Heading for Bowen we set up at a free camp in Home Hills just for the night and I give my mum a call. I MISS MY MUM!!! As it turns out my grandmother grew up in Home Hills. I'd love to find out more about my family's history. As for the spot we are so impressed with the free camping available in Queensland, especially compared to Western Australia. Free camping ON GRASS with toilets and bins plus chickens and horses to entertain the kids. What more could you want? Well, how about a bunch of friendly hippies?

Next stop - THE HIPPIE CAMP!! We use wiki camps as our main guide for selecting our camp spots but you can't always trust other peoples comments or opinions. After all everything is relative to your budget and expectations. The reviews for this camp were very mixed but the alternative was paying for a caravan park in Bowen.
"Don't go there, this is a hippie camp with appalling facilities"
"Best camp ever with the most friendly people"
"Drove in and turned straight around, this camp is a disgrace"
"Need more camps like these that include a free dinner".

We go to check it out for ourselves.

They have a sort of make shift hut in the middle of a massive open field and at first glance it looks as though they just spread their stuff out across the grounds with zero concern for any organisation and live crazy chaotic lives. But when you look a little closer the people that live here are kind, generous and well organized. They are helping people like us, travel for cheap and providing  basic facilities without asking for much in return. We decide it's perfectly okay and stay for three nights. They have their own pigs, chickens and geese. A full vegetable garden complete with everything you need - including some additional herbs. People can help themselves and help to maintain the land when they want to and have time. There's no set jobs or expectations but  people do seem to help. Or as a traveller you can pay a very small amount (five dollars) to stay and eat three meals a day as you pass on through. That's a fair deal in my book. On our second night there after putting our precious kids to bed Reece and I joined the others sitting around the camp fire and watched as they cook a big stew.
Its announced.
"Tonight's dinner is steamed rice and chicken and vegetables stew."
"AND There's always enough food"
Always enough food seems to be the motto. You can go there and you will never starve. In the morning I made a big batch of pancakes for everyone for breakfast and all of the sudden we were quite popular.

From this location we were able to explore the beautiful beaches of Bowen and spent an afternoon relaxing at Horseshoe Bay. We decide to do a day trip to Hydeaway bay and Dingo Beach and these places are simply bliss. We wish we could spend longer here but we will go broke if we don't keep on moving. Well, broke faster, shall I say. But can I elaborate on this train of thought ?

We are not broke yet, but there are these moments in life, and we had one down on the McCanes Bay near Bowen, that you cannot put a price on. Olive is playing in the sand with her plastic beach toys and I'm looking out across the sand watching Reece throw a line into the ocean. River is helping Daddy with the bait and ruffling through the tackle box. I am so relaxed and the thought of money is more than a million miles away. I rest my head back onto our picnic rug and Olive comes and lunges her beautiful sandy body across me and signals for a head scratch, which she loves lately. I'm running my fingers through her hair in awe of her amazing little self when suddenly there's a huge scream from the beach!
River and Reece are jumping and yelling. Olive and I jump to our feet and I think something terrible has happened. We are running over towards the boys all I can hear is Reece yelling over River, who's yelling over Reece, yelling over River.
"River caught a fish!!!"
"I caught a fish"
"Our little man caught a fish"
"I caught it mummy, I caught it"
"Not me, him"
"I caught it mum"
Our little four year old threw a hand line into the waves from off the sand and caught a yellow fin whiting. Reece had shown him how to cast the line and hand reel it in but really it was only supposed to occupy him while daddy did the 'real' fishing. Rivers face was gleaming so bright and proud and he bounced all over the beach like he'd won the lottery.
We will never forget this day worth a million dollars! To be broke after this adventure will be worth it because these memories we are making are priceless.

Our next stop further south was Airlie Beach, gateways to the Whitsundays Islands, and we begrudgingly check into the cheapest non powered site we can find. This place is to DIE FOR. I could live here, easily. The lady at the caravan park explained to me that she only came for a one week holiday five years ago. It's that kind of place. We check out the beaches and the shopping but control our impulses and don't buy anything. Then we go to sort out the best deal to visit the islands. Whitehaven Beach IS MAGICAL. The whitest squeaky sand and crystal clear blue waters. The place is bright and perfect like something from a movie. Daydream Island is stunning and interesting with little wallabies jumping around minding their own business as the tourists pass by, and of course more dreamy beaches. We needed a week here! The next day we took a day trip out to Hamilton Island. It's a resort island and we had the use of all the resort facilities including the swimming pools. That was great for the kids. Really we just spent the day wandering around up and down the steep footpaths, checking out the beaches, having THE BEST fish and chips of our adventures so far and swimming in the pools making use of the swim up bar. We have two children with us and one of them can't swim, so it's really impossible to go diving or even snorkelling in deep waters. In a few years time we will simply have to come back and dive this incredible part of the great barrier reef. Even without this part the trips over on the ferry were worth it - absolutely!