Crayfish Beach to Maureen’s Beach, Hook Island, QLD

Sunday 3rd September 2023
We were awake early and before breakfast we headed up the headland doing a bit of rock climbing and bush bashing to get to the top. The view was spectacular of the bays surrounding Crayfish Beach. We could see all the coral sections for our snorkel later. After a short time up there enjoying the view, we headed back down through the bush a much better option. David thought it would take about 10 mins up and 10 back, but it was a little trickier than expected. It actually took 47 mins. Laney, Josh, Florienne and Charles invited us to join them on a snorkel further afield in the bay, David stayed and had breakfast and tidied up a bit whilst I joined them. We always enjoy safety in numbers when we go away from the shallows. I saw many fish and in the deep section I saw a giant Maori Wrasse and some parrot fish. I also saw larger angel fish and many of the fish I had seen yesterday but they were all a bit bigger. We then packed up and into the kayak and after some more chatting were on our way again. We followed the coastline around the bay and then headed north along the coast of Hook Island to the most north eastern point called “The Pinnacles”. It was a little rippy around a few of the headlands, but all in all, it was very still until we headed around the Pinnacles. We then headed east around the top of Hook Island continuing along the coast, in and out of the small bays. They were so beautiful. The water was so blue, the rocks were so different all the time, both in colour and form and we saw only a few turtles today. We arrived at our camp at 1.30pm after having paddled 10.5km in just over 2 hrs. The last section we had the wind behind us. Once again it was a lovely day on the water. The tide was only a little problematic for us at Maureen Beach as it was still mid tide but the coral bank was so steep, about a 45° angle, making it very difficult to ground the kayak. We had to unpack the kayak once again to move it up the shore and tie it to a tree as requested by Salty Dog. It was a little windy after lunch so we just enjoyed a rest afternoon instead of snorkelling. The wind dropped off at about 4pm but the bay was very open and neither of us felt comfortable snorkelling today. We enjoyed a sunset dinner on the coral beach and both remarked how lucky we are to be able to take on such an adventure. We have learnt a few things for next time. The most important one is to stay 2 nights at each camp, to give you time to enjoy the paddle, as well as a day for activities (snorkelling, swimming, hiking and reading) as this afternoon is the first time we haven’t felt rushed. We have little mice at the camp again tonight, so as per every night, we make sure everything is in the kayak and no food is in the tent. We are in bed at 7.50pm and feeling very relaxed.
5L water today

Cairn Beach, Whitsunday Island to Crayfish Beach, Hook Island, QLD

Saturday 2nd September 2023
Today we had a deadline to leave camp as the next camp Crayfish Beach also had a low tide problem. We had a choice to make – breakie up to the lookout which was a 4km return hike up 264m of elevation. So a tough one or snorkel. I would have loved to enjoy a quiet morning having breakfast beside the water, then snorkelling for an hour before packing up again, but we decided on the hike. So we were up at 6am and ready to leave by 6.30 with our breakfast packed, for hopefully a pleasant view at the top. We started the hike and it was up, up and up right from the start. We had climbed 100m of elevation in the first 500m and seen our first snake. We think a python of some kind. We then continued through a beautiful trail of giant grass trees, hoop pines, dry rainforest, birds nests and quandong trees. It was a lovely walk albeit a big climb, over a very short distance, especially first thing in the morning. We arrived at a rocky outcrop below the imposing form of the Whitsunday Cairn and were rewarded with the most amazing 360° views. It was spectacular. We just looked in awe and are feeling so lucky to be able to travel this way. We had intended on a quick breakfast to try and fit in a snorkel as well, but instead we just enjoyed ourselves, made a few quick calls to let family know we were ok and stayed a lot longer than we anticipated. We then headed down the hill quickly as we were now on a deadline to pack and leave on time. We got back down at 9.15am and the tide had come in a fair bit. We were better at packing up our gear and the kayak this morning and were on our way by 10.53. Not quite 10am but we managed to enjoy a lovely hike and view. Our paddle today was a lot shorter today and we cut off a few of the bays as we had a big deadline to make to avoid the pitfall of yesterday. We saw many green turtles and a stingray today. The landscape and rocks were magnificent and ever changing, the water was a lot smoother with minimal wind and the most magnificent colour of blue. You will be amazed at the photos. We paddled really well today, considering how far we paddled yesterday and our minimal arm workouts over the last 3 months. We arrived at Crayfish Beach at 12.30pm after paddling in some beautifully calm waters and negotiating a few tricky headlands with swirling, choppy water and the final headland was a bit rippy. Once we arrived in the bay we were happy to see a sandy beach. We managed to drag the kayak up the beach without emptying it which was a welcome relief. We met Charles and Florienne from Paris, Josh and Laney from Melbourne and there is also a couple from Spain. After lunch I had a snorkel for over an hour and saw some lovely coral, all different types and colours, soft and hard. There were many different vibrant coloured clams, many trimmed with iridescent blues, greens and pinks. There were also many, many different varieties of fish, small and large, striped and plain, yellow angel fish, a couple of different parrot fish, schools of tiny fish, spotted shy fish and too many to even explain. It was a lovely hour before I got too cold to continue. David joined me for the last 20 mins. Unfortunately the turtle David had seen close to shore earlier this afternoon, didn’t come back. We then set up camp, had an early dinner and spent the next 3 hours getting to know our new camp buddies. It was a lovely evening. We heard a noise in the water and went to see what it was and saw 2 very small Port Jackson sharks mating in the shallows. What an amazing way to end our day.
6L water today

