Sunday, April 27, 2014

Doug and Sandy: The Change Of Plans

The morning of our planned departure for our Whitsunday trip the weather and forecast was just a bit worse, and, after an hour of dithering, we decided to do what we do best, change our plans. Somehow, in a move that still makes sense, but may be rationalisation, we convinced ourselves that delaying cost us nothing as, should the forecast/weather improve in a few days we would have made the right choice. Conversely, should the weather/forecast stay the same, we had lost nothing and would simply do the trip a few days later. 
Accordingly, we packed up, drove south of Bowen and up onto the Mackay Highlands where the wet season was still going strong and it rained, misted, dripped, and generally precipitated for our two day stay. 

Fig Arch

We did not let the rain deter us, and visited Finch Hatton Gorge, a rocky small gorge featuring a dozen waterfalls of different sizes. A 4.2 km return walk takes you to the highest fall and there are a series of nice swimming holes along the way - not needed by us as it was raining enough for a shower. The leeches, which we hadn't seen since Lamb's Head were out in force. I got one on my wrist and my entire forearm swelled up which makes me think I am becoming allergic to leeches the way I became allergic to wasps, bees, and hornets. Apparently, there is some cross-reactivity and, rarely, people have anaphylactic reactions to leeches.
We stayed the night at a soggy camp area at Crediton Hall near Eungella National Park, wore long pants, and, slippers (!) and used our blankets for the first time in many, many months. Next day, we walked a 10 km route from Broken River picnic area to Cedar Grove at Eungella - or rather I did, and Doug kind of did. We did our usual walk through with Doug starting at the Eungella end while I started at Broken River. The track is well maintained but very wet and muddy and the leeches were multitudinous. I had repellent up to my thighs, then pants tucked into socks sprayed with more repellent, shoes on top, and the whole ensemble sprayed again with more repellent and I still picked up dozens. Luckily, I sustained no bites as I had salt with me and liberally applied it every time I spotted one of the nasties. Doug had been less thorough with his applications and got more leeches. 
We met at Sky Window lookout where there was a view of nothing, the Pioneer Valley 700 metres below was obscured by cloud and, while I finished up the track, Doug finished up walking down the road. I walked along the road to the start of the track that leads up the "rainforest ridge" after we had lunch in the caravan but nothing would entice me to go down that leech ridden "track" eerily reminiscent of a Misty Mountains track. I got a leech just looking at the sign.

 Pioneer Valley from Sky Window

Next day, we had enough of rain and drove back down to the coast. The cloud had cleared and we could see the view down to Pioneer Valley from Sky Window Lookout. On the lowlands, we got the forecast again and, as before, Tuesday or Wednesday was looking perfect for departure on our Hook circumnavigation so, on a whim, we decided to paddle out to the Newry Islands for two nights. But that is another change of plan.

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