Let myself sleep in this morning as I was hoping to have more or a ‘meh’ day. After canoing and mountain biking, I’d had an expensive time of it, and figured I should just hang back and try to enjoy the area. Plus, it was very likely we’d be doing the Night Canoe tonight so that would be the highlight.
However, while sitting in the garden enjoying the quiet that comes with the College hoard checking out and leaving approximately 2 guests at the lodge, Darius the tour guide recommended I go see Allumbah Pocket, a forest walk that let to a local swimming hole. With no other plans, and being acutely aware of how warm it gets in the afternoon, swimming sounded good and headed off.
Allumbah Pocket is a collection of dirt paths mixed with the odd relic from Yungaburra’s history, such as the old boiler and the remnants of the old original bridge (destroyed in a fire or flood) which has since been replaced with a small suspension bridge.
The paths walk alongside Petersen Creek, which eventually rolls into the platypus spotting area – and supposedly its in this part of the river that you spot the majority these days. Follow the path, and about 10-15 minutes later, you come to a grassy clearing that rolls down into a circular pool.
This is Frawley’s Pool, named after a school teacher who taught children how to swim here in the 1950’s. Over the years it become cluttered with debris and polluted, but in 1998, locals began a cleanup operation and returned it to a swimmable state. It’s home to turtles, platypus, birds and a handful of other animals.
Its also freezing, and has quite a steep drop if you wade in, which is a little bit unnerving since you can’t see the floor or what you’re stepping on. Regardless, in the heat of the morning, it was great to dip in and then dry off on the bank.
While trying after my second dip, I found a surprise guest in Chief, along with Darius who was out on a mountain bike since he had the day off. He hung around catching the sun while I swam (and threw the odd stick for Chief who loved the water more than I did) before heading off on the rest of his ride. About half an hour later I packed up too, following his route (and finding the old rail bridge), before backtracking and heading into Yungaburra.
Darius had returned to the hostel by then, and was enjoying the sun along with Judith, the current backpacker employee. While out (and throwing Chief a ball), Darius wanted to play ping pong. Judith (the current lodge champion) wasn’t interested, so I volunteered…and warned him I’d never played before in my life.
Thankfully, Darius was happy enough to teach me if it meant he could play, and after about 10 minutes I was getting better at actually hitting the ball and keeping it in play – still a long way from actually playing a real game, but was at least hitting the ball and keeping it on the table the majority of the time.
In the evening, when that day’s waterfall tour arrived, I decided to head back to Petersen Creek and try my luck at spotting platypus since I’d been told that was the place to go. Walked along the river, hiding in odd spots for about 5 minutes a time trying to spot anything, until I reached the pool again. Stuck around here for about 20 minutes trying to find anything…but no luck. If there are any monotreme’s in this pool, they’re not coming out tonight. By this point it was getting so dark I wouldn’t be able to see them even if they did come out, and still had to get through the forest, so headed back while I still had some daylight.
Word of advice, don’t go into a forest at sunset without a torch or at least company. By the time I was able to see the lights of Yungaburra there was next to no natural light and I was taking tiny steps to keep myself from tripping on the roots and rocks I knew were on the path. The surrounding area was also full of moving bushes and chirping birds – I knew nearly all of the sounds around me would be bush turkeys, but its still kind of eerie when you honestly can’t tell where they’re coming from.
And as a final kick in the teeth, two girls had booked in that evening and gone to the normal platypus spotting area and seen one! Should have just gone there again.
As it turned out, nearly everyone had seen the damn platypus that night but me. I’m already considering going back at sunrise tomorrow if I’m awake in time, but before then, had yet another plate of pasta before joining the entire staff and female guest list (all 3 of us) down to the pub. A very old and impressive building in the town centre – supposedly one of the oldest pubs in Australia. Complete with 100 year old piano’s (which we are NOT allowed to touch), and less archaic jukebox (which we can touch, and did quite often). However, I headed back about 10 since I wanted to get up early (a plan that got a little scuppered when I ended up watching the last 2 episodes of Kamen Rider Gaim before bed).