This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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1998 Travels November 14


There was some rain today, but less than on the preceding few days.

Drove to the shops for the Weekend Australian and read that for much of the morning.

After lunch, we went to bowls, where we played on opposing teams. The one I was on won the day! For a prize, I had a choice of a pre-cooked chook (which would have been sitting around for much of the afternoon) or a bottle of Asti Spumante. Neither offered much attraction, but I chose the wine as the lesser of two evils.

My feet are very itchy.

Tea was tomato soup, followed by John’s choice of –  sausages in bread, and salad – my choice!

The Tinnaroo “barra bash” event is being held this weekend, but John has not shown any interest in going after fish or red claw yabbies since we have been here. This rather surprises me.

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1998 Travels November 13


Another one of those dates! Seem to have been a lot of them this year.

It was still cloudy and raining.

We did the grocery shopping.

Drove to the Big Peanut, a few kms from Atherton, to see what their fresh produce is like. Decided that Woolworth’s fruit and vegies were better quality, and cheaper. We coincided with a tour bus full of Mediterranean types – very pushy. The staff was run off its collective feet. That alone would have deterred us from trying to buy anything ourselves.

On the way back to camp, we called at another fruit stall on the edge of Atherton. This was much better. I bought 3 avocadoes – big ones – for $2. They can ripen for use in salads.

Through this week, we have received phone calls from three of John’s siblings, in response to the most recent big letter he’d sent them. They are all very pleased to hear of our adventures. His sister M phoned to tell us not to stay up here much longer – she thought we were in Cairns, and thought we may not know about cyclones!

Fish and chip tea – Fridays seem to come around so fast.

My feet are enormously itchy from the leech bites.

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1998 Travels November 12


There was still plenty of clouds, and rain, today. Some roads in western and central Qld are closed, due to the wet.

John commented on the damaged bucket, and general lack of care by the gardening man, to one of the other staff, then a manager came and said it would be replaced. To me, it is all about the principle of the rights of guests. Yes, we are here for an extended stay, and the grass has grown around the site, and yes, it was a good idea to cut it, somehow  – but the man could have warned us to move our gear, or done it himself.

After lunch, John went to bowls. He dropped me in town on his way, where I bought some tomatoes to make soup. Walked back to camp.

I made the soup, read and sewed. My leech bites are beginning to itch.

L and J came back from an excursion to the local op shop, very pleased with themselves. They’d found some second hand bowls, and a dehydrator.

After the soup, I served John the left over steak and kidney, reheated. I had salad.


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1998 Travels November 11


I am still drying fruit. We are certainly getting our money’s worth of electricity, lately!

After lunch, went to the strawberry farm out on the Yungaburra  road, and picked two kilos.

Continued on, then, and went to Lake Barrine. This is a volcanic crater lake, formed from a big explosion of heated gases. Rainwater keeps the resulting crater filled. The lake is surrounded by rainforest, containing a number of large rough barked kauri pine trees.

We left Truck in the car park by the lake and had a brief look around that area, which contains Tea Rooms, in an old wooden building – like something from another era. The Tea Rooms are obviously on the bus tour circuit. They run boat trips on the lake.

We walked the track around the lake edge – a walk of about 5kms. It rained most of the way, which made it a bit dreary. It would be a nice walk to do in good weather. I got a number of leech strikes on my feet – stupid of me to wear just my Teva sandals. There was constant bird noise around as we walked, but the weather and the leeches did not encourage dawdling to look at same.

Back at the car park, having a major confrontation with a full sized tourist bus was – a cassowary! The bird obviously did not want to let the bus move anywhere. Whenever the driver tried to inch the bus forward – with its load of tourists – the cassowary attacked the front of the vehicle. Big bird – small brain – very bad temper! It was totally committed to its cause and oblivious to all us tourists standing around nearby, taking photos. It could have had a lot of fun if it had turned on us! Eventually, the driver stopped trying to move the bus, the bird got bored and wandered off a way – then the driver gunned the bus up the hill and away in a cloud of smoke, with cassowary chasing after it. Most entertaining. Funniest thing we have seen for ages, in fact.

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Cassowary determined that the bus will not get past it



Cassowary flat out chasing bus up the hill

I wonder if this is a routine that bird goes through, on a regular basis, or if it was just having a particularly bad day?

When we got back to camp, the site had been whipper-snippered. There was cut grass everywhere – on chairs and tables, in the towels that were hanging on the chairs, and my wide washing bucket had a hole snippered in it. I was distinctly unimpressed.

Tea was steak and kidney and dumplings.

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1998 Travels November 10


Another day of cloud and rain.

Like yesterday, I dried fruit – pineapple, mangoes and banana. They turn out well and will be great snack foods when we are travelling. Much better than sweets.

Drove to the shops for things for tea, which was sate chicken. The recipe came from the Chinese cook book I brought with me from home. It was very nice.

S phoned. She will be arriving on 20th, and will be here for five days. So that lets us plan what we will do next, and when. Atherton is turning into one of our longer stays! It will be five weeks before we can leave here. That is fine – we like it here.

