Cunnamulla’s spiced-up campground is a traveller’s haven, featuring a profusion of herbs with which visitors are welcome to cook.

Story Bruce McMahon + Photos David Kelly

Tourist park operator Judy Roberts knows how to spice up a western wanderer’s overnighter – plant vegie and herb gardens beside caravan sites; spinach, rosemary, coriander, chives and more, right outside the door, providing extra flavours for the evening meal.

Judy’s Warrego Riverside Tourist Park is one of three caravan and camping spots in south-west Queensland’s Cunnamulla. The park, perched alongside the Warrego River, lays claim to being the only outback park with water frontage. That location, the herbs and fruit trees, landscaped van sites and fire pits down by the river combine to make this a unique stopover.

Raised in New South Wales’ Northern Rivers, Judy is now in her late 60s. She trained as a hairdresser, is the widow of a veterinarian-cum-grazier, mother to three and grandmother to 10. She had often contemplated becoming a tourism operator and running a caravan park. When she drove onto the bare block on Weir Road, about 3.5 kilometres from Cunnamulla, Judy knew this was the place.

Opened in early 2012, the Riverside Tourist Park is now a 13-hectare outback oasis, thanks to Judy’s planning, propagating and nurturing of herbs, shrubs and trees. She’s long been used to carving life out of the ground, right back to her grandmother’s garden on a Nimbin dairy farm. And she loves the business of tourism and people. These loves prompted her to add extra touches, such as patches of herbs.

“It’s nice if they want to have a cook up, you know,” Judy says. Alongside van sites she plants basil, parsley, spinach, rosemary, mint, marjoram and masses of chives. There is usually some dill and coriander, and all the sites have a pomegranate tree. Of the 38 powered sites, 20 have herb gardens and 18 have lawns. Each drive-through caravan site is screened from neighbours’ vans by native shrubbery.

This story excerpt is from Issue #120

Outback Magazine: August/September 2018