Yeppoon to Hervey Bay – Sun 8th Nov to Thu 12th Nov

Yeppoon to Hervey Bay – Sun 8th Nov to Thu 12th Nov

A departure from the usual here, rather than post a full week and cut Fraser Island into two parts this is a short instalment.  Fraser Island comes next…..

Yeppoon – Sun 8th Nov

During our stay the weather had taken on a predictable pattern, bright and sunny in the morning with storms developing through the afternoon.  Happy to report no-one was washed away despite the torrential rain, although dinner in a damp camp kitchen is not first choice as a fun evening – more to the girls’ concern was the cancellation of the evening film, most disappointed.

Elliott Heads – Mon 9th Nov

Elliott Heads is a small place on the coast just to the south east of Bundaberg. As well as a small, peaceful campsite there is a lovely beach.  Finally far enough south to assume crocs and stingers were no longer a threat – to everyone’s relief.

Mention Bundaberg and rum is probably the first thing which springs to mind.  However we were not there to tour that factory, in an earlier post I think I made my preferences clear and medicinal rum is not among them.

Perhaps less well known than the rum is Bundaberg Ginger Beer, made by Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.  Even less well known is their range of 11 other soft drinks.  Next to the factory they have a visitor centre, in the shape of a huge half barrel, with interactive displays and a tasting bar; nice to have one where you can try everything and still drive!

Eurimbula – Tue 10th to Wed 11th Nov

A couple of hours drive south from Bundaberg a headland juts out northwards, home to the wonderfully named Seventeen Seventy, from Captain Cooks second landing in May 1770.  To the west of the headland is a bay, at the base of which is Eurimbula National Park.

The camping is mainly set back from the beach, apart from a couple of sites right at the end.  Luckily the plum spot was free, amongst the trees overlooking the beach and the creek.  Add in the fire ring and this was a perfect spot to kick back for a few days.  According to the signs it is 4WD only, you could have driven a city car in.

Facing north the site catches the sun during the day, then the sunset as dinner cooks over the fire – fantastic.

Hervey Bay – Thu 12th Nov

Just under two hours south again is Hervey Bay.  Approaching Fraser from the north the ferries depart from River Heads, a few km to the south of here.  Our ferry was, to take account of the tides, early the next day, so Hervey was a convenient overnighter and stock up of supplies.

Airlie Beach to Yeppoon – Sun 1st Nov to Sat 7th Nov

Airlie Beach – Sun 1st to Tue 3rd Nov

Airlie Beach, as a name, stands as one of the more recognisable places in Australia; perhaps not as famous as Bondi but it is up there.  In reality this is probably more to do with it being the main departure point for the approximately 74 islands of the Whitsundays.

As a town it is pleasant enough, although the main street seems skewed to selling souvenirs and trips to travellers.  The beach is a pretty crescent, but surrounded by the town it is not a standout.

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Noticeable, travelling south along the east coast, is that the balance between campsites and commercial caravan parks swings markedly towards caravans.  The Big4 Adventure Park is not the closest to town, but more than makes up for it in what it offers for kids.

The pool is by far the largest we have come across (and we have seen a few…), big enough to swim proper lengths along one side; though more important to the girls were the water slides.  Other activities include a couple of bouncy pillows, a playground and regular movies.

For some reason groups of whistling ducks call the park home, constantly challenging each other for territory until the brush turkeys dive in and scatter them, very amusing to watch.

Handily from a schoolwork perspective, the library is just around the corner; a strange location, on an out of town shopping centre, but handy for lessons.

Platypus Bush Camp – Wed 4th Nov

Originally the plan was to drive to Yeppoon, but part of the fun of a loose itinerary is just saying “hey, this place looks good, let’s go there instead”.

Eungella National Park lies inland, to the east of Mackay.  Within the national park is Finch Hatton Gorge, location for Wazza’s Platypus Bush Camp.  A wonderfully quirky little place, rather like Wazza himself.  Next to a river, in the forest, there is room for half a dozen or so camper vans, a few tents and a couple of bush cabins.

Downstream of the camp the river forms a natural swimming hole, while upstream there is another pool in which live the platypus.  Unfortunately our luck with viewing wild things continued, as with the cassowaries they remained resolutely out of sight.

Although the platypus did not come out to play this was still a wonderful place to stay, with fireflies drifting through the forest after dark.

Yeppoon – Thu 5th to Sat 7th Nov

From the head of the gorge, a few km from Wazza’s, there is a beautiful bush walk.  Winding amongst the trees for several km the trail leads to Araluen falls.  Well worth the walk, the falls cascade down the rock face and into a deep pool, perfect for a dip but oh so cold.  Lucky we were early, before anyone else – we hadn’t planned to swim so our costumes were in the car…….

