06 January 2012

Cape Hillsborough National Park

Thursday, 05 January 2012

Happy New Year!

The three explorers left Bargara on 31 December 2011, stocked up on food and fuel in Bundaberg and headed north on the Bruce Highway.

We took a little detour to check out the Town of 1770 and Agnes Waters, beautiful places – and crowded too. The Workman's Beach camping area which at a different time of year should prove a worthwhile rest stop, showed tell-tale signs of a New Years Eve party (involving several dozens of teenagers and P-platers in various states of sobriety, rubbish strewn around their camping sites, lovely!) in full swing at around lunchtime...
However, we're glad we checked out Round Hill and the beautiful scenery that would have amazed Captain Cook just the same when he anchored here in Bustard Bay in May 1770.

We rolled through Rockhampton in the early afternoon.
You know you're in cattle country when you see a bride and groom exchanging their vows in a small park next to the Bruce Highway, just a stone throw away from the oversized replica of a Brahman bull situated in the centre of a roundabout right on the Bruce Highway. There was another cattle sculpture in the same park (Santa Gertrudis? Romagnola? It was big and brown and in the flesh would have made any breeder proud) and we couldn't help but wonder if it would serve as a backdrop for the official wedding photos.

We passed through Rockhampton and left Yaamba behind as well. A little later it became obvious that we wouldn't make it to Carmila Beach or any other worthwhile rest or camping area until after dark. And to be honest, we didn't really feel like pitching the tent after the late night we'd had at Bargara and the overall distance travelled for the day. So we treated ourselves to a motel room and the luxury of an ensuite bathroom in the small township of Marlborough.
Dinner was noteworthy for the flustered manager of the establishment who'd given most of her staff the night off to celebrate at the local hotel. She was completely out of her depth when guests (the Toms family) unexpectedly checked in and demanded a feed and she apologised profusely about not being familiar with the content of the fridge/ freezer in her kitchen. We enjoyed our meal nonetheless (as otherwise it would have been 2 minute noodles) and retired to our room where two thirds of the party didn't manage to stay awake to great the new year.

The Toms family started into the year 2012 well rested, happy and healthy and arrived in Cape Hillsborough National Park at noon.
It's a beautiful little national park just north of Mackay. We decided to set up camp at Cape Hillsborough Nature Resort, a caravan and camping park on Casuarina Beach – and after checking out the other camping areas of nearby Seaforth, Haliday and Ball Bay I must say it was a good decision.

We parked our camper trailer in an unpowered site right behind the dunes, taking delight in the scent of flowering hibiscus and native gardenias that builds up to a powerful perfume while the sea is calm and the breeze is only light. Coconut palms line the grey sandy beach that glistens and sparkles with the finest shards of mother of pearl.
The hills around us are densely vegetated with Hoop Pine (Araucaria Cunninghamii), Elegant Palms (should have written it down), different species of figs, eucalypts grass trees and ferns of various shapes and sizes. Over 150 different species of birds frequent the area and I'm happy to announce my first sighting of an Olive-backed Sunbird! Beautiful little thing, wish it would have stayed a bit longer!

Laughing Kookaburras, Brush Turkeys and Orange-footed Scrub fowl are among our early morning visitors while the possums make themselves at home throughout our camp at night (and even use the roof of our canvas tent as a playground for their joeys). The nocturnal wildlife with their light sensitive eyes come out of their hollows and down the trees after dark. I would hate to harass possums and other critters with the strong flashlight of my camera, temporarily blinding them, hence there are no photos of these furry natives.

Occasionally a young female Eastern Grey Kangaroo calls in as well, after an early morning hop on the beach. Yep, the wallabies and kangaroos in this part of the woods are beach goers!
And why wouldn't they...


Since it is such a relaxing and picturesque place, we decided pretty early on to extend by two nights.
Yesterday we tackled the Andrews Point Trail in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. The walking track ascends on the southern side of Casuarina Beach in the shade of dense rainforest vegetation. We could hear a great many chubby skinks rustling in the leaves. After not even 20 minutes we had reached the first viewing platform, Twin Beach lookout. Below us Casuarina Beach and Wedge Island, stunning views!
We continued on the track and stopped at Turtle Lookout and Andrews Point next. By the time we reached Wedge Island Lookout the tide was on the way out so we could return to our camp taking the shortcut along the beach. I walked across to Wedge Island as the causeway was no longer submerged, a few anglers were heading over to the rocks as well.

This morning we took the narrow 4WD track that starts behind the resort's reception building and leads to the Yuibera Plant Trail, an Aboriginal plant use walk on the southern side of the hill. It was rather interesting to compare the native vegetation with related plant species and their uses we know from Kakadu and the Top End. Anyway, I'm still not too keen on the Rotten Cheese Fruit (Morinda citrifolia) which is said to be a great cure for colds.

Another couple of walks to tackle yet, there's a mangrove board walk as well as a walk along the beach to Beachcombers Cove at low tide. Steve is still keen to go fishing on the beach. And since all vegetation is protected and he can't just cut one of these straight-growing Beach Hibiscus saplings to make a fishing spear, he will have to use rod, reel and prawns for bait.

We may yet have to extend our stay at Cape Hillsborough for another day or so before we can embark on our next adventure in the Mackay Highlands – there's still so much to explore here!

Boh boh!

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