Comings and Goings along Dusty Tracks # 7

Finch Hatton Gorge

Finch Hatton Gorge

Our Latest Dusty Track

As much as we try to avoid committing to schedules we had a big distance to cover from Camooweal in the north west of Queensland to Coolangata in the south east and we wanted to be there in four weeks. So many places, so many things to see, so much distance to cover and far too little time.

After changing our minds several times we finally decided on our ’rough’ plan; avoid major highways as much as practicable without adding too much to our travel time and spend the majority of the time in one region rather than trying to visit as many places as possible. That way our travel days could be kept to a reasonable length, we would have the chance to stop at interesting spots we found along the way and we could relax with some quality time in a just a few places.

After three days at the delightful oasis of Clem Walton Park just east of Mt Isa we returned to the highway and started making our way to the east coast. Even taking it easy we could have reached the coast just south of Townsville in two or three days’ time but we were happy to leave the highway with its fast moving traffic shortly after Hughenden and turn south on to a quiet side road.

Three days later we found ourselves at the top of the escarpment just west of Mackay having managed to avoid major roads and find small and often extremely dusty tracks most of the time. This allowed us to travel at own pace and take in the views and the feel of the surrounding, drought stricken countryside. Our overnight stops at Kooroorinya Nature Reserve, Moorinya National Park, Mt Coolon hotel and Eungella Dam were all very different from each other and had their own charm and points of interest.

The next two weeks were spent in a few national parks west, north and south of Mackay. Approaching from inland we reached Eungella National Park where we spent a couple of days on the escarpment camping at Fern Flat camp on the Broken River. The steep winding road took us down the escarpment to the Finch Hatton Gorge section of the park where we stayed a few nights with Wazza at his quirky and very beautiful Platypus Bush Camp. Lovely rain forest walks and platypus sightings were features of both camps and the marvellous, if very brisk, swimming in the Finch Hatton Gorge was an extra bonus.

Our next stop was a week in Cape Hillsborough National Park. There are some nice camp sites in the national park camping area but we stayed in the caravan park so Julie could revisit previous favourite walking tracks and Paul could catch up on some photo work without having to rely on solar power. It was a very windy and often wet week and the sea wasn’t the brilliant blue we were hoping for so we settled for some dips in the pool between working and walking.

South of Mackay is the Cape Palmerston National Park and after driving 5km along the beach we found a secluded camp site at the back of the beach for the next couple of nights. It was still windy but hard to beat in other regards so we stayed four nights enjoying swims, short walks and a drive to visit other sections of the park.

Finally heading south and running short of time we endured the busy Bruce Highway until we reached Rockhampton when we just had to find an alternative which didn’t add too much to our travel time. Even though most of the roads we found were bitumen they were far quieter and we even managed a couple of sections of dusty tracks. Nice free camps at the hotel at Bouldercombe and the rest stop in the range near Binjour broke the drive and we finally arrived in Imbil in the Mary Valley just south of Gympie roughly according to our plan. Not sure how that happened.

Where are we now?

We’re just finishing up four weeks visiting family and friends in the south east of Queensland and managing to tick off quite a few items on the long list of chores to be done as well. Mandy, Paul’s sister, and her husband Tony have a property in the beautiful Mary Valley just outside the village of Imbil. They grow yummy tomatoes and cucumbers in huge tunnels but their passion is for their 30 plus horses. The property and surrounding country side provided heaps of inspiration for Paul and while Julie stayed one week then headed off to visit her sister Rhonda, Paul stayed an extra week driving around the countryside to deliver tomatoes and check out photographic locations to be revisited at the right time of day.

Rhonda and Tina live in Tweed Heads, technically not in the south east of Queensland but very, very close with the state border at the front gate. The beach at Kirra is hard to beat for walking and swimming and the cafes opposite are good for breakfast to follow, as is a lovely rustic restaurant on the river at Fingal Heads. After five solid years on the road the camper needed some TLC and a few changes like a new freezer were added. Both cars needed servicing and new tyres and Julie caught up on her annual doctor’s visits (only one year late) and dental visits (don’t even ask how many years late that was) as well as fitting in a couple of massages and a haircut. Paul loved the almost unlimited internet available, just more time needed.

Where to Next?

South to more family and friends. First to Newcastle and Sydney for Christmas and New Year then on to Wangaratta, Adelaide and Melbourne before we catch the ferry in late February to spend autumn in Tasmania. Between visits we’ll be trying to fit a week or so of ‘out bush’ time. City living is not our style any more and we sure miss that feeling of nobody or not many around. We’ve been very remiss about our writing and haven’t managed any blog posts since we left Clem Walton Park. We may get some writing done or we may not but we’ll at least pick out some photos we can upload to a gallery when we get away from all our other chores and have a bit of quiet time.

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