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.
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!