Inland from Mackay, high above the surrounding plains, a mist-shrouded mountain refuge is home to a diversity of wildlife … and quite a few happy campers!
Spend a few peaceful days camping in Eungella National Park with your children—and the grandparents too—and you'll come face-to-face with some unusual and intriguing wildlife.
At just a little over an hour’s drive from Mackay, you don’t have to travel too far to find this camping haven. You’ll want a few days to explore some of the many walks, and, if you’re new to camping, the tranquillity of Fern Flat camping area will turn you into a ‘camping convert’!
Here’s our suggestions for making the most of your Eungella camping trip.
Sleep in the rainforest
Fern Flat camping area | © Tourism Events Queensland
Fern Flat camping area, in shady rainforest beside the river, is only 5km past Eungella township. You’ve arrived and the kids are sooo excited! Excellent—let them help choose the best spots for the tents and then have them scout around—they’ll soon figure out the shortest route to the toilets, find the best place for a game of catch with the ball, and map out a bee-line to the kiosk!
To make camp life stress-free, we’ve provided a hybrid toilet and water on tap (treat before drinking) in the camping area, and, in the nearby Broken River day-use area, you’ll find more (flush) toilets, picnic tables and gas barbecues, as well as an information centre (the kids have already found the kiosk!).
If you plan to have a camp fire, BYO clean-milled firewood (purchase from hardware stores or service stations) and make use of the fire rings provided. A camp fire is the perfect way to end a fun-filled day—do you know a kid who doesn’t love toasted marshmallows?
Remember to bring bags to take out your rubbish, insect repellent and some warm clothes—the air can get cool in these misty mountains, particularly in the winter months!
Eungella is a popular spot so plan your trip for quieter times such as mid-week. If you do plan to visit during the holidays, make sure you book early.
Walk and wonder
Sky Window lookout | © Tamara Vallance
One advantage of camping is that your day begins early and you won’t waste time getting to where you want to be, because you’re already there! That gives you all the more time to wonder at, and enjoy, the nature that surrounds you!
And the best way to do this is to explore some of the park’s many walking tracks.
- Become rainforest explorers, as you wander through cool shady rainforest and cross trickling creeks on the 780m Rainforest Discovery circuit.
- Feel on top of the world, when you stroll to a lookout for expansive views across Pioneer Valley on the 250m Sky Window circuit.
- Walk through tall groves of livistona palms, then become bush detectives and investigate why and how the river is ‘broken’ as you watch water gushing over the rocks at a bend in Broken River, on the 1.6km Granite Bend circuit.
Watch for wildlife
Platypus, Broken River | © Tourism Events Queensland
Everywhere they look, from tall trees to seasonal creeks, in hollow logs and among leaf litter, the kids will find diverse wildlife. Camping at Eungella is a great opportunity to play ‘wildlife bingo’!
The highlight of your trip will be finding a platypus! Eungella is one of the few places where you can see these elusive, oddly-cute animals with their duck-like bills, webbed feet and sleek fur coats. Stroll onto the platforms at Broken River and see who will be first to spot platypus, along with perch, eels and saw-shelled turtles.
Hints for spotting platypus ‘like a local’:
- go just after sunrise or just before sunset (easy if you’re camping here!)
- wait quietly and patiently on the viewing platform
- look for air bubbles rising to the surface to create ripples on the water—this could mean the platypus is burrowing through the mud, searching for food on the river bottom below
- keep watching near the bubbles because the platypus will soon come to the water’s surface to breathe and chew its food
- don’t look away because when a platypus surfaces, it is likely to dive again after only a few seconds!
Spotlight at night
Possum in the spotlight | Maxime Coquard © Tourism Events Queensland
Camping is exciting enough for kids but night spotlighting takes the ‘enjoyment factor’ to another level! Eungella is alive with nocturnal wildlife, so spotlighting, even with simple torches (no fancy spotlights required) can be very rewarding!
Pro tip: Remember to cover your torch beams with red cellophane to protect animals’ eyes.
Walk very quietly and shine your torches high into the tree branches. Look for the bright red eye shine of animals hiding in the branches or listen for the rustling of leaves. You may be lucky and spot greater gliders, tawny frogmouths, common ringtail possums and brushtail possums.
The kids’ excitement will be catching and you’ll find yourselves scanning the canopy with as much enthusiasm as they do! And nothing beats a sharp-eyed kid with a torch in the bush at night spotting for wildlife!
Also use your ears. Can the kids hear the metallic ‘tinks’ of the secretive Eungella tinkerfrogs calling from rocky creek margins? Eungella's forests provide a refuge for several kinds of unusual frogs including species that are endangered.
Like the sound of this?
Broken River day-use area | © Tamara Vallance
At Eungella you can spend a relaxing few days camping with the family and enjoying very special wildlife experiences. Especially suitable for first-timers, camping here is made even easier with help from the volunteer-run information centre (and don’t forget the kiosk!) in the Broken River day-use area. Eungella is simply a 'must do' for the family brag book!