Sunday, 24 April 2011


Friday 15 April 2011 to Friday 22 April 2011

Solitary Islands Marine Park Resort

After a couple of months in the planning we finally got away at 7:00am with the Prado packed to the brim, the parents and kids all fed and watered and the Camel camper trailer in tow.

Wooli is four and a half hours south of Brisbane just east of the town of Grafton. Fortunately a non-eventful trip, with the kids occupied with a few games of eye-spy, a movie on the DVD player and a couple of games on the Nintendo DS. We enjoyed our usual stop over at the Macadamia Castle, just north of Ballina for cappuccinos and milk shakes, not forgetting a packet of hot macadamia nuts. This is a regular stop when we are travelling in coastal northern New South Wales, the coffee is always great and a welcome relief.

Turning up at the Solitary Islands Resort at midday and finding our riverside campsite to be very large, well grassed and in fact on a river, only enforced that we had made the right decision for our 7 day stay. We had initially booked in at the Wooli Camping and Caravan Park, after making some enquiries on we changed our booking, this turned out to be a very good decision.

Setting up was easy on the large site as we situated the camper to take advantage of the astro-turfed pad, locating the pad under the camper soft floor and our awning living space. The pad was raised higher than the surrounding grassed area and would serve well should we experience some rain (as it turned out this was a smart decision). Our site was well defined by palms and lilypillys and provided great privacy from the neighbouring sites.

The location is idillic, only short cast to the beautiful Wooli river, I was eagerly eyeing off the river bank and planning a spot to throw in a line.

The Solitary Islands Resort is a far cry from a bush camp, with powered and watered sites, hot showers, swimming pool and a jumping pillow, however there is still a bushy, non commercial feel about the place.

After settling in for the night we were awoken by the sound of rain on the canvas, we were not overly concerned as we always set up the camp and have the roof falls to direct any water away from the camper.

The rain continued and was torrential for the next couple of days. It rained for all of Saturday and Sunday with rarely a break, as it turned out it rained about 100mm in those two days. We were all going cabin crazy (or should I say tent crazy) so we ventured out into the wet and had a drive to the neighbouring Minnie Waters and Diggers Camps and explored around the township of Wooli.

When the weather finally cleared we we able to better enjoy this wonderful place. Unfortunately a little cold for swimming, would be great in summer.

The fishing in the river is great, caught a heap of good sized bream with the best fishing at the entrance of the river. Easily accessible sandy beach was just the spot for a few hours fishing in the early mornings. With bait and tackle readily available and reasonably priced in Wooli what more could you ask for.

Nothing better than seeing the smiles in the kids faces when they catch a fish (or just get a bite), the simple joys of life. They have as much fun playing with the soldier crabs and freshly pumped yabbies as they do casting the rods. Connor turns out to be a bit of a champ with casting, can cast just as well with a side cast Alvey or a Shimano spinner.

Noticed that a fellow in Wooli hires out tinnys. Decided that this was a great way for Connor, Grampy (who was visiting for a few days) and I to spend a few hours. Great service, the tinny was delivered to our campground and launched at the ramp, can't ask for better service.

Was great on the water navigating through the numerous oyster leases and having one of those rare male bonding times.

Connor got the shock of his life when his little rod doubled over and line stripping from his reel, after a few minutes battling with the fish, with the drag working overtime, Connor finally landed his largest fish to date, a lively Longtom. After gently removing the hook we released Tom and waved goodbye.

Caught and released a few bream and a keeper flathead (my favourite)

Honestly we had better luck fishing from the bank and beach than we did from the boat. Not complaining, I'm sure that if you had your own tinny you could do a fair bit of exploring and check out the best spots.

Solitary Islands have canoes and kayaks that your can borrow free of charge. We had fun with these and took turns paddling each of the kids, Connor got the hang of if quickly and Jardine was happy to sit still and be chauffeured around the river. There are some quite substantial Yabbie beds in easy rowing distance so fresh live bait is easily obtainable.

Too much excitement for some.
Had a great dinner and a few beers at the Wooli Hotel, recently renovated and extended, this pub was more than expected is such a small town. A few ales a well cooked steak was just what was needed after a hard day of doing very little.

The easter crowds started to dribble in on the Thursday. What was earlier in the week a quiet place started to have a bit of a buzz with kids and parents on holidays enjoying themselves.

Good Friday arrived too quick and was time to pack up camp. Gear all stowed, Camel in tow we waved farewell to Wooli with a promise to return again.