With the easing of coronavirus restrictions this long weekend, it was time to de-screen and get back to the reason so many of us live in the Douglas Shire – nature.
Wanting to take advantage of as many eased restrictions as possible, plans were devised for a picnic and friendly game of bocce on Oak Beach Saturday, and a hike to Mowbray Falls Sunday.
Both days, it appeared, we were not alone in our thinking!
The beauty of Oak Beach never disappoints, even on a windy day. The feeling of wandering barefoot over the sand, picking a picnic spot under a tree, gazing out over the waves and breathing in the clean air of the Far North was not lost on any of us after having the freedom to do so taken away from us for a spell. It felt incredible to not just be outside exercising, but outside truly enjoying the warmth, peace, and tranquillity of our home, taking the time to stop, sit, and take it all in over a picnic and serious drumming by the kids in bocce.
Whilst there are many beaches in the world, many rainforests, many freshwater creeks, and many oceans, only here in the Douglas Shire do two World Heritage places uniquely rendezvous – the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. The importance of this uniqueness was rapidly magnified having been in lockdown for so long, and I remembered just how lucky we were to be the custodians of this special Shire.
On Sunday, having become overly acquainted with the four walls of our home, the teenagers were also keen to get a hike in, stretch their legs, and smell the forest.
Feeling slightly unfit from weeks of devouring home-baked goods, it was determined we would begin our mission from the top of the Bump Track on Black Mountain Road, then take the side track to Mowbray Falls. Traditionally, only a pink tape marker has advertised the track turn off the main Bump Track, so we were pleasantly amused when we came across a sizeable arrow pointing the way. It seems others had been there before us.
We were correct – the track was the busiest we had ever seen. Families with young children, families with teenagers, couples, and friend pairs jumping on the opportunity to use their government-issued leave pass and explore their backyard. It was an incredibly heartwarming moment each time we came across another group of hikers smiling broadly with freedom. This was what living where we do was all about. Getting out and exploring our environment, taking a moment to truly look around us and appreciate how lucky we are to have this paradise just shy of our front doors.
Trekking through the forest, watching the vegetation change, vaulting over, and shimmying under fallen trees, scaling the downward path to the river with the assistance of hanging vines Jungle Jane style, is all worth it once you reach the precipice of the falls. Each of us had something different we wanted out of this place, with one submerging in the crystal clear water of a private pool, some taking a moment to gaze out over the wonder of the Mowbray Valley and others wandering back up the river bed to take in the solitude.
It was a weekend in the natural world recharging our souls we had all so desperately needed.
Did you know?
The Kuku Yalanji words for:
Jalun – the sea
Jukarr – beach/sand
Madja – rainforest
Wawu – baja – big river
Mowbray Falls is a 12.6 km return walk from the bottom of the Bump Track, or 4.6 km return walk from the top of the Bump Track on Black Mountain Road. The walk is considered moderate and walkers will need to take water, sunscreen, appropriate hiking shoes, snacks, insect repellent, and a camera to capture the beauty!