We've finally started our Australian road trip and our first stop is Girraween National Park. It's been a bit surreal and a bit of a shock to go from frantically packing and cleaning to suddenly camping with all of that behind us. Hopefully we haven't missed or forgotten too many things – so far we're just missing the ipod …. Anyway, here's a bit about Girraween, what you can expect here and what we liked.
We visited Girraween National Park just as a day trip a few months ago and decided it would be great first stop for our road trip. It's not too far from (what is no longer) home, cheap to camp here and a great place to be out in nature.
There are a number of different trails here – some take 4-5 hours to walk while others (the ones we did), take 30 minutes or so. I haven't been up to the Pyramid but Ricky did manage to get almost to the top one day.
With toddlers or young children, there are 2 – 3 walks that will work. One is to the granite arch and one is to a waterhole. Those are the main tracks we did. I'd recommend the granite arch if you're only going to do one. There is also a swimming hole along this one with turtles. We also started into the Junction walk and found another great swimming spot and a large granite rock face to explore.
Girraween is full of rocks to climb and there are many different formations you'll find around. It's amazing how kids of all ages just want to climb rocks!
Older kids will be able to do a number of one hour walks. There is only one that is very long and I'd recommend only for teens. Girraween is a popular spot for school trips so it's a great spot for kids.
When we visited Girraween for the first time, we had a look at the camping area and decided we definitely wanted to come back for a stay. What is so appealing are the larger campsites that are well-spaced out and surrounded by trees. So there's lots of shade and privacy.
They also have hot showers which is on April's must-have list. Drinking water is also on April's really-want list but you need to bring all your own drinking water to Girraween. Since this was our first stop on the road trip and we were coming from (what is no longer our) home, bringing water was easy.
There are two campgrounds at Girraween. Tents only as at Bald Rock Campground – where we stayed, and Castle Rock Camping Area is the spot for caravans. The caravan campground does have trees but it's not quite the same as the heavily-treed tent sites.
There were many families camping here together and it looked like a popular place for families and friends to get together in big groups. The good was everyone was pretty respectful of others in regards to the noise they caused.
One of my favourite things about camping here had nothing to do with us actually. It was seeing kids ride their bikes incessantly, climb rocks and play games outside together. It was like going back to my childhood when we all used to play outside all the time. Not a screen in sight - not even for an adult. No service up in Girraween.
The main thing to do at Girraween is to walk through the park. We took a walk to Dr. Robert's Waterhole which didn't look so much like a water hole to me but a small river. Turns out Dr. Robert's was instrumental in the forming of Girraween National Park and wanting to preserve the habitat for both lyre birds and wombats.
There is a lot of area to explore here and we didn't actually explore that much of it having a toddler in tow. But you could easily spend a week here walking different trails and just relaxing in the bush. We spent 4 days here. It was a good relaxing entry for us into the big road trip we've got planned.
Having lived in the area for the last couple of years, we didn't need to venture out of the park much but we did take a side trip to Tenterfield. It's just across the border in New South Wales and a nice historic town. It's probably the closest spot for shopping and we managed to get into the historic saddlery.
The saddlery in Tenterfield is actually privately owned and run by a few local volunteers. What's amazing is someone bought the property just to preserve it.
Ballandean is a small town near Girraween where there is a cool dinosaur just sitting out along the highway as well as wineries for those not into dinosaurs.
Stanthorpe is also not to far off and in the summer time, it's a great spot for fruit: nectarines, peaches and apricots. Apples and grapes are another main crop of the area. And more wineries of course.
We had a great start to our trip here and would definitely reccommend Girraween National Park to anyone looking to get away from it all, have a technology fast or just sit outside and relax.
See you next time! Off to Copeton Dam!