Kicking it old school at the Rodeo Drive In is a must do trip down memory lane when visiting Mareeba.  You can share this nostlagic movie experience just like your parents and grandparents did and all at an affordable cost for families. We have driven past the sign so many times when exploring the Atherton Tablelands and always daydreamed of a night at the Drive In.

It was built in the 1960’s when Drive In Movies were the hip place to hang out and is currently family owned and operated. A double feature screens in digital format most Friday and Saturday nights with all the latest blockbusters and some old favs too. It’s an all original set up that feels like your have popped the lid on a time capsule. A big screen towers over the parking area and retro metal incased sound speakers mark the spaces plus a diner at the back for movie munchies. Overnight camping is now included in the ticket price which is a big bonus when you have the kids in tow and enjoy exploring.

We cruised through the gates about 4:30pm and the relaxed owner directed us to the back 3 lanes to set up our campers, there is also a grassed section if you have a tent.  We parked up parallel to the big screen between the speakers with our 4WD reversed up beside. Then all that was left to do was to pull out the awning, set up the camp chairs and deck out the back of the truck for the kids with a mattress, pillows, cosy blankets and a lantern for light.

As the daylight started to fade the headlights began to stream in. We watched as people got their setups sorted with all types of comfy paraphernalia including inflatable couches, sleeping bags and even a blow up raft…you can also bring your pooch! The Drive In was brought to life as the full house came together and soaked up the outdoor movie experience. The Diner opened up around 6pm with an affordable menu showcasing old time fast food favourites. We ordered up big with fresh burgers and hot dogs, french fries,  milkshakes and spiders, and the essential popcorn and choc tops…Yummy!!!!

The 1st movie is a family feature at 7:30pm and on cue the sky cleared to reveal the expansive stars that shine over the Atherton Tablelands. We kicked back in our PJ’s, got comfy and cracked open the maltesers. The sound was cinema quality through the portable speakers that you can hang on your car door or tune your radios into the FM frequency.  The movie marathon means the screen lights up till late so the intermission was a welcomed break. Giving us enough time to tuck the little ones into bed,  stock up on popcorn and espresso coffee and get settled back in for round 2. As the credits rolled on the final film the car park emptied quickly and before long we were Stranded at the Drive In (sorry Grease fan alert!!)

Nestled between other camping families we slept cosy and safely and woke in the morning to the sounds of farm animals and the sight of  Hot Air Balloons gliding through the misty sky across the back paddocks. Thank you Mr Rooster for your rise and shine alarm call…NOT! The bathrooms remain open all night but its lights out when the gates close so pack your torches.

Our first visit to the Drive In movies was a shared family entertainment experience packed with a yesteryear vibe. The free camping made it a relaxing adventure that didn’t break the bank with the bonus of being not far from home. It’s a retro must do for any tropical tribe or traveling family!

Tahli’s fav part: snuggled up in the back of the truck under the stars

Milla loved: the popcorn and lollies..surprise surprise

Booking Info:

Online movie program

Gates open at 4:30pm for campers & from 6pm for cars

Tickets at the gate

No BYO food or drinks

What to pack:

Get cosy in the back of your car with pillows & blankets

Your unpowered camping kit

Breakfast supplies

Torches for midnight bathroom trips

The Purse Strings:

Tickets are $14 for Adults, $12 Concessions & $8 for Children – under 4’s are FREE

FREE Camping

Diner Menu includes meals deals from $10 and a $5 popcorn deal

Want to explore further:

Mareeba Historical Museum

Skybury Tropical Plantation

Emerald Creek Waterfalls

Emerald Creek Ice Creamery

Map it out:

5303 Kennedy Hwy, Mareeba QLD 4880

Competition Time:

Thanks to the Mareeba Rodeo Drive In we have 2 adult tickets to giveaway. Check out our Facebook page for all the competition details. Entries close Thursday 29th June at 5pm 

Have you been to the Drive In before? Share your experience with us and others in the comments or share this blog post to inspire your posse to check it out!


EAT:PLAY:STAY: South Mission Beach

Easter is made for eating chocolate..lots of chocolate…and spending time with your family, so we did both while soaking up the mojo of South Mission Beach.  This little town on the Cassowary Coast is sprawled across palm tree lined beaches with island views and rainforest backdrops. It is a natural Queensland paradise completely unspoilt with limited development and loads of charm. Our path led us to Mission Beach in 1999 BC (before children that is) when travelling around OZ in our camper van and it was love at first sight. Nowadays its only a 3.5 hours drive from home or 2 hours south of Cairns through the banana plantations of Innisfail and past Queensland’s highest mountain peak – can you name it? It stumps us every time we pass the road sign trivia question..thank goodness for Google!

With varied accomodation available depending on your budget, our favourite base when in our little house on wheels is parked up at the Mission Beachcomber Coconut Big4 Holiday Park. Positioned on the South Mission beachfront with Dunk Island and a Cassowary conservation area as its neighbours, this park is not only in a prime location but packed with Big 4 family fun.  Its kid central with a tropical resort pool,  thatched cabanas, a shallow play area for the littlies to splash about and a fun twisty waterslide that we must have swished down at least a hundred times. Plus a fenced playground, games room, tennis/basketball court and even a pop up outdoor movie cinema for family flicks under the stars. The friendly staff are always on hand around the park and welcome a little hitch hiker or two on their buggy drives around the tropical gardens.  And don’t be surprised if a Cassowary comes cruising past your camp site or cabin.  We had Daddy Cassowary pop in with his chicks to join the Easter egg hunt which was an amazing experience although a little scary to be up close with such a unique endangered aussie animal.

