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Week 4 Of Our Weekly Blog 18/06/2021 - 24/06/2021

Last week saw us exploring around Charters Towers, Townsville and spending a day on the beautiful Magnetic Island. Read on below for what adventures we got up to in week 4 of Allan and I exploring Oz.

Day 22

Today was our last full day in Townsville. Sue, Brian, Allan and I drove the 9km of windy, very scenic road uphill to Mt Stuart Lookout. The view was spectacular, as we were 584m above sea level and could see the whole of Townsville. There was a walking trail that took us around the mountain, which of course I dragged everyone around. Credit to Sue who, with some complaining and using everyone as a leaning post, completed the walk even though she does not like stairs, heights and walking on uneven ground (she has bad knees) and this walk had all-of-the-above and was pretty sketchy in places. There was not much to hold onto for declines and the well-worn steps/rocks made out to be steps were awkwardly situated at times. The views all around were beautiful and made it worth the walk. We drove back along the coast to The Strand to the Kissing Point Fortification Walk. I had been wanting to do this walk since Allan had dragged me to go fishing a couple of days earlier. To my surprise, everyone agreed to do the walk up to the fort with me even though the first 100m (that we could see) was all stairs. I did tell Sue that if she completed the walk without complaining, I would shout her lunch and a drink. We got to the top and it was an amazing view overlooking the beach and Magnetic Island and there was a memorial from WW1 and WW2 with guns, storage sheds, bunkers, plaques and information boards at the top. It started to rain when we were just starting the decent back to have lunch and by the time we got to the bottom, it was pouring, and we were all saturated. What made it worse for me, was that Sue did not complain once, so I was in for an expensive lunch! After lunch we parted ways, because Allan and I wanted to do one final lookout, Castle Hill Lookout. The road to this lookout, was windy and steep, but very scenic and quite strange to be in the centre of town. There were speed bumps that you had to slow down for even in a 4WD and we had to share the road with many pedestrians and cyclists who were trying to do their afternoon cardi-no. At the top of Castle Hill Lookout, there were 8 lookout spots, most of which had stairs to get to. The view was stunning and at one point we were in the clouds, and we could not see anything below. We completed a loop walk and by the end of this one both of our legs were sore, so we headed back to the caravan park for our last night in Townsville.

Day 23

Got back on the road today, with the destination of Ingham in mind. Pretty much as soon as we left Townsville, the scenery changed to more tropical/rainforests interspersed with sugar cane fields and plantations of banana and pineapple. We had to stop at the Frosty Mango so I could get a double scooped cup of strawberry and mango sorbet and Allan bought a black sapote (chocolate pudding fruit), as I had not tried one before. About 20kms down the road, we turned off and took a very scenic rainforest track with 2 small water crossings to our first waterfall of the trip, Jourama Falls. It was a short walk to a swimming hole, which we all had a swim in. Allan and I got attacked by small leaches which freaked me out a bit. Unfortunately, the walk/hike to the top of Jourama Falls had been temporarily closed, but we did not know why. We got back on the road, still in our bathers, towards Ingham. Stopped to have a look at the Tyto Visitor Information Centre. The lady who served us was extremely helpful and handed us a lot of brochures about The Atherton Tablelands (where we are touring while we wait for Queensland school holidays to finish). We also booked 2x nights at Wallaman Falls Campground which is in Girringun National Park ($27 total). The lady warned us that the road to the campground is quite steep and there are a few tight turns to get up there, so it is advised not to tow, but we decided to still tow our campers up there. We had a look at the wetland area behind the visitor centre that was home to an array of different species of fish, birds and turtles. Sue bought some turtle food and fed the turtles. We decided before setting up camp to drive to the coast to Lucinda and Dungeness. There was not much to see at Lucinda except sugar cane farms and the sugar cane jetty and Dungeness was mainly a caravan park, motel, a boat ramp, boat mooring and fishing pontoons. Drove out to Wallaman Falls Campground. The lady was right, the road was very steep with some very sharp turns. The Triton’s transmission overheat light came on halfway to the campground, so we had to stop with the car running and leave it in park for 10mins. Got to camp at 4ish with a few possibilities of sites, which were all quite awkward to reverse the camper into. Both Allan and Brian hit the same post trying to get into the sites. Brian got into a site, but Allan got frustrated so decided to change tactics and try a different site which would be less angled (the brakes on our camper are not great). With Brian’s help, Allan was able to get into the new site easily and we set up camp from there. Allan and I went for a short walk (800m) that was local to the campsite, the Bangurru Walk. The walk was through the beautiful rainforest and took us to some small falls and a swimming spot. Allan decided to be a kid again and throw sticks into the stream to see how far they went before getting stuck in the rapids. We walked back to camp, sat around the fire, had tea and went to bed.