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1998 Travels November 8


We spent a quiet day, staying away from the Sunday drivers who come out for the day from Cairns.

I did the washing, and got most of it dry, although the day was cloudy and threatening rain.

John played computer games, and read. I read and sewed and started on the produce drying – mangoes –  using our electric dehydrator.

John’s daughter S phoned. She wants to come and visit us here, on an R and R break from Port Moresby. So we will have to stay on here for that to happen. That is no hardship! John phoned his other daughter and chatted.

I made soup for tea – kumara and nutmeg. Is good. We shall have mango for dessert – yum. The new season mangoes are so delicious.

On our treks to the amenities block, we have gotten to talking to two ladies, a bit older than us, who have their caravan parked under one of the park’s shelters, that we walk past. They are sisters – L and J – from WA. They have towed their van over east, with the intention of seeing a lot of the country. They plan to stay here over the summer period and say the park people have assured them that there are not cyclone problems up here. I would not be so certain about that, and we have decided that we will – eventually – go further south for that time. We are not sure how far south, though – maybe to the sapphire fields near Emerald? Maybe Toowoomba? Has to be somewhere with tolerable weather conditions, and away from the holiday crowds that will be at the coast.

We do know that we need to spend a lot more time, in another year, in Qld – we have barely scratched the surface of this big and diverse State.

L and J are interested in taking up lawn bowls here and are also very interested in my dehydrator.

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1998 Travels November 7


Drove down to Atherton,  bought the paper and collected my photos.

Went to the Saturday morning market there. This market is great for fresh produce and I bought up big. Also bought three second hand books.

Think I went a bit overboard with the wonderful produce. Bought: lady finger bananas, ordinary bananas, 5 pineapples, red capsicum, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, garlic, lychees, potatoes, lettuce, onions and a whole tray of mangoes! John wants me to dry some fruit, hence the quantities. All good value – and very fresh.

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Enough produce to start our own market stall!

After lunch, we went to bowls and managed to win a meat tray each. Mine contained a leg of lamb and John’s had a mix of steak, chops and bacon – mixed grill, I guess. I do not mind bowls too much when we occasionally win something back from it that assists with the provisioning.

Had fettucine with a tomato sauce, for tea, followed by mango.

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1998 Travels November 6


I was feeling much better, but still had a slight headache, and the neck was still a bit stiff.

We went driving again today. There is so much to see in this region. Got diesel in Atherton – 68cpl.

Drove to Malanda and then on to Topaz, where we were amongst the Nerada company’s tea plantations. I hadn’t known that we grew tea in Australia but apparently the crop has been established here for some time.

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The Nerada tea plantation near Topaz – in fog

Cruised fairly slowly around the Topaz area. We came out here to have a look at the area because John’s sister M had lived here for a while, farming. Superb country for it, with the rich soils.

Took some back roads to go to the old Big Red Cedar Tree, near Lake Eacham. Admired the ancient tree which is surrounded by rainforest. The girth of the buttress at its base is metres around. In the nearby forest, beside the track to the old tree, there is a fallen red cedar branch that has been sawn up, showing the intense red interior colour, one of the qualities that made it such a prized timber.

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The Big Red Cedar Tree in its rainforest setting


John at the base of the Big Red Cedar Tree – shows the size of its girth


Cut up sections of a red cedar tree branch, showing its colour

We spent quite some time walking around this area and watching birds.

Then drove to Gillies Lookout, on the Gillies Range Road, that goes down the range to Gordonvale. At the Lookout, we could see across to Bellenden Ker and Mt Bartle Frere – really spectacular outlook.

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Looking down the Mulgrave valley from Gillies Lookout

On the track to the lookout, I had to open a gate. There was a pheasant coucal on the track by the gate – he flew up into a tree by the track and scolded me the whole time I was there. When we came back, he had moved on.

The Tablelands is not a really large area, but there is this great mingling of the “civilized” with the wilderness. Such beautiful country.

By the time we finished admiring the outlook it was time to head back to camp. I did a little shopping in Atherton, and put in a film for processing, that I’d finished today.

We bought fish and chips for tea.

We drove 164 kms today.

A postscript: we heard, in 2006, that the huge Cyclone Larry destroyed the Big Red Cedar Tree, so that ancient giant is no more.

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1998 Travels November 5


Even with the rainy and stormy season upon us, it is so much cooler up here on the Tablelands, and very pleasant, much of the time. We have had some discussion about staying on here, through Xmas and the school holiday period. However, we wonder whether the area would be affected severely, if a cyclone came in over the coast. The park owner says that they do not get cyclone winds up here, but I am not totally convinced.

I had a very quiet day, feeling really unwell. I had a sore head, stiff neck, headache and just felt generally off colour. Obviously the after effects of my nasty little parasite yesterday. I found it hard to believe that something that small could affect me so strongly.

John went to bowls in the afternoon.

I made hamburgers for tea.

Went early to bed to nurse my woes.