Monthly Archives: August 2023

Shute Harbour to Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, QLD

Thursday 31st August 2023
“Global treasure – The Whitsunday islands, and their surrounding waters, are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Australia’s first and the world’s largest World Heritage Area. After stupendous rifting and ripping of the earth’s crust, the Whitsundays islands—remnants of ancient volcanic calderas—remain as a group of more than 90 green gems now dotted in the aquamarine Coral Sea. This remarkable ecosystem, one of the world’s largest barrier reefs, is home to thousands of different species of plants and animals.”

Today we had a very early start, up at 5.15am to leave for Shute Harbour at 6am for our water taxi departure to Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays. This would have been okay except I got the nervous nellies and was worried we didn’t have enough information. So after we finally were in bed at about 11.30pm, I started reading some information and took small shots of about 20 pages so David had some information. I didn’t finish until about 2:15am so that wasn’t going to allow much sleep. In hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have hiked Mt Dalrymple and done a bit of planning but looks like we will have to wing it a bit.
We arrived at Shute Harbour right on 6:15am, organised the payment of parking on the EasyPark app, then went to Salty Dog to check in. We had a short briefing, not as much info as i was expecting. Oh well. We then waited to board the vessel. At about 7.20am we loaded our gear, the kayaks and then the people. It was fairly crowded. Our first drop off was South Molle Island, then Henning Island, and Chance Bay. Lots of people and gear got off at their destinations, but as many that got off, the same or more got back on with there gear.
We made it to Whitehaven Beach at about 9am. The ride here was spectacular every corner, the water was the most amazing colour, the islands were all different shapes and vegetation, we saw a whale and were on the lookout for dugongs but not today.
Whitehaven had the most beautiful white silica sands. When we hopped off David realised we had forgotten our dry bag with our paddling gear, Goggles and snorkel in the car. I quickly climbed back on the boat to ask about our options. Tim from Scamper said he could drop us stinger suits, snorkel and masks at 9.30am in the morning. Our plan had been to paddle to Hazelwood Island and snorkel today and then leave early 7.30ish tomorrow morning for our next spot to beat the crowds at some of the stops along the way. Oh well, it is not to be. I managed to convince Tim to take our car key and pick up our gear. He wasn’t too keen but was happy to try.
David wasn’t very well today, a bit too much tick poison and not enough sleep so we had an easy day. After dragging the kayak up the beach and tying it up to a tree, then setting up our tent, we went for a walk to Whitehaven lookout via the Whitehaven Headland track to enjoy the spectacular view over Solway Passage, the blue was amazing. We had lunch up there and then David walked back to the tent for a sleep and i walked to Chance Bay via the Solway Circuit. I had a chat with some people from Caves Beach NSW and then enjoyed a swim in the most peaceful, tranquil waters. The water temperature was cool but not cold. I then walked back to camp enjoying the beautiful grass trees and cycads along the way. I saw some scrub hens, a few goanna and a noisy pitta (bird). Every rustle I heard had me looking for a snake. I returned to camp about 2.45pm. David was still feeling off, so our neighbours loaned me their mask so I could have a snorkel. The coral was beautiful colours – purple, orange, yellow and white. It was all different types and shades of these colours. Some was hard coral and others was soft coral. It was so different in shape and size. I also saw some angel fish, some very tiny silver fish and a big silver fish. I didn’t go too far as it was very low tide and I didn’t want to go out too far on my own. We then went for a short paddle. It was so beautiful. We managed pretty well but didn’t want to go too far ás the way back was against the wind and tide. We managed ok, so hopefully we will make tomorrow’s big paddle. There are about 8 others here at the camp, 4 from Germany, 2 dual citizens of Australia and Germany who now live in Melbourne and a metal detector dude who had been paid by a Swiss man to search for a wedding ring lost in the water about 4 weeks ago. We then headed up to the lookout again to watch the sunset. We enjoyed our dinner up there as well. We were entertained by the young German couple (Florian and Amelie) who sang at the lookout giving thanks and a blessing for life via a yodel tune. It was very moving. I had received a message from Scamper and they have located our bag and will drop it off in the morning. After a lot of chatting at the lookout we had dinner and came down to camp, it was like a busy caravan park out on the water, it was madness. It is now 9.25pm and we are off to sleep as we have a big day tomorrow xx
We used 4L of water today.

