Mackay by Ethan Astall

Out of the wet tropics and back to the glorious waters and weather of the Whitsundays and Midge Point of course. We travelled back down south for a few days for elo’s brothers engagement party.

15knot winds a tad bit of cloud we launched the blue moon out of Shute Harbour in the attempt to bring home some dinner to feed the Studt family and myself (hopefully contradicting the boat name). As the morning clouds rolled around and sprinkled a bit we caught fun sized fish all under the legal limit and chucked them back. In the words of Clifford Stud this combined with no beers is a recipe for a bad time on the water.

NEVER THE LESS we had a cracker morning which then rolled into a glorious chicken parma expierence at the prince of whales hotel in Bowen. A couple of schewies didn’t go a stray with an interesting take on the classic parma were we opted for the bacon and mustard topper which came in at a 7/10.

Spending the last few months up north had eagerly made us hungry for a swim in the ocean which out being eaten alive by crocs. We spent the day indulging in some sun and glorious salt water before getting ready at a servo on the highway for the big engagement party of two legends- Caitlyn and Ado (soon to be) Studt.

Rain Forest Rescue by Ethan Astall

I travelled up to the Daintree the other weekend to meet with some legends that help run an organisation called Rainforest Rescue. They are a not-for-profit organisation that has been protecting and restoring rainforests in Australia and internationally since 1998 by providing opportunities for individuals and businesses to help Protect Rainforests Forever. Their projects re-establish rainforests through planting, maintenance and restoration programs, as well as purchasing and protecting high conservation value rainforest and preserving its biodiversity

I spent the day at their nursery taking some photos for their website and social media platforms as well as giving them a hard to gather some native seed, identify some plants and plant the seeds we found.

Mt Bartle Frere by Ethan Astall

One goal of this never ending road trip is to get to the highest mountain in each state and trekking to the top of Queensland at 1600 m was a bloody good start ( sadly no mangoes, XXXX tins or sugar cane were found at the top as once imagined).

Bartle Frere can be trekked from the coastal side of the cairns region - starting from Josephine falls, or the tablelands side - either way you’re looking at 1.6 km elevation over 7.5km, which in the scheme of mountains isn’t too difficult…although we wouldn’t recommend doing if after nightshift and running on one hour sleep (hats off to Elo) there will be tears involved.

Don’t get us wrong, the trek has some steep inclines, rock/moss hopping, rock climbing and some questionable parts you’ll most likely fall over on. 90% of the trail weaves through ancient rainforest, scattered amongst it you will find Queensland Kauri Pines that only grow at an Altitudinal range of 750-1500 m. From the table lands side and 500 m from the top, there is even a flowing spring of fresh water. Once wed conquered the top it was time to find a place to perch up for the night. Another 200m down the other side we found a, sparse, flat area, filled with little high altitude plants, which opens up and looks down at the surrounding mountains and coastline of what is the bloody sunshine state of Australia!. As one of the best sunsets of our life occurred to the west the eastern sky was full of a pink to blue gradient, somewhat of a painting with the full moon rising amongst it, the wind so cold you would think you were in Victoria. As we tried to get some rest the wind got up and flapped the tent all night resulting in not one wink of sleep, the clouds rolled over and in the morning we couldn’t see 5 Meters in front of us. Packing up a dewy tent and hooking into the walk back down we talked for 4 hours about what our next meal would be and how good it was going to taste after this mission.

Although it’s a good idea to look at the weather before giving this a crack we saw one day of full sun and went for it. This beast of a mountain is said to have only ten days a year of clear skies at the top and in wet season has been questioned to be one of the highest rainfall places in the world with an annual average of 8000mm.

On a road to nowhere (Cooktown) by Ethan Astall

Nestled on the coast just north of the Daintree and south of the tip of Australia lays Cooktown, named after captain cook sunk ship and found solace here when exploring this mighty island..and not a lot has probably changed around the place since his landing, although we did meet a local character with one tooth who told us a story of a local drunk who passed out in a curb drain and drowned in wet season - so there’s a lot of excitement looming about the place.

