12th – 21st May
Just a few kilometres down the road is Mamu Tropical Skywalk. On arrival we downloaded the app then set off on the kilometre or so walk through the rainforest with the audio (from the app) telling us the story of the area, the plants, the cyclones and other interesting info.
A 350m section of elevated walkway leads to a cantilever 15m above ground right in the rainforest. The view of the rainforest beneath us and to the sides was fascinating, just looking at the different trees and epiphytes.
But also straight ahead was the Johnson R Gorge. This is such beautiful country. Further on is ‘the tower’. This 37m tower, with many, many steps to reach the top, looks out over the tops of the trees and across gorges. Fantastic!
Paronella Park is the main destination for today, with camping onsite. For years people have been telling us about this place. It’s one man’s dream of having a European Castle in Australia. José Paronella nearly single-handed built his home and his castle over a 6-year period. A grand staircase leads from the beautiful grounds and tennis courts past the fountains to a ballroom, which used to hold dances and show movies, with refreshments provided from the refreshment rooms.
Mena Creek enters the property via a waterfall into a large swimming pool. The hydroelectric power plant José established here provided electricity to the property fully 30 years before the local townsfolk had power. In its heyday Paronella Park was an exotic playground for the locals as well as many servicemen during WWII.
These days, the gardens and fountains are still beautiful, but following floods, cyclones and a fire it’s just the shell of the castle that remains. We stayed in the caravan park on the grounds and did the daytime tour as well as a night tour where the castle is lit beautifully and accompanied by an original music score. Altogether a very enjoyable stay.
13th May. Bingil Bay
Bingle Bay has a reputation of being a highly desirable camping spot, with only 8 sites and no reservations taken, ie first in, first served. This meant an early departure for the drive to the coast.
We arrived just as the couple who had the best site (that is site 6) were packing up to leave! Walking on the beach, a quick swim (crocs and stingers uppermost in my mind) and lots of sitting back reading was the order of the day.
14th May. Wallaman Falls
The last of the waterfalls for us on this trip also happens to be the highest permanent waterfall in Australia.
We camped in the NP campground and, after admiring the falls from the lookout, did the 3.5km return walk to the base of the falls – a very steep descent, followed, unsurprisingly, by a very steep ascent to return. We were both pretty chuffed at how well we managed it – all those Devonshire teas haven’t wreaked too much damage. Once more, a spectacular geographical, or should that be geological, feature.
15 – 16th May.
Heading south now quite quickly. We stopped for brunch at the TYTO Wetlands RV camp (looks good for future reference), and a cuppa at Saunders Beach (nice beach, but camp site in carpark) before pulling up for the night at the free camp at Giru.
Next night we headed for Lake Proserpine (also currently a free camp) where we’re meeting up with our old travelling buddies Ken and Wendy. Lake Proserpine is a huge campsite alongside the dam. A pleasant camp, particularly our time with our friends.
17th – 19th May
A night at Waverley Creek Rest Area – a good roadside rest area OK for one night. Then on to Wreck Rock camping ground in the Deepwater NP. The road to it from Agnes Water heading south is in very poor condition, so we came up from the southern side on a good dirt road. We spent two days here, mostly relaxing and going for lovely long walks on the beach. A pleasant stay.
20th – 21st May
We spent our last night before arriving home with good friends Ric and Gill on the Sunshine Coast. Needless to stay a good night was had by all.
But there’s no place like home, and it was lovely to arrive back home.
Duration: 54 days
Distance driven: 7,471 km
Fuel cost: $1410
Campsites: 18 nights in 9 National Parks
Free camps – 15
Cost of camping – $766 (+$459 at hotel Cairns)