Lake Proserpine to Airlie Beach QLD

Wednesday 30th August 2023
Well today was a big day. Firstly, after finding four ticks on David last night and one on me, the first port of call was a trip to the pharmacy. David did his research and ascertained the best current treatment was tick freeze for the big ones and Permethrin cream, for the nymphs. We were amazed that the first pharmacy we stopped at Proserpine had both options, so armed with the tools we headed to a park to treat our ticks.

Following this, we headed. on our way to Airlie Beach, stopped for some last minute supplies and then checked in to Tasman Holiday Park villa to organise all our equipment for our time on the Whitsunday Islands for the next five days. We need all our camping gear, snorkelling gear and swimmers, plus food and water. A total of 30kg of gear and 25 litres of water. It took us all day to get the food packed and the rest of our gear organised.

Well it is now 11.30pm and we have been getting organised since about 2pm this afternoon. Time to get to bed as we have to be at Shute Harbour by 6ish to depart for Whitehaven Beach at 7.30am. We have the most amazing weather as long as the forecast holds. Wish us luck!

We should have had phone coverage on two of the nights but Telstra are working on their service in Airlie area so we might have no coverage. So we will be in touch next Monday night.

Eungella National Park to Lake Proserpine QLD

Tuesday 29th August 2023
Well after our really tough walk yesterday, David was comatose by 7.30pm, falling asleep sitting up. I was still thrashing around with restless legs at 1am. Just for good measure, the rooster started crowing at 4.15am and didn’t stop before 7.30am. He really must have gotten a sore throat.

We went for another platypus viewing, seeing some more again this morning. We enjoyed a lazy, slow breakfast, a tidy up, a bit of yoga and chatting. At about 11am we headed out to The Diggings which was along a not so well maintained dirt road through the farmlands. We enjoyed a walk around the camp ground which we wish we had found earlier. We might have stayed there last night. We crossed the creek and saw some new birds – Brown Thornbill, Red-backed Fairywren plus some we have seen before – Pale-breasted Rosella, Azure Kingfisher and Pale-yellow Robin. We also saw quite a few Lace Monitors.

We then headed on our way towards The Whitsundays, we couldn’t decide whether to go back to Lake Proserpine or Cape Hillsborough National Park for the night. In the end, we decided we really had no energy for anything else this afternoon, so we went to Lake Proserpine. We enjoyed a restful afternoon, did a little bird watching and hopefully a good night sleep. Wish us luck!

Mt Dalrymple – Eungella National Park QLD

Monday 28th August 2023
Well, you think two nights in a row of disturbed sleep was enough. We had some neighbours turned  on their generator at 5.30am for about an hour! So seeing as we had been awake since 5.30am, David went for another platypus watch and I had a rest. He enjoyed himself with about 4 or 5 platypus again and didn’t come back for over an hour.

We then had breakfast, got organised and were on our way to our hike. We drove through farmland and rainforest, sometimes with rainforest on one side of the road and farmland on the other.Today’s hike was a return hike to Mt Dalrymple. The hike started at 1000m and the summit was 1227m. Although this was only an elevation climb of 200m, with all the ups and downs along the way, we ended up ascending and descending 900m over the 12 km hike. The reviews of the hike had likened it to the Bartle Frere hike which we did in 2021. This was 1000m up and down over 16km. Having now done both hikes, I would say the hikes are very similar, except Bartle Frere has much bigger obstacles, is another 100m of elevation, 4 km and 3 hours longer. Mind you, I was feeling almost as exhausted today as I did in 2021.

We started the hike and it was straight away indicating a tough day was ahead. The trail was narrow, had warning signs and went straight up. No warming in to it, just up, up and up. We climbed tree roots, hopped over huge fallen tree trunks, crossed creeks, boulder hopped and went up, up and up some more. It took us 3.5 hours to hike 6km, ascend 600m and descend 300m and reach the summit. Here we enjoyed an amazing view, albeit a chilly one. We enjoyed our lunch at the top. After our lunch break we decided it was time to get on our way as it was already 2pm and we had at least a 3-3.5 hour hike back to the car.

