Close to home #5 Sundown National Park
It’s always lovely to go on a long holiday to a far flung destination. There are times, however, when it’s not convenient or cost effective and a staycation, closer to home, is the way to go. The destinations in this series of posts are all within a couple of hours’ drive of our home. They’re easy to get to, there’s plenty to see and do and at the end of the holiday we’re home again in no time.
Sundown National Park, 45 kilometres south of Stanthorpe, is one of the more remote and inaccessible parks in south west Queensland. After leaving the New England Highway and travelling along Sundown Road, the dirt track into the park is four wheel drive only. Driving through open forest, with glimpses of the mountain range up ahead, we feel completely isolated; midweek, the road is empty except for a lone kangaroo almost hidden in the trees.
It feels peaceful – until we open the car doors. Suddenly we’re assailed by a cacophony, high pitched and relentless. We’re not alone after all. It’s high summer and the insects are in full voice.
This park is set up for bush camping and the facilities at the Broadwater Camping Area are plentiful but primitive. There are pit toilets and showers; there’s even hot water if you start up the donkey boiler.
After a picnic lunch, serenaded by the strident insect chorus, we walk along the bank of the Severn River to Red Rock Gorge. The track leading to the permanent waterhole in the gorge is only a kilometre long, but it’s steep and rocky and the walk takes nearly an hour.
Permanent Waterhole is 5 metres at its deepest part and even in the most severe droughts it has never dried up. According to the information board wildlife is abundant but in the heat of the day nothing ventures out.
On our return journey we discover the noise makers. Bush cicadas in their thousands, camouflaged on the tree trunks, are all calling to find a mate.
The noise continues all day, only ceasing after the sun sets but by then we’ve left the park. The cicadas have the bush to themselves again.