The real thrill was getting to Cooktown from mossman - you can take the sealed road inland which takes around three hours, or the short cut and well controversial road of the Bloomfield or Creb track which take to some almighty steep inclines, clay mud traps and ultimate corner slide outs and should only be endured if you have a “CREB TRACK 2019” sticker plastered all over your overpriced Ute, like all other 4wd yahoos up here. Locals had told us maybe the van would make it up there, we can confirm there’s not a chance our top heavy two wheel drive would have tackled these gravel mountains without coming to a swift halt, it was time to call in the recruits - Stella and Clifford and the almighty land cruiser (insert canyenero theme song here).

Our first stop was to show mum and dad the almighty blue hole Daintree, living up to all expectations in the name… we moved on, to Wujal Wujal “ so good we named it twice”, this one not so much living up to its name. but the waterfall we found was pretty surreal - just 90 km up the road from the thick rainforest of the Daintree was dry and dusty Wujal Wujal, with a surreal waterfall pouring out of the skies. From here, we headed north setting compass for lions den hotel - a true Aussie watering hole, with signatures on all walls of people passing through to share a frothy one, random memorabilia from the early 1900s and unfortunately a chicken parma no one was proud to say they ate, after inspecting the “donga” style accomodation, we continued on the family escapade and made it to Cooktown for the night - a quick feast at the local rissole over a few yellow cans (as Clifford calls them) and some history hunting of cooktowns finest moments - such as the musical ship made in honour of captain cook, black mountain assumed to be haunted by sacred spirits just outside of the town itself, or perhaps the fountain they installed and found a human skull inside, it’s a cook(ed) town, jokes aside- cooktown has some unreal history - but unfortunately if you’re there on a Sunday you won’t read about it (no literally the museum is closed), none the less the weekend was what some people would call a bloody Stella time!!!

Daintree Village Arvo by Ethan Astall

Beyond Mossman and this side of the river lies the Daintree village, known to not have much apart from your standard eco lodge and Croc burger cafe’. But out on the backroads its an epic little drive amongst the hills with some interesting trees and a couple of dozen cows not happy with us having a sticky beak. Topped off with an epic sunset.

Daintree Waterfall by Ethan Astall

“Find the blue hole, follow the stream about two hours, only taking right turns when the creek forks, swim across a 12m deep creek and you’ll find yourself at the waterfall of the Daintree” - the words of a mysterious woman we passed on our rock hop up the stream, moral of the story is - don’t trust the strange passer by for directions, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

Follow the blue hole up the stream about 3km - keeping tallies on who falls over the most while clambering over the slippery rocks and you’ll be beneath a 100 m drop waterfall with towering canopies of thick rainforest above you, with not another person in sight while realising there’s not only one “blue hole” in the Daintree - there’s a whole creek system of them, all equally as tantalising to get naked in - just as the European backpackers we passed thought.

Millstream, Halls Falls and Lake Tinaroo by Ethan Astall

We’ve both managed to score full time jobs up here in far North Queensland, and have settled down into the grind for the next few months in Mossman - making the mossmoney to fuel the following years of adventures. Which we’re both stoked about!

Theres also worse places in the world to be stuck settled down. From Mossman North Queensland, on days off - you could literally set your direction North, south or west (east if you have a boat…which were investing in an explorer 3000 so watch this space). South of where we are sets compass for the many waterfalls and hikes surround cairns; north, gets you towards Cooktown and cape York (aka bogan fisherman) country, but lately, most of our days off have been east- in the Atherton tablelands.

The Atherton tablelands have endless things to explore, the best weekends out here start at the Mareeba drive in and find us somewhere along the road in a new spot. We started this weekend with the new lion king at the drive in (which in our opinion, should be kept as a cartoon, it’s some weird take on Nat geo they’ve put voice overs too, way less funny then the previous YouTube animal voice over sensations that scream ALLEN) and continued on through to mill stream falls outside Ravenshoe (apparently the widest single drop falls in Aus). Disappointingly though very tricky to actually get down to the water for a dip, but we managed to get somewhat near the bottom. So we jumped on wiki camps (the almighty saviour) and found ourselves down a dirt road heading to halls falls - an unreal three tier drop fall with an ice cold swimming hole in the middle, a true cure for my mid winter flu blues.

