Friends have invited us for a picnic in Byfield National Park. They live about 20kms north of Yeppoon, Qld at Bungundarra on rich red soil. Their 20 acre farm and mango orchard faces east towards the blue ranges of Byfield. The area is lush with farms and I’ll swear that a concrete post would grow in soil like this. Dozens of magpie geese have taken up residence in the dam out front.
We have morning tea on the terrace before driving along about 17kms of dirt road into Upper Stoney Camp Ground. This is a 4WD only camp ground and we cross the Stoney Creek causeway and into the grassy picnic ground. There are BBQ’s and toilets and while we eat lunch a tree crashes down in the forest. There is evidence of last week’s torrential rain and of last year’s category 5 cyclone Marcia which has left trees laying at odd angles as though a bulldozer has been through here. In fact the cyclone dropped a water tank in our friend’s paddock from two farms away, proving that water tanks can indeed fly.
At the causeway Stoney Creek forms a cool green swimming hole with fish, eels and turtles visible in the water. We take a short walk through the forest and see native hibiscus and Byfield ferns. We even cross a bridge that was built under our mate’s supervision when he worked for the forestry department.
Back on the bitumen road we visit Red Rock Camp Ground further downstream. It is a pleasantly quiet spot with grassy campsites, toilets and fire pits. This is the spot that we had intended to stay at before the unseasonal rain changed our plans.
Not far away we cross a small weir. A cormorant sits on the edge of the spillway, the pool is palm fringed and sunlight filters through the trees. Above this is Water Park Camp Ground and picnic area. Each campsite is secluded and sheltered by rainforest.
Just down the road is the Byfield General Store, a few houses and several private rainforest retreats.
We return to the farm via ‘the back way’ and in doing so realise just how close it really is to the park. We leave laden with passion fruit and a pumpkin. What a day, what a place and such kind hosts.