Journal Snippet | November 2008 | Roadtrip from Mackay to Finch Hatton Gorge
The night before our roadtrip the heavens opened and it totally pissed it down like a river falling out the sky. It was only for 30 minutes but the intensity caused the mighty falcon to leak badly and the drivers foot-well had two inches of water in it. We decided to drive to the shopping mall carpark which was lit up at night so we could check out the damage, but a police women decided to pull us over for a random breathalyser test. We passed fine, but Craig was more worried about keeping his feet still so the cop wouldn’t hear the water sloshing about in his foot-well. The mattress was drenched, it was a thin foam one so we literally wrung the water out of it. We couldn’t sleep on it so I kipped in the passenger seat and woke up to find Craig asleep on the carpark floor.
We never did find out where the leak was coming from so a few weeks later we resorted to borrowing a drill from Steve, the ever so friendly gardener at the shopping mall which we visited everyday before work…we ended up drilling three holes in the foot-well so that when it leaked it could at least drain away.
Feeling completely un-refreshed after a sleepless night, we drove inland to Finch Hatton Gorge. We followed a narrow track that had creaks washing over the road and wallabies hopping alongside us. Normally we wild-camped, even though it’s illegal in Queensland, we were very discreet so we got away with it most nights (minus a few police move-along’s) but at the end of the road and the entrance to the park, was a campsite. We wouldn’t get away with wild-camping here so we decided to check into ‘Platypus Bush Camp’.
The camp was incredible, hands down one of the coolest places we’ve stayed. We parked up amongst the rainforest, shaded from the hot sun. The owner was an old hippy called Wazza, he built the whole camp himself, including the tree-house he lived in, and two similar ones for guests. There was a wooden kitchen and a chill area with hammocks and guitars. The toilet was a proper dunny, in a shed with no light, and the lid had to be kept down to prevent frogs from making it their home. Then there was the shower, which only had three walls surrounding it, the forth side was totally open to the rainforest. The best thing about the bush camp was that it had two crystal clear waterholes. In the heat of the day we’d float across the surface in inner-tubes. At dawn and dusk we’d sit on the shore silently looking for platypus that call the pools home.
When we weren’t chilling at the camp, we explored Finch Hatton Gorge and the nearby Eungella National Park. The area was full of noisy kookaburras and giant monitor lizards scurrying through the rainforest. A sweaty walk led us to a waterfall that wasn’t impressive in itself, but below it was a deep, dark waterhole and steep ledges to jump in from. So that’s exactly what we did! It took a bit of time for me to pluck up the courage; the water was clear but very deep and the dark rocks beneath made it all look black and eerie. I sunk like a rock on my first jump, I opened my eyes expecting daylight but was confronted by a green blur. That was enough to get me panicked and frantically kicking myself to the surface. After the initial scary jump though, I became a pro at cannon-balling and we spent the day jumping in, watching turtles surface around us and having a blast. Craig skirted along the rocky ledge for a higher jump of about 4 meters, while some crazy fools were climbing up trees and doing 15+ metre jumps in!
One night we drove to a nearby village for dinner in a local pub. When it came to driving back to the bush camp we got totally lost and wound up on a gravel road. It was a pitch black night, along a windy, bumpy road with no GPS and no map. We had to stop in our tracks at one point and let two long snakes cross the road! We eventually saw where we’d gone wrong, got back on track, and spent the rest of the drive killing dozens of cane toads that jumped in front of us.
Back at the camp we admired the clear skies full of stars. The noises of the jungle were amplified at night, from crickets making the typical tropical noise, to toads croaking and the distant splashes of platypus in the nearby pools. It really was paradise.