Imagine a land where you never have to grow up, or wear proper shoes or worry about anything at all really. Now imagine that this mystical place is in the middle off a low-lying tropical rainforest and is flanked by a river that is home to a family of platypus. this is Platypus Bush Camp. This fairytale-esque wonderland is run by Wazza, an older gentleman with all the eccentric wonderfulness that you would expect of anyone who has lived alone in a tropical rainforest for 25 yeears. Well, not entirely alone. Also calling Platypus Bush Camp home are Dog the dog and Rocky the heavy metal loving cocky. Wazza, Rocky and Dog invite travelers with open minds to come and join them in their slice of paradise.
Address: Gorge Road, Finch Hatton Gorge
Cost for an unpowered campsite: $10 per person per night (the Bush Camp website is out of date)
How to book: N/A – just rock up.
Nights we stayed for: 6 nights in January
You can stay in either the camping section of the property for $10 per night per person, or you can rent out a private hut for $100 per night. There are also dorm huts for a lower fee for budget travellers who are not big on camping.
Your $10 camping fee gets youu access to a grassy campsite, or a gravel parking space for campervans, the picnic shelter and cooking area (no kitchen just tables and running water), the bathrooms, a wonderfully outdoor (yet private) rainforest shower, as well as the river swimming hole and the platypus swimming hole so you can get up close and personal with platypus in the wild! The camping grounds are greeen and luscious, surrronded by rainforest vegetation and with a view of the river. You literally fall asleep listening to the sounds of the river running. The fairytale part of is property though is the house and huts that Wazza and his team of travelers and helpers have built over the past 25 years. There is a full outdoor kitchen that hut guests can use, as well as a dining hut with an open fire for night-time singalongs. This all overlooks the rushing water of the river below and is roofed by the canopy of the rainforest above. Simply spectacular. This is literally what you dreamed about as a kid when you wanted to live in a tree house, and have no walls, just the jungle outside, yes this is Neverland.
Be warned though, this is not for the faint of heart. This is a real bush camp. You should expect spiders in the toilets, lizards staring at you in the shower and bugs to throw themselves at your tent in the night. Like big bugs… I saw grasshopper bigger than my fist trying to get into our esky. There are bull ants and as we found out, leeches in the rain and water snakes (we saw one, and it was little and Wazza reckoned he never seen one in 25 years). We ate dinner under the watchful eyes of a huntsman spider. Walking to the bathroom is like watching the ground move under your feet as all the lizards and bugs run away from your impending footsteps. But that is what makes this place so special too. It is untouched. It is special. If you come here, please be sure to keep it that way.
We were lucky enough to be invited into Wazza’s house one night to dine after Chili cooked us all up a great Chicken Curry from Scratch and as we ate in the dim light of the 1920s lanterns that Wazza himself restores to working order, we saw micro bats zipping in and out of Wazza’s house, and could feel the cool breeze through the tree branches. Such an incredible set up. Wazza is more passionate than any other camping ground owner that we have come across. I honestly do not think he does it for the money, he just does it to enable himself to live this remote lifestyle, uninterrupted and peaceful. Just Wazza, Dog, Rocky and the local family of platypuss.
Platypus BushCamp is in the small community of Finch Hatton Gorge, approx 10kms from the actual township of Finch Hatton. At Finch Hatton Gorge you can take a well manicured walk through the national park to safe swimmig holes and waterfalls. The walk is easy and starts only 2kms from the Bush Camp. Betweeen the Bush Camp and the National Park is a small eatery called Ulysses Garden cafe, which serves locally grown and organic breakfasts and lunches. We splashed out one day and spoiled ourselves with lunch out and were very very pleasantly surprised by the food. Chili had poached eggs (from freee range chooks onsite) handmade pumpkin and seed bread with hollandaise and organically farmed ham off the bone. Monique grabbed a super saald wrap which was a mixture off all the things she had been missing at Belyando Crossing. Fresh spinach, quinoa, homemade pesto, fresh beetroot carrot, bean sprouts, and a range of otherr fresh surprises. It was delicious!
We had a chat with the owner of the cafe after lunch and she is nothing but a sheer ray of sunshine. An absolutee delight of a woman who started the cafe because she enjoys making food that leaves people feeing happy and healthy. She lives onsitee with her family and is basically living the dream as far as are concerned. She opens 4 days per week (Thursday -Sunday), farms a lot of the ingredients herself, and what she doees not farm herself is farmed on a neighbouring property. She buys whole animals a couple of times a year and has them butchered locally for her to use in the cafe. The cafe is mostly situated outdoors and is made up of a maze of small dining areas, all private and secluded to make you feel like you are all alone in this littlee rainforest haven.
After a satisfying break your lunch at Ulysses Garden, you can wander up the road another 1km and reach the Eungella National Park. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you’re in for a bit of a walk. The return trip to the waterfalls, which passes by the cascades is approx 4kms from the entrance to the National Park. It’s not a difficult walk and you can stop and swim at the cascades and waterfalls. Just do so in designated areas only and be smart about it. Ie, don’t swim in a storm when a tree or torrent could come flying down the river. Don’t jump off rocks if you cannot see under the water. Just don’t be a dick basically. There is no mobile phone reception so if you hurt yourself you will have to hobble your way back to the cafe to call for help. That’s a long hobble. The Eungella National Park makes it easy to believe that dinosaurs could still be roaming around this continent. It looks so prehistoric and entangles. Wild! The story goes that the whole area was cleared for cattle grazing then used as a pine plantation before the national park was reinstated and the rainforest brought back to life. It has recovered well and you cannot tell that is was once grazing country. This is very much thanks to the effort of the local community.
Platypus Bush Camp and the Finch Hatton Gorge community are not only high on our list of east coast MUST DO’S, but also a shinning example off the way that life could be if everyonee just chilled out a bit, cared more for themselves, others and the environment and put health and happiness above money and fame. Wazza was talking about selling the Bush Camp and I would be lying if I told you that I did bot consider buying it, albeit briefly. This is the kind of community and lifestyle that we are aiming to end up in one day.
All this plus the fact that we have been on the road since July and this is the first place that we have been able to see platypus in the wild, makes this a special place for us. Speaking off platypus spotting here is quick tip for all you yahoo coyote cowboys who think that you’re camping & nature enthusiasts. Animals won’t come oout if you’re yelling and stomping around in their territory. They are scared of you. You need to be still, quiet and invisible for them to come out of hiding. Its all common sense, well, it should be common sense, but wonders (and the stupidity of UK tourist) never ceases to amaze us.
If you’re in the Mackay region make sure that you visit Platypus Bush camp. It is only a short drive from Cape Hillsboorough and will blow your mind. Just be sure to call Wazza first if the weather has been a bit rainy. You need to cross a small river too get to the bush camp. We are traveling in a 2WD and made it across eaasily after one day of raain, however after days two or three days of rain we would have not been able to safely cross. Wazzza is haapy to give you all the info you need and will tell you not to come if the river crossing is at all dangerous or looks like it maybe dangerous in the coming days… He really is not in it for the money, and wants you to walk out of there with a smile on your face and good memories in your heart.