Queensland: Exploring Finch Hatton Gorge

Road Trip Diaries # 3 – Off to Araluen and Wheel of Fire Falls

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Waking up at Platypus Bush Camp was one of those days that I wish would happen more often. After all, I seldom find myself near a bubbling creek in the middle of a rainforest and being awakened by harmonious calls of birds and chorus of cicadas, frogs and crickets. The camp is situated in a beautiful lowland rainforest and is the nearest camping ground to the jump-off point for Finch Hatton Gorge, which was our next stop for the day.

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The cheeky  sulphur crested cockatoo at  Platypus Bush Camp

We had an early start this time after a restful sleep. A dip at the swimming hole looked inviting, but I opted for the cold rainforest shower to start the day. But it wasn’t the cold shower that washed away my early morning lethargy. The freaking green Australian frog hanging inside the rim of the toilet bowl did. Good thing I hadn’t yet sat on the throne and started my business. No wonder they have a sign telling you to keep the lid closed at all times. Well, at least it wasn’t a python or something. It could always be worse!

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On the way to Araluen Falls

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Rocky streams  near the falls

After breakfast, we drove to the starting point of the walking trail. There were already many camper vans and 4 wheel-drives parked in the area when we got there so we didn’t waste much time and proceeded with trek as well. It took us less than an hour to reach the first small but gorgeous waterfalls. Araluen Falls is a 1.6km walk along scenic trails and returns along the same path. There are two lookouts from the top and at the bottom of the falls, which are accessible via wooden stairs.

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Araluen Falls

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After taking a breather and a few pictures, we then traced our steps back to the main trail and continued on to the Wheel of Fire Falls. The trail is well marked and some sections have railings and boardwalk.  The scenery along the way to the falls is stunning. Aside from the variety of plants and trees, you get to glimpse at  various sized cascades, refreshing streams, and the spectacular gorge carved over thousands of years by the relentless water. Our walk ended in a big swimming hole under the falls.

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Araluen Falls

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Wheel of Fire Falls

The waterfalls however, couldn’t be seen from the lookout. We had to scramble over some rocks to the other side of the pool to get a good view of its cascade.  We had a quick lunch here and after taking a nap on the huge flat rocks Charles and I both mustered to brave the cold water. But only one of us ended up being successful and that was not me. Others had tried too, but no one dared to stay long in the water, it was just too cold.

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Swimming hole at Wheel of Fire Falls

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We had our lunch here.

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Some backpackers sunbathing after the cold dip

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We spent a bit of time at the swimming hole before finally heading back to Mackay. Our trial run for the road trip had been great so far and coming days looked even more exciting. The next day would prove to be a day of firsts: my first Australian beach and my first encounter with a wild kangaroo.

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On the way to Mackay

(This is part of our 6-week North Queensland Road Trip Series, which took place July- August 2010)

Australian Road Trip: 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