Week 5 Weekly Blog 25/06/2021 - 01/07/2021
Updated: Jul 3, 2021
Last week saw us exploring around some of the beautiful rainforest in the Queensland National Parks with some magnificent waterfalls. Read on below for what adventures we got up to in week 5 of Allan and I exploring Oz.
Today we had planned on driving to Kurrimine Beach to walk out to King Reef in low tide to see some coral and wildlife of one of the reefs of The Great Barrier Reef. It rained all morning, but thankfully, low tide was not until 2:30pm. By the time we got to Kurrimine Beach (after a stop-off at the El Arish Butcher- you cannot go past a good country butcher!) at 1:30ish, it was still partly cloudy, but the rain had cleared up. There were a few other tourists at the boat ramp where we were told to meet to walk out to the reef. It was a self-guided tour, but because of the potential of saltwater crocs, everyone was a bit unsure of going out. We were told by Julie at the caravan park we were staying at to go in numbers and not be the last person out there. By about 2pm Allan, Brian and I got our reef shoes on and started wading the 800m walk to the reef. It felt like it took forever walking out to the reef, as the water was mid-thigh depth, and we were all on high alert to look out for crocs and sharks and not to step on sting rays. As the water got shallower and the sun came out, you could see some coral and some bright red and pink starfish, but we were still quite a way from the reef. Once at the reef, most of the coral was brown or green in colour, but every now and again you would see bright fluro coloured coral (pink, yellow, orange, blue or purple). There were lots of little starfish which we unfortunately kept stepping on as there was no way around them. We saw many sea cucumbers and a funny large worm with suckers around it that moved like an octopus tentacle-it was not an octopus though. Allan and I decided to walk to the other side of the reef, but Brian decided to start walking back, as it was just hitting low tide. There were lots of little crabs that kept popping out of their holes with their claws up and scaring me. We saw schools of small fish and squid which squirted ink at us. Then we made the trek back to shore which felt longer than the way out and the water was a bit deeper- more hip depth than knee depth as the tide was coming back in. We had salad wraps for lunch back on shore and we realised it was already 3:30pm. We drove to Cowley Beach so Allan and Brian could go fishing at a spot where the ocean meets a river and try and catch a barra. The fishing was a no-go, as they could not find a good spot. Drove back to the caravan park and spent the rest of the afternoon/evening at the camp kitchen.
It rained very heavily early this morning (4:00am), so when we got up everything was wet. I found mould on the roof of our camper, which is not surprising seeing as it has been very humid, and nothing has been able to totally dry for more than 2 weeks. Sue has a concoction that she uses to remove the mould, which we will try when everything gets a bit drier. Packed up camp and set off for Ravenshoe. On the way out, Cameron (caravan park manager/owner) told us that Ravenshoe is the highest town in Queensland, so we were in for a steep and windy climb on the road today. Our fuel economy increased over 5L/100km more than what it had been doing. The scenery on the drive was beautiful rainforest interspersed with rolling green hills with dairy farms. We stopped at Mungalli Dairy Farm and did a cheese and ice cream tasting. I was in heaven and bought some mango flavoured Greek yoghurt, 1 medium-sized tub of vanilla ice cream and 1 of passionfruit frozen yoghurt and 1 small tub of banana choc chip ice cream which tasted exactly like banana bread. I found it extremely difficult to choose which flavours I wanted, as they were all delicious! We got to Ravenshoe and set up camp out the back of the Hotel and booked for dinner. The Ravenshoe Hotel is the highest pub in Queensland and is a typical country pub. We unhitched the cars and drove to Innot Hot Springs, a natural thermal hot spring. The water is heated to up to 75 degrees Celsius by volcanic activity. Both Sue and Allan were in their element, as they love baths. We all found different parts of the springs that suited each of us differently. The