Our first trip of the 2014-15 season was to another big, popular campsite — Lake Cressbrook. I mentioned last time that this type of campsite isn’t my favourite, and I was reminded why again this time. The thing about big, popular campsites is that they often have far too many humans. And not all of those humans have the same attitude towards peace and quiet as I do. I’m reminded of the line “How’s the serenity?’ from The Castle — no actual speed boats involved, but a group of people who LOVE to talk … talk LOUD … for a long time … a looonnnnggg time. Not so much serenity.
But everything else about Lake Cressbrook was pretty much perfect. The Toowoomba Council do an awesome job of keeping this place pristine. There are quite a number of semi-secluded sites nestled amongst the trees, but these get taken quickly. We ended up on the large grassy central area with huge, flat sites. There are also designated areas for campervans.
E says : At Cressbrook Dam we set up our camp, then we realised we forgot the floor mat :( Then K and I went fishing — we had no luck. Then it was 4.00pm and we read for a little bit while dad was getting ready for a fire. We had damper on a stick. Then it was bed time then I saw a kangaroo next to our camp :o On Sunday we learnt about this plant called algae. It gives people itches. Dad made bait out of sausage. After that I read while eating chocolate — Yum! We had stew for dinner. Our last day we went fishing one last time. Then dad packed up and we went home. I like Cressbrook Dam, it was a nice place to camp with nice cool breezes.
Our fireplace was very small, but I’m not really into massive roaring fires, so it suited us just fine. Boiling water, cooking sausages, toasting marshmallows — it did the job. The grassy site was beautiful to walk on in bare feet. There’s a big camp kitchen here with HOT water to wash up with and gas barbies. This is easily the cleanest, neatest campsite we’ve been to — even the fireplace had been swept! The toilet block is big and clean and there are even hot showers — not proper camping at all.
But the main reason we came up here is that the kids wanted to try their hand at fishing. Queensland Fisheries regularly stock dams like Cressbrook, and there are certainly fish up here, but we had no luck. The weed around the edge of the lake was pretty thick and made things difficult, but the kids just had fun casting out. Even a small boat like a canoe would have put us out amongst them. But you have to be careful, because the wind gets up quick and strong.
K says : At Lake Cressbrook we went camping for two days. At the camp we started to unpack then I found out the toilets had heated showers. Soon we ventured to the lake where we saw pelicans and fish (but we did not catch any) and heaps of kangaroos. It felt like Kangaroo Island. The second day we went to try to catch some fish but we failed then we went to get some proper bait but did not get any because the shop had sold out. The lady at the petrol station told us there was a waterhole at a National Park. When we got back we went fishing but did not catch any fish. Then we saw some more kangaroos and joeys. The next day we got up, had breaky then started fishing then went back home. It was the best.
It’s not a good idea to swim in Lake Cressbrook — algal blooms are common and not good for humans. So we decided to go 15-20 minutes up the road to Crows Nest National Park in the hope of finding a waterhole. I went camping here one easter when I was a kid, but I don’t remember much about it except that someone saw a snake in the toilets and one of the dads threatened to kill the easter bunny.
It’s quite an easy walk along Crows Nest Creek and we reached the first potential swimming spot in about five minutes. But The Cascades weren’t cascading. We crossed over and did a bit of boulder hopping among the awesome mountains of tumbled granite before heading back to the track for a safer descent. We fared no better at the next spot — Kauyoo Pool. Very little water, but a great place for me to feed my fetish for photographing ‘rock and root’ formations — where plants sometimes seem to grow right out of bare rock.
Our last hope was Bottlebrush Pool, because the only other swimming hole — at the falls — is now a restricted access area. Luckily we were in luck. Lucky! Bottlebrush Pool is a gorgeous swimming hole surrounded by more granite and … you guessed it … lots of bottlebrush. It was really surprising how much clear, fresh water remained in this pool, given how little we’d seen everywhere else. There’s quite a bit of shallow water and a couple of deep spots.
The kids splashed around for an hour or so and only had to share the place with one other family. The timing was just right too — just as we were leaving a bunch of teenagers turned up with booming music. But, we had our small dose of serenity.
Lake Cressbrook is west of Brisbane, just north of Toowoomba. It takes a bit over two hours to get there once you hit the Centenary Motorway. You cannot book sites in advance — self-registration is required upon arrival. Firewood is not available onsite, so you need to bring your own. But check before you go because this area is subject to total fire bans during dry spells. Then you can only use fuel stoves or the onsite barbecues. There’s a boat ramp at the day use area, within earshot of the campsite. The day use area also has a small playground for small kids.
You can find more information about Lake Cressbrook at the Toowoomba Council website.
Fishing permits are available from Fisheries Queensland. You only need one permit per couple and people under 18 can fish without a permit.