Day 33 Tuesday July 8th 2014 Port Douglas
The boys drop the Jeep off at Ireland’s. Interestingly it took them 10 mins longer to get there using the GPS compared to we girls who used good old-fashioned memory.
We drive on up to Mareeba on the Atherton Tableland. It is a steep drive through rainforest until we reach the tableland where the landscape changes to long grass and spindly bush dotted with large ant hills about a metre tall. Disappointingly we call into the Skybury coffee plantation for morning coffee and are served coffee in paper cups and the jam for the scones in single serve packs. Sacrilege! At least the view of the tablelands is wonderful. In our meanderings we find a little place called Granite Gorge. It is a caravan park and somewhere there is a gorge, but all we can see is granite boulders.
We stop briefly at Rocky Creek Memorial Park where all those involved in the WW2 war effort are remembered. Rocky Creek is the site of what was once a 5000 bed military hospital that serviced the Pacific area during the war. Part of the park is now open to free campers so we may return.
The town of Atherton has shut up shop for the day, because it is the Atherton Show Day. About the only thing trading is the fabulous art deco Barron Valley Hotel. Of course, we have a cold beer and sympathise with the young barmaid who is complaining about the freezing cold weather. After all it is only 22 degrees! The pub was built in the 1890’s but completely refurbished in the 1930’s and remains little changed. It was used as the officer’s mess during the war and was headquarters for the Australian Commander of the Pacific, General Sir Thomas Blamey.
We have a light lunch at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Yungaburra before seeing the natural wonders of this area. The almost perfectly circular crater lake, Lake Eacham is surrounded by dense rainforest. The larger Lake Barrine with its pretty wooden tea rooms that once housed recuperating troops during the war. The giant Curtain Fig tree is far too large to photograph in its entirety, but we do our best. One Japanese tourist lies on the boardwalk trying hard to ‘get it all in’. To our surprise way up near the top of the tree there is a Tree Kangaroo. As a dozen tourists crane their necks, he (the tree kangaroo not the Japanese tourist) clambers about quite awkwardly. He’s certainly not as agile as a possum or a monkey and he doesn’t use his long tail to hold on. I’m shaking with excitement. The tally of fauna firsts for this trip is now, 3 lyrebirds, 1 cassowary and now 1 tree kangaroo.
The Gillies Range road spirals steeply down the mountainside one hairpin bend after another. At the bottom we hit the brakes at the Mountain View Hotel on the Little Mulgrave River. This charming old Queensland pub has a view out over the cane fields towards the mountains. But the hidden treat is the deck out back that overhangs the rushing mountain stream. Above the bar there is a sign for FNQ Lager…’So good you have to FNQ for it’.
As we drive home through Cairns (home is where the caravan is) the setting sun casts a pink glow over the mountains. We finish the day with dinner at The Beach Shack at Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. It is part open air pizza cafe with beach sand for a floor. I wonder if ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ applies here?
Travelling Kms: 0
FNQ – Far North Queensland
2020 Note: I somehow feel that we may have missed something with Granite Gorge, bugger!