Updated: Jan 24
We like Eungella National Park so much we visited the area again in December 2018/January 2019. It was a great place to welcome another year in this beautiful region of Australia surrounded by an ancient rainforest, chirping birds and the sound of water gushing down crystal clear mountain streams. I woke up early in the morning on the first day of January, with the sound of a laughing kookaburra. I opened the tent, and I looked at my surroundings and smelt the fresh rainforest air. I looked up, the golden rays of sun were sieving through the rainforest canopy. The temperature outside was perfect for a summer day, just 22 degrees celsius.
I walked through the narrow path leading to Broken river at the left side of the camping site to try my luck, I was eager to find a platypus. Today I will see one. I quietly walked along the path to the river, trying not to alert the animals to my presence by crushing dry leaves on the ground, determine to find a platypus.
I approached Black river and stood right at the edge of its brown waters. I stood there waiting and watching. I watched for any movement in the water. I waited for any bubble trails in the water indicating a feeding platypus. Where is the platypus? I thought. I stayed at the edge of the river for five minutes but there was no platypus. I was impatient and decided to go back to my tent, prepare coffee and get ready for another walking day.
What kind of animal is a platuypus?
Platypus is known in the latin nomenclature of species identification as Ornithorhynchus anatinus. They belong to the monotreme order and its exhibits a fascination combination of reptilian and mammalian characters. For example, platypus are armed with venom similar to the one found in reptiles such as snakes. Platypus are commonly found in rivers of central and south Australia and you can also find them in Tasmania. Water quality in rivers presents a threat for this charismatic animal.
Let’s find a platypus? Shall we?
In order to see a platypus, the recommendations are: One, go either early in the morning or late afternoon, and two, be very quiet. As you can imagine trying to achieve number two can be quite hard when you have children. You can start the platypus bushwalk from the information centre at Black River, it is easy, just follow the trails. There are look outs for platypus and the walk is very nice for children and is made to the grade of wheelchair access. We stopped at number one on the bridge, and again, we stood there watching and waiting. Is there any platypus yet?
We continued walking along the path to the third lookout. We stopped, stood there watching and waiting, trying to be as quiet as possible. Then all of a sudden I saw bubbles and then the shape of a platypus on the surface in the distance.
"There!" I said. "There is a platypus." It was about ten meters away from us, it was hard to clearly see it, the water in Broken River is a bit murky, but it was a small platypus (as are all platypus in the tropics). We continued our walk onto the Granite track at Eungella National park.
Eungella information centre
Before any walking, you should visit the information centre to get familiar with the trails and also to ask whether any tracks are closed. Most people do the platypus bushwalk, starting from the tourist information centre. And more information can be found about this online. There is a very nice map on the wall outside the centre with information on the trails. Some of the trails at Eungella are very long for children. We continued our walk and followed the Granite Bend Circuit. This track makes a loop and immerses you in the rainforest.
Walks in Eungella
Pine Grove Circuit (1.6 km)
Cedar Grove Track (2.8 km)
Sky Window small circuit (250 m)
Clarke Range Track (8.2 km)
Rainforest Discovery Circuit (780 m)
Granite Bend Circuit (1.6 km in addition to the Rainforest Discovery Circuit)
Crediton Creek Track (8 km one way)
Wishing Pool Circuit (1.7 km)
The above are in the order of appearance as you follow the Eungella Dam road from Eungella.
The Sky Window is an easy walk, it is only a 250m trail. It offers great views over the road Mackay-Eungella and over the valley and hills surrounding the park. It has toilet, picnic tables and bbq facilities. We stopped there for lunch and then walked through the trail.
We also explored the Granite Bend circuit. The Granite Bend Circuit intersects with with the Clarke Range track, and by following the Clarke Range Track for a short distance, you will come to a river crossing and swimming hole. We stopped there for a while to refresh and have morning tea. The water is cool even in summer time but very refreshing.
The rainforest discovery walk, also leading to the Granite Bend Circuit walk at Broken river.
After cooling down we walked back onto the main trail and followed the Granite Bend walk again, back to the information centre. The walk was easy, maybe it took longer than expected, but the girls made it all the way without any help.
They enjoyed searching and taking photos of mushrooms (of which there was an abundance of species of all different colours shapes and sizes) and wild flowers. They both got small cameras for Christmas presents and were very excited about being able to explore nature and photograph their surroundings.
From the Granite Bend circuit, you can also continue onto the Crediton Creek Track (although it was closed when we visited), or as mentioned, you can continue onto the Clarke range track (an addition 2 km). We also walked other trails see our post on the Wishing pool.
The aftermath of a very dry rainforest. Crediton Creek walking track was closed in January 2019.
Camping at Eungella
We stayed at the Fern flat camping site, I assumed it is called that way because there used to be a lot of ferns. There aren’t many ferns now though, and the ones left were dry. The Fern flat camping place is a very charming sort of camping place. It is small with only eight camping spots. The camping site is surrounded by rainforest trees and has Black River running alongside it. It is located close to the walks and the information centre.
Entrance to the camping site after the gravel road.
Camping site number 8 and the tree canopy at sunset.