Wednesday, 22 April 2015

TOD Tour, Day 71 - Finch Hatton Gorge to Cape Hillsborough

The start of our 11th week on the road was a chilly one, with the temperature at Platypus Campground falling to 9C this morning. We were both up early, for one reason or another, neither of us sleeping well, so packing up and getting on the road was a smooth transition. We had made our way down out of the gorge and we were back on the main road that travels along the Pioneer Valley by 8:30am.

Our morning was spent at Mackay: Sue topping up the larder and me tracking down a flash drive I forgot to retrieve from Rockhampton post office. We also had family stuff to do and news to catch up with on with disastrous things happening in the lower Hunter and northern parts of Sydney.

The highlight was a visit to Artspace Mackay: the local gallery. Uber-friendly staff were backed up by four impressive exhibitions. The touring "Transparent: Watercolours in Queensland 1850's to 1980's" not only provided a social history of Qld but also the changing way in which the medium is applied. "Our Community: Mackay Creatives" is a showcase for local visual, jewellery and textile artists. It's always impressive when regional galleries provide such avenues. It has long been a strength of the Tamworth Regional Gallery. "Anzac 100: Memories and Momentos" has been mounted in a display case and includes letters, paybooks, photographs and things as small as leather matchbox cases which soldiers had in their possession during the Gallipoli landings. 

The final exhibition was a collection of photographs taken over a long span of time in and around Mackay. My favourites were the casual portraits. Patrons have the option of pasting a stick on "thumbs up" beside their favourite which I thought was a nice touch.

Lunch was in the car park behind the beach near the marina. Sue enjoyed the view while I took the chance of an Internet connection to post blogs for the past few days and some of our photos ... the mother load of which remain in the camera until the battery can be recharged. Tough gig to be parked behind a beach looking out to sea while you eat your tuna sandwiches.

It was mid afternoon before we continued north but only a small hop this time.

Cape Hillsborough is about 50kms north of Mackay and is reached after turning off the Bruce Highway - the Qld coastal arm of highway one - at The Leap. We stopped at The Leap on our previous trip up this way. There isn't much to it really. Just a pub and a sapphire shop and a few houses. The Leap is dominated by a geographical feature which is related to a sociological history. A female aboriginal women was reputed to have been forced to "leap" from the cliffs above when being pursued by police. A giant figure of an aboriginal women stands outside the pub and the publican will readily told us on our 2010 visit that his town has been named after "the abo sheila who fell off the cliff". I'm tempted to issue the "only in Queensland" oath but perhaps that's just NSW smugness talking but ... a four times life sized model of an aboriginal woman outside the pub? Really?

We bypassed it this time round.

Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park - how many ticks in how many boxes does that title manage - is actually located in the NP itself. Nestled behind the long, shallow sloped beach, it doesn't have to try hard to be beautiful ... it just is. We arrived in the late afternoon and completed our set up in almost complete silence. We have become so accustomed to our roles, we no longer have to speak ... just go about the business of setting up.

Sunset at Cape Hillsborough
The beach beckoned. We were there probably fifteen minutes later than I had wanted but it didn't matter. Over the next 45 minutes, we were treated to a wonderful string of colours and moods along the large, curving beach below the caravan park. Reds, orange, pinks, blues all appeared at one time or another whilst the rocks on the beach and the trees on the border of beach and forest, provided a startling silhouette. Back at the Town of 1770, we imagined we had a sunset unlikely to be topped but here, at Cape Hillsborough, it was already consigned to second place.

We retreated into the darkness and the 
hôtel sur roues, for vin rouge and visits by possums and wallabies.

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