Sunday 12 June 2016

Andrew Drynan Park Campground, Running Creek, Qld

Andrew Drynan Park Campground is approximately 2 hours’ drive from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.  It is 47 km from Beaudesert and 19 km south-east of Rathdowney.  Follow Running Creek Road till you come onto Lions Road.  There is a little gravel section but it is in pretty good condition.  The rest is all bitumen.  If you are coming from Kyogle, NSW along Lions Road, it is a breathtakingly beautiful drive (76 km).  One I recommend to everyone. There are a few large hills getting to this location and lots of narrow winding roads, both on the Queensland and NSW side.  Also note that Lions Road on the Kyogle side has weight restrictions on some of the bridges, so if you are a larger caravan or motorhome, you might need to take a different path.  Maybe do some homework before you begin the journey.

This scenic valley campground backs onto the sub-tropical rainforest of Mt Chinghee National Park.  There are no walking tracks or facilities at Mt Chinghee but you’re not far from the Border Ranges National Park if you enjoy a day trip.  You will find everything you need in the Border Ranges from fabulous bush walking and picnic facilities. 

 The campground runs parallel to a beautiful running creek, so if you need a bath (no showers at this campground) or simply want a swim; take a breath and go for it.  Remember not to use any soaps or detergents though. 

It is a very large, grassy, open and sloping campground.  Regardless of the slope, there are plenty of flat spots to pitch a tent but you might struggle to get a completely flat campsite, especially if it is busy.  It really is only suitable for tents, camper trailers and small caravans.  Larger motorhomes or vans will need some form of levellers or the blood might rush to your head.  There is not really a flat area for the kids to play cricket or any such but they will have a blast on their mountain bikes and swimming in that lovely creek.  Please supervise them as there are some deep pools in the creek.

There are some shaded picnic tables and flush septic toilet.  There is no drinking water but there is a water tap near the toilets which comes straight from the creek.  You need to boil the water for at least 10 mins if planning on drinking it.  A dump point and potable water can be accessed at Boonah Showgrounds if you are planning a longer stay and need to replenish (65 km) but a great opportunity to explore this area, pop into Maroon Dam or visit Mt Barney.  There are no rubbish bins so you will need to pack it in and take it out with you.  Pets are allowed but must stay on leash. There is Telstra reception but other providers might struggle.

This campground is ideal for those that want to enjoy some quiet time to sit, relax and enjoy the scenery which is spectacular by the way.  For the kids there is the swimming  and wrap up the day with a fabulous campfire dinner.  Doesn’t get any better!

When you arrive, just find a spot and the manager comes around in the afternoon to collect camp fees and I am told he sells firewood.  There is very little firewood to collect in the region, so if you don’t want to buy it, you will need to take it with you.  The thing that detracts from this campground the most is it being right on road and the train line is not far away either.  This is a small detraction though and the scenery well and truly makes up for it.

Public holidays are very busy at this campground.  I would highly recommend booking if planning an Easter visit and maybe visit in a quieter time if you don’t enjoy the noise of lots of families and children enjoying their outside time.

Price Range $8 adults, $4 children Under 5 yo free
Family package - $24 family (includes 2xAdults & 4 children)
Peak periods $10 adults, $5 child, $30 family

How to book:
Contact the park manager on 07 5544 1281

Sunday 5 June 2016

Camping with Eco-Friendly Products

I’d love to hear what eco- friendly products you use at camping to minimise your footprint?  Not just cleaning products, but the ones we put on our bodies and our children’s bodies.  One organic product developer says, ‘we should not put on our bodies anything we would not eat’.  YUCK, the thought.  I suspect when we wash it off in our waterways or dump our grey water, we are feeding it to nature and all her inhabitants.  Can’t be good, so what are some alternatives you’ve found?

Here are a few alternatives to traditional commercial products I’ve started to use…

Disinfectant - A tablespoon of Water Soluble Eucalyptus in a litre of water is a great option for sterilising benchtops and wash basins.  Eucalyptus will help deter bugs of all kinds, including mosquitoes and cockroaches.

Household Cleaners - Vinegar and water in a spray bottle is fabulous cleaning option and especially good on any form of glass products.

