From Charters Towers our first overnight stop was Townsville (a quick eye check up at the hospital), then north along the coast through banana plantations and sugarcane fields. Cane harvesting is almost over but cane trains and tractors were still working, loaded high heading to the mills.
We drove past Hinchinbrook Island.
stopped at Cardwell for one of their famous crab sandwiches.
Headed west over the Great Dividing Range and stopped overnight at Henrietta Creek in the Wooroonooran National Park. It is wonderful to be in the wet tropics again. The smell of the rainforest is so clean.
Once on the Atherton Tablelands we passed through the small but very pretty town of Millaa Millaa.
Having stopped for groceries at the town of Atherton, I found a somewhat unusual store in the main street called the Crystal Cave… René Boissevain is a man with a passion. He has spent a lifetime travelling to every corner of the world to collect crystallised mineral specimens, gemstones, fossils and rocks. To house his growing collection of more than 600 individual pieces, René has built 250 m2 of tunnels and grottos for you to explore. I had a lovely time exploring while Tim went to the hardware store.
The soil on the Atherton Table Lands is very fertile. It was once a tobacco growing industry but now they grow mangos, coffee, tea, bananas, peanuts, pawpaws, sugar cane, citrus and avocado as well as having a large dairy industry.
To further explore the tablelands we stayed four nights at the Granite Gorge Nature Park near Mareeba.
Chickens, turkeys (not bush turkeys, real Christmas Turkeys), peacocks, and rock wallabies roam around the park. There are walks through the gorge which is home to a large population of rock wallabies, who are particularly fond of visitors carrying packets of pellets purchased from the kiosk. When my phone fell out of my pocket, Tim had to crawl down under the bolders to retrieve it for me, all the while being watched by several curious rock wallabies.
A visit to Coffee World in Mareeba is a must if you love coffee. There is a cafe plus a museum.
There are several coffee plantations around Mareeba. On the recommendation of my brother Keith, we visited Bruno at North Queensland Gold Coffee. No cafe, just a shed where Bruno and his daughter roast and package coffee. Very easy to miss the drive way as there are no big signs. If you want to try a cup they will make it for you at their big table. A bit like sitting in a farm kitchen. Such lovely people. They do all the work themselves from growing the beans, picking, drying them in the sun, roasting and packaging. Bruno is 88 years old and still works 7 days a week on his farm. So if you want some organic, Australian grown, excellent coffee they will post it to you, beans or ground. They also have a small orchard of mangos and sell them dried. North Queensland Gold Coffee
Kuranda Railway and Skyrail are the big tourist attraction in the area. I visited with my family when I was about 7 years old and was keen to revisit, of course there was no skyrail in those days. We drove to Kuranda, which is quite a tourist town, got the train to Cairns (Freshwater Station) and came back via Skyrail. We would recommend doing it the other way around and leave from Cairns, as there are more options on the timetable and give you a break between the train and skyrail. As it was we were shuttle bused from the train to the skyrail which was time consuming and quite chaotic. However it was a lovely experience and a way to see the rainforest and mountain ranges from up high. The train stops once mid way to see Baron Falls, and the Skyrail stops twice at rainforest walks.
Scenic Railway from Kuranda to Freshwater Station outside Cairns.
Skyrail Cairns to Kuranda
Our last day on the Tablelands we visited Lake Tinaroo and the neighbouring national Parks.
Lake Tinaroo, Mobo Creek Crater and The Chimneys in Danbulla National Park.
Cathedral Fig Tree. Photos can’t quite capture the enormous size of this tree. Can you see Tim’s face in the last two photos?
Curtain Fig Tree, Yungaburra. And yes…. there was a very friendly rooster in the car park, don’t know why or how, there just was.
Now we head to Cooktown. YAY!
cheers for now, Helen and Tim