What better way to celebrate Australia Day than with our favourite kind of journey – a road trip? When January 26th arrived all hot and steamy, thoughts of the Paluma Range, 71km north of Townsville started entering our heads. The Nywaigi (traditional owners) called the Paluma Range Munan Gumburuup, which translates to Misty Mountain. Mist equals cooler weather so it wasn’t long before the decision was made.
I was salivating over thoughts of an Aussie Day BBQ lunch at Paluma Dam, but seeing clouds were developing in Townsville, we decided to lunch instead at the Rainforest Inn at the top of the range. When the Rainforest Inn opened seven years ago it marked the closing of the much loved Ivy Cottage (1960-2006). Ivy Cottage Devonshire Teas were a thing of legend, but the birds that flittered from the forest to table stealing crumbs, ended up stealing the show as well.
We were headed straight to the top of the range and shortly after passing the Little Crystal Creek stone bridge, the mist descended. With the car headlights on we crept into Paluma Township while the rain bucketed down. The Wet Tropics World Heritage area begins north of the Mt. Spec section of the range, while Townsville is notorious for having it’s very own dry micro-climate. You must live in this micro-climate to appreciate the pleasure of that rain – even if it did rule out the BBQ.
Imagine our shock/horror to find the Inn was between owners with a closed sign on the door. Bugger.
As my tummy was grumbling we wasted no time heading back down the mountain, stopping this time at Little Crystal Creek for a look see. The bridge was completed by hand in 1933 during the Depression Years and is actually concrete dressed with stone. The rain brings out the colours of the stones providing an atmospheric backdrop for the swimming holes.
Shortly after leaving the creek crossing behind, the weather cleared and we could see across the cane fields to the Coral Sea.
It was like another world up there – a cool, wet, misty world – on the Paluma Range.
The range is a National Park which means no dogs allowed.
Entrance to the park is free.
Paluma Dam is accessed by a 11km formed gravel road further on from Paluma Township and has day visitor and camping facilities. Check road conditions first.
Little Crystal Creek picnic area has free gas BBQ’s and wheelchair friendly toilets.
The Mt. Spec Paluma Range road forms part of the GREAT TROPICAL DRIVE.
This post is linked to TRAVEL PHOTO DISCOVERY.