IMBIL A TRUE TREASURE
Stunning views from
LOOK closely at one of the bushrangers who regularly
ambush the heritage train at Imbil in southern Queensland and caravanners might recognise
a familiar face
For John Beckman, who operates the tranquil and picturesque Island Reach Camping Resort at
the southern end of the historic and friendly Mary Valley township, is among the star
Rattler pulls into Imbil Station
John and his band of
suitably costumed outlaws stage a shoot-out at the pretty Imbil Station on the third
Sunday of every month, much to the delight of onlookers, many who have travelled aboard
the Valley Rattler - a collection of period wooden carriages hauled by a C17-Class 4-8-0
steam locomotive from Gympie 41km away.
In excitement terms - whether you're a railway enthusiast, passenger or tourist - you
can't help but get caught up in the action as 'Gentleman George' is captured and publicly
flogged. As John says: "It's all good fun."
The Valley Rattler arrives in Imbil every Wednesday and Sunday at around midday, with a
colourful and friendly market greeting passengers every Sunday.
is this ... my 'van pitched at Island Reach
I recently spent three
nights at John's idyllic camping resort at Imbil, the Mary Valley's largest township. Only
16km from the Bruce Highway in the Sunshine Coast region, it is an ideal spot for weary
caravanners travelling the eastern seaboard.
Island Reach (telephone 07 5484 5247) is an extremely well kept and friendly eleven and a
half-acre site on the banks of Yabba Creek. The parkland setting boasts short mown grass,
toilets, small laundry ($1 a wash), hot showers and covered picnic area. Pets are allowed,
though during my stay a couple of dogs on a nearby site were sometimes a nuisance with
Showers and toilets were clean with oodles of hot water available. There's only a handful
of powered sites and the resort is more suited to self-sufficient caravanners. A bargain
at $5 per adult, plus $2 for power if required.
The creek is ideal for
canoeing - these can be hired from the resort or you can take your own - or for cooling
off on a hot Queensland day.
Relaxing outside my caravan, I enjoyed an abundance of native flora and fauna, including
colourful parrots. Apparently, campers can sometimes spot a platypus foraging in the creek
though I was not so lucky.
Just down the road from Island Reach is Chris and Joyce Zillman's fascinating Museum of
Wonders, a must-see treasure trove of everything military including shiny Kaiser Bill
helmets. Chris's interest in the headgear stemmed from the fact that his great grandfather
was decorated by the Kaiser before migrating Down Under.
outside his Museum of Wonders
In addition to military
memorabilia, the museum has displays of old and new dolls, bottles and spoons, Aboriginal
and Papua New Guinea artefacts, shells, fossils, mounted game heads, stamps, money, model
cars and a great collection of old petrol bowsers.
There's even a 300-year-old Malayan matchlock, brought to Australia by a Dutch seaman who
captured it from pirates off the coast of Sumatra. There are also beads believed to be
from a 5000-year-old Egyptian mummy which has been in the Zillman family for generations.
Entrance to the museum is a bargain $2.
Just round the corner in George Street is the inviting public swimming pool, which is open
on weekdays from 3.15pm to 5pm and during weekends. Another bargain at just $1.
Imbil is a terrific
little town offering local arts and crafts gallery, a nursery, library, village green with
barbecue facilities, friendly shops and the Railway Hotel ... all within easy walking
distance of Island Reach. Don't miss the historic Timbermans Walk which weaves its way
through age-old jacaranda trees, which were stunning and in full bloom during my visit.
Another 'must' is Imbil Lookout which has spectacular views over the surrounding patchwork
of pineapple plantations, macadamia farms and grazing properties. There's a 'sundial'
pillar and covered tables and benches. A word of warning: don't attempt to tow your
caravan up the steep and winding access road.
Hotel ... popular watering hole for locals
all-weather 14km forest drive from Imbil to Borumba Dam, vastly replenished after drought,
is well worth doing. Don't forget your rods, bait and fishing permit, available from
Imbil's general store, because it is really good fishing with golden perch, Australian
bass and saratogo there for the taking.
The forest drive takes about an hour and includes eight information stops, a lookout and a
short walk. Permits are required to travel along other forest roads.
And while on the subject of driving,
you never know what you might come across in Imbil. Strolling past the Railway Hotel I saw
a wonderful collection of old cars from yesteryear lined up outside this popular watering
|Running repairs for this 'old lady' of the road
The 18 gleaming machines
belonged to members of the Queensland division of the Australian Veteran Car Club who were
on a three-day tour of Kenilworth and the Mary Valley.
So, during my short stay in Imbil
I experienced a heritage railway, a museum packed with treasures from the past and a slice
of motoring history ... all wonderful icons from the past. Not to mention good old country
hospitality at its best.
1: Queensland outback
2: Sydney circular