The most surprising thing about the whole travels is the absolute love we’ve found for the oldest and quirkiest towns, whether it’s the old pubs and the strange characters within wearing the first Akubras every made, the local history including the stories that are entirely made up or the community feel and vibe of people that actually say GDAY as you walk down the street, these towns are the real Australian icons. We managed to find the oldest town out in the tablelands called Herberton. This place was originally founded for mining tin ore and became the richest tin mining field in Australia. Boasting 17 dusty miner filled pubs back in its hay day, this would of been the place to live, earn a buck and have a drop during the early 19th century. Today, the town has a historic village, a pub, an op shop and a collectors store and had a magic early 1900s feel to it.

We topped the weekend off with the last nights camp at lake Tinaroo, this place boasts unreal camp sites on the edge of a beautiful lake, in thick pine forest surrounded by mountains.

But to save the best for last, was a strange bird aviary site we found on wiki camps, if you’re in the area do yourself a favour and go to Lilly’s aviary (Lilly is a macaw that lives there, so this goes to show what you’re in for), down a dirt drive way. Through the front gate that you mustn’t enter until you’ve read the sign on the door that basically says if you get attacked it’s your own fault, lives a couple who have interbred every bird under the Australian sun to create many mutated species of lorikeet and various other exotic birds. Once sold to makes ends meat they have now opened there home to tourists to make a quick buck. These people have built an entire walk in aviary INSIDE their house, with macaws, parrots of every kind, Australian native birds including the best of all the GANG GANG Cockatoo (if you haven’t seen one, YouTube it these birds have the most character of any living animal and are the greatest). The couple will also wrangle you into holding their Pythons, looking at their fish and playing with their many dogs their also breeding, the weird experiences, are the best ones.

Fitzroy Island by Ethan Astall

Do you want to escape the tourist themed junk stores and strange “full troppo” fever atmosphere that engulfs cairns city?

Just a short 30km swim or crocodile ride from the centre of the bustling city of Cairns, sits Fitzroy island national park, a central island resort surrounded by rainforest and fringing reef (and also too many tourists still).

The idea of staying in a (maybe) 3 star resort surrounded by international staff wasn’t really the draw card for us, the best part about the place is the camp grounds offered just a short stroll away - for $37 you can have yourself a grassy shaded spot 20m stroll away from the water with bbqs and showers (Ice cold). It was more our $10 Kmart tent style, who needs aircon when you’ve still got air holes in your tent from the great nibbling mice of Hinchinbrook island.

Much to our surprise, the fringing reef surrounding the island has crystal clear waters with some pretty epic coral bommies that are home to some happy little reef fish and huge green sea turtles who are more then happy to float about and have a sticky beak at you blowing bubbles gasping for more sea time.

The main hike of the island and real only small challenge is the summit walk, which treks through rainforest and scrubland to the highest peak of 290m elevation and puts on a pretty bloody good sunrise, pack ya bread and butter and treat yourself to a continental brekky up top as the colours of the sky light up another fab winters day in the tropical north.

Bahana Gorge by Ethan Astall

Just south of Walsh’s pyramid off the highway on the way to cairns lies another swimming hole a little different to how it’s perceived on Instagram.

The start of the trail is the car park for a small water treatment plant, over the swing gates you’ll follow a massive pipe along a 3km paved driveway. Your legs won’t exactly be stoked about it either with long relentless hills and descents. Once at the end you’ll peel off the concrete and down the embankment, before you is an array of small and large swimming holes. She was flowing pretty hectic so we had a quick dip in the corner of one and walked back to the car dripping wet.

Windin falls by Ethan Astall

Two hours drive SW of cairns will find you in the Wooroonooran national park which can be accessed from the table lands or the eastern side off the highway. To get to Windin falls you need to venture in from the table lands otherwise you’ll be stuck driving around in circles on the wrong side of the national park.


