200 caravans one day. Alone in the field the next. That’s Kenilworth Homestead.
Caravanning can be like that. Some places you go, it’s wall-to-wall caravans and motor homes. Other places, you have to yourself. Kenilworth, inland from Noosa and Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast is the perfect destination if you are looking for a quiet rural escape within easy driving distance of home. Particularly when your home is on the Sunshine Coast.
So it came to pass that over a recent long weekend public holiday, Dinah and I along with our son James and his wife Shelby hitched up our caravans for a 3 day rural escape to Kenilworth. Being a long weekend, we guessed that it would be a busy time in this great little country town, but we weren’t quite expecting the number of like-minded caravanners who had also decided to spend their long weekend at idyllic Kenilworth Homestead camping ground. Just before you enter town, Kenilworth Homestead is a sprawling rural property on the banks of the Mary River. Beautiful grassy paddocks with large shade trees offer the ideal location for country camping. Easy access and plenty of space for even the biggest rigs, this is a family-friendly and pet-friendly environment that attracts caravanners and campers from all over Southern Queensland. The abundance of space means that groups can camp together and, in the evening, enjoy an open fire together. Something you can’t do in a caravan park.
We love it here. Apart from being close to home, under an hour from Twin Waters, it is a beautiful place. The Mary River is a huge bonus. Safe and shallow, it is the ideal spot to cool off on a hot summer’s day and an easy stroll from your campsite. The Homestead offers great facilities for campers. Apart from easy-access grassy sites, the amenities are very good with hot showers and a small shop for last minute essentials. Barista-made coffee is even available at the homestead from 7am to 11am most mornings.
A udderly delicious destination
The township of Kenilworth is a ten minute drive away and is well worth the visit. The main street is lined with funky gift and craft shops, coffee shops, and a bakery with donuts and pastries to die for. There’s a well-stocked grocery store, an ice cream shop, bottle shop (for essential supplies) and at the top of town, the Kenilworth Hotel offering ice-cold beer and great pub food.
Perhaps the best known attraction in town is the Kenilworth Dairies. The Cochrane family, sixth generation dairy farmers, carry the legacy and history of Kenilworth Dairies. The hills of the Mary Valley are home to their Holstein, Friesian, Brown Swiss, and Jersey dairy cattle herds. The famous cheese factory was built in 1950 by the Kraft Corporation. The factory closed in the late 1980s, then was reopened by a group of former employees. The factory has become an icon for locally produced original cheeses crafted from original family recipes. You’ll find the dairy shop stocked with ‘udderly delicious’ dairy products as well as a huge selection of produce from the local area.
What goes well with cheese? Fine wine! Boasting a diverse range of the finest local products, the Kenilworth Dairies Cellar Door is a haven for foodies and a great way to support local businesses. Having stocked up with jams, spreads and of course, great cheeses, we settled in for a cuppa at Poppa’s open garden café before heading out to explore the other side of the main street.
The Great Wall of Gympie
The Mary Valley is home to many excellent camping grounds, most with access to the Mary River. Exploring the area is really enjoyable. Meandering country roads lead to a number of picturesque country towns including Imbil and Amamoor. Being a long weekend, these town were really buzzing. Long queues outside the coffee shops testimony to the popularity of these small hamlets.
The Mary Valley is also home to one of Australia’s most popular country music festivals, the Gympie Music Muster. Located about 45 kilometres from the city of Gympie and about 25 kilometres from Kenilworth, the Gympie Music Muster is located on a natural bush site deep within the Amamoor Creek State Forest. The muster started as a community fundraiser in 1982 and has grown to a four-day festival attracting musicians from across Australia and internationally. Held annually in August and with over 100 artists performing in 6 venues across the site over the 4 days, the Gympie Music Muster is Australia’s original and best camping and music experience. Each year, around 23,000 people attend the event. The site is easily accessible via a reasonable dirt road through the forest, though after rain the dirt road would provide a challenge, particularly towing a caravan.
The site is surrounded by a ‘great wall’ of rusting corrugated iron sheeting and looks somewhat forlorn. I can just imagine how 23,000 people would transform this now deserted site into a thriving village of gyrating music lovers! Nearby are two excellent camping grounds, Cedar Grove Camping Ground and Amamoor Creek Camping Area. Both offer facilities for all the family. But you’ll need to book well ahead (perhaps years!) to ensure a site at muster time. With 23,000 attendees, the competition for camping sites is fierce. The camping grounds are controlled by the Queensland Government. For more information and o book, go to: https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks
Looping back through the village of Amamoor, we headed back to our own camping site at Kenilworth Homestead, just in time for a wine by the fire. James and Shelby left on the Monday morning as they were back to work on Tuesday. Dinah and I opted to stay on the Monday and leave Tuesday morning. By mid-day Monday, the site was deserted. An exodus of over 200 campers leaving Dinah and I alone in this huge paddock. 200 caravans one day. Alone in the field the next.
While you can set up camp wherever you like at Kenilworth Homestead, it is advisable to book ahead, particularly during holiday periods and long weekends. Whether you are a ‘local’ or on a road trip, this is a fantastic place to stay for a few days, or longer. Easy access, plenty of room, grassy sites, a beautiful river to enjoy and good amenities. You can check out Kenilworth Homestead and book at: www.kenilworthhomestead.com.au
Feature photograph: 200 caravans a-camping. And then there was one.
- A paddock full of caravans one day. None the next.
- Kenilworth Homestead. Classic Queensland architecture
- The beautiful Mary River. Great for swimming
- Or canoeing
- A bonus – you an have open fires at your campsite
- The Gympie Music Muster site. Deserted
- The Great Wall of Gympie
- Camping at Amamoor Creek camping Area
- A great selection of fine food at the Kenilworth Dairies
- Easy access, grassy sites with tons of room
- Our final evening