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July 15th 2009
Published: July 16th 2009
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Day 80 - Eungella to Finch Hatton Gorge

Rise and shine campers! We were up with the sunrise this morning to witness the valley brighten ready for the day ahead. It’s a colourful sky and quite a few people are out of their warm beds to appreciate it.

We’ve not got far to travel for tonight’s camp so we shoot off to watch the platypus play at Broken River! We go straight to the viewing platform where we were yesterday evening and there is already a couple standing and watching, but no sign of platypus activity. After about 10 minutes the couple leave and no more than 3 minutes later a platypus arrives. What a shame, we hope they saw them before we got there. Two of the guys watching with us yesterday come down the ramp and soon we’re all focused on the water. The pointing of the fingers start as the platypus comes into sight in the middle of the river and then begins to swim towards our side of the banking. There’s a hollow log just underneath the viewing platform and we can’t believe our luck when the platypus takes a morning rest on it, virtually at our feet! Back in the water he hangs around for a scratch and then continues his swim! Fantastic!! He’s soon joined by a second platypus and we learn from the guys that they’ve seen a third earlier this morning up by the bridge. Great stuff “Broken River platypus display team”, really great stuff!!

Back to camp we go, freezing cold by now and barely able to feel our fingers! A nice warm drink and we start the pack up so we can get showered and move camps. We have no dramas leaving the site, the telegraph pole at our exit point is well back!! You may remember our journey up the 12% graded mountain road yesterday, well today it’s the climb down! Low gear selected, brakes checked and off we go! It’s not so bad but the tight, tight horseshoe bends on the steep decline make it interesting! We meet a couple of double trailer lorries coming slowly up so pull over to let them pass, best not to make them lose momentum!

We follow the signs for Finch Hatton Gorge and then the Gorge Road and wind our way to the Platypus Bush Camp which we find to be a very laid back, hedonistic little place! ‘Wazza’ is the old guy who owns this little organic gem and he leisurely reverses us into a spot just inside the camp, sort of beside the creek which is through the bush a bit! It’s a real eye opener this place and we’re falling in love with it already. There’s a creek which runs along the back, one end is designated to Platypus Viewing and the other is a swimming hole where swim gear is optional! The hot showers are heated through a wood burner and you open the door to the shower to find that there is no ‘other side’, it’s the rainforest!! It’s great and we can’t wait to get in there in the morning so long as the water is warm!

Finch Hatton Gorge offers a couple of walks, both with rock pool swimming holes so we grab our bathers and start the walk. It’s 2km along the track and through the creeks to get to the National Park. We past a kiosk offering home-made Mango ice cream, it’s closed now but we’re hoping it’s open on the way back! We’re passed by a few cars during our walk up there but when we hit the hiking trail we soon catch them up! 4.2km is the return walk to the Wheel of Fire so we tackle that first and pass through tall tulip oaks and red cedars. Finding our way over Callistermon Crossing was easy for Dar but ‘mountain goat in training’ Sar struggled and laughed her wet feet across! It was lovely when we got to the top, we didn’t have the place to ourselves as another couple had walked up with us and there was a fairly large Goanna there to meet us! The water was freezing, no seriously, it was freezing! We spotted a fresh water eel in there too which caused some commotion with a lovely family when we pointed it out to them! Another small group came up with their dog and I jokingly said that if the dog went for a swim then so would I! Splash went the dog after a stick so in I clambered! This was purely a photo opportunity, nothing more and there was no way I was swimming over to the waterfall, it was so cold! Very refreshing though and despite my chest feeling like it would cave in I was really glad that I’d tried it out!

We ate our lunch in the sun and then followed the track back down to the another waterfall, Araluen Cascades. This was a 2.8km return walk and was only a short way from the original track. You could hear the cascades well before they came into sight and the rushing water grows louder until you’re standing at the lookout above the cascades. The sun had moved further towards the other side of this pool so we guessed the water wasn’t much warmer than the last one and it wasn’t! Dar was the first to get in this time, he had a good swim around and then declared he couldn’t feel his arms so got out! I got in and swam for a few minutes, climbed out for a bit of a chat and then got back in for another swim! It was lovely, really lovely. Dar did a bit of a climb up the waterfall to see what was up top! Another rock pool that you could swim in if you could be bothered to make the tricky climb and another waterfall!

We dried off and made our way back along the track, it didn’t look like the ice cream kiosk was open but the new River Rock café was so we popped in there for a coffee and a ginger beer. It’s gorgeous and has a really pretty view across the creek. They only opened it in May, a brand new build and the wooden tables and chairs cost them in excess of $20’000 so we hope that the trade comes flooding in for them.

Whizzing past us went one of the Wicked campers that we see so much of over here, this one was emblazoned with ‘Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games’! Wicked!

The walk back to camp brought us the opportunity to save a haggered looking butterfly which had soaked it’s wings and landed upside down in a puddle on the road. We carefully picked it up, turned it back the right way and lifted it to the bush at the side of the road so it could dry out properly.

We checked out the platypus viewing area at the camp when we got back but didn’t see any, to be fair we’ve just told everyone that’s asked about platypus to go to Broken River as you just can’t fail to see them there so long as you are patient.

Dar has lit the camps main cooking fire now so we’re heading over there in a minute for our dinner. There’s a chance that people will gather in the cooking area tonight, I guess we’ll wait and see what the evening brings!

No internet coverage again tonight so we’ll upload this on our way to Mackay in the morning. We’re heading there to drop the caravan at the campsite and then head up to Cape Hillsborough National Park for the day.

Night night from your platypus spotting, goanna loving, eel swimming, butterfly saving bloggers!

Dar and Sar

PS - As it turned out, the campfire was excellent. It was too fierce to cook our dinner on so we did that in the van but when we returned we joined a lovely German family who although they didn’t speak much English and we don’t speak much German except what Dar learned during his 6 years there (!) we had a great time. The large Chinese/Australian family joined us too and soon we were cooking Costeano’s German Stick Bread (with cheese and onion) and toasting marshmallows (which the Germans had never done before). It was fabulous and we’re hoping to hold the Stick Bread competition in Cairns if we should all meet up again!!!

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