Friday, October 16, 2009

Queensland - Atherton Tablelands.

And so... on to Queensland - our final state. How exciting :-)

We awoke for our last morning in the NT and also our ONE YEAR wedding anniversary. Good lord that has gone fast! (Can't really say its been a tough first year together, can we?!)

Wedding Hands:

We had a nice breakky of pancakes and headed off towards the border. We popped on the playlist from our wedding, which although sounds a little cheesy, those of you who were there will know how we asked everyone to choose 3 songs for the wedding, so it was nice to be reminded of people when certain songs came on. As in, "Oh, that was Dad's song", "This will always remind me of Matty" and "Oh no, not that one of Seans again"....

We spent a full day on the road and for some reason were feeling rather energetic (i.e. a bit loopy) - must have been all the sugar in the cordial we decided to consume. This resulted in a lot of frantic waving at people as they drove past, coming up with as many different waves as we could such as double handed waves, "You're out" - one finger up, and the old fashioned "give us a honk" to the truck drivers.

We stopped at Barkley Homestead and then continued on to the Border Crossing:

We were heading towards Gregory Downs as had been told this was a nice place to camp. We took a little detour that involved a bit of off-road but meant we cut out a few hundred kms (and missed Mt Isa - Gosh Darnit)

Upon arriving at Gregory Downs, we had a quick drink at the local pub (catching the start of the League Grand Final) and then headed to the river to find a spot. And it wasn't too bad at all...

(and yes, I am wearing togs!)

We spent the evening having a couple of swims, and enjoying a nice salad by the campfire. Happy Anniversary!

Next morn we headed off - we filled up at the Burke & Wills Roadhouse and then drove on to Normanton for lunch. We spotted this giant croc - apparently it's a replica of the largest croc ever shot in the world, in the Normanton River - over 8m!

However, the original photos of the croc got "lost" in a flood so I'm not sure if its a true replica. I can't imagine there being a croc this big - if there was, I definately wouldn't want to meet it!

We continued our long drive, stopping at Croydon for another fuel stop. It started to get dark and we were spotting quite a few Roos and Cows near the road so we decided to pull up at a rest stop. Then it was 2 minute noodles for dinner and straight to bed to avoid the wrath of the mozzies!

Watch out for giant Cows:

The next day we entered the Atherton Tablelands and drove towards Ravenshoe. It was quite a relief to get back to some greener pastures:

(OK so not entirely green but it seemed this way after weeks of endless red dirt)
I was also quite excited to see my first nice plump proper black and white spotted dairy cow, rather than the bag-of-bones variety we'd been encountering lately (What - you call that a cow?!!)
We stopped just outside of Ravenshoe to look at the Millstream Falls - Australias widest falls (although not flowing so much at this time of year):

We drove into Ravenshoe and hit the visitors centre where we spoke to a lovely dutch man ("Isn't that Vierd? I love gold!" - Sorry - Goldmember reference there for Miss Lordy). We wandered round the shops, went to a bakery and then to a wood-working exhibition which was pretty impressive.

We then drove around the "Waterfall Circuit"

Millaa Millaa Falls:

Zillie Falls:

Ellinjaa Falls"

We had a great drive around the beautiful green countryside with its lovely rolling hills, calling in at the Bio-Dynamic Dairy Farm where we tried some cheese and yoghurt.
We then drove towards Malanda and went to the Nerada Tea Centre. It was good to see one of Australia's own tea plantations!

Funny Tractor:

They have over 300Ha of tea growing and we bought a sample pack of their various teas. Tastes pretty good and probably better to buy tea thats grown in Australia rather than overseas!
We went for a swim at Malanda Falls, stopped by Lake Eacham (just beautiful) and called quickly past Lake Barrine to see the twin Kauri trees. The two lakes were just superb and we decided to head back the next day to see them again.

Twin Kauris:

We drove up to Lake Tinaroo where there were 5 different areas to camp ($5pp). We found a great spot by the lake at Downfall Creek campground where we could have dinner and watch the sun go down:

The next morning we drove back the way we came and did the short Mobo Creek Crater Walk:

We then called in at the Cathedral Fig Tree which we had heard nothing about and had no idea what it was. We saw some Blue Quandongs on the path:

and then were confronted by the HUGE Fig Tree:

Basically the fig tree deposits its seed in the top of a host tree and then the roots grow down and pretty much suffocate the host. This pic doesn't give a very good idea of scale, but it was rather large! To get a better idea (and see us making right nongs of ourselves) there is a video you can watch at the end.
We went back to Lake Barrine and did a pleasant 6km walk around the lake.
View from other side of lake (they have an old tea house and also do boat tours on the lake):
We had to indulge in the Devonshire Teas (yet another indicator that we're getting old)

We checked out the accomodation by the lake for Steve and Lee who were planning a trip here later in the month. A great spot and really good value - highly recommend to anyone as its a great base to explore the beautiful tablelands.
We drove to Lake Eacham for another swim. This is a smaller lake and is just pristine - you can't get a better location for a swim:

We hung around for a while to have lunch and then headed towards Yungaburra. We stopped at a Platypus viewing area and caught a quick glimpse of the elusive creature but weren't able to get a decent photo.
We stopped at another fig tree - the Curtain Fig. This one wasn't as big or impressive as the other one but we got a better photo of it:

We drove to Atherton and stopped at the supermarket as well as the lovely "Humpy World" for some fresh veges:

Just past Tolga we stopped at a Memorial Park Rest Stop. This was a great park - a lot of time and money spent on it:

The next day we drove to Mareeba and attacked "Coffee Works".
This normally costs $19 per adult but if you get there before 10:30am you get 2 for the price of 1. This includes unlimited tastings of 4 teas, about 20 coffees, 3 liquers and 12 chocolates (yes, thats unlimited chocolate to taste, unlike some tours where they give you a few scroungy pieces). You also get entry into a top-notch museum full of coffee and tea paraphenalia from various periods and countries and you can watch some coffee roasting if you feel the urge. We walked in at 9am and left at 12pm! Favourite coffees included: Black Mountain, Brazilian Santos and Roberta Blend.
Some of the amazing old machines:

The owner had collected some amazing pieces. There were also a number of "theatre rooms" with displays that lit-up and provided some fun entertainment, such as "Miss America Coffee Pot"
A "Mammy" tea pot:

A word of warning about the coffee drinking however: Dave and I do not drink a lot of coffee and I cannot imagine how much we consumed in the 4 hours we were there. We were still buzzing when we went to bed at midnight (Yes, thats right - about 4 hours past our usual time!) and I was still lying there at 4am. Should have known better but it had to be done. Really.

We stayed the night (or at least tried to sleep!) at Wonga Beach just South of the Daintree.

Goodbye Atherton Tablelands - Cape Tribulation, here we come!

Cathedral Fig Tree Video:

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