The sky was uncharacteristically overcast this morning so we swapped our shorts and sandals for long pants and sneakers and set off on a drive to see more of the Northern Queensland countryside. We decided to head North towards Ingham.
From Townsville we entered the Bruce Highway and we soon took a turn off the highway to have a quick look at Saunders Beach. A lady we had met on our travels had raved about this place so we thought it would be worth a look. There was a small free camping area with about half a dozen motorhomes and a couple of backpacker campervans. There is a quite reasonable toilet block and it was a very short walk to the beach. The tide was right up so we didn’t see much of the beach. However we couldn’t find any shops other than a bar, and there didn’t seem to be too much to do about town, so we were a little disappointed.
Back on the highway we were quite interested to check out the free camp area at Bluewater. It was large, very busy and looked like quite a good place to stay. A short distance further along the highway we stopped for a quick look at the Big 4 caravan park at Rollingstone and have also added this to our “visit next time” list.
Up to this point the scenery has consisted mainly of dense scrub and small trees, right up close to the road with some patches of open ground.
Coffee stop was at the Frosty Mango on the highway about 60 kms north of Townsville. This is a combined fruit plantation and café selling not only the usual coffees and cakes but a wide range of fresh tropical fruits and associated jams, sauces and ice-creams. We thoroughly enjoyed our coffees and coconut and mango cake, and Ann bought some interesting fruit that we will no doubt enjoy in the next day or so.
From here the landscape changed to sugar cane, and more sugar cane and a few sugar cane trains.
We soon arrived at the outskirts of Ingham and had a bit of a drive around town. Ingham is famous for its Italian heritage and the Italian influence can be seen all around town. There is an annual Ingham Italian Festival which is a major tourist event for the town. Ingham is also home to the TYTO Wetlands area which is home to some 230 bird species.
We stopped at the Lees Hotel Motel for lunch. This hotel was founded in 1857 and is officially on record as the inspiration for the song “Pub With No Beer” made so popular by Slim Dusty. It is the only hotel in Queensland with Heritage Listed status. Our meals, and the beer at the pub with no beer, were delicious and we had a great time chatting with fellow diners and host, who recommended that we visit nearby Wallaman Falls. We even made it onto the Pub’s Facebook page!
So from Ingham it was off further North to Wallaman Falls about 50 kilometres away. The road started out alright but we did encounter pigs and cattle on the road as we moved further off the main highway.
The last 20 kms or so was a different proposition though and road conditions varied from new bitumen to rough dirt road with bone shattering potholes, all the while looking out for cassowaries, on-coming traffic and wondering exactly how steep the ground just inches from our tyres really was.
Eventually we got to the top and made the short walk from the carpark to the lookout. That drive was definitely worth the effort and we were greeted with an absolutely amazing waterfall 286 metres high and Australia’s largest sheer drop waterfall. There are several walking paths in this national park and there is apparently a track down to the base of the waterfall where you can look straight up at the waterfall with it falling down on top of you. Ann and I decided not to go for a swim today so we did the shorter Djinda Walk which gave us great views of the gorge and other areas of this World Heritage Listed park.
Eventually it was time to head back down the hill and after stopping for a coffee in Ingham we made our way back home to the caravan park, arriving home after dark.
It was a long drive today but we had a fantastic day!