Ok, I have decided to stop going in chronological order for my camping reviews and have decided to review a more recent spot while all the tiny details are fresh in my mind.
Flanagan Reserve is about 20 minutes past Rathdowney (if you are heading from Brisbane). We have been there twice now and really like it.
There is plenty of shady camping sites and it is really cheap. Not quite as cheap as camping in national parks.... but cheaper than most commercial places. The picture below is the view from our campsite on the creek.
The first time we went to Flanagans, we were with some friends who also home school. Our children have known each other for years and have spent a lot of time together doing activities. We hardly saw the kids all weekend as they were off exploring/playing. The adults had tons of times to sit around and chat and relax.
The second time we went was this weekend just gone. We were able to snag a prime camping position right on the creek and we went with my mum, my sister and some close family friends. A few of our home schooling friends also dropped by over the course of the weekend and one of the families were there for one night.
I really enjoyed being camped so close to the creek as the kids could play down near the rocks and we could see them from the campsite. I'm not sure how we would go camping near a creek once Isabelle starts walking though. So far I have been lucky, and by the time my kids start walking they have developed a whinny, clingy attachment thing to me so they haven't wanted to run off, even when presented with opportunities. But who knows how little Diddy Do Dah will turn out!! I try to give my kids as much freedom as possible. I distinctly remember Kristy and I making a cubby house in a drain outlet on the banks of Sussex Inlet River. Kristy would have been no older than 4 at the time!!!
Whilst I might be a bit stricter than my mum was (although she did point out when I reminded her of this that unlike my children hers were strong swimmers) I am certainly not a hoverer. I think that it is really necessary to give kids survival tools and you just can't do that if you are watching them like a hawk 24/7. So we watch from a safe distance and have rules in place (no going in the water, make sure you all stay together... etc). I have complete trust in my kids. If I ask them not to do something, and talk to them about what may happen if they disobey, then they always follow what I have said.
Once, and only once, Kylah has asked if she could ditch her booster seat in the car now that she is 7 years old and legally able to. I said to her 'of course you can but you do realise that if we are in an accident you are much safer if you are sitting in the booster seat. You are much less likely to have bad injuries (I then list a few) and because mummy wants you to stay safe I would like you to stay in it until you are either too tall for it or too heavy for it'. So Kylah chooses to sit in her booster. Even when she has friends who come in our car who don't use one she will still want to sit in hers. Because she understands the reasons why I want her in it.
The same goes for safe behaviour around the water. My children are well aware of the things that can happen to them if they disobey the rules and are vigilant about making sure that they don't get too close and follow what I say.
Oh wow... I'm getting off track here!!! The creek at Flanagan's is fairly shallow in the parts where the kids play anyway. They could easily stand up if they fell in. The deep part was in front of where we were camped so we could watch them there.
The ammenities at Flanagan's constantly smell of detol, which is rather comforting, but apart from that are pretty dismal by my standards. You need 20c coins to use the shower and you have to leave the shower cubicle to put more money in. I only know this because I have been told. I have not used the showers at Flanagans!!! Apparently if you can get into the disabled toilet then the shower in there is much easier to operate. There is only 1 shower and 2 toilets in the ladies and in the mens. For such a big place I find this very surprising. Apparently, when it is really busy, they bring in port-a-loos. *I am hyperventilating at the thought of ever having to use one of those*. Amazingly I have never had to line up to use the loos there. I think most people must relieve themselves in the creek or behind a tree because there never seems to be anyone in them. I can't imagine too many people using their own camp toilets as there is no dump point there and they would have to carry their own waste out with them. I ended up carting my own toilet paper to the toilets with me this trip as they supply extremely thin 1 ply toilet paper that breaks off after 1 square. It takes you an enormous amount of time to get a satisfactory amount so I fill my pockets before I go to the toilet.
There are a lot of nice walks to do around Flanagans. This last weekend Ben and I did the 7.4km trek around the lower parts Mt Barney. It was quite a nice walk but not at all what I was expecting. For starters Ben had told me, in his proposal that we go, that it was only 3.7km around the base of Mt Barney. I assumed that this meant 3.7km return.... but no, it meant 7.4km return. Saying it was around the 'base' of Mt Barney was also misleading. The trek was so up, down, up, down, up, down... that if you put all the ups together and all the downs together then I'm sure we could of CLIMBED Mt Barney. He also lured me there under the promise of a spectacular view of the lower portals (what is a portal?????). When we finally got there the lower portals looked extremely similar to the creek which we were camped on. Although, at the end of the track, if you cross the creek and climb over some rocks then there is an even better view of the creek and more rocks. I was not at all willing to put my feet in the freezing cold water so I quite happily sat by the creek and ate my apple, followed by Ben's apple, while he went exploring.
All in all it was quite a lovely walk. Not to toot my own horn, but I must say I was absolutely astounded with my own fitness levels. We did the hike in 1 hour 50 mins and the sign said it should take 3 hours. It was quite steep and I did not whinge once!!! In fact - I barely broke a sweat. I really enjoyed the walk and the whole time marveled about what wondrous things the gym has been doing for me. Who knew that sheer laziness (not wanting to feed/bath the kids some nights so concocting a plan to go to the gym and abandon Ben during feral hour) would lead to this!?! It was also nice going for a walk with just the two of us. We usually have 4 kids in tow and having that 1 hour 50 mins to talk, uninterrupted, to Ben was wonderful. By the end of the hike I had talked Ben into agreeing to new hiking clothes for me, private singing lessons for Kylah and a trip next year to either the Cook Islands or Vanuatu!! I need to go hiking with him more often!!!!
Ben decided to go all Bear Grylls on me and turned his nose up at the bottled water I had brought for him in favour of digging a hole to drink his own rock filtered, muddy creek water. I would not be the least bit surprised if he ends up with some horrendous gastro bug!
All in all Flanagans is a spectacular place to camp. I found it to be a tad dusty but I suppose it is good practice for our trip through the centre - there will be plenty of dust then!!! We will definitely go back again as there are more treks in the area that we want to do. Just remember to BYO loo paper :-)