Thursday, January 15, 2009

Monsoon rain, wind, floods and all that

Yes, I am still alive - I've survived the... fairly extreme weather conditions up here. For those that don't follow the meteorological conditions of the tropical north, the gist as I understand it was that Cyclone Charlotte came across from the gulf and flooded Cairns, it was coupled with king tides that did further damage... down here in Townsville we were affected by a big monsoonal trough that gave us gale-force winds and a fair amount of rain for a few days. Limited flooding but there have been plenty of road closures and impassible river and creek crossings.

Coral Beach, Conway National Park

But first, to backtrack a little... I had a nice though fairly uneventful trip from Mackay. My first night I spent at Conway NP which is in the Whitsundays region. That afternoon I went for a little walk down to Coral Beach and had a quick dip. Visibility was pretty poor though I saw a few nice fish and a couple of rays. There are no drive-in camping areas in the park so after dinner (kangaroo steaks, yum!) I shouldered my pack, donned my headtorch and walked the 2 km in to Swamp Bay campsite. Despite the name, it was very much worth the walk - it was awesome when I reached the campsite, dropped my gear on the coral-lined beach and looked out on the bay - lit up by the full moon peeking through gaps in the cloud.

Moonlit at Swamp Bay, Conway NP. 20 second exposure.

The following day I headed for Dingo Beach in search of some fringing reef I'd been told about (you know who you are!). It was a pleasant spot though the visibility was shockingly bad and even if there was some reef (I think further out than I went, as it was high tide) I wouldn't have been able to see it. I was tempted to go back to Airlie beach and get on a snorkelling trip out to the reef but I was worried that the water would be similarly turbid everywhere.

My next campsite was at Alligator Creek which is near Mount Elliott in Bowling Green NP, 30km south of Townsville. I was hoping to find some of the rainforest stream and microhylid frogs here but didn't have much luck finding any rainforest when I went for a walk in the evening. I did manage to slip off a rock and fall into the creek in a very uncoordinated way. I was fine, and even my camera gear survived a little bit of water.

I awoke in my tent to wind and rain. I had planned to do a long (17km) walk and then stay another night but the weather didn't make me too keen for this. Instead, I went swimming! A group of three Aussies on holiday turned up and we all had a great time in the creek in the pouring rain. It was a nice way to escape the mozzies. The creek had lots of good-sized fish: Eel-tailed catfish, different types of perch and grunters and some I couldn't recognise, as well as the smaller rainbowfish and gudgeons.

After sharing a couple of mugs of tea with my new friends I was informed that the creek just at the park entrance was coming quite strongly over the road and I decided that I should probably get out of there and seek some better shelter for the weather which was supposed to be pretty nasty for a few days. Luckily, a cousin in Townsville had generously offered me a bed if I needed it so I gratefully took him up on his offer.

1 comment:

Snail said...

Shame about Dingo Beach. I did some work there a while back when I was still at JCU. Lots of lovely soft corals. Not anymore, clearly.