The first day, we visited the Josephine Falls swimming hole and stopped at our first fruit stand of the trip to buy some fresh papayas. The falls were my personal favourite swimming hole and it was lots of fun to slide down smooth granite slab. I also took the opportunity to do a bit more freshwater snorkelling and enjoyed watching the Eel-tailed Cats graze on the bottom, with Sooty Grunters and Jungle Perch swimming above.
Feeling refreshed, we headed back to the Boulders and went on the short hike to check out the granite formations downstream before cooling off again at the swimming hole by our campsite. That pretty much rounded off our day, given the late start after taking the ferry back from Fitzroy.
|Babinda Swimming Hole|
The next day, we went on a quick tour of the Atherton Tablelands. This region featured the windiest roads we've ever been on, some spectacular views, epic waterfalls, and lots more fruit stands! Here's a quick collage of some of our favourite sights, not pictured is the Curtain Fig Tree which is epic in it's own right.
|Millaa Millaa Falls|
I didn't spend too much time fishing the Tablelands (mainly because of surprise "no fishing" signs), but I did manage to get this Tandanus tropicanus Catfish at the base of a waterfall! Bonus, I also managed to get stung by said Catfish, which hurt worse than a bee sting and was a little unsettling.
Returning to our campsite, I took some time after dinner to head back to the swimming hole and try for some of the micros I saw the previous day. Most of them turned out to be Pacific Blue-eye, but some were tiny Gudgeon that turned out to be a new one: the Southern Purplespotted Gudgeon!
|Southern Purplespotted Gudgeon (M. adspersa)|
Those couple days summed up our stay in the area, and we soon found ourselves back on the highway headed south. As usual, we were ahead of schedule, so we took some of our extra time to visit Wallaman Falls. We're super glad we stopped because it's one of the most impressive falls we've visisted.
Continuing south, we visited the town of Rasmussen (mostly because of the name), but, to my delight, it resulted in two new species! The first one came very quick and was obviously abundant: the Barred Grunter.
|Barred Grunter (A. percoides)|
The next big goal was the Archerfish I saw swimming near the surface. These guys were getting high on my list because they seemed to get the better of me every time I tried for them. This was about to change. I could only get them to react when the bait was directly on the surface, so I removed my split shot and used a tiny piece of cutbait like you would a dry fly. This worked and the fish were clearly reacting to the new tactic. My hookup ratio was awful but I did eventually land my lifer :)
|Sevenspotted Archerfish (T. chatareus)|
Happy with the two lifers, we hopped back on the highway and headed to Lake Proserpine, which was to be our campsite for the night. It was meant to simply be a convenient location for our next day's activities, but the views were pretty awesome and the lake had some huge Barramundi! I fished it for a couple hours and had one big take that cut my 50lb braid instantly :(
|Lake Proserpine Campsite|
|Lake Proserpine Wharf|
The next day was a boat tour in Whitsundays, which was very exciting but also very expensive. The iconic views were a bit underwhelming because of the high tide and rain showers, but I'd say the experience was worth it overall. This is also apparently where I broke my phone because it would not charge for the rest of the trip which made quite a challenge for the both of us.
|Hill Inlet Lookout|
The plan was to continue on to Cape Hillsborough after our boat tour, but the lost Barramundi last night left me sour and wanting to make a second attempt. We knew it would make driving hell as we'd only arrive at our next campsite after midnight, but still made the effort and returned to Proserpine. This time, equipped with wire leaders and some local knowledge, I had better luck! FYI, live Barred Grunter is the bait of choice for these guys, huge! I just caught a "small" one, but the power of these fish is incredible and rivals any other freshwater fish I've ever caught! Here's a picture of me and my Barramundi with the son of the local man who helped me finally catch one :)
|Barramundi (L. calcarifer)|
The driving was indeed hell for the rest of night... but so worth it!