The last oasis of Highway1
  |  First Published: November 2008

It's little wonder Clairview has become one of the most popular stop-over destinations for the myriad of caravaners and holidaymakers on Queensland's east coast.

After all, this small village of less than 100 homes provides the first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean for the entire 800km trip from the Gold Coast north on the Bruce Highway.

Clairview is located 210km north of Rockhampton and breaks up what many consider one of the more tiresome stretches of the State's major coastal highway.

Just as you start to believe you are heading further inland and wonder if there is a roadside stop prior to taking on the next 130km to Mackay, out pops Clairview and panoramic views of the ocean interspersed with magnificent islands.

The first indication that you have almost reached this small paradise is when you cross Clairview Creek several kilometres south of the town then suddenly you are confronted with a small road sign indicating a righthand access to Clairview just 500m ahead.

A small twist in the access road, a glance left and right at the railway crossing and you have left behind the tension-filled drama of driving the highway packed with would-be Bathurst entrants and gigantic trucks and you could be forgiven for thinking you have entered into a welcome time warp.

Clairview is located on a single bitumen strip, once the main part of the Bruce Highway now re-located further westward, and its homes of varying descriptions nestle along the next few kilometres of coastline.

The beauty of Clairview's coastline changes dramatically as it claims some of the largest rises and falls of ocean tides with locals describing it as the Broome of the east coast.

For the traveller who views Clairview's scenery for the first time and arrives as the tide reaches its peak can well imagine the ocean waves lapping at the very doors of the village homes, conversely low tide provides the spectacle of lengthy tidal flats sprayed with a variety of rock formations.

But it is this ever-changing scene that only adds to the overall beauty of Clairview.

The hub of the town is the Clairview Beach Holiday Park.

It is a relatively compact caravan park complete with powered and non-powered sites along with rental self-contained units and caravans safely covered with steel structures for increased security and shade.

While most visitors prefer to select their sites on the absolute beachfront others take advantage of the adjacent parkland under the tranquil eucalypts.

The park boasts all the usual facilities from well-maintained toilets and showers to a laundry and covered barbecue area.

A small shop is an integral part of the park and offers the basic essentials for comfortable living.

As part of the overall park complex there is a licensed bar and games room.

Aptly named the Crabpot Bar, patrons have access to pool tables and barbecues while just a few steps from the bar you can relax under the sprawling palms or enjoy your cold drinks while the waves gently lap your feet.

At Clairview it is a must to join other travellers as they locate their fold-up chairs at the water's edge on the rising tide. Armed with rods and reels and of course the esky, travellers test their skills at catching the excellent species of fish, such as whiting, bream, grunter and salmon, that cruise the waters along the beach.

For the more adventurous, a concrete boat ramp is situated less then 500m from the beachside park and allows anglers to source the nearest island, Flock Pigeon, or sections of the Great Barrier Reef just 10km out to sea.

Mudcrabs are a regular on the evening menu and can be caught amongst the rocks on the beach or you can take the liberal advice of the locals for the best spots in nearby mangrove creeks.

Clairview has a strong community spirit and, along with its diehard band of rural firefighters, the women of the village man a special arts and crafts centre where thousands of items, most made locally, are sold every day of the week. Thursday is an exception when the volunteers have a well-earned break. The centre closes its doors from November until April.

All money raised at the centre is channelled back into the town's volunteer organisations such as the fire brigade. The rescue helicopter service is also a recipient.

Travellers can usually find a van, campsite or rental accommodation simply by dropping into the holiday park, but hosts David and Camela Sawford insist on bookings during school holidays or long weekends.

With signs placed at regular intervals along the Bruce Highway advising drivers to rest, revive, and survive, Clairview is my pick for doing precisely that – and it’s the perfect opportunity to break up the drive with some fishing.

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