Dish liquids – I have tried a few different ones and I like the Earth Choice.  I found some others did not suds up.  Others didn’t smell great and another that felt slimy.
  • Carmel says "Unimat Dishwash and Green Action laundry liquid are both grey water safe and Australian made and did I mention cheap?" 
  • Mary says " Buy Earth products. The laundry liquid and washing up detergent range is available at Reject shop for $2 @"

Soap - Many doctors believe we should not use soap at all to bathe and instead, simply wash ourselves off with water and apply Sorbolene to clean and moisturise our skin.  A few drops of water soluble eucalyptus in a tub of water is a great alternative for the kids to wash their hands.  At least you don’t have to worry about the soap going soggy or dropping on the ground.

Shampoos & Conditioners - There are some fabulous organic and septic suitable shampoos and conditioners on the supermarket shelves.  Have you found one you really like?  The only one I have found is the Organic Care range but I did find that my hair felt itchy after a few weeks and I found myself leaving my conditioner only half washed out.  I did this so it didn’t knot as much.  I would like to find a better option.

Insect repellents – There are lots of natural products and combinations of aromatherapy oils to use for keeping away mosquitos and other bugs.  Most of them have a tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus or organic citronella bases.  Others suggest adding lovely scents like lemon myrtle, cedarwood and my personal favourite geranium which has immune boosting and healing properties.  If you prefer a commercial product, Bug Off Me or Bug Another are the two organic one’s I have heard most spoke about.

Sunscreen – Seems to not be a big range or highly recommended alternatives to traditional sunscreen.  I still stick to the Cancer Council sunscreens. The only two commercial brands I found which were recommended are ‘Wot Not and Soleo’.  Nothing beats a hat, sunglasses, a long sleeve shirt and not spending too much time in the sun though.  We still live in a generation that highly recommends sunscreen, even with the concerns about nanoparticles.  Keep an eye out for signage at some pristine gorges, as you will start to see more and more prohibiting swimming if you are wearing sunscreen and insect repellents.  Not sure what the answer to this is.  Let me know if you hear of one.

Moisturisers - Sorbolene is a wonderful all-purpose moisturiser and makeup remover.  We are often in the sun, wind and water when camping and this is a great way to protect our skin from the elements as well as clean us (see soap).  VegeSorb is an even better and more organic version and I can personally recommend it as a lovely gentle product.

Deodorants - The organics community have designed some wonderful aluminium free deodorants and others have gone further with minerals salts.  I like the Vanessa Megan range -

Perfumes – Who needs perfume if you have mixed your favourite combination of aromatherapy oils to chase away the bugs?  Maybe add a drop of sandalwood, vanilla or geranium and you will smell a treat.

When shopping, if you can find products that say ‘suitable for septic’ than you are more likely to have found a more eco-friendly option.  That does not necessarily mean it is a good product, chemical free or good for the environment.  It simply means it will have a better chance of breaking down in the environment.  Most commercial products need to go through an urban treatment plant to be safe to be released back into the environment.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Depression Cake - also known as a War Cake or a Chocolate Crazy Cake

This cake was created and cooked during the depression because it needed no eggs, milk or butter.  You think it would be hard to make a cake without these 3 basics but women of this generation were extremely clever and adept at making a lot out of nothing.  Baking powder must also have been scarce, as this particular version of the cake has none.  Alas, it did not rise.  It is a very moist and dense cake.  Similar to a mud cake.  If you want it to be lighter and rise, I would add baking powder or simply substitute plain flour for SR flour.

This cake is all mixed and cooked in the same bowl.  

  • 1 ½ cups of flour (all-purpose)
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup sugar (all purpose granulated pure cane sugar)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

  • Mix all 5 dry ingredients in an 8” well greased baking dish.
  • Make 3 depressions.  2 small and 1 larger. Pour vinegar in 1 small depression.  Vanilla in the other small one.  Vegetable oil in the larger one.
  • Pour water over all ingredients.
  • Mix well until smooth.
  • Preheat oven (or camp oven) to medium heat (178 C) and bake on a middle oven rack or on a trivet if using camp oven.
  • Bake for up to 35 mins – 45 mins. 
  • Poke with a toothpick to see if cooked.  Toothpick should come out clean.
NB: Check regularly to ensure you don’t over bake it.