Crocodiles in Mission Beach?
Day 12 – Paloma National Park
The following day, strangely I am in great shape, I slept better inside the minibus than in the tent. On the other hand, Stephie is once again in a bad mood. Too bad for her.
The camp directly overlooks a beach. Unfortunately, impossible to swim there, jellyfish and crocodiles have made it their territory…
Once again, we leave much later than planned. Direction Paloma National Park.
Disappointed from the waterfalls
Thank goodness I’m the one driving… The road is only made of 90 degree turns that follow one another and even behind the wheel, I feel nauseous. We arrive at a first waterfall after 30 minutes of road.
The water has this soothing, mesmerizing effect on me. Yes, the waterfall is nothing too special, but I could stay for a few minutes and watch it. Stephie and Diego begin to grumble, all for that. One sets out again on the undulating roads.
Second discovery of the day, we are in the middle of the national park. We start a baby hike of the easiest kind. In the middle of the rainforest, we are in the territory of cassowarys, those funny birds almost descended from dinosaurs. But not a poultry movement on the horizon… Too bad.
At the end of the trail, a view of the valley and the coast looms before us… That is, until the fog invades the ridges and hides the bluish reflections of the ocean with its haze. When it doesn’t want to, it doesn’t want to…
Zigzags on the roads, and we try to reach Jourama Falls, waterfalls a priori spectacular…Oops, the road is submerged under several centimeters of water, impossible to cross. We turn back, a bit frustrated.
The Natural Spa
Not far from Cardwell’s natural spa, we have a similar scare, but the water is lower and we take the risk. Van and trailer make it safely across the few inches of torrent.
The natural spa is not very impressive but it really makes you want to lounge around and bathe in it. I don’t wait for the whole troop to spend a good hour there.
I make the most of it, before driving back to a pointless camp near the interstate.
One more night.
Day 13 – Mission Beach
The next morning, awakened by the crowing of the rooster, I want to leave this horrible rest area and quickly reach our camp at Mission Beach.
A perfect camp
Always the official co-pilot, I lead my companions to a super charming little camp overlooking a beach 5 minutes from Mission Beach. It’s a real treat.
We set up the tents, and we all take some time to settle in and explore the area. The beach in front of the camp is cute and quite long, it’s nice to walk around.
After a good hour, we leave to discover Mission Beach.
2h each on its own, I want to walk and write. I walk along the beach with my feet in the water, getting excited about the little natural drawings made by the crabs in the sand.
Once again, no swimming allowed, the beach is prone to crocodile attacks… We’ll avoid dying on a bad note. My eyes are desperately looking for a greenish mass, my pupils are on the lookout for the least crocodile.
Yes I want to see them… But from a distance. I dream of seeing one swim, but I fear it will chase me down the beach.
The Crocodile Hunt
At the end of the beach, Diego joins me, we observe the river and its suspicious movements. Sticks are tossed in the distance, and the underwater ripples leave little doubt. The reptiles are there, lurking under the murky water of the river. The signs were not lying, we will not swim there.
After another hour of walking and writing, we join Stephie for a late lunch at a pub.
The point of view
The rest of the afternoon we finish enjoying Mission Beach and attempt a hike to a viewpoint in the rainforest. Spider webs, mosquitoes and insects of all kinds populate our route, but the view of the bay is magnificent.
The stars warm up the atmosphere of the evening a bit. I have never seen so many stars as in Australia, the black sky is studded with these little points of light, the sky vault is simply poetic and incredible.
Day 14 – Wooroonooran National Park
In the morning, I feel like taking my time, the camp is just perfectly placed, and I decide to walk on the beach and do some sports.
When I return, Stephie is waiting for me with the dishes, and breakfast. She is very eager to leave, while for once, I don’t share her eagerness at all. Moreover, she complains about my change of attitude and attacks me. Her vehemence does not reach me, this morning I am as calm as the water in front of me.
Milaa Milaa falls
It takes us a good forty minutes to reach the first waterfall, Milaa Milaa Falls. It is 18 meters high, impressive, but I expected better. Diego doesn’t even bother to take a small picture. The water is icy and populated with tourists, swimming will be for another time.
We go on to other small waterfalls, the path of the water through the rocks is magical. Unfortunately, once again, I can’t enjoy this natural soothing, my two companions are in a hurry to leave.
Pause at a tea shop (with the worst cheesecake in the history of cheesecake), and we’re back on the road. I would have loved to stop at Nandroya Falls, but the 4 hour hike discourages my companions. Snif Snif, my legs dream of climbing again and again.
The next waterfall is magnificent, Josephine Falls is impressive, the quantities of water pouring into pools of a superb pale blue. We want to swim there, to slide on the natural slides, to bask on the rocks in the sun. The problem is that the water is too high and too dangerous, the current is much too strong to dip in. Bathing is forbidden. Access prohibited.
Too bad, the sun was just peeking out.
We leave disappointed. It was supposed to be the activity of the day, it is hardly 2 pm when we arrive at the next camp. Without charm, without neighbors of our age with whom to sympathize.
The camp is very close to Babinda Boulders. Diego stays at the camp, while Stephie and I explore. The Devil’s Pool also give desire to bathe, but again, it is prohibited. We shall finally bathe upstream of the river.
Impulsive, yet devilishly soothing.
Classic evening, Uno, meal on the go and sleeping way too early.