Whitehaven Beach to Cairn Beach, Whitsunday Island, QLD

Friday 1st September 2023
Whitehaven Beach is a pristine, award winning beach on Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. Whitehaven Beach stretches over seven kilometres and boasts brilliant white silica sand that is among the purest in the world. Sink your feet into the sand and wade into the warm waves that gently lap the shore and you’ll soon realise why people come here from all over the world.

At the northern end of Whitehaven Beach is Hill Inlet, a stunning inlet where the tide shifts the sand and water to create a beautiful fusion of colours. Many people claim Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach are the most beautiful places they’ve ever seen. The lookout at Tongue Point is the best spot from which to view the swirling sands of Hill Inlet, so if you don’t mind a short bushwalk, book your Whitehaven tour with an operator that visits the lookout.

There is also a new lookout at the Southern day use end of Whitehaven Beach with panoramic views of Whitehaven and the Whitsunday Islands.

Whitehaven Beach can be experienced in several ways. If you’re interested in a day trip there are ferries, yachts, power boats and luxury cruising yachts that depart from Airlie Beach. A variety of sailing companies also offer multi-day charters that include a memorable visit to Whitehaven Beach.”

We woke early this morning about 6ish and then got up about 7. The bay at Whitehaven Beach was spectacular, crystal clear and so smooth. It was so amazing. Unfortunately by the time we packed up and were ready to have breakie a slight breeze had picked up. We then had to work out how to fit our gear into the kayak for the first time. This was an interesting exercise and took a lot of juggling. The boat arrived with our paddling gear at about 9.30 which was fantastic. It was about 10.15 am by the time we were on our way.
We had a big day, we thought about a 25km paddle into a light north easterly breeze. The late start wasn’t ideal but it was the best option to get our gear. The conditions today were great, pretty smooth water and a light breeze. We paddled the first 6km which took about an hour, along the coastline of Whitehaven Beach’s white silica sands. It was the perfect backdrop as we headed north. Usually you would have the assistance of the south-easterly trade winds, but not the case for us this week. We paddled around passed Hill Inlet which was packed with tourists on the beach and in the water, we continued around the headland and stopped off near the entrance of Hill Inlet and walked to the world-renowned lookout with its breathtaking views. It was the most beautiful blue and the variation of colour of the shallower channels was spectacular. We would have loved to spend more time here but with our delay starting our day it wasn’t possible today. I did a quick run to the beach for a look at the inlet at sand level but didn’t have time for a run to the water or a swim.
After a quick lunch we were on our way again. We cut across the bay a couple of times but mostly followed the coast. We passed the most amazing rock formations in colour and shape. Every section was a little different as I picked out different shapes along the way – a monkey and a person’s head. We paddled continuously for another couple of hours, enjoying the green sea turtles as they popped their heads up for a breath and lolled around in the water until they spotted us, when they would suddenly dive deep and disappear. David also saw a stingray and we saw many fish. We had a break with about 4km to go for 15 mins. We then continued to paddle north and headed around the headlands to the Cairn Camp Site. Around the last  headland we were swamped by a big wave which splashed way up to my chin. There was also a big rip as we headed to camp. We were hoping the tide wouldn’t impact our landing with the delayed time, originally we thought we would be at camp by 3pm and it was now 5pm but we were wrong. As we approached the camp we noticed the tide was way out and we were going to have to carry the kayak about 15-20m over the rocks. First we had to empty the 50kg of luggage and water out of the kayak, this took about 6 or 7 trips over the rocky scree. Then it was a very big effort to carry the 45kg kayak over the rocks, then across to the camp entrance. Lucky I am strong hehehe. Just the thing you want to do after an over 5 hour 28km paddle.
We then setup camp, bathed and finally sat and watched the sunset. I chatted to a family of 4 who have been travelling for their 2nd 6mths in 2 years. They have done some great stuff including the Hinchinbrook hike. Then it was dinner time and then bed as we have another big day tomorrow. Each night we have to pack everything back in to the kayak hatches, so the goannas, mice and birds don’t get to our gear, water and food. We have lots of chores every day but they are all worth it for the most amazing adventures we get to enjoy. The two camps we have stayed at so far are both very different. Whitehaven had white silica sands everywhere and at Cairn Camp it is all small pieces of coral.
7L water today

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.”