Kangaroo, where are you?: the Atherton Tablelands Friday 23rd January 2009
We’ve been in Australia exactly one month today and we still haven’t seen a Kangaroo! We’ve made our eyes ache looking for them. However, when we zoom in on some of our photos on the computer, we can see some blurry images of small Tree Kangaroos peering at us through the bush on the Atherton Tablelands. Hopefully we’ll get to see some properly in the next few weeks before we leave Australia. We’ve seen some dead ones on the road. We spent a long time stalking quietly through the rainforest yesterday looking for Cassowaries to no avail but we’ll keep looking over the next day or two whilst here on the Cassowary Coast at Mission Beach.
On Wednesday we left Port Douglas and headed inland to the beautiful Atherton Tablelands, rolling green hills, waterfalls and a lot of bush (and Kangaroos in hiding). From Port Douglas, the road winds steadily upwards from the coast to the tablelands, with panoramic views back out across to Cape Tribulation from Mount Molloy. This is farming country as well as uncultivated bush, peppered with thousands of large anthills. Despite being at over
1,000 metres, we still had to negotiate a few flooded roads around Lake Mitchell before coming to the largest town on the tablelands, Mareeba. Mareeba is very much a service town for the farming community and doesn’t have much of interest for the tourist. Heading south from here we got to Atherton, famous for its coffee and banana plantations after having a picnic by Lake Tinaroo. Having scouted around for somewhere nice to stay the night and not finding anything we fancied we decided to go beyond Atherton to Yungaburra and found ourselves in the “back of beyond”. We should have stayed in Atherton! Yungaburra is one of those strange little insular hill towns where everything closes at 7 p.m. and strangers rarely stop the night (most sensible folk visit on a day trip to the tablelands and return at night to the comfort of Cairns). The old musty Victorian hotel had the right ambience for a Psycho remake. The “dining room”, where we were the only diners, had the sort of brown vinyl “wood” panelling and furniture reminiscent of 1950’s working men’s clubs. Having ordered some food the woman there gave me a number 26 sign to stand on
the table, presumably so that she would remember who had ordered the food!!!! She kept coming to look at us to make sure we were not a figment of her imagination. John kept playing “air banjo’ and singing “Da da dang dang dang dang dang dang dang!” They all disappeared when the bar closed leaving us in this huge mausoleum, just one old cowboy downstairs and possibly another couple somewhere (we saw them earlier on but were not sure if they stayed). We stayed firmly locked in our musty old room until morning. We were up and checked out by 9 a.m. Desperation!
Yesterday we drove the “Waterfall Route’ from Yungaburra through Malanda, Milaa Milaa and down to Innisfail back on the coast and then on to Mission Beach where we are now. These falls are all in the rainforest so the scenery is spectacular. Mission Beach is a popular beach area for locals as well as campers and backpackers; the rainforest reaches right down to the beach and its closeness to the Great Barrier Reef and offshore tropical islands adds to its popularity. This, however, is the wet season so finding accommodation has been easy. We have a
cabin on a camp site right on the beach and it is great. Today we did a big shop for food to last over this Bank Holiday weekend and lazed about. It is very hot and humid but we have air con so no problem. Tomorrow is our Big Day because we are off to the Outer Reef on a catamaran. This is really what we came to Queensland for, so we are praying for bright weather. At the moment the sky is full of stars so it looks promising. The brighter the day the better for seeing the coral and marine life; really looking forward to it, but this whole Australia trip will not be complete unless we see some Kangaroos. Where are you Skippy?
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