the ute. The station is home to a herd of animals which all roam carefree around the property. Cattle, Horses, Goats and even an ‘Oddball’ Meremma Sheepdog that kept us under his night watch by the fire. Waking up to a cow at the caravan window and having a horse follow us to the bathroom was all part of the farm stay experience that makes this place truly unique.
The meandering Millstream River was a easy walk from our site and was a refreshing playground when the sunshine streamed in. Our tribe explored downstream on kayaks and paddle boards, finding some of the other great bush camp sites, playing Tarzan on rope swings, relaxing on the river sand and getting dirty in the mud holes. A few yabbies were caught in the nets and turtles spotted but the fish were playing hide n seek with our lines.
With a shiny new Ford Ranger in the family we embarked our first 4 wheel driving adventure around the property. The dirt tracks, bumpy paths and outback surroundings lead us to a beautiful sandy bank on the Wild River. As the TNQ dry season is finally upon us there wasn’t anything ‘wild’ about the river so was perfect for us all to enjoy. We were told there was once gold found in the area so we came prepared to try our luck at gold panning and the dads totally got carried away…clearly they have all watched too much Gold Rush!
Crossing the Wild River in our 4×4’s we ventured off the property and into the tiny town of Innot Springs. It consisted of a small quirky pub serving cold drinks and famous wood fire pizza and a caravan park but was once a busy hub for gem fossicking and people following the legend of the health benefits from the hot mineral springs of Nettle Creek. You can pay to enter the 6 thermal pools but we opted for a wander along the creek bed to experience the different water temperatures for free. We had a bad parent moment not realising how hot the water was in some spots with the little ones tooties getting toasted so considered yourself warned.
The choice is yours to do a little or a lot during the days at Woodleigh but as the sun sets over the savannah there is nothing like a camp fire to draw you all back together. The night skies were clear and vast and revealed a star gazers wonderland. Camp oven dinners were a hit and dessert even more so when the exhausted kiddies were tucked up in their airbeds. Woodleigh Station is family friendly and packed with adventure for an unplugged camp out. We may not have found a gold nugget but we did find a real gem of a camping location and shared an enriching family experience with this crazy bunch!
Watch our adventure:
Phone: (07) 4097 0204
The Purse Strings:
Bush Camping was $25 per night per vehicle
All the usual camping suspects including the kitchen sink
Swimmers for rope swinging and river play
Warm clothes to keep cosy in the cooler temps and clear night skies
Boots or Gumboots for the long grass and toilet walks
Kayaks, Canoes or Paddle Boards to explore the river
Fishing rods and Yabby nets to try your luck at catching dinner
Want to explore a little further:
Ravenshoe Visitor Centre
Ravenshoe Steam Train Museum
Windmill Power Farm viewing area
Little Millstream Falls
The Millstream National Park and Millstream Waterfall
Millaa Millaa Falls
Mungalli Creek Dairy
Herbert Historical Village
Map it out:
Woodleigh Station, Ravenshoe QLD Australia 4888