A Travellerspoint blog

Wallaman Falls and Abergrowie State Forest

sunny 29 °C

We left from Arlie Beach nice and early as we had a big drive. We had decided not to stop at Townsville as we might be coming back down that way when we head over to Darwin so went straight up to the Gorringun National Park area. We were looking for Broadwater campground, a bush camping site in the Abergrowie State Forest however we struggled to find it as there wasn't much signage on the way. We ended up at the end of a dirt road at a fence, the road just ended and it went to bush land. Through the fence was a sign for the national park alongside it one about crocodiles that warned about serious injury or death...... We got back in the car and turned around..... and eventually came to a sign for Broadwater. 17km down a different dirt road and we had arrived. Not before accidentally running over an absolutely massive snake that was the width of the road while it tried to cross.

The camp ground is lovely, it has individual sights with campfires, flushing toilets, a cold shower and a cool creek to swim in. We were boiling hot so we set up our tent and went for a quick swim before the sun went down. We had a lovely evening around our campfire, drinking wine and eating roasted nuts, listening to all the creatures around us.
We decided on two nights here which gave us a full day to sightsee. The main reason we came to this area was to see Wallaman Falls, the longest single drop waterfall in Australia. It was a fair drive from our campsite and took around an hour and a half to get there. The area is full of sugar cane farms and the views of the mountains over the cane fields make it a very nice drive.
The road is extremely windy and steep as you approach the falls but as you climb the views are breathtaking. You can see for miles and miles and the higher you get the air changes and becomes heavy and dense, we could immediately tell we had entered the rain forest.

Near the top signs appear about Casowarys. This area is the best place to spot them as they are endangered but can be found in higher numbers here and up the coast. We didn't expect to see one in the wild as we didn't think there would be that many but as we were driving up the mountain one was walking on the side of the road. We stopped and it was only a couple of metres from us, it was unfazed and looked at us but went on out its business. They are like the dinosaurs of the bird world, huge with a bright red wattle and blue head, absolutely amazing.
At the top of the road is a campground and a day use area with walks and lookouts. We were not sure what to expect with the waterfall as often we have found them disappointing but it definitely didn't disappoint. It was stunning, a huge cascade of water falling down a gigantic cliff and hitting a pool at the bottom, the spray forming a rainbow. The falls are 268m high and the pool at the bottom is 20m deep. It was the best waterfall we have ever seen. There are several lookouts so you can take in the views of the falls and we did a short walk to the gorge lookout. This looks over the gorge, mountains and valley and is just a sea of bright green. It was beautiful and well worth the drive.
Back at our camp late afternoon we explored the area, there is a short rainforest walk and a fig tree signposted so we went to investigate. A boardwalk takes you into the thick forest and leads you to the Broadwater fig tree. This is a giant of a tree, with huge roots it looks like something out of Jurassic park. Hot and sweaty by this point we went for a swim in the creek and relaxed by our tent all afternoon.
This part of Australia we have really enjoyed. We have loved the inland National Parks so much more than we thought we would and love camping in the bush. At night the sky fills with stars and you can sit by the fire and just listen to the forest. It is beautiful. Wallaman falls is a must see for us, it pleasantly surprised us.

Posted by Chelsandliam 02:17 Archived in Australia Tagged australia wallaman_falls Comments (0)

Sailing the Whitsundays

all seasons in one day 27 °C

It's been a dream to go to the Whitsundays even before we set off, years ago back in England. To find a little spot of paradise, white sand and bright blue seas, sailing on a beautiful tall ship while sipping a nice cold beer. We were lucky enough to say...... We've been now, and so has half the population of Europe it seems.

The hub of the area is Arlie Beach, a small town, full of people hoping to find there idea of paradise on the islands. There was no free camping or really cheap campsites around the area and we didn't want to camp in the backyard of a hostel so we found a little caravan park that was cheaper than the rest and which gave discount if you booked your tour with them. We had already decided on the boat we wanted to go on so checked in and they booked us on the boat we wanted.

