Tuesday, March 8, 2011

These descriptions, of two sweet beaches to visit in Queensland, Australia, seem like lovely places to visit.

Broken River, Queensland

The locals reckon Broken River in Eungella National Park is the best place ''on the planet'' to see platypus in the wild. Pronounced yun-gulla and meaning Land of the Clouds, it's a 90-kilometre drive west of Mackay and its perennially mist-shrouded and forest-clad mountains contain Australia's longest and oldest stretch of subtropical rainforest. But the main reason most people come to Eungella is to see the platypus at Broken River.

Several viewing platforms are strung along the river near the picnic area, or you can, as we did, simply find a comfortable rock and perch for as long as you like. In 30 minutes we chalked up an amazing 16 sightings of the elusive monotreme and while some may have been making a repeat appearance, I wasn't about to quibble. It really is one of the best places in Australia to go if you want to see wild platypus.

Where to stay: Broken River Mountain Resort, Eungella Dam Road, Eungella, (07) 4958 4000, brokenrivermr.com.au.

Chillagoe Caves, Queensland

The glitzy show caves of the southern states may get all the publicity and draw the crowds but there are more than 600 limestone caves in the Chillagoe area, three hours' drive west of Cairns. There are five caves open for viewing, each one unique. The Royal Arch is the biggest, a series of 13 chambers spread along a 1.5-kilometre passage, with roots from trees and patches of light reaching into the caves and lots of bending and squeezing through tight passages. The smaller Donna Cave, accessed by a long steep stairway, is the prettiest, with dozens of magnificent limestone formations.

Trezkinn Cave is short - basically a steel catwalk encircling a central mass of limestone - but it also has lots of decorations, including the massive ''chandelier'', a spectacular formation that looks like a mountain of melted wax. There are also two self-guided caves; bring your own torch.

Where to stay: Chillagoe Observatory and Eco Lodge, (07) 4094 7155, www.coel.com.au

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