Day 24

Today, Allan, Brian and I decided to walk to the base of Wallaman Falls. Sue was happy to stay back at camp and planned to do the Bangurru Trail that Allan and I had done the night before. We drove to the Wallaman Falls Lookout, took some photos at the top and slowly made our way down to the base of the waterfall. The walk was a 4km round-trip, not for anyone who feared heights, as it was quite a steep descent slow going, due to undulating surface, lots of steps and many switchbacks through the beautiful rainforest. Brian had 2 falls on the way down and sustained bruises and grazes to both knees, his left elbow was cut, he bruised his left little finger, and the left side of his back was very grazed and bruised after rolling on some rock steps. One of his falls, he was awfully close to rolling down the hill, but thankfully he was caught by a tree. At the bottom we took some photos, as the waterfall looked spectacular and even from the viewing platform that the National Park Rangers had advise to not go past, we could feel spray from the waterfall. Allan and I wanted to explore further, so we left Brian to clean his wounds and recover and we walked closer to the base of the waterfall. We took about half an hour to get to the water at the base of the waterfall, as we had to manoeuvre around rocks that were very slippery and covered in moss and we were going downhill still. Allan had originally wanted to go swimming, but once he had reached the water and put his feet in and almost stacked it on the slippery rocks, he realised it probably was not a good idea. We walked back up to Brian at the platform (it took us half the amount of time to get back as we just retraced our steps). Slowly but surely, we made our way back to the top of the waterfall. We had many stops on the way to let people pass (some of which we were worried would not be able to get back up) and just to catch our breath in general. It took us just under 50mins to get to the top which we all thought was decent and we drove back to camp. Back at camp, Sue had returned from her walk which she was proud of herself for doing, as she completed it by herself, without any hiking sticks and no one with her. We all made the mistake of sitting down and eating lunch, then Sue said she wanted to see Wallaman Falls, so we got back in the car to go back to the lookout. For the rest of the afternoon and evening, we just chilled out and sat by the fire, as we were all exhausted from our walks.

Day 25

We all woke up this morning feeling a bit sore and sorry for ourselves (Brian more so than anyone else I think), packed up and left camp to go down the windy, steep hill from Wallaman Falls Campground back to Ingham to restock (groceries, water and fuel). Thankfully, we had no issues with the Triton or camper. We got back on the road with the destination in mind being Cardwell to see The Big Crab at the Seaview Café. Allan and Brian bought the crab burgers for lunch with a beer. Neither of them rated the burger, as they felt they were a bit flavourless and sloppy. We walked along the jetty and saw a couple of turtles at the end. We decided we would stay at Murray Falls Campground in the Girramay National Park for 2 nights so we could do the Cardwell Forrest Drive tomorrow. Murray Falls Campground was 40kmish from Cardwell through sugar cane crops and banana plantations, we even saw some weird looking trees with fruit on them, that we later found out were papaya/pawpaw trees. We saw a couple of wallabies and drove through an Indigenous Community. We got to the campground, which was very flat, all grassed, had firepits, was well-maintained, easily accessible to all vehicles and towing with only a few single-lane bridges to cross. The toilets were clean, proper toilets (not long-drops or thunderboxes) and even had soap dispenses filled with soap (can be a rarity). Murray Falls was not far away and visible from the campground and you could hear it. There is a day-use area where you could swim and spend the day and the toilets are shared with the campground. We set up camp and went for a walk to the lookout which had two viewing platforms (one closer to the fall and one further down where you could see the whole fall). Allan and I then walked to the day-use area (not far from camp) and put our feet in. The water was cold, so we would not have gone swimming. Got back to camp and I was hungry, so Allan told me to try the black sapote that we bought from Frosty Mango. We cut it open, but it was still green. I still tried it (I did not know any better). It was disgusting, tasteless and had a spicy/chilli flavour. I spat it out, rinsed my mouth and then my tongue went all furry and bright orange. We later found out from a local this was common if you ate it when it was unripe. Sue and Brian cooked us chicken casserole in the camp oven for dinner. Brian watched the casserole cook and was mesmerised by the fire, while Allan, Sue and I played Rummy-King (I won). We had tea, which was delicious, then I fell asleep by the fire, so we went to bed.

