Bush escape at Stoney Creek
THERE’S a rocky track winding back from the Peak Downs Highway 30km west of Mackay. It dips down over creek crossings and between tall stands of timber, through a bit of bush the locals call Pig Hollow.
There’s not a pig in sight these days, but the bush clears to reveal a house built of rocks from the aptly named nearby creek.
This is Stoney Creek Farmstay, complete with a Dead Horse Hostel, a secluded cottage for two, a collection of quarter horses, palominos and assorted others, as well as a cattle dog or three, nestled at the foot of Mt Bridgman, which forms part of the Clarke Range.
We’ve made a beeline for the bush on a Friday afternoon, keen for an overnight stay followed by a trail ride the next morning, and within the 30 minutes it takes to get out to the stomping ground of Steve and Debbie Fry, we’ve slipped into a different world.
Our hosts usher us inside their house of stone to enjoy a hearty meal of roast pork and veges before we head off into the scrub to take up residence in the secluded cottage 250 metres away.
We sit in chairs crafted from ironbark and penny leaf with family names carved into the back. Steve Fry has carved out more than just a home. His castle is that of a skilled bush carpenter and conservationist who moved here to get away from it all and ended up making more friends than he cares to mention from his tourism operation.
“People say I’m creative but I’m just tight,” Steve said. “I use what I’ve got on the place.”
The man is a dab hand at just about everything – and more of the property’s bush character is revealed at every turn. Two hours later, and after a dark drive round the long road in a tilly, we find the peace is palpable as we sit on the veranda of Stoney Creek Cottage.
We are perched on a ridge a good distance from the main house and the only sound to break the silence is the rush of water over the rocks in the creek about six metres below us.
The cottage is testimony to Steve’s bush skills, crafted from ironbark and hoop pine – no frills, but loads of character with its rich timbers and simple furnishings.
Taking pride of place in the centre of the two-room abode is a hollowed stringybark tree, which doubles as your indoor toilet when you peek around the corner and take a look.
Outside is the open-air bush shower, and it’ll be hot if you boil the billy before filling your water bag, or you can take a skinny dip down in the creek. There’s no need to be bashful because there is no-one within cooee.
GOOD TO KNOW
Stoney Creek Farmstay is 28km west of Mackay, off the Peak Downs Highway
A three-hour trail ride with complimentary tea and scones is $85
An overnight stay at the cottage is $145 a double
For more details and photos, go to website at www.stoneycreekfarmstay.com.