From here it is quite a drive to Yeppoon, on the coast to the east of Rockhampton.  Not a difficult drive, just dull.  It was back to Big4, no campsites here, much to the girls’ delight as it came with a full two storey high water slide.

The town has a lovely little community library, it is amazing how much more work gets done in that type of environment than at camp with the playground beckoning!

Townsville to Bowen – Sun 25th Oct to Sat 31st Oct

This is going to be a short one compared to recent posts.  Much like our stop in Cairns it was time for a pause and a break from driving.  Also time for another service of the 110, amazing to think we have covered 10,000km since Alice Springs – we had very nice Range Rover Evoque as a courtesy vehicle, nippy but far too small.

Townsville – Sun 25th to Fri 30th Oct

From Big Crystal Creek it is a short simple drive to Townsville.  Townsville itself is pretty simple to get around, with a large part of the city on a rough grid layout.

There are various caravan parks, of these Rowes Bay offers probably the best location, a couple of km north of the town centre and a couple of minute drive from The Strand waterfront.  It also provides piped music in the amenities, which is a bit weird.

Sunday Markets

There are various Sunday markets each month, including Cotters Market on Flinders Mall; a large arts and crafts market, which kept the girls amused whilst I set up camp.

The Strand

This is the esplanade which runs along the seaward edge of Townsville.  There is plenty to keep the kids amused, with a playground, waterpark and other activities along the km or so of its length – thankfully also plenty of parking.

There are a couple of netted swimming areas here, and plenty of signs warning of marine stingers (complete with bottles of vinegar hanging from the signs, better than the alternative source of weak acid available to most……..)

Bowen – Sat 31st Oct

Bowen is a pleasant but quiet little town on the coast, exactly 20 degrees south of the equator.  The Big4 campsite here is small but very well set up, no playground but a decent pool to keep the girls amused.  We had timed our visit well, the town was having its annual parade, with various floats circling the route, all good fun.

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Bowen is also known for the Big Mango.  Actually there are two, but we didn’t know that – the one in town, which we saw first, is a bit of an anti-climax, it is rather small (and there is nothing at it to indicate there is a much larger one to be seen).

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The real big mango is on the south road out of town, and much more impressive in size.

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The beach outside the campsite is quite pleasant, if a bit rocky.  However just to the south is Horsehoe Bay, a small patrolled beach at the end of a headland between rocky outcrops – a lovely spot, although the marine stinger warnings didn’t encourage diving in.

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Of course, at this time back in Sydney the girls would be dressed up and out trick or treating.  Which they enjoy more, the dress up or the sweets, is never clear.  However this year was back to more traditional games, doughnuts on string and apple bobbing, very amusing.

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The Lions Den to Big Crystal Springs – Sun 18th Oct to Sat 24th Oct

Lake Tinaroo – Sun 18th To Mon 19th Oct

The highway is only a short drive north of the Lions Den – turn right and you head to Cooktown, and from there back to the Cape.  Tempting, but it’s time to turn south again and continue the long run down the coast.

Passing the Lakeland Roadhouse for the third time there is a deja-vu feeling to this drive, we have been here before.  However rather than turning to Cairns at Mareeba we follow the road through the tablelands to Atherton.

Sitting at altitude this area enjoys cooler weather than the coast; as one person put it this is the air conditioner of Cairns during summer, a place for people to escape the worst of the heat and humidity.

To the east of Atherton, a flourishing little town, is Lake Tinaroo.  Held back by the Tinaroo Dam, 42m high and opened in 1958, the lake covers c. 3,500 hectares or 75% of Sydney Harbour.  Originally designed for irrigation, hydroelectric generation was added in 2004.

Genazzano is a lovely campsite, set on a hillside overlooking the south-western edge of the lake. Aside from very reasonably priced canoe hire there is not much else to do except sit back and enjoy the view and the peace.

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At night, once the sun goes down over the lake, the locals come out to visit.  There are an incredible number of very inquisitive bandicoots here, not afraid to come up to your feet or get into an unguarded rubbish bag.   They are very cute, but can make quite a mess if allowed to.

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Crystal Caves

Atherton is the home of one of the oddest shops we have run into.  The brainchild of Rene Boissevain, the front is a shop selling crystals and semi precious stones.  However the back has been converted into a seven dwarfs wonderland, a twisting grotto constructed to display part of his crystal collection.  Centrepiece of the whole thing is the Empress of Uruguay, the largest amethyst geode in the world – standing over 3m high and weighing 2.5t it is an awe inspiring sight.

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Well worth a trip, especially for the kids; at the end is a quiz, with 10/10 getting a prize of some crystals and stones.  However if you miss out you can buy them by weight from the shop.

