South to Townsville
From Bingil Bay our journey takes us south and inland into the Paluma Range Nation Park, where we set up our camp at Big Crystal Creek. We need a change of scenery after too much time in the sun and to get away from the sand. The Australian bush surrounds are stunning and peaceful and the swimming hole is only a 2 minute walk from our spot. Up the road a little further we hear about some natural rock slides which sounds like fun. The huge slippery smooth rock formations have a shallow flow of water rolling over them and it creates the perfect conditions to hop on your bum and go for a slippery slide. River is so excited when he realises what we are going to do. Reece took River first and after only two times he was doing the loops himself, climbing up the dry rocks and then sliding down into the pool below. Olive wants to copy everything her big brother does and this entire time she was struggling to get loose from my arms wanting to have a go. I'm sure other mother can relate when I say that my motherly instincts kicked into panic mode when Reece took Olive for a turn. Thank goodness Reece is calm and reassuring that he's got her. I trust him whole heartily but I just can't control my fear. For others visiting I truly think these slide are for four year olds and above or in the tight arms of a parent.
"You hold onto her with your bloody life Reece!!!" I pretty much demanded, but Olive goes down on Daddy's lap and she loves it. And she wants to go again...and again. .and again. Daddy will sleep well tonight and sorry from crazy Mum.
We also visit Little Crystal Creek where the swimming hole is underneath a beautiful arched bridge. We took an amazing drive through the oldest looking forest we have seen in a long time that the rainforest is slowly strangling and taking over. This is yet another top spot and for two or three nights I wouldn't miss the opportunity to see it. Such a great break from the coast.
My sister in Law, whose name is also Alicia and her husband Jake and their three children Phoebe, Samuel and Marcus are doing a 4WD adventure trip of parts of Australia at the same time that we are travelling. Over the last three years it's been few and far between that we have had opportunities to see them because prior to this adventure they were living in Thailand. So now that we are both families on the road we must catch up. About 25kms north of Townsville is Saunders Beach and we get in early to this free camping spot and secure a corner area big enough for both families. It's emotional when they arrive because we are just so happy and grateful we are able to have this time all together. We set up our two camps facing inwards towards each other making a big space for the kids to play and to enjoy family dinners all together. Alicia and Jake have a great set up with all the bells and whistles and we are so happy for them that they are travelling and exploring.
Some hits for the kids were Jakes massaman curry, movies in our van, the Strand Water Park and just being able to
play in the ocean and sand at the beach. It was Reece's birthday and we all had cake to celebrate but one person we were all missing was Reece's twin brother Daniel. It's just not a proper birthday for Reece without his brother. We miss you Dan.
Unfortunately at Saunders Beach there were sandflies - AGAIN - and although we tried to combat it we all got eaten alive - AGAIN! Sandflies are honestly the most awful creatures. We wanted to stay in
Townsville a little longer and on one visit to the grocery store Reece notices a Big 4 caravan park with two big slippery slides into a pool and a big water splash area. Stuff the cost and we check in with Alicia and Jakes and have a bit of fun with the kids.
Together we all took a day trip to Magnetic Island. For anyone wanting advice for travelling to this island I would say, take your car! We decided to go without our cars and use the public bus service which restricted us in what we could really do and see. In the end though we had a lovely time and visited two beautiful bays and had a great lunch. I'd love to go back.
Alicia, Jake and kids were now preparing to head north up the cape and we were wanting to continue south and so it was sadly time to say goodbye. We love you all. HAPPY SAFE ADVENTURES!