Following some highs* and lows** we finally left Airlie Beach and hit the road again, continuing on our mission heading southwards on the East Coast. We worked our way inland from Mackay towards a place called Eungella National Park, an area known as the Mackay Highlands, where we would flex our hiking muscles and get down with nature again.
*Highs – 2 incredible days exploring the Whitsundays.
**Lows – Checking into the shithole that is Base Hostel – it’s not that the hostel is actually that bad, apart from the kitchen being beyond terrible, but that’s just hostel kitchens for you, it was mainly the reception staff that pissed me off. To the patronising, sour bitch that checked me in – I offer you one big fat “fuck you!” You could tell she was sort of trying to be friendly, as it is her job after all, but when you are a ‘Grade A’ dickhead I can imagine it can be hard to keep a façade going for too long.
The highlands and the Eungella township are set 700m above sea level on a mountain plateau, which meant two things: 1. It was a bit cold, and 2. The views were pretty spectacular. The best view in town could be found from the beer garden of the Eungella Chalet pub – convenient, I love beer and views. We decided to make this our treat after a day of walking through the native bush (Australian for forest – if you hadn’t already gathered). The walks were eventful; within 5 minutes of our first hike following a path from the Skywindow (a stunning view into the valley 700m below, leading out to the coast) towards Eungella township, we came across two snakes, neither of them particularly huge, but in a country where almost everything can kill you and with the younger snakes being the most volatile and dangerous because they cannot restrict the dose of their venom in a bite, we were both a little nervous. By nervous, I mean bricking it. I took point and armed myself with a tree branch. The walk continued, thankfully with no further sightings. I think they must have seen the stick from a distance and thought better of it.
As well as completing a few different walks in the area, we also explored an area called Broken River, famous for having a large population of extremely active Platypus. After a few minutes waiting in silence and watching for bubbles and listening for splashes we caught a glimpse of a wild platypus doing its thing. More waiting, then we saw another, and another, and another. What funny little creatures they are. It was great to see them at ease in their natural environment.
As well as the highlands of Eungella, we also visited Finch Hatton Gorge, hiking up the “cruisey” (Australian for easy) path that follows the gorge up to the Wheel of Fire waterfall – one of the best falls I have seen in Australia so far.
After getting our nature fix in the highlands for a couple of days, we hit the coast again to visit the towns of 1770 and Agnes Waters. Being the only town I have come across that has a name constructed of numbers and not letters I was intrigued. 1770 is (apparently) the first place that Captain Cook landed when he “discovered” Australia, in the year, you guessed it, 1770. To be fair, if I was cruising past in a boat, I would almost definitely stop for a closer look. 1770 is magical; picturesque, peaceful and packed full of charm. The town itself is tiny and if it wasn’t for it’s neighbour, Agnes Water, containing everything you actually need from a town, 1770 would probably have to be more developed. I’m pretty glad it’s not.
Agnes Water and 1770 have some fairly interesting characters knocking around. As we cycled between the two towns, we struck up a conversation with a 70-something year old guy who proceeded to tell us how he wanted to revolutionise the way that people document fossil findings. To be fair to him it was actually quite interesting and it just goes to show, if you talk about something with enough passion you can make anything some interesting. In our campsite there was another guy called Kevin and his dog Rebel (better known as The Rambling Hobo & Rebel – as he had printed on the top of his truck’s windscreen), who could talk the talk the hind legs off a donkey (Kevin could talk, I mean, not his dog – that would just be weird), but again was a really genuine, lovely guy. Another passing observation about the people drifting around these towns is that everyone appears to dress as though they are trying their hardest to be everyone’s stereotype of a “surf dude”. Even the 50/60 year old men are still strutting around with long hair, wearing baseball caps, singlets (Australian for vests), board shorts, and thongs (Australian for flip flops). Makes for amusing people watching if nothing else.
We sat back and enjoyed the goings on in these quiet little towns for a couple of days before making tracks towards the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands.
(Sorry no 1770 photos… not got round to sorting that out yet!)