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Sweet ways to see the Burdekin

Sweet ways to see the Burdekin

03 March 2022

There’s nothing sweeter than a family road trip, that is of course unless you’re heading the sweetest region…right next door! The Burdekin is the sugar cane capital of Australia, but there’s more to this thriving rural community beside the Great Barrier Reef than meets the eye. Officially the sugar cane capital of Australia, the Burdekin is a short drive south of Townsville and makes for the perfect weekend getaway. And while agriculture is one of the more well-known features of this charming location – connected by the Silver Link (the Burdekin Bridge), the region boasts a range of attractions and activities for all ages to discover. From pristine beaches, world-class fishing, unique cultural attractions to boutique shopping, there really is something for everyone. Fishing mecca If you’re an eager angler, then the bountiful Burdekin is second to none with numerous creek systems, offshore reefs, pontoon, beach and river fishing. The entire region is well known for its crabbing, and accessible to anglers with and without boat access. A local favourite is Groper Creek located towards the mouth of the Burdekin River about 15 kilometres from Home Hill. Get all the latest details in the latest Fishing Guide – pick yours up from the local Visitor Information Centres. World-class shipwreck diving Did you know the Burdekin is home to one of the world’s best diving experiences? Divers from across the globe have the Burdekin on their bucket list as it’s home to the SS Yongala. Renowned for being home to mega marine life, you’re likely to encounter giant gropers, giant marble rays and giant trevally. Yongala Dive, operating out of Alva, offer dive and snorkelling trips to the Museum of Underwater Art, Stanley Reef and the infamous S.S Yongala Wreck. The history and marine life of the Yongala Wreck will have you in awe and quick to understand why it is listed as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. Plantation Park On the way out of Ayr is Plantation Park, a brand-new nature-based play area with all abilities swings, a fortress-themed lookout, and rock and rope climbs. While the kids are burning off all that energy grab a coffee at Gudjuda Deck Café, and sample one of the many tasty sweets. Once you've finished that coffee head off to find the Juru Walk, marvel at the Gubulla Munda monument, which is a walking trail that showcases the cultural importance of Plantation Park to local traditional owners and provides a learning space for the community. Before you leave pop into the Visitor Information Centre and grab a copy of the Burdekin Art Trail Map - you will need it for later in the day. PARK RUN: While you’re here, get active and follow the well-worn paths of the local Park Run! Saturday morning events are 5k and take place in parks and open spaces. On Sunday mornings, there are 2k junior parkruns for children aged four to 14. World’s largest achacha plantation The Burdekin is home to some incredible and diverse fresh produce including the unique achacha fruit! The Achacha Plantation, located near Palm Creek in the Burdekin, is the world’s first and largest plantation whilst also being certified organic and using regenerative agriculture practices. You can visit the stunning 123-hectare property which boasts 16,000 trees and other gems including horses, beehives, chickens and an array of other fruit trees. Property owners offer farm tours where you can see the plantation for yourself and learn about the history of the Achacha and their organic farming methods. Take in a local view Whether you are an early bird or a night owl you need to head to Mt Inkerman for either a sunrise or sunset. This newly updated lookout provides 360-degree views over the Burdekin region and is the perfect spot for a picnic breakfast or nibbles. If you are lucky enough you might even see the local paragliding club using the hill as a launching pad - jealously is an understatement. While there why not spend a little extra time and do the Mount Inkerman Nature Trail - a 30-to-45-minute return walk that explores some of the region’s native bushland. If hiking isn’t your thing, then take in another local view – a plate of delightful produce. There is one thing in the Burdekin that we know you will all love and that's the FOOD! For a small region they sure know how to punch above their weight with local produce featured in nearly every cafe, restaurant and pub throughout the towns. Some of our favourites include Del Santos Deli, Q Street Grill and Claredale Pastures. Don't forget to grab a few extra things for the trip home!

