A few years ago my husband Peter I took an extended caravan holiday. We began by exploring the east coast of Australia, working our way up from the south to the north. When we reached far north Queensland we fell in love with the area, and spent much time there.
We based ourselves at a little place called Flying Fish Point, a few kilometres east of Innisfail, bounded by the mouth of the Johnstone River on one side and the ocean on the other. A glorious place, where the forest is lush and deep green, the beach is long, and the azure sea and the sky seem almost to merge.
From here we visited the unique Daintree rainforest, beautiful in its wildness, hot and humid, criss-crossed with trails made by the many (usually!) unseen wildlife, and home to many primitive plants found nowhere else.
We visited the huge plateau of the Tablelands, went up to Cairns, Port Douglas and as far north as Cooktown. It was while we were returning from a visit to Cooktown via the Bloomfield track that we stumbled across Black Mountain. We planned to stop at the Lion’s Den, an old Australian pub, for lunch.
But before we reached it we were startled by the appearance of a colossal, blackened mountain, strewn around with a jumble of enormous boulders that looked more like something that was dumped there by a giant, rather than a natural formation. Rising up from the wilderness, it was an eerie sight and stands in stark contrast to the green sea of forest around it.
We left the vehicle and walked gingerly over the smaller boulders that fringe the side of the road. It is a spooky place, and I felt sinister vibes all around as I stood gazing in awe.
I saw it would be a marvelous setting for a story.
My research has revealed many tales of people who have ventured into its depths and never been seen again. Even a herd of cattle once strayed into its awesome depths and disappeared! I knew then it was where Elly and Mitchell would be forced to go in their search for the rare plant they needed for Elly to fulfil her late father’s dream to produce the ‘fountain of youth’, the skin care every woman wants.
As they search together in the tropical heat of the rainforest, an attraction grows between them. But Elly is pining for her missing friend, Jackson – isn’t she? And Mitchell still loves his schooldays sweetheart – doesn’t he?