Pitching a tent in Muff Creek. Mission Beach, Australia

May 4, 2010 at 5:49 am Leave a comment

Mission Beach was exactly what I had imagined a small Australian town to be like – endless golden beaches, locals stopping every few feet to greet neighbours and strangers alike and elusive wildlife always threatening to make an appearance. What I hadn’t expected was just how appealing that beautiful stretch of sand and that warm welcome would be.

Three or four hours after arriving it felt like we had been in Mission Beach forever. The driver of the sole public bus knew us by sight, we knew our way around North Mission Beach pretty well and a visit to the local information centre had left us well versed on the area. We were on the lookout for cassowaries, a type of huge wild bird not dissimilar from an ostrich but with a dash more colour in its feathers. Word on the street was that the best place to spot the creatures was on the town’s many walking trails so we picked out the longest, the Kennedy Trail, packed a lunch and started walking.

Four hours later we had managed to trod on a surprising amount of fresh cassoary poo but were no closer to spotting the birds in the flesh (or feathers). Cassowaries or no cassowaries though, the walk was worth every second that we spent stumbling over stoney coves, wading through marshes and trekking the narrow path that skirts the headland when we rounded the last clump of half-broken trees and came across our first real-life abandonned beach. Hugging the edge of the national park the beach stretched on until infinity, its pure golden surface littered with brilliant orange leaves – the last signs of autumn. After all of our searching in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and East Timor, I had never expected to find our own quiet slice of sand in Australia.

Our hostel was quitessential Mission Beach too. A quiet wooden structure sitting proudly above the rainforest near Muff Creek, The Treehouse was the perfect place for us to unroll our brand new tent for the first time. It had all of the ‘rustic’ appeal that you want in a place like Mission Beach. The floor of the pool was covered in sand and mud blown in during the last storm; you had to chase all of the oversized bugs out of your hammock before you settled in for the day with a beer and a book; dishes had to be washed clean of any stowaway earwigs and cockroaches before use; and we made a game of dodging the massive toads as we crossed the deck to watch another spectacular sunset. We joked about it with the other guests but secretly relished our status as real, hardcore backpackers. It would take more than a few 15cm long bugs and a couple of overgrown toads to scare us!

In the end Mission Beach hit exactly the right note after a forgettable spell in Cairns (forgettable excepting the Great Barrier Reef of course). With its glittering lagoon and countless tour operators Cairns may be the star of the show but Mission Beach is, in its own unassuming way, every inch as attractive and heaps more inviting.

There are more pictures from Mission Beach available in the gallery


Entry filed under: Travel. Tags: , , , , .

Diving into Oz. Cairns, Australia A wet Wednesday in The Whitsundays, Australia

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