Platypus Bush Camp and the Finch Hatton Gorge

platypusbushcamp

Around 80km west of Mackay is the Eungella National Park, thought to be the longest continual stretch of sub-tropical rainforest in Australia. The area is renowned for being one of the best places to spot the elusive platypus.

On the edge of the national park in the Finch Hatton Gorge is one of the most amazing camp grounds you will ever come across. The Platypus Bush Camp is not by any means glamping. It’s rustic and its basic. You need to be set up with your own source of power and be self sufficient, but this place is as close to paradise as you can possibly get.

As you enter the camp you are met by Wazza, who owns the camp. He will tell you he is Santa Clause’s cousin, and he looks just like an Aussie bushie version of Santa.

With his long white beard and his akubra hat, flanny, shorts and thongs, he is as Aussie as you can get. He is also one of the most generous men you will come across, so maybe he really is related to Santa?

The campsite has a basic camping part where you can park your caravan or set up your tent, it has a camp kitchen that is a basic table and sink set up and access to flushing toilets and showers that are amazing. With just two walls and a door, these showers are beautiful. Looking directly into a rainforest vista its just like showering in the open but private.

There is also a couple of hut accommodation options with a choice of a dorm hut or a private hut. Again these huts are fairly open, because from the beds of the huts you can look directly into one of the most pristine, clear creeks I’ve ever seen and if you are lucky, watch the cheeky platypus play in the water below you.

We saw a platypus playing right near the honeymoon hut but I unfortunately didn’t get a photo of it. I did get a photo of a couple from a larger colony up the mountain a bit at Broken River which were frolicking around in the middle of the day! Wazza later imparted the information that its currently breeding season and its common for them to be out all day during breeding season. Usually you can only spot them early morning or at dusk.

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We have seen a platypus before in the wild up at Carnarvon Gorge but this was something special. They weren’t nearly as shy and they were quite a few just swimming around and popping up and down. Even Avalon spotted them easily.

While the area is famous for platypus viewing, it also has some of the most spectacular waterfalls and trails I’ve seen.

The Araluen Falls are a 3km return hike which the girls easily did. They were rewarded by the power and the vision the biggest waterfall they had ever seen. It was spectacular. In warmer months you can also swim under the falls. I ran it the day before to make sure the girls could do it and it was a good 6km run from the camp.

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The other track is a bit longer and much harder. One of the hardest tracks I’ve ever done in fact. Its only around 10km from the camp and back but it includes a river crossing, which in hindsight I really shouldn’t have done at the time. Wazza told me off for doing it alone. The river was flowing fairly fast and in places it was knee height but to see the Wheel of Fire at the end of it was incredible. Again in the warmer months its an amazing swimming hole. The area has recently had a large amount of rain and that’s why all the rivers are flowing so much at the moment.

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Of course we also celebrated Marla’s 2nd birthday while we were here, and while there isn’t a lot around the Gorge there are a couple of cafes to choose from. We had lunch at the Ulysses Garden Cafe, which is named after the Ulysses butterfly which we did indeed see flying around the area with its amazing blue wings. The food here was amazing, local organic produce, with the best mango ice cream ever! I highly recommend going in to see Lorraine and sampling the amazing food. On the weekend they also have live music, which I unfortunately didn’t get to hear but I’m told is a lot of fun.

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We really loved this place. It was an incredible experience to be off the grid, and having such an amazing experience at such an untouched site. Its highly likely we will be back there sooner rather than later.

If anyone is passing through this area I recommend staying here.

The GudLanges xx

Rockhampton….

The last few days we’ve spent some time in Rockhampton. 

We decided to have a complete opposite experience to recent ones and stayed at a Big 4 Discovery park so we could have access to swimming pools, a gym and on site playground.

The pool was fantastic. Amazingly warm and the girls were over excited to be back swimming in a pool again. I think Marla might have actually drunk half the pool water while she was squealing with excitement.