The walk back was again arduous even though the ascent and descent were reversed this time, 300m elevation up and 600m down. It was a tricky track and was marked with blue national parks arrows and thankfully many, many pink ribbons. The ribbons although not one of my favourite things to see in the bush were very much appreciated, without them I think we would have made a few errors and it would have added at least an hour or more to our walk time. It was a lovely walk through rainforest the whole way and we were really glad to make it to the end. Both our knees and hips were very sore. It took us over 7 hours to hike the 12 km, up and down 900m. It was a tough gig today. We finished at 5pm, so decided to stay at the Broken River camp in Eungella NP again tonight. First stop was to the Hub in Eungella for a $2 shower at the community hall. A lovely facility especially after our long day.

We were both exhausted, I hopped straight into bed and was waited on with dinner tonight. Yay!

I didn’t even get up again. Unfortunately I suffered with restless legs and had a really bad sleep. Oh well.

Sarina to Broken River, Eungella NP, QLD

Sunday 27th August 2023

Today we are suffering from a disturbed night’s sleep again. David is feeling jinxed as yet again there is a party across the road and our neighbours stayed up until 11.30pm. There is a motor bike race today, so the caravan park is fully booked.

We headed off at 9am to the Sugar Shed at Sarina where we were going on the Sugar Production Tour. As we have been driving through sugar cane fields since we arrived in northern Queensland, it was good to finally learn all the details of its production. Here goes with a little information. Sugar cane needs 1.5m of annual rainfall to grow successfully. Under these conditions the growth time is 12 months, if there is less rain it can take between 18 months and 2 years for the sugar cane to grow to maturity. The cane is harvested by machine now and needs to be at the mill for processing in 24 hours. After this time the cane starts to degrade and then ferment making it unviable for making sugar, it would then end up at the distillery. They no longer need to burn the fields before harvest as this was only to kill the snakes before hand harvesting. We saw some retired harvesters and learned about their uses. A new harvester can cost up from $750,000 to $1.3 million.

There are about 8 steps of production once the cane arrives at the mill. Some of these are:

  1. Crushing/Hammering the cane to remove the juice.
  2. Separating the dirt from the juice
  3. Adjusting the PH levels
  4. Removing the molasses

In Australia, all sugar sold in the supermarket is white sugar. Raw and brown sugar are just white sugar coloured with molasses.

The Sugar Shed produce their own alcohol at the distillery and chutneys, relishes, sauces and lollies, here as well.

Fairy floss has 1.5 teaspoons of sugar per stick which is 1/4 of the amount of a can of soft drink.

After our tour, we headed to Mackay but unfortunately the Art Gallery was closed. We then drove back to Broken River, Eungella National Park as David found a mountain to climb that he hadn’t seen. It is the highest mountain in Central Queensland – Mt Dalrymple. 1227m high. We will be doing this tomorrow. After we arrived we spent another couple of hours watching platypuses. Only the little ones were out tonight and a little later a bigger one appeared. 

Lake Elphinstone to Sarina QLD

Saturday 26th August 2023
This morning we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, a lovely walk looking at the birdlife along the lake front at Lake Elphinestone and a relax in the sunshine. It was very peaceful and very enjoyable.

We headed on our way at about 11.30am, stopped for lunch at Nebo and then drove through the Sarina Range to Sarina. We stopped here about 3pm for the night as we had some of the usual housekeeping to do – groceries and washing. It was a quite restful day.

Eungella Dam to Lake Elphinstone QLD

Friday 25th August 2023
This morning we had a slow start to the day. Although the campground was isolated and beautiful, we had some young guys arrive at 8.30pm and setup close to us. Unfortunately for DB they talked until 1am so he didn’t get much sleep. So we took our time and enjoyed the peacefulness of the morning at Eungella Dam. It was very beautiful, a haven for birdlife and a very pleasant way to spend the morning.

We headed on our way at about 11.30am and drove to Mt Britton Historic Mining Town. This was where the 56km Mackay Hinterland Great Walk finished. The drive was very scenic going through farmlands, forests and many different vegetations, it was a very beautiful drive albeit all on dirt roads. Mt Britton had some very interesting historic information and relic machinery and was bordered by some lovely mountain peaks. We enjoyed lunch here and then decided to continue on. On the way out we stopped at the Mt Britton Historic Cemetery.

We then drove towards Nebo and detoured to Lake Elphinstone for the night. This was a lovely little spot on the lake.

Mt Britton – “Founded in 1880 when a tent city for gold mining sprung up, the township became known as Mount Britton. At the height of the gold mining era in 1883, Mount Britton was a thriving township with a post and telegraph office, lands office, school of the arts, numerous hotels, stores, butcher and baker and a population of 1500. By 1884 the town was declining with the best gold areas already mined and by 1887 most businesses closed and the mining ceased in 1890.”

