This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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1998 Travels November 7

SATURDAY 7 NOVEMBER     ATHERTON

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

FRIDAY 6 NOVEMBER     ATHERTON

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

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

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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

THURSDAY 5 NOVEMBER     ATHERTON

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.


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1998 Travels November 4

WEDNESDAY 4 NOVEMBER     ATHERTON

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

TUESDAY 3 NOVEMBER     ATHERTON

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

MONDAY 2 NOVEMBER     ATHERTON

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.