Araluen Falls

Eungella National Park / Finch-Hatton Gorge / Mackay Regional Council, Queensland, Australia

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 2
Araluen Falls (Araluen Cascades)

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Araluen Falls (sometimes known as Araluen Cascades) was our excuse to break up the long drive between Rockhampton and Airlie Beach along the central coast of Queensland. This was supposed to be an intermediate waterfall on the longer hike to the Wheel of Fire Falls, but a trail closure ensured that the Araluen Cascade was all that we were going to see during our visit in May 2008. Nonetheless, this waterfall was an attractive 10-15m cascade where Finch-Hatton Creek spilled into a carved rock pool before continuing further downstream as it meandered its way out of the Eungella National Park and towards Cattle Creek further south.

Given the pretty remote nature of this reserve, Julie and I were quite surprised to see the walking track to be as busy as it was. The park literature said the walking track to the Araluen Falls was 2.8km return taking about 1-1.5 hours. Julie and I spent about an hour and 10 minutes on this track so we were pretty much going at a pace that was expected. The Wheel of Fire Falls was supposed to be 4.2km return taking about 1.5-2 hours. However, the trail was closed just beyond the trail junction where the continuation trail branched off from the Araluen Cascades trail.

When Julie and I walked to the Araluen Falls, it was fairly humid and warm as there seemed to even be the threat of thunderstorms. Even though the rainforest provided ample shade throughout the easy-to-follow track, it didn't seem to provide much in the way of relief from the heat and humidity we were experiencing. Also noteworthy along the track were some pretty big granite boulders, which definitely seemed a bit out-of-place in such a lush rainforest-type environment. The rainforest setting itself contrasted the hectares upon hectares of sugar plantations we noticed as we were driving between Mackay and Eungella.

With the amount of time we had to spend on the track to reach Araluen Falls, Julie and I were noticing the unusual birdsongs that echoed through the peaceful rainforest. We recalled one of the birdsongs sounds like a flute while another one sounded like a bird was shooting lasers. We didn't know which birds were doing that nor did we see any of them amongst the dense cover of the forest, but it definitely added to the ambience. Speaking of wildlife, it was said that the rare and endangered platypus could be found in Eungella National Park, but we didn't see any during our visit.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Roughly 150km north of Eungella National Park was the town of Airlie Beach, which was our launching point to get to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands, which featured white-sand beaches like thisRoughly 150km north of Eungella National Park was the town of Airlie Beach, which was our launching point to get to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands, which featured white-sand beaches like this
Whitsunday Island is perhaps best known for its blinding yet fine white sand beach contrasting the beautiful blue waters surrounding itWhitsunday Island is perhaps best known for its blinding yet fine white sand beach contrasting the beautiful blue waters surrounding it
Our Whitsunday excursions took off from Airlie Beach, where we were based after having visited Araluen Falls. As you can see, there was definitely a lot of sealife thereOur Whitsunday excursions took off from Airlie Beach, where we were based after having visited Araluen Falls. As you can see, there was definitely a lot of sealife there
One of the creek fords on the Gorge Rd going from Eungella into the Finch-Hatton GorgeOne of the creek fords on the Gorge Rd going from Eungella into the Finch-Hatton Gorge

The car park for Araluen Falls.  Notice how many cars were here!?!  Given the relative remoteness of the park, this was quite surprising indeed!The car park for the falls. Notice how many cars were here!?! Given the relative remoteness of the park, this was quite surprising indeed!

Julie way ahead of me as we were walking within the rainforestJulie way ahead of me as we were walking within the rainforest

Julie still making her way along the established walking track amongst the peaceful rainforestJulie still making her way along the established walking track amongst the peaceful rainforest

The Araluen Falls Track passed by these giant granite boulders that seemed a little out-of-place amidst the constant rainforest coverThe waterfalls track passed by these giant granite boulders that seemed a little out-of-place amidst the constant rainforest cover

We eventually made it to a junction where we could choose between going to Araluen Cascades or continue to the Wheel of FireWe eventually made it to a junction where we could choose between going to Araluen Cascades or continue to the Wheel of Fire

Unfortunately, the trail to the Wheel of Fire Falls closedUnfortunately, the trail to the Wheel of Fire Falls closed (Bummer!)

Our first look at the attractive Araluen FallsOur first look at the attractive Araluen Falls

Another look at the fallsAnother look at the falls

Julie checking out the Araluen Cascades from as far as she was willing to goJulie checking out the Araluen Cascades from as far as she was willing to go

This was where we picked up some delicious meat pies after wrapping up our hikeThis was where we picked up some delicious meat pies after wrapping up our hike


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Fixated on the falls and plunge pool. Please excuse the crappy sound as that's Windows Movie Maker working its magic.


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The most straightforward way to reach Araluen Falls would be to start from Mackay, take the Bruce Hwy (A1) towards the Peak Downs Hwy (Hwy 70), then drive Hwy 70 west following the Mackay-Eungella Rd (it leaves Hwy 70 just past the township of Alexandra) all the way to the township of Eungella. On the west side of the township (some 80km west of Mackay), the Mackay-Eungella Rd junctions with Gorge Rd on the right. Take Gorge Rd, which enters the Finch-Hatton Gorge and ultimately Eungella National Park. Once inside the park, most of this section of road was unpaved with a few shallow creek fords, I recalled. These crossings could be an issue if the water was running high.

The way we went to the Finch-Hatton Gorge wasn't the most direct way as the GPS took us on what it thought was the shortest (but not necessarily most sensible) route. We ended up taking some obscure route on Homebush Rd after exiting the Bruce Hwy (Hwy 1), but we really should've kept going to Mackay, then exit at Hwy 70 (Mackay-Eungella Rd) and follow the directions as above.

Alternatively, if we were to head south from Proserpine, the park-recommended route would be to follow the Bruce Hwy south to the Marian-Hampden Rd (about 98km south of Proserpine). Then take that road towards the town of Marian before continuing west on the Mackay-Eungella Rd. Then, follow the directions to Eungella and then Finch-Hatton Gorge as described above.

Not to confuse you, but on our way north along the Bruce Hwy, we actually followed the GPS, which told us to take Homebush Rd then Elton Rd then the Mt Ossa Rd to the Langdon-Lumburra Rd before reaching the Garrett Owens Creek Rd, which ultimately linked us to the Mackay-Eungella Rd not far east of Eungella itself. We wouldn't recommend going this way, especially since there was no signage indicating Eungella National Park along any of this route until we got onto the Mackay-Eungella Rd.

One more thing to note. There was a place at the Pinnacle Hotel in the township of Pinnacle along the Mackay-Eungella Rd that served some real delicious meat pies. It really hit the spot and was a well-deserved lunch after our hike.

Finally, to give you a sense of geographical context, Mackay was 126km (90 minutes drive) south of Proserpine, 336km (over 3.5 hours drive) north of Rockhampton, 389km (4.5 hours drive) south of Townsville, and 952km (11 hours drive) north of Brisbane.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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