Thursday, March 10, 2016

queensland: eungella national park, finch hatton gorge, pioneer valley

It was good to get out of the busy-ness that Airlie was, back on the road to explore.

We now had a deadline to be in Noosa in October as we'd booked accommodation with my grandparents and they were driving from Narooma on the Far South Coast of NSW to meet us. While I won't give away their ages it's safe to say that my grandmother and her husband are quite remarkable - making that trip - though she wouldn't say that. They like driving and really wanted to meet us on our trip. We knew we had time to visit some more parts of Queensland but we'd need to stick to the coast and we were pushing it if we wanted to get over to Fraser Island too.

It was a picturesque, if not windy, drive to Eungella on a back road through cane country. When we left Airlie we weren't quite sure where we were headed but as we drove on and came to the turnoff on the highway we decided we'd head inland to Eungella National Park. It was a noticeably drier outlook than the northern cane farms and the road sporadically merged to a one lane road but we only passed one other car.

From the quaint township of Finch Hatton it's a windy, windy drive up the mountain to Eungella. The road is windier than that of (the familiar) Brown Mountain on the NSW far south coast and at times narrower than must be legal. The scenery and view is magnificent - narrow waterfalls through rainforest on the bends and farmland stretching out below the mountain. 

Eungella seems to just appear at the top of the mountain when you begin to think it couldn't get any steeper. Beyond the town is Eungella National Park and Broken River Bush Camp, known for its habitation of platypus and the (now extinct) gastro brooding frog endemic to the park. Coincidentally B had only been reading about the frog a few days prior.   

As the name suggests the camp is situated on the edge of the river and from the banks the platypus can be spotted in the early morning and late afternoon. Of the light is right (which it was for us) you can see the creatures when they stir up the silt at the bottom searching for food.  

One lunchtime, conquering some school work, we headed down the mountain and just beyond Finch Hatton to Finch Hatton Gorge. It was surprisingly busy. 

A 2.5km (return) walk in to the gorge was beautiful as it wound through the rainforest, towering ferns and by the creek, the home to the tinker frog. 

Once at the top the bravest of us jumped in the cold water. I'm guessing it somewhere between 12°c and 15°c. 

A friendly kookaburra used Js handlebars as a vantage point in the carpark. 

Sometimes we happen upon some interesting food stops in our travels. Whalesong Cafe at Middle Lagoon springs to mind. Ulysses Cafe is on the road in to Finch Hatton Gorge and we're so pleased we stopped to sample the organic natural mango ice creams. J had a date and banana smoothie with cacao and I enjoyed my raw strawberry cheesecake and homemade chai. 

The 8.2 kilometre walk from Broken River to Sky Window was amazing. While J and the kids packed the caravan I ran the track, meeting them at the Window. I wasn't quick enough to get a photo of the juvenile python (or death adder) I was centimetres from stepping on. And you know how you're taught to calmy walk backwards away from a snake? Well I screamed and then ran and keep screaming until I realised it wouldn't have chased me. As I was screaming and running I ran straight in to a spider web. The spider fell INTO mouth and bit the inside of my lip! For the next 4 kilometres I was on high alert for snakes and spiders. Gosh it was beautiful though!!!

A creek crossing

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