Day 4 – Cairns to Atherton Tablelands

You know the day is going to be about getting back to nature when you are served a fresh cup of coconut milk just husked by Deb in the backyard for breakfast. I was surprised to note that the milk is actually clear and the meat is rather subtle in it’s coconut flavour. You still end up chewing it for the rest of the day though. Bit of a change from the usual toast or cereal.

On the agenda today was a trip up the mountains to the Atherton Tablelands. Dianne’s mazda had no trouble weaving around the bends of the Gillies Highway. The scenery transformed from the canefields to the bush to rainforest to farmland as we went higher and higher. 19kms of twisting and turning with rocks jutting out along the way. Some kind soul had graffittied some of the rocks – not with Bogan loves Sheila, but with cool green tree frogs.

Our first stop once on the tablelands was Lake Barrine. It had been formed in a volcanic crater and is believed to be connected underground to Lake Eacham. On the lake there is a cafe that serves breakfast and the requisite tourist shop. I was more impressed by the bee hanging around the flowers and the photo Pauline took of a leaf in a leaf.

Lake Eacham was more compelling. It had a bluish green tinge to it and some cool striped fish. We walked around the edge and came across a lizard on a tree branch in the water watching the turtles swim around him. Once we saw one turtle we couldn’t stop seeing them. The babies were cute when they popped their heads up to breath and hung around at the top for a bit. We walked a little further and saw some interesting birds then headed back to the car as it was starting to rain a little.

Yungaburrah was to be our lunch stop but before we ate we headed down to Allumbah Pocket which is a man made walk around some lovely flora and fauna. Deb and Pauline walked around with binoculars looking for birds while Dianne and I amused ourselves by filling a basket with stuff and taking pictures of it. Dianne found some lemons that smelled lovely and some wild passionfruit that posed for some macro pictures. A flock of parakeets frolicking in the trees kept Pauline and Deb busy but our bellies dictated that we must indulge them. The pub was the obvious choice.

Yungaburrah Pub is an institution around those parts. It’s one of those typical two story aussie pubs with a public bar on one side, a dining area on the other and some small comfortable rooms upstairs for short stays. There was a huge distinction between the two rooms. The dining area looked like it was set up for a wedding while the public bar looked ready for 1000 Harley Davidson bikers to turn up. The posters of virtually naked women in maroon colours made us Queenslanders feel at home while the cartoon of the horse drinking XXXX and pissing fosters showed where the alliances lay. The owner was ironing wood laminate on to the bars when we entered and rang through our meal orders to the lady at the back. Dianne went for a quick poke at the machines while we read the local rag and ate our steak sandwiches. Bloody good meals – the meat is always better in farming areas.

A short detour to the Curtain Fig which is a huge tree that grew on one tree, strangled that tree until it fell over on to another tree and proceeded to grow on to the tree it had fallen on. It’s one of the most visited trees in Queensland but Dianne was more interested in waiting in the car next to the ferals parked in a van. Bloody hippys. 🙂

Further on we took a side road down to the place where Dianne and Deb were going to murder us. It was sort of like where Nick Cave was going to murder Kylie. A running stream, some reeds and a big rock to knock in our heads. It was a little overgrown and some guys turned up to check out the water so they decided that murder was off the agenda. The only thing we really achieved there was an under rash for the Mazda when we went over some uneven gravel. Pauline left her sunglasses on the table so halfway down the road we had to turn around and pick them up. By that time Dianne had perfected the the gravel so the rash trick wasn’t repeated.

Dianne and Deb were planning to spend part of their holidays in a cabin at Lake Tinaroo so we stopped in to make a booking and decide which hut to pick. The area has had some developers in and it looks like it is just starting to move from being a backwater to a luxury destination. It won’t succeed if the water smells like it did when we went over to the dam. The lake was full so they were emptying some of it and it stunk like sulpher. Pooeee! We hotfooted it after that because the smell was horrendous.

Ready for coffee we stopped at the Tolga Wood Works where they display wooden art for purchase. Nothing there grabbed my fancy except for the coffee which was the best cup I had on the entire trip (including our visit to the coffee plantation). Their scones with homemade apricot jam were pretty bloody good too! The thing I most remember about Tolga was there was a guy who drove around in an old american jeep. It was almost like watching M*A*S*H!

We doubled back to Atherton to go to Hasties Swamp. Atherton’s main street reminded me a little of Mt Isa and it was odd to see a Crystal Cave in the middle of town with a normal shopfront. It was just a driveby though because we wanted to see the swamp before the sun went down. It’s a little way out of town past the old Chinese temple and is more of a lake than a swamp. It had a two story bird hide complete with toilet for you to observe the birds. A man and lady informed us that if we had binoculars we would be able to see two white eagles across the swamp. Luckily we did and were amused for over an hour just watching them, the water hens and the white plumed ducks just doing bird things. It was the first time for me in a bird hide and I thought it was great. The sun was setting, the birds were coming in to roost and the cockatoos were flying over our heads to ravage the fields.

After that it was a long drive back to Cairns. We bypassed Mareeba and Kuranda as we were to visit there the next day. An early night for us all.

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One thought on “Day 4 – Cairns to Atherton Tablelands

  1. Lucy-loo

    I was at lake Eacham about a month ago, it is so nice to swim in! the water is so silky, Yungaburrah is the best to we stayed at the blue house, it was blue, but really nice…. its really deep to, very freaky to swim in. Yungaburrah is only 3 hours away from townsville…grrr.

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