Bingil Bay – Tue 20th to Wed 21st Oct

This was one of those fortunate mornings where bad weather holds off long enough for pack up to be dry.  Unfortunately the rain then set in with a passion, not particularly heavy, but constant, unrelenting.  In reality a good day to be travelling, rather than sitting under cover watching the raindrops.

About 20km to the south of Atherton is Nerada Tea.  Unfortunately the factory was not operating, it would have been fascinating to see how the tea is processed.  Attached to the factory is a tea shop.  The tea was great, but overall this is a bit disappointing.  They could do so much more, like offering tea tasting paddles, to make this a wonderful experience, rather than just a stop for a cuppa.

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Driving on, just outside of Millaa Millaa you can take a loop road, showing off some of the waterfalls in this area – unfortunately with the rain there would have been little to see, a trip for another time.

Rather than drive direct to Bingil, lunch was a diversion in pursuit of Cassowaries.  Etty Beach, just to the east of Innisfail, is well known for these wonderful birds wandering into the campsite or along the beach.  Unfortunately they weren’t coming out to play, sad to think we may have to make do with the concrete one from the Daintree River.

Bingil Bay is a small place on the coast just to the north of Mission Beach.  It is a tiny site, just enough room for 6, and no caravans over 17ft allowed.  Sitting right on the beachfront it is a lovely location, a place to sit listening to the waves whilst the kids play in the sand.

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There are not much in the way of local things to do, however a short walk up the road is the Bingil Bay Café.  As well as making a top iced coffee the fans above the balcony are fascinating to watch; the Raj meets far North Queensland as the punkawallah cools the air.

Wallaman Falls – Thu 22nd Oct

Heading south a few km is Mission Beach.  Yes, we had to stop and get a photo of the trailer, how could we resist with that name….

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The beach itself is a long, wide expanse of sand dipping gently into the sea.  If it wasn’t for the croc signs it would be beach heaven.

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Wallaman Falls is located in Girringun National Park, a short deviation inland from Ingham.  The road runs through extensive cane plantations until, reaching the park, it rears up and twists its way back into tropical rainforest and a final chance at a cassowary.  According to Hema the climb is not suitable for trailers, OK it is a bit twisty in places but nothing a bit of care and attention deals with.

The campsite here is a circular road around the central camping area.  Apparently it can take 60 people.  However the camping area is bollarded off, so trailers set up in the parking alongside – not a problem unless there are half a dozen trailers, then there would be no parking for the other 50 people trying to pitch tents…..perhaps not a place for the school holiday rush.

Facilities are good but basic, the cold shower is rather refreshing.  Unexpected was the cicada serenade as the sun went down.  Whilst they didn’t last for long, they were so loud it felt like your skull was vibrating.

The falls are a short drive from the campsite.  There is a viewing platform next to the car park, or for the more adventurous a path leads to the base of the falls – whilst not a long walk the climb back out is very steep.  I must admit we didn’t walk, when you are dealing with the longest single drop permanent fall in Australia standing at the bottom and looking up just doesn’t give the right perspective.

The falls are particularly beautiful in the morning.  As the sun rises it slants across the cascading mists and splits into an ephemeral rainbow, slowly descending down the fall as the sun gets higher.

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Big Crystal Springs – Fri 23rd to Sat 24th Oct

Unfortunately no cassowaries either on the way up to, or the way down from, Wallaman; the concrete model at the Daintree it is then, or another addition to the long list of reasons to come back again!

As the road travels south, around 70km from Townsville it runs alongside Paluma Range National Park, in which the campsite is located.  Just before the turn to the campsite is the Frosty Mango.  This seems to have attained cult status if you believe comments on Wikicamps; whilst the ice cream is very nice it doesn’t really live up to the hype.

Arriving at the campsite just after lunch we had the pick of the area; opposite to the entrance, adjacent to the day use area, is a secluded little spot on the edge of the site looking out into the bush.  It is also handily close to the amenities, and another cold shower!

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Being a Friday, and close to Townsville, it is best to arrive early, by 6pm the site was filling up.  Unfortunately there was still room for a half dozen who arrived at 7pm with the aim of seemingly just drinking and running around shouting at each other.  When asked to turn it down their excuse was amusing “we are teenagers”.  OK that probably makes us sound like old farts, but we can’t deny the site was so much better on Saturday after they left and the sounds of the bush returned……

A short walk from the campsite is the aptly named Paradise Waterhole.  With absolutely clear water, too deep to stand in the centre, this is a wonderful place to cool off.  For the girls it was a slice of heaven, big enough to get the nipper board out and paddle around before heading back camp and marshmallows around the fire.