Two waterfalls, three swimming holes and a sassy talking cockatoo. Sounds like the weekend dreams are made of, right? Get yourself to Finch Hatton Gorge in the Eungella National Park for some peaceful wild swimming and a 70s throwback bush camp setting.
- Enormous waterfalls
- Huge waterholes to swim in
- The cockatoo who says “Oi!”
Eungella NP Platypus Bushcamp
I’d never sweated so much in one location and I hadn’t even started to hike yet. We rocked up to Eungella NP Platypus Bushcamp and were presented with an almost indescribable scene; just picture the most 1970’s Australiana bush camp set up you can possibly imagine.
This was where I met the owner, an Aussie old codger who straight up joked about the best swimming pool in Queensland he has out the back – which was the creek. Then we were introduced to his pet cockatoo who greeted us with a “Hello!” and then “Oi!” The coolest thing though was that his house was a treehouse. No real walls, rickety bridges between trees and minimal technology – this guy is living the ‘off grid’ life!
Surrounded by thick forest 1 hour west of Mackay the humidity hit us like a tonne of bricks. But it didn’t matter as everything is so beautiful at Eungella NP (which, being a doozie of a word, is pronounced ‘young-el-la’).
You drive past sugarcane fields that seem to never end until you suddenly reach these beautiful big mountains that are covered by an abundance of lush trees. There are a couple of camping options around Finch Hatton, and even cabins for the non-campers out there.
The Finch Hatton Gorge Hike
My friend and I tackled the beautiful Finch Hatton Gorge hike which has two impressive waterfalls along the way; Araluen waterfall and Wheel of Fire Casacades.
The walk to Araluen waterfall was along an easy, well-defined path that gradually sloped downwards for 1.4km. We then came to some big boulders that gave a natural ‘viewing platform’ of the waterfall. There is a big swimming hole here as well, so it was nice to take a dip and wash off some of the sweat!
Wheel Of Fire Cascades
Wheel Of Fire Cascades is a bit further away, around 2km from the turnoff to Araluen waterfall. This is a slightly harder hike as it’s mainly an upward gradient the whole way but it would still be manageable for most people.
Arriving at the Wheel Of Fire Cascades I was expecting it to look a bit red or something but I soon found out it is named after the Wheel Of Fire flowers that grow near the waterfall. We were also greeted by a sign that warned ‘men aged between 18 – 30’ to essentially not be idiots and climb the cascades or dive off the rocks. Five men have died here since 1976, so the warning message on the sign was quite blunt and harrowing.
Check out our guide to swimming hole safety before taking a dip in the wild.
As we slid into the waterhole we were surprised how cold it was. The cascades were also extremely loud and the enormity of them was impressive! The best thing was, we were all alone. We didn’t pass anyone on the walk and had the swimming hole all to ourselves. These are the moments I love and wouldn’t swap for anything, not even to be sweat-free. I don’t need to look pretty, nature has that one covered!
- Tent, sleeping bag and mat, all the essential camping gear if you want to camp at Platypus Bushcamp
- First aid kit
- Plenty of water
- Camera gear
How To Get There
From Mackay head west for about an hour.
- Bird watching
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain
Araluen Cascades Track:
Distance: 2.8km return
Time: Allow 1–1.5 hours return
Wheel Of Fire Track:
Distance: 4.2km return
Time: Allow 1.5–2 hours return