Unfortunately I couldn’t access the gym because it’s not open until 8am. That’s way too late to start a workout. I got a run in on Monday around Rockhampton and the Fitzroy River. This wasn’t the best running experience I’ve had. I got approached by a group of inebriated men on the riverbank which tainted my experience a bit. Being Monday morning there were a lot of people around so it was fine but it shook me up a bit.


However this didn’t take anything away from the amazing experience we had visiting the Botanic Gardens, the free zoo and the Capricorn Caves.

Yes Rockhampton also has a free zoo. This was a bit bigger than the one in Bundaberg and the girls loved it. 

The apes showed off swinging around and climbing the trees, the girls howled with the Dingoes, we chatted to the keeper about the Cassawarys and were amazed at the colour of the Cassawary eggs, we saw the big croc and Avalon thought the otter was very cute.


After lunch we headed to the Capricorn Caves. This is probably one of my favourite experiences so far.

We did the basic tour which went into the bigger vestibule caves and the Cathedral Cave. The guide told us these caves were dry caves so although the have stalagmites  and stalactites  they only grow 1cm every 100 years as opposed to wet caves that grow 1cm every year. There is also the patterns and effects from what is referred to as cave coral. 

There is a colony of bats that live in there that she said often will come out and fly around tour groups, we unfortunately didn’t spot any.

The most incredible part of the caves is the Cathedral. It’s actually set up like a small church cathedral with pews and candles and they regularly have weddings in the Cathedral. It would be an incredible place to get married.

The piece de resistance however was the perfect acoustics in there which were demonstrated by music the guide played for us. The song was some generic popular song I didn’t really know but the sound in that cave stirred up so much emotion I was actually pretty close to tears. They hold Opera in the Caves as a semi regular event and it would be an amazing experience.

The other example of the acoustics was an invitation to someone in the tour group to sing so we could hear the sound with one voice. One of my proudest mummy moments is that Avalon, to my surprise, got up on the stage on her own in front of these strangers and sang her little heart out. She sang a song from the Peter Pan movie and I almost burst with pride and I might have cried then.


After all that activity on our last day we went over to Yeppoon to have a look and to also catch up with an old school friend who I haven’t seen in 30 years!

Was great to catch up with you Kylie! We will definitely see you next time we pass through. 

Yeppoon is lovely and it was a pretty clear day so we could easily see Great Keppell Island and what is now called Pumpkin Island but used to be Four X Island.


Now we are on the road again and heading to Platypus Creek west of Mackay. 

Until the next update 

The GudLanges xx

Youcamp, wecamp

We have been living on the Sunshine Coast for close to three months. We’ve made some amazing friends and discovered an incredible lifestyle somewhere that its highly likely we could easily live long term.

It was hard to say goodbye but we are not ready to stop adventuring yet so we packed up our lives and hit the road again.

Our first stop was something a little different. We decided to try out a website called Youcamp. Youcamp’s philosophy is that they “connect landowners with explorers, adventurers, private land thrill seekers, picnic aficionados, silver nomads, travellers and campers across  Australia”.

Through Youcamp, you can find cottages, farm stays, B&Bs, and campgrounds on private land. It is an incredible way to have a different experience to caravan parks and commercial camp grounds.

Our first Youcamp experience was a beautiful property called Midskinrick Lodge. Located around 70kms out of Bundaberg on the Baffle River. There is the glamping option of staying in the Lodge or you can set up your own camp on the edge of the dam with access to power or down on the river bank if you are self contained. We were right on the edge of the dam. It meant we had to be hyper vigilant in watching the girls but so worth it.

Hosted by Di and Doug, who bought the property in 2008, this is a great place for all types of campers but especially those interested in fishing the river. There is a very eclectic mix of people around at any time and we enjoyed hearing the stories from the other campers about where they were from and where they were heading to. It’s one of the best things about this lifestyle, and seriously one of the best things about travelling with kids is that they are an amazing icebreaker to meet people.

Other than inviting themselves into random campers caravans, the girls loved feeding the turtles in the dam, which were just metres from our caravan. This experience was such a change of pace from the last few months.