At the main entrance to the park is Beachcomber’s Coconut Cafe that opens with bacon and egg rolls and locally roasted espresso coffee in the morning right through to pizza and oh so delicious fish n chippies in the evening. You can stock up on essentials too with the newspaper, fresh milk and bread deliveries daily. If seafood is your thing then you will love that it comes to you when Shell Pocket Seafood truck parks up on the beachfront…there is nothing better than peeling fresh prawns in the salt air. Peddling north along the esplanade we spied the Mission Beach Surf Club and stopped for a early dinner at Blue Water Cafe. Super family friendly space with tables spread out on a grassy    area and buckets of toys for the kids to play with. We opted for a table up on the verandah with beautiful beach views and twinkling fairy lights. Our meals were packed with fresh flavours and we hear the weekend breakfast menu is mighty tasty too!


A few steps from the holiday park is a wide stretch of sandy heaven where we played, walked and biked along. It has a patrolled swimming zone with protected stinger net so is perfect for families to enjoy safely thanks to the volunteers at Mission Beach SLC.  A favourite site that is not to be missed is when the parachutes fill the sky with thrill seeking tandem skydivers that land on the beach.

Peddling south on a afternoon beach ride we connected to the Kennedy Walking track which takes you along a 10 minute boardwalk to Lovers Beach, a beautiful spot for a picnic then continued on a easy 30 minute trek through coastal rainforest to Lugger Bay.  A tropical storm set in so we didn’t walk any further but another 30 minutes and you will find yourself at Mije Creek or Morgans Lookout with views of the Family Islands group including the exclusive Bedarra Island. When we caravan our bikes or scooters are always loaded in but if you don’t have room The Beachcomber Coconut BIG4 rent super cool fat tyre bikes perfect for beach cruising…we had bike envy!


Directly across the waters sits Dunk Island longing you to explore. The resort is still under renovations from the devastating impacts of Cyclone Larry and Yasi but there is  areas now open for day-trippers during weekends and school holidays to enjoy. You can reach Dunk Island via the Mission Beach Water Taxi daily services departing Wongaling Beach, from you own watercraft or like us straight off the beach onboard a hire self drive tinny available from the guys at Mission Beach Boat Hire

It was only a quick 4km cruise across to the sandy spit of Dunk Island and its protected northern cove welcomed us with aqua water and instant island vibes. The rustic Sunset Bar cooked up amazing food accompanied by a great kids menu, delicious ice cream, cold drinks and of course island inspired cocktails for us mamas. Local artists set the scene with mellow acoustic music from midday to sunset. The pier was great for snorkeling, fish feeding and the mandatory jetty jump. You can even swing in the ocean under the boardwalk…our little one was in heaven!  If your feeling energetic and packed your hiking shoes then you can circuit the island or head up to Mt Kutaloo for 360 degree views. That’s on our list for next time.. “you always have to save something” I said to Flinny thanking my lucky lazy stars that we were all only in flip flops! Also on top of the list for our next visit is an island sleepover once we spotted the shady beachside campsites, with a BBQ and basic amenities including hot water close to all the action of the beach bar…how fun would that be!!!


Back on the mainland as the sunset we kicked back at the beach,  chatted to other families and watched our girls play about without a care in the world. Most of the BIG4’s we have stayed at along the Queensland coast have similar facilities for families to enjoy but The Beachcomber Coconuts Holiday Park experience is unique. It’s a peaceful pocket in paradise moving at a slow pace and packed with smiling faces. We left South Mission Beach once again touched by its magic. With newly formed family memories plus more adventures added to our bucket list for our next visit on the Cassowary Coast.

Booking info:

PH: 07 4068 8129


Become a BIG4 Loyalty Club to receive 10% discount on the nightly rate plus great deals on their self contained cabins and villas across Australia

The Purse Strings:

Powered Campsite  are $69per night for up to 6 people

Self contained cabins and villas are also available


Boat Hire from $135 for 4 hours

What to pack:

All the usual camping gear.. there is a fully equiped camp kitchen onsite

Swimmers for the pool and beach

Your beach bag including sand toys and boogie boards

Bikes or scooters – bikes are available to hire from the Big4

Beach fishing rods

What to explore further:

Mission Beach Township

Clump Point

Bingil Bay

Wongaling Beach

Charlies Chocolate Factory

Paronella Park

Mamu Tropical Skywalk

Map it out:

122-132 Kennedy Esplanade, South Mission Beach QLD 4852

Have you been to South Mission Beach? What was your favourite thing to do? Leave your suggestions in the comments box to inspire others to visit.

STAY: PLAY : Woodleigh Station Camp Out

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:

Booking Info:

Phone: (07) 4097 0204


The Purse Strings:

Bush Camping was $25 per night per vehicle

Free firewood

Packing List:

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


Well here goes………

A shout out to blog land as we embark on sharing our EAT : PLAY : STAY adventures in Tropical North Queensland and our family travels beyond the palm trees. So if your planning a tropical getaway with your little tribe then subscribe to our blog showcasing family fun in paradise. From free fun to five star lux experiences we will give you the lowdown plus tips for surviving and embracing family travel. Follow along on our social pages as we check in and check out all the hot spots to hang with cool kids plus a heads up on special deals and exclusive offers. We would love to join in the fun as you explore TNQ so tag us in your socials #littleonesupnorth and @littleonesupnorth and lets go on one big holiday together!