Nice Places and Friendly Faces

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
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Trip End Nov 15, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It was lovely to awake to the calming sound of waves rolling ashore along Mission Beach and a nice fresh morning breeze flowing softly through the van. Outside we once again found ourselves shrouded by grey, overcast skies, the suns brave attempt to break through so far unsuccessful. 

We were packed up and on the road in no time, continuing our trek along the Queensland coast.   Our route took us through the pleasant town of Cardwell and on up through the Cardwell Range which delighted us with stunning panoramas of the surrounding countryside and bays.

Whilst we explored both Taylors Beach and Lucinda we decided to stay in the sleepy seaside hamlet of Forrest Beach.  The rustic little caravan park (located conveniently out the back of the Forrest Beach Hotel) was set just a few metres back from the beach and with a front row site we were afforded a great view over the beach and out across the Coral Sea to the Palm Islands.

Keen to explore Ingham we set off into town enjoying the pretty drive through farmland dominated by fields of sugarcane and past the large Victoria Mill.  By the time we reached town the rain had set in so our plans to visit Wallaman Falls and the Tyto Wetlands were put on hold.  Back at the beach we settled into the van with a couple of good books and listened to the patter of raindrops on our roof for the afternoon.

Across at the Forrest Beach Hotel it was steak night and being the weather was so miserable we decided to venture over.  Seated outside yet protected from the rain, when a heavy downpour forced rain in along the edge of the patio we offered our spare seats to a lady and she and her friend joined us.  Both locals, it was lovely to talk to them, she had lost her home in the cyclone and it was still in the process of being rebuilt.  A long drawn out affair but one she was however now feeling she was finally on top of.  We were glad to have met some locals and that they had been comfortable enough to share their stories with us.

Whilst we awoke to another overcast day we once again ventured into Ingham to take a walk through the Tyto Wetlands.  By the time we arrived it had started to drizzle however we decided to take the walk regardless (they were 'wetlands' after all!).  Our trek started well with a few wallabies grazing close by, birds flittering from one tree to the next, happy in song.  We took a trail around the reed lined lagoon and whilst the grass was a little spongy underfoot initially it felt okay to walk on.  Engrossed in the scenery we rounded a bend and found the track to have a shallow layer of water across it, we sloshed through and continued on.  We must have walked another 15 minutes or so when we found we now had to get through ankle deep water.  The wetlands were swamped!  The option of turning around and retracing our steps had been ruled out for just prior a snake had slithered across our track in front of Rod…(it was that close he would have stepped on it had I not yelled "snake").  And so on we trudged with soggy feet and damp clothes having had a true ‘wetlands’ experience.

We started out to Wallaman Falls (the tallest single drop falls in Australia) however the rain had set in again, the roads through the cane fields were already flooding and visibility was so low we wouldn’t have been able to see the falls anyway and so the falls join the steadily expanding ‘do next time’ list. 

Being that a friend of ours (Karen) comes from Ingham, we had been in touch to find out the ‘must do’s’ of the area and one of them was to have lunch at Casa Pasta

Well, this was a delightful experience.  We had the most delicious lunch, the bowls of pasta were generous in size and the flavour was so good we polished our bowls!  We met Peter and Jocelyn, friends of Karen’s and they kindly invited us along to an art exhibition which they were attending that night.

Both sharing an interest in art, we thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition which featured local land and street scapes.  Peter and Jocelyn were then kind enough to invite us back to their lovely home for dinner.  The meal was delicious, as was the wine and the conversation flowed late into the evening.  We so enjoyed their company and felt like we were in the company of old friends! 

The rain was relentless overnight, our plan to go south and stay ahead of the rain was failing us and so we had no choice but to change our frame of reference and embrace it.   Our next stopover was only a short distance down the road, about half way between Ingham and Townsville where we pulled into the lovely little beachside oasis of Rollingstone Beach Caravan Resort.  This 20 acre purpose built property set along the coast was a gem of a spot.  We had an ocean front site affording us a sweeping view along the foreshore, beach and out to sea.  With a lovely big resort style swimming pool we were glad to have a few days in which to enjoy it.

We had just set up when we noticed that our nearest neighbours were a family we had met in Cooktown some weeks ago.  That evening we joined them for a drink on the beachfront and then dispersed for dinner before they invited us to regroup for desert.  A mixture of Scottish and South African backgrounds made for interesting topics of conversation.  We had a lovely evening and they were very impressed that we could understand their thick Glasgow accents… (thanks to Merle and Dr Dave for all the practice!).

Rollingstone had come on our radar due to its proximity to the Paluma Range National Park and we were eager to spend the day exploring the park.  The drive to Paluma was along a narrow, winding road which hugged the sides of Mount Spec.  Along the way we stopped at Little Crystal Creek and were delighted by the splendor of the swimming hole.  We walked down under the magnificent masonry stone arch bridge (which was built during the depression of the 1930’s in an attempt to create employment) and across granite rocks to the pool below.

We dangled our feet in the icy creek whilst admiring the water cascading under the bridge and over the large granite rocks.  The scene was like a painting with the arch beneath the bridge forming a frame.  In the background on the other side of the bridge water tumbled majestically down a large waterfall and into a series of rock pools which were bursting with people braving the cold water. 

Set amid rainforest, Paluma is a tiny little settlement surround by dense green foliage.  There is a lovely big park, a stunning lookout and pretty rainforest walks to while away the time.  Whilst the road to Pulma Lake had been closed due to the heavy rain we took a nice drive through woodland to Hidden Valley (so well hidden we aren’t 100% sure it was Hidden Valley that we found!) before making our way back down the mountain and over to Big Crystal Creek.

Here there was a wide expanse of clear water with a pebbled bed in which people were swimming and lazing around on the surrounding rocks.  Our favourite spot however was a little further on at the Rock Slides.  On one side of the creek people were scampering up rocks to jump from a great height into a deep pool, a little below that wide smooth ridges had formed over the massive granite boulders that dropped into the pool below which made for a great water slide.  In the pool below that, there were plastic floatation devices of all shapes and sizes in use as people just floated around taking in the scenery.  Whilst it was mayhem in and around the waterholes, we really enjoyed our day at Pulma we just wished the water had been a little warmer!

From Rollingstone we also did a day trip into Townsville.  A large town set on the ocean and surrounded by stunning ranges, it makes for a dramatic setting.  We enjoyed a walk along the beautifully landscaped foreshore soaking in the views out over Magnetic Island and the lovely beaches before heading up to Castle Hill.  The massive red rock structure of Castle Hill dominates the Townsville skyline and as such rewards any visitors with spectacular views and a great perspective over the surrounding areas and the vast spread of Townsville.  We were delighted to have the opportunity to catch up with Jeanette and James (whom had been so kind to us in Cloncurry) and once again thoroughly enjoyed their company.

Back at Rollingstone we reflected on what a great balanced stay it had been.  A few day trips to explore, catching up with friends and hours spent in the pool.  However it was once again time to move on and we were excited to be heading to Airlie Beach for we had a boat to catch…

Highlights:

-          Meeting Peter and Jocelyn

-          Lunch at Casa Pasta! (We highly recommend it if ever you find yourself in Ingham)

-          Paluma National Park

o   Little Crystal Creek

o   Rockslides

o   The drive itself

-          Catching up with Jeanette and James

-          Rollingstone Beach Caravan Resort

o   Inviting large landscaped pool
Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

Elaine Matthews on

Hi Lyndal & Rod,

Another wonderful adventure, wishing my Homeless Friends a Verry Happy
New Year !!!
Take Care "E" xx

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