The drive in gets a bit bumpy and severely muddy towards the end, on the way in we passed a little Mazda and the people inside obviously weren’t Adventurous enough and had pulled the pin on finding this place. 5 minutes further down the road we saw why but we just parked the car off the to the side of the road and walked to the start of the trail. 


The walking track was once an old four wheel drivers novelty that connected the table lands to cairns. Massive ruts and wash outs filled with water pave the way along this 8km return trail. Some of the spots it’s hard to believe that keen fourbie drivers once tackled these. Cheers but I’d rather not wreck my car. Near the end you will see a simple little map screwed to a tree explainbig the turn off to the infinity pool and top of the water fall. Follow this down for about 10 minutes and HAZZAR you’ve found it. 

MT HYPIPAMEE CRATER by Ethan Astall

Mount hyp-hyp-hyp-hooray, hypipamee - the drive out here through the table lands is rather far but the walk to the crater itself from the car park isn’t strenuous in anyway - but the view and the story behind this thing is pretty bloody crate..

Mount hypipamee crater; NQ, 61m to the surface from the top and a further 85m deep below the surface - the result of a volcanic molten rock explosion a few years back, some gold diggers stumbled upon this place when they almost fell in - seems they were destined for bigger and crater things.

They say the chances of finding the elusive cassowary or tree kangaroo out here are pretty high too, despite continuous tree kangaroo hunting without sighting, we were lucky enough to catch this cassowary who seems to have stuck around on the hunt for his shoes.

Chillago Caves by Ethan Astall

After setting up in Mossman for two weeks and having checked out a few of the local water holes already, we decided it was time to see what was over the horizon of the surrounding mountains for the weekend. Just a short two and a half hours drive away from cairns, lies a bit of a “hole of a town”…with a rather rocky past - chillagoe, North Queensland, and more specifically - chillagoe caves.

The Chillagoe landscape began to form 400 million years ago, when the area was covered by a shallow sea. Today that limestone towers over the surrounding plains as outcrops while underground, caves and caverns created by dissolving of the limestone are decorated by stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones.

We trekked it out here to check out a hike we’d heard of the “royal arch bluff”, given the name we were picturing a bluff walk along the edge of a cliff (can you blame us?), or at least a little something more spectacular then a 9 km return walk through FLAT, THICK, SCRUBLAND - after finishing night shift that morning I easily could have slept through this walk, but none the less we found the royal arch cave at the end (which you have to pay some hard rock price for per person for a tour), so we decided to walk on top of it - which was pretty unreal to picture this flat, desalted ground as a once was land sea with living, swimming, bubbling animals about, now thick tessalted lime stone rock formations.

Walsh's Pyramid by Ethan Astall

20kms south of cairns youl see this HUGE pyramid sticking out of the earth! yes thats it. over 6.3km you gain 900m of elevation and holy dooly your legs hate you for it. The track has very little shade as well and on the rock faces during a sunny day youl feel like your a little egg being fried by mother nature. amazing views at the top we were even joined by a few little birds.

Hartleys Croc Adventures by Ethan Astall

Holy Heck hold on to your crocs were going to Hartleys. At this place youv got many options, from choofing around a lagoon on a boat watching crocs get fed, reptile shows, walk in bird aviaries and other zoo like activities such as trying things on in the gift shop.

Daintree Rainforest, The Blue Hole by Ethan Astall

Probably the best hidden gem that you can access in the Daintree without going off a walking trail or through someones property. The Blue hole is a quiet corner of a creek surrounded by tall palms and rainforest, it even has a well positioned log you can jump off.

Cow Bay by Ethan Astall

Sadly no cows to be seen at cow bay although a local wide eyed yahoo in a jacked up four wheel drive intercepted us on the way in asking if wed like to buy some weed. Holding in a few urges of laughter we kindly didn’t take up his offer and found this amazingly fun swing instead.

Daintree Coast by Ethan Astall

Head back south along the coast road we did a few rainforest board walks with sadly no tree kangaroos in sight :(. Giant fan palms block the sun as the board walks take you over fresh water creeks lined with mangroves, an unreal peak into a very rare eco system where alot of animals and plants co-exist.