To the Gulf of Carpentaria

  1. On the road again

At last we have been able to make another trip in Goldie.

After two years of restricted overseas travel, and indeed restricted travel within Australia, we have now undertaken a trip to Burketown, Queensland on the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Planning for this trip started in early 2020 and finally after two years of border closures we are now able to drive into Queensland.  Burketown is renowned for an amazing weather event, the Morning Glory, a rolling cloud that comes in from the Gulf in the early morning and provides amazing uplift for glider pilots.  We have friends who are serious glider fanatics and have been planning to visit Burketown for two years. They invited us to join them. More on the Morning Glory shortly.  

Instead of just driving straight to Burketown, we decided to make a longer trip by driving up the Queensland coast as far as Innisfail, then into the Atherton Tablelands and then west to the gulf.

Day 1 saw us on a long drive to Lennox Head, then the next day a shorter day to Peregrine Beach, just south of Noosa. Lunch with old friends at the Caloundra Power Boat Club at Golden Beach was a great stop off along the way.

A visit to Noosa ensured that we had made the right decision to avoid the wintering place of Melbourne residents – a drive along the 2 kms of Hastings Street took 15 minutes!  No need to drive to Noosa to see the same shops as in any Sydney mall!  

A side trip to Eumundi to visit their amazing markets.  On Friday only the permanent stalls were open, but that took us a couple of hours to browse through.  With two granddaughters the opportunity for shopping has increased exponentially and there were plenty of ‘cottage’ stalls to delight both grandmother and grandfather. 

The main markets are on Saturday so, although we had a longish drive to Agnes Water, we still managed two hours at the markets and visited all the stalls.  Lots of women’s dress stalls, candle makers, dog accessories, garden decorations and, of course, pictures and paintings!  Plus, every type of food and coffee.  I think Ros is planning a return trip with her ‘market visiting girl friends’!

Agnes Water north of Bundaberg is near the fascinating town of 1770, named for the visit by Captain Cook, with a very pretty harbour, sandy beaches and camping areas. Agnes Water is a newly developed town, a sort of up market resort contrasting to the bare feet family camp at 1770.  John had a disappointing afternoon, watching first the Swans loose to Geelong and then the Wallabies to the All Blacks. Even Souths could not win to round the evening off at the Agnes Water Tavern.

Then followed a long 700 km drive to Blacks Beach just north of Mackay, passing by the major regional towns of Gladstone and Rockhampton with a long stretch of ‘not much’ as the highway is inland for most of the trip. Indeed, it was so empty that not even the ubiquitous sugar cane lined the sides of the road. This was probably the hottest day’s drive along the coast as well.

Blacks Beach is a delightful resort town and is one of the ‘northern beaches’ of Mackay. Visitors are mainly inland Queenslanders seeking a coast holiday although, in the past, some overseas visitors passed through mainly to see the kangaroos that inhabit nearby Cape Hillsborough.  We were excited to find the least well known, most run down pub in Australia with the most amazing view just up the road in Eimeo.  Good dinner and a wine list that you could recognise!

A shortish drive the next day to Townville to catch the ferry to Magnetic Island for a two night relax.  Along the way Ros determined that we would stop and have a decent lunch with a view now that the highway was, more or less, following the coast. This we did at the Horseshoe Bay Resort. A relaxing way to break up the trip.

A lay day on magnetic Island saw us take a drive around the island, a swim at, believe it or not, another Horseshoe Bay. We spent the afternoon by one of the resort’s pools followed by dinner overlooking Nelly Bay watching bobbing yachts and arriving ferries. 

Back on the mainland John had planned a short drive to Ingham so we could detour to the Wallaman Falls, apparently the highest permanent single drop waterfalls in Australia!  And it was flowing strongly even this long into the dry season. It was a magnificently long drop of plunging water – 268 metres if the sign can be believed. 

The drive and walk did not take as long as expected so we continued to Innisfail for the night where, after selecting a restaurant from the guide books, we realised that most were closed as the local pub has monopolised food service in the town.  A very large dining room, attracting families, workers and the occasional tourist, with an extensive menu meant that every other restaurant did not stand a chance!

A very touristy next day as we drive into the Atherton Tablelands, following the visitors guide to 

The Manu tropical rainforest skywalk and tower which took us up into the tree tops to see the numerous plants, vines, ferns, tillandsias and orchids that grew on the tall rainforest trees, all reaching for some sun.  The effects of cyclone Yasi (2011) and Larry (2006) could still be seen, where the cyclones had knocked down trees that allowed new growth to rapidly reach for the sky and sun.
Mungalli Falls and more importantly, a milkshake at the Mungalli Dairy.
A drive around the falls loop to Enninjaa, Zillie and Millaa Millaa Falls, the last being described as the ‘perfect waterfall’ often used for shampoo advertainments!
And finally a drive out to volcanic Lake Eacham including a 3 km walk around the lake.
And then a hot tub at our digs for the night – Mt Quincan Crater Retreat Canopy Treehouse, isolated cabins set around the crater each with magnificent views out through the rainforest. 

Mt Quincan Crater Retreat is designed so you have total uninterrupted privacy. On the first night we had delivered to our cabin the cold mixed seafood package and each morning the self-cooked breakfast: two types of sausages, eggs, ham, bacon, mushroom and tomato, plus cereal fruit and yogurt! 

A slow start next morning looking at the magnificent view while breakfasting on the deck. The a trip into Atherton (not a great place to visit, but with a bottle shop. We had had a SOS from friends in Burketown as their gin was running low), a trip to Lake Barrine with its magnificent tea house and then a visit to Nerada Tea Plantation.  

At Nerada we selected the ‘tea tasting pack’ of 5 teas which is always a great way to remind oneself that black tea with milk is not the only way to enjoy a ‘cuppa’. Nerada has resident tree kangaroos and we were lucky enough to spot them on our arrival sitting in the trees near the teahouse. Such an amazing animal as, although they have taken to the trees, they still retain the ability to hop quickly over the ground.

Dinner that night at Our Place restaurant in Youngaburra where we sat outside under a heater in a jumper – it was so great to be cool. Next stop Karumba on the Gulf.

2 thoughts on “To the Gulf of Carpentaria

  1. Hi John and Ros, good to see you are back in travel mode after a long lockdown. Your drive to Noosa reminded me of the same drive we did some years ago. We carried on further up the coast to see the barrier reef. All is good here in the UK but inflation is making dining out and general living very expensive. Many businesses are taking advantage of the situation with huge increases in hotel and entertainment costs. The same is true in the rest of Europe as our recent trip to Spain proved. We have reluctantly decided to sell our house up North. Pam was finding the 300mile drive a bit stressfull so we have bought a beachside apartment in Bournemouth. Only 1hr20mins away and our kids can use it for weekends as work commitments meant they could not use the Northern property very often. David and Laurel are visiting the UK in early May. They will see us for a couple of days before touring France and Italy for lots of MG events. Look forward to the next part of your trip. All the best, Geoff

  2. Thanks Ros and John. Good to have you back on the trail so we can enjoy a vicarious or armchair holiday journey. Looking forward to further episodes. Garry and Brenda.

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