How to see world-class nature in one place

How to see world-class nature in one place

01 March 2022

As the world begins to open up, and a future post the pandemic glimmers on the horizon, holidaymakers have begun to plan their next adventure to faraway lands, and exotic destinations. And while this has been a long-awaited day for many, the avid traveller will soon realise (if they haven’t already) that bucket-list experiences are already here…in Townsville North Queensland. Renowned for its world-class natural beauty, with rugged island gems awash in waterfall wonders - including Australia’s tallest, Wallaman Falls – expansive coastal beachfronts perfect for an afternoon’s fishing in what is arguably one of the nation’s best sports fishing locations, to some of the world’s oldest continually living rainforests in the UNESCO Wet Tropics regions – this Little Italy of the Hinchinbrook region really has it all. Australia’s tallest waterfall When it comes to epic waterfalls, Wallaman Falls in Girringun National Park is hard to rival. The highest permanent single drop waterfall in Australia, this mighty cascade is more than five times taller than the world-famous Niagara Falls in North America, standing a staggering 268m and runs all year round. Located 52 kilometres west of Ingham and nestled in some of the oldest rainforest on Earth, explore the reaches of this natural gem, which is also home to many endangered flora and fauna including the jurassic cassowary, on one of the many tracks and trails. The Djyinda walk, a 3.2km return trek to the bottom of the falls, is where you can fully appreciate the thunderous magnitude of this incredible force of nature. Top tip: Pick up a picnic hamper from the local JKs Delicatessen for gourmet Italian fare and enjoy at one of the many picnic tables overlooking this Aussie icon. Largest island national park Just a short boat ride through the Hinchinbrook Channel, you will discover the Jurassic beauty of Hinchinbrook Island. Protected since 1932, Hinchinbrook is one of Australia's largest island national parks (39,900 hectares) and only allows 40 visitors at any one time, so you’re very likely to wander its wild beaches and leave only your footprints. The island is also renowned for its natural infinity pool atop the picturesque Zoe Falls – well worth the hike to the stunning views of the island, and a great place to cool off. If trails are your thing, then tackle the world-famous multi-day hike – Thorsborne Trail, which takes in climbs of Queensland’s 3rd highest mountain – Mount Bowen. The island’s cloud-covered mountains support fragile heath vegetation, which often reveal even more magical waterfall oases – including Zoe Falls and Mulligan Falls. You can make your own way, or opt for a local tour guide. New tours available with Wild Hinchinbrook, departing Lucinda. Secluded forests for biking adventures From coastal escapes to cool forests, inhale the scent of pine in the Abergowrie State Forest. Choose from short walks, swimming, birdwatching, or just relax and enjoy the peace and tranquillity that the forest has to offer. But if you’re in line for fast-paced adventure, then pump up those tyres and put the pedal down, with wilderness mountain biking trails meandering through the forests catering to all fitness types. From kid-friendly dirt tracks to the more adventurous water-crossing off-road trails, throw caution to the wind and indulge your sense of adventure with this action-packed activity. Don't forget to take in the scenery as you whirl by - this truly is nature's playground. Rare birdlife A somewhat hidden gem, and right off the Bruce Highway, is the unique 90-hectare natural wetlands of TYTO. Home to over 245 species of birds, native Australian wildlife and numerous tropical plant species, take a leisurely stroll along the four kilometres of walkways and stop along the way to enjoy the lookouts and viewing platforms. TYTO Wetlands is located just 500 metres from the township of Ingham and situated just a few hundred metres off the Bruce Highway down Cooper Street; TYTO Wetlands is a carefully preserved natural environment that integrates lagoons, walking tracks and native flora. The area is named after the endangered Eastern Grass Owl (TYTO Longimembris) TYTO meaning monkey faced owl that can be found in the Hinchinbrook Shire, one of the few places in the world where this owl can be spotted regularly. These owls can be seen leaving their grassy habitat just on dusk. The TYTO Precinct also features an interactive and informative Visitor Information Centre, Regional Art Gallery, Parklands, Conference Centre and Library. Top tip: While you’re here, get active and follow the well-worn paths of the local Park Run! Saturday morning events are 5k and take place in parks and open spaces. On Sunday mornings, there are 2k junior Park Runs for children aged four to 14 years. Sports fishing mecca The Hinchinbrook region is renowned for its incredible fishing! With several charter companies providing the ultimate on the water fishing adventures, you’re just about guaranteed to reel in a whopper! If you’ve got your own boat, or you just want to stay as close to the water as possible, try one of the many beachfront communities found in this part of the world – Forrest Beach, Lucinda, Taylors Beach to name a few. Perhaps you might like to try something a little more adventurous? Jump on a heli-fishing tour with the crew from Hinchinbrook Adventures and discover some of the most exclusive (and best) fishing locations this little part of paradise has to offer. If luxury is your middle name – then sail the seas to nearby Orpheus Island (or any of the 16 untouched isles of the Palm Island Group), where the surrounding reefs are some of the most spectacular. Don the snorkel and fins, and swim with the fishes to get a truly immersive experience on the Great Barrier Reef. While the island lodge is exclusive to guests, Yanks Jetty is public access and your gateway to over 1000 different vibrant and colourful marine species which enriches the value of Orpheus Island, making it a paradise for nature lovers and campers. Being a small island gives you a great opportunity for walking and hiking, as you trek your way through stunning eucalypt forests with the ever-present backdrop of spectacular horizons. Extend your stay and camp on an island paradise – but bookings are essential. For more road trips and ways to Explore Next Door, download your perfect itinerary HERE. 