shallow water was warmer than deeper water, except the water was heating from the Earth’s crust (sand). There were different pools of water coming off the main creek and they each had different temperatures. I found the pools to be too hot, so I sat in the shallow end of the creek. Allan found one of the pools to be just the right temperature for him, so he dug a hole (that he was very proud of) and sat in that pool. Once Allan was wrinkled (took a long time), we started driving back to Ravenshoe. We stopped at Big Millstream Falls where we walked 200m of a steep, windy bitumen path to the lookout at the top of the waterfall. The waterfall is the widest single-drop waterfall in Australia, it was beautiful. Sue and Brian went back to the Ravenshoe Pub and Allan, and I drove to Little Millstream Falls. There was a 700m return walk on loose gravel downhill to a large waterhole at the base of the falls where you could swim. Allan put his feet in the water, but it was freezing, so we decided against swimming. Drove back to the pub, had a drink, then walked to the Motel down the street and had a drink there. The motel had only been back open for a month and it had no beers on tap-was shut due to COVID). Walked back to the first pub to have tea. We met some locals (Jack and Julie) at the pub who had been there since lunch and they were very drunk, but very friendly. Julie had taken a liking to Allan and thought he was very handsome, thankfully one of the workers came by to take Jack and Julie home (Jack has been caught drink-driving 8 times so he did not want to add another time to the count!). We had dinner in the restaurant section of the pub. Sue loved the décor of the restaurant and was fascinated by the paintings of the people and spent the whole night trying to work out who the paintings were. The meals were huge and delicious. We also bought desert (crème brule and sticky date pudding) which was also delicious, but the mains were the highlight.
Allan and I woke early and went for a walk around town and found the old train station and steam train and had a look around. The train looked like it was getting restored. We then went to Millstream Reserve and walked along the river to a platypus viewing area. We did not see any platypi, but we spotted a wild dog which was watching us from the other side of the river. When we got back to camp, Sue and Brian were awake, so we went to the bakery for a coffee and breakfast. We then showed Brian and Sue the old train and walked around town for a bit (waiting for our campers to dry out- they were dewy before packing them away). We packed up camp then drove towards Millaa Millaa. The weather was getting wetter and wetter the closer we got to Millaa Millaa. Once in Millaa Millaa, we decided to stay at Atherton for 4 nights and tour around the Atherton Tablelands from there. We called 2 caravan parks, but they were full, so the third caravan park we tried (NRMA) only had unpowered sites in their overflow section for the dates we wanted, so we took them. We drove towards Atherton and saw that the Malanda Show was on, so we stopped there. We had a look at the show cows/bulls/calves, sheep and chooks and even got to pat some goats at the petting zoo. We got to see some horse jumping. One of the horses stopped jumping halfway through its run and refused to continue, because it got spooked by the bright, flashing lights and loud noises of one of the rides going on. Luckily, the rider was experienced and was able to calm the horse down and let it take its time to calm down. We watched the woodchopping as well. Boy, do they chop the wood fast! It takes over half an hour for them to set their wood up safely, mark where they are going to chop and only 30seconds to chop the wood. Once we had had enough of the show, we continued to Atherton. We took one last detour to look at The Curtain Fig Tree. There was a 100m walk via a bitumen path/boardwalk to the tree from the carpark. It was quite slippery underfoot as it was in the rainforest and the boardwalk was damp and mossy. The tree was huge and beautiful and because of how big it was, it was difficult to get a good photo. We continued towards Atherton NRMA Caravan Park where we were booked for 4 nights. We set up camp and chilled out at the camp kitchen for the rest of the afternoon/night.