After setting up we decided to have a walk into town. It was around a forty minute walk along the bicentennial Boardwalk, which hugs the waters edge and takes you through the main port, Abel Point Marina. We decided to have a beer on the harbour and watch the sun go down. The water looked beautiful and you could see all the islands on the horizon.
Arlie Beach itself is quite busy, coaches seem to continually be dropping people off and picking people up and the bars are full so we had some drinks and food in town before walking back in the dark.

The main reason we came however is to see some of the islands. We booked on a full day sailing trip with Providence, a family run boat that had an itinerary we liked. We had to be at Abel Point Marina at 7.15am and we were introduced to the one crew member and the two owners of the boat. There were only 13 people on board so we had lots of room to relax.

We set sail nice and early and it was a long sail to our first destination. We passed several islands, Kieran the skipper always showing us and letting us know which each island was called. Once closer to the islands we stopped for some freshly brewed coffee and cakes and then continued onwards. We went through two big rain clouds where big yellow rain coats were handed out and everyone looked like Paddington Bear for fifteen minutes but once the rain cleared the weather was beautiful all day.
Passing the islands you can see cliffs, tiny secluded beaches and rainforest, eagles soar in the skies and you are surrounded with clear seas and islands everywhere.
Our first stop was Hill inlet and Whithaven beach on Whitsunday Island itself. Hill Inlet is a lookout where all the amazing shots of the Whitsundays are normally taken. Our boat moored and we got in a little dingy to shore. It was a short walk up the cliff to the lookout but the views were stunning. This area is full of sandbars and islands so you can see the swirls of sand and bright blue ocean when the sun shines on the water. It is stunning. We were at mid tide so it wasn't completely sand or water so we had lovely views.
We then continued to walk down to the beach. The beach here is almost a hundred percent silica so it is pure white sand, so fine it squeaks when you walk and so white it doesn't get hot.
It was a beautiful beach but the amount of people on it was insane. It was crawling with people so we had a little swim and relaxed on the sand. It is jelly fish season, where deadly jellyfish are in high numbers so we were given a stinger suit by the crew so we could swim safely.

It was hilarious getting in them and watching everyone roam the beach and swim in big black baby-grows was funny. Liam's even had a hood and mittens attached which he made full use of!
We had a while on the beach and then went back to the boat for lunch and beers. Up next was a short sail over to a small island to snorkel. After kitting up in our stinger suits again the dingy took us closer to shore and we spent some time in the water.

Everyone we had spoke to said the reef in this areas was beautiful but we were disappointed, lots of the coral was bleached and dead and although there were patches of life with fish and beautiful colours the visibility wasn't great.
We spent a while exploring and then we headed back on the boat for afternoon snacks of fruit and a cheese platter.

The sail home was beautiful, it was smooth and sunny and the wind was with us so all the sails were up. Liam helped the skipper put the sails up and we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the boat with a beer and we even caught the sunset on the drive into the marina.
The Whitsunday coast is gorgeous and it is evident by the amount of people here. It is the busiest spot so far on our trip but definitely worth the effort.

The rest of our time here has been spent relaxing around the pool and going down to the waters edge for sunset barbecues..... Oh and shopping in Chelsea's case. large_2FEF73FAA01BF160A4AF5075A518151C.jpg

Posted by Chelsandliam 03:17 Archived in Australia Tagged australia whitsundays whitsunday Comments (1)

Cape Hillsborough National Park

sunny 31 °C

It was only a short drive from Eungella but Cape Hillsborough looked beautiful so we thought it was worth the stop. We booked a spot at Smalleys Beach campground over the phone for three nights, this was another bush camping site in the national park.

It is a peaceful spot, the individual camp spots back right onto the sea, we can see the beach and sea from our tent and hear the waves. The toilets here however are on another level, not just the composting toilets we have got used to, these are vile Eco toilets with a lever to 'flush' which seems to do nothing, colonised by evil spiders and with a smell that seems to even put the flies off. Safe to say we have tried not to frequent them too much.

The beach here is not safe to swim due to jellyfish season which lasts October to May and which means often there can be a lot of deadly stingers in the water. It is very tidal, at high tide the water comes right up to the top of the beach and the foreshore but by the afternoon the tide seems to go out for miles, leaving mudflats full of mud skipper fish, rock pools and covers the beach in tiny shells.

