The Great Budget 4wd Trip Around Australia – Week 5

Mother Rock, Bowen

This week was the week of job hunting and amazing opportunities!

Distance Travelled:


Spot of the Week:

Horseshoe Bay, Bowen – a stunning little cove of golden sand, wedged between large boulders and the perfect blue ocean. As we kept saying to each other, “Who knew Bowen was so nice?!”

Free Camp of the Week:

Home Hill Comfort Stop

(The council here have done a superb job in Home Hill. This free camp has a very large area available to travellers with hot showers, washing up sinks and plenty of parking spots. We cannot recommend this stop enough for budget road trippers!)

Tip of the Week:

Be flexible with your plans and don’t be afraid to take great opportunities when they come up!

As we discovered, setting up work opportunities can take time and we were not planning on being in Townsville for more than a few days. However, so glad that we did stay and now we have an awesome job and opportunity to broaden our field of work in the future.

Bargain of the Week:

Camping Rambutan

Sometimes you just come across a real gem that is also affordable! Being conscious of our budget … relentlessly … we are always hesitant of spending too much money on accommodation, but sometimes you do need to treat yourself and relax with some luxury comforts – we’re holidaying after all.

Rambutan YHA, in the heart of the city of Townsville is a rare find indeed!

A backpackers hostel that looks like a luxury resort, and for $12.50 AUD each per night who could refuse.

We did take the cheapest option, which meant setting up camp in the carpark! But for us, it was a better option than sharing a dorm.

If dorms are ok for you then this place is an absolute must.

We have both stayed in hostels all over the world and Rambutan is on a different scale completely – see Day 7 below for the glam shots!

The Budget ($ AUD):

Fuel – $54
Groceries – $186
Camping Fees – $125
Magnetic Island Ferry and parking – $79
Total – $438
(A little over budget again, by $38, but well worth it as it was to get ourselves to a job interview on Magnetic Island, which we nailed. We will be running a very funky little guesthouse from next week. More details to come. Very exciting!)


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Day 1 – Bowen

Mother Rock

After finding our little paradise at Rose Bay Caravan Park in Bowen (only $25 AUD for a powered site p/night!) and setting up camp for the next few days we went exploring.

We managed to find the local markets and stocked up on some fruit and veg then went for a quick swim at Grays Bay.

We made sure we were back at camp well before sunset so we could do the short walk to the local viewing spot (Mother Bedrock) overlooking the beautiful coastline.


Day 2 – Bowen

Up early for a quick breakfast and coffee before heading off for a gorgeous walk through Rose Bay, over the headland and down to Horseshoe Bay for some sunbaking and chill time.

The walk back got us home in time for lunch and an afternoon of job hunting up the coast, looking for a place to top up the cash reserves.

We forgot how tedious applying for work can be, but it had to be done!


Day 3 – Bowen to Home Hill / Ayr

Unfortunately, we had to leave our cosy little campsite in Bowen to head further north as we had appointments in Townsville we had to get to.

We also had some time to kill before the fruit picking season kicked in, so after Townsville we had decided to go and explore some Dinosaur country in the Hughenden area and Porcupine Gorge National Park.

We stopped a night on the way at the incredible free camp at Home Hill – a must for road trippers in this part of the country!


Day 4 – Home Hill to Townsville

Townsville Skyline

A hot shower at a free camp is pretty rare so we were delighted to be able to start our day off with one at Home Hill before hitting the road.

We needed to be in Townsville early to sort some tyres out for the Landy so a quick roadside coffee was our brekky.

After getting the tyres sorted, we headed for the Strand (Townsville’s Waterfront area) for a picnic and to plan the next few days.

As I mentioned before, we had planned to head west after Townsville, before potentially going back to Bowen for some farm work when the season had kicked in. Well, plans can change very fast and they certainly did today!

We found a job advert, whilst at the Strand, looking for a couple to manage a Guest House on Magnetic Island.

We were so excited as soon as we saw it, because this is something we had discussed doing for quite some time. Talk about perfect timing!

We had a quick chat with the owner on the phone to explain our eagerness and off we went to send our resumes to him.

To our great surprise he rang us about 2 hours later and suggested we make ourselves available for an hour phone interview that night, it was all happening so fast!

We got some further questions together while we spent an hour atop Castle Hill taking in the sunset and the sights of the Townsville.

Before you know it we were invited to Maggie Island (as it’s fondly known) for a meet and greet, as well as to see the guesthouse and get a feel for what we were in for!


Day 5 – Townsville to Magnetic Island

Waking up with just enough time to pack up the car and tent, we sped off to the ferry terminal in Townsville for our dream job interview on Maggie Island.

Our potential new boss picked us up when we reached the island, gave us a quick tour around the major sights before guiding us around the very funky and chilled out guesthouse.

I think we were both still in a bit of shock from the speed of how things were going to take it all in, but we knew it was going to be fun.

We hung out for the day with both the owners and got some hands-on experience in dealing with the accommodation and car hire booking aspects of the business.

They even treated us to the best room in the place for the night.


Day 6 – Magnetic Island to Townsville

Magnetic Island

Decision time.

After helping getting the hire cars ready for the day and a quick breakfast, it was time to lay the cards on the table and see if we could come to a work agreement that we would all be happy with.

Turns out the 2 bosses wanted us and were happy to drop their requisite of a 12 month contract down to 2-3 months in our favour!

Consequently, we are now the very soon to be live-in managers of a very cool guesthouse on Magnetic Island in tropical north Queensland- how bloody cool is that!

Not being able to contain our excitement we treated ourselves to lunch, a couple of divine smoothies from the Paleo Cafe back in Townsville and even dinner at the delightful Strand Night Markets, before checking back into the amazing Rambutan YHA.

Day 7 – Townsville

Chill day!

An early morning walk and coffee, breakfast around 10am and then to the pool at Rambutan YHA, for a bit of down-time before some blogging, always blogging!

A few hours work and then into town for some culture at the Townsville Gallery and a stroll around the city.

With enough exploring for the day, we headed straight back poolside for a few hours – we needed it

Wow, what a week!

A complete change of plans,  scored a dream of a job and spent a few night in luxury accommodation and we couldn’t be happier!

Let the adventure begin …


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