July 20 to 26th.
We had a great stay at the Oasis Caravan park, Fiona and Martin were just such great hosts. Now on our way to Kurimine Beach to meet up with Gary & Tanya yachty mates and hopefully to get the boat in the water and do some fishing. We arrived to Kurimine Beach by 2.20pm the site we were allocated was small and difficult to get into, the owner however came to our rescue and used a bobcat to put the van into our site how pleased was I. What a great park small a little dated but very friendly . Tanya and Gary came to greet us then they set off to top up supplies while we set up camp. Next day the weather was marginal as such Gary & Tanya, Pam & I went to see the fall’s at Paranella Park, the water falls there in full flow a great sight, whilst there we enjoyed coffee, scones and cream which just hit the spot. Up early the sun now shining and beckoning us to go fishing, Gary, Bill our neighbour and I went out fishing not a wonderful catch but interesting we caught some very colourful reef fish see my photos on Instagram. Bill unfortunately broke his rod it just snapped in half, he had some monster fish on the line, when his rod broke he lost his balance and for a moment we thought we were about to have a man overboard situation, thankfully he regained his balance and fished on with a broken rod. Tonight we are all going to the Christmas in July party put on by the park owners, what a great night the owners put on all the meats and the park guests supplied veges, salads and sweets etc., great food, great company and no shortage of Drinkies to lubricate conversation this topped off with vodka jelly cubes made by Tracie the park host, boy did they have a punch. Next morning no hangovers but anxious to go fishing again this time Gary, Tanya and I in the tinny rods at the ready. We decided to drift and with some good success we caught some eight fish Tanya being the most successful angler. Tonight a number of us arranged to have a barbeque at the camp kitchen and what a great night it was the fish went down well and Gary brought some sausages purchased from a local butcher very tasty. Kurimine Beach is an interesting place it is very close to the reef as such the waters behind the reef are very safe for small boats, at the northern end of the beach there Is a small island and on certain low tides it is possible to walk out to the reef accompanied by a guide. I am told it is possible to catch cray fish by hand on these occasions now that would be something to experience. Today Bill and I are off fishing again Gary and Tanya are now heading towards home their holiday drawing to a close, G & T are great company sorry to see them go. Bill and I decided to try fishing in the river we had heard that bream and tailor were being caught so off we went to the boat ramp. Well this fishing story ended in failure only one bream caught. But a sunny day and pleasant being on the water getting to know Bill. At Kurimine Beach we made some great new friends Bill & Leslie & Peter & Liz lovely interesting people.
On the move again heading towards Undara the location of the Undara lava tubes, our first stop is Ravenshoe the highest elevation country town in Queensland, Ravenshoe is a logging town and has been a minor gold mining area. It also has an unfortunate reputation being the place where several people relaxing in a local café lost their lives when a truck ran into the cafe gas storage cylinder causing a massive explosion killing all in the café. The locals are still getting over this tragedy. The visitor information centre here so very interesting the local volunteers have over a number of years put together a wonderful display of local history and of the local rain forest habitat featuring many of the animals which inhabit the area, we can well recommend a visit it is without doubt one of the best information centres we have visited. Our stopover tonight is the Archer Creek Rest area not far from Mt Garnet and adjacent to the main road to Undara, it is a great overnight stopover.
Our first stop today is the Innot Springs only a short distance from our overnight stopover, this is a must visit when in this area, the new owners have improved the facilities and are continuing to make this place a relaxing resort. The water used in the pools comes from the river which flows out of the ground at 70 degrees’ c the river area is a restricted zone I wonder why. There are several pools all at different temperatures the hottest being 40 degrees’ c I tried them all the most challenging the hot pool then a plunge into the cold pool, well I am still alive. On our way again arriving at Undara by 3pm booking into the caravan park, we had not pre booked and on our arrival were advised they were fully booked, taking pity on us they offered us the overflow area which we accepted. This turned out to be a great site we were on our own and alongside a new amenities block, which we had to ourselves, we also had a nice flat concrete slab to park the van. After walking about the caravan park and seeing the sites we considered ourselves fortunate to have been located in the overflow area. We booked onto a lava tube tour on day two of our stay the last two places available, how lucky are we and we haven’t even kissed the blarney stone. A great night’s sleep only awoken by the singing of the birds welcoming in the new day.
