Thursday, 11 July 2013

An 'arboraceous' change of pace.

Looking down through the trees to the creek.
We're still in Mackay Marina.  Since we arrived the wind has been blowing the forecast 25-30 knots and more every day.  Even the Skipper, who's gnawing at the bit to get moving, has been happy to stay here and wait out better weather. 

The best thing about being stuck here has been the camaraderie of the other RPAYC crews and our schedule of activities....more on all of those activities tomorrow.

On Tuesday, July 9th the Captain and I took a drive in our little rental car inland through the Pioneer Valley and into the Finch Hatton Gorge.  It was a lovely drive and felt good to be away from the coast for a while. 

This coastal plain area is a major producer of sugar cane and before the road starts to climb into the hinterland forest it passes miles and miles of sugar cane fields.  Each field has access to the narrow gauge rail system specific built to carry the cane from the fields to the mill.  Along the way we saw a few of the little train engines used to shunt the basket like cars into a long line before moving on to the nearest mill.  They're cute and different and a reminder of how we humans have built an infrastructure to fit the environment wherever we find ourselves.

Flowering sugar cane.  I didn't realise it flowered!
After about an hour of driving and making our way upwards into the mountains and towards the gorge we came upon these cabins and tea room and decided to stop for a coffee and a quick lunch.

The picture is deceptive....this establishment was pretty much right in the forest with the river running behind it.  We sat in their covered - but not enclosed - eating area out the back with the sound of the river. 

We were the only people there and the proprietor - the husband - wanted to talk, a lot, while his wife prepared our lunch.  So we found out all about the area, the cabins and the weather.  As per usual when he heard first my accent and then the Skipper's Scottish lilt he assumed we were international travellers.  But when we said we were from Sydney it made for even more conversation about the big "smoke".

The Captain and I sat in their covered - but not enclosed - eating area out the back and, with the sound of the river and the cool from the forest canopy it was ideal.  At first.  But as our lunch was delivered a notice must have gone out across the forest that we were there...and eating!  Then the bugs started.  First the little black midges and then the mossies.  Needless to say we didn't linger over our meal.  We thanked them (not the bugs, the tea room people) and went on up the road to the entrance to the gorge walks.

This is the path to the waterfall & gorge....up there in the trees you can see Mr G's back as he checked out the path ahead.

The pathway to the lookouts looked so inviting and I haven't had any real exercise lately which meant I was more than ready for a bit of a walk!  The shortest path was a 3km round trip walk to the waterfall which I said I was ready for....the Captain had his doubts but decided to go along as far as I could go on my healing foot.  So with stick in hand off I went with the good husband up ahead checking out where the difficult bits would be.  I made it with no bother albeit slowly.  Mr G normally walks really really fast so this was a good exercise in patience for him. 

We made it to the waterfall.  A lovely cascade of icy cold water rushing over rocks and boulders on its way through the forest.  While I stayed up on the viewing platform Captain G climbed down to the waters edge to get a better view...and to check out the water temperature.  At the bottom of the falls there is a great looking swimming hole that would be ideal in the summer for a quick dip before heading back down the path or up to the top of the gorge.

Waterfall and the inviting swimming hole.

At the viewing platform.

The view downstream.

Just up the road - another 20 minutes or so - is the Eungella National Park where you can walk back into the bush and sometimes see Platypus in the wild.  After our walk - our very slow walk - we decided to head on back to the marina for a quiet dinner at home.  The day was terrific and a welcome change of pace.

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