We woke up to a misty morning in Atherton. This morning we had the best showers we have had since leaving Adelaide! The pressure was fantastic (we later found out that the owner had taken the water saving devices out of the shower heads, but don’t tell anyone) and the water was hot. We left early to go to Millaa Millaa to complete the waterfall circuit of 3 waterfalls: Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls and Ellinjaa. We drove to Millaa Millaa Falls first. There were 2 flights of stairs from the carpark to the waterfall viewing platform. You can swim at Millaa Millaa Falls, but there were too many people there today and I did not want to ruin anyone’s photos they were taking. The waterfall itself was beautiful and the water was clear. Allan and I did a short walk through the rainforest, which was very wet, muddy and slippery as it had been raining all morning. We got back in the car and drove to the next waterfall; Zillie Falls. Zillie Falls had a short walk through the rainforest to a viewing platform overlooking the top of the waterfall. The view from the top was not great, but there was a sloppy, slippery, mud (because it was raining) track which took you to the bottom of the falls. The walk down to the bottom was very scenic through rainforest but was a bit dangerous at times. The view from the bottom of the waterfall was worth the sketchy walk through the sloppy mud though. Final waterfall of the circuit was Ellinjaa Falls which was a 2km drive from Zillie Falls. There was a 400m walk down to the base of the waterfall from the carpark. The path was paved, with steps, a little slippery due to the rain, but the rainforest was beautiful. The waterfall was quite spectacular, and you could swim at the base. Allan almost went swimming / falling over with the camera just to get a good photo for Instagram. Walked back to the top and there was a chicken in the carpark with the brush turkeys. Allan and I drove to Mount Hypipamee Crater and Dinner Falls. There was a loop walking track from the carpark to the crater and the waterfall. We walked to the crater first. It was an easy bitumen track. The scenery was stunning with lots of big trees and ferns. There was a lookout over the top of the crater with the crater having water 78m deep and covered in green duck weed. The top of the water was 58m from the platform, but the end of the platform was suspended over the edge of the crater edge. We walked 700m along a dirt track back towards the carpark to see Dinner Falls. The falls were not overly remarkable, but we were still able to get a few good photos. We drove back to Malanda to see Malanda Falls which we did not rate, as they were not big, and it had been made into a swimming lake or pool with stairs to get in. We completed a loop hike through the rainforest. It was beautiful and there were lots of large trees. The ground was slippery underfoot and we had to dodge the tree roots because they were extremely slippery. I even got my tights caught on a thorny vine and it ripped a hole in them. Once back at the carpark, there was a board with Lumholtz’s tree kangaroos painted on the front with their faces cut out. I told Allan to put his head in the hole and he did so I could take a photo and I laughed so hard that I almost wet myself, it was hilarious! Of course, he then had to get a photo of me. We then went to Gallo Dairyland. We arrived just in time to see the cows getting milked on the turntable. I had never seen it before, so I found it interesting. We also patted some calves which were in their stalls, and they gave us a lick with their velvet-like tongues. We went into the café where they sold cheese, chocolates and ice cream (also had a lunch menu). I was in my element as I love all the above, but I had to buy some cheese and chocolate. They also had onsite chocolate and cheese factory tours which unfortunately were not running at the time we were there. We drove back to Atherton and stopped at the platypus viewing park. We could not see any platypi at the viewing platform, so we walked along the creek. It may not have been the right time for seeing platypi, so we drove back to the caravan park only stopping to buy a pawpaw from a stall on the side of the road. Watched the State of Origin on the TV in the camp kitchen with half of the caravan park. It was raining again!
It was once again raining this morning. Allan and I planned to go to Woolworths, but Allan decided to take a detour and drive to Lake Tinaroo Dam. The council had opened the spill water gates to the dam. Normally, you can walk across the dam wall, but because the spill water gates were open, the dam wall walk was closed to pedestrians. We went to Platypus Rock, which was a large rock, but I could not find any information on the significance of the rock. Met Sue and Brian at the dam wall, then drove to Tinaburra outside of Yungaburra to see The Avenue of Honour. The Avenue of Honour is a memorial that the Chuck Family made in honour of their son who died in Afghanistan. The memorial is well maintained and a beautiful sentiment to those (people and dogs) who have died or were injured in Afghanistan. We then drove out to Cathedral Fig Tree, which was just as big, if not bigger than Curtain Fig Tree. There was a short boardwalk from the carpark to the tree. On the way back to Atherton, we saw a 4WD track that was accessible to public to Gillies Lookout. The track was quite bumpy and at times slippery, with a few steep climbs and descents. At the top was a spectacular view of the mountains and some towns in the valleys. Drove back to Atherton and finally got to Woolworths. Once we got back to the caravan park, there was entertainment provided by a man playing his guitar and singing and cheese platters were also provided. It was a great afternoon, and the man was incredibly talented. By the time we went to bed, it was raining again.