How to see baby turtles in Townsville North Queensland

How to see baby turtles in Townsville North Queensland

10 February 2022

 Magnetic Island is the perfecting launching pad with local beaches seeing off our little flippered friends as they prepare to take on the big blue! Magnetic Island’s Turtles Nesting season typically starts in early October and carries on through until February each year, with the eggs generally taking between 45-55 days to incubate before the little hatchlings are ready to leave the nest and make the journey to the East Australia current, which runs along the coast of Townsville North Queensland! Our two nesting species on Magnetic Island are the Flat Back turtles, and the Green Sea Turtles (both Australian Endemics). Green turtles are the most regularly seen around the island but are not as frequent nesters as our resident flat back turtles. A female green sea turtle will lay an average of 90-100 eggs per clutch (nest) in comparison to our flat backs which only lay an average of 40-50 eggs. In about 30 years’ time or when sexual maturity is reached, these little hatchlings will make their way back to the shore to lay their own eggs. Nests can be tricky to identify and there is a bit of detective work involved in finding them! If the turtle tracks leading up the beach are clear it can be an easy job. However with time, the quality of the tracks degrade and can become harder for the untrained eye to see. Nests can also be very easily disturbed by people, dogs, cars and lights, which is why it’s important to always check for recent turtle nesting signs [pictured] put in place by the Magnetic Island Network for Turtles (MINT) or the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.   About MINT Magnetic Island Network for Turtles (MINT) and the local turtle hospital was founded to help respond to strandings and rehabilitate sick and injured turtles. MINT is driven by a small group of dedicated volunteers from the island who engage the wider community to help sea turtle conservation through awareness, rehabilitation and education. In 2021 MINT successfully rehabilitated 5 turtles, one of which still resides around the island frequently visiting divers and snorkellers alike! This turtle season (2021-2022) has been the biggest in 15 years of monitoring! With 30-50 recorded nests on Magnetic Island alone, it’s given MINT the opportunity to monitor and collect beneficial data for future turtle seasons! Working in partnership with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, MINT has been able to exhume the nests after the turtles have hatched and record success and failure rates by conducting post hatch surveys, where often there will be a few little hatchlings stuck in the bottom of the nest, and with the volunteer’s assistance will be guided to the sea, ready to take on the big blue! Just as we feel the sting of hot summer sand on our feet, so do little flippers! This season, MINT volunteers created shaded shelters to cover the top of the known nests from the summer rays to improve the survival rates of hatchlings.   Want to help? Here’s how: You can play a huge role in the protection and conservation of sea turtles! If you are on Magnetic Island and are lucky enough to witness any turtle nesting or hatching activity, make sure you contact MINT so that the volunteers can check on the nests. The free ‘Eye on the reef’ app - a monitoring and assessment programme run by The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) - is also a great way for to assist with your own citizen science activity to report turtle and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park activity and log a digital marker of where you have seen the nest or hatching occur. For more information, and to donate to MINT* to support Magnetic Island turtles, CLICK HERE *All money raised will buy medical supplies and food for the local turtle hospital.

