Thursday 16 July 2015


After tossing some ideas around about how to minimize a 5 day car shuffle, we didn't have a viable alternative apart from jumping in two cars and driving from Brisbane to Townsville, where we would launch our boats and leave our cars, awaiting our return three weeks later.

Our plan was to paddle to Mission Beach where we had organised a car hire from Sugarland Car Hire and do the car shuffle to Townsville to pick up our vehicles (2.5 hr journey each way).  This is a relatively cheap and easy option for car shuffles (cost around $85 for the car hire with insurance for a day and around $45 fuel).

We booked into a cabin at the Dunk Island View Caravan Park which was a short walk from the beach.  They let us drop our kayaks and gear off early and have access to their facilities as well as giving me a lift up to the car hire place rather than have us walk to pick up the hire car.

The Journey North

After packing the car in the morning, Jonathan and myself took off around lunch time with a view of camping on the side of the road somewhere between Brisbane and Townsville.  After a late dinner in Rocky, we pushed onto Clairview where we slept near the beach, far enough away from the highway not be woken by the frequent road trains.

We went into Bowen after an early start the following morning and drove up to the lookout to check out Gloucester Island and the coastline north of the Whitsundays which might be the subject of a future trip.  We were in Townsville around mid-morning, giving us time to do some sight-seeing and to check out the best put in for our paddle across to Magnetic Island.

Castle Hill Lookout - looking south towards Cape Cleveland

Castle Hill Lookout - looking north towards Cape Pallarendra

Magnetic Island from the Seawall near the marina

Gary had found an article of a 4 meter croc swimming in the Townsville marina just a couple of weeks before we were due to take off so we thought we should check out the territory to ensure we weren't taking off from some croc infested mangrove swamp at Pallarendra.

We were lucky enough to have a contact in Townsville who lived near Pallarendra where we could store the cars as leaving cars near boat ramps in Townsville is a bit risky.  The beach at high tide gave us protected access to the water for the start of our Journey.

The Journey South

The journey north was a comfortable two day trip, but the journey south had an extra day car shuffle.  You need to allow for 5 hours of driving and another hour at least of stop time so it is an effective way to kill a day of the trip.

April stayed behind to clean the boats and wash down our gear whilst the three boys did the car shuffle.  We paddled over from Dunk Island in the morning, arriving in Mission Beach around 8:00 am and by the time we had carted our gear up to the unit, showered, picked the car up it was around 11:00am.

Car shuffle complete, we prepped up for a night on the town!  Sorry, no incriminating photos but a couple of us were alcohol free for the trip so we needed no encouragement to have a drink or three over dinner.  There is a bar and grill right next door to the Caravan Park which had great food so we only had to walk about 50 meters back to the unit before crashing out in preparation for the return journey.

We had a lazy start to the morning and took off around 9:00 am.  We were joking about the clock work Cassowary that came out every hour for the tourists and on our way out of town he (I assume a he), was waiting for us.

We didn't have a set plan for the trip home, but we ended up having a late dinner in Rocky and as there were showers and an impending Antarctic Cold Front on the way, we drove straight through the night, sharing the driving so arrived back in Brisvegas around 4:30am after 17 odd hours in the car.

It was certainly a shock to come back to Brisbane after our coldest day away was around 18 degrees Celsius in the morning with the average day time temperature getting to 27/28 degrees - that's a winter I could get used to!  The westerlies were blowing this morning, Stanthorpe got a dumping of snow - the largest in a decade and I rode my bike to work with every bit of kit I could find to keep warm.  I should have kept paddling to Cairns! 

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