ROAD TRIP DIARIES # 13
Paluma Range National Park was just a short drive from Balgal Beach, our camping ground the previous night, so instead of driving further up the coast, we decided to drive inland to the southern gateway of Queensland’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Traditionally owned by the Nywaigi aboriginal people, the park was first called Munan Gumburu by the aborigines, which means ‘misty mountain’.
Cruising along the windy road through the mist-covered mountains was somewhat like travelling through a mystical landscape beautifully disguised by different backdrops. The lowland tropical vegetation at the start of our drive transformed into a spread of Eucalypt forest, then pine trees, and just as the temperature started to drop, we emerged into a magnificent rainforest all covered in clouds.
Little Crystal Creek
Our first stop was Little Crystal Creek gorge. The rustic setting blended well with the greenery and the crisp mountain air, which made it the perfect spot for our morning tea. Later on, we walked under the bridge and hopped onto huge granite boulders exploring the crystal clear pools, and lush rainforest vegetation. The swimming hole was even more inviting this time since we hadn’t had a shower for two days now. But I wouldn’t dare yet! The icy cold clear water rushing down the gorge was definitely way too cold for me.
The iconic hand-built stone bridge.
The stone bridge was built in 1932-33 and was the first of its kind in Queensland
Swimming hole near the bridge.
It took 2 years for this bridge to be built.
Another small cascade on the other side of the bridge
A Walk in the Clouds
We continued driving up the magnificent Paluma Range towards the mountain top village. There were a couple of scenic walking tracks on offer but we decided to start with the 5 minute walk to McClelland’s Lookout. The view was nothing spectacular and not something we hadn’t already seen before. But perhaps a clear day would reveal the distant coast and the lustrous expanse of rainforest.
Witt’s Lookout Walk
I was rather impressed by the walking path leading to Witt’s lookout. It was like entering a different world somewhat like a set of an alien movie where strange creatures lurk. The fun part was walking through the thick clouds and seeing huge buttresses, more strangler figs and moss covered rocks and trees dripping wet from the spits of the rainforest. As expected, the trail was quite wet, and instincts told me those blood-sucking hitchhikers were just nearby. At least I made it to the lookout in half the time by running all the way only stopping to check out the huge Quandong trees.
Let’s begin the journey!
Charles walking into the foggy forest
Some tree hugger
The view from here was totally worth our 45 minutes walk
View from the Lookout
Pasaway number 1
Rocky outcrop on the left side of the lookout
Another pasaway crossed the lookout railings.
Paluma Rainforest Walk
From Witt’s Lookout, we went to Paluma Village. Picnic, BBQ and toilet facilities were available here so we decided to drop by for lunch. I was quite famished after half day of walking, climbing and running on the trail to prevent the leeches from hitching a ride with me and was ready to devour anything that stood in my way. But then we saw another trail near the picnic area, just 500 meters of rainforest walking, so we found ourselves again back on track – but at least this time the trail was a bit dry.
More strangler figs.
Fascinated with this red tree
We met two Pinays while having lunch at the picnic area. Charles actually spotted them first and told me they were Pinays. Longing for something and someone familiar, I approached them and had a short chat. The day was already starting to turn into an epic journey and we were only halfway through it!
House on stilts to avoid flood.
(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