Author: Mrs A
Location: Mutarnee and Paluma Range National Park, Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Queensland
Monday morning we set off from Townsville and drove less than an hour north up to a little settlement called Mutarnee. There is very little here other than a handful of houses, a fuel station, the caravan park behind the fuel station and a fast food outlet a little further up the highway.
We chose this location for its proximity to Paluma Range National Park. Like many, we had never heard of this area, and probably would have passed right on through if it were not for a tip from Greg, a fellow Zoner, shared at our first meet up in Moonee Beach. I added a star and a short note to my Google maps, and here we are!
Mount Spec is the peak of this section of park, towering 1,000 metres over the flat coastal plain, and its slopes the home to countless creeks which wind their way down to the Coral Sea.Little Crystal Creek was our first destination, up a hair raisingly steep and windy road. It was worth the drive, with nothing little about the falls there, a spectacular series of cascades. We could imagine it would be a great place for a dip on a hot steamy day.There is something so peaceful about being amongst all this greenery and water, the rainforest trees and foliage almost reflecting the movement of the water in its flowing vines, trunks and roots.
From here we drove back down the mountain and diverted to another swimming hole at Rockslides. It was equally beautiful and we stopped there to cool our feet (it was quite cold – we weren’t game for a swim!). We likened this area to Mossman Gorge (a popular location in far North Queensland) without the coach parties!Tuesday morning began with fresh bread. I’d made the dough last night and after it had risen, kept it in the fridge ready to bake this morning. It came out nice and crusty and went well with the BBQ’d breakfast Mr A served up.We had the whole campground to ourselves, which pleased Miss Tassie in particular who has been able to roam freely without fear of cars or dogs while we have been here.
After our breakfast we headed back up to the National Park, this time our destination was the village of Paluma, high up on the peak, where we were to do a 5km hike. We wound our way up the 18km mountain pass, a collection of narrow hairpin corners lined with waterfalls and deep gullies.
Our first destination was McClelland’s Lookout. From there, we hiked a few more kilometres around to the crystal clear Cloudy Creek, where there was more feet cooling in the plunging waters.Our final destination on our hike was Witt’s Lookout, the best by far, with a magnificent outlook over Halifax Bay and the Palm Islands.Again, the rainforest environment was a big part of the drawcard, the fresh air (about 5 degrees colder up at the top than down on the plains), the lovely smells, the sounds of the birds calling in the canopy. This area is home to one of the rarest of all birds, the endangered Cassowary, but sadly we didn’t see one. Hopefully we will have more luck at our next destination, Mission Beach.
After all this walking, we headed back down to Mutarnee, and called in at The Frosty Mango, an ordinary looking roadside ice creamery. Mark had been looking forward to trying some of their famous fruit ice cream, but being dairy intolerant, I was less excited. Once in, however, I discovered that their speciality is dairy-free and walked away with a scoop of dark chocolate sorbet, and a scoop of lime and mint sorbet. Wow, my life is complete!
Tassie came back out for a long walk around the camp area, before I went back to the Zone make up some jungle curry paste and prepare dinner.New neighbours arrived this evening, and we were excited to see that they too are travelling with a cat. It’s such a shame that Tassie and Mau-Mau can’t have a chat in cat language and exchange stories about being felines on the road!