We left the van in Bowen to go on a shakedown trip for a few days to stay in the tent and sort out what to take when we explore Cape York Peninsula in a few weeks. Heading south on the coast, we first spent two nights at Carmilla Beach, a great free camp spot around 90kms south of Mackay. This is a very popular spot but we were lucky enough to pitch the tent a metre from the beach. The sunrises were glorious and we took the kayaks out for a paddle in the light surf conditions – all good fun. Although, there were no crocodiles in the surf we did meet up with 3 overly friendly venomous water snakes.

Next, we headed inland passing through Sarina, over the Blue Mountains and then onto the Peak Downs highway to Clermont. On the way we passed several coal mines and long coal trains with 3 electric locomotives to each (in an odd arrangement of one at the front, one in the middle and another closer to the end of the trains which we guessed were over a kilometre). We spent a great couple of nights at Theresa Creek Dam and camped again right on the waters edge. The kayaks had another spell on the calm dam water and Andy tried putting out the red claw pots again without very much success unfortunately, those few that we did catch we had to put back as we were leaving and didn’t have time to cook them – we’ll keep trying out different spots and baits until we find the best formula. We actually suspect that another ‘fisherman’ had been checking others pots very early that morning and helping himself!

For our last night we headed back toward the coast, turning west before we reached Mackay and on towards Eungella State Forest where we had another great night at the Platypus Bush Camp run by a real character, Wazza. We spotted only the wake of one of the elusive marsupials in the evening but none at 6:30am the next morning. The river was so clear and the camp so peaceful we could have stayed a week. The night sky was ablaze with stars and shooting stars appeared flashing across the sky. The nights were very cool – our first real experience of a chilly night since leaving home.

A few days after returning to Bowen, we went out with friends in their boat to see the islands off the coast. The water was such a clear blue that we could see the coral clearly from the boat and we swum and snorkeled in a secluded bay. On the way into Montes Resort while going past the huge Gloucester Island we were even visited by a pod of dolphins who chased the boat and came in very close as if they were putting on a show for great photos and videos. Lunch and cocktails for the ladies followed by a stroll along the beach then an eventful trip back over choppy seas left us soaked, exhausted but very happy.

We will be sad to leave Bowen but we know we have to head north soon for more adventures.