This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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1998 Travels November 4


We decided to have another driving day, today, tackling the waterfall circuit.

Took the Malanda road, went through there and on to Millaa Millaa. Drove up to the Millaa Millaa Lookout, which gave superb views over the Tablelands. It was a fairly cloudy day, but the sun showing in patches through the cloud made interesting patterns on the landscape.

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View from Millaa Millaa Lookout, with patches of sunlight, and rich red soil evident

Then visited Millaa Millaa Falls, Zillie Falls and Elinjaa Falls. All three are close to the road, but in areas of wonderful rainforest. Due to the recent rains, all three were flowing well. Each is different too, so it was worth visiting them all.

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Millaa Millaa Falls

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Elinjaa Falls

We continued on down the Palmerston Highway, towards Innisfail, as far as Crawfords Lookout, with its long view down the North Johnstone River valley. We’d had some thoughts of walking to view the Nandroya Falls, in that area, but decided against that. It was a longer walk and maybe getting a little late to do it. But, mostly, we were not happy with the security of Truck at the parking area.

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The North Johnstone River seen from Crawfords Lookout

So went back through Millaa Millaa, to the Kennedy Highway, and to Mt Hypipamee. This is a really deep crater with a strange, pale greeny coloured lake in the bottom, the colour caused by some plant covering the water.  One looks down into the crater from a lookout at the top. Like so much else on the Tablelands, this is volcanic, formed from a big explosion of gases up through the rock of the area.

We walked – to get to the view over the crater, and then on round a circuit to look at the final falls for the day – the Dinner Falls, which were worth the effort. The walk through the rainforest was very pleasant, and about 2kms altogether.

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Dinner Falls on the Upper Barron River

Back at the van, had to phone our estate agent about a problem with the water rates, for the unit we let out. Apparently these rates have been going to K, who has been paying them – but they should have been paid by the tenant. So the agent will fix all that up – it is why we pay him, after all.

I made a chick pea curry for tea – John now does not think he likes hot chick peas.

After tea, phoned K to let him know the water rates problem should now be fixed.

I was sitting at the van table, reading, when I discovered a sore lump behind my ear. Inspection by John showed it was a tick! I must have picked it up at some stage during this afternoon’s walking. John removed it with tweezers, after saturating it with methylated spirits. It did not want to come easily so guess it had been there for hours. The place is very sore. I do not like this species of wildlife! Have never had a tick on me before, but have seen them on others when walking at Wilsons Prom, in Victoria.

Our waterfall and lookout drive today covered 194kms.

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1998 Travels November 3


Today is Melbourne Cup Day. It certainly gets attention up here, despite the distance.

John spent the morning analyzing statistics on the Cup, and picking horses he wanted for quinella and trifecta bets. Unfortunately, he decided that, statistically, mares had little chance, so excluded them all. The ladies then took out first and second places, so John’s was not a profitable  exercise!

The sweep tickets won at bowls the other day did not win anything, either.

I phoned K to ask him to send the next batch of mail to Charters Towers, in another week or so.

Tea was smoked fish and parsley sauce – a favourite of John’s.

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1998 Travels November 2


The day was quite pleasant. The storms of the last two days seem to have cleared away, for the time being. It is still rather humid, though.

Mailed some cards and letters.

We went for a drive, and to do some “tourist things”. There is no shortage of these up here. It really is a most interesting area to explore.

Started with the Curtain Fig Tree, near Yungaburra. This is really a strangler fig, that grew from a seed dropped in the canopy of a host tree; strangler figs entwine their host with roots that reach towards the ground, eventually killing it. In this case, the host tree fell over onto another one, so the fig roots formed a curtain like formation, hanging down to the ground.  It was very unusual, and I was glad to have the explanation of how the tree came to be this way.

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The Curtain Fig Tree

We continued on through Malanda to look at the Malanda Falls. That was rather a non-event. They are quite low – more like water coming over a low dam wall than anything more spectacular. I did not even take a photo of them. But we did the walk in the rainforest there, which was very pleasant.

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Do not even ask what John was thinking here!

Bromfield Swamp was next – a shallow lake/swamp in an old volcanic crater. We went there to look for birds, but at that time of day there was not much activity.

There was more bird activity at Hasties Swamp, towards Herberton – the usual water bird suspects like ducks, grebes cormorants.

Overall the green and damp scenery was enjoyable, as we completed the circuit back to Atherton, doing 79kms for the day.

Tea was cold chicken and coleslaw.

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1998 Travels October 31


This is our 300th day as nomads!

We did a food shop in the morning, and bought paper.

Went to bowls in the afternoon, where we played in separate teams. I thought I played quite adequately, for once. As second-best scorers, my team won some sweep tickets for the Melbourne Cup.

There was much thunder, lightning and heavy rain through the afternoon. The Bowls Club has the roof, of course, so play continued regardless.

Tea was vegetarian sang choy bau.

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1998 Travels October 30


We had to get up really early for our trip to Cairns, and left at 6.45am. Got Truck to Trinity Motors by 8.15am. Then we had the whole day to fill in – and without wheels.

We walked to the GPO, by which time it was open. Posted John’s big letters – cost $10.

More walking, to pick up my photos. Then we just wandered about for a while. Sat and had a coffee – a fairly rare treat for us. Eventually had lunch at the Cairns Central food hall, buying Chinese style food. In the very humid heat of the day in Cairns, the air conditioned shopping centre was an appealing place.

John takes any chance he can to go to the cinema, so we occupied the afternoon seeing “Armageddon”. I found it too far-fetched, and a bit ho-hum.