Woke up to rain...again. We decided to drive to Herberton to check out the Herberton Village. Unfortunately, none of us did our research and it was not until we got to Herberton (only a 10min drive) did we find out that the Historic Village cost $33 per person to enter and none of us wanted to pay that much to something we may not enjoy. We decided to go to the mining museum instead, as it was a donation only. I found it quite interesting learning about Herberton’s mining history, the processes and machinery used. It was quite interactive, and they even gave us a shot at panning for tin. I do not know how they were able to pan for so long, because I only did it for 10minutes and my back and wrists were hurting! We drove back to Atherton and went to The Crystal Caves. Sue decided she wanted to crack a geode (a rock with a crystal inside that no one has seen yet). The geodes to crack ranged from $30-$300. She was happy with the geode she got. There was jewellery which was beautiful as well as lots of crystals and stones. Allan wanted me to crack a geode, but I did not want to do it because I felt I would be disappointed with the one I got. Had lunch back at the caravan park, after spending an hour trying to find a bakery that was open (the Atherton Show was on today and it was a Public Holiday, so a lot of small shops were closed). We then decided to drive to Mt Uncle Distillery. We all did a tasting, which incorporated 9 tastings (gin, vodka, rum, whisky) for $25 which Allan and I shared. They were quite tasty, with my favourite being the ‘Sexy Cat’ (vodka, rosewater and marshmallow), which tasted like turkish delight. Went back to the caravan park and chilled out. Allan cooked the best tasting nachos for tea. He made guacamole using one of the most perfect looking and tasting avocado I have ever seen which we bought from a stall outside of the Kairi Primary School (3 large avocados for $2). We went to bed early listening to the rain which went all night!
We woke up to rain yet again! This time it was really raining, not just mist, and today we were meant to be packing up to move on to Cairns. We had to pack up the camper and annex in the rain and of course Murphy’s Law the rain stopped just as we finished packing up. Got on the road to Cairns, but first we had to stop at Coffeeworks in Mareeba to get a coffee and buy some delicious chocolates from their chocolate shop. It had stopped raining in Mareeba, thankfully. We also did a liqueur tasting, but neither Allan nor I liked their liqueurs much. I did have to buy some chocolate (white chocolate, milk chocolate salted caramel flavour and rocky road). We then decided to stop at the Mango Winery outside of Mareeba to do a tasting. I quite enjoyed the flavour of the ‘wine’ because it was sweeter than wine made from grapes. They also did a mango port and cellos (lemon, lime, mandarin, mango, dragon fruit). I quite liked the mango and lemon cellos and the port. We kept driving towards Cairns, the road was quite windy, and a steep descent and our ABS locked up 2x on the way to Cairns. Set up camp at the caravan park in the rain. Apparently, the caravan park was not prepared for rain, and it had obviously had a recent downpour, because all the roads were wet, and the lawns were very muddy. Had lunch at the Bushman’s Pies Bakery and the pies were very tasty! We went back to the caravan park and asked reception what their recommendations to snorkel The Great Barrier Reef were. They gave us a couple of brochures of their recommendations, which we took to then decide which one would be the best for us. We chose one of the tours which they then booked for us for Friday. I finally get to snorkel The Great Barrier Reef, woooo! We chilled out at the caravan park for the afternoon and evening, trying to keep the rain at bay.
This week was a wet one. We slowed the trip down and toured around the Atherton Tablelands mostly in the rain! Stay tuned for next week’s adventures of hopefully avoiding a lockdown in Queensland and finally being able to snorkel The Great Barrier Reef!