We knew we must have been close when a kangaroo bounded out in front of our car. The car swerved left and right to avoid him, even though I’m pretty sure this roo had a death wish! I had heard kangaroos were ruthless around highways and roads and now I’d experienced it first hand. In the evening light, palm trees were silhouetted against a burning orange sunset and all along the sides of the road were pairs of red eyes caught in our headlamps.
Kangaroo after kangaroo lined up staring back at us like soldiers standing to attention. We slowed our speed and crept along, terrified to hit one. We were heading Cape Hillsborough National Park, a remote but beautiful location off the beaten track from the commercial east coast.
We were heading to a beach (of course!) in the park, well known for its sunrise kangaroos. If there’s two things I love in life, it’s animals and the beach, so a chance to combine these two it’s safe to say I was excited.
Where to stay
We stayed in a local caravan park right on the beach, Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park. I’d recommend this place definitely for a night or two. It’s an absolutely beautiful park, with the beach on one side and a backdrop of the national park forest on the other. It’s got a gorgeous pool and palm trees everywhere with exotic birds in them. But the highlight had to be the wild kangaroos and cute wallabies that roamed freely around the park! It was kind of a surreal experience hanging out our laundry while trying not to step on the tails of the sunbathing kangaroos!
I’d suggest if you are coming here though, stock up on supplies before doing so. This park is very remote and there are no shops anywhere except for the extremely overpriced park convenience store. I was unfortunate enough to get an eye infection from all the campfires and sand and we didn’t come across a chemist for three days! There is also no phone reception, nor does the park do wi-fi so don’t expect much Facebook for you time spend here! We brought our cameras, a good book and a fishing rod and had a great time.
Kangaroos at Sunrise
We rose bright an early just before six to see the sunrise. I’ve been spoiled with some of the sunrises and sunsets I’ve seen on this trip so far so I couldn’t be too disappointed when we woke up to find grey clouds completely blocking the sun. One thing I’ve learned on this trip is never let your expectations ruin your reality. I’d seen pictures on social media of this place and low and behold it was not like the Instagrammed version!
But that didn’t stop this particular morning from being one to remember. As we squinted through the grey darkness we thought we might have been left disappointed. Then we spotted them! In all their bounding glory, a little way up the beach, they grazed on the sand (though I’m not quite sure what they were eating!).
Kangaroos and wallabies together enjoyed the cool sensation of the sand before the sun came out to heat up the ground. The animals also drink from the ocean to meet their salt intake, hence the name “salty kangaroos”.
We sat on the damp sand and cuddled together enjoying the view. It was such a treat seeing these animals in their natural habitat as the last time we saw them we were keen to get the cliche “kangaroo selfie” in the zoo. This time we sat back, put our cameras down and just watched them go about their morning business. As I looked around at the small crowd gathering, I couldn’t help but get a little annoyed at how little respect some people were having for the kangaroos.
These are wild animals and are not here just for our entertainment. I could see people getting agitated they were not getting the perfect picture and were climbing right into the roos’ personal space to get a closer look. One man even took out something from his pocket to feed them in attempt to coax them closer.
People were viewing the kangaroos through their lenses and phones instead of just enjoying the experience. Yes they’ll have a great picture, but when they look back, will they really remember that morning, or will they just remember snapping with their cameras?? One guy had four cameras each, all with different kinds of lenses and video equipment. He spent so much time fiddling with his gadgets he didn’t even notice the kangaroo that had come up and sat right next to him! Please enjoy the view, but respect the kangaroos and do not let your need for the perfect picture ruin your experience!
Cape Hillsborough National Park
If you think coming all is way out to Cape Hillsborough just for kangaroos is a bit excessive, there are other things to do in the area as well. The lovely woman at reception recommended Andrew’s Point to us as a nice afternoon hike. The caravan park has its own walkway up here, and it’s totally worth it. The view was simply stunning. Cape Hillsborough isn’t too far away from the Whitsundays so the coastal line is very similar: beautiful clear blue water and white sand.
From here you can see Wedge Island. Follow the trail the whole way down and if the tide is out you can walk over to the island. Darren went fishing here and I pliers the rock pools and crabs everywhere.
The kangaroo beach itself has more to offer than just its inhabitants to enjoy. The beach is safe to swim on with no sharks and has a real remote, tropical feel to it! There’s also great fishing here, and the sunsets are amazing.