ROAD TRIP DIARIES # 14
We had been to Little Crystal Creek earlier in the day, which turned out to be a pleasant spot for a picnic and nature photography, so we reckoned we might as well check out Big Crystal Creek while driving around Paluma Range National Park. It was still too early to find a camping ground so we drove north of Mt. Spec towards the popular Paradise Waterhole. The camp ground here was lovely and it was just a few meters walk from the swimming hole, but in the end we decided to camp at Jourama Falls which was closer to Ingam, the next major town up north.
After stuffing our daypack with swim wear and towels, we walked the paved path through the eucalypt forest towards Paradise waterhole. I was quite excited to try its inviting deep pools hoping I could finally brave the cold water. After all, it could be my last chance to stop myself setting a new record of “no shower” for 3 days.
Just as we were nearing the waterhole, the faint droning sound which I thought I heard earlier became clearer and louder. It was actually the sound of a didgeridoo being played by the young couple who was having a picnic near the river banks. According to Charles, this long wooden flute-like instrument is apparently considered one of Australia’s icons, like the boomerang, billabong and even the kangaroo. Its rhythmic sound resonating through the tranquil scenery was so fitting, it sounded just like one of the calls of nature. You could possibly guess that after this we ended wanting to get one, if only it was easy to lug around.
A didgeridoo is possibly the world’s oldest musical instrument.
After a bit of pondering, Charles finally jumped in the water, lasting only for a few minutes before emerging shivering with cold. Not a good sign. I guess I would have to set a new record this time. I was starting to suspect only two things now were stopping me from enjoying the numerous swimming holes we had visited. Cold water and crocs… but that will be another story
Side Trip at Frosty Mango
On the way to Jourama Falls area, we stopped by at Frosty Mango, a roadside ice-creamery serving 33 flavours of ice creams and shakes including exotic fruits like jaboticaba (a tree grape), sapodilla (looks like chico to me), coconut, and mango, of course. I was quite thrilled to see some familiar fresh produce here like papaya, jackfruit, small coconuts, and other tropical fruits that I just realised then we were indeed at tropical North Queensland already. It was supposed to be warmer now as we move further up north, but I guess we had been spending most of our time in the mountains so I hadn’t really noticed the change in temperature, which I had been looking forward to since escaping the cold winter in Sydney.
Parang Pilipinas lang
Camping at Jourama Falls
It’s now the 15th day of our road trip and camping in national parks had become one of the highlights of our day’s adventure. It’s cheap, usually about 5-10 bucks per head, and we seldom see here those huge and fancy caravans and trailers huddled in private caravan parks and camping grounds near major towns. There are only basic amenities like toilets and shared kitchen with hot plates and a place for barbecues. There is no electricity and usually no place for shower, which wasn’t so bad after all, considering there’s always the swimming holes or the water falls to choose from in lieu of a hot shower.
Love the set-up of these 4-wheel drives.
Typical caravan towed by 4-wheel drive.
I prepared our dinner early while there was still light and brought all my chopped veggies, spices and pot of rice at the shared kitchen. A chatty gray nomad came by and was rather amused by what I was cooking which seemed to be an elaborate meal for him while everyone else was having the usual pasta and ready made sauce. I also met an amiable couple from Denmark and in between cooking my stir-fry, I found out they had started traveling from Melbourne and would be going around Australia for a year.
Shared kitchen at the national park camping ground.
Perhaps it was just me but I noticed campers tend to socialise more when they are disconnected from the world. The absence of mobile signals, electricity or the luxury to indulge in using their high-tech gadgets for hours make people go out of their tents or camper vans and somewhat push them to strike up a conversation with another soul. Maybe this was the reason why I always enjoy camping on places like national parks, even if it meant no shower
(This is part of our 6-week North Queensland Road Trip Series, which took place July- August 2010)
Australian Road Trip 101: A Vantastic Beginning
Road Trip Diaries # 1 – An Encounter with the Strangest Animal in the World
Road Trip Diaries # 2 – Of Strangler Figs, Leeches and Long Holidays
Road Trip Diaries # 3 - Exploring Finch Hatton Gorge
Road Trip Diaries # 4 – Cape Hillsborough: On Bush Walks Beach Strolls and Star Gazing
Road Trip Diaries # 5 – Cape Hillsborough: Sunrise and Wild Kangaroos
Road Trip Diaries # 6 – Airlie Beach: Beaches Babes and Backpackers
Road Trip Diaries # 7 – Ocean Rafting to the Whitsundays
Road Trip Diaries # 8 – Unexpected Encounters
Road Trip Diaries # 9 – Exploring Bowenwood
Road Trip Diaries # 10 – Townsville: Finding Nemo and the Sunken Pandora
Road Trip Diaries # 11 – A Visit at the Billabong Sanctuary and Castle Hill
Road Trip Diaries # 12 – Magnetic Island: What Captain Cook Missed
Road Trip Diaries # 13 – Paluma Range National Park: A Walk in the Clouds