Truck was ready when we went back to the service centre at 5.30pm. They have replaced the shock absorbers and also done quite a bit of work on the suspension and wheel areas. It did not surprise us that this work needed doing, after the Cape trip! But it was very nice to have it done for free!

We purchased an Extended Warranty on Truck. This cost us nearly $700, but will cover us for another 50,000kms. Given our plans, this seems a prudent investment.

We have a few popped spot welds on the roof of Truck – from the stresses and strains of the Cape, we suspect. Maybe aluminum panels allow this to happen? These must be inspected by a man from Brisbane before Landrover will cover the repairs. We will organize that when we are closer to Brisbane, whenever that may be.

Trinity Motors do a good job, but they can’t seem to find the phantom leak we’ve always had – that sometimes drips onto my feet when it rains.

We got back to Atherton about 7.30pm. It is a very attractive drive back up from Cairns, through the forest of the Range, and then the farmlands of the Tablelands.

Fish and chips for tea.

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1998 Travels October 29


A really pleasant day today – not too hot and humid.

The caravan park is really emptying out now. When we arrived, there were half a dozen vans in this part of the park. Today, there is only one other, apart from us.

I cycled to the shops for bread rolls and a paper, while John worked on finalizing big letters he has written for various people. This involved getting the printer out from under the bed, setting it up and printing off copies of his letter. It tends to become rather a major production, occupying most of the flat surfaces in the van!

When I got back from the shops, occupied myself by starting to clean the inside of Truck – fairly superficially, because I didn’t unpack the back seat contents. But swept and dusted surfaces and cleaned out the parcel shelf across the front. We have, as usual, picked up a fair quantity of red dust from our recent travels. Whatever the virtues of Defenders, being dust proof is not one of them!

After lunch, John went to bowls. He had an average sort of game.

I cycled back to the shops, posted some letters I’d written, and bought a Powerball entry. That took my kms cycled today up to 9.5.

When John got back from bowls, I finished off my Truck cleaning by putting Armorall on the vinyl surfaces inside.

Tea was sausages and vegetables.

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1998 Travels October 28


Set out after breakfast to go for a drive.

Refuelled in Atherton. Diesel is down to 68 cpl now that we are closer to the coast.

Went to Tolga, which is only about 8kms north of here. In the tourist information, we’d seen that there was a woodwork gallery there that looked worth visiting. It contained some superb items, ranging from furniture down to smaller bowls and carvings. They featured Australian timbers – mostly local – of course. We browsed for ages and John got lots of ideas for future woodwork.

From Tolga took the road up to Bones Knob Lookout, just to the west. Bones Knob is a shield volcanic cones, which means it is not all that high above the surrounding country, but enough to show us the farming country to the north and east, that demonstrates how fertile this area is.

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The fertile Tablelands from Bones Knob Lookout

From there, went back through Atherton and south west to Herberton, with a view to continuing from there in a big loop. But Truck started making a strange noise and the temperature gauge was a little higher than usual, so we just did a quick drive through the township then retraced our way.

There was a big storm building through the past couple of hours, and some lightning must have hit fairly close to us, as we drove back. There was a huge bang. We both jumped in fright.

By the time we got back to the van there was a great storm happening, with good rain for a few hours. It really cooled things down again.

We drove 62kms today.

Tea was beef and black bean stir fry, and rice.

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1998 Travels October 27


Today was the hottest since we have been here.

We had a lazy day – computing, sewing, reading, but did venture out to the shops for a paper and to buy a few groceries.

In the later afternoon, I had a swim. The pool is as lovely as it looks, and I had it all to myself.

Given that Truck goes to Cairns on Friday, and there is still a lot of sightseeing to do around this area, we have extended our stay here for another week.

I made vicchysoisse – fancied a chilled soup – to be followed by fried rice, for tea.

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1998 Travels October 26


We did not get up particularly early, but had planned to drive to Cairns today, as there were a whole lot of odds and ends to do.

We drove via Mareeba and Kuranda. It took us 75 minutes – one of the things we had wanted to do was time this trip, without the van on, for when we have to take Truck down there in an early morning, for its service. John had phoned Trinity Motors on Friday, after we got here; they cannot fit Truck in until Friday.

At Tandy and Dick Smith, we bought a weather station, printer ink refills and paper. I had a lovely long browse in my favourite craft shop, and bought a book on hardanger. Went to the book exchange and spent $15 stocking up, after I’d returned my surplus.

We hadn’t planned to buy the weather station, but after recent experiences, and wondering how hot some days did get, it seemed as if it would be an interesting addition to the gear in the van.

I put my films from the trip west in for processing – will collect them on Friday.

Checked at the Cairns PO – there was a letter from RH, our computing friend.

Went to the Outdoor Centre to look for foam to go under the cushions on the van seats, to make them feel less hard on our rear ends. We will have to measure for what we need – why didn’t we think of that first?

Bought some lunch and ate it whilst walking around the Pier area where it was a bit cooler. Cairns felt like being in a sauna! It is amazing how much more oppressive it has become in just a couple of weeks.

It was good to drive back up the range – could feel it getting cooler as we went.

Collected our mail from the Atherton PO. There were letters from both K and V – lovely. There was also the mobile phone bill, which was not so lovely. We must cut down its use – drastically!

Tea was cold roast lamb and salads.

Having experienced the differences in temperature today, we are very happy that we chose to stay up on the Tableland  and not return to Cairns.

After dark, there was a little bandicoot, foraging around outside the van. We have a light on a pole not far from the van and it was under that. Do bandicoots eat dead insects? I thought they dug up plant roots. Maybe it just wanted to see what it was doing?

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Our little bandicoot visitor