Day 26

I decided to do the harder hike at camp this morning (Yalgay Ginja Bulumi Walk). It was moderate grade, 1.8km return and to allow an hour and a half return. It took me just over 30mins to complete. It was uphill on the way there and downhill on the way back and had rocks for steps, but a well-worn path most of the way. There were info boards about the trees and wildlife, the scenery was beautiful rainforest, and it took you to a viewing platform to lookout over the top of the waterfall. We all drove back into Cardwell to start the Cardwell Forrest Drive, which takes you to a couple of different destinations (Cardwell Lookout, Attie Creek/Falls, Dead Horse Creek and Cardwell Spa Pool). Cardwell Lookout was the first destination. It had four lookouts, three of which you had to walk to see, which Allan and I did. Brian and Sue stayed at the first lookout, because I think they were sore from their walks and had day two DOMS. The walk was an uphill battle and the 430m to the furthest lookout felt like it took forever, but really the whole walk only took about 20mins! Allan complained pretty much the whole time and it did not help that he kept blowing the plugs on his thongs. Drove on to Attie Creek/Falls. There were two walks we could do. One was to the day-area, which Brian and Sue walked to. They said that there was a picnic table and a small swimming hole which was brown and stagnant, so they did not want to swim in it. Allan and I did the other walk which was a 700m uphill hike to the top of Attie Falls. There was a swimming area, which allowed you to swim across and sit under the waterfall, which Allan did. I was happy just swimming across to the waterfall and back to where we entered the water, as it was freezing cold! Allan wore his thongs and again they kept blowing their plugs, so he finally agreed that it was time to get rid of them. We then drove on to Dead Horse Creek. There were 20 stone steps down to the creek, which Sue did not want to walk down, so she stayed at the car, while Allan, Brian and I went swimming. We saw an eel and a yabby, and the water was super cold, so we pretty much jumped into the water, sat under the small waterfall and got out. Our final destination was the Cardwell Spa Pool, which had been altered slightly to make it easier to get in and out of the “pool”. The water was a beautiful milky blue colour, but still clear, as you could see small fish swimming around in it. The water was slightly warmer than the other two swimming holes, so we stayed in for about 20mins. We got out and sat at a picnic table for lunch and watched as the masses strolled in to have a swim. By the time we had finished lunch and were packing up to leave, the car park was full, and people were parking on the side of the road to be able to stop and have a swim. We went back to the Seaview Café so Allan could put some content up onto Instagram, so we did not fall too far behind. We found out that alcoholic beverages were $5 each, so Allan could not pass that one up! Sue and Brian left to go back to camp. We spent 2 hours at the café, then I drove back to camp as Allan shouldn’t be driving any more…can’t say no to $5 coronas! We stopped at The Coral Sea Memorial to have a look and brush up on our war history and then stopped at Sue’s Homemade Goods stall on the side of the road and bought some mandarins, tomato relish and lemon butter. When we got back to camp, Brian was sitting in his chair with paper towel over his right eye and Sue was standing next to him frantically waving. When we got there, I had not even stopped the car before Allan had jumped out to find out what had happened. Brian was chopping the firewood with his new axe into usable pieces (without sunglasses on), when a large piece he was chopping flew up and hit him in the eye. Allan got saline from the first aid kit (handy to have at times) and washed Brian’s eye out. He had burst a lot of the blood vessels in his eye, there was a cut above and below his eye (hence the blood) and his eye socket was starting to bruise already. Allan bandaged an eye-pad on Brian’s eye and left it on. Once he had taken it off, his eye looked blood shot, but he could see out of it, which we took as a good thing.

