Rainforest nudist retreat in the works for Mackay
A seasoned naturalist who first stripped off in the golden days of nudism has made it his "life's work" to open his own retreat in the Mackay region.
Lance, whose last name has been omitted for privacy reasons, said he would like it to feature a couple of cabins and a spot for campers.
"I spent a few years looking around for a better block of land," the Marian resident said.
"I realised, there was just nothing better than what I already owned.
"It's 160 acres, or 64 hectares - three quarters rainforest.
"I'm surrounded on three sides by national park and I've got an absolutely never-go-dry water supply."
Lance said Queensland was really "lagging" behind when it came to nudist tourism dollars.
"In France, 10 per cent of gross national income from overseas sources was naturist tourism," he said.
Lance said France was home to the world's largest nudist resort that could accommodate between 40 to 50,000 people at any one time.
"It's also huge in Europe," he said.
"In Croatia, they have something like 150 different naturist venues, either clothing optional beaches or resorts.
Lance said he began building his own vision before the nearby Hidden Valley resort at Marian opened then closed.
"I've been a nudist for a very long time," he said.
"I would never stay in an ordinary caravan park if there was a nudist place nearby because it's such a nice social atmosphere.
"It's really people with their masks off.
"I know (being nude) is a big threshold to cross.
"I crossed that threshold from about the age of 23.
"I'd been a very frightened young bloke.
"I was really scared of people seeing me without clothes.
"I thought, 'This is a weakness; I've got to overcome this'.
"And I did.
"Once you get over that initial big stress, you'll find it's really relaxing."
Lance, who said he was the longest continuous member of Townsville's naturist community, described Mackay as once having had its own thriving nudist scene.
"There was an unofficial nudist beach out here years ago," he said.
"It was illegal; the police actually used to protect us in those days.
"That was at Dolphins Beach but it got developed.
"In the old days, we didn't have much fear of being arrested.
"We had sort of a golden age of nudism in Australia in the '70s and '80s.
"It was normal to see three generations of a family in conventions that I used to go to.
"Out at Devereux Creek, when Hidden Valley was running, there was a wedding out there.
"It was a very pretty spot with a large entertaining area overlooking a tree-lined swimming hole … also a large area of lawn with the fuselage of a plane that did a hard landing at Bloomsbury standing up-ended in it.
"I only stopped going there because I was working on my own property to be a nudist retreat on the other side of the mountain.
"There was also a nude wedding at Sarina, at Goodies.
"The big surprise for that was the celebrant was a local lady … she surprised them, she got nude as well.
"(Goodies) closed down a couple of years ago."
As for when Lance's retreat would open, he said he would keep the Daily Mercury updated.
"I'm totally dedicated to it, it's my lifework," he said.
Stay tuned for more about the former Hidden Valley resort.
If you have memories of Mackay's naturalist community, email firstname.lastname@example.org