There are a number of walks in the area and we decided upon the Kalkani Crater and Atkinsons Lookout adjoining the Bluff walk and part of the 100mile swamp. First up we drove to the Kalkani Crater a short 10minute drive away, this is an extinct volcano one of some 40 or so in the area. The walk was easy just a short walk to the peak then around the ridge of the crater this completed we then made our way down into the centre of the crater which is flat with sparse vegetation, the crater was a near perfect circle, an interesting place to visit. Lunch then off to the Atkinsons lookout walk, this walk took us several hours to complete, the paths were clearly marked and not too difficult. On our way to Atkinsons lookout we crossed the Iron Pot creek so named after a broken Iron cooking pot left behind by the workers who built the first telegraph line through this area. The Iron Pot creek had just a trickle of water running over and around large boulders the water colour quite milky, which we learned later was caused by minerals extracted from quartz. Atkinsons Lookout gave a marvellous view over the area, which after recent rains was lush and green, we could also see the rangers station previously the cattle station owner’s home and property that is until 1998 when the Queensland government acquired the property to honour its pledge to increase its national parks area. On our walk we met two locals from Mt Garnet, Mother and Son, the son had been a drover, boundary rider, lumber jack and general dogs body, he knew this area very well, he was an interesting fellow with some great stories some of which we thought might be a little embellished. Back down the track to the bluff walk and then to the 100mile swamp, this is not 100 miles long it is 100 miles from the coast which is how it got its name, the swamp is home to many bird varieties we could hear their songs but they were well camouflaged and as such we only saw a few. Back at the van tired ready for some nosh and an early night, tomorrow we take the Lava Tube tour.
Our last day at Undara we packed up the van and moved it to the short term parking area, this done we made our way to the lodge for coffee before joining our tour group. On the bus and on our way to the lava tubes, our coach driver and guide quite a character looking forward to this experience. The longest lava tube is 130km long we see part of this today, there are six lava tubes in the area, along their route the above ground area is lush rain forest as the lava tubes provide ample year round water supply. The tubes themselves are much larger than I had envisaged up to 75ft high in places they are massive caves. The only animal life in the tubes are bats very small insect eating bats not much else some bones of Kangaroos were on the tube floor it seems they had fallen into the tube and become trapped. There is very little water seeping from the ground area as such there are no stalactites or stalagmites to be seen. Our tour guide was most informative and entertaining he advised that there were many lava tubes yet to be explored some quite small and others sealed off due to cave ins many of these tubes off limits except to geologists and park management as they can be very dangerous to enter due to the possibility of poisonous gasses being present. Lava tubes are formed once the volcano has stopped erupting, the molten lava continues to flow with the outer section cooling and solidifying this forms the tube the remaining lava continues to flow it empties the newly formed tube. Undara Lodge is a private property and cattle station these are the people who operate the tours to the tubes, the tubes however are in a national park the original Rosella property, which was owned by Undara, as part of the sale arrangements the owner of Undara negotiated with parks in order to continue his lava tube tour business, it seems this was a win, win, for both parties. The tour completed Pam and I had lunch at the lodge then set off for our next overnights stop back to Archers Creek.
31stJuly to 1st August.