Mt Britton Cemetery – “The first people buried at the Mt Britton Cemetery were John Duff and Johann Michael Vogel in July and August 1881. The cast iron fence surrounds the graves of Ernest Mills and Albert Reckitt.”

Eungella National Park QLD – Day 2

Thursday 24th August 2023

Once again we had a terrible night’s sleep again at Neem Hall, our camp is right on the road and the traffic starts at 5am and goes continuously. It is a 100km zone ans it sounds like an plane is taken off every other minute. It was a lovely campsite on the creek but unfortunately the traffic noise was too much to cope with.

Today we are doing part of the 56km Mackay Hinterland Great Walk. We had intended doing it all but it is an 1.5 hopur drive from beginning to end and there are no transport options. Instead we are doing the Broken River to Crediton section which goes beside the Broken River mosts of the way. It was a lovely rainforest walk, with a fantastic trail undulating the whole way. It was a 16km return walk and took us just iover 5 hours with a couple of long stops. Once to take photos of the king parrots high in the dense foliage and the second stop for lucnh by a pool. As we arrived at our lunch stop the first thing David saw very close was a platypus. We thought we were going to be entertained the whole time but unfprtunately we nevcer saw it again.

We saw quite a bit of wildlife today staring with the turkeys at Neem Hall. Once at the National Park we saw a Eungella Honeyeater, Whipbird, Australian King Parrots, either an Azure Kingfisher or a Little Kingfisher, Swamp snake, Wild Pigs, and many platypus. As we headed towards the Eungella Dam we saw a Pheasant Coucal on the side of the road. These are quite large birds and their tail feathers are amazing.

We drove the 25km dirt road to a beautiful camp site at Eungella Dam. There are only about 5 or 6 campers here besides us. We love it. We enjoyed a lovely dinner as the sun set and then I watched the stars for a little while. It is quite cold up here as we are about 600m above sea level.

Eungella National Park QLD – Day 1

Wednesday 23rd August 2023
Today we ventured into the Eungella National Park. It was a beautiful scenic drive up a narrow winding road. The view through the valley was spectacular. We enjoyed a couple of short walks – the Sky Window loop with a fantastic lookout, the Pine Grove loop and Cedar Grove trail. All the walks were through rainforest but it was very dry which takes away from some of its beauty. We also went on a scenic drive from Eungella to Broken River where we did some platypus watching, then drove a loop from Broken River through Credition.  It was a very nice day.

Lake Proserpine Dam to Finch Hatton Gorge Eungella QLD

Tuesday 22nd August 2023
Well, we stayed at another lovely campsite last night on the Lake Proserpine Dam. Once again, our type of camp, large, spacious and quiet.

We set off around 10am and headed to another free swimming pool at Proserpine. It was a 50m Olympic Pool heated to 28°C. Perfect! After our swimming session, we enjoyed lunch in the park and then headed on our way south. Within a short time we were turning around as David thought he saw a jabiru beside a waterhole on the side of the highway. I am not sure how much he watches the road as he is always spotting wildlife along the way.

Our next destination was Finch Hatton and the Eungella National Park. We were here overnight in 2010 but I don’t remember much except it was very wet and we spent hours looking for platypus in the rain. We arrived at Finch Hatton at about 3.15pm, checked in to our campsite and then headed to Finch Hatton Gorge for a walk. First of all we went to the Araluen Cascades which was quite pretty with a lovely waterhole to swim in. Unfortunately it was a little late in the day and we didn’t really have time for a swim. Then we headed further along the end of the gorge. We did this walk in 2010 as well, David remembered it all but it wasn’t until we got to the Callistemon Crossing that I recalled it. Last time there was too much water flowing across the crossing for us to get across safely, so we didn’t. Today it was okay so we managed to get all the way to the Wheel of Fire – which is the end of the gorge. This was an amazing and very big waterfall, it was also a very dangerous one and two sections were out of bounds. We sat for a while and enjoyed its beauty. We then headed back through the gorge to the car. It was a very well managed trail and except for the rocky cross it was very easy. We were surprised at how quickly you lose your skill on the rocks. It is only a couple of weeks but we both felt a little uneasy on the crossing. Just out of practice.

We had another lovely day. We have stopped trying to fit too much in to each day and are enjoying a little slower pace.