Monday morning, on the phone, reserving cabins for the upcoming weekend was first on the list last
week as the State Government opened travel within Queensland.
Friday came, the car was packed, and after picking the kids up from school in Cairns, we headed up
the Kuranda range toward a blissful weekend filled with walking, reading, marshmallow toasting and
nights by the fire with friends. Welcome to Granite Gorge Nature Park.
Our family has been travelling to Granite Gorge for ten years. A mere one-hour drive from Port Douglas, it’s a tranquil getaway for the weekend surrounded by nature.
The cabins are a bit of an indulgence, but for $95.00 per night for up to four guests, it’s worth it – especially for our first foray back into travel. Each of the three cabins has a bathroom, a separate bedroom with a queen bed and a living area with a small kitchen and a set of bunks.
Our favourite evening spot is the top of what we call ‘Sunset Rock’, offering incredible, sweeping views of the area toward Mareeba and the mountains. The civility of a cheese plate and a bottle of sparkles adds to the serenity and the chance to watch all manner of birds sweeping in is nothing short of magnificent.
Saturday morning and a belly full of pancakes made by my daughter – yum! Dragging our somewhat relaxed feet, we set off to complete the two-kilometre loop walk which takes you around the entirety of the park. Lots of boulder hopping, and to help us along, the owners had installed rock climbing grips and handrails in the tricky spots.
There are two hero views which are a must while you are walking. Whale rock looks out over the boulders and enjoys the sound of rushing water from the creek. If you are wanting to launch a drone or take the time to capture some stills, keep going to the dinosaur footprints.
Kids will love standing in the prehistoric prints fossilised in the granite, giving you time to capture both the kid’s
moment of discovery and joy, and the incredible view. Watch out for the little things on the walk –in particular, the bright blue and red damselflies, easily seen against the grey granite boulders.
Heading back toward the park reception, you can swing by the weir for a deep-water swim surrounded by very inquisitive turtles before heading to Wallaby Rock to feed these furry little tufts of cuteness. The wallabies are incredibly tame, will eat from your hand (wallaby food is available at reception) and allow you to pet them.
But beware! They can be a little too friendly if they haven’t eaten for a while. Some guests experienced overly affectionate wallaby behaviour, easy to understand given the park had been closed for months. For a more relaxed session, wait until the afternoon.
Kids will also love the unusual and eclectic menagerie of pets on the property. Snakes, lizards, Eclectus parrots, a decidedly delicious-looking turkey, chooks, fluffy guinea pigs, stunning peacocks, ducks and even a pony will keep them entertained with oohs and ahhs for hours.
Another cheese plate.
A dazzling full moon.
Baked potatoes in the fire and a good old-fashioned veranda barbecue followed by another round of sugar on a stick in the form of toasted marshmallows. Satisfied bellies, it was time to take in the company of friends seated around the fire while the kids went possum spotting with the torch, making for a perfect evening and a feeling of pure content and joy at being out and about again.
Granite Gorge Nature Park is approximately one hour from Port Douglas and ten minutes from Mareeba.
The park offers cabin accommodation, safari tents, powered and unpowered sites with excellent amenities, camp kitchen and fire pits, and is puppy friendly (take a blanket for your furry friends –our sausage needed some rugging up!
Cabin kitchens feature a microwave and electric frypan, and a gas barbecue is positioned on the veranda so you can gaze at the sunset charcoaling the meat.
Granite Gorge offers a range of walking trails and swimming holes, all of which are signed and noted on the park map received at check-in.
For those needing a morning coffee hit, check out Coffee Works, Skybury or Jaques, and if you didn’t pack enough food, Dino’s Europa Deli & Café in the main street is packed with so much deliciousness you will gain weight merely looking at it.
IMAGES : Natalie Johnson, Jade Shearer, drone by Dale Priem
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