Either side of the bay are capes jutting out covered in bright green rainforest, we can tell we are in the tropics now by the trees..... And the large_9809EBD9CFBD0B798DFFB1240D9D3167.jpg
Our time spent in camp has been sunbathing on the beach, reading and watching the sunset on the beach with a beer every night. At night bugs come out in force and we have been dive bombed by massive beetles and moths a few times.
A few kilometres drive and we come to Cape Hillsborough peninsular. Here there is a caravan park to get ice and supplies and here are several walks and another long beach, not safe to swim because of stingers and crocs.
Here you can walk up the headland and look out at serval points over the amazing scenery. One morning we decided to explore and set off late morning on what we thought would be a little stroll to explore. We decided to walk up to a lookout which wasn't far, up the headland for views over the beach. The path was immediately lost in a web of jungle trees but we followed a walking group through and came to a set of steps which took us through the forest, up and up a steep climb to a lookout.
The views were gorgeous, you could see both bays, Cape Andrew and wedge Island, where at low tide you can walk across to. From here there was a sign to turtle lookout, another 850m so we decided to carry on.
By this point, obviously we were walking at midday in our flip flops, as per usual but nevertheless the walk was beautiful. There were huge bright coloured butterflies everywhere and the views were stunning. large_9829047B06975FA3F65B0113EEF9582E.jpgWe saw turtles popping there heads up and down in the sea bellow and walked all the way to Cape Andrew lookout before heading back the way we came a few kilometres. Big skinks rustled in the dead foliage occasionally and ran across the path just to scare us into thinking it was a snake. Liam's flip flop also broke half way up so every two steps he had to thread the rubber back through the sole which became hilarious..... Not for him obviously.
When we reached the bottom we went to the public toilets which were heavenly compared to our camps and had an ice cream at the little shop in the shade.

We also went back to this area one afternoon at low tide to walk across to Wedge Island. We walked along the beach towards the island and the sand was weird and spongey but the closer we got the muddier it got until we were up to our ankles, our flip flops slowly sinking and mud squelching between our toes. large_984A0C9BCA83BC87FF3F1B544D61E475.jpg
By this point we took off our shoes as there was no point in wearing them until it got too rocky to walk on and we put them back on. The crossing area is really rocky and the whole area is full of millions of tiny blue crabs that swarm away when you get near them.
Liam was obviously wearing his broken flip flops again so there was a lot of swearing to be heard but we made it across and saw lovely view back over the bay and beach.

Once we got back we sat on the beach with a beer to see if any kangaroos or wallabies would come out at dusk. Some came out but none ventured down on the sand. Apparently the big population of Eastern Grey kangaroos that used to inhabit the area has almost gone and so the only time they venture onto the beach is at dawn to eat bits that have been washed up at high tide.
Cape Hillsborough seems like a bit of wilderness, rugged and wild. Some afternoons we sat on the beach for hours and did not see a single person. We loved our time here but we're ready to go and find civilisation and get away from all the spiders, especially the giant huntsman we found living in our tent when we took it down!

Posted by Chelsandliam 04:31 Archived in Australia Tagged australia cape_hillsborough wedge_islamd Comments (0)

Platypus spotting at Eungella National Park

overcast 25 °C

Driving north from Byfield was a lovely drive, through farmland and cane fields and after quite a few hours drive we turned off the Bruce Highway and into Pioneer Valley. This is a cane growing area which is very rural with tiny wooden houses, small roads and the approaching mountains of the national park.

We decided to camp at Platypus Bushcamp, a campground at Finch Hatton Gorge. This had recommendations in both our camping book and our guide book so we thought it would be amazing. We were greeted by a very eccentric owner, Wazza who showed us where to pitch up and tried to buy our car. The campground is a handmade affair, outdoor toilets and showers, open communal areas and a creek to swim in, after checking in we immediately saw a huge brown snake on the way to the toilets and decided maybe it was a little too much bush for us.

It was late afternoon by this point so we pitched up and had a glass of wine in the last of the sun.... Mainly to relax after the massive snake.

Eungella is a national park area that is renowned for its platypus population and is one of the only places where you can actually see them in the wild. Our camp had a viewing area within its grounds so we took our wine and sat by the creek at dusk in the hope of seeing something. We sat there for a good hour or more and saw turtles and fish but no elusive platypus.

