With the polar blast hitting us on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, and temperatures plummeting to under 20oC we packed our van and headed north for some warmer, dryer weather. Ironically, the day we left home there were blue skies and sunshine.
Our first overnight stop was Granite Creek a 48hr rest area, only 330km from home. For those unfamiliar with Australian road travel, local councils around the nation provide rest areas for travellers. They are usually free, no booking required, some are for day use only, others for 24hr or 48hr stops. Often there is no drinking water, toilets or other facilities. We use the WikiCamps app to find them.
On the second night we stayed in the grounds of The Leap Hotel, free to stay overnight if you buy a meal at the pub. Pleasant place and good food.
Our third and final night on the road was spent at Bluewater Creek rest area near Townsville. With the creek behind us and crocodile warning signs, we stayed close to the van.
Each time we pass through Cardwell we stop for one of their famous crab sangers (slang for sandwich). Through the clouds and rain we could just see Hinchinbrook Island in the distance.
Having travelled 1,490 km north, our arrival at Mission Beach was not what we had hoped for. Grey skies, unrelenting rain and temperatures around 15oC. Four days later the rain stopped, clouds cleared, and the sun shone, although the temperature took another few days to improve. We stayed at Mission Beach Hideaway Holiday Park, which is surrounded by rainforest and is a short walk to the beach and town.
Around the town of Mission Beach
Markets at Mission Beach
The Ulysses Track to the jetty is a wonderful walking track. We found out too late it isn’t so great for bikes. Tim challenged himself to see how many sets of steps he could descend without getting off his bike (intentionally or otherwise).
The ride to the Marina was much easier, no steps.
Dunk Island is 4 km from the mainland. Cyclone Yasi destroyed the Dunk Island Resort in 2011, it still lays in ruins.
A ferry ran from the resort to the mainland but now sits abandoned on the beach.
A water taxi ran until last year when it was damaged in a storm. Now the only way to get to Dunk Island is by private boat . We found a woman that has taken on the task of taxi service and were able to get across and back again on her boat. The jetty is not suitable for small boats so we went straight onto the beach.
There are some rundown, but still operable, toilets and showers available, but no other amenities. Camping is allowed and looks quite lovely.
Our main reason for coming to Dunk Island was to do the hike up Mt Kootaloo which continues around the island, about 11 km roundtrip, which took us 4 hours.
Next time we would just do the short version up Mt Kootaloo and back down, as the hike through the middle of the island was rather over grown and unmaintained.
Paronella Park, Mena Creek
North west of Mission Beach is Mena Creek and Paronella Park. Here’s a link to our last visit in 2015 when we stayed overnight and did a night tour. Just magical.
Further north of Mena Creek is Innisfail, a major town know for its sugar cane and banana plantations.
Kennedy Walking Track
We highly recommend anyone visiting the area to do ‘The Kennedy Walking Track’. It goes from South Mission Beach to Kennedy Bay, about 8 km return, which took us just on 4 hours. A fabulous track, with amazing views and great variety in the terrain. Some of the track in along remote sections of beach which are cut off at high tide, so timing is important, particularly for getting back.
A little town near Mission Beach is Bingil Bay. The most notable thing about it is the cafe.
Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef
By far the highlight was our trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef where we snorkelled on Beaver Reef, about 45 km from the mainland. We went with Mission Beach Dive company, who we would recommend. They were professional, friendly and well organised.
These colourful sea squirts were everywhere.
I have never seen so many different coloured feather stars (Crinoids) anywhere. Yellow, red, green, brown, just so beautiful.
Here is a YouTube with fun facts about feather stars.
Cheers until next time,
Helen & Tim