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.
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.
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.
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.
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