After the festival had been packed up, we enjoyed relaxing in Yeppoon for a week while we waited the arrival of my nephew. Leaving on a high after meeting him; little Muralo, we were heading for Eungella. I savoured memories of a family trip there when I was about eight, I had brought along a doll of mine that was as big as me to squish in the back seat with my brothers. My only other memory is peering over the bridge to see Platypi.
First night back on the road and we stayed at sandy point, made a fire, cooked dinner, hid from the mozzies and were gifted a salmon in the morning.
It was early afternoon and we made a quick decision to detour into Finch Hatton Gorge for the evening. We found a bush camp (the most expensive one yet, mind you it was right next to the water) and went straight to the creek to explore the gorge. As we are both bush at heart, we ventured off the track at the first opportunity to enter the water, thinking we would walk up the creek instead of the path. It was beautiful to be back in the rainforest, with ferns and palms shading the cool fresh waterways. After a two-hour trot up stream we came to a beautiful waterfall, to the left was a steep flat face, the right was a maze of jaggered rock face that housed thick scrub. Not being able to go up the waterfall of ten metres itself, we chose right with a mantra of ‘don’t look down’. Coming out the other side with only a few scratches felt like a massive accomplishment, until we stumbled upon a fork in the stream. Light of the day was beginning to fade in the thick forest and not really having any idea of the destination itself, we accepted that we were lost and the only secure option to see us home by dark would be to turn around, so we did.
Back at camp, we shared our salmon fillets with our American neighbors, and enjoyed sleeping to the song of gushing water. In the morning we walked out to the creek and spotted Platypi on the distant bank, as if we wern’t already thrilled enough, walking back a lovely couple gifted us a few handfuls of fresh prawns. We were impressed to see the immediate effect of karma going full circle, and pleased to have the luxury of seafood in the rainforest.We climbed up the misty mountain in Nessy, had a poke around in the cool wet weather and then decided to drive out to Eungella dam to camp the night. It is an amazing little spot that’s secluded and spacious, with an amazing dam that wraps around the headland, stretching into the distance. There were boats and fishermen and plenty of firewood to keep us warm in the cool chill of the wind. Cooking dinner on the fire is always a treat, especially when it is chili tomato prawns.
We were up early to drive back to the river to spot some Platypi. It was raining so we sat in the comfort of bed, drinking coffee and getting cosy reading to each other. We ventured out to join other wildlife watchers, photographers and curious folk to huddle on the banks in silence. It wasn’t long before they were spotted, reminiscent to a beaver in some ways, swimming cheekily on their backs, and then diving deep like ducks. They were out and about, cruising through the water and back and forth between their burrows in the banks. Absolutely beautiful to watch, they have such a fresh and playful nature.
We sailed straight up the coastal highway, headed for Townsville. A few rainy overcast days on the road, sleeping at free camps along the way.The Townsville Cultural Festival was heaps of fun, as was catching up with Andy’s good mate and his family. We camped around the area for a good long week, finding beautiful free camps within 50km north of Townsville. Thanking WikiCamps app everyday for making it so easy. Free camping right on the beach, with black cockatoos feeding from the native almond, waking up to beach swims, yoga sessions and fishing (with no luck). Having the luxury of a cold fresh water shower and a toilet block made life simple and full. In and out of town to enjoy all that the festival had to offer, fabulous live music, art installations and an art maze, empowerment workshops, and a huge array of beautiful food. I was thrilled to sit down with some local aunties to some womens business, learning how to weave a little basket out of natural fibres.
The palmeterrian offered solace as a natural escape to soothe a wine induced hangover, and we agreed that botanical gardens should be at the top of the list when visiting cities.
We were off to Magnetic Island next, took Nessy on the barge to travel the short 8km off the coast of Townsville. It was such a wonderful week, what amazing landscape this little island holds, volcanic granite boulders explode out of the earth and lie pilled all over the hills and bushland, meeting beautiful coast lines. There were heaps of fantastic bush walks to go on, and we met locals who advised us on the least suspicious places to park up and free camp for the night.
We bought a kg of bait and struggled to get rid of any of it, a part from a few little rock cods we didnt have any luck. I imagined that on this trip I would be offered the oppourtunity to catch and kill a fish to eat for the first time. As I do enjoy eating seafood and do believe you should be prepared to take the life to eat it, I was ready to face this idea first hand, and then decide whether or not to keep eating fish. Unfortunately it wasnt meant to be, and we began to understand why we hadnt had any bites when we did some diving. It was all a little sad really, two dives over two days, both at low tide under a measly 8m, very turbulent with low visibility under the water and a huge lack of anything interesting to look at (apart from the remains of a small ship wreck and a couple of coral trout). As fun as it was, it was also pretty dissapointing and after that we gave up on the fishing, realising that the eco system had a lot of regenerating to do. However, it was exciting to get back into all of the dive equiptment and experience breatheing under water again, I hadnt realised how much I had missed it.
We ended our island holiday with a beautiful day trip to a beach that we had to ourselves in horseshoe bay. We spent the day completely relaxed, and enjoyed watching a family of osprey above us, the mother or the father caught more fish in a few hours then we did in a few days, we watched it pull them apart and then regurgatate the fresh catch to their young. When night arrived, we made a little fire under the star filled sky and left a crock pot full of pumpkin, sweet potato, left over veg, coconut cream, herbs and spices on the coals. A local photographer arrived to capture the glowing milky way of a dark moon and showed us some of his impressive wildlife shots. Andy played the guitar and I pulled out the beautiful meal to find it had slowly dissolved into a chunky soup.
Another relaxing day. We walked over the bushy headland for a swim at the nude beach and cracked a cider on the barge home(mainland), wondering where to pull up next…