25th to 26th June 2017
Nebo to Mackay to Platypus Bush Camp 184kms
We enjoyed (well as much as you can with nuts and berries) a quiet breakfast on the balcony, before loading up our gear, and riding off, east towards Mackay. Carrying on the Peak Downs Highway, it wasn’t going to be a big ride day. But we do get to cross The Great Dividing Range again, which means it will be more scenic, and the possibility of some nice motorbike roads. I’ve read about a really nice road for motorbikes, that we could take too, via Serina, but as it turned out, that road was severely damaged by cyclone Debbie, and they haven’t got to repairing it yet.
Just before Eton, there is a lovely 12.5% descent, with roadworks and only one lane. Bit of a bugger, as there was a long line of cars, caravans and big vehicles. So in true obnoxious biker style, we zipped to the front while we were on the red light, so when it was our turn, we could really enjoy the short ride down the twisty mountain road at our own pace, without waiting for the slower vans. The added bonus of not worrying about oncoming traffic made it lots of fun.
Look at that line, do we really have to wait back here? Well no, actually!
The rest of part A of the day, was just blasting through the cane fields, across Victoria Flats, to Mackay. It is all about the sugar and the coal in this area, and here closer to the coast, sugar is king. We rode through the small city, and had a brief look, and decided it was like many industrial cities, neat, clean and focused on the industry. Lots of mangroves, along the Pioneer River, and the beaches aren’t that close. We decided to head out to Finch Hatton Gorge, so fuelled up and topped up our food supplies, then headed out of town on a different route. Some of our fellow travellers had mentioned a cool camp ground in the Gorge, called Platypus Bushcamp, and said the Gorge was stunning. Once again, our luck was in, and they had recently sealed 90% of the road in, and after the cyclone, concreted the wash aways, so getting to the camp was no big deal. It is beautiful, and a very different little area. We spotted Wazza, the camp manager, who looked like Cat Weasel, but was chilled out (as with most Queenslanders) and happy for us to pitch our little tent on the grass, “but NO donuts!”. No problems there mate, wouldn’t know how to anyway.
There’s not really a lot of space for big vans, which is a good thing. Good for small tents though.
It looks a bit out there, but there were clean flushing toilets, hot showers (if you light the fire) and the possibility of spotting the elusive Platypus. Oh and a “Swimwear Optional” swimming hole. This could be dangerous. So we organised some fire wood for the camp fire, Daymo (a vagrant camp helper) got the fire started for the shower, and we settled in around the campfire, to cook dinner and meet the other campers. It was an interesting night, and a bit later than we’d planned.
The platypus hole was just gorgeous, and we sat quietly waiting, with phones ready. But no luck today. A short walk downstream, is the larger, deeper swimming hole. Very nice, but too cold for me.
Eungella and Broken River 70kms
Sunshine and happiness, that is Queensland, and we are here. A nice slow start to the day, and plenty of relaxing in the sun. We decided to stay another day, and go check out some of the close by sights, starting with the Finch Hatton Gorge walks. There are two, which range from 2.8kms to 4.5kms, which I doubt my knees will cope with. But Will can handle it no worries, so I’ve managed to talk him into going without me. I’ll walk as far as my knees will allow, and then turn back, and he can carry on. So the shorter one is his choice. We hop on the bikes, and ride the couple of kays further into the Gorge, and change out of our riding gear for walking. I managed a whole 1km, which was disappointing, and I found it very depressing to watch Will walk off without me. Something has to be done hey? This is not good enough!
Finch Hatton Gorge. Great spot for a few relaxing days.
So while Will tried to enjoy his walk, I sat and watched the scrub turkeys (brush turkeys, bush turkeys, same thing) and Kookaburras. Oh, and all the happy people returning from their walks. Some looked like they shouldn’t have been able to walk that far, and I was super envious, and a little upset. But no use carrying on about it, just have to do something. The time went fast, and Will returned, happy and wet. He’d got to the Casscades, and had a dip in the ice cold water. Good work Willsie. So he showed me his pictures, which looked great, we talked about this weird situation we’re in with my knees, and then got going towards Eungella (said Yungella).
The Cascades. Looked like a great spot. Lots of signs saying not to jump off the rocks, but “No speak English”, and just do it. Good onyas, I say.
Getting to Eungella, was fun, as we rode along the valley, until we got to the steep ascent, not suitable for caravans and vehicles over 11 meters. Cool! It was steep, and windy, and the road was a bit rough, with huge grids (to cover the water that flows off the hills) and great views, we mostly missed due to concentrating on the road. Arriving at the top, we located the Eungella Chalets, which is also the cafe/pub and hang gliding launch point. Wow, is an understatement. We parked at the back, and walked to the front, and were completely blown away by what we were looking at. And…… we got the best day for it too. Wow, wow and bloody wow again.
Will enjoyed watching me try not to get wet, his bike is higher with better clearance. Not fair, but fun. And we stopped at the Pub for some take away beers on the way home.
If I remember correctly, this building is from 1936, and the view is priceless.
We sat and had a burger for lunch, and just soaked in the day. Bloody fantastic. Next we are going to have another go at spotting more Platypus. About 4.5kms further along, is Broken River, and we were told there are so many Platypus there, “you’ll trip over them”. It was a nice ride, more views and farms, and after we parked in the Day area, we spotted the Platypus Walk. Go right, 266mtrs, or left two options at 99mtrs or 198mtrs. Left it is, as we have two goes if we are unsuccessful. A pleasant walk, and short, and people returning said they had just seen one. That put a spring in the step, and as we got to the viewing platform, one just popped up and floated around a little. So, so cool, this little creature. We stood and watched him for about half an hour, ducking down and hunting for food, and resurfacing to catch a breath. We also saw a tortoise and a magnificent bold blue kingfisher. Not sure of the right name, but it was a stunning blue on the back, and red on the front, and fast as anything.
Another weird Aussie creature spotted. Leaving the Wombat and Cassowary. Super cool.
The ride down, which was way better, due to the fact we had a clue about the road, and we could see the great views.
Our day was a magnificent success, and although I couldn’t do the walk, everything else was super. Oh, not to mention the Taipan we nearly ran over on the way up, and the massive, squashed, Red Bellied Black snake on the way down. Another fantastic night around the camp fire, with a new group of campers, and us oldies, and lots of funny and interesting tales told. Dazza and Leanne were here with their Nephew and niece, and busted out the marshmallows for us all to share. It was a super super day. Thanks everyone.