We had a day trip to Bundaberg where we went to the free zoo in town. It was pretty amazing to see the dingoes being walked around the park while we had lunch, just like we’d walk our own dogs for their daily leg stretch.

We had a drive up to the Hummock Hill lookout, which is pretty deceiving. An extinct volcano, is the highest point in Bunderberg. We almost missed it but the view once you are on top is impressive. You can see from the ocean, right back across the sugar cane fields.

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The next day we went to a gorgeous beach on the other side of the Baffle River called Rules Beach. Its a beach where the gorgeous sea turtles nest each year, and while its not nesting season at the moment the girls had a great time pretending to be turtles scurrying up the beach to make a nest in the sand dunes for their eggs and collecting shells.

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But the beach I was probably most impressed by was on our trip up to Gladstone where we stopped for lunch at 1770. O.M.G. I was aware of the history of this place. It is the site of the second landing of Captain James Cook, obviously in 1770. But I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as spectacular as it is. We had lunch, we had a swim in the shallows at the beach, yes its the middle of winter but the weather is amazing, and then we went up to the headland to look out to where Captain Cook came in to land. The landscape is incredible. You look out to the Coral Sea and its seriously some of the most beautiful colours of blue I’ve ever seen. We tried to change our plans and stay a couple of nights but the camp ground was at capacity. No room at the inn for us unfortunately so we made our way up to our next stop at Gladstone to catch up with some friends for a couple of days.

We have another property booked through Youcamp just out of Mackay so we’ll do another update soon. Until then.

The GudLanges xx

 

 

Golden birthdays in paradise

No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.

GREG KINCAID, Christmas with Tucker

 

A couple of weekends ago we made the trip down to the Gold Coast for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. I was pretty excited to be participating in my second half marathon in two months.

I was hoping for a sub two hour personal best but had been warned that this course was slower than the last race in Noosa. I didn’t really understand what that meant until the day.

We drove down to the Gold Coast on the Friday night and got completely lost in Surfers Paradise looking for our hotel. Once we got the girls asleep it was time to decorate the room for “Avalon’s birthday party”. Balloons, streamers and birthday presents.

On Saturday when she woke up she was so excited when she saw it all. The look on a child’s face when they see something like that makes everything worthwhile.

avalon birthday

Saturday morning was spent at the Gold Coast Marathon village, picking up race numbers and getting ready for Sunday.

Then we took Avalon for a special birthday lunch and a quiet dinner at the hotel room with a birthday cake that she chose. Of course it had Elsa and Olaf on it.

Sunday morning, my friend Amy, who I have known since I first moved to Adelaide in 2006, picked me up from outside the hotel. Amy has now moved to the Gold Coast and its been some time since we have seen each other but as you do with some people, it just seems easy when you see each other again after a long break.

Unfortunately we were running a bit late for the start line though so it wasn’t the start to the race I was wanting. I essentially got to the start line just as it was heading towards the starting gun. I therefore wasn’t in the section of the start line that I was supposed to be in and I got a really slow start. It took a while to get around people and find some space to actually get a comfortable pace.

I finally understood why Gold Coast was considered a slower course. The sheer number of people means that its much harder to get the start that translates to a PB. However, the atmosphere and support through this race was incredible.

I had an absolute ball running 21.1km. I felt great for the whole race, even managing to get a sprint on 1km out from the finish line. I didn’t get the sub two hours but was only just over my Noosa time.

I also didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Amy but we caught up at the finish line and Amy shared some absolute wisdom with me while we were chatting in the car on the way back.

“Running is like a metaphor for life, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to where you want to get to”.

Wise words from a beautiful and amazing woman who I am blessed to have back in my life.

Today for a number of reasons I’m remembering the people I’ve loved and lost. There have been more senseless attacks in France in the name of religion and I’m remembering a dear friend who passed away in 1998.

Martin

Running is a metaphor for life. Even bad runs are better than no runs, just like bad days are better than no days.

We are truly living the dream at the moment, even on the darkest days they are better than before.

So this weekend we have one more big outing to Australia Zoo and then we are packing up and on the road again next week. Here’s to new adventures.

The GudLanges