Waking to the ocean breaking thirty metres away, even in small waves, is sensory fulfilment. Before the sun rose and showed its face for the only time of the day, I was gathering awareness of what was around me.
A few birds were having their final conversations before roosting for the daylight hours. A dog somewhere distant was complaining about a cat and another dog agreed. Someone cursed and a caravan door slammed - oh wait, that was me.
Returning from the toilets - closer than in other parks on this road trip, the bright yellow ball of sun was just touching the blanket of horizon to horizon cloud on its top and just touching the horizon on its tail. A line of yellow etched out across the ocean to me, illuminating my face and for a moment fooling me into thinking it was a personal invitation. I took some photos, there with my feet in the wet sand and my mind in another place; a place were I almost was.
It had showered during the night and continued to until 9:00am. Whilst we can pack down, even in the rain, there seemed little point so we waited, distracted by things we would rather have avoided.
Before going to bed last night, I had retrieved photos and blogs from our previous trip to the Qld coast' in 2010. It proved, again, how vague our memories can be and how they lie to us in terms of order of events and place. I did win several bets.
We stopped at Sarina for more than an hour. In the process, we engaged in an excellent guided tour at the Sugar Shed; a local council initiative, to explain all parts of the process of growing, refining and marking sugar. Qld makes up 95% of all Australian sugar production and Sarina is the southern most point of an area extending north to Proserpine which is the dominant region of sugar production int his state. The Sugar Shed is a refinery but in microcosm. By a nauseating use of alliteration and onomatopoeia, each machine is personified, something which would appeal to kids. Regardless of my dislike of such tricks, the information was solid and relentless but the passion of the guide for the message was impressive. There were no questions left unanswered - not a bad trick when Sue and I are in the audience! It's an activity which will explain how the industry works and save you the noisy and smelly alternative of enduring a mill tour. It ends with a taste test of the products of their ethanol distillery, which thankfully, didn't include E10 fuel and the sauces that are especially made for resale. The 40 proof rum was tasty. Good value for money and well worth doing.
As the day was getting away from us, we bypassed Sarina Beach and lunch by the ocean and turned up the Pioneer Valley on route to Finch Hatton Gorge. Our guide at theSugar Shed had given us a personal recommendation for the Platypus Campground, right on the edge of the Finch Hatton Gorge end of Eungella NP.
Almost as soon as we drive in, we met Wozza, the owner/caretaker/local character. Big bushy beard, big Qld hat (circa Les Hiddins), bare feet and a lone wolf of Australiana amidst an ocean of confused foreign voices. He was as good as his word on the phone, having a place set out for me.
Wozza doesn't like vans, so it was touch and go when I rang him. We aren't quite a van, aren't quite a camper trailer. In fact, we are much smaller than most camper trailers, occupy less ground space than a camper and involve a lot less work. All the more reason to be impressed with the corner site he had chosen for us.
Apart from the site at the back of the beach near Minnie Water and the site last night, this would be a finals contender for best location of the trip. We are in a small alcove in the rainforest, sitting perhaps five metres above a creek which runs at a constant rate in burbles over river rocks. Imagine water feature on a grand scale and without the pump and the filter. At one end of a 150 metre stretch of the creek is a platypus pool, which were occupied by a large black fish and a turtle is afternoon and at the other end a clear water swimming hole.
The showers have to be seen to be believed. No photos will convince you. Rough made from coloured window frames from a house or perhaps a church, river rocks and heavily weathered timber, their door opens onto an open space in the rainforest. You literally have your shower standing in nature. The water is hot, flowing straight from a wood-fired copper, so must be used sparingly but it splashed down on you under gravity feed from a big, old bush shower head, hot but slow and absolutely perfect.