We left LEI and had another stunning flight back to the mainland including a bonus bumpy landing at Bundaberg
Now we had to get some miles under our belt. One of the hotel owners told us that there was loads of great stuff to see in Queensland but that there was an awful lot of nothing in between. There is nothing much to see in central coastal Queensland so we had a 500 mile drive north to our next adventure. We spread this long drive over 2 days and stopped off at the Rosslyn Bay Resort near the very nice coastal town of Yeppoon. There is a TripAdvisor review here if you’re interested.
It was a brief stay in a very nice apartment and as with all the places we stayed we awoke to birdsong. Here the laughter of the Kookaburra was loudest
Not only was it a rather fine hotel and apartment but a rather fine area as well. We took time out from endless driving for a walk on the beach and a wander to the top of the local headland
The views out to Great Keppel Island were very fine. We’d thought about a visit there but ferries are infrequent and it was one of those places we had to drop from the itinerary. Shame as the photos looked nice!
Feeling satisfied with a couple of hours of respite we hit the road again and headed north to Mackay. The scenery changed and Sugar Cane was king in these parts. Vast acres of them paralleled by miles of narrow gauge tracks for the cane trains. Huge sugar factories billowing plumes of steam. Many people told us how boring the drive through Queensland was. In truth there was not much to see, particularly as the main road, the Bruce Highway, runs several miles inland. But I enjoyed the drive. the roads are largely empty, traffic flows freely and that empty blankness was at least Australian empty blankness. We just cruised and enjoyed the fact we were in Australia seeing things and places perhaps we never thought we’d see.
Our destination was the Broken River Mountain Resort in Eungella National Park. An area of mountainous rainforest about 50 miles inland. The approach is through the wide Sugar Cane rich Pioneer Valley and we cruised along its mostly deserted roads. Suddenly the road pitched upwards in a series of sharp hairpins up into the forest to the resort at about 700m.
It was pretty much dark when we got there but the resort is gorgeous. A small collection of timber chalets in the forest with a rustic lodge at its heart. We had our own private cabin down by the river. You can read my TripAdvisor Review here
The restaurant was excellent and the waitress looked after us royally for all our meals and arranged our packed picnic lunches – I only wished we’d have got her name (I’m terrible for such things). We ate like kings and were treated to the nightly show out the back of the restaurant. They put food out and a family of Possums comes down for their evening meal.
They are rather cute in a wide, staring-eyed sort of way and we sat outside in the cold for many minutes watching them – a rare treat
The resort organised a free night-walk which was excellent and informative. We caught glimpses of wallabies, bandicoots and frog-mouth birds but alas too dark for photography
Next morning we were up early to see what the area is famous for – Platypus
Small, shy and endangered they are the weirdest of creatures. Fur like an otter, tail like a beaver, beak like a duck and a venomous claw on its hind legs. I’m told that when the first stuffed specimen was brought to the UK everyone thought it a hoax. They are actually mammals rather than marsupials although they don’t breast feed their young as such, they secrete milk through the skin and the young drink the milk off the fur. I couldn’t wait to see them
We had been told that they were incredibly shy and needed considerable patience to catch a glimpse. We must have been lucky as we saw them pretty much every time we went down to the river. They really are quite wonderful little – things! Cute in their own way and much smaller than you think. We were even lucky enough to see a couple of them engaged in courtship – fighting basically – so pretty much like Hereford on a Saturday night.
Considering the photos were taken with a 500mm telephoto lens, handheld, of dark brown creatures, in a dark brown river, in a forest, under a grey sky, in fading light, well I’m quite pleased with the outcome.
To fill our day we packed up a picnic and after being dropped at the trailhead took a long walk along the river through the rainforest. Not a typically tropical rainforest, this one is created by the moist coastal air being pushed upwards by the mountains, condensing into clouds and mist that cloak the forest most of the time. This allows the luxuriant growth of ferns palms and the towering trees.
The walk was magnificent with the sights and the sounds of the forest surrounding and enveloping us. We saw all kinds colourful birds but they were too fleeting to photograph or identify. I was keeping a watchful eye for snakes and leeches but were unlucky (or is that lucky).
We stopped to admire a stunning deep pool and were rewarded with another glimpse of Platypus. Incidentally the plural of Platypus is Platypus or Platypuses. The tendency to stick an “i” on such words is apparently the height of grammatical laziness!
We found a lovely spot down next to the river for our lunch
We finally found a place where we could sit right down on the rocks amongst the river itself and spent a happy hour just watching the forest world and river pass us by.
We finished off with a stroll around the dramatic and precipitous viewpoints that overlook the Pioneer Valley
A final Platypus watching session before dark.
This time peace was shattered by an almighty screeching noise. At first I thought it was pigs on the farm next door such was the volume but then I realised it was a huge flock of Cockatoos in the trees. It’s rather surreal to look up and see flocks of these birds that you normally see in bird houses or zoos and yet here they are numerous and flying free – something of a pest in fruit-growing areas we heard. I had no idea that they “flock” (if that’s the right word) in such numbers. The din they make is on account of the one’s in the tree-tops watching and alerting for danger while the others feed and drink by the water
There were also Turtles aplenty and in the end I felt a bit sorry for them. Everyone is looking at the Platypus and admiring them. The Turtles swim up close and clamber on logs as if to say “Hey, look at us, we’re interesting as well” but still, attention passes them by and no-one gives them a second glance. Covered in green slimy algae they look a little sad and pathetic. I took some photos and gave them some encouragement. Turtles have feelings too!
After a long day out we returned to our cottage and chilled, making use of the log burning stove. May as well we thought. Rather too enthusiastically it turns out. I had to open the windows when we got back from eating as the place was like a sauna 🙂
A short stay but a great one. Memorable for the amazing wildlife but also because it was a complete contrast to everywhere else we went. The rest of the trip was mostly islands and coast so a trip inland gave us some real contrast