NEW locals Joey and Ashleigh Smith are embracing the rural lifestyle in Cooktown and are ready to share their slice of paradise after they were successful in their application for a 74-person campground on their property.
The couple moved from the Sunshine Coast with their three children in 2021, hoping to get back to their small-town roots, and before they arrived had hatched plans for their Cooktown Campout business.
“The girls always wanted horses and (my son) Xave always wanted a motorbike,” said Mrs Smith.
“We thought acreage would be nice and (my husband) Joey started looking and he found Cooktown.
“We put the camper trailer on the back, came up for a drive and fell in love.”
The family opened Cooktown Campout as a HipCamp site for the 2022 tourist season, and this year will begin expanding to open more sites on their 60-acre block.
“It’s all self-contained, which is what people were doing already, so it will just be business as usual really,” Mr Smith said.
Although their slogan is ‘the stop to the Top’, the couple said plenty of visitors enjoyed getting a feel for bush camping without having to go off the beaten track.
The campground is on Barrett’s Creek Road near the Cooktown Airport and about 15 minutes north of Cooktown.
“We had a Cairns couple who had bought a new van but hadn’t used it yet and they came up and stayed and loved it,” Mr Smith said.
The campground is pet friendly, and for those who love animals, visitors are welcome to the daily 5pm feeding to get hands- on with the Smiths’ menagerie of pets and farm animals.
“They can bottle feed the calves, and we have pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, ducks, guinea pigs and puppies,” Mrs Smith said.
“We’ve had a few school and daycare groups come out for an excursion to visit the animals and we even have people staying elsewhere hear about the petting farm and drop in just for that.”
Cooktown Campout currently has six group sites, with a further four in planning, and more single sites also on the way.
“We’re trying to keep it as bush as possible, just natural, and eventually we’ll have an amenities block, but apart from that we’re not trying to turn it into a Big4 – no waterslides or watered lawns,” Mr Smith said.
“We’ll probably put in a playground and gravelled area, slash a spot and put in some footy posts so the kids can run around.
“The parents can sit there and watch the sunset while the kids run around, done, box ticked – if the kids are happy, the parents are happy.”