I’m deep in the Goomburra Valley in Queensland’s Darling Downs. It’s only two hours’ drive from Brisbane yet feels like another world.

Dalrymple Creek flows down from the sub-tropical rainforests of Main Range National Park, slicing through this 1620-hectare cattle station, where generations of the Gordon family have lived and farmed for over 160 years.

In 1969 the Gordons did something no other farmers in Australia were doing at the time: they opened their property up to campers. It helped supplement their income during a slump in cattle prices, but it was about more than money.

“The land was just so beautiful,” says Sue Gordon. “We just really wanted to share it with people. It was the best decision we ever made.”

Caravanning and camping have undergone a massive resurgence since the pandemic, as people seek simplicity, self-sufficiency, and the solace of nature. But Gordon Country has always been loved by those in the know. Easter weekend can see up to 4000 people flood in, which gives some indication of both its appeal and its size.

At most campground you’re given a paper map with a hand-drawn line showing the route from reception to your camp site. Here, they’d be better off issuing a GPS tracker and an emergency locator beacon.

Our site is five kilometres along a bumpy dirt road, through an endless precession of gorgeous glades and towering river gums, criss-crossing the creek and slipping past road-hogging cows (but don’t worry, we made it).

Don’t expect numbered tent sites in suburbia-like rows, or concrete slabs to keep your caravan perfectly level and your shoes clean. This is camping old school style. The swimming pool is the river, the games room is the great outdoors.

Bring your dog (hell, bring your horse), make a fire, stake out a home among the gum trees and get down to the serious business of unwinding. But if you do hanker for the luxuries of comfort-camping, well it’s got that, too…

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