I have known for some time about a Mahogany Glider (Petaurus gracilis) research project undertaken by the good people of Wildlife Queensland, but that’s almost all I knew until they scheduled a visit to the site last Sunday as one of their regular monthly walks.
Their monitoring site straddles Ollera Creek an hour North of Townsville, between the highway and the coast. We gathered at the Paluma turn-off before driving in convoy through well-timbered grazing land to the beach near the mouth of Ollera Creek.
Tully Gorge had been a blank spot on my mental map for far too long before I decided to visit it last month. All I knew – all that most people know – is that it attracts lots of (mostly young) tourists for white-water rafting. But I’ve been collecting waterfalls along the coast (e.g. Wallaman, Blencoe, Jourama, Behana and Murray) for some time and I had heard of the Tully Falls. And any gorge is worth a look – and I needed a break from the city.
A closer look at the map showed me that the Falls and the Gorge had to be two separate trips, since the Falls are only accessible from Ravenshoe and the Gorge is accessible only from the coast: the two roads both dead-end, one at the top of the falls and the other a couple of kilometres downstream from their foot. The possibility of including the Dalrymple Track in the trip made me opt for the Gorge this time; Jourama and Cardwell were entirely incidental.
So … drive to Tully and turn left, through the town and farmlands (sugar, cattle, and lots of bananas) before entering National Park (actually parks, plural: Koombooloomba NP on the western side of the road, Tully Gorge NP on the eastern side). From here on, the road follows the river quite closely, and I paused for a photo.
On the short trip which included Jourama Falls and the Dalrymple Track I seized my opportunity to visit the Cardwell Lookout and nearby Attie Creek for the first time.
The Lookout is a few kilometres out of town on a good, mostly-gravel road which leads through pine plantations before winding uphill to a parking area and a lookout with very good views to the North over Cardwell and Rockingham Bay towards Mission Beach and Dunk Island. A walking track leads further uphill from this point for even better views to the North and panoramic views across the channel to Hinchinbrook Island. The extra walk is worth the effort but I have to say it was also more effort than I had expected: it’s only a few hundred metres but it’s quite steep.
Four years ago I walked the inland end of the Dalrymple Track (see Wikipedia for its history) with Wildlife Queensland folk, then took a quick look at the coastal end by myself. As I said in a blog post at the time, I always hoped to complete the rest of the walk eventually, and last week I almost made good on that plan, walking from the coastal end to its highest point a couple of hundred metres past the old Stone Bridge.
The main focus of this post, therefore, is the effect of the monsoonal floods early this year. Townsville was hit hard, but so was Western Queensland. The Flinders River had 50-year floods and was 200 kilometres wide at its peak; and the Flinders, of course runs from the Burra Range and the northern corner of White Mountains National Park through Hughenden to the Gulf, picking up the waters of Porcupine Creek on the way.