Up early and off to Ravenshoe staying at the railway museum situated in the centre of town, this will be our base for the next two days. The railway yards are a great place to stay all facilities provided and only $15.00 per night with power and water and large sites. There are seven waterfalls in this area and with the amount of rain during the last few weeks should make seeing these a great spectacle. We visited the following falls, Millstream, Pepina, Souita, Ellinjaa, Zillie, Millaa Millaa, Charmillin Creek and Little Millstream Falls which we felt was the most attractive as it had a number of small falls entering a large swimming hole, which would be well used during the summer period. All the falls were well worth the visit particularly as the tracks to many of the falls is through rain forest making this a very interesting experience. Some photos on Instagram. We also went to the Koombooloomba Dam, the drive along a very narrow road again through rain forest was great magnificent tree ferns, Kauri trees standing straight and tall majestically climbing above the canopy with vines using whatever they could find to reach sunlight and display their flowers. Such a variety of trees, ferns, palms and vines with the forest floor displaying delicate ferns, fungi growing along the tree trunks and mosses bathing in water making its way to the river. Bush Turkeys, Lizards, Snakes and a variety of bird life make the rain forest such a very special place.
Up early and on our way to Malanda, staying at the caravan park situated alongside the Malanda Falls. Once set up we made our way to Yungaburra an old loggers town with some interesting old buildings. We had lunch at one of the café’s which we enjoyed then walked the town, Yungaburra is situated on Lake Tinaroo a significant lake and the water supply for the surrounding area, Lake Tinaroo got its name from the tin mine no longer in operation when the minor who found the tin deposit called out Tinaroo in excitement. Not far from Yungaburra is Lake Burrine where there are two massive Kauri trees some 700 years old and they are just majestic and lucky to have survived from the lumber jacks axe. We also went to Lake Eacham which is an extinct volcano it was a warm day and tourists were sunning themselves on the lawn and swimming in the lake, Pam and I decided to take the lake walk a three kilometre walk circumnavigating the lake it seemed much longer. On the walk we came across two huge strangler figs the track went through the middle of one of them Pam saw a black snake gave her a fright I think it was more afraid of us as it disappeared quickly, we enjoyed the walk. The Yungaburra residents have dedicated a park to our soldiers who served in Afghanistan the memorial is very well done with an avenue of honour the trees bloom with brilliant large red flowers and when the trees eventually mature they will present a magnificent sight. A rather full day so looking forward to an early night.
Today we head to Mareeba Staying at a farm stay called Ringer Rest recommended to us from one of our fellow grey nomad travellers. The drive into Ringers Rest farm was narrow so slow and easy making our way through the trees. We were quite surprised at just how dry this area was a total difference to the areas we had recently visited, we were told that they are in a rain shadow and were frustrated in that they were missing out on recent good rains. There are no facilities here you have two camping choices, inside a fenced off area or in a paddock with several horses we chose the latter under a shady tree. The horses came to visit. The cost to stay here is $10.00 per night and if you stay three nights they will store your van at no charge should that be needed. This was a reasonable overnight stop, the farmer who runs this place is a great chap and the camping fees gives him a much needed supplementary income.
Heading to Kuranda today to spend some time with Friends Michael & Sue and looking forward to catching up with them, they have been very kind allowing us to leave the van with them while we take our Cape York camping tour. Firstly some shopping replenishing supplies in Mareeba. We arrived at Michael & Sue’s home at midday parked the van on grass alongside the driveway and settled in. Time to have some drinkies with M & S, Sue had recently purchased some Barossa Grenache a 15.5 alcohol content wine and very moreish. Sue put on an Oxtail Stew, which went very well with the Grenache and the Brown Bros Shiraz.
5TH TO 11TH August.
We have had a great stay with Michael & Sue, Mike and I got in a few games of golf and although we did not win a comp we did account for ourselves well. Pam & Sue put on some lovely tucker and we enjoyed meeting their friends. We also enjoyed some very nice reds and interesting conversations. Michael’s garden is magnificent and his J vine coming out in flower and what a magnificent sight such a beautiful flowers and an abundance of them. Their home borders the Barren Falls dam with half their property being rain forest they have a lovely home and are great hosts.