After regaining our land legs, we made our way through Bowen, then onto Townsville where we purchased camping equipment for our trip over to Magnetic Island. Nervously we left the van parked in a side street and preyed folk would leave his old ass alone. The ferry ride across was a short one and we caught a bus down to our campsite, Bungalow Bay, where we set up our tent on a nice green patch of grass. I always love the cosiness of a tent, and we regretfully left our nest to explore the Bay. It was nice enough and we enjoyed the scenery. After a challenging nights sleep, plagued by possums, a coughing neighbour, and a bouncy airbed we were up by 8am for breakfast. Deciding to seize the day we set out on the challenging Forts Walk. During WW2 Magnetic Island acted as a lookout post for the port of Townsville, but as one sign neatly pointed out, it saw little action:
“not one shot was fired in anger, only one in mild astonishment at a passing U.S
Death by mild astonishment reads the tombstone. From the highest lookout post we spotted sea eagles soaring over
the blanketed forest below. After lunch we set out onto another walk through the bush to a lagoon, where we spotted wild wallabies crashing through the bush, and where rewarded with a lagoon setting more akin to the African plains. Thankfully we avoided the many thousands of death adders that infest the island. It had been an enjoyable, short stay on Magnetic Island.
On returning to the mainland we found the van in one piece and made our way to rainy Mission Beach for the sole purpose of a sight of Dunk Island. It was pouring with rain so Dunk Island View Resort (on the mainland) would have to suffice. To escape the rain we continued the drive up to Cairnes, the end of the East Coast run. We realised after Cairnes, many travellers stop, drop off their Wicked campervans, and fly back to Sydney. Indeed the East Coast run had been brilliant, but we were eager to see more. Our journey would continue, we would soon be cutting across Australia, but before that the Daintree.
This is not called rain forest by accident, and the rain hammered down, as we sat in the tourist town of Kuranda.
Loads of them where jumping through the bush.
Moving on we crossed the Daintree River on the short car ferry ride onto Cape Tribulation, a bio diversified wonderland where the forest meets the sea. The rainforest here is among the oldest in the world, thought to have remained intact for the last 350 million years. The main roads are bitumen but often turn to dirt tracks, as indeed did our route down to Cape Kimberly. Our campsite was right in the thick of the rainforest with the deserted beach a 2 minute walk away, which was stunningly quiet and beautiful. In the morning we regretfully left our wilderness and back onto the main road for a couple of informative boardwalk trips into the forest. The rich greens and variety of the fauna here make it quite other-worldly and mythical, it’s quite intoxicating. The road that we had followed since Sydney, actually comes to an abrupt end (for 2WD vehicles anyhow!) and we found our 1980 campervan in severe difficulties when we ventured too far. Thankfully we turned around just in time and made it back to another spectacular campsite. This area is Cassowary country; a distinctive bird that is an endangered species unique to this part of Australia.
Bungalow Bay Campground
Our campsite on Magnetic Island
Emu-like in stature these ancient birds with reptile like feel, liking them to raptures, can stand up to 5ft tall. They are unpredictable and if provoked have been known to lunge their talons into their provoker, disembowering them in the process. They are elusive, rare, and extremely shy creatures so imagine our joy when we spotted one by the side of the road. This is a place that really gets under your skin, and in your hair, under your fingernails…. It was sad to move on, but exciting too, as we would now be turning west and into the outback.
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