The pod has given us the freedom to make quick weekend getaways, unfortunately I usually cannot leave work before 5pm on a Friday so that does put a little restriction on how far we go. The 5pm start is the reason we thought we would check out the nearest free camp between Toowoomba and Warwick, as we plan on spending Saturday night at Queen Mary falls, which is just past Warwick. G picked me up from work and we headed off to Allora, approximately 47 minutes from Toowoomba, the childhood home of P.L. Travers, creator of Marry Poppins. Allora is also in the heart of the famed Sunflower route.
We spent the night at the; Dalrymple Creek Reserve Allora rest area. The rest area allows for an over night stop, no longer, given that there is only toilet facilities and no showers, a 24 hour stopover is enough. There are other alternatives if you want a longer stay in Allora. The showgrounds allow for a 7 day stay at $20 a night and that includes powered sites and hot showers.
The reserve itself is just off the main road into Allora and we joined four other campers in the space on the creek. The reserve consists of some quite lovely parkland with a mix of native and introduced deciduous trees, a lane of poplars, a tree I always associate with Allora grow down one side. A couple of weeks ago they would have been beautiful when leaves first began to change and fall, it is quite a pretty piece of parkland, even with the current drought. The other side of the creek is occupied by the Allora golf course, adding to the feel of manicured parkland. The Dalrymple Creek Reserve was an excellent place for a quick overnight stop, a pretty location, even the one public toilet was painted in beautiful sunflowers.
It was quite dark by the time we arrived, and I thought I could hear bats in the trees along the creek. Bats play such a vital role in the environment, with seed dispersal and pollination, but their presence is not always welcomed these days. In daylight, I confirmed the presence of a colony of flying foxes, fascinating, noisy, animated, little animals, these days they inspire some caution, given the association with Lyssavirus and Hendra virus, risk is minimal, but it is worth being aware that it is unwise to handle any bat that might be on the ground, this colony looked very healthy and happy in their creek side roost, casually turning themselves to follow the sun and squabble over comfortable sun drenched branches.
When we use free camps we try to spend some money in the location we are staying and pub meals are a good option, we don’t have to cook and local businesses get the benefit of nomad trade. We had dinner at the Railway hotel, typical pub fare, cheap, (well reasonable pricing I guess), and cheerful, self serve on the veg and or salad. The Railway and the other two hotels are in fairly easy walking distance from the reserve, if you are so inclined.
Allora was a childhood home of P.L. Travers, creator of Mary Poppins. Anyone who has seen the delightful movie; Saving Mr Banks might have certain expectations of Traver’s Allora home. The movie implied a degree of isolation for the family during their time in Allora, the reality is the house is in the main street of Allora, right next door to one of the town’s three hotels, perhaps that location contributed to her father’s drinking problem. The house is a private home today, although it’s literary link is acknowledged. We had gone for a bit of a walk around the main street prior to dinner on Friday night and then again in daylight before leaving, checking out the P.L. Travers’s park and the house. I am really not sure about that stick figure design on the monument in the park. There is an interesting biography of Travers by Valerie Lawson; Mary Poppins She Wrote, for anyone who might want to know more about the woman who created one of the most memorable characters of 20th century children’s literature.