We decided we would go further into the national park, to the actual viewing area the next day and find somewhere to stay further in so we could go to the viewing area at dusk.

The drive in was a massive climb, through the forests into the cool mountain air. We found a pub with rooms in the hilltop town of Eungella and booked into a little cabin with the most amazing views over the valley.
After some lunch with a view, a long hot shower and a relax in front of the TV we set off, determined to seek out a secretive platypus.
The viewing area is at Broken River, just five minutes from our cabin. It has a visitor centre and boardwalks leading to several different viewing areas over pools in the river. We were a little early so sat next to the river and waited excitedly. We saw lots of patches of bubbles, indicating they were down there but no viewings for at least an hour and a half. Whilst sat there we did see lots of nice birds, a snake and a wallaby, as well as fish and turtles.
We decided to walk to a different spot and walked a couple of hundred meters down the river. We could see a family pointing into the river and sure enough there was a little platypus! It was diving for a minute or two and then surfacing for a breather and down it would go again. You could pick out where it would come up from its bubbles and it was so close you could see its webbed feet and shiny coat.

We were so happy to be able to see such a private animal in the wild and we stood for a long time watching it resurface.
We headed back while there was some still light and ended the evening sat on the pubs verandah with a cold beer, admiring the views over the valley and watching thousands of bats move across the skies.

Next is a quest to find kangaroos on the beach at Cape Hillsborough National Park.....

Posted by Chelsandliam 16:55 Archived in Australia Tagged australia platypus eungella Comments (0)

Camping in Byfield National Park and State Forest

Creek swimming, shooting starts and campfires.

sunny 34 °C

We are trying to move slowly whilst on this trip and enjoy places rather than rush through everything so decided to stop at Byfield National Park and State Forest even though we knew little about it. We called the parks office and booked two nights as most national parks in Queensland have to be booked in advance as there is not always an office. On the way we called off at the Byfield general store for some information, fuel and ice.

The drive through this part of Queensland is lovely, through pine plantations, on windy one lane roads with just the odd general store.
On arrival we found our spot in Upper Stony Campground as they had pre allocated numbered spots and were pleasantly surprised. It is a really pretty spot, in the Forrest with nice grassy pitches, personal campfires and a shared compost toilet block.

It was roasting hot when we arrived so we quickly set our tent up and walked down to the creek for a swim.
The creek is a perfect patch of nature, fresh water running over big slippery rocks, shaded by big gum trees. There were two families down there already and after the initial shock of cold and them putting our minds at ease about the scary stone fish signs the water is beautifully refreshing and we floated around in the creek for ages, floating through patches of cold and warm where the sun has hit it.
Later we came back up to finish setting up our camp and organise our car, which had got out of control.

Since Rainbow beach our firewood stock had run really low and the store had sold out but our friendly neighbours noticed and gave us loads of wood as they were leaving the next day so Liam set to building a campfire and Chelsea went for a walk to explore with her camera.

Once all the people visiting for the day go home and the creek is still all the wildlife comes out and a friendly local man and his children took her to the creek to show her. It is full of freshwater turtles, fish, tadpoles, big catfish and the odd big eel. The children fed them a bit of bread and Chelsea enjoyed watching the turtles splash around until the sun went down.

The few hours between dusk and sunset something else happens. Since the cyclone in the area last year lots of trees have fallen and are dead. This means that a certain type of tiny weavel has flourished and so they swarm out every night and get everywhere. They land all over you and you have to cover your glass with something otherwise it is full of them.
Our time here has been spent relaxing in the sun, swimming in the creek, walking in the bush and sat around our camp fire, cooking in it and gazing up at the stars. At night the stars come out in force. It is the clearest and most beautiful night sky we have ever seen. It seems like you can see every little star there is, milkyways and can spot constellations and planets. It is absolutely stunning and something we have rarely experienced anywhere except Australia.

Byfield National Park has been our little patch of heaven. We have enjoyed every minute of sitting by the creek with an ice cold beer, listening to the kuckaburras, seeing shooting stars, and cooking on the campfire.

Posted by Chelsandliam 19:51 Archived in Australia Tagged australia camping byfield_national_park Comments (0)

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