Day 15 – Lake Eacham – Cathedral Fig Tree – Yungaburra
The next day, we opt to go directly to Eacham Lake, and keep the hike to Walshs Pyramid on the penultimate day. Why not, the weather is nice and swimming will be welcome.
It takes us an hour and a half to get to the lake, winding roads and construction, I can’t stand having my butt screwed to the seat of this van.
The Lake Crocodile
Arriving at the lake, we are pleasantly surprised. Perched in an ancient volcanic crater, the water is turquoise blue. Unfortunately, on this Saturday, the edges of the lake are very popular, we will have to fight with families to find a square of grass to put our towel.
A sign catches my eye. A freshwater crocodile, or Freshy, lives in the lake. It is not aggressive, just try to avoid it. My desire to swim takes a small hit.
Eh, are we really going to take a dip with a crocodile? If parents are making their kids swim there, it must be a minor risk. Come on, come what may.
Courageous… But a little too imaginative
I jump in, the water is cold, but after a few fathoms, it is most pleasant. As I go, I move away from the shore. Diego remains at the edge, close enough not to risk the fangs of the reptile. Almost in the middle of the lake, alone, the anguish gains me. My imagination creates movements in the water, I have the impression that a creature brushes against me and I redouble my speed to reach the edge.
No crocodile, just a spirit that is a little too thirsty for adventure. I stay a good while in the lake, it’s a nice half day.
Cathedral Fig Tree
Direction to a hundred-year-old fig tree. The walk is short, a few seconds and we find ourselves in front of this magnificent fig tree.
Simply Wow. But hey, it’s still a tree, so we won’t spend hours on it…
Wallabies, Platypus and Possums
We’re heading to the next camp. We will stay there for two nights. It’s on the grounds of a corn farm, a few yards from the river. As soon as we arrive, we already come across little wallabies.
Tents set up, direction Yungaburra the small nearby town, straight out of the sets of a Western. We walk the small path near the river, looking for a platypus.
And lucky, we see one in the water. What a strange animal, with its duck beak and its beaver body…Diego is fascinated, he stays to observe it for a long time with the other manants. Devoured by mosquitoes, Stephie and I hurry a little the walk to return.
In the evening, the possums come to visit us in the kitchen of the campsite. I, who absolutely wanted to see them up close, am served. Mom and baby (awfully big to still be on his mother’s back) come to taste apples, bananas and even pasta.
It’s a nice moment, a funny little note. Finally, tonight, everyone is in a good mood and it feels good.
Day 16 – Nothing
The end is near, and we are all relieved that the ordeal is over.
Today we are supposed to go hiking at Walshs Pyramid. But as soon as we have breakfast, Stephie tells me about her knee problems, the changing weather, and finds a thousand excuses to get out of the three-hour climb.
The rain starts to fall, so what the hell. I grab my book, and escape. Absorbed in my reading, I finally don’t mind doing nothing today. On the other hand, Stephie is running around in circles, summoning us to go for a ride to the nearby small town of Atherton.
Okay, okay, let’s take a walk. Cappuccino, window shopping at all the horrible stores, and lunch at a little Thai joint. It’s still raining, and my book is wisely waiting for me.
Inventory of the van, tidying up and cleaning, tomorrow we will just have to leave.
The evening is the same as the day before, micro tension with Stephie, and possums. This is the last night, hallelujah.
Day 17 – Cairns – Kuranda
Departure for Cairns rather early, we all look forward to it. No breakfast, this time, we will take it on the spot.
Arrived in Cairns, we are disappointed, the city is a big industrial area, with a microscopic city center. Two streets of restaurants and bars, and one street with a few stores, fortunately I am only spending a few days there.
The walk along the sea is pleasant and well laid out, but low tide makes the scenery much less charming.
So we decide to take advantage of the few extra hours with the van to get to Kuranda.
Kuranda is a rather charming little village on the heights of Cairns 40 minutes away by car. The little stores follow one another, and I dream of buying some souvenirs there, but impossible to take on the plane from Cairns to Sydney.
Here it is, it’s a tourist village. The only interesting activities are all paid for. The train with panoramic view, more than 100 dollars, the cable car ditto, and the ride on the river a good 40 dollars. Too bad.
We drop Diego off at the airport. He almost looks sad to be leaving us. Finally, I liked him by the end of the trip. Maybe he’s not as stupid as I thought.
Last little cleaning and we return the van. Stephie accompanies me to the hostel in Cairns… Great, I’m going to stick with her for two more days.
Road Trip Report
This was the worst vacation of my life, my happiness vs. hassle ratio definitely leaned towards the latter.
Yes, I saw some beautiful things. I wasn’t as impressed as I was on the West Coast, though. It should probably be done again with better weather, with more time, and especially with people I like.
The animals, I was disappointed not to see more. No koala in the wild, not a crocodile scale, no turtle shells and barely a few wallabies and a baby snake. It’s the vagaries of nature!”
This trip will have plunged me back into my memories, I thought back to all those vacations with Pipillon, Bibi, Pops, Justine, Carole, Delphine, Fanny, or Aurore. Of course I keep in mind the wonderful landscapes, but also the moments of crazy laughter, the new experiences, the moments of friendship and sharing.
Conclusion: what’s the point of accumulating postcard landscapes in my phone, if the memories aren’t tinged with the sweet light that is friendship…