Juz got up early to take photos of the sunrise over Snapping Handbag Billabong before we made our way toward Flying Fox Swamp. This is another of our favourite destinations. Paddling the canoe over the still water, through the trees, with the waterlilies passing by, was absolutely beautiful. Bees buzzed in the lilies and dragonflies skipped over the water.
We reckon Monarch Rock could be renamed Cookie Dough Mountain, because that’s what it looks like – a big wad of cookie dough, full of nuts, nougat and choc chips! Butterflies floated around the shaded areas of the rock and we found a small cave with bats and dragonflies inside. We did a lap of the rock and found loads of bush passionfruit too, which we picked and ate while we looked for more.
After climbing Monarch Rock and enjoying the spectacular 360° views of the country, the Cascades were a great tonic. We had a dip by the creek crossing and saw two brolgas that promptly flew away trumpeting like elephants.
On our way back to the campground, we stopped by Nudie Hot Springs. There were two camps set up at the site, one of which was truly letting it all hang out. We followed the path to where the hottest water gushes out from the rock, and followed the creek back to the pool of perfect bath temperature (32° Celsius) and had a nudie dip.
Our plan was to do some fishing at Eagles Nest Billabong so that we had something to cook for dinner. On the way though, Dave noticed that the water temperature gauge was getting a bit too hot. Eagles Nest was only another 10km away so we raced before we burst a hose. Just as we arrived, we heard a pop, but luckily it was just the lid of the overflow bottle. While Dave tended to the Troopy, Juz pulled out the rod. She was accompanied by a seasoned fisherman who went through three lures with no luck. Juz gave up after about 30 minutes and after a quick ride in the provided boat, we went back to the campground.
Of course, we were just in time for Happy Hour and another great socialising session with the volunteers and other campers. Plenty of stories and photos were exchanged and after a session around the campfire, we went to bed.
It was very hard to pull ourselves out of bed and we didn’t end up leaving the campground until about 9:30am. Nannies Retreat was our destination and the road leading to it had been cleared two days earlier so it was a fairly smooth run.
Once we arrived, we found the path to be long and overgrown but freshly marked with pink ribbon and rock stacks. Suddenly, we were there, atop a rounded rocky landscape of sandstone. A stream ran through the area and after Dave explored one of the caves, we had a dip in the pool.
We found our way back to the Troopy and headed for Sloshy Springs, which wasn’t officially opened for the season. We drove for hours on indecisive track surfaces, stopping occasionally to remove branches and fallen trees from the track, which was a great opportunity for Dave to flex his muscles. The track eventually disappeared and it was nearly sundown so we returned to a creek crossing about 30 minutes back and camped on the track by the water. Juz fell unconscious when her head hit the pillow while Dave went to sleep to the sound of howling dingoes.
It just so happens that the creek we camped next to WAS Sloshy Springs… go figure!
We packed up and started to make our way back to the campground. The return trip was much easier because we’d cleared all the fallen branches the day before. We diverted to Billy’s Camp to check out the original settlement of Lorella Springs, which ended up being the perfect stop for Dave to tend to the overheating radiator again. The ruins were full of rusty things – a fridge, corrugated iron, a sink, buckets, a wheelbarrow, even an old ant bed oven!
By the time we got back to the campground, we noticed a loaded motorbike parked by the office. A guy from the east coast had emailed us and said he was heading our way, and after exchanging itineraries, we discovered that we would intercept each other at Lorella Springs. We approached the bar to meet our new friend.
Over a few drinks, we had a good chat with Brogan about where he had been and where he was going. He was circling Australia in an anticlockwise direction, the opposite way to us which meant that we had heaps of tips to share with each other. Rhett turned up at Happy Hour and while we had planned to leave the next day, we all offered to volunteer for a few days. Dave and Brogan would work on cabling for the cabins while Juz offered to paint a mural on the wall beside the bar. She also presented herself to the kitchen that evening and made a big pot of spaghetti bolognese for all the volunteers’ dinner.