Soggy camps and unexpected nature encounters
Below you will find a detailed description of the route as seen through the eyes of its creator to give you firsthand knowledge of the type of experiences available along this route The Below map of this road trip’s detailed trail and interactive map. Click on the link in each icon to go to more details
Port Douglas to Murray Falls Camping (240km 3.13hrs)
1. PORT DOUGLAS MARKETS Wharf St, Port Douglas – Sundays 8am to 1.30pm
There was a lot of moisture in the air when we readied ourselves for departure in the morning. However, lucky enough to get a break in the clouds for a mini-tour around Port Douglas and their markets. Brilliant! Everything from designer clothes and shoes to coconuts, local produce, art, and even a guy squeezing sugar cane with a bicycle contraption of epic creativity.
The town’s streets are soggy and a little quiet in the early morning, but the classic standout of the strip is the Iron Bar; Tree branch chairs, rusted iron roof (you know, the modern way) comfy lounges and oodles of character. Also the home of the classic cane toad races.
Rain set in on the first stretch on the way back so only had a quick stop at Boulder Creek and continued on. The spot was definitely worth a longer stay though, with an expansive swimming hole above the roaring rapids and enormous boulders.
With our mapped plan out the window due to the weather, the risk of spending a night at an unsatisfying roadside stop is high. There has been a distinct shift in the Austrailian coastal region, a movement of sorts that has only become noticeable on our journey back down the coast. They streamline with the change of seasons and swarm on sunset. At best you may get a glimpse of them through the trees, at worst, they almost stack like ugly lego. Varied in size and shape, but usually colour bland. Their prevalence is ever so evident as you hit the road yourself alas, no matter how we try to deny it, we are one and our numbers are now so many the adventure starts to lose its shine. Such is the caravan movement, our only solace is that we go off the beaten track as much as we can.
Tully was bland enough but ok with the giant rainboot, The wettest town in Queensland though so not sure if it’s the best spot to stay out of the rain but we still explored the town. Is not an official overnight spot, but with the bad weather and no one else around we stayed (The Downloadable Route list has an alternate night stop included from the original plan)
3. LITTLE CRYSTAL CREEK
Our next move was not the best….windy narrow wet road up to Crystal Creek to see the cool old stone bridge H was not happy and sweating chips most of the way but managed to get back down without losing the van.
4. MARLBOROUGH (821km 9.18hr) if doing the express route I recommend you stay at Boulder Creek FREE camp instead(details included at the bottom)
The next night’s stop was Marlborough, an unimpressive patch of grass or so we thought. As we sat in our soggy chairs from the rain the night before there was a swoop of wings and a glint of a skilful eye. A beautiful pair of falcons were nesting in the trees above and swooping for discarded prawns on the ground right beside our camp. That’s the thing about being out in nature, there’s always the unexpected to make or break your day, but at the end of it all, it makes one hell of an experience. (The Downloadable Route list has an alternate night stop, and rest stops included from the original plan)
5. MARLBOROUGH to ELLIOTT RIVER (409km 4.46hr) Salt Flat Camp, Esplanade, Coonarr, FREE CAMP 4X4s and tents(we took out off-road caravan dry weather, but it is no longer recommended 2023) pets, no facilities
With the clouds now parting we found one of our next best camp spots. Initially, I was scared off by the talk of Midgee terror, but we found ourselves alone right on the edge of a peaceful river with a small group of pelicans and a campfire(high enough from the crocs). Our first encounter was, however, a little unsettling, on exploring the tracks to find the best spot we found ourselves meandering down a track on foot…..there was a rustle in the bushes beside H…we both looked at each other and then ran like idiots back to the car.
H had not learnt his lesson though as once settled he thought it a good idea to go down to the waters edge for a little gold panning… as you do in croc country lol. It wasn’t until after a little time he noticed half fish floating and scattered bones on the bank that H decided it was maybe not the best idea ha ha ha ha
Midway through sunset, a trail of unusual guests made their way across the river head to tail. It was interesting to see the dominant male scout things out first before the others followed, and what a pretty boy he is. Early morning brought Spoonbills, Falcons, Plovers and a scene-stealing family of Bustards whose size takes me by surprise every time I see them. (The Downloadable Route list has an alternate night stop, and rest stops included from the original plan)
6. ELLIOTT RIVER to CHOWY BRIDGE (110km 1.22hr) Didcot QLD 4621, L onto Chowey Bridge Rd(dirt rd) off Gooroolba Biggenden Rd
The last stop for the trip home is at the Chowey bridge, a neat and tidy spot all to ourselves. You can get down to the water if you do a bit of bushwalking to the back of the waterhole(away from the bridge). Then home, time to plan for the next and I can’t wait
The wet sprint home:
PORT DOUGLAS to TULLY ( 206km 2.51hr)
Golden Gumboot. R off Butler St, just past roundabout – toilets, showers, RV parking – alternate BP truck stop FREE CAMP
TULLY to LITTLE CRYSTAL CREEK (150km 1.46hr)
LOT 93 Mount Spec Rd, Crystal Creek. Narrow and winding road is scenic but requires care when driving. – a heritage-listed stone arch bridge built in the 1930s, and pristine creek, toilets, swim, tables
LITTLE CRYSTAL CREEK to BOULDER CREEK CAMPSITE (555km 6.33hr)
1590 Calen Mount Charlton Rd, Mount Charlton – Picnic Tables, Wood Barbecue and Toilet, swim, pets, and gorgeous creek photo & art Inspo, no reception.
BOULDER CREEK CAMPSITE to ELLIOTT RIVER (697km 7.41hr)
Camp along river, Esplanade, Coonarr, FREE CAMP 4X4s and tents(we took out off-road caravan dry weather, but it is no longer recommended) pets, no facilities but sensational amount of wildlife(including sandflies) FREE CAMP
ELLIOTT RIVER to CHOWY BRIDGE (110km 1.22hr) Didcot QLD 4621, L onto Chowey Bridge Rd(dirt rd) off Gooroolba Biggenden Rd – Table, creek, heritage bridge
CHOWY BRIDGE to DAYBORO (334km 4hr) scenic route via Nanango & Woodford