We all lead busy lives, balancing work, school and play. Routine kicks in and we operate on auto-pilot until something snaps—tempers, health, or, wait, that was the snap of a ‘lightbulb’ moment! What is needed here is a ‘nature fix’! How long since you last had yours?
Take the controls, chase your dreams, choose how you live your life…sorry, getting a bit carried away here…but your solution is simple—get out of town and back to nature with the entire family, just for a weekend.
You don’t have to go far. Broadwater, in Abergowrie State Forest, close to both Cairns and Townsville, is a scenic valley with a creek for paddling, a rainforest for exploring and wide, open grassy spaces where young ones can ‘go wild’. Plenty of opportunities to start checking off that Nature Play list you’ve had stuck on the fridge for months… And you can breathe deeply, happy in the knowledge that, if we are ‘a product of our decisions’, this is a good one!
Broadwater camping area | © North Queensland Wildscapes
Bed down among the gum trees at Broadwater
Set up your tent or trailer in Broadwater’s spacious grassy sites, with your car conveniently parked nearby. Surrounded by tall eucalypts, your chosen site will be pleasantly shady. You’ll be provided with all the facilities—flushing toilets, showers (of the 'brisk' kind), picnic tables and fire rings—that make camping with young children a whole lot easier.
There are even gas barbecues in the nearby day-use area, if you don’t fancy cooking up the kids’ pasta over a fuel stove or camp fire. After dinner, gather around the camp fire for star-gazing or recounting the day’s activities. With all that space to run around in, the kids will be off to bed early—then you can relax to enjoy the peace and quiet. Bliss!
As for that Nature Play checklist (51 Things to do before you’re 12): Sleep under the stars, tick; cook damper in a camp fire, tick; and play spotlight, tick! We’re off to a good start!
Broadwater camping area | Russell Kluver © Queensland Government
Early birds…get to wake up mum and dad!
The kids will be up early—woken by the dawn chorus of forest birds, or simply the novelty of sleeping under canvas! Be prepared for them to jump on your sleeping bag early (waaay too early) with pleas for swims and games. If you make a rule of ‘no energetic activities before coffee’, you’ll be fine.
When you’re duly fortified, set off with the clan on the easy Rainforest walk to discover the famous Broadwater Fig, a magnificently-huge white fig tree encircled by a boardwalk. It’s a true ‘Magic Faraway Tree’, at least, it is for Enid Blyton fans (i.e. parents)!
Nature Play checklist: Climb a tree, er, not this one, kids!
Rainforest walk | Russell Kluver © Queensland Government
Paddle in nature’s pools—buckets of fun to be had by all!
Wrangle the kids—and all their floaty accoutrements—for a splash in the cool shallows of Broadwater Creek. Head for the swimming platform at the day-use area for easy access. Or amble along the Creek walk a short way and paddle your water craft in one of the creek’s delightful waterholes. Its sooo much fun!
Let’s check back in to that checklist: Play in a creek, tick; paddle a kayak, tick (close enough!); visit a waterhole, tick; watch kangaroos in the wild, tick. #smashingit!
Broadwater Creek | © Fiona O’Grady
Get down, get dirty—play ‘wild’ games with the kids
There’s generally lots of space in the day-use area so make the most of all that room to let the kids run wild. In fact, encourage them!
Play chasey, balls games or frisbee; then pause to soak up the natural world around you. Help the kids to play ‘I spy’ or ‘nature’s bingo’ (you know, 'find something old, something new, something rough, something chewed', and so on). This is the perfect spot to spend an afternoon exploring and sharing nature with your young ones.
How’s that checklist looking now? Yell 'cooee' in a valley, tick. Make something with things you find, tick. Play in the bush for a whole day, tick!
Nature play | © Anna Osetroff
There’s no time like the present to take back control and start living your dreams, living life by design not default…woops, there we go again! Check out Abergowrie State Forest or Broadwater camping area for more information. Today! Remember to check Park alerts before you go.