Day 27

Took one last walk to the Murray Falls Lookout, before packing up and heading off towards Innisfail. The scenery went from lots of sugar cane farms to National Parks, and we were warned to lookout for cassowaries. We stopped at Wongaling Beach to take photos of the big cassowary, then continued to Mission Beach. We stopped at Mission Beach, walked along the beach and even put our feet in the water. The beach was beautiful, but very touristy. We collected a couple of coconuts to crack and eat later. We continued inland to stop in Silkwood at Murdering Point Winery and had a tasting. Each ‘wine, liqueur, port’ was made from different tropical fruits e.g. lychee, passionfruit, mango, pineapple. The tasting was not really my flavour, as I would prefer to eat the fruit, not drink it as a fermented product, but it was still interesting. My favourite was the banana cream liqueur. I was a bit tipsy after the tasting. We decided to stay at August Moon Caravan Park for two nights (which turned into three) on powered sites for $36 per night. The couple who was managing the park were lovely and gave us some hot tips of what to do around Innisfail. We set up camp, had a look around, the park was quiet (some road noise as we were right next to the Bruce Highway) with not many people staying there, it was clean, good facilities, well-kept and had a pool and table-tennis table for us big kids. Allan opened one of the coconuts we had taken from Mission Beach. Once he had opened the husk, he thought it might have been rotten. He cracked the coconut shell and sure enough, the coconut water was a milky colour and smelt gross and the coconut itself had a sheet of yellow slimy goo on top. Fair to say that put us off cracking the rest of the coconuts! We relaxed at the park for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Day 28

We drove 20mins to get to Josephine Falls. When we arrived, there were about six cars in the carpark (including our two cars). There was a 700m walk from the carpark and we passed two cars worth of people coming back from the falls. The walk was an easy, bitumen track with slight inclines and declines through the rainforest. There were three viewing platforms to choose from, so we decided to walk to the furthest platform first as it was only a viewing platform. It was a nice view, but when we went to the next platform it was a much better view and you were allowed to swim from it. Allan and I walked onto the rocks, but the water was running a bit too fast for us to swim from this area. We walked back down to the first platform, which was catered for those that wanted to swim, as there was a gate to access the rocks/water. There was also an indicator to tell you if it was safe to swim, which it was in the safe zone. We got into the water, it was freezing, but once you were in the water for a while, you could not feel your legs, so it was all good from then on. There was a teenager who was sliding down the rocks on his bottom and of course once we had seen that, we wanted a shot. We did it twice and it was not scary at all and because of the moss on the rocks it was quite slippery so there was no friction on your bottom. By the time we got out of the water, masses of people were rocking up, so we decided it was time to leave. Once we got to the carpark, it was full, and people were having to park along the side of the road- would have been 100 people there! We then drove to Etty Bay, which was a recommendation from the caravan park managers if we wanted to see a cassowary, as there is a resident cassowary that frequents the beach there. Allan and I went for a walk around the caravan park, (Brian and Sue sat at the café and had coffee) and saw a monitor lizard. The monitor lizard did not like us getting too close and would curl up its tail, ready to attack if you got too close. We then walked along the beach, saw some small crabs which were making holes and they were making sand balls and spitting them up at the surface of their holes. By the time we got back to the café, I was starving and could smell the hot chips, so Brian shouted us each a serve of fish and chips. While we were waiting for the food, the cassowary plodded along the beach. Allan followed it along the beach to try and get a good video. The food came and it was a huge serve of fish and chips. It was so big that none of us could finish our serves so it would have been better if we had of just bought 2 serves and shared them. After we had finished eating, the monitor lizard had come out of the tree, Allan decided to follow it and it walked that close to him that it licked his toes (the poor lizard, yuck!). Allan said it felt gross. Then we drove to Flying Fish Point (north of Innisfail) just to have a look around and for Allan and Brian to go fishing. Neither of them had bait and Allan realised he did not have any soft plastics to fish with, so they decided not to go fishing. We went back to the caravan park and spent the afternoon relaxing and swimming.

This week we did not go fishing or snorkel The Great Barrier Reef, as we said in our last blog. We have decided to take our time getting to ‘The Tip’ and exploring more of inland Queensland due to Queensland school holidays starting on the 25th of June. Stay tuned for next week’s adventures of the Atherton Tablelands.

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