About an hour’s drive west of the town of MacKay, we visited the Eungella National Park. The proper pronunciation is YAN-gah-lah. It is one of Queensland’s most ecologically diverse parks, with 860 plant species and much wildlife, in a sub-tropical rain forest. We followed several of the 22 kilometers of bush walking tracks, going first to the Platypus viewing deck. Dawn and dusk are the best viewing times, but Dorothy caught a quick glimpse of one mid-morning.
One of the trees was called a “Red Cedar”, and its wood and bark looked just like the Red Cedar in North America, but it is a Southern Hemisphere deciduous tree. We heard a great deal of beautiful bird song, but only saw an Australian Brush-turkey and a brilliantly irredescent blue and green Noisy Pitta. The Australian Brush-Turkey was in full breeding plumage, fan tail and all, with a bright yellow wattle below its red neck and head. Native palms and ferns formed most of the forest understory. It was lovely.
However, we were frequently reminded that we are still in Australia where flora and fauna are out to get you. The Moreton Bay Fig tree is also known as the Strangler Fig, because it often begins life growing on the trunk of another tree which is eventually enmeshed with aerial roots and killed. The host tree dies and leaves a hollow lattice through which you can see light. An aggressive vine reached across the trail and grabbed our clothing with its spines. Unbeknownst to us, the local leeches drop onto you from the trees. Dorothy discovered blood on her leg, coming through her pants, where a leech had been sucking her blood and had dropped off after it had had its full. She found a second leech just getting started, and could feel it gnawing on her skin. Uggggh!
All was made right when we discovered Susanne Dedner’s Hideaway Cafe. Dorothy was able to clean up a bit, and we enjoyed delicious mochas on the sunny deck with lovely views. Susanne invited us to tour her Magical Garden, which is open only by invitation. Classical music serenaded us as we walked among lovely palms and ferns among which jeweled sculptures had been created. The photos will show you the best of it. We were quite amazed by the display, and the effort it had taken Susanne to create the garden.