Byfield National and Conservation Parks and State Forest

Monday, Sep 25, 2017 at 11:46

Kevin S - Life Member (QLD)

A couple of weeks ago we trailed our van to Yeppoon, with the intention of exploring the Byfield area. The drive to Yeppoon from Brisbane is certainly not an off road journey and is becoming less so with continual improvement to the Bruce Highway. But a day in Byfield can be regarded as off road.

The forest village of Byfield is about 40 kilometres north of Yeppoon on a good sealed road. It is not far south of the boundary of the Shoalwater Bay military training area, although access this defense facility is from the highway north of Rockhampton.
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The Byfield area hosts five camping and visitor areas as well as a scouts camp. Five Rock camping area is on the beach in the Conservation Park and Nine Mile Beach further south in the National Park. The scout camp is at the point where the beach turns inland into Corio Bay, an Inlet that divides the beach into northern and southern sections. The remaining camp sites of Upper Stony, Red Rock and Water Park Creek are in Byfield Forest and nearer to the Byfield village.

Driving in from Yeppoon, the road to Upper Stony turns left a few kilometres before you reach the village. Eleven kilometres of gravel road leads to the camping and day visitor areas, located on either side of the creek, providing them each with access to the roomy swimming hole upstream of the causeway.
The road was in good condition and is suitable for low clearance vehicles. Low clearance caravans could have a problem in the two creek crossings as could longer high clearance vans with flat floors.

You reach the camping area first, on your left. Tent sites are sited near to the multi cubicle composting toilet. A little further away, on the lower side of the road, the caravan and motor home sites are easily accessed by driving past and backing in so that your awning is facing the creek. All sites are numbered and have fire rings. Non potable water is available and generators are allowed.

A short drive over the creek brings you to the day area. Picnic tables are scattered over its grassed surface. Gas barbecues are provided as are composting toilets and non potable water. The day area is the starting and finishing points for two walks, a short loop and a longer loop, both of which run along the creek and through the forest.

Nearer to Byfield and to the right of the main road, a few hundred metres of solid gravel will bring you to Red Rock camping area. Camp sites, fire rings and picnic tables are spread over a gentle slope among larger trees, with some shady areas. Sites are not numbered and are suitable for tents and medium sized vans.
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There is no problem in accessing this camping area with on road vehicles.
Composting toilets and non potable water are available. It is a very pleasant and conveniently located area. Again, generators are OK.

Water Park Creek is located on Stockyard Point Track, the road from Byfield to the beach. The turn is to the right, just before the village, on to 4 kilometres of sealed road that changes to dirt immediately past the camping area. Day use and camping areas are on either sides of the road.

Picnic tables, some shaded, have been placed on a grassy slope. The toilets and camping area are above the road towards the crown of the hill. Short walking tracks are set along the creek. But watch out for Kookaburras at the picnic area. They are keen to share your lunch and will do so if you ignore them for a moment.
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Road works were under way to the east of the picnic area, causing a detour onto a narrow stony track which rejoined the road after about a kilometre. From there to the start of the four wheel drive high clearance track, the road was wide and of well graded sandy soil and almost free of corrugations.

The two wheel drive access ends just inside the national park at Banksia information shelter. A convenient one way loop takes you past the shelter and leads you into the narrow four wheel drive track or returns you to the access road for your return journey to civilisation.
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Fire had recently been through this area but the shelter and its information escaped unscathed. However, the starting points of walking tracks in this area were not obvious, possibly because of fire damage.
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We didn't go far past that point. We had already decided not to drive in to the beach. The area is very dry and the sand on the track, particularly where it climbs a hill, is deep and loose. It would be safe to attempt with two vehicles or for sand drivers with more experience that I have.
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We soon came to a water crossing of indeterminate depth. I have a strict policy of not walking creek crossings when I have seen crocodile warnings and I had seen one such sign a little further back. Besides, I didn't want to get my feet wet.

Byfield village has little more to it that a school, general store and a few houses, although there are B&B and Eco resorts in the area.
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The surprise was the general store. It is a genuine one stop shop and provides the facilities of general store, fuel supply (diesel & ULP) pub and cafe/coffee shop. It boasts an extensive blackboard menu, spacious sheltered seating and picnic tables beneath the palms. I guess it is popular with residents of Rockhampton as well as with visitors to the Capricorn Coast.

Access to Sandy Point at the southern mouth of Corio Bay is by the road that leads to the old and currently closed Capricorn Resort. There are two choices of road to get there. You either take the beach from Bangalee or continue past the security fenced resort and over a very pot holed section of sealed road to a corrugated dirt road. Both will deliver you to the northern extent of the southern section of the beach adjacent to the Byfield area. The drive along the beach is the most comfortable of the two.
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Those who make the sandy journey to the beach via Byfield and Stockyard Point Track speak of the beach area in glowing terms. It is not on my bucket list as I doubt that circumstances will ever give me an opportunity to reach the beach area. One of the realities of growing older is a realisation that the bucket list must of necessity shorten.

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Kevin
It is important to always maintain a sense of proportion

2005 Mitsubishi Challenger 3.0L V6 with Coromal 525 Off Road Pop Top
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