Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 276. Cape Hillsborough to Finch Hatton Gorge

Fairies in the rainforest....

I woke at 5am and went in search of Bec's 'hard to find' Roos on the beach. It was already daylight, and if we were to believe what we have been told, this is the prime time to see this very rare sight.

As I walked through the treeline onto the beach, I was greeted by a large mob of Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Agile Wallabies scattered along the length of the beach. It was low tide, and there were already half a dozen other people on the beach taking photos of the natural phenomenon that we were all witnessing. There was even a Bush Turkey down on the sands of the beach! What a sight!

I slowly approached the Kangaroos, and took a number of photo's before they all moved up into the trees. It was truly amazing, and something that I'll remember for years to come. What a shame Bec decided to sleep-in, as she would of loved to see this wondrous sight. At least I can show and share the photos with her when I return.

As it was still early, and there was no chance that Bec and Scarlett would be awake yet, I decided to go and look for fresh turtle tracks. Bec found a set of tracks yesterday morning, so I guessed I had a fair chance of finding fresh tracks this morning.

The nest site

You wouldn't read about it, but at the other end of the beach ; and only 50 metres from where Bec found her tracks yesterday, I found a new set of turtle tracks leading up from the waters edge. I followed them, and found a site where the sand had been recently disturbed. I guessed this was the spot where the 'Flatback Turtle' had chosen to make its nest, and laid its eggs sometime during the night. I like to think this was the same turtle that made the tracks the night before, returning, and now finding a suitable place to lay. And to think that less than a dozen or so turtles choose to lay their eggs here at this beach each year, and we were here on the one night that 'one' of these turtles returned to do so. Now that's something to remember this place by. Pure magic!

I returned to the van, and with the help of Bec and Scarlett we were packed up in no time. Scarlett disappeared and played with the girls, while Bec and I went and said good bye to Dave and Andrea. We have had some great times travelling with this family, and I know for a fact that Scarlett will miss Sarah, Lucy and Isabel heaps. They got on like a house on fire - literally! We will miss you guys, and we promise to visit you when you finally settle down at Wagga for sure.

We were now heading out to a place near Eungella, where we hoped to see the secretive Platypus. Along the way there was a little bit of drizzle about, and for one reason or another we missed the turn off to the 'Platypus Bush Camp' up at Finch Hatton Gorge, and continued to follow the road to Eungella instead.

We soon discovered that the road 'up' to Eungella isn't very caravan friendly, as it is a very steep incline with a number of sharp switchbacks. This part of the Clarke Ranges where Eungella is situated, is apparently on some of the highest mountains in QLD, and as we 'crawled' up the range in 1st gear at 10 to 20kms an hour, we soon found ourselves on a very slippery road 'up in the clouds'. At one point, we lost traction and the Pajero seemed to stall and lose power - causing both Bec and I to hold on for dear life as the car and van slowly came to a grinding stop on the steep road. Luckily, power soon returned to the old girl and we kept on creeping up to the top of the mountain. By the time we reached the top and a found a place to pull over, my heart was beating a million beats a minute and my adrenalin was pumping like there was no tomorrow! Bec and I spoke about the ordeal we had just come through, and commented that we weren't looking fwd to returning and heading back down that road any time soon.

The view from the top of the mountain. Here you can see the road leading up to Eungella at the top

Our 'rest stop' in the clouds; where we sucked it up, then turned around
to start the journey back down the mountain
It was at this stage that we consulted our books,as we were sure we were lost, and sure enough we soon discovered that we were 20kms past where we were suppose to be! Ouch! That meant that we had to turn around and head straight back down the mountain - without anytime to build up the nerve to do so. So we reluctantly placed the Pajero in 1st gear and 4WD, and started a very slow and cautious trip back down the way we had just come. It was probably the longest and slowest 8kms of our lives, and by the time we reached the bottom we both gave out a huge sigh of relief. I hope I never have to do that again -especially towing a caravan!

Thats our van down the back beside the creek...
We eventually found 'Platypus Bush Camp', and reluctantly set up camp as it wasn't what we were expecting at all. Don't get me wrong, the place was absolutely beautiful, but it ended up being a roughly cleared area in a rainforest that didn't have any power and very limited water. We were the first travellers here, so we got to pick the best area to set up camp, but by night fall there were about 8 x other campers 'squeezed' into an area where 6 x campers would of struggled to fit comfortably. Oh well, we came to see a Platypus, and hopefully we would only need one night here to do so.

Not long after we arrived, another family we met back at Airlie Beach also arrived here, so Scarlett was overjoyed to find someone familiar to play with. Holy and Josh were just as excited to see Scarlett again, so for the remainder of our stay here she had a ball playing with other kids.

Scarlett looking for Platypus
At sunset we all met down the creek to look for the resident Platypus, but by nightfall we still hadn't seen a thing. Well, actually we did, but it wasn't what we were looking for. The area was beautiful, and Bec soon spotted what looked like a small brown snake swimming in the creek. Ulysses Butterflies, Azure Kingfishers, Freshwater Eels, Eel-tailed Catfish, and Jungle Perch were but a few of the animal life that we encountered down along the creek. But still no Platypus. It was getting dark, and as we patiently waited, Fire-Flies started lighting up the rainforest all around us. Magic!

Where is that rascally Platypus?
Just when we were about to leave, we heard the sound of movement in the water, and now that our eyes had adjusted to the dark, we saw that the movement was our Platypus. It was out there, and with the aid of Scarlett's red L.E.D. head torch that Grumpy bought her, we soon 'glimpsed' the Platypus as it swam in the creek in front of us. Unfortunately it was just to dark to see anything with clarity, so maybe tomorrow we'll have better luck at seeing it in some low morning light? Maybe....

Bec and I returned to the van, and found that Scarlett and Holly had been catching fire-flies during our absence! They showed us their prizes, before releasing them back into the darkness of the night. How wondrous! I've never seen Scarlett's eyes light up so much. She was in her element out here....

What an experience! A day of highs and lows. This morning I can honestly say that I was truly scared for all our lives as we first drove up, and then back down the mountain range at Eungella; and then this evening was like living in a fairytale, with fairies (fire-flies) flying all around us in the tropical rainforest.

What will tomorrow bring?

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