17.06.2010 - 04.07.2010
We are still on the east coast and the trips have been short with lots to see and do. We now have two tents - the quick one for those overnight only stops (we haven't done many of those) and the larger tent for the longer stays. When the tent is wet in the morning and we have mud over everything the packing up of the tent is tedious. Other than that we are becoming incredibly efficient at managing to get all our belongings into the Land Rover. Len is the culler of anything that is not essential and Cec is trying really hard to stop wanting to buy stuff. Between us we are getting it right. We can't believe how much stuff other people are carrying on their travels. Trailers, boxes stacked on their roof racks as well as the car (nearly always a 4WD) packed to the rafters. We sometimes look and wonder at what we are missing but really we think we have enough.
Waterfalls and Mission Beach
Heading into rainforest and waterfall land. The first stop is Jourama Falls near Ingham. These were a great introduction to what we will see in the next couple of weeks. Next stop the Wallaman Falls in the Girringun National Park. The statistics say it is "the highest, permanent, single drop waterfall in Australia". The lookout is spectacular and the walk to the bottom is hard but well worth it. 45 minutes downhill on a slippery, wet, rocky, muddy path.
We then drove to Tully Heads and finally spotted a cassowary just casually crossing the road - it was a real WOW moment.
The weather has become windy and wet so we decided to stop for a while at Mission Beach. The car has had a rattle since it left Burleigh so we booked it into the local mechanic. He had no real idea what was wrong but changed the oil and tinkered around and of course charged us for his effort. The rattle didn't go away!!
We spent the time taking long walks in the dense rainforest looking for more cassowaries (to no avail), going on beach walks where we spotted a bevy of turtles, visiting markets and generally relaxing.
The World Heritage Wet Tropics area
Wow - what a place. This is what we have been looking for. Beautiful walks amongst ancient rainforests, stunning waterfalls, no people. It was pretty damp no wonder they are called the misty mountains. The forest is so dense you rarely see any critters but the evidence is there in their scats!! We contine to look for another elusive cassowary but as yet no sightings. They are a listed as an endangered species and over 80 rainforest trees only germinate by their seeds passing through their stomach. Loss of habitat is the main reason for their decline as well as dogs and cars.
As we walk through the National Parks the destruction of the rainforest by feral pigs is becoming really noticeable.
Some random stops we made around the Atherton tablelands/Ravenshoe area.
OK - a bit of geology. Mt Hypipamee crater is a volcanic pipe formed by an explosive eruption of volcanic gases which blasted through solid granite. It has a diameter of 61 metres at water level and goes down at least 85 metres. To get to it is a short walk through yet more dense rainforest. We just thought it was very, very impressive!
Curtain and Cathedral Fig trees
The Curtain Fig tree one of the largest trees in north Queensland. Its curtain of aerial roots drop 15 metres (49 feet) to the ground. Large basalt boulders cover the forest floor, which is probably why the forest here wasn't cleared for farming - and why the curtain fig tree remains standing. The Cathedral Fig has a girth of about 44 metres. No one knows exactly how old it is but historical studies suggest it has been arund for about 500 years! They are also very, very impressive.
Steam train - Ravenshoe
Maybe not so impressive but fun. A restored steam train that runs from Ravenshoe to Tumoulin. Love the steam and the hooting that goes with it. Brings out the child in us. From our first impression the town of Ravenshoe really didn't look as if it would have anything of interest to us but they also had a cake shop that sold the best jam doughnuts ever.
Atherton to Cairns via Mt Molloy
We drove from Atherton through Mareeba (very disappointing) to Mt Molloy. We had been told there were a few lakes that were worth visiting - unfortunately we couldn't find them. Sometimes the signage in Qld leaves a lot to be desired! We stopped at Mt Molloy for a couple of photos and a picnic lunch by the creek. We continued on to Cairns - the rattle in the car is now much louder!! We arrived in Cairns fairly late in the afternoon and hadn't realised that it was school holidays so all the campgrounds were full. We ended up staying in a nice apartment at Trinity Beach. Had a look around Cairns and had lunch at the esplanade watching all the curlews, sandpipers, crabs and mudskippers.We sure know how to have a good time!! I guess Cairns is not where we wanted to be.
The nights up here are pretty cold but the days are warm.
After a few nights without the curlews crying us to sleep we are once again in their territory. We also spotted our first jacana at Atherton, saw lots of magpie geese, ducks and the gorgeous sulphur crested cockatoos