Road Trip Diaries # 4 – 1st Day at Cape Hillsborough
It was our 4th day on the road but we hadn’t really moved away from the town of Mackay, which was our starting point for this trip. There were just so many things to see and do and we didn’t want to rush from one place to another. On the first two nights, we camped at Eungella National Park and at the lowland rainforest of Finch Hatton, which are about an hour drive from the town proper. We then, spent our 3rd night at Charles’ parents in Mackay. A stopover at their place allowed us to recharge the camper van and to stock up on more groceries after dropping by at the town’s supermarket.
We had an early start the next day and drove straight to Cape Hillsborough National Park. It is about 47 kilometers and 40 minutes drive North of Mackay. The thought of camping near the beach and within a national park was just so hard to pass up – I had been looking forward to this day. But it was the chance of seeing wild kangaroos frolicking on the beach at sunrise that excited me the most. It would be my first time to see one in the wild after all.
In full camping mode
The tourist resort is the gateway to several bushwalking tracks that provide access to vantage points overlooking the turquoise waters of Casuarina Bay. It has beachfront units and fishing huts as well as caravan and camping grounds. Good thing we arrived early at the camping ground because we were able to choose a site in a nice quiet corner near the trees. It was the peak of the camper vanning season and the place get packed quickly.
Walking towards the Plant Trail track
We then joined the other guests for complimentary morning tea at the resort’s restaurant, which only happens every Thursday of the week. I have never seen so many retirees convened in one place, but it was just a glimpse of what would become a common sight on our trip. After all, the retirees whom we fondly called gray nomads have all the time to wander now. We gorged on as much scones and tea we could ever have for the day, before heading back to the camp site to set up the van in full camping mode.
Afternoon stroll at Casuarina Bay
View from one of the lookouts
The mica infused sand sparkles in the morning sunshine
One of the secluded nooks along the trail
After a quick lunch, we walked down to Casuarina Bay to check out the beach. The shore was so vast and the mica infused sand glistened under the noon sun. It was like bits of sparking diamonds were sprinkled on grayish sand. Neither of us was in the mood for a swim so we just did one of the bushwalks in the national park. We followed the Plant Trail walk where I encountered some unique Australian flora like the Australian grass tree. It is a slow growing plant and a staple for the aborigines, providing them food, drink, fibre and materials for making implements and weapons.
Some Australian Fauna
Probably the most cooperative dragonfly I have seen
One of the many butterflies during our bushwalk
A mum and baby wallaby crossing the parking lot towards the bush
There was a snake on the trail, a mum and baby wallaby, some towering trees and lots of Eucalyptus trees. The snake wasn’t a big deal this time even though I am insanely terrified of them. Charles saw it first and before he was able to tell me what it was after telling me “don’t move”, I was already 15 meters away from him. When you love bushwalking in a place where you can find the 10 deadliest snakes in the world, it pays to be really alert. Although Charles calls it my unreasonable paranoia!
Some Australian Flora
Berries I’ve been dying to eat but no.
We had one more stroll on the beach in the afternoon traversing the rocky shores at low tide before heading back to the camp through the woodlands trail. The trail was easy with only few steep parts. Our effort was rewarded with a great view of the vast mangrove forest on one side, which we visited the next day on the way to our next destination.
After one last stroll on the beach, we capped the night stargazing on the beach. We brought a mat and a bottle of rum to counter the chilly temperature. It was such a clear night, I was glad we still went out despite the cold. We lazed on the beach for quite sometime marvelling at millions of stars and searching for constellations and planets. But the highlight of that night I guess was the magnificent sight of the Milky Way, which stood out more in the darkness of our surroundings and the absence of city lights. I was able to have a good look at the Southern Cross as well, which is featured on the Australian flag and is visible in this part of the world all year round.
(This is part of our 6-week North Queensland Road Trip Series, which took place July- August 2010)