Through the lens - Townsville North Queensland in the eyes of a content creator

Through the lens - Townsville North Queensland in the eyes of a content creator

19 January 2022

Instagrammer and content creator, Mark Fitz's guide to three of his favourite spots around the region! By Mark Fitz With such a diverse range of locations, awesome experiences, and mesmerising marine life and wildlife, Townsville North Queensland has everything a photographer is looking for! I’ve put together three of my favourite Instagrammable spots that are a must when you are next in Townsville North Queensland. Magnetic Island  Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville, is beautiful Magnetic Island. I’d recommend hiring a car to make the most of your time here, so you can fit in as many photographic opportunities as possible. If you’re into underwater photography, a day trip with Aquascene Charters has to be on your list! Adam and Steph have lived on the island for over 35 years and know all the best snorkelling spots to suit the day’s conditions. Depending on the day, you might get the chance to snap a selfie with Shelly the Green Sea Turtle, hang out with Big Beautiful Barrier Reef Barry the Estuary Cod, swim with the batfish, or if you’re there during the winter months you could even get the opportunity to photograph the humpback whales that cruise around the island during their annual migration from Antarctica. When it comes to wildlife to photograph on land, there’s a couple of popular options. If you’re on the island from November to March and you love turtles, then you’re in luck as it’s turtle nesting and hatching season. The most common turtles to nest here are the flatback turtles, but you may spot some green sea turtles too. The rock wallabies at Geoffrey Bay are also a favourite and can be found here at any time of day. The best place to see them is at the end of Armand Way, amongst the huge boulders overlooking the water. The Forts Walk is another great option and not only provides incredible 360 degree views that are amazing for landscape photos but it’s also where you’ll be able to spot and photograph the famous Magnetic Island koalas in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes peeled on the walk as they’re often quite low in the trees and close to the walking track. When it comes to sunset photography opportunities, you’re spoilt for choice. Hawkings Point Lookout has amazing views over Picnic Bay, this lookout needs to be on your list. If you have a 4wd then West Point is a must. Horseshoe Bay is always a good option too and for a really unique perspective, jump on the Aquascene Charters Sunset and Shipwreck tour that takes you out to the wreck of the S.S City Of Adelaide. Museum of Underwater Art Underwater photographers will be in absolute heaven here at the Museum of Underwater Art. Located at John Brewer Reef, the Coral Greenhouse underwater sculpture is a 158 tonne stainless steel greenhouse with several reef guardian sculptures of marine science students both inside and outside the structure. It was installed in 2019 and opened to the public in 2020 and marine life is already starting to call the greenhouse home, with coral attaching itself all around the structure and sculptures. Just next door to the greenhouse, is some of the best coral gardens I’ve ever seen as well. Huge plate corals and schools of fish await you here and it’s easy to spend hours snorkelling and snapping thousands of pics. Wallaman Falls The highest single drop waterfall in Australia is an iconic part of the Townsville region. Wallaman Falls is a popular and very Instagrammable attraction. Most visitors to the waterfall try to get there as early as possible in the day to do the walk during cooler hours of the morning, however, my favourite time to visit the falls is in the late afternoon. The afternoon sun sets just behind the falls, and the viewing platform overlooking it is in the ultimate spot to capture the sunset and the waterfall in a single shot. This is great as you don’t need to do the walk down to the base of the falls to get the best shot, it’s just a short 100m walk from the carpark to the lookout. If you stick around after sunset, you’ll be treated to an even better photographic opportunity, the chance to shoot the Milky Way and Wallaman Falls in the one shot. Want to take your adventure seeking and photography game to the next level? Here are some views to make you feel on top of the world.