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Cape Hillsborough National Park

We camped just inside the tree line on the edge of the sand.

Going north we are starting to hit the warm weather, clear blue skies and sunshine. We just had the shortest day of the year, winter solstice. Sunset is currently 5:30 pm and it’s totally dark by about 6:15 pm. After Rockhampton we drove most of the day and stopped at a place called Cape Hillsborough National Park, which is just north of Mackay. The place had glowing reviews on trip advisor and we arrived after nightfall. It was at the end of one of the many minor roads here that look short and straight on the map but seem to go on forever. I pitched the tent in dark (getting good at that now) while CM cooked some dinner. The campsite was privately run and well equipped with a communal kitchen, small shop and welcoming staff. It was popular though, quite a few other campers were nestled in among the low trees with us. As we sat down to eat out of the undergrowth came a ring tailed possum, about the size of a large cat and with very big eyes. It’s sat down on the bench right beside me and took an interest in my dinner. These possums have a beautiful shiny ginger coat, similar to a fox, they are more attractive than the brush tailed possums that you often seen up telegraph poles or in the tree tops.

One of many ring tailed possums.

In the same undergrowth the odd kangaroo could be found foraging on leaves and the like. We went to sleep and I was awoken at midnight with the sound of crashing waves. It was high tide and we realised the beach was actually very close to the tent. I eventually woke up at about 6:00 am as the sun was coming up. I crawled out and went to explore, the beach was only forty feet away and what a beach it was. A large sweeping bay with rocky outcrops at either end. Low tide saw the sea about 500 meters out and to the right a causeway was exposed that you could walk on to get to a place called Wedge Island,  a small rock of an island with a densely vegetated peak.

The causeway leading to Wedge Island at low tide.

Being the east coast the sun rises over the sea and it was a fine sunrise, with the sun climbing above the horizon in just a couple of minutes. The temperature rises very fast when the sun comes up. The icing on the cake was the kangaroos, or to be precise agile wallabies. A number of them were coming down on the beach and foraging on the sand for any edibles the tide had left in it’s wake. Not at all bothered by a few of us camera toting humans they went about their business, I was able to get some nice pictures, particularly this one of a mother and joey out for their morning constitutional.

Mother takes her joey for a bounce across the beach

Short video of a roo near me on the beach one morning:

A day or so later I came across this fella sunning himself between our tent and the beach.  I lay down beside him as we both spent a few minutes soaking up the early morning sun. This is a completely wild animal and not bothered by me joining him for a bask in the sunshine at all.

Hanging out with the locals

The ever-present Kookaburras.

Blue Tiger butterfly

We spent four days at this wonderful campsite, the waves always within earshot, and the sun shining all day. It was blissful.

Ready to eat…when they finally fall off.

One afternoon I got hold of a recently fallen coconut and set about breaking into it with our axe. They are really tough to open and I nearly sacrificed a thumb in the process. Once I had prised out the white goodness though I saved it for use in a curry that evening, and very nice it was too. There were a few spectacular short walks around the place, we did those and some of the pictures are included here.

Empty beach at Cape Hillsborough

At low tide  tiny sand baller crabs were at work creating tens of thousands of sand balls, all neatly laid out in rows like mini metropolises in sand, all to be washed away as the tide comes in. Here is what they look like, followed by some pictures C.M. took which she insists shows their design and artistic flair.

sand baller crab, they measure about 5mm across.

This is a flying kookaburra i'm told.

and a crayfish

Red Indian in headress whistling into the wind with a snow capped mountain in the background.

The crabs are predated upon by all sorts no doubt, but I watched a kingfisher dart about these sand cities trying to pick them off for his lunch. There are quite a lot of kingfishers on the coast but they are hard to photograph as they never sit still for long, and they always keep their distance. Below is the best picture I could get:

Kingfisher preying on crabs among a milliom sand balls.

We are now into potential crocodile territory, rivers, creeks and coastline are potentially unsafe. The general advice is not to camp near water…and here we were right on top of the beach, with high tide being in the middle of the night, when our tent is forty foot from the waves. The camp lady had told a particularly concerned CM that no crocs would interfere with her enjoyment during our stay, so that was good. However CM has an active imagination and woke me up one night at about 2:00 am totally convinced a croc was circling the tent, and that we were about to be its supper. I ventured out but it was nothing, probably just a wallaby going by. It was rather off putting though and neither of us slept very well that night.

Camp fires are prohibited in the camp, and it was still chilly at night. Walking down the beach in the full moonlight one evening we spotted a number of campfires burning on the beach itself. We were invited to join a small group of locals who were very friendly and well set up. They had a poker table set up, and a range of liqueurs and other drinks, all beside a lovely warm fire. The locals really know how to enjoy themselves, they even had Wagon Wheels!

On the fourth day we packed up and headed on, this had been my favourite campsite so far. It was small and the area was completely unspoilt by development, in fact from the beach you could not see the site at all, and it was big site with a swimming pool and everything.

Hopefully we’ll find other mini Edens of tranquillity like this as we travel along. In the satellite map below the dotted trees by the beach is the campsite, more of which can be seen here. As you can see it blends in very well with the surroundings.

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One Response to “Cape Hillsborough National Park”

  1. mum and dad says:

    This place sounds idyllic and we wish we were there with you, you tenting it and us in a nice hotel sounds good.

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