We left Stanage Bay (‘the middle of nowhere’) early last Thursday morning and headed back out along the dirt road and then to the Bruce Highway again, it took us around five hours to reach Mackay. We had heard a lot about Mackay but had not ever had the chance to go there and so we were interested to take a look around. We decided to go to a place called MyCowAccommodation. MyCow is not exactly a camp ground as it had all of the amenities but it is not exactly a caravan park as it does not cost a fortune to stay. It was a flat rate of $20 per night for a powered site (caravan parks can be double this cost and more sometimes), which included full access to their camp kitchen (which was an interesting little place), hot showers, toilets, town water, power and unlimited WIFI. There was also a coin laundry there and clothes lines. It was simple but comfortable enough and the amenities were clean and well maintained. There is some work going on there at the moment and so there was a bit of machinery noise during the day and some sites are fairly close to the road so it was a little noisy at night but for the price, this place offers really good service and good value for money. The staff there are very casual and are basically happy for you to do as you please as long as you are not causing problems.
On our two day stop in Mackay we took a few drives, focusing on looking at the breakwater and the town itself. Mackay is well equipped with most of the shops and big outlets that you would need but, for us, it did not have the ‘wow factor’ that so many other places have produced.
We cooked a couple of meals in the camp kitchen at MyCow, finding out that it is a common place for backpackers and other Aussies who are working in Mackay to hang out in. There is a television in the camp kitchen so people tended to gather and eat in there and chat about where they are from and what they have been doing.
Positives of using the camp kitchen:
- There is a proper oven and a microwave and so you may be able to cook meals you otherwise couldn’t with the camp stove and barbeque
- You can use all of the pots, pans and utensils provided by the place to avoid dirtying your own
- You’re not using your own gas and let’s face it, you are paying for the camp kitchen whether you use it or not, so you might as well use it
- You have a full size sink to wash up in, you can use their cloths and their dishwashing liquid, again saving your own
- It is a good place to meet people who are staying at the same place as you
After two nights at MyCow we decided to move on. After much deliberation and after hearing how pretty the hills in the area were we decided our next stop was to be a bush camp at Eungella Dam.
It took us two and half hours to tow the camper up the hills and to the Eungella Dam. Upon arrival we could not stop commenting on how beautiful the place was. It felt homey… fresh water, camping right on the bank, no crocodiles, thick bush, rolling hills and peace and quiet. There were a few other campers about but there was a good selection of great spots to set up camp to choose from.
There were some comments on WikiCamps about the road being a bit treacherous to get in but we did not find any part to the road that made us think twice. Yes, it was a dirt road and parts of it were quite gravelly, but it is wide enough for two cars and as long as you take it carefully nobody should have trouble getting in there. It was mostly flat and well maintained and there were no big ruts or any other obstacles to speak of.
We set up camp on a beach like area where Ben could easily drag the tinny into the water and the dogs had plenty of room to run so they did not need to be cooped up. Looking directly across the dam you have a view that is hard to top… tall, tree covered mountains that line the far side of the water. The thick bush covering the mountain is home to a lot of animals including dingos, we could heard their eerie howls at night as we sat by the camp fire but did not see any. One night we had a heard of curious cattle grace with their presence as they came to the water’s edge to drink. They had a good look at us and us at them, then they peacefully moved on. The bird life at Eungella is amazing from birds of prey to coots and ducks to shags and herons. It is very easy and relaxing just sitting and watching the herons walk slowly through the shallows and the shags dry their wings on tree roots.
We fished the mornings and the evenings at Eungella Dam in the tinny. There is a thick weed and lily bed that rings the shallower outside of the dam. This was slightly annoying as Ben had to keep pulling the motor up and cleaning the weed from the prop, but once you are through the weed and into the deeper water it is less of a problem. We putted through the skeleton like, grey trees that protruded from the water trolling lures and we even tried some bait one morning. After fishing the right times of day, with the right lures and the right bait we were starting to wonder why we had not yet seen a fish or even got a bite. It was then that Ben’s rod buckled, I took hold of it while Ben slowed the boat and thought this does not feel like the snags we have been getting. I handed the rod to Ben and in a minute or so he had his first good sized sooty grunter in the boat. He was a dark, hefty looking, lazy fish, despite the locals telling us they were good fighters. We have a freezer full of fish at the moment and so we took a few snaps and put him back in the water to fight another day. There is supposedly barramundi in the dam but we did not see any, locals tell us that the water is a little cold for them at the moment but hopefully they’ll be back on the bite when they acclimatise to the conditions.
The day before we left we took a drive down to Finch Hatton Gorge, it was around an hours round trip of walking through thick but stunning forest to get to the gorge. The force of the water falling down into the emerald green gorge was a site to see and was definitely worth the walk in. You can swim there if you like but these mid 20 degree days are getting a little too cold for us to be considering swimming at the moment. Plus, the water running down the mountain looked just as fresh as I am sure it was cold.
Eungella is a place we will remember and maybe even return to one day. We left it behind on Tuesday morning of this week and tracked just over five hours to arrive in Townsville.
ARRIVING IN TOWNSVILLE
For the last couple of weeks our final destination on our minds has been Townsville. It has been on our minds because we knew it was a place where the chances of us finding work were high and at the moment we are in need of some extra funds. It is also going to be our home for the next 5 to 6 weeks as we are very excited to have Glen and Amanda coming to visit us here in mid July.
On our way to Townsville and upon talking to people we kept getting this vibe that people thought that this place was pretty average. Upon having a drive around yesterday and today and also having a fish off the pier last night we are unsure why people are not more excited about this place. Townsville is a flat city, it has everything you need with no traffic problems. The Stand and the beach areas are amazing and absolutely breathe taking. The people of Townsville that we have met so far are friendly, outdoorsy and laid back. They have a main street where some nice little eateries and breweries are and they say the weather is great here for most of the year. There is around three months where is it too hot and sticky and is a little unpleasant but hey, the other nine months are great, which is more than what can be said about a lot of other places.
Today we visited Reef HQ, which is the aquarium here, it was okay. The big living coral reef is really cool to look at and the turtles were super cute. The Melbourne Aquarium is way better and is much bigger. We then went to a place called The Taphouse, they have craft beer (self-pour option available), tantalising tapas and a great open plan area to chill out in. The Butcher’s Block was the name of the dish we ordered and was basically a selection of chicken skewers, steak, lamb kofta and pork belly pieces served with some delicious dips and sauces and ciabatta bread, it was brilliant.
I had an interview at the emergency vet clinic here in Townsville yesterday and I have another interview at a different vet tomorrow so hopefully I will get some locum shifts up here soon and Ben has been in touch with a local bricky who is keen to get him on site. So, if all goes well we should have our funds up and be ready to enjoy ourselves when Glen and Amanda arrive in a few weeks. We are looking forward to discovering more of Townsville and looking forward to seeing our mates soon!