Complete solitude and relaxation by a remote Gulf Savannah River. An all day lazy campfire, the sound of running water and sunny blue skies. That’s camping at Karma Waters.
We have two reasons for coming out here. Firstly, to recharge our depleted mental batteries in a way that only being by a campfire next to an outback river will do and secondly, to test out our new Trayon on a Trailer configuration a little bit off the beaten track. How adventurous can we really go now?
It’s a lovely drive from tropical rainforest into the drier Gulf Savannah. Two hundred kilometres northwest of Cairns, Karma Waters Station is just over a three hour drive. We travel for 2 hours on sealed road up the Kuranda Range to Mareeba, Mt Molloy and Mt Carbine before turning off 10 minutes past Mt Carbine onto the dirt station track sign posted to Karma Waters and Hurricane Station.
The next fifty kilometre stretch of dirt takes just over an hour. On the left, 10 minutes after turning off the bitumen, is the short track to Cooktown Crossing. We take a quick detour to check it out.
This causeway on the Mitchell River is a free camping spot and is popular (because it’s free) but doesn’t have many ideal sites. It’s much better at Karma Waters despite the $25 per night camping fee. The drive from here follows the Mitchell River and is slow going with dips, creek crossings and cattle to avoid but lovely with nice views in the distance.
Karma Waters Station is private property and they have nine camping locations on the banks of the Mitchell River. The beauty of camping here is that you have absolute privacy and solitude. The spots are a considerable distance apart. After checking in at the station homestead we head for camp site number two, through our own private gate, go over a sandy, somewhat dicey, 4WD only crossing into a lovely canopy of shady paperbark trees right along side the river.
There is the option here of canoeing down the river, swimming, fishing and catching a few cherubin (yabbies) in opera house nets. Or you can just be lazy and sit on the banks with a good book and enjoy the views. We choose option two as the river still has the after wet season flow and is flowing very wide and strongly. Too strong for our inflatable kayak. We did have a refreshing dip or two though.
So we learn some things about travelling with our new trailer while at Karma Waters. On the open road it tracked behind us beautifully with only a slight difference to fuel consumption. On a dirt road it’s great and it handles the bumps and dips really well but there are limitations we need to be aware of now. We realise that we are now the length of a bus and need a very wide turning circle. We realise that this will create situations where we will need to unhitch the trailer and manually push it around because there is no other way to avoid low overhanging branches. We realise that two thick sandy bumps close together with jagged rocks to the side can be a bit perilous with a trailer. Being bogged and wedged between them in a V shape is not much fun and serious off road stuff should be avoided. There is no way we’d take it through the Simpson Desert. We learnt that we are virtually a mini caravan now. Gotta love those adventurous learning curves.
However, we were still able to access a remote site that would be completely inaccessible to a caravan. We were able to unhitch easily and be independent of our living quarters. We were able to stop on the way and collect heaps of firewood and just chuck it in the back of the ute and we had storage space in abundance. Empty cupboards in the Trayon is unheard of. Amazing.
Karma Waters is a nice weekend escape destination from Cairns, especially if you want to a break from the coastal humidity and need a dose of outback scenery. You do need to book ahead though, especially on long weekends. Some rules apply as well – there are no facilities so they request you bring a chemical toilet, no weapons or hunting dogs allowed, no motorbikes and quads. This is all good as it makes for a much more pleasant camping experience for all.
Love an early morning campfire with campfire vegemite toast. Yum.
Another great cattle station camping option in North Queensland is Woodleigh Station. A bit more easily accessible and very lovely. Click on this link to see Woodleigh Station – Camping Around Cairns – North Queensland
If you have a taste for remote station camping, check out my post on Lorella Springs. Now this place is truly amazing Lorella Springs Station – Savannah Way, Northern Territory