Lap of Australia - Summary: Big Crystal Creek

For the month of July, Elly and I stayed at Big Crystal Creek camp ground in the Paluma National Park, approximately 70km north of Townsville, and 40km south of Ingham.

The entry road to the camp ground has a wonderful fruit and vegetable farmers stall, owned and operated by Noel and Coral. The fruit and veg was delicious, and they had a fantastic variety of what was in season at the time. When this photo was taken they were quite low on produce, but it was packed full every morning.

I had never tasted (or even seen) one of these. It was colloquially called “five corners” or “star fruit”, and are officially known as a Carambola. They were described as eating like an apple, and while I thought they were a bit more bitter than an apple, I absolutely loved them, and ate at least one, and sometimes two, every day!

The park itself was fantastic. The camping areas were not numbered, so you picked your own spot, but there was plenty of room, and best of all they had fire rings for legally having fires in the National Park. The wildlife was exceptionally active, with bush hens, Kookaburras, and Goannas a regular sight.

We went for a drive up through Little Crystal Creek and to the Paluma Village. There are many great sights along the drive, which is a 20km climb from the base at Big Crystal Creek to the summit at Paluma Village. Paluma is approximately 1,000m above sea level and has a nice lookout and a few fantastic walks.

This was one of the many water features at Little Crystal Creek.

Paluma Village - “walk in the clouds”.

McClelland’s Lookout provides a fantastic view out toward the sea, with Townsville to the south (right) and Ingham to the west (left).

Most people do the Witts Lookout walk, which is an awesome walk itself, but we highly recommend also doing the Cloudy Creek walk. You will be rewarded with an amazing water hole and water fall, with some pretty vivid indications of the quantity of water that must flow through the area in the wet season.

We sure would like to see the water flow through here in the wet season!

The walks take you through gorgeous rainforest and, if you are lucky, the clouds will come over and produce a mystical feeling as the cloud surrounds you and moves through the tree tops.

We took the opportunity to have a closer look at the rainforest features, and got a few macro shots.

The walks are relatively easy, with only a few steep sections at the end of the Cloudy Creek walk.

Nothing is quite so impressive as standing at the base of a massive tree in the middle of a rainforest.

Elly and I enjoyed the “walk in the clouds”.

Back at camp I cut up some fire wood. Big Crystal Creek was the first National Park location that we had camped in that allowed fires. We were looking forward to using our camp oven.

Unfortunately, the product didn’t live up to expectations, and the result of this meal (and every meal that followed) was that the food had a strong metallic taste and made us sick. We had seasoned and prepared the camp oven according to the manufacturer instructions, and we had also subsequently cleaned and re-seasoned it, but it was still defective.

Most disappointingly, the attitude from the manufacturer was appalling, and they simply blamed us for all the problems.

In hindsight, we should have kept our $30 camp oven from Rays Outdoors, rather than spending $400 on a product that is underpinned by such appalling service. We thought Australian made and Australian owned would be worth the extra expense, but it seems not in this case.

On a brighter note, Australian wildlife won’t let you down! This little guy gave us much entertainment as he/she shook the roots to death! I think it was shaking some ants out of the dirt in the roots, but it stood still for just long enough to pose for a photo for us.

Elly and I have both been reading books on our Amazon Kindles. When we first departed we had a bunch of paper books with us, but space (and weight) are important considerations when you’re travelling as we are (i.e. without a trailer or caravan to jam lots of “stuff” into), and we made the decision to buy the Kindles. We sent the good paper books home, and gave the rest to charity.

Elly went away for 1.5 weeks to work, and while she was away I got stuck into finishing the last few fiddly jobs on the Landcruiser. I also found time to go for a couple of rides, and I rode up the mountain to Paluma Village. The scenery was amazing and, while I was enjoying the almost 20km of constant climbing, if I was in more pain it would have been a welcome distraction.

My “workshop” while we were camped at Big Crystal Creek was the edge of a cane field about 10km south of the camp ground. The farmer (Matthew) went past on his quad bike the first day I was there, and I made sure that it was ok with him for me to park the car there. He told me all about the process that he uses for cane farming, including how they use GPS in the tractors to get the rows of cane in the fields parallel with each other.

This is the workshop. Not bad! On this day I was rotating all 6 wheels/tyres. The 2 tyres on the wheel carriers were still brand new, so they went to the back (which gets more wear due to all the weight over the back wheels), and the back tyres went diagonally to the front.

At the end of a hard day working on the car (or on occasion on the website) it was nice for the fields to say goodbye with a sunset.

We can highly recommend Big Crystal Creek for camping if you are in the Townsville / Ingham area. Tents, camper trailers, and caravans are all welcome, and during the week the camp ground is extremely quiet. Saturday nights got a bit busy sometimes, but everyone was well behaved. There are plenty of attractions close by, and the 2 main towns are close enough for supplies.

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Posted on Aug 1, 2013 in Articles & Lap of Australia | Tags: TravelAustraliaLap of Australia