It won’t take travelling anglers long to appreciate the charms of a stopover at South Mission Beach. The very well appointed (RACQ four-star rated) Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Village located on Kennedy Esplanade, with a view of golden sand stretching on either side and the cleanest blue water stretching to Dunk Island to the east, is bound to kick start an urge to catch a fish.
To spend time at this tropical paradise it’s first necessary to travel to Mission Beach, which is due east of Tully, a sugar town located between Innisfail and Ingham (around two hours drive from either Cairns or Townsville). The turn off to Mission Beach is located on the northern outskirts of Tully on the Bruce Highway of course and a short 20 minute journey will see the car entering the town.
Once there a turn off into the quite prominent South Mission Beach Road on the southern end of town will see the vehicle arrive at the waterfront with the Beachcomber Coconut Village on the left. It’s a very peaceful place to enjoy a stay; with the beach side coconut palms, large welcoming sign, and the canopy of rain forest behind the Village all adding to the ambience.
The Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Village is one of the Big Four chain of Holiday Parks and has won some prestigious tourism awards in recent years. To say it is well set up for visitors – from back packers to those with seriously large caravans or boats in tow – might be an understatement. The Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Village’s spacious and well kept grounds provide sufficient room to avoid that annoying feeling of being crammed together, which tends to spoil some camping areas.
There are ample sites with concrete pads for caravans, as well as generous grassed areas for tents or camper vans (some sites powered). Those visitors travelling light, with perhaps just the boat in tow, will be able to enjoy a stay thanks to ample four person ensuite cabins, plus five person deluxe villas for their use. There are also a number of four person beach front cabins available, overlooking Dunk Island to the east. The cabins are air conditioned, except for the standard cabins (which sleep four people).
Available for those enjoying a stay are BBQs, a swimming pool, tennis court and basketball ring, children’s play ground, camper’s kitchen, TV and games rooms. At the entrance on Kennedy Drive there’s a restaurant and take away food store, which also stocks a fair range of grocery items.
The town of Mission Beach has an excellent range of stores and retail businesses with take away food outlets as well as restaurants, service station, a marine dealer (The Tinny Shack), medical practitioners, transport companies, banking and other essentials, including a liquor store and butcher. There’s even an art gallery and hairdresser.
For anything more particular, Mission Beach Innisfail is the nearest larger town and will have what you’re looking for.
While fishing will be the number one attraction, given South Mission Beach’s location from the Great Barrier Reef, there are ample attractions for non anglers.
The campground is within a rainforest setting and adjacent a National Park, which is home to one of the largest cassowary populations in the world. Spotting one of these large flightless fellows with their brilliant blue heads and somewhat aloof manner is a popular pastime; they sometimes even visit the camp grounds!
There are also some excellent walks to be enjoyed with beach, mountain and National Park explorations on hand with detailed maps available from the Park Office. Swimming on the gently sloping beach is popular but it’s wise to stay within the stinger net during the warmer months.
Trips to the Dunk and Family islands are popular with cruises or day visits easily arranged. Cruises to the main Barrier Reef and Beaver Sand Cay are available with only 50 minutes travel time involved.
Within a short drive are other pastimes, such as rafting the fast flowing Tully River or a visit to the Johnston River crocodile farm. As boat hire is available right opposite the camp grounds a run across to Dunk Island just for the fun of it or for some fishing is a perfect day trip.
The best local tackle store is at Tackle World Tully.
South Mission Beach is largely sheltered by Dunk Island only a few kilometres to the east so waters are sheltered from easterly winds for the most part.
There’s a boat ramp around 10 minutes drive south of the camp grounds but this ramp can be a bit difficult in strong winds from my experience so a move to the well-sheltered ramp at Clump Point on the northern outskirts of nearby Mission Beach is a handy alternative.
Once the boat is in the water, the fishing can range from flathead to barra, jacks, grunter, or the ever popular reef species. There are also some mega mackerel on the east side of Dunk Island at times. Trips to the main Barrier Reef are hugely popular and sufficient local information to provide access can be gleaned without much trouble. Be advised that there are some Green Zones in the vicinity as well so take care to ascertain where they are as well.
For first rate information on local fishing visit Rolly Newton at Tully Tackle World. If Rolly isn’t out fishing, he can provide all the information a new chum might need from methods to rigs to locations. And back it with ample tackle and quality bait – well worth a visit.
Beachcomber Coconut Caravan Village can be contacted on (07) 4068 8129, fax (07) 4068 8671 or on the net